Quick one day Ticino trip to see the highlights

See the Ticino region in one day

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View of Lugano, the lake and Monte Brè as seen from Monte San Salvatore.

The Ticino region in one day

The Swiss canton of Ticino offers enough to see and do for several weeks. However, if you are pressed for time you can do a one day trip in the pretty lake area in the south. It will be a good introduction, and you will for sure see a lot in very little time: two lakes, the views from two peaks, a historical church and the town center of Locarno. This trip offers a very nice combination of nature and culture.

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  • Attraction type: natural site, mountain top, by funicular;
    natural site, mountain top, by cable car;
    natural site, lake;
    culture, monument;
    city tour;
    scenic trip, by train;
    scenic trip, by boat
  • Escort: independent (no guide)
  • Region: Lake Maggiore (Ticino), Lake Lugano (Ticino)
  • Duration: 1 day or less

The route

The route we suggest includes regular trains, funiculars, cableways, boats and walks. Parts of the route can be done by car, but we do not recommend that. It won't be quicker nor more enjoyable.

The best time for this day trip is spring, summer and early fall (late March to late October).

The trip starts and ends in Lugano, but you can start in any town along the route.

Section 1: Lugano to Melide

From Lugano you'll take a boat to Melide. This allows you to enjoy Lake Lugano for about half an hour. Then, you'll walk to the train station of Melide in 10-15 minutes.

Approximate travel time: 0h45

Section 2: Melide to Monte San Salvatore

Take a short train ride to Lugano-Paradiso. Walk to the funicular station in about 7 minutes. Take the funicular to the top of Monte San Salvatore and enjoy the view over the lake, the mountains and the city of Lugano.

Approximate travel time: 1h00 - 1h30

Section 3: Monte San Salvatore to Locarno

Take the funicular back down and walk back to the train station Lugano-Paradiso. Travel to Locarno.

Approximate travel time: 1h30

Section 4: Locarno to Cimetta

Walk to the funicular station (2 minutes) and take the funicular, cable car and chairlift all the way up to Cimetta to enjoy the view of Lake Maggiore, the mountains and the towns Locarno and Ascona.

Approximate travel time: 1h00

Section 5: Cimetta to Madonna del Sasso

Take the chairlift and cable car back down, but only as far as Orselina. Don't take the funicular all the way down to Locarno, but walk to the historical church of Madonna del Sasso.

Approximate travel time: 0h40

Section 6: Madonna del Sasso - Locarno

After your visit to the sanctuary, either take the funicular to Locarno or walk down (recommended). Then explore Locarno on foot, and/or have dinner in the center of town or at the lakefront.

Approximate travel time: 1h15

Section 7: Locarno - Lugano

Take the train back to Lugano.

Approximate travel time: 1h00

Take a break from traveling!

There will be good views most of the day. Nevertheless, we recommend to take breaks to take in the views even better. Good places to do so are Monte San Salvatore, Cimetta (or mid-station Cardada) and countless restaurants in Locarno. Shopping can be done in Lugano and Locarno.

Preparation

  • Look into rail passes to save money;
  • Create an itinerary. The suggested trip can be done in a full day if you depart early (we suggest no later than 9:00 AM). Do take extra time into account to have lunch/dinner and take pictures. Have a look at the timetable so you'll know about exact departure and arrival times. You may have to adjust the itinerary in low season if transportation operates less frequently or not at all on particular legs;
  • Check the weather forecast. You won't be able to enjoy the views in case of rain or low clouds;
  • Dress for the mountains: take sun glasses and layers of clothing as temperatures can be quite different throughout the day.
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