Ridge path next to Monte Boglia
View from Monte Boglia towards Italy

Rolling mountains, beautiful lakes and polenta. And in addition, hiking in Ticino is usually blessed with nice weather, and the weather indeed delivered when I hiked from Cimadera to Lugano, crossing three diverse mountains: from very rugged Denti della Vecchia, round and grassy Monte Boglia and the urban Monte Brè. A diverse day hike which I finished right in the center of Lugano.

This hike is an excellent day trip from Zurich, and the only restaurant on the via, Capanna Pairolo, hits on the way conveniently around lunch time.

The bus to Cimadera is not very frequent, so I wanted to start from that end and finish in Lugano, so that I didn’t risk getting stranded. Cimadera is reachable from Lugano train station with two busses, taking in total around 50 minutes. Cimadera itself is a nice little village where all houses are similar looking stone houses, but I mainly walked non-stop through it to get to the path. And from Lugano getting back to Zurich is naturally very easy.

Starting pointCimadera, Paese
End pointMonte Brè
Length13.2 km
Highest point1516 m
Ascent1125 m
Descent1279 m (with funicular from Monte Brè)
GradeT3
T5 with summitting Sasso Grande (unmarked)
Food optionsCapanna Pairolo
Link to SAC Tour PortalLink (not exactly my route, but key parts are the same)
SleepingCapanna Pairolo (and everything in Lugano)

This route is part of the Weekend Mountaineer day trip collection, ensure you check the full list here.

Planning considerations

Route options

While there are few parallel paths pretty much the whole way, the route to hit all three mountains has only one major route decision, whether to start from Cimadera or from Lugano, and to end to the other one. I chose to start from Cimadera for a simple reason: I did not want to stress about getting back to Lugano from Cimadera at the end of the day. And the fact that the only restaurant is about 1 hour walk away from Cimadera it hit the lunch time perfectly when taking the early morning train from Zurich to Lugano.

There are options how the most rugged part of the route is done – apparently you can also summit some of the peaks of the Denti della Vecchia. I did not know about it, and not sure if I would have done it either as I was doing this hike solo.

Mountain summits of Denti della Vecchia
Denti della Vecchia – Old lady’s teeth

The part from Denti della Vecchia to Monte Boglia, is very scenic, popping on the Italy side of the border every now and then, and also nice variety of exposed paths and walking in the forest. The views from Monte Boglia are spectacular, surprisingly open considering it is only 1500 meters high.

View to Lago Lugano
Break at the Monte Boglia summit. View to Lake Lugano, with Ponte Diga clearly visible

Route ends at Monte Brè, where is an option to take the funicular down to Lugano, or walk down the 650 vertical meters. I took the funicular, not sure if walking down on this urban setting would be the best way to end this hike.

Food options

There is only one option for food before Lugano:

  • Capanna Pairolo – a SAC mountain hut with naturally overnight option with half board. I had a nice lunch here (as nice as polenta can be considered to be).
Polenta lunch
Polenta. Naturally.

What I would do differently?

Not much. This hike was as nice as it can get, I believe. Good weather, perfect duration and while in total it has close to 6 hours of travel time it was easy and convenient, as it usually is in Switzerland. I did this hike mid October which was great time – warm but not hot.

Enjoying to view to Northern Italy
Unsurprisingly this seat was taken

Monte Boglia is beautiful, relatively easy and accessible mountain, a scenic summit with views deep into Italy. The Denti della Vecchia is on the other hand visually very interesting group of summits. This hike provides a nice, diverse day hike finishing in Lugano. Even with the 6 hour total travel for a day trip, this is a highly recommendable day trip from Zürich. And nothing stops staying overnight in Lugano.

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