Vallemaggia (Magic Valley) is an all-season destination that is a must-visit for your Swiss travel itinerary. Located about 124 km southeast of Bern, this region in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino is 569.42 square kilometers of pure magic and bears the name of the Maggia River which flows into Lago Maggiore.
This enchanting valley is home to several towns and villages in a setting of extraordinary beauty with crystalline rivers, lush vegetation, lakes, waterfalls, and 3,000-meter-tall peaks. It’s divided into three lateral valleys: Val Rovana, Val Lavizzara, and Val Bavona.
In Valle Rovana, you’ll feel suspended in time by stone villages and terraced meadows. Val Lauzza is known for its authentic villages of white marble and the Church of Giovanni Battista in Mogno. Val Bavona is the perfect blend of nature and tradition seen in towns like Foroglio with its magnificent falls and traditional stone houses.
Here’s what you need to know before visiting Vallemaggia.
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History of Valle Maggia
The history of the region runs as deep as the valley carved over the years by the Maggia River. Relics from the Copper Age prove it was inhabited at least since then. The planted landscape of terraces, chestnut trees, and walnut trees probably dates back to Roman times.
Christianism spread in the region during the Middle Ages, and several independent parishes were founded including Maggia. During the 14th century, the valley was dominated by the Longobards who had reached Locarno. After struggles overpaying royalties to the Locarno nobility, the villages separated from Locarno and an independent administrative unit was formed.
By 1513, the valley was occupied by the Helvetians and remained so for the next 300 years. After the founding of the Helvetian Republic in 1798, Valle Maggia was officially a part of the Canton Lugano. In 1803, Vallemaggia became its own district as a part of Ticino when it became an autonomous canton under Napoleon’s order.
Roads were built and settlements flourished until storms, food shortages, economic hardships, and the lure of the gold rush forced families to emigrate to the Americas or Australia. Many of the emigrates returned and used their newly-gained wealth to build the villages in the valley as you see them today.
Winter Activities in ValleMaggia
A relatively mild, Mediterranean climate makes it a wonderful time for a visit to ValleMaggia for the outdoor enthusiast. The diversity of the region and a dusting of snow gives you a menu of options from winter hiking to snowshoeing and skiing.
The region has at least three official snowshoe trails operated by SwitzerlandMobility. The trails wind through magical forests to create an unforgettable winter wonderland experience. You’ll find two of them in Bosco Gurin, the region’s highest village at 1504 meters above sea level The ValleMaggia trail in the Val Rovana takes you past a small picturesque village with snowcapped rooftops.
Spend a sunny winter day exploring the Valle Maggia region on several winter hiking trails. One of the best is the trail from Coglio. The trail is accessible by bus and leads through the center of the village. Above the village, the panoramic path turns right into the direction of Maggia. At the crossroads, the stone steps lead back to Maggia.
Skiers will find 30 km of ski slopes at a small ski resort in Boscoe Gurin. The resort has a snowpark and a ski school with equipment rental.
Summer Activities in ValleMaggia
Summer in ValleMaggia is lush and green with hiking trails, cycling, adventure sports, and more.
The region has a dense network of over 800 km of walking trails for summer hiking. The trails begin at the foot of the valley and lead up to peaks of over 3000 meters above sea level. You’ll come upon paths that cut through rocks, cross over stone bridges, and lead through traditional villages.
Challenging but amazing, cycling in ValleMaggia takes you over paths off the beaten track through the valley, villages, and forests along the Maggia River. Stop in one of the villages and refuel at a local grotto, admire waterfalls like the Cascata del Salto, and visit the Museo di Vallmaggia to learn the history of the area.
Go canyoning, rafting, paragliding, or parachuting from Cardada-Cimetta, a local mountain that can be reached by cable car. Or you can simply enjoy a view where you can see Lake Maggia, the lowest point, and Peak Dufou, the highest point at 4,634 meters above sea level.
How to Get to ValleMaggia
ValleMaggia is served by five airports that go to Locarno. From the airport, a car hire, airport shuttle bus, or private transfer will take you to your accommodation.
- The Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) is 2 hours and 17 minutes from Locarno.
- The Lugano Airport (LUG) is only a 57-minute flight from Locarno.
- The Zurich Airport (ZRH) is a 2-hour and 50-minute flight from Locarno.
- The Milan Bergamo Airport (BGY) is a 3-hour and 15-minute flight from Locarno
- The Milan Linate Airport (LIN) is a 2-hour and 40-minute flight to Locarno.
Where to Stay in ValleMaggia
Accommodations in ValleMaggia are vast and varied ranging from exclusive 5-star hotels to traditional inns, bed & breakfast spots, and hostels.
In Fusio, the valley’s last village, the Antica Osteria Dazio is a hotel with an onsite restaurant. It’s a peaceful place to stay with hiking tours and walks available.
The Casa Martinelli in Maggia is an ideal location in a 300-year-old house. The 17th-century stone building has been lovingly restored. The surroundings include a romantic church and the Salto waterfall. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms.
The Baracca Backpacker in Aurigeno is a small, high-quality hostel at an affordable price. It’s located in a quiet area off the beaten track with 3 rooms and 13 beds. The surroundings include waterfalls, a historic church, and views of the surrounding mountains.
The Boschetto Pensione in Cervio has double rooms for 6 adults and 3 children or teens with a family room over two floors. Each room has its own bathroom. Breakfast is served in the garden in summer and by the fireplace in winter.