WHAT TO DO IN LOCARNO AND ASCONA
- 1 WHAT TO DO IN LOCARNO AND ASCONA
- 2 TRAVEL TIPS FOR LOCARNO + ASCONA
- 3 TOP PLACES TO VISIT IN LOCARNO / ASCONA AND THINGS TO DO
So, are you ready to find out about the best things to do in Locarno and Ascona? Then this post is for you as you will find your answer to the question “what to do in Locarno,” and you´ll also find important travel tips for your trip to Locarno / Ascona.
Switzerland is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. While everyone knows Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, or Geneva, not everyone knows the smaller, but no less gorgeous, places.
Ticino, a canton in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, amazes with stunning sceneries, colorful villages. And towns and stunning lakes.
With 2,300 hours of sunshine per year, Locarno is the town with the warmest climate in Switzerland. So, and while it can get hot in the summer, it is one one the best places to visit in Switzerland and one more reason to visit in spring, fall, and winter.
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR LOCARNO + ASCONA
I visited Locarno on my first trip to Switzerland 7-8 years ago – it was just a day trip, but it was clear to me that I need to visit again and spend some more time – and so I have visited a few more times and here are my recommendations for Locarno.
Before talking about the best activities, here are some travel tips for your Locarno trip.
Where to Stay in Locarno/Ascona
Luxury Hotels in Locarno – I have stayed in a couple of very luxurious hotels, but this is probably my favorite – ever. Villa Orselina is a top luxurious small boutique hotel in Orselina, just a few minutes from Locarno – check out prices here)
Mid-Range in Locarno – Hotel Garni Muralto (I did not stay here, but it is one of the best-rated hotels in that price range) – check out prices here.
Budget Hotels in Locarno – Do not expect bargains when traveling in Switzerland, so there are no real budget hotels.
In case your budget is tighter, I recommend checking out Airbnb apartments (first-time users save money with my link).
For general money-saving tips, check out my post with the best tips
How to Get Around
The best way to travel in Locarno/Ascona is by public transportation. Public transportation in Switzerland is reliable, on time, and gets you everywhere. You´ll get to all the recommended places by public transportation.
If you travel by car, you might have difficulties finding parking (and parking fees can be expensive).
You can also walk and hike – it is always worth walking as much as possible as this is the best opportunity to stumble upon a hidden gem.
Security Tips for Solo Female Travelers
I visited Locarno twice with a female friend and once by myself. I totally felt safe, and I think Ticino is a great place for solo female traveling. Always watch your bag, but I never had the feeling I had to be super careful.
Okay, finally we get the top things to visit in Locarno /Ascona.
TOP PLACES TO VISIT IN LOCARNO / ASCONA AND THINGS TO DO
Here are my favorite places to visit in Locarno as well as in Ascona.
Though the region of Locarno is beautiful, I recommend starting with the town center of Locarno itself. The town is located on Lake Maggiore’s northern shore at its northeastern tip in the canton, and you can easily spend a full day here just relaxing, strolling, and enjoying life (and even more).
Locarno is beautiful – and has a beautiful promenade with lovely views of the Alps and Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore). So walking along the promenade is one of the best things to do in Locarno- though I took my time to sit down at several benches, I most likely could have sat there forever to relax and watch people.
It also has a cute old town which is worth discovering. As I was short on time, I, exactly as I did on my first trip, used the small sightseeing train to get around and see the most important places in the old town of Locarno.
It takes about 30 minutes and costs about 7€ (I did not have to pay for my dog) and the Locarno sightseeing train gives you a good overview of the town.
However, it is not only about the stunning lake and its promenade – Locarno has more to offer. For example, the lovely Piazza Grande, which is one of the biggest squares in all of Switzerland.
The colorful and lovely squad is always worth a visit. If you need a particular reason to visit, visit the weekly market on Thursdays, the Moon & Stars concerts in July, or the evening film projections during the Film Festival in August.
Also, stroll the town center streets before visiting the lido (great places to swim) and the Camellia Park in Locarno. These places are on my list for my next Ticino trip, as I haven’t been there myself, but I think the places in Locarno I mentioned above are the most beautiful and most important ones.
As mentioned above, I stayed at Villa Orselina in Orselina. It is a hill, and from there, it is very easy to get to Cardada. That mountain offers great views of Locarno, Bellinzona, and Lake Maggiore.Cardada is also one of the top tourist attractions in Locarno in summer and winter. In winter, Cardada is a popular place to ski.
It was pretty hot that day, and walking around did cost too much energy, but the views were stunning (free drinking water right when you get off the funicular station, by the way). There is at least 1 restaurant and some nice spots for picnicking as well.
I would buy some snacks, drinks, and a blanket – this is the perfect spot for a nice picnic in Locarno.
On the way down, there is the Madonna del Sasso. It is one of the most famous pilgrimage churches in Switzerland. I only saw that the church from far and had to decide whether to visit it or to go back to my gorgeous hotel. Normally, I am all about exploring places, but that day, I decided to spend some extra time at my hotel, so I did not check it out.
Prices to get from Orselina to Cardada are about 25€. Tickets are available at a little ticket center.
Ascona should also be on your Ticino itinerary, and it is a great day trip from Locarno.Beautiful and colorful – the promenade of Ascona is one of Switzerland’s most favorites because I am totally into colorful houses and buildings.
It looks as pretty as on postcards, and I am happy I managed to see it this time.
The old town is particularly charming – I probably liked the old town even more than Locarno´s old town. So plan in a few hours to get lost in Ascona´s old town – it is one of the best things to see in Ticino.
The above-mentioned places are pretty, but there are more fun things to do in Locarno.
Another beautiful place in Locarno (or the region of Locarno) is the Brissago Islands.To get to the Brissago Islands, which are very small and quiet islands close to Ascona, I got to Ascona by bus from Locarno (it is not too far, probably around 30minutes).
From Ascona, I took a boat to the Brissago Islands (the boat gets there also from Locarno). A boat tour on Lake Maggiore is also a great thing to do. However, I have to admit that Lake Maggiore did not make it in my unofficial “top 5 of Switzerland´s most beautiful lakes”. The lake is blue, which is a good thing, but Switzerland spoils its visitors numerous green and turquoise lakes, so I have become very picky.
However, I visited the beautiful main island of the Brissago Islands, where I took tons of pictures. It was very hot that day, and my dog and I missed some parts of the island (maps available) because the weather killed us. I still enjoyed my time on the island and would put it on the list.
It costs about 5€ to get on the Brissago Islands, but it was worth it.
Last but not least, I visited Verzasca Valley. I had seen many pictures on social media lately, and thus I was very keen on visiting.
How to get there: I got there by car. It is a scenic yet sometimes challenging drive, and I passed the famous bridge in Lavertezzo. There is also public transportation so that you can get there by bus (the yellow Postautos).
This is one of the most beautiful places in Ticino – maybe it is the most beautiful. If you are wondering what to do in Locarno in 1 day, this place is probably a must-see. This is definitely not a hidden gem anymore but still not crowded, and there is a reason this has become a point of interest in Locarno. When I visited in 2016 for the first time, it was almost empty – in 2018, it was already much busier and crowded.
Before arriving at the Ponte de Salti (the famous stone bridge), I passed cute little villages and places. Since the car park in front of the bridge was full, I drove another 5 minutes until I found a spot I could park. This was my luck because it was a tranquil area, and I had the place almost all to myself.
There were plenty of park spaces available on my way back, so I took the chance and crossed the interesting bridge and sat down. The color of the water was just amazing, and I think it should be on the list of every visit to Ticino.
Are you up for a thrilling activity in Ticino? Then you might enjoy a bungee jump.
On your way to Valle Verzasca, you will pass the Contra Dam. If you want to do it like it was done in the James Bond movie you can jump….of course, not just jump but do a bungee jump from the bridge with professional people. I would never do it in my life – like never, but you might be braver than me?
Locarno / Ascona is surely one of the most beautiful regions in Switzerland. Though it isn’t as famous as other areas, I hope you will enjoy the area and the tips with the best things to do in Locarno/Ascona in a few days. Enjoy and stay safe!