There are those long weekends in Switzerland, and probably the whole of Europe too, that I often forget to plan for. If you are one of those who just realize that a long weekend is coming up in the first week of June and found out that all the reasonably priced flights to popular destinations like Spain, Croatia, Italy, etc. are all gone by now, why not try to explore Italian-speaking part of Switzerland?
Same time last year, I thought I would just stay in Geneva for the long weekend. But then I realized, long weekends are rare. So, my friend and I decided at the last minute to find a destination. By that time, all the good flights are gone. We decided to explore Switzerland. Our criteria was: small and not too touristy town but with hiking options. We ended up in Bellinzona, Switzerland.
Bellinzona is the capital of the canton of Ticino, Switzerland. It is in the south of Switzerland and Italian is the primary language. The town is surrounded by 3 medieval castles that are UNESCO world heritage sites.
To get to Bellinzona, we flew to Lugano, which was less than an hour flight. From Lugano, we took the train for an hour to Bellinzona. If flying is not an option for you, you can also take the train from Geneva to Lugano (although last time I did that, it took me a total of 6 hours of train ride).
There are a number of things to do in Bellinzona such as visiting the three castles, which for me is a hiking activity, dine in the restaurant of one of the castles, or cross the border and do a day trip in Como, Italy. If you love hiking, vineyards and a little bit of an adventure like me, another thing to do is to hike Sementina and cross the Tibetan bridge to Monte Carasso.
The Tibetan bridge (a hanging bridge) is 270 meters long, connecting 2 mountains – Sementina and Monte Carasso. This might not be a good idea for those who are afraid of heights though as the hanging bridge is 130 meters high. I know it sounds scary but the view is breathtaking from the bridge.
If I remember it correctly, what we did was we took the cable car to Monte Carasso, hiked for a bit to reach the Tibetan bridge, went down walking via Sementina. The walk back to the town from the Tibetan bridge was a bit steep in some parts. Nevertheless, we ended up in this beautiful vineyards.
The total hike was 4-5 hours. We couldn’t feel our legs once we got to our hotel in Bellinzona after hike but it was all worth it.