This self guided walking holiday will take you through the southernmost part of Switzerland from the impressive castles of Bellinzona through lively Lugano and on to Mendrisio. You will walk at a leisurely pace and take in amazing views onto the countless lakes and valleys of Ticino, the highlight being the beautiful Lake Lugano.
- Experience the rich culture and art of the Lombardy region know for its lavish villas and beautiful gardens
- Explore the mountain trails high above Lake Lugano
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Day 1: Bellinzona
Arrive in Bellinzona, the capital of Ticino canton. The town is famous for its three castles (Castelgrande, Montebello, Sasso Corbaro) that have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2000. Bellinzona is strategically positioned where the valley narrows at the southern entrance to the Alpine passes and is probably Switzerland’s most Italianate town.
- Accommodation: Hotel Internazionale or simlar
Day 2: Bellinzona – Isone | 10 km
You start today’s walk with a steep climb to the Cima di Dentro with great views of Piano di Magadino and Lago Maggiore. Take one last look at the castles of Bellinzona before you walk down towards Isone.
- Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, 10 km ↑840 m ↓315 m
- Accommodation: Hotel Camoghé or similar
Day 3: Isone – Tesserete | 11 km
First, you walk through the marshes of Gola di Lago and then further on through a sea of ferns in a sparse birch forest towards Bigorio. The Santa Maria Franciscan monastery is perched like an eagle’s nest above Tesserete.
- Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, 11 km ↑525 m ↓740 m
- Accommodation: Hotel Tesserete or similar
Day 4: Tesserete – Lugano | 13 km
Early in the morning, a short bus transfer (20 min) will bring you to Cimadera. The walk leads past the Denti della Vecchia rock formations over the Monte Boglia, through beech forests and high plateaux to Monte Bré, a vantage platform high above Lugano. The funicular takes you down to the city centre.
- Walking for the day: 5-6 hours, 13 km ↑1045 m ↓1265 m (incl. cable car)
- Accommodation: Hotel Acquarello or similar
Day 5: Lugano – Serpiano | 12 km
The hike from Monte San Salvatore to Vico Morcote is a classic for the whole family. Most of the walk is slightly downhill, woodlands alternating with well-kept villages, pretty grotti and scenic views. From Morcote, you cross Lugano Lake by boat and then by cable car to Serpiano.
- Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, 12 km ↑855 m ↓855 m
- Accommodation: Hotel Serpiano or similar
Day 6: Serpiano – Mendrisio |13 km
The Monte San Giorgio, also known as the ‘Fossil Mountain’, is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, tackled after a short boat trip. Dinosaur fossils dating back 230-240 million years can be marvelled at in the small museum in Meride.
- Walking for the day: 4 hours, 13 km ↑615 m ↓570 m
- Accommodation: Hotel Milano or similar
Day 7: Departure
Return home or individual stay extension.
What to Expect
Accommodation is in nice 3-star and country hotels, in double or twin private en-suite rooms. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
Click to view default hotels
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a property of equal standard. We will provide full accommodation details upon booking confirmation.
Accommodation is on a bed & breakfast basis. Picnic lunches are optional at an additional charge and can be ordered locally. You can have dinner at your hotel or the restaurants in the villages.
Difficulty & terrain
This is a rather leisurely walk, but still, sure-footedness and good physical condition are mandatory (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available from the end of April till mid-October. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your holiday on any date in the season.
Click to view travel options
- By train: 2 hours from either Zurich or Milan to Bellinzona
- Parking: affordable parking close to the Bellinzona rail station, CHF 12 per day.
- Return travel by train from Mendrisio to Bellinzona: approx. 50 minutes, approx. CHF 15 per person
- For more information, use the Omio planner above.
- 6 overnight stays with breakfast in nice 3-star and country hotels
- Luggage transfer on all walking days (one piece of luggage per person, max 20 kg)
- Ticino ticket (includes free public transport, discounts on mountain railways and main tourist attractions)
- Entrance to the castles of Bellinzona
- Entrance to the museum Monte San Giorgio
- Detailed route notes (1 x per room)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras & supplements
- A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request