Airolo (1175 metres altitude) at the foot of the Gotthard Pass is the site of both southern portals of the Gotthard road and rail tunnels. This is why the uppermost village in the Leventina valley is mainly regarded as a place of transit - an erroneous assumption.
A narrow valley where railway, road and motorway converge isn’t where you’d expect to find scenic beauty and cultural and historical gems. The countryside surrounding Airolo is a beautiful hiking region with intact historic villages, idyllic mountain lakes, agriculture and varied natural beauty. Traditional methods of cheese-making can be watched at the exhibition dairy (Caseificio del Gottardo) in Airolo. Spiced cheese, butter, cream and soft cheese are manufactured here. Local cheese specialities are served at the adjacent restaurant.
Leventina’s best known hiking trail is the Strada Alta, a panoramic high route that runs along the eastern side of the valley from Airolo down to Biasca. High above the Leventina on the opposite side of the valley is the Sentiero Alto del Tremorgio from Pesciüm (1745m) above Airolo through a sparse mountain forest to the mountain lake of Tremorgio and further. There are interesting trails on the valley floor, too, such as the pack animal path through the narrow gorge of Gola di Monte Piottino, one of the most impressive historic routes in Switzerland.
The Strada degli Alpi in Val Bedretto between the Gotthard and Cristallina massifs also starts at the Alpe di Pesciüm, which is accessible by cableway from Airolo. It is popular with hikers and experienced mountain bikers. Highlight is the splendid pass traversal on the classic route over the Passo del Cristallina into Val Bavona.
The Alpe di Pesciüm has a snow-reliable, family-friendly ski region with modern infrastructure. A smaller ski region can be found near Carì above Faido.
Val Bedretto has snow in abundance and is very suitable for snowshoe and ski tours (for example in the direction of Cristallina). The main town of Bedretto also has a centre for Nordic (cross-country) skiing and Cioss Prato has a small ski lift. Far from the beaten track, Val Bedretto is an insider tip for long walks in a snowy winter wonderland.
- Strada Alta – the popular high hiking route from Airolo to Bodio Biasca leads at an altitude of around 1000 metres past some of the prettiest mountain villages in the valley and can be hiked in two or three days and stages.
- Ritom Dam – the Ritom funicular has one of the steepest gradients in the world and runs from Piotta to the high valley of Val Piora near the wall of the Ritom dam.
- Gola di Monte Piottino at Rodi-Fiesso – gorge dividing with 100 metre high rock faces the upper from the middle Leventina. The earlier pack animal trail through the gorge is now a hiking path, the old customs post <> a museum with restaurant.
- From Gotthard to Val Bedretto – a high-level trail from the Gotthard Pass into the Val Bedretto with magnificent views of the old winding pass road through the Tremola gorge.