Ticino, the Mediterranean Canton of Switzerland
A holiday in the Ticino area gives you access to the best on both sides of the border. Italy and the beautiful Como lake are close by, and the Ticino region has everything of the well-organized Swiss, but with some Italian flair!
We went on holiday to the Ticino area with our children and stayed near Lugano, which is a beautiful town with a nice southern feel. Mountain tops, lakes, palm trees, castles and good food, that are the ingredients of a holiday in Ticino!
We stayed in a town called Porlezza, which is on the Italian side of the border, yet very close to Lugano. Porlezza itself is a small town, and we went there in the evenings to eat an Italian ice-cream while walking on the lake side.
There are several mountain tops you can go to in the area. We chose to go to Monte Bré from Lugano. A cute little red train takes you on top. We all very much enjoyed the ride on itself which has nice panoramic views on the way. You can get off in the village of Bré, where you can find typical Grotto restaurants. Going all the way to the top is worth it too. You arrive at a panoramic restaurant with stunning views over the lake and over the city of Lugano! Good place to have a drink or to daydream in front of nature’s beauty.
Lido di Lugano
The public swimming pool in Lugano is one of the best we have been to so far. It has an access to the lake with a beach with sand to play in. There is also a large Olympic swimming pool, and the paddling pool for small children was really cool! The view over the lake is extraordinary.
Gandria is a small town on the lake side where time seems to have stopped. It is right on the border of Switzerland and Italy and you can take a boat to the other side to visit the Museum of Customs and Smugglers. It is small, but you can wander around in the narrow streets go to one of the restaurants that have a terrace right on the lake.
Bellinzona is a nice town with not one, but three castles. We have visited the Castelgrande which is very well maintained and nice to explore by yourself. You can walk on the castle walls and enjoy the view over the mountains. To access the castle you either walk up, or you take the elevator in Bellinzona.
The main square has nice light pastel colored houses and terraces. On Saturday’s there is a big local market in Bellinzona.
Boat ride on Como Lake and Bellagio
From Porlezza it’s only a short drive to Menaggio where you can take a boat to Bellagio, known as the pearl of the Como Lake. The boat ride itself is already really nice as Como lake is beautiful and one of our favourite Italian lakes. Bellagio is situated right in the middle of the two branches of the Y shaped lake, and has a nice historic center, the ‘Borgo’. It has some streets that go steep uphill with plenty of restaurants and shops. Some streets are not really stroller friendly as they have cobble stones and stairs, so if you have a small child, a carrier would be better.
Playgrounds in Ticino
Our reader Deborah, who lives in Ticino, shares her favourite playgrounds with us!
« Children are golden in Ticino – a great place for families! We like the parks with play areas for children. Our favorites are: Parco Civico in downtown Lugano, Parco San Grato in Corona, the play area and zip line at Lake Origlio, the play area on Monte Bré, the play area next to Swiss Miniature in Melide, the one in Sonogno in Valle of Versazca, and Parco Vira in Savosa. »
Residenza Lago di Lugano is on the Parco San Marco Lifestyle Beach Resort, but less expensive than a room in the resort itself. You can make use of the facilities of the hotel. It has its own beach access on the lake, swimming pools and playgrounds with views.
We were there on the 1st of August for the Swiss National Day and they organized a beautiful dinner on their grass beach with music, kids entertainment and fire works!
Here is a suggestion for an Agriturismo in Porlezza. Agriturismo’s are always nice to stay in for families. This one is by a river.
Or check out this nice Bed & Breakfast on the Swiss side, in Lugano.
There is definitely still more to explore for us in this area, so we will need to come back one day!