3 North-South Route
3 North-South Route

Cycling in Switzerland

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North-South Route

Stage 6, Airolo–Bellinzona

Route report
72 photos

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North-South Route

The Leventina has been a transit corridor since time immemorial. As you press ahead towards the south, the climate becomes milder and milder. The ride along the Ticino is effortless. Surrounded by chestnuts and vineyards, you reach Bellinzona, the UNESCO city of castles.
At Airolo station, a bronze relief by Ticino sculptor Vincenzo Vela commemorates the many who died while building the Gotthard Tunnel. Airolo, with its splendid mountain backdrop, is located in the valley of the young river Ticino after which the canton is named. Nowadays more than ever, the Leventina is a bustling transit corridor. Main roads, motorways, railways and tunnels built with much hard work are crammed into a very small area. Something is always being built somewhere. The goats grazing on the steep narrow slopes have long become used to this. With stoic calm, they savour the grasses and herbs of Valle Leventina.

Meanwhile, as you pedal, you'll enjoy making speedy progress on the excellently constructed main roads. As you cycle downhill, you soon reach Ambri – mainly famed for the HC Ambri-Piotta ice hockey club. In winter, shouts of "Forza Ambri" threaten to bring the Pista la Valascia ice stadium tumbling down, and nobody seems to care that the village will have to wait a few months before it sees the sun again. This is why sunseekers like to take one of the world's steepest funiculars to escape to sunnier climes. With a gradient of 87.8%, the Ritom funicular takes you from Piotta up to the stunning mountain lake of Ritom.

The waterfalls near Faido are beautiful. And the chestnut trees are magnificent, the Ticino stone houses are pretty, the sun warms your bones, the people are friendly – we're in Ticino at last! Giornico is a good example: from one of the two Romanesque stone bridges, there are superb views of the quaint, idyllic village with its handsome old stone houses, and of San Nicolao, Ticino's most important Romanesque church. We're heading to the south – and yet we're already surrounded by it! And as you ride on to Biasca, you'll also be surrounded – surrounded by vines, low stonewalls and granite and carbon factories. The famous "Santa Petronilla" waterfall at Biasca can already be seen from afar. If you ride on towards Bellinzona early on a fine morning, the sun casts amazing shadows on the ground because of the many mountains here that resemble sugar loaves. Then, at Claro, an enchanted little church sits atop one of the hills. The icing on the cake, so to speak. Cycle routes nos. 3 and 6 meet at Arbedo-Castione, where the Moesa flows into the Ticino. One last short spurt takes you to meet the "Bellinzonesi", the inhabitants of the UNESCO World Heritage city with its castles.
The Leventina has been a transit corridor since time immemorial. As you press ahead towards the south, the climate becomes milder and milder. The ride along the Ticino is effortless. Surrounded by chestnuts and vineyards, you reach Bellinzona, the UNESCO city of castles.
At Airolo station, a bronze relief by Ticino sculptor Vincenzo Vela commemorates the many who died while building the Gotthard Tunnel. Airolo, with its splendid mountain backdrop, is located in the valley of the young river Ticino after which the canton is named. Nowadays more than ever, the Leventina is a bustling transit corridor. Main roads, motorways, railways and tunnels built with much hard work are crammed into a very small area. Something is always being built somewhere. The goats grazing on the steep narrow slopes have long become used to this. With stoic calm, they savour the grasses and herbs of Valle Leventina.

Meanwhile, as you pedal, you'll enjoy making speedy progress on the excellently constructed main roads. As you cycle downhill, you soon reach Ambri – mainly famed for the HC Ambri-Piotta ice hockey club. In winter, shouts of "Forza Ambri" threaten to bring the Pista la Valascia ice stadium tumbling down, and nobody seems to care that the village will have to wait a few months before it sees the sun again. This is why sunseekers like to take one of the world's steepest funiculars to escape to sunnier climes. With a gradient of 87.8%, the Ritom funicular takes you from Piotta up to the stunning mountain lake of Ritom.

The waterfalls near Faido are beautiful. And the chestnut trees are magnificent, the Ticino stone houses are pretty, the sun warms your bones, the people are friendly – we're in Ticino at last! Giornico is a good example: from one of the two Romanesque stone bridges, there are superb views of the quaint, idyllic village with its handsome old stone houses, and of San Nicolao, Ticino's most important Romanesque church. We're heading to the south – and yet we're already surrounded by it! And as you ride on to Biasca, you'll also be surrounded – surrounded by vines, low stonewalls and granite and carbon factories. The famous "Santa Petronilla" waterfall at Biasca can already be seen from afar. If you ride on towards Bellinzona early on a fine morning, the sun casts amazing shadows on the ground because of the many mountains here that resemble sugar loaves. Then, at Claro, an enchanted little church sits atop one of the hills. The icing on the cake, so to speak. Cycle routes nos. 3 and 6 meet at Arbedo-Castione, where the Moesa flows into the Ticino. One last short spurt takes you to meet the "Bellinzonesi", the inhabitants of the UNESCO World Heritage city with its castles.
63 km
Asphalted: 60 km
Natural surface: 3 km
260 m | 1200 m
medium

Arrival | return travel

Arrival / return travel Airolo
SBB Timetable Show stop and route on map

More …

Traffic volume
Beware: busy main roads Airolo–Ambri, Rodi–Faido, Nivo–Giornico, Biasca–Iragna and Preonzo–Claro
Traffic volume
Attention: the Strada Industriale between Giornico and Bodio is heavily traveled by building site traffic due to two important projects. Please cycle with caution.
Diversion, Giornico
Duration
until further notice
Reason
Construction & maintenance work
The route is being diverted. Please follow the local signposts. See map for details.
Data source: SwitzerlandMobility / Cantonal office

Arrival | return travel

Arrival / return travel Bellinzona
SBB Timetable Show stop and route on map

Services

Accommodation

B&B Motta
B&B Motta
Airolo
B&B Gottardo
B&B Gottardo
Airolo
Hotel Forni
Hotel Forni
Airolo
Capanna Föisc
Capanna Föisc
Quinto
Capanna Garzonera
Capanna Garzonera
Quinto
Motel Gottardo Sud
Motel Gottardo Sud
Piotta
Rifugio Lago Ritom – Berghaus
Rifugio Lago Ritom – Berghaus
Piora (Ritom)
Capanna Leìt
Capanna Leìt
Mendrisio
Capanna Tremorgio
Capanna Tremorgio
Prato Leventina
Azienda Marachiei
Azienda Marachiei
Osco
Ostello Capuccini Faido
Ostello Capuccini Faido
Faido
Hotel Ristorante Pizzeria Elvezia
Hotel Ristorante Pizzeria Elvezia
Lavorgo
Osteria Anzonico
Osteria Anzonico
Anzonico
Agriturismo - B&B Bertazzi
Agriturismo - B&B Bertazzi
Cavagnago
Capanna Prodör
Capanna Prodör
Faido
Hotel Defanti
Hotel Defanti
Lavorgo
Casa bnb Ticinetto
Casa bnb Ticinetto
Gironico
Capanna Pian d’Alpe
Capanna Pian d’Alpe
Biasca
Albergo al Giardinetto
Albergo al Giardinetto
Biasca
Lago (Alpe di)
Lago (Alpe di)
Biasca
Ostello Cresciano
Ostello Cresciano
Cresciano
Capanna Alva
Capanna Alva
Lodrino
Hotel Bellinzona Sud
Hotel Bellinzona Sud
Monte Carasso
Ostello per la Gioventù Bellinzona
Ostello per la Gioventù Bellinzona
Bellinzona
Osteria Ritrovo dei Passeggeri
Osteria Ritrovo dei Passeggeri
S. Antonio (Val Morobbia)
Camping Bellinzona
Camping Bellinzona
Bellinzona
Capanna Gariss
Capanna Gariss
Preonzo
Capanna Genzianella
Capanna Genzianella
Giubiasco
Hotel Internazionale
Hotel Internazionale
Bellinzona
Hotel Unione
Hotel Unione
Bellinzona
Capanna Brogoldone
Capanna Brogoldone
Lumino
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Bookable offers

3 North-South Route Basel-Lugano
3 North-South Route Basel-Lugano
Lake Constance - Lago Maggiore
Lake Constance - Lago Maggiore
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Places

Airolo
Airolo
Rodi
Rodi
Anzonico
Anzonico
Lavorgo
Lavorgo
Osco
Osco
Biasca
Biasca
Bellinzona
Bellinzona
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Places of interest

Airolo, Ressiga–Madrano
Airolo, Ressiga–Madrano
Cheese factory Gottardo
Cheese factory Gottardo
Tremola road (Val Tremola)
Tremola road (Val Tremola)
Natural trail Lago Ritom
Natural trail Lago Ritom
Ritom funicular
Ritom funicular
Strada alta (Madrano–Osco)
Strada alta (Madrano–Osco)
Art and history in Giornico
Art and history in Giornico
Church SS. Pietro and Paolo
Church SS. Pietro and Paolo
Waterfall di Santa Petronilla
Waterfall di Santa Petronilla
Monastery of Santa Maria Assunta
Monastery of Santa Maria Assunta
Teatro Sociale
Teatro Sociale
The 3 Unesco castles of Bellinzona
The 3 Unesco castles of Bellinzona
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Signalization

Signalization
For cycling, follow the logo indicated on the red signposts. Take a printout of our web map on your tour for safety's sake.
Signalization

Travel reports