Switzerland Insider

Switzerland Insider

Welcome to Bavona Valley, a breathtaking hidden gem nestled in the heart of Ticino. Known for its pristine beauty, this Swiss valley is dotted with charming stone villages such as Sabbione and Sonlerto, which transport every visitor back in time. Among the valley’s crowning jewels is the Foroglio Waterfall, a stunning natural wonder with uniquely close access for visitors. As you explore this secluded paradise, you’ll quickly discover why Bavona Valley is considered one of Switzerland’s best-kept secrets.

House in Sabbione

Discover Fontana and the Bavona River

Our adventure begins at the wild Bavona River. There’s a small parking spot nearby, making it easy to start our tour on foot. Walking across the old stone bridge, you’re treated to a stunning view of the river’s crystal clear waters — perfect for some peaceful reflection and a few snapshot moments.

Next to the river lies Fontana, a Swiss village that draws a contrast to the river being being extremely calm. What’s truly captivating about Fontana is the architecture — houses ingeniously built right beneath massive rock overhangs. This unique architectural style isn’t just a marvel of rustic engineering; it also speaks to the village’s harmony with nature.

Sabbione: Like Stepping into a Fairy Tale

Just a short drive from Fontana, Sabbione awaits like a scene from a fantasy book. It’s not just the setting that’s magical, but also the structures themselves. Imagine quirky homes that look like they could double as hobbit houses, complete with grass roofs and doors carved into boulders.

Sabbione isn’t just a pretty place to look at; it feels like a living museum. The village has kept its magical charm away from the fast pace of modern life. The air is fresher here, and the towering cliffs in the background make you feel like you’ve entered a completely different world. As you wander through the village paths, take your time to explore.

The Foroglio Waterfall: A Must-See

Just a short journey from Sabbione, Foroglio stands as a testament to the stunning beauty of Val Bavona. This small village may seem quiet at first glance, but it houses one of the most awe-inspiring sights in the region—the Foroglio Waterfall.

As you arrive in Foroglio, you’ll immediately notice how the village seamlessly blends into the natural landscape. The houses, with their traditional stone architecture, seem to grow right out of the rocks. It’s a place that feels both timeless and anchored in its environment.

The highlight here, without a doubt, is the Foroglio Waterfall. Cascading down from great heights, the waterfall is a powerful presence. You can hear the roar of the water long before you see it, building anticipation as you approach. The area around the waterfall includes well-maintained paths that allow you to explore from various angles, offering spectacular views that are perfect for photography enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

But Foroglio offers more than just its waterfall. The village itself is worth exploring for its charming atmosphere and the small details that make it unique—like the quaint little church that dates back several centuries and the local osteria where you can taste traditional Ticino dishes. The community here is small, and you might find that some locals are happy to share stories about their heritage and the village’s history.

More Villages!

Val Bavona has many more secrets to share. The lesser-known villages of Ritorto, Sonlerto, and Roseto offer distinct experiences with their untouched beauty and ancient structures. Each village tells a story of the valley’s past, making them worth the exploration.

How to get to the Bavona Valley?

Getting to Bavona Valley in Switzerland can be an adventure in itself, given its somewhat secluded location. Here’s a practical guide on how to reach this picturesque destination whether you’re traveling by car or public transport.

By Car

Driving is the most flexible way to reach Bavona Valley and explore its various villages. The valley is located in the Canton of Ticino, and the closest major city is Locarno. From Locarno, take the main road towards the Maggia Valley. Continue driving through the Maggia Valley until you reach Bignasco. From Bignasco, turn left and follow the signs to Bavona Valley. The drive from Locarno to the entrance of Bavona Valley takes about 30 minutes. This route allows you to stop at multiple points of interest at your own pace.

By Public Transportation

Public transport in Switzerland is efficient and well-connected, even to less-visited areas like Bavona Valley. From Locarno, you can take a PostBus (the yellow Swiss postal buses known for reaching remote areas). Take the bus towards Cavergno, and from there, switch to a bus that serves the Bavona Valley route. Note that buses into the deeper parts of the valley may be infrequent (often only two or three times a day) and may only operate fully during the tourist season (spring to autumn). Check the current timetable on the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) website or the PostAuto website to plan your journey. Also, you might be interested in the Swiss Travel Pass to travel there!

How long to visit the Bavona Valley?

Quick Tour (3 to 4 hours): For a brief visit that captures the essence of Bavona Valley, allocate about 3 to 4 hours. Start at Fontana, where you can quickly view the houses under the rock overhangs and enjoy the serene atmosphere. Next, move to Sabbione to explore the hobbit-like homes, capturing the fairy-tale feel of the village. Conclude your visit at Foroglio, taking some time to experience the stunning waterfall. This quick tour is ideal if you’re limited on time but want to see the key highlights.

Extended Visit (Half-Day, about 5 to 6 hours): To delve deeper, extend your visit to about 5 to 6 hours. Spend more time in each village—Fontana, Sabbione, and Foroglio—and add more villages such as Ritorto, Roseto and Sonlerto to your itinerary. This gives you a fuller experience of what each unique location has to offer without rushing.

Best time to visit!

The best time to visit Bavona Valley largely depends on what you want to experience, as well as the weather conditions, which can greatly affect your ability to enjoy the valley’s attractions. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect throughout the year:

Spring (Late April to June)

Spring is a wonderful time to visit Bavona Valley as the landscape begins to awaken. The weather starts to warm up, and the valley becomes magical and green. This is an ideal time for hiking and photography, as the waterfalls, including the Foroglio Waterfall, are at their most dramatic due to the melting snow. The temperatures are pleasant, although it can still be a bit chilly, especially in the early part of the season.

Summer (July to August)

Summer is the peak tourist season in Bavona Valley. The weather is warm and sunny, making it perfect for exploring the outdoor wonders of the valley. All facilities, such as restaurants and restrooms in Foroglio, are open. This is the best time for visitors who want to enjoy long days of hiking, visiting multiple villages, and engaging with local culture.

Autumn (September to October)

Autumn is another excellent time to visit. The valley is less crowded than in summer, and the changing colours of the foliage create a picturesque setting. The weather is cooler but still comfortable for hiking and exploring. This season offers a peaceful atmosphere, with the added beauty of autumn leaves, making it ideal for photographers and nature lovers.

Winter (November to March)

Winter in Bavona Valley is quiet and less suited for typical tourist activities due to the limited sunlight and lower temperatures. Many facilities close for the season, and snow can restrict access to certain areas. However, for those interested in experiencing a calm, sometime snowy landscape and don’t mind the cold, it can still be beautiful.

Must-Visit!

Value for Money

Locals would do this!

How much I love this!