Exploring Switzerland: The Best ‘Secret’ Places To Visit

by Travelling Peach

1. Funicular Mont Bré
By taking the funicular cable car that ascends Monte Bré, not only will you travel up the mountain in comfort but you’ll also see the most beautiful views of Lake Lugano and the surrounding woodland. Then, as you climb higher, you can’t help but be taken aback by the ever-changing and breath-taking views of Monte Rosa, the Bernese and Vallese Alps in the distance. However, the best is yet to come as, when you reach the summit, there’s a quaint picnic area where you can grill food and enjoy a picnic, whilst indulging in the blissful peace and tranquillity of nature. 

For the explorers amongst you, there are a wide variety of hiking trails available to enjoy with options available for all abilities (i.e. family friendly to the experienced hiker). There are also some beautiful churches and museums scattered over the mountain, full of treasures. We especially love the Church of San Fedele, where you can find arts by Pasquale Gilardi (Lelèn) and The Frescoes by Joseph Biro.

2. Cardada Observation Platform (Passarelle)
As children, we dream of flying high in the sky, like Tinkerbell and Sky Dancers, elegantly floating through the clouds, overlooking the beautiful earth below. What we’re never told is that, as an adult, it’s possible – well almost!

Suspended between the crowns of the trees and the forest below, the Passarelle is one of the world’s secret wonders, where science and nature combine harmoniously to offer one an unbelievably peaceful and somewhat out-of-this-world experience. Despite being a sturdy landscaped bridge, the Passarelle has been sensitively designed to subtly blend into its natural landscape with a viewing platform at the end, where you can stand suspended in mid-air looking out over a 180° panoramic view of Lake Maggiore, the Centovalli and the Maggia Valley. It really is the most incredible feeling of freedom. 

But wait, there’s more…  if you continue to ascend the mountain to the geological observation station (i.e. the highest point of the Cimetta), you’ll experience the most incredible 360° vista of the entire region and the surrounding mountains. 

‘Try to visit the Passerelle on a clear day as if you look hard enough you’ll be able to see the Linea Insubrica (i.e. the dividing line between the northern and southern parts of The Alps).’

Taking The Funicular To Cardada. The best (and most comfortable) way to reach Cardada is to take the funicular from Locarno to Orselina, where you can take the cable car up to Cardada.





3. Piora-Ritom Funicular
The Piora-Ritom Funicular is one of Switzerland’s steepest funicular railways. Built in 1917, the single cabin cableway offers a private experience travelling up the mountain at an impressive gradient of 87.8% and offers spectacular views of the mountains, forests and beautiful lakes below. At the top, there’s a lovely recreation area by the mountain lakes in the Val Piora where you can enjoy the stunning alpine scenery and beautiful lakelands whist sampling some local Ticinese delicacies fresh from the mountain itself. You can also visit the famous Piora cheese-making dairy and, for the geologists among you, there are many interesting lakelands, and soft and hard rock to examine, created by the unique geographical conditions of the area.

Polenta e Brasato (braised beef) and Piora cheese

4. The Swiss White Water Trail / Verzasca Valley    
One of the most beautiful valleys in Switzerland, the Verzasca valley is bejewelled by stunning emerald green waters; and surrounded by the prettiest little village and a rugged, picturesque landscape with light birch and larch forests, fabulous peat meadows and enchanting little grottis where you can indulge in some of the local Ticinese cuisine.

Situated in Ticino, the valley is iconized by its elegant double arched bridge, which spans over the sparking gemstone waters and dreamlike pebbles, and its romantic secluded bathing spots. It really is a fairytale location but don’t be fooled. The Verzasca Valley offers so much more and, as you explore further, you’ll see it’s exciting secrets and adventures unfold. You’ll find adventurous suspension bridges, rafting, bungee jumping and, as you wander between Brione and Lavertezzo, you’ll pass 30 incredible sculptures and landscape installations, and enchantingly sleepy, yet lovingly restored, villages. We especially love Frasco.

Note: The trail covers 13km, requires an intermediate level of fitness and takes approx. 3.45hrs to complete.

5. Architecture
One of the best things about Switzerland is how, even as you drive through the valleys, there are so many beautiful pieces of architecture scattered across the mountains and beside the lakes. Some of the most beautiful among these are the rustic traditional Ticinese houses and the ancient churches. The Riva San Vitale Baptistery and the Sacred Mount Madonna Del Sasso, for example, are some of the most important religious and historical sites in Ticino, and are full of exquisitely hand-painted artwork, a wealth of history and spirituality. The Sacred Mount Madonna Del Sasso was built on the ‘Rock’ of Locarno as a place of worship and appreciation for the Virgin Mary by the Franciscan Friar, Fra Bartolomeo, and leans proudly and dramatically on the outcrop of the rock surrounded by views over Locarno, its lakes and surrounding mountains. At the foot of the mount, you can also visit the Church of the Annunciation, the Via Crucis and the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso.

Walking to the large square preceding the church where you can see spectacular views into the deep valley and wilderness.

6. Morcote
We definitely recommend talking a relaxing stroll through Morcote - a picturesque village on the shores of Lugano. Full of character, you can’t help but be enchanted by the small alleyways, ancient arcades of patrician homes and natural beauty of the area. Known as the ‘Pearl of Ceresio’, Morcote is also home to a wealth of valuable architectural monuments and fresco paintings, including the Santa Maria Del Sasso, the Chapel of St. Antonio of Padova, and the Tower of the Captain (Tower of Capitano (XIV century)), which peaks beautifully out from between the houses. 

Visiting The Scherrer Gardens
Situated on the lakefront, the gardens are full of exquisite sub-tropical flora and beautifully framed by the typical Ticinese houses with their quaint porches and ‘loggias’, and the famous Palazzo Paleari. 

With so much to admire, it’s easy to see why Morcote was voted the ‘Most Beautiful Village In Switzerland 2016.’

7. Santa Petronilla Waterfalls
Hidden high above Biasca, on the Alpe di Lago, you’ll find the spring of the ‘Ri Della Froda’ - a magical stream travelling through the rocky landscape that centuries of water has carved into the stunning waterfall of Santa Petronilla. Santa Petronilla is one of the highest and most beautiful waterfalls in Switzerland. As the sparkling waters plunge over the cliffs above Biasca, the water is overcome by colourful light reflections and rainbows. Surrounded by monumental mountains and nature in its rawest and proudest form, the rushing sounds of the water and smell of the forests, this really is an unmissable experience.

The Walk To The Waterfalls
There’s so much to love about this day out; however one of the best things is actually the walk to the waterfalls itself. It takes approx. 30mins to walk from Biasca train station to the waterfalls but it’s more than worth it as you can enjoy sun-kissed views of the Blenio valley, the Leventina valley and the Riviera surrounded by greenery. You’ll also walk past the Cavalier Pellana Museum and climb to the Church of San Pietro e Paulo – one of the most beautiful and romantic monuments in Switzerland – where you can walk along the Path Of The Cross with its four chapels and bask in the shades of the chestnut trees.  

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