Monte Generoso, the majestic mountain standing tall on the southern border of Ticino Switzerland, is one of the local’s hiking paradise. With its breathtaking views of the Alps and the surrounding Italian lakes, hiking Monte Generoso is perfect in combination with the Capolago train.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker, just starting out, or a tourist who wants to use the train the whole way and back, this mountain has something to offer for everyone. Read on to hear our experience, where we take the train the whole way up to the peak of Monte Generoso, enjoy the views, and then hike back down!
Facts About Monte Generoso
To start with, here are some facts we’ve discovered that you should know about Monte Generoso before your visit:
Monte Generoso is a mountain in the Swiss-Italian border, located in the Ticino canton of Switzerland. Once your hiking and exploring, your phone signal will be a little confused between both countries!
The summit of Monte Generoso stands at an elevation of 1,704 meters (5,591 ft) above sea level.
The mountain offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including Lake Lugano, the Alps (you can spot Matterhorn!), and the Po Valley for Northern Italy.
The summit of Monte Generoso is accessible by a cogwheel train, which was built in 1890 and takes visitors on a scenic ride through forests and rocky cliffs. It’s beautifully painted with orange and blue colours.
At the top of the mountain, there is a restaurant and an observation deck, which provides stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding area. Perfect for those that just want to enjoy the view without hiking.
Monte Generoso is home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna, and it is a protected natural reserve. When hiking and exploring, you’ll experience the flowers and wildlife throughout the seasons.
Fun Info: When we were exploring the top, our phone network was constantly switching from Italy to Switzerland. In the end we put our phone in flight mode to enjoy the hike, but was fun to experience how close to the border we were!
Can you drive to Monte Generoso?
We can see that there is a small village near the very top called Scudellate Paese in the Breggia municipality. From there you would still need to hike up or take the train to the peak. However we would strongly advise to visit with the train from Capolago train station. This is most easiest as they have a dedicated parking area for you to leave your car, with the train journey to the peak being pretty impressive!
Car parking location: Via Segoma 6, 6825 Capolago
Where To start: Capolago Train Station
The journey to the top of Monte Generoso starts at the Capolago train station.
You can park your car at the official parking nearby. To park here, you will need cash and it will cost you 7 EUR / 7 EUR for the day. Once you pay, you get a coin that will let you out of the barrier when you leave. So keep the coin somewhere safe!
We, funnily enough, didn’t have any cash with us to pay for the parking. Which we realised only after parking in the car park. But the lady at the ticket office allowed us to buy the parking ticket there and the coin. But good tip to always have some cash!
Alternatively you can also arrive by train to the station with one of the main SBB trains within Switzerland or from Italy. Such as from Lugano easily!
For your tickets to Monte Generoso, the ticket office is at the train station area. Here you can buy your return tickets for the day as well as pick up a map and local leaflets if you want more information. The staff are very helpful with additional questions for the day too.
HIKING TICINO TIPS: For more Ticino hikes and mountain adventures, check our other posts here!
The Train Journey
Once you board the train, take a seat on either side for the views. Going up, you will have stunning views of Italy on the right side. And on the left you’ll see already glimpses of Lake Lugano further at the top.
The train takes around 45 minutes and passes through 2 stations on the way to the final stop. The first stop is San Nicolao and then the second stop is Bellavista. Your final stop for Monte Generoso is next. Keep your eyes open along the way near San Nicolao as you may see a local black cat who lives in the area!
If you are choosing to take your mountain bike, they have lots of space for this at the end of the train safely. Check at the ticket office before you board for this, as you will likely need to pay an additional supplement for your bike.
We loved this train journey for the first time, as we did not know what to expect for the views on the way. It’s always lovely to explore a location for the first time and during a sunny day, but we already know we’ll head back again soon!
Reaching The Peak!
At the top of Monte Generoso, take your time and enjoy the views. There are a few walking routes to see the view from multiple viewpoints. When arriving by train, you will already have the most stunning views on a clear day. But the peak is ultimately the best spot, with 360°c views!
The Monte Generoso Building and Restaurant
Take some times to visit the restaurant for a drink or snack if you did not bring anything of your own. It’s a beautiful building, also known as the Fiore di Pietra (Stone Flower). It is shaped the way it is because of its function as an observation tower and restaurant. The unique shape of the building was designed by architect Mario Botta and is meant to blend in with the natural surroundings while also standing out as a modern architectural landmark.
We think it blends in, but you can also totally spot it from Monte San Salvatore on a good clear day!
They hold many amazing events throughout the year (we’ve signed up for some of them ourselves this Summer!), so it’s worth checking the official site before visiting to see if you want to join some too. For example, they host special dinners (think Easter brunch), music events, afternoon teas and family days.
From the main building, walk up past the playground for children to the higher viewpoint. This is the very top point for the most stunning views. It’s a steep but doable climb in sneakers and suitable hiking shoes, since its a stoney pathway without any dirt or grass.
With 360° views, you will be amazed on a clear day, so make sure to bring your camera. You will be amazed by the stunning views of the Alps in the distance. But closer you can see Lake Lugano, Morcote, Melide, Maroggia, Porlezza and also Bellagio in Italy!
You can also spot local mountains, such as Monte San Salvatore, Monte Brè and Cimetta! As well as much further with the Apennines to the Alps!
When we visited, there was also a drone or two flying around. However be responsible for this as there are often also paragliders and glider planes. We saw some of these as we were heading back down, and they sure sound super quiet so you have to be aware of your surroundings.
TIP: For those visiting the Grand Tour of Switzerland spots, there’s one on the way to the top framing the building!
Heading Back Down The Mountain
We decided to hike down from the top of Monte Generoso to Bellavisa, where the train stop is further down that we passed previously. The hike down was pretty easy. It’s a stone and dirt path mostly, and should be done with suitable shoes like we mentioned earlier.
There are wooden benches along the way to sit on, perfect for a pitstop with some water or a snack if you have some. There are also signs with information too, such as about the local insects and flowers you can spot. But also about how the area once was an ice paradise with lots of water.
The route takes you down along the mountain and into a forestry area near the end at Bellavista. You have the same beautiful views towards Lugano through the trees.
Before heading right back down to Capolago, it’s a lovely little spot (if you hiked down) to get a drink at the restaurant. We did this since we hiked down and had to wait 30mins for the train. So it was the perfect opportunity while we waited. We would have hiked further down, but it was already late in the day and getting much colder, so we decided to wait for the final train down.
The restaurant serves many drinks, but also food and snacks for those who are hungry. There is not much seating inside or out, but they provide drinks to go if you want to not wait for a space. If you have some time, stop for at least a tea, coffee or a freshly baked muffin – yum!
They usually are open with the same times of the first and last train times only, so keep that in mind for visiting as they will not serve food if the final train is already coming down from the peak.
While visiting Ticino, get inspired with our top local posts about the following;
Monte San Salvatore – Ride the funicular or hike up to the top of Monte San Salvatore for gorgeous 360° views of Lake Lugano and looking down to all the smaller villages surrounding the lake.
Spring Parks In Ticino – A collection of green, spacious public parks you can visit all year round, but best in Spring time when all the flowers are blooming!
Lugano In Winter – Sharing what you can do during the winter period in Lugano, such as to join the Christmas festivities, visit a snow topped mountain nearby, shop in the local boutiques and more!
Monte Bre – With a short ride to the top by bus or funicular, Monte Bre is the perfect place for watching the sunset or enjoying a local wine at the restaurant.
The Village of Gandria – Arriving by boat is the best way to visit Gandria, a little village just around the corner of Lugano.
1 Day Self Guided Tour Around Lugano – After taking this route ourselves, we just had to share this perfect 1 day itinerary that you can do in Lugano during the Summer time.
Monte Generoso Travel Tips
When going out for a day trip up the mountain, be smart about what you take. You need to keep in mind the elevation temperature differences, suitable clothing, correct equipment for those taking on the additional harder hikes from here and of course snacks/drinks!
- Bring water and snacks if you plan to hike down (and always take your trash with you!)
- Wear suitable shoes for walking and exploring
- Also wear suitable clothing, since it can be colder at the top even during Summer
- Use suncream on hotter days
- Take your camera!
Monte Generoso is so beautiful – and majestic! I like the idea of taking the train up for those stunning views and then hiking back down.
Rob + Ann @TravelLatte says
Ooooh my gosh. This looks amazing! And it combines so many things we enjoy. Although we were aware of Monte Generoso, we didn’t know too much about it. Thanks for changing that, and giving us another To Do on our travel list! 😁
Hiking and exploring monte generoso would be something I would totally be interested in when in the area. I like how well the infrastructure is developed and making it easy to access the top. After some hiking and taking in the spectacular views, I do like to sit and somewhere and have a drink. The restaurant and visitor centre are cool and ideal for this. I also liked that they established benches along the hiking paths to make the routes accessible for hikers of all levels. Fun and also a huge contributor to the life quality in the area.
Carolin | Solo Travel Story