Ticino's Chestnut Trails, Switzerland

With an enticingly Mediterranean ambiance, the canton of Ticino with its verdant chestnut forests and gorgeous Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano is a true hiker's paradise. Walking in Ticino, Switzerland, is surely among Europe's finest.

About this Switzerland walking region
When visiting Ticino and Ticino’s Chestnut Trails, you would be forgiven for thinking you are actually in Italy, rather than Switzerland. The climate, the cuisine, the architecture, the atmosphere and sense of style all have a very Italian feel about them. Yet Ticino is very much a part of Switzerland, albeit an Italian-speaking region. Switzerland’s most southerly canton is culturally and geographical distinct from the rest of the country. Access into Ticino from the north is via the famous San Gotthard and San Bernadino passes. The Alps gradually get smaller as you head further south, eventually leading to the lakes in Sottoceneri, at Ticino’s southernmost tip, which is where you’ll find the famous Lake Lugano and the towns of Mendrisio and Chiasso.

The blend of Swiss and Italian vegetation is most intriguing and it makes walking in Ticino, Switzerland, a joy. You can take a hike in the mountains which starts out in snow and ice, but finishes up in sunny chestnut forests. Colourful alpine pastures alternate with wooded hills and high peaks on the shores of Ticino’s renowned lakes.

Ticino has a distinctly Italian flavour. Not only is it geographically close to Italy, but it was also once under Italian rule. And the climate is certainly warmer than in other parts of Switzerland, with long hours of sunshine and relatively high rainfall. These temperate conditions have resulted in a unique array of flora; a mix of both alpine and Mediterranean species.

Walking Ticino’s Chestnut Trails, Switzerland
Hiking in Ticino is a popular pursuit and it’s easy to see why. There are no less than 3,600 kilometres (2,237miles) of hiking trails which are hugely diverse, ranging from leisurely circuit trails around lake shores to more challenging alpine treks and a number of themed walks. There is an efficient public transport network including cable cars which enable you to reach high ground quickly and easily. The milder climate here also means that walking is possible year-round, at times when other parts of the country become inaccessible due to heavy snowfall.

Lake Maggiore – Ascona, Locarno

Under palm trees on Mediterranean lake shores; on picturesque paths through forests of chestnut trees ● Choose from the numerous walking trails on Monte Cardada (1,340m/4,396ft) above Locarno ● The romantic wild beauty of Onsernone Valley should not be missed ● Ascona, Locarno’s “smaller twin” and a centre of arts.

Lugano and Lake Lugano

Living la dolce vita in the vibrant city of Lugano ● Find peace and quiet in the beautiful countryside around Lugano ● An ideal climate, picturesque vegetation, vineyards and chestnut trees ● Find an extensive network of hiking paths, including the Monte Lema (1,621m/5,318ft) to Monte Tamaro (1,962m/6,437ft) ridge walk.

Valle Verzasca and Tenero

The wild Verzasca Valley is the best-known of Ticino’s valleys ● A hiker’s paradise with mountains up to 2,500m (8,202ft) ● Explore on foot: Sentierone – the old mule traders’ trail ● Find traditional architecture in the form of stone houses (called rustici) ● Tenero: a pretty town between Lago Maggiore and Verzasca.

Bellinzona and its Surroundings

A good base for hikes in Ticino’s Alpine north and its Mediterranean south ● Located south of the Alpine valleys of Blenio, Leventina and Bedretto ● Ticino’s highest mountain, Cima dell'Adula near Blenio (3,402m/11,161ft), can be reached in 50 minutes ● Enjoy a walk through Bellinzona’s lovely old part with its medieval castles.


Little-known valley in the north of Ticino, starting at the southern end of the St. Gotthard Tunnel ● 40km/25mi of hills and mountains with thick pine forests, Alpine pastures and pretty villages ● Around 650km/404mi of hiking trails ● Walker’s highlight: the ‘Strada Alto’, a 3-day, low-level mountain trek from Airolo to Biasca.

Mendrisiotto and Lower Ceresio

The southernmost part of Switzerland ● Delightful hilly landscape with pretty villages and extensive vineyards ● The lively city of Chiasso – very Italian! ● Enjoy great views of Lake Lugano from Monte San Giorgio (1,097m/3,600ft), a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site ● Cross-border hiking on Monte Sighignola (1,314m/4,311ft).

Riviera del Gambarogno

Stunning lakeshore (10km/6.2mi), stretching from the southern tip of Lago Maggiore to the Italian border ● Beautiful Ticino villages such as Vira ● Endless chestnut groves ● A popular walking region with a trail network of 200km (124mi) ● Bolle di Magadino: water meadow landscape and home to a unique flora and fauna.

Valle di Blenio

Large Alpine valley in the Lepontine Alps ● Walk through well-preserved old villages along the trail from Biasca to Olivone ● 500km/311mi of marked walking paths traverse the Blenio Valley ● Olivone, at the foot of Mt. Sosto (2,221m/7,287ft), is the starting point for walks to the pristine Val di Campo and to the pretty Luzzone Lake.

Vallemaggia (the magic valley)

The largest valley in Canton Ticino ● From the shores of Lake Maggiore up to 3,000m (9,843ft) high mountain peaks ● Extensive network of hiking trails – 800km (497mi) ● Dotted with hamlets featuring old stone houses and churches and chapels richly adorned with frescoes ● Vineyards, spectacular stone bridges and the River Maggia.

Valle Riviera and Biasca

Where the Alpine valleys of Blenio and Leventina meet ● Biasca, a small but pleasant town ● The perfect gateway to Alto Ticino (Upper Ticino) ● The valley to the south of Biasca is called Riviera ● 3km/1.9mi from Biasca you’ll find the small Lake Carigiolo, the source of the stream that feeds the town’s trademark waterfalls (80m/260ft).


Travel Information

Best time for a walking holiday...

Fly to...
Lugano-Agno (CH), Milano Linate (IT), Milano Malpensa (IT), Orio al Serio Airport (Bergamo)

Switzerland Walking Regions