Bellinzona is well known for its three castles: Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro. The castle fortress sits perched overlooking Bellinzona. The castles are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site and preserved as cultural heritage. Whether you live in Ticino, or are just visiting for the day, a hike around the three castles is the perfect way to enhance your time in the area.
Entrance into the Castle grounds is free but if you’d like to go inside the fortress you will have to pay. When taking the train into Bellinzona it is easy to reach the castles on foot as it is a 10 minute walk from the station. If arriving by car, there is a big parking garage underneath the square and the entrance to the castle.
Castelgrande has an impressive entrance into the castle through a cool narrow entrance which leads to an elevator. The castle grounds are large and you can see people relaxing on the grass and enjoying the sunshine.
Montebello is a short hike up the hill – passing through the center of Bellinzona’s old town. The view on your hike up to the castle is stunning as you overlook Castelgrande below. Montebello has some great drawbridges and scenic vistas as well. There is also a MY Switzerland, grand tour plaque, if you are looking to take a nice snapshot at the castle.
After viewing Montebello we made our way up to Sasso Corbaro. The hike was about 30 minutes up the hill to the fortress. Sasso Corbaro has spectacular views overlooking Bellinzona and the surrounding mountains.
We enjoyed exploring the castle grounds and can see why they have chosen to preserve it as a Unesco Heritage Site. There is so much history and grandeur at the fortress and it is definitely worth the visit when in Ticino.
The hike is about a 5 km loop that was easily accessible and it was great to have stopping points at each of the fortresses. Ticino has partnered with Pantone this year to select Pantone colors of Ticino- they have dubbed ‘Grey ‘as Bellinzona Fortress Grey– I think it suits its name perfectly.
More Information for visiting:
Opening Hours of Bellinzona Fortress
02.04.2022 – 06.11.2022:
10:00 to 18.00
10.11.2022 – 31.03.2023:
10.30 to 16.00
It is free to walk the grounds of the Bellinzona Fortresses or you can get your Bellinzona Pass here to see inside all 3 castles.
Adults CHF 28
Family CHF 70
Reduced (students, etc.) CHF 18.
Under 6 years old Free
Where to stay:
Campofelice Camping Village is 5 STAR camping in the heart of Ticino. The 15 hectares of grounds are beautiful and impeccably maintained.
When someone mentions camping, dirt and uncomfortable conditions can come to mind but this is far from the truth when it comes to Camping at Campofelcie. We were happily surprised to find pristine camping grounds with a long list of activities and services.
We were fortunate enough to stay in a new bungalow that comfortably slept our family of 5, with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a full bath. The campground weaves around with campers, bungalows and tents all placed in a way to give a feeling of openness.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the new Robin Bistrot Café, with a menu boasting pizzas made in a wood-fire oven. Campofelice is 5 STAR camping for sure- with its private beach, tennis courts, restaurants, play-grounds, swimming pools, entertainment and endless activities, your family has its pick of exciting adventures or simple relaxation.
A journey through time with the historic Centovalli Train
Let me take you with me on a train ride through rugged gorges and cascading rivers and waterfalls. Sit back and allow your mind’s eye to see the picturesque villages and pleasant landscapes which can be observed through the train window as we ride the historic Centovalli Train from Locarno. I know this is an adventure that you will not want to miss.
You can access the Centovalli Railway(FART train) below the Locarno train station. The stairway beside the carpark leads you to an underground track which seems to take a step back into history as you enter the station. The walls are plastered with lovely time period posters revealing the history of the train and the little towns through which it passes.
Taking the Centovalli Railway has been on my radar for years, as the ride to Domodossola, Italy is reputed to be stunning, especially in the fall with the blazing colors.
We took the train from Locarno to Verdasio. In Verdasio we transferred to a small funivia that took us up to Rasa. The funivia holds 8 people, maximum, and leaves every 20 minutes. The 5 minute ride over the valley is breathtaking, especially in the spring with the lush vegetation and waterfalls in the distance.
Opening times (07 March 2022- 06 Nov. 2022)
9.00 – 13.00
14.20–18.00 (leaves every 20 mins)
|Ticket||Adult||(6-16 year) & discounted||Kids (under 6)|
|One way||8 CHF||6 CHF||Free|
|Round-trip||12 CHF||8 CHF||Free|
Upon arrival in Rasa you are treated to a gorgeous view of the church. The walk through the town seems to take you into another time as it is something right out of a fairytale book. Darling stone cottages lined with roses and gardens create an idyllic sense of quaintness.
Rasa is home to a SWING THE WORLD. We have enjoyed discovering all the swings over Ticino, as the views are always beautiful. We made our way up to the swing perched over the village of Rasa. It is so fun to swing, listen to the birds and enjoy the view of the darling village of Rasa.
From Rasa we set off to hike to Ronco Sopra Ascona. The hike is about 4.5 hours, winding through the forest you will come upon a cluster of stone homes and then you will make your way up the ridge line, finally, to enjoy the majestic view over Lake Maggiore and locate the perfect spot to enjoy your afternoon picnic lunch. We enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch graciously provided by al Porto in Locarno.
After lunch we made our way down to Ronco Sopra Ascona. This is the most difficult part of the hike as the elevation change is quite steep and there are many, many stairs and a steep path. I would definitely recommend walking sticks down as it can be quite intense on the knees. Along the way there were some spectacular viewpoints of the lake and finally, we were able to see our destination which was the Ronco boat dock to take us to the Island of Brissago.
Island of Brissago
The Brissago Islands are located in the Swiss part of Lago Maggiore and is famous for its botanical gardens. It’s easy to see why Ticino refers to the Pantone color as Brissago Blue. The Brissago Islands are full of shades of blue. These gardens display sub-tropical flora found in such exotic places as the Far East, South Africa, and Central America.
The stunning gardens boast azaleas, rhododendrons, among other tropical plants. Switzerland takes pride in its “Gardens of Switzerland” network, of which these botanical gardens are a part, and the network includes many of the most interesting and beautiful gardens in Switzerland.
Ticino has so much to offer, this is just a small snapshot of some of the incredible places to visit in Ticino– from the Bellinzona Fortresses to the Gardens of Brisaggo, there is so much to do and see in beautiful Ticino.
*Our weekend was sponsored by Ticino Tourism, but all opinions are my own.