12 reasons to visit Locarno

We spent nine days in this wonderful town located on the northern tip of Lake Maggiore.

The official language is Italian which  adds an extra charm to the whole experience.

In my opinion, the top 12 reasons to go to Locarno are:

1.  The Lake. Lake Maggiore is very scenic not only because its clear waters but also because  it is surrounded by the Alps, transforming the scenery in a fairy tale vision.  It’s possible to swim in its crystalline waters and also travel by boat to several villages that are located along its shore. There’s an island on Lake Maggiore that should not be missed: Brissago Island (Isola di Brissago,)

2. Bike till you die.  It’s difficult to find a better place to ride a bike than Locarno!  You can choose paved paths, gravel paths, scenic bridges and also along river shores  and forests. Bicycles are very popular in Locarno  and there are several  facilities dedicated to bike riders.

3. Valle Verzasca hiking.  One of the most scenic hiking in the world _ if not the most scenic!

The way to go there is by  post bus to Sonogno. Tickets can be purchased at Locarno Train Station.

The bus tickets cost SFR 28.00/ each (Locarno to Sonogno and from Lavertezzo to Locarno as our planned hike route was from Snonogno to Lavertezzo).

Sonogno‘s altitude is 919m. The tiny village has marvelous houses built many centuries ago, most of them made of stones _ even the roofs!

The hiking trail has many signs pointing directions and travel times. When we started the yellow sign showed  it would be a 4h20 hike. It took us 5h15!  We lack  experience hiking in alpine territory and also stopped many times to take pictures of the amazing scenery.

We had it all there:  Grass,   gravel,  stones,  steps,  suspension bridges,  bridges with two guard rails, bridges with just one guard rail and… bridges with NO guard rail at all! OMG!

Valle Verzasca should be in everyone’s bucket list. It’s on mine to return there!

Valle Verzasca

Valle Verzasca

There are several pictures, because this way you can have a glimpse on one of the most spectacular hiking trails in the world!

4.  Ascona.  This small town is located very close to Locarno. We went  there many times during our staying in Locarno. It’s a scenic drive by bike as the path goes along the lake most of the time.

Ascona has several small trendy restaurants, live shows on the shore and fireworks once a week! Not to be  missed is the local market that happens once a week selling interesting arts and crafts.

There are several delightful hiking trails, one of them departing from behind the city’s cemetery. Don’t miss it. You will walk through an amazing forest and when you reach the top go visit the “Sculpture Park” __ this is an amazing place with  many wood sculptures.

5. Go on a boat ride!  One of the best ways  to visit  the towns around Lake Maggiore  is  the  “one day pass”   (SFR 28 /  each) where it’s possible to use the boat like  a “hop on – hop off”.

There are several boats linking the towns. At the time we bought our tickets we  received  a map  containing itinerary and schedules.  This is a very convenient way to visit the towns around the lake without the hassle of driving and looking for parking space.

6. Locarno Film Festival.  If you love movies (who doesn’t?) go to Locarno during August. The Locarno Film Festival is a must! Several artists, directors and people related to the movie industry come to Locarno annually to attend the festival.  There are several movies played on a huge screen located on Piazza Grande. Better yet: It’s free to watch!


Locarno Film Festival-3

7.  Go swimming! Swim in the lake! Swim in the river! Go swimming!  Maggia river has crystal clear waters.  Yes, it’s cold as the water  comes from a glacier many miles above but…  it’s d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s!

Another great thing about Locarno is that it’s usually warm.  One of our favorite activities was to stop by the lake at the end of the day and jump in the water, even while wearing our biking suits!  🙂

Swimming in Locarno-11

Magia river

When swimming in the Maggia River it’s good to have appropriate shoes. It’s tough to walk on the pebbles! 🙂

8. Lido di Locarno –   Oh….  How we miss this place!  The Lido di Locarno is huge and it is fabulous!  There are several pools _ indoor and outdoor.  There’s also a large grassed area, a bar selling delicious  extra-cold beers and  a “private beach” _ a small part of the lake where only people who paid the Lido’s entrance fee are allowed to enter.

It is cheap to get in :  SFR  12.00 / each plus  SFR 2.50  for a locker.    

At the entrance of the Lido there’s a huge bike-parking where we parked our bikes.

Despite paying the entrance, if you want to seat on a chaise-long you have to pay SFR 14.00/ each plus SFR 30.00 as deposit.  No thanks! We did as  everyone else and seat on the grass! 🙂

Lido di Locarno-10

9. Golf .   We don’t play but if you are into golf, Locarno is fabulous! The golf course is huge, beautiful and within walking distance from Locarno and Ascona!

Golf in Locarno-1

10. Go on a day trip to Bellinzona!  We went on a day trip  _ by bike_ from Locarno to Bellinzona. The distance is approximately 21 km.

We started in Locarno  on a dedicated bike path that goes around the lake. After   passing through Muralto and  Minusio  we continued on a regular road  with low traffic, probably due to  Swiss National Day with few people on the streets.

(Swiss National Day: celebration of the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy in  1889).

Our  map didn’t  show  route details to travel by bike, so we got lost near the Locarno Aero Club. After a while we found the  right path  and  continued on  a small road  between orchards in direction to Bellinzona.

Before entering Bellinzona we crossed a bridge over the Ticino River. On our way to Old Town Bellinzona we saw wonderful trees along the way and the outbark was something I had never seen before. Very interesting indeed! 

Bellinzona  is a very nice town.  After parking our bikes we visited the castle  (Castlegrande)  with its incredible views to the city and to nearby castles.

We also visited  Collegiata dei SS Petro  and the Old Town.  

After  biking and walking a lot,  we stopped for an ice cream  and went to visit the Church of S Biagio  (Chiesa di S Biagio)  and the Villa dei Cedri.

We went by bike to the train station,  bought our tickets and ran to take the train  that was going to depart 9 minutes later!!!    

We managed to  put  our  bikes inside the train  but it is not a very easy  operation  as they are heavy and the steps are high!   

Anyway,  we returned comfortably  seated  at the first class!  The  guy at the station  told us to place our  bikes  at the rear part of the last train  so……  we just sat there and  relaxed enjoying the views and seeing how far we have  been  today!

I highly recommend you visit Bellinzona when you stay in Locarno. It’s magnificent!


11. The Food _ Of course, being in one of the most Italian cities in Switzerland, food has the Italian influence and is absolutely delicious everywhere you go!

12.  The Post Bus _  Don’t miss an opportunity to take the post bus in Locarno and travel to one of the steepest little villages, like Bignasco and Cavergno. We have been to both and it’s a ride with a lot of adrenaline circulating in your veins while  the post bus goes up and up on a hair pin road!

From  Locarno to Bignasco it was a double-deck  bus  (operated by Fart)  packed  with tourists.    The road till Bignasco  is steep   but it is not scary.   There is heavy traffic,  indeed.

When we arrived in Bignasco  we  waited 10 minutes to get to the Post Bus  to go to Fusio.

Very few people went on this route,  most of the tourists that were  on the first  bus  stayed at Bignasco waiting for the bus to San Carlos.

Wow……..   WHAT a road!!!  It is  really steep and the bends are so narrow and make a zig-zag  like a roller coaster!   I would never, ever  be able  (emotionally)   to drive there!

When the cars that are coming in the opposite direction, it’s necessary  to stop and go backwards  till the road has enough space for the car and the post bus!

I do not recommend  going by car from Bignasco to: Mogno  or Fusio!  No way!   Get the post bus and you will see what I mean when I tell you it’s a scaring road to travel!


13. Flowers,  fruits and public gardens.  There are amazing gardens and flowers! We saw many exotic flowers that we had never seen before!

Locarno Flowers-7

Locarno Grapes-1

Of course, in a region that produces many wines, we found grapes everywhere. Yes, they  were delicious!  Indeed! 🙂

We traveled to Locarno in August 2012.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as we enjoyed our trip! Happy travels!  🙂

About CeciliArchitect

World Traveler ~ Photographer ~ Social Media Specialist ~ Tourism Vancouver Certified Specialist ~ Independent Tour Manager and Events Coordinator ~ Blogger ~ Architect & Interior Designer (in my previous life)
This entry was posted in Ascona, Bellinzona, Blog, Brissago, Europe, Locarno, Switzerland, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s