The Cardada-Cimetta mountain range offers a truly unique view overlooking the entire region of Locarno and Switzerland's two extremes: the lowest point, Lake Maggiore, and the highest one, the Dufour point located on the Monte Rosa mountain range. The summit is easily accessible from Locarno's city centre by taking the funicular railway to Orselina, then the cable car to Cardada (1340 m) and finally the chair lift to Cimetta (1670 m). The cable car cabins at the departure and arrival points were designed by Ticino architect Mario Botta.
You can benefit from a magnificent view of the Lake Maggiore basin from any point of the Locarno mountain, but the best places to enjoy the panorama are definitely the Cardada landscape promontory and Cimetta's geological observatory. The first is equipped with a gangway that runs through the treetops of the underlying forest leading to a suspended platform that projects the visitor onto a 180° panorama with an unforgettable view of Lake Maggiore, the Centovalli and Maggia Valleys.
The second, located at Cimetta's highest point, is the geological observatory: a circular platform with a 360° panoramic view of the entire region and the surrounding mountains. A red line signals the Periadriatic Seam ¬– a fault along which the mountain chain separates into Northern and Southern parts. Cutting through a great part of Switzerland, the mountain chain was formed millions of years ago as a result of a collision between the Continental European and the African tectonic plates. From the privileged Cimetta viewpoint you can see the Alps in all their vigour and understand how they were formed.
Architecture lovers will certainly not miss the occasion to enjoy the cable car's departure and arrival stations designed by Mario Botta who has also designed the distinguished water drop-shaped cabins that bring you to the summit in 5 minutes.
Leisure for families
Immersed in a magnificent mountainous landscape at a drop of a hat from the city centre, Cardada is also the ideal place to spend some time outdoors with your family. After the fascinating experience of going up the mountain with a cableway, kids can tackle original games, both educational and fun, scattered along the 1.2 km recreational trail through a shaded forest. At their disposal an Indian village located in the woods between the cable car station and the chair lift in addition to a small playground and nice grassy field.
How to reach the Orselina-Cardada cable car by public transport
The best way to reach the cable for Cardada is to take the Locarno-Orselina funicular railway, which departure is just a few minutes walk from the Locarno SBB railway station and from the nearby multi-storey car parks. You will enjoy a 50% discount on parking when you present your ticket at the funicular desk.
You can also reach the departure of the cable car Orselina-Cardada by taking the bus FART number 2 at the Lido of Locarno (bus stop "Residenza Lido"). Ther are several parking places in the Lido area.
If you have more time…
Itinerary: Cardada-Cimetta - Trosa (2h, see map)
Cardada offers the possibility to engage in numerous physical activities from Nordic walking, to mountain biking, to paragliding and walks such as the climb to Pizzo Trosa. From the Cimetta station, a comfortable and well signposted trail brings you, in less than an hour, to the Trosa Peak by descending to Bassa di Cardada and climbing up through the larches and rhododendrons to the summit (1870 m). The view overlooks an area from the beginning of the Locarno valleys to the Maggia Delta; from Lake Maggiore with the Brissago Islands to the Pizzo Vogorno in the Verzasca Valley; from the Magadino Plain to the Monte Tamaro and the Denti della Vecchia (literally, Old Lady's Teeth). You can return to Cardada along the same route or by following a longer trail that goes to the Alpe di Bietri (Bietri Pasture), the Stallone (a mountain restaurant) and the Alpe di Cardada.