The climate in the lower regions is mild; palm trees and many other southern plants flourish on the shores of the lakes and in gardens, giving the riverside promenades a very special Mediterranean flair. Mendrisiotto, a wine growing region that produces top quality wines from Merlot grapes, is located to the south between Monte Generoso and Monte San Giorgio. The summit areas, however, experience snowfall every year. The highest peak in Ticino is the Rheinwaldhorn (Adula) on the border with the canton of Graubünden.
This area between the Saint-Gotthard Massif and the Po Valley offers great scenic diversity and is divided into Sopraceneri and Sottoceneri. It is home to countless scenic mountains and fascinating valleys, rivers and villages. High altitude hikes with views of peaks and glittering lakes as well as hikes in quiet valleys, through chestnut and birch forests and historic villages on steep mountain slopes are among the many highlights of Ticino.
Monte Lema and Monte Tamaro, with views of the Monte Rosa massif, the Prealps, the Veltliner Dolomites and the glittering lakes, are two of the most popular excursion mountains. Not quite as high yet popular tourist attractions that offer fantastic panoramic views are Monte Brè and San Salvatore, the "Sugar Loaf of Lugano" on Lake Lugano.
Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore are the most famous lakes in Ticino. The latter has the lowest point in Switzerland. The many small mountain lakes and rivers that originate from the mountains and shape the different valleys, such as Valle Verzasca and Valle Maggia, are also charming.
The stone arch bridges built across rivers and brooks are picturesque, reminiscent of the untainted, quiet Ticino from the pre-tourism times. The natural stone bathing pools in Valle Maggia are beautiful and always a good place to get refreshed; an occasional waterfall completes the idyll.
Regardless of whether they are situated in remote corners of the mountains or prominently on the shore of a lake: the countless small and large villages and towns of Ticino are enchanting. The former fishing village of Morcote is one of the most picturesque villages in Ticino and was voted the most beautiful village in Switzerland in an online poll in 2016.
You can also visit the towns of Ascona, Locarno and Lugano, all of which have lakefronts and popular promenades decked with flowers and palm trees, beautiful old town streets and beautiful squares; the smaller villages of Gandria and Mendrisio are also worth visiting.
Bellinzona, the capital of the canton of Ticino is one of the most beautiful cities in this region. It also has an enchanting old town part, beautiful squares as well as three castles and the city and fortress walls, which are part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage site.
Two of the most charming and typical Ticino mountain villages are Corippo, which is a listed monument, and Mergoscia with its old stone houses and typical granite slab roofs.
The Brissago Islands in Lake Maggiore are a subtropical paradise and a popular destination for boating excursions.
If you want to get an overview of Switzerland's monuments, churches and castles, visit the Swissminiatur open-air facility in Melide by Lake Lugano. If you want to immerse yourself in the history of our planet, you can visit the fossil mountain Monte San Giorgio where you can see marine fossils from the Triassic period.
And if you want to learn more about chestnuts, which were once the most important sources of nourishment for the poor in Ticino, you can go on the Kastanienweg (Chestnut Trail).
Even today, a variety of the typical Ticino dishes are made from chestnuts, which used to be the staple food of poor people. Ticino dishes include chestnut soup, pasta made from chestnut flour and Marronikuchen Castagnaccio (chestnut cake).
The best known specialities of the Ticino cuisine are polenta, cooked in a large pot over wood fire, Riso Nostrano Ticinese, a rice dish, and various cheese specialities.
Also worth mentioning is the goat sausage (Cicitt) from the Ticino Alps, primarily from the Maggia and Verzasca valleys.