Discover Ticino, one of Switzerland’s lesser known regions
Discover Ticino, one of Switzerland's lesser known regions. From your base in the glamorous 'Monte Carlo of Switzerland', explore the highlights of this fascinating region, including picturesque lakeside cities, and delightful mountain railways, all exhibiting an Italian charm.
Your adventure to the heart of Italian-speaking Switzerland begins at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras. From here, we board the Eurostar service to Paris, where we continue our journey south. We take the rail service to the Swiss town of Lucerne, where we overnight at the Hotel Waldstatterhof.
Today begins with a scenic boat trip across Lake Lucerne, bound for Fluelen on the opposite shore. Here, we transfer to the highly efficient Swiss rail network to follow the route of the fabled William Tell Express. The train climbs up to a height of 1100 metres, passing through the 19th century Gotthard Tunnel, a 15 kilometre tunnel hewn through the looming Alps mountain range. We emerge from the darkness on the southern side of the Alps and continue down to Lugano, where we check into the Hotel De La Paix.
Known as the 'Monte-Carlo of Switzerland', this morning we embark on a guided tour of Italian speaking Lugano, in the Ticino region. Situated on the shores of Lake Lugano, the picturesque resort is popular with adventure enthusiasts and celebrities alike.
Our guided tour takes in many of the main sights in this city, where the architecture is a rich blend of traditionally Swiss and Italian influenced buildings. The impressive Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the Church of San Rocco are highlights of the Lugano skyline and are joined by the impressive Palazzo Civico, or City Hall.
We start our journey through Swiss mountain networks with the Monte Bré line. Boarding in Lugano, the Monte Bré funicular takes us up to the summit of Monte Bré, which offers inspiring views of Lugano and the lake beyond. The railway was originally designed to offer the residents of Lugano a chance to escape the summer heat by heading to the upper reaches of the local summit. We then return to Lugano and cross across town to the opposite summit, Monte San Salvatore. This mountain provides some of the most impressive views in the region and the local funicular, originally built in 1890, ascends at a steady pace. Despite being one of the older lines in the region, a recent renovation means that the San Salvatore railway boasts some of the most modern carriages.
Our excursion today takes us on the Centovalli Railway, a highlight of any visit to this region. This narrow-gauge line winds its way across 'a hundred valleys' after which the line has been named, all the while passing through outstanding scenery and idyllic landscapes. We pass over deep ravines and gushing waterfalls, and alongside thick forests and through sleepy villages during our journey to Locarno, idyllically located on the shores of Lake Maggiore. From here, continue on to Domodossola where you have some time at leisure. Under a magnificent backdrop of crumbling peaks in a flat valley, Dodomossola is a classic Italian town, with thin Italian townhouses lining cobbled streets and resplendent squares.
Today we head to Bellinzona, capital of the Ticino region of Switzerland for a day at leisure. Situated in the foothills of the Alps, the city is famous for its three castles, all of which have boasted UNESCO World Heritage Status since 2000, and provide a major draw for many tourists and history enthusiasts alike. The Three Castles, known as Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro surround the town and once provided the first line of defence for this medieval city. Castelgrande overlooks the forested valley and dates back to 1 BC as a fortified site. A large castle, Castelgrande also houses a museum showcasing a history of life within the walls.
Montebello is the first of the castles still attached to the old city walls. The smallest of the trio, the castle has stood since the 14th century as was built by a regional noble family. This small fortification was once surrounded by a deep moat. Lastly, Sasso Corbaro, sits south of the city atop a rocky promontory. This castle is not a part of Bellinzona's walled fortifications however it once held the city prison.
Today is at leisure in Lugano and the surrounding area. You may like to head to the Italian city of Milan, just over an hour on the direct rail service. Fashion capital of Europe, the city is perfect for an afternoon's exploration, with the Milan Cathedral and the Teatro alla Scala opera house particular highlights. Alternatively, remain in Lugano and take a cruise across the cool waters of the lake to visit some of the nearby towns. Wander through delightful streets and enjoy a traditional coffee and caké in a boutique café.
This morning we transfer to the station for the journey to Turin, via Milan. Upon arrival, you are free to spend the afternoon exploring this cultural hub. Founded by the Romans in 28BC, the city of Turin has since been part of the Duchy of Savoy - including a stint as its capital - and the Kingdom of France before joining a united Italy in 1861. In the 1870s the Fréjus Tunnel was opened, providing a major link between France and Italy and boosting Turin's position as a bustling centre of trade. As a result of this long and varied history, Turin boasts a fantastic architectural heritage and a wealth of attractions.
Our journey home continues with the high-speed rail journey from Turin to Paris. Upon arrival in the French capital, we transfer to the Eurostar service for the journey back to London St Pancras.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Discover Ticino, one of Switzerland’s lesser known regions