This is a story how I found summer, or at least spring, in the middle of January in Switzerland in a beautiful Ticino village called Morcote.
I have visited Morcote in the beginning of January (mid winter) and experienced great weather (+16 degrees by Celsius, 61 degrees to fellow americans), beautiful italian architecture, amazing views to the lake, Italy and mountains. I had really great time in winter when you are supposed to walk with your big jacket, instead I was strolling around Morcote in my t-shirts 🙂 I suppose, in summer, Morcote is hot as hell, but nevertheless, it is a great little village to visit. Morcote is definitely in top 10 most beautiful villages in Switzerland.
Let us explore Morcote together, let’s have a look how to get there, some facts and what to do there.
How to get to Morcote in Switzerland
Morcote is located in Ticino canton, pretty close to Italy. If you are an excellent swimmer, you can just cross the lake and get to Italy.
Lugano is the next big city and you can get from Lugano to Morcote in 20 minutes with your car or with public transport.
If talking about Zürich, Morcote is 214 kilometers away and you would need around 3 hours to get there.
If talking about public transport, you can cover almost all distance from Zürich by train, but you will have to jump into a bus in Melide. Morcote does not have its own train station, hence the fact you can reach it only by bus.
You can check all the latest prices and timetables right here: Swiss trains.
If you come to Morcote with your own car, there’s a parking right on the entrance of the city: underground parking on the right of the main road. Very comfortable, you can pay with a credit card. DO not go into the city, there will be nowhere to park, it is basically just one crossing street close to the water and all other streets in Morcote are just for walking (maybe there are some places for locals, but I wouldn’t get into very dense old town). When you leave the car in the parking, the city center is just 5 minutes away.
Morcote – things to know about it
As I mentioned before, Morcote is located in Ticino canton, meaning that the spoken language is italian. Even after a few years I live in Switzerland, it is always strange to me when I just drive 200 kilometers in the same country and I jump into another language: from german to italian, or from german to french 🙂 If someone speaks the fourth language – Romanish – I wouldn’t really recognize it 🙂
Even though, Morcote for me looks like a city, it is considered to be a village and less than 800 people live there. For me it is strange, because all the old architecture (italian) is from stones/concrete, no old wooden houses, it makes you feel like in a normal size city 🙂
The first time the city was mentioned as Murcau back in 926. The biggest money income for the very long time, till the end of 19th century for city was fishing, but now tourism is very strong business there.
What to do in Morcote
Morcote is one big spectacle. It is very old and so well preserved that you actually feel like walking in the museum.
It is mostly italian architecture which gives you a very specific summer mood all year round. I would really love to know what is the difference between swiss italian and italian architecture, but you can hide the fact that Morcote was strongly influenced by italians, I am pretty sure it was built by italian architects 🙂
1. Morcote old town tour
What is a must in Morcote, is the old town tour. Depending on how fascinated you are by the old architecture, beautiful gardens, old houses and views to the magnificent lake, you can spend there 1-3 hours. Just strolling around.
Once you leave your car or come from the bus stop, just dive into the narrow streets of Morcote. There are lots of old buildings, churches (which you can visit), even very old pretty impressive cemeteries (if you are a fan of old cemeteries, you are going to love the one in Morcote, it seems that everyone in that cemetery was a millionaire).
Once you leave the main street of Morcote, you will have to walk up a bit (or down afterwards) as all the old town is situated on a slope of a hill. So there’s some free exercise for you, which I personally love.
In the picture above you see the Borgo Antico which is in front of the church. I do not really know the historical value of this building, but it looks pretty old and you can go inside if you wish. Borgo in italian means village, so maybe this is one of the first buildings in the village 😉
This is one of the examples when I hate my simple not professional camera 🙂 The view to the lake with this church tower was fascinating. Now in a picture it is a bit “eh..”. But if you go there, please climb up higher than the church tower and you can get a postcard picture with your camera 🙂
In the picture above you see one of the cemetery’s graves. Yes, it is a grave. You can see that it is written Famiglia Luigi Caccia, so probably the whole family rests there, maybe even few generations, but I am pretty sure that this family was very important or very rich.
Wouldn’t you love such views in the streets of this village? It is really amazing. I loved every step in Morcote. The Morcote old town tour was the highlight for me in this trip.
As you think about Italian old towns, I am sure that some narrow streets pop up in your mind, and you can find it as well in Morcote. Such streets are amazing in summer as they block the hot sun (and it gets really hot in Morcote), so the walk around the old town is cool and chill.
2. Chiesa Santa Maria del Sasso
What I did, is, I walked by the main street till Chiesa Santa Maria del Sasso (it is a church higher in the city, you will not miss it), turned to staircase which leads to the church and took many pictures every other step as more and more roofs unravels and as well you see more and more of the Lugano lake (lago di Lugano). You get a perfect view to Italy and hills next to the lake. I have visited the church and climbed as high as I can to take some nice pictures.
In the picture above you can see the entrance into the church.
In the inside the church looks much more beautiful and it is a perfect place for a person with faith or for a tourist just to look around and investigate the historical sites of Morcote.
3. Parco Scherrer
What is a bit further away in Morcote is Parco Scherrer – it is a very well kept park/garden in Morcote. The park looks like taken straight from ancient Rome: with statues, nice small ponds, very nicely cut grass, italian flora, looks really nice.
You are going to feel like in Mediterranean paradise. As well, you are going to have a perfect view to the lake from this garden which makes the activity and visit even more fun. Do not get surprised to meet a bride and a groom there at is a perfect location for fabulous wedding pictures.
You can find the latest information about opening times (be aware that it is not open all the time) and tickets right here: Parco Scherrer.
Once you have visited the park, you can jump into the narrow streets again and just wander around.
Once you come into the main square, you can have a dinner or a snack. Even though I was there in January, I could site outside, enjoy my pizza, coffee and a beverage. Outside. In January. Nessun problema 🙂 No problems.
4. Castello di Morcote
Castello di Morcote is a winery up higher in Morcote, you will have to walk a bit more and gain some altitude, but the views to the vineyard which are situated on the slopes of the hill are breathtaking. At the same time, once again, you will have the open view to the hills and the lake.
In this winery you can get and taste the local wine which is produced right there. You can not get it any more local. All the grapes are in front of you.
You can find all the information about this place right here: Castello di Morcote.
5. Ristorante Vicania
Do you want a more rustic feeling? You can hike up to Ristorante Vicania.
It is couple of kilometers from the Morcote city center, but you will suddenly get into the nature.
Restaurant is on a hill with great views and stands alone in a big field. You can get some local food and just enjoy the tranquility of the place. It is peaceful, calm, beautiful.
You can find more information about the restaurant right here: Ristorante Vicania.
Morcote is really one of the hidden treasures of Switzerland. It is not highlighted as Grindelwald or other famous Swiss places, but it is really worth spending your afternoon in Morcote.
As well, if you are biking fan, I saw many many bikers going through Morcote, the places all around are very beautiful so it is a great place to take out your bike and just cycle around.
Morcote is a small living museum next to the Lugano lake which you are going to enjoy. It is really one of the top places to visit in Ticino canton. If you happen to be in Lugano, Locarno or Bellinzona, take a trip to this beautiful village.
If you are looking for more hidden treasures, I highly recommend visit Indemini village in Ticino canton as well, all information about it is right here: Indemini.
If you have any questions regarding Morcote, please let me know, I will do my best to help you.
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