Ticino is the Swiss sun parlor and a place of longing with a Mediterranean flair. The region was once considered the poor house in Switzerland. That only changed in 1882 with the commissioning of the Gotthard railway tunnel - after that the tourists came in droves.
The mild climate has earned Ticino the reputation of the Swiss sun room. Cold air masses from the north are largely held back by the Alpine chain, so that the warm Mediterranean climate can spread into Ticino. With just 100 rainy days (Zurich 160) and 2300 hours of sunshine (Zurich 1878), the residents of Locarno are particularly spoiled by the sun.
The canton of Ticino exudes Italian flair instead of Swiss thoroughness and attracts with glamorous cities as well as with cute villages. let me share with you my favourite places.
Lugano is the most famous and also the most populous city in Ticino. Around 63,000 people live here on the shores of the picturesque Lake Lugano. Just as one associates Switzerland with cheese, one associates Lugano with banks and casinos. And for good reason: Lugano is the third largest financial center in Switzerland after Zurich and Geneva.
But even if money is at stake here in many places, Lugano is a picturesque city with a Mediterranean climate and a pretty old town. Traditional hotels are lined up on the promenade, and their construction methods seem to outdo each other. Strolling here is an absolute must. On the way to the city center, you should definitely stop at the new “Lugano Arte e Cultura” (Piazza Bernardino Luini 6) and take a look at the museum.
If Lugano is too glamorous and turbulent, you will like Locarno. The city has just 16,000 inhabitants and is also located on the water, but on Lake Maggiore. If you arrive here by train or car, you will immediately notice how the climate is changing. It's noticeably warmer. And the closer you get to Locarno, the more palm trees line the lakeshore.
No wonder: Locarno is considered the northernmost place with a Mediterranean climate. The old town is small and cute and, in contrast to Lugano, less crowded. Here you stroll through narrow streets, along pastel-colored houses and historic arcades. If you want to take a photo with lots of palm trees, you should walk to Via delle Palme, which rightly bears its name. Several palm trees grow in the gently sloping street.
The most Instagram-suitable village in Ticino is clearly Ascona. In a small, sunlit bay on the shores of Lake Maggiore, brightly painted boats sway in front of palm trees - a pure picture-book backdrop. That is why Ascona is often referred to as the “Pearl of Lake Maggiore”.
Ascona used to be just a small fishing village. But when you noticed how good the climate is here, the village became a popular health resort. In summer around 25,000 tourists cavort on the banks and in the old town, while Ascona has just 5,500 inhabitants.
One of the most authentic villages in Ticino is Morcote, which is just ten kilometers away from Lugano. Here you can immerse yourself in real life in Ticino in no time, especially if you come early in the morning. Then you only share Morcote with a few early birds and seagulls.
Only locals sit in the small cafés, who meet to chat and have a coffee. You can't get more local flavor. Especially since the cafes and restaurants on the lakeshore are located under picturesque arcades and strolling between the water and architectural wonders is great.
Bellinzona is mainly known for its castles , a medieval architectural defensive complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old town, one of the most authentic in Ticino, and the 15th century church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses a magnificent Renaissance fresco that takes up an entire wall, also deserve a visit. Bellinzona is best visited on Saturday morning, the day of the popular weekly market . Here you will find the best that Ticino gastronomy has to offer: sausages, cheese, vegetables and the market bread that is still made according to old recipes.
Hope you have some inspiration for your next trip to Ticino. Do you miss any city? Let me know on the comments.