Hiking Monte Lema to Monte Tamaro – in Ticino Switzerland (Tessin)

We have been in Ticino for almost seven years now and this hike has been on our radar since year one. I think it took us so long to do this hike, as we were never quite sure of the logistics of how to do it. Lema to Tamaro is a one-way hike, well obviously, you can do it RT, but hiking for 10+ hours in a single day is a little much. Not to mention the funiculars close, so you would have to hike down the mountain.

The Monte Lema to Monte Tamaro trail is almost 13 km (12.6 km), with lots of gradual ups and downs along the ridge-line. The hike is an all day hike, it takes about 5 hours to hike the ridge, not including the time to go up and down the funiculars.

The views are spectacular, on one side you have Lake Lugano (on a clear day you can see Milano) and on the other side you have Lake Maggiore with distance views of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa, absolutely stunning.

During the summer months, there is a shuttle bus which will take you to the start of the hike (Lema). The Shuttle was well organized and left from Monte Tamaro dropping off at Monte Lema, so when we finished the hike our car was in the Tamaro parking lot. You can also hike in the reverse Tamaro to Lema.

Monte Tamaro
Opening Times: High Season 8:30 – 18:00 Off Season: 8:30 – 17:00
Monte Lema
Opening: High Season 8:15 – 17:45 Off Season: 8:45 – 17:15
Price including the shuttle bus transfer
Adults 55 chf
Children 30 chf
*Without the bus (funiculars included)
Adults 40 chf
Children 20 chf
*The bus is offered both ways if you leave before 11.30

Along the trail there are a few small huts where you can buy a drink (honesty system, gotta love the Swiss for that). Unfortunately there is no option to fill up your water bottles, so make sure you carry plenty of water for the 5+ hour hike. And as far as a bathroom goes, you’ll have to be one with nature.

As always a Picnic in the Swiss Alps offers up amazing views. How lucky we were to hike with some French guys who came prepared, a bottle of wine from their vineyard. (Yes, please!) We could have sat and taken in the views for hours but we wanted to make sure we got the last funicular down at 18.00.

We stumbled upon many goats grazing in the Swiss Alps. One of the Swiss Huts actually offered goat cheese for sale from the local goat farmer, unfortunately it was sold out, or else we would have bought some to enjoy along side our lunch.

The last part of the hike up to Capanna Tamaro was actually the steepest part of the hike. There are two paths you can choose, one which mainly goes up and one which has more switch-backs, both will lead you to the Capanna.

What a great way to end a hike with cold-beers at the Capanna. The staff at the Swiss Mountain Hut were very friendly and accommodating. There are a few tables outside with gorgeous views over the Swiss Alps. The perfect place to sit back and enjoy your accomplishments….well almost! We did not realize the hike down to Tamaro was actually about another 45 minutes, a drop in the bucket after an almost 5 hour hike, but we were exhausted.

I must say I can see why people say this hike is a must in Ticino. The views are spectacular all along the way. My kids had the option to come with me on this hike but opted out when I told them it would be an all day hike, probably a good choice on their part, as I would not want to hear “how much further ” for hours. The hike takes about five hours, but between all of our pit stops, lunch, drinks at the Capanna, it was an all day hike for us. In the end, we were happy we had a car waiting for us in Tamaro.

We did this hike the end of August and the forecast in Lugano was for 28 degree celcius. I thought we would be quite hot along the exposed ridge-line, as there is no shade, but luckily we had scatter clouds and the temps were about a good 10 degrees lower than the valley. In the off season months you would definitely need to dress properly and hiking boots are needed on this trail. Hiking Monte Lema to Monte Tamaro will go down in the books as one of the prettiest hikes in Ticino.