Winter in Ticino? An exceptional experience! Rather than snow-covered expanses, what you find in the Lake Maggiore region are camellias in full bloom, sunshine instead of fog, and mild temperatures instead of icy cold. Thousands of diamonds dance in the sun on the lake, which is surrounded by peaks sprinkled with icing sugar. Winter magic with Mediterranean charm in the sunniest corner of Switzerland.
Cardada-Cimetta is located just ten minutes by aerial cableway above the centre of Locarno. Locarno’s snow-topped local mountain welcomes visitors in winter: it’s a wonderful place to spend a few hours in the great outdoors. One of its highlights is the Passerelle observation platform that offers breathtaking 360° views over Lake Maggiore and the Ascona-Locarno region.
You can see the highest (Dufourspitze, alt. 4634 m) and lowest (Lake Maggiore, alt. 193 m) points of Switzerland from here. The summit offers short walks and even official snowshoe trails. The restaurant’s terrace is a good place to stop for a bite to eat and soak up some sun. On returning to the lower terminus, the effect is surreal: the air’s pleasantly mild again, the birds are chirping and the camellias are in full vibrant bloom.
Walking in nature is good for the body as well as the soul. As daylight is in short supply, it’s even more important to tank up on the energy provided by sun and fresh air. If the weather’s playing ball, how about a mountain bike tour? What’s more, in winter the region acts as a magnet for climbers and boulderers, who prefer tackling the region’s wonderful crags and boulders in winter rather than when they’re exposed to the sun and heat of the summer. As a certified spa destination, the opportunity to relax is never very far away. A warming dip or a soothing massage is just the thing after a day spent in the fresh air.
One of our main insider tips for the winter is Monte Verità and its Casa del tè. The historical hill above Ascona is home to one of the world’s northernmost tea plantations, complete with a delightful Japanese style tea house and a terrace, where you can read a book surrounded by greenery while sipping the locally grown beverage. Visiting on the right day, it’s even possible to take part in a traditional tea ceremony.
Anyone yearning for tobogganing and alpine/cross-country skiing rather than mild temperatures, lakeside strolling and cafe culture should make a beeline for Bosco Gurin and Mogno: these compact winter resorts are no great distance from the lake and are popular with beginners as well as more advanced winter sports aficionados.