Just a few kilometres from the well-known Ticino resorts of Locarno and Ascona are the unspoilt romantic valleys known as the Valli di Locarno. The most well-known are the Centovalli, the Onsernone, Maggia and Verzasca valleys.
The Onsernone Valley is a realm of woodland, water and rocks. The first inhabitants built their villages on the glacier terraces on the sunny side of the valley. Footpaths lead through wild, deep cut valleys and picturesque villages to panoramic peaks and glassy mountain lakes. Right at the end of the unspoilt valley, just before the border with Italy, visitors will find splendid palazzi around the village square in Comologno, including a hotel with a really historic ambience.
The picturesque Centovalli (Valley of a Hundred Valleys), is primarily famous for the spectacular ride on the Centovalli railway along deep gorges, over impressive bridges, through chestnut woods and pretty villages. If you break your journey in Verdasio, you can take the little cable-car up to Rasa, carrying you at dizzying heights over the deep gorge of the Melezza. The "Valley of a Hundred Valleys", with its history of emigration, its little villages clinging to steep slopes and its twisty roads, is very popular with nature-lovers. Explore the extensive network of paths, including the mule track on which the farmers used to take their goods to market in Locarno in ancient times, and you'll make countless interesting discoveries.
The Maggiatal is criss-crossed by a network of 700 km of footpaths, taking visitors to discover nearly 40 mountain lakes and a wealth of fauna and flora. This region is also very interesting historically, with popular places to go being the church of Madonna delle Grazie in Maggia, with its Renaissance frescoes, the piazza and museum in Cevio, Bosco Gurin (the only Walser village in the Ticino) and the waterfall at Foroglio.
The narrow Verzascatal is characterised by its steep sides and the emerald-green river Verzasca, which bubbles out of nearly pure white stone. Walk along the bank and you'll find naturally formed bathing pools and whirlpools. Sonogno, the village at the end of the valley, still preserves its traditional appearance with its old houses and alleyways.
- Centovalli Railway – You can use your Swiss rail pass to travel for about one and a half hours on the blue and white narrow-gauge trains from Locarno to Domodossola in Italy (SBB or post bus connection to Brig VS).
- Bungy jumping – like James Bond in the film Goldeneye": leap from the 220 m high Verzasca dam on Lago di Vogorno.
- Church of San Giovanni Battista in Mogno – small church made of Peccia marble and Vallemaggia granite, designed by the leading Swiss architect Mario Botta.
- Sonogno – typical village in the Verzasca valley with the Casa Genardini (village museum) and an old bread oven still in use today.
- Mountain lakes of Robiei – the lakes can be reached by cable-car from San Carlo at the end of the Val Bavona, a steep, narrow side valley off the Valle Maggia.
Festivals in the Teatro Dimitri – various events at the cultural centre run by the Swiss clown Dimitri in Verscio near Locarno (mostly in April/May).