Ticino region trip report March 31 - April 2

Ticino region trip report March 31 - April 2

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Lucas
Lucas
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Apr 3, 2018 - 6:44 PM

My trip report from Ticino. Hopefully it is useful for our members!
Some select photos will be attached at the end.

Transportation details:

  • Zurich to Lugano: We bought a Saver Day Pass a few weeks ago for Saturday and our route was as follows: Zurich direct to Brig (went the fast route under the mountain). Changed at Brig for Domodossola & changed at Domodossola for Locarno on the Centovalli Express.
  • Lugano to Zurich: The Gotthard Panorama Express wasn’t operating, so we took regional trains back along the same route with changes in Bellinzona & Erstfeld. A few weeks ago, we found a SuperSaver ticket for under 20chf.

Day 1:
We left Zurich on the 7am direct train to Brig. We had a 10-minute connection in Brig where it was snowing quite a bit. The train to Brig was very empty but the Brig train to Domodossola was very busy. We spent an hour in Domodossola to poke around (there was a market going on) but it was, unfortunately, pouring rain; so, we huddled in a café for most of the layover.

**If connecting at Domodossola station you must leave the station out the front doors, turn left and walk to the end of the building and then head downstairs for the Centovalli Express train to Locarno. There are no signs directing you inside the building (the first sign I saw was on the outside of the building).

The Centovalli Express was very scenic and very different from other scenery you will see in the more popular German and French areas of Switzerland. It was raining for the first half of the trip but I managed to be the first to board the train (20 minutes before departure) and was able to sit at the front of the train beside the conductor looking straight out the front of the train. This is possible only on the trains noted as Treno Panoramico Vigezzo Vision on the SBB timetable between Domodossola and Locarno.

Locarno/Ascona (10 degrees and raining on and off)
In Locarno you also arrive underground, and upon exiting, pop up quite close to the city centre and Lago Maggiore (Lake Maggiore). Here I was picked up by friends, and we wandered the downtown area for about an hour before driving on to Ascona (10 minutes away). In Ascona we spent some time on the waterfront which I thought was very nice. We had a coffee inside a restaurant overlooking the lake to stay out of the rain. Both towns are lovely and deserve more time to explore!

From Ascona we drove to Valle Verzasca to check out the Ponte dei Salti (bridge) which is quite famous for the region – really striking but I wish we had some sun for better photos!

Taking a car was really easy – using trains and buses from Locarno will take some time but it is doable. If traveling by train/bus I would add on the Verzasca Dam (located on the same road a bit before the bridge) and plan to make a day of it if the weather is good.

After visiting the bridge and dam, we went to a rather unique stone village (hamlet may be a better word it) called Curogna. My friend spent time there holidaying as a child. The homes here are holiday homes for those living in the Ticino region and usually not lived in during the winter. It was a very winding drive, high up on a mountain overlooking Locarno – some beautiful stone buildings. Due to low clouds we had no views over the valley. After this we drove back to my friend’s house in Lugano for the evening.

Day 2:
Easter Sunday (16 degrees and lots of sun) à We started out the day with getting dropped off at a small village called Gandria, located on the shores of Lake Lugano. From here we walked back to the city along a footpath which keeps you on the waterfront (45-minute walk). There is a boat dock at Gandria as well; which is an excellent option to arrive here. Homes as well as a couple hotels & restaurants dot the footpath (stopping for lunch would be a great idea).

Once back in Lugano we found a sunny café on one of the main squares of Lugano. While it was Easter Sunday and no stores were open, there was a market going on downtown (and a food festival as well).
After coffee we took a 25-minute train ride to Bellinzona where we explored Castelgrande (the largest of the 3 castles in Bellinzona). It was only about a 10-minute walk along the main street of Bellinzona from the train station. The other 2 castles are on the hillside above to town and require more effort to reach (but both are still quite close to town).

After the castle visit we went back to Lugano for lunch. Bellinzona was completely deserted. Hardly anyone on the streets and no shops or restaurants were open. So, on a holiday or Sunday in general I would stay in Lugano unless, like us, you want to visit a castle.

We had lunch at a restaurant across from Lugano train station called AnaCapri. It, along with the station sits on a hillside overlooking Lugano and offer great views while you eat lunch – excellent pizza. J
From the train station to get to the lake and city centre you must walk downhill about 15 minutes (a funicular is also available).

At this point it was late afternoon so we went to my friend’s house to relax before heading to the street food festival for a late dinner.

Day 3: 16 degrees and all sun

On our last morning we drove up to the village of Bre above Lugano. This is also accessible by one of 3 funiculars in Lugano (Bre, San Salvatore & the city centre funicular). While I didn’t have time to go up San Salvatore, my friends indicated it is quite similar– more restaurants and shops at the top though (a bit more touristy).
Mt. Bre offers two restaurants, one at the funicular station with partial views over Lake Lugano and another overlooking Lugano and the lake as well. It is about a 2-minute walk from the funicular station. Walking behind the mountain from the funicular station on a well-signed walking path you find the town of Bre.
Note, that from downtown Lugano you can see a new large neon sign saying BRE but the village is actually on the other side of the mountain. Well-worth the time to walk around Bre as the town is charming and the views are excellent.

After Bre, we went to the train station to start our trip back to Zurich. As the Gotthard Panorama Express wasn’t operating we took regional trains back along the same route: Lugano – Bellinzona –Erstfeld – Zurich.

I wasn’t able to get very good pictures on this route but it was also a lovely trip. The change of scenery from the Southern Switzerland to Central Switzerland being quite extreme as you can see with the snow around Göschenen which just appears as you travel north and pop out of a tunnel.

A word to anyone traveling by car – the Gotthard Tunnel gets extremely busy on Friday evenings and Sundays (especially on long weekends) and delays can be horrific. Yet another reason to travel by train in Switzerland!

Enjoy some pictures below – some turned out great (sunny days) while others on the train suffered from rainy windows and reflections – but it gives you an idea of what to expect.

Last modified on Sep 6, 2018 - 2:50 PM by Arno
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maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
618 posts
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Apr 4, 2018 - 12:52 AM

Hi Lucas

Glad you enjoyed your trip to Ticino. Liked your photos!

We will be staying in Lugano for a week in early June so I have picked up a few more ideas to add to my list! I assume the walk from Grandia to Lugano is flat as it is along the waterfront? I ask because my mobility is still being affected by side-effects from medication and though I am hoping things are going to improve by June, I am looking for activities which will not require too much stamina!

Once I have sorted through my ideas I will post specific questions in a new post on the forum.

In the meantime thanks again for your report.

Maggie

Mvmomcat
Mvmomcat
43 posts
active member
Apr 4, 2018 - 4:53 AM

Looks like a great trip! We would have loved to have had more time in Lugano when we were there last summer. Your pictures from Bre are stunning!

Lucas
Lucas
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Apr 4, 2018 - 5:34 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

Hi Maggie,

Yes mostly flat. As you get close to Lugano you need to walk up a road maybe 200 meters and then back down again. Also a few steps in the town of Gandria up and down as you get out of town. The path itself is quite level though - no tripping hazards that I can recall. Mostly stone and some dirt parts but very well maintained.

2 more pics below

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Lucas
Lucas
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Apr 4, 2018 - 5:35 AM in reply to Mvmomcat

Thanks Mvmomcat!

Arno
Arno
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Apr 4, 2018 - 6:05 AM

Thanks Lucas for your write up! This sounds like you've been there for a week :-) You've done a lot despite the weather on day one. Rain, snow and sun within a few days. Now I'm tempted to visit Bré as well on our next visit!

Lucas
Lucas
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Apr 4, 2018 - 6:13 AM in reply to Arno

Yes, we fit in a lot! I didn't get a chance to compare it to San Salvatore but I thought Bre was fantastic.
Wasn't too excited by Bellinzona but Easter Sunday and no one around can affect a city's charm! haha. Although Lugano was bustling that day...not sure what happened there.

Removed user
Removed user
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Apr 4, 2018 - 7:40 AM in reply to Lucas

Great trip report Lucas, and fabulous photos! I am saving many of your tips for my next trip to Ticino!

Alpenrose

Lucas
Lucas
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Apr 4, 2018 - 8:07 AM in reply to Removed user

I think it is my favourite region of Switzerland now. My wife and I aren't avid hikers and we're suckers for a little Italian flair!

Removed user
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Apr 4, 2018 - 8:46 AM in reply to Lucas

>> I think it is my favourite region of Switzerland now.

I like Ticino too, but it's the Engadin that has stolen my heart!

Alpenrose

Lucas
Lucas
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Apr 4, 2018 - 9:13 AM in reply to Removed user

Yes, Graubünden and Appenzell regions are a close 2nd for me!

rockoyster
rockoyster
3928 posts
expert
Apr 4, 2018 - 8:27 PM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas,

Yay, let’s hear it for Ticino! We loved it. Glad you are a convert.

Thanks for the detailed report and top class photos. Even the rainy-day ones look inviting. Meraviglioso!

Great that the sun came out for you.

ps Minor typo at “Castelgrande (the largest of the 3 castles in Brig)”. 🤓

Last modified on Apr 4, 2018 - 8:32 PM by rockoyster
Lucas
Lucas
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Apr 5, 2018 - 5:02 AM in reply to rockoyster

Ooops! Edited. :)

I probably wouldn't put Ticino at the top of my list if I was also traveling to Italy on the same Europe trip (which many people are doing).

But if I was in Switzerland for more than a 5-7 days and not planning Italy it should be a "must-see" for everyone.

Last modified on Apr 5, 2018 - 5:04 AM by Lucas
rockoyster
rockoyster
3928 posts
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Apr 5, 2018 - 10:34 AM in reply to Lucas

If you liked Lugano at the tail end of winter just imagine how good it is in summer . . . .

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Lucas
Lucas
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Apr 5, 2018 - 11:47 AM in reply to rockoyster

You get that in Zurich too ;)

I think maybe Lugano is too hot in the summer....it's been in low to mid 30's here in Zurich in July/August the past couple summers. :(

When does it start to feel hot for an Aussie?
This Canadian starts to melt at 31/32...

rockoyster
rockoyster
3928 posts
expert
Apr 5, 2018 - 8:39 PM in reply to Lucas

Even for Aussie’s heat tolerance varies. For me I would say anything over 25C. That’s why I live as far south as possible. 😎

29C in Lugano last spring was made tolerable by lengthy lake cruises. Oh, and beer.

Lucas
Lucas
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Apr 6, 2018 - 4:52 AM in reply to rockoyster

😁🍻

rockoyster
rockoyster
3928 posts
expert
Apr 6, 2018 - 10:05 AM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas,

Is this place www.ticinotopten.ch/en /villages/corippo smaller than Curogna?

Lucas
Lucas
8941 posts
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Apr 6, 2018 - 12:16 PM in reply to rockoyster

No, much bigger! That is more of a village and Curogna is a hamlet maybe?

Curogna has about 15 buildings and a very small church. They are more often used as 2nd homes apparently (long weekends and summer breaks for city folk). I think maybe 2 homes looked like year-round residents.

Wandermann
Wandermann
299 posts
top member
Apr 6, 2018 - 6:27 PM

Hello Lucas

Thank you for your trip report and beautiful photos. We will be in Ticino in a couple of weeks time and thanks to you contribution we are looking forward to our vacation even more. We probably will visit some places mentioned by you and some of your photos will help us decide.

Thanks again

Wandermann

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