Traveling to and in the Ticino region
The Ticino can quickly be reached from Milan (Italy) and from Central Switzerland by car and train. There are roads and bus services from the canton of Graubünden to the Ticino too.
Reaching the Ticino
From Central Switzerland, including Lucerne, the most scenic way to reach the Ticino is the Gotthard Panorama Express to Bellinzona and Lugano. If you prefer the quickest route to Central Ticino, then take any of the direct trains as suggested by the timetable. Those trains cross the 57 km long Gotthard tunnel and 15 km long Ceneri tunnel, which are not scenic but certainly quick!
A trip by car from Central Switzerland takes longer. You can drive either via the 17 km long Gotthard tunnel (open year round), or via the Gotthard Pass at an altitude of 2,094 m (only open in summer). This route is known for traffic jams, with waiting times up to 4 hours. For convenience, scenery and travel time, the trains are recommended.
From the south, for example from Milan, there are excellent roads and trains to Chiasso and Lugano in the Lake Lugano region.
From the canton of Valais, you can reach Domodossola (Italy) from Brig, and continue on the scenic Centovalli Railway to Locarno in the Lake Maggiore region. Another option, only if traveling by car, is the Nufenen pass road (2480 m, only open in summer).
From the canton of Graubünden, the best way to the Ticino is the Bernina Express: a scenic train and bus route between Chur/St. Moritz, Tirano (Italy) and Lugano. Apart from that, there is a road via the San Bernardino Pass (altitude 1,630 m), which is open year-round and offers bus services too. The pass includes a 6.5 km long tunnel which can be by-passed via the old pass route, but only in summer.
Traveling within the Ticino
Public transport is excellent and can take you almost anywhere. Trains operate frequently. The major towns Bellinzona, Lugano and Locarno are only 30 minutes or less apart.
There's public transport to viewing points on the peaks and within cities. Bus services to remote valleys and some boats may operate hourly or even less frequent, so in those cases it is useful to check the schedules in advance.
As in all of Switzerland, many places with the exception of the peaks can be reached by car as well. The center of larger towns like Lugano can best be avoided with a car. One-way streets, pedestrian zones and expensive parking are common. All towns can easily be reached by train and explored on foot or by public transport.
Free public transport
Guests of hotels, hostels and camp sites receive a free Ticino Ticket. The ticket grants unlimited use of all mainline trains. Other transportation and attractions are either free or discounted.
A rail pass can still be worth it if you visit other parts of Switzerland too, or if you plan to travel a lot. If you rent a holiday home or apartment, you will not receive a Ticino Ticket.