Switzerland is so small, but so packed with breathtaking nature and beautiful cities. Most people seem to come to Switzerland for Zürich, Luzern, Genève, Zermatt or the Jungfrau Region. These are already a lot of destinations for such a small country. But still there are some hidden gems, such as Ticino. Ticino is an Italian speaking Swiss canton, along the Italian border. The Italian influence gives this Swiss canton a pleasant Mediterranean flavor. The lack of the Mediterranean sea is made up for by Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano. And all of this surrounded by beautiful mountains and beautiful valleys. Sounds perfect, huh?
The capital city of the canton is Locarno. It’s a pretty city, right along the lake. We didn’t spend too much time in Locarno, so I can’t give a huge overview. Basically, we strolled around and swam in the lake. Finding a spot to swim from the city was not as easy as expected. Eventually we ended up swimming on a beach next to the paid beach. Getting into the water was pretty slippery since the beach was made up of stones, but it’s definitely good for a quick refreshing dip.
Strolling around the city was much easier. It’s a small city and the touristic, old city center is pretty easy to navigate. Once we had seen the beautiful, old and colourful buildings, we made our way to the lake and walked around the promenade.
The second biggest city in Ticino is Lugano. It’s quite similar to Locarno; the same Mediterranean vibe, but smaller. I really liked the park which was at the time that I was there (beginning of September) full of flowers. The park is very near to the city centre and it’s very easy to find nice spots to swim from there. Unfortunately, we only had a couple of hours in Lugano, otherwise I am sure there is more to explore if you walk along the coastline.
I like cities, especially if they are so beautifully situated as Locarno and Lugano are, but the main reason for me to come to Ticino was to see the Valle Verzasca. I had heard about it and seen pictures and knew straight away I needed to see it.
The main highlight is the beautiful, blue Verzasca river streaming through thousands of rocks, surrounded by mountains. Most people are immediately drawn to Lavertezzo, a small village where the famous bridge is you will see on most pictures when you google Valle Verzasca.
Unfortunately, this is also the place where it’s the most crowded. But it’s definitely not the only place worth visiting, the valley has so much more to offer. We decided to hike from Diga Verzasca (beginning of the dam) to Lavertezzo. The first part of the hike leads through forests and villages and passes through several small, authentic villages.
Afterwards the path continues next to the river. From here you can stop at places where you can swim (just be aware that the water is freezing cold!). They are not directly on the path, so check maps.me for the direction. No worries, it’s not far, but navigating with maps.me might definitely help. Again, these places tend to be a bit crowded, but you can easily climb on the rocks and find a quiet spot for yourself to enjoy this beauty of nature.
Valle Maggia is a valley right next to Valle Verzasca. I didn’t have high expectations, as I thought Valle Verzasca is Ticino’s main highlight. Normally, I am pretty right with my assumptions, but this time I couldn’t have been more wrong. I LOVED the Maggia Valley and even preferred it over the Verzasca Valley. First of all, it was much quieter. Secondly, the villages were much prettier. And thirdly, it also has a beautiful river flowing through it. And as extra bonus it even has a really beautiful waterfall!
We started our trip with the Foroglio waterfall. It’s just next to the charming little village Foroglio. From there it’s about 10 minutes walk to see the waterfall from above. The view over the waterfall and the valley were awesome! And because we arrived there early in the morning (around 10 am) we could enjoy all this awesomeness all to ourselves.
It’s also possible to see the waterfall from below. Just walk back to the village and follow the path that leads from the bridge towards the waterfall. From here you have a new perspective on the waterfall. It’s also fun to climb around on the rocks and (if you’re brave enough) to bath in the small pools.
From there we took the car and continued further down the valley. (Officially, the waterfall is not even in the Maggia Valley anymore, but in the Bavona Valley. But in order to make it all a bit easier, I will just stick to the Maggia Valley.) We came across some really nice and authentic villages which are definitely worth seeing.
On the way back we stopped at a place along the river just to relax and enjoy the view. We found a beautiful spot with a wonderful view over the river, the mountains and picturesque stone bridge. This spot is right along the road and there were some other people around, but not too many. It was simply the best place to relax and savor the moment after such a beautiful day.