Traveling to and in the Ticino region
The Ticino is quickly to be reached from Milan (Italy) and from Central Switzerland by car and train. There are roads and bus services from the canton of Graubünden to the Ticino too.
Reaching the Ticino
From Central Switzerland, including Lucerne, the most scenic way to reach the Ticino is the Gotthard Panorama Express to Bellinzona and Lugano. If you prefer the quickest route to Central Ticino, then take any of the direct trains as suggested by the timetable. Those trains cross a 57 km long tunnel which is not scenic but it is certainly quick! Not as quick is a trip by car, either via the 17 km long Gotthard tunnel (open year round), or via the Gotthard Pass at an altitude of 2,094 m (only open in summer). This route is known for traffic jams, with waiting times up to 4 hours. For convenience as well as scenery and travel time, the trains are recommended.
The new Ceneri train tunnel between Bellinzona and Lugano will open in 2020 and will further reduce traveling times from north to south and from Locarno to Lugano.
From the south, e.g. from Milan, there are excellent roads and trains to Chiasso and Lugano in the Lake Lugano region.
From the canton of Valais, one can reach Domodossola (Italy) from Brig, and continue on the scenic Centovalli Railway to Locarno in the Lake Maggiore region. Another option, only if traveling by car, is the Nufenen pass road (2480 m, only open in summer).
From the canton of Graubünden, the best way to the Ticino is the Bernina Express, a scenic train and bus route from Chur/St. Moritz via Tirano (Italy) to Lugano. Apart from that, there is a road via the San Bernardino Pass (altitude 1,630 m), which is open year round and offers bus services too. The pass includes a 6.5 km long tunnel which can be by-passed via the old pass route, but only in summer.
Traveling within the Ticino
Public transport is excellent and can take you almost anywhere. Trains operate frequently, as well as public transport to viewing points on the peaks and within cities. Bus services to remote valleys and some boats may operate hourly or even less frequent, so in those cases it is useful to check the schedules in advance.
As in all of Switzerland, many places with the exception of the peaks can be reached by car as well. The center of larger towns like Lugano can best be avoided with a car. One way streets, pedestrian zones and expensive parking are common. All towns can easily be reached by train and explored on foot or by public transport.
Free public transport
Guests of all hotels, hostels and campings receive a free Ticino Ticket. The ticket grants unlimited use of all mainline trains. Other transportation and attractions are either free or discounted by 20, 30 or 50%. Note that a rail pass might still be worth it if you visit other parts of Switzerland too, or if you plan to travel a lot on non-free routes. If you rent a holiday home or apartment you will not receive a Ticino Ticket.