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Locarno

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Locarno is in the Italian speaking canton of Ticino, Switzerland. Due to its beautiful location on the shores of Lake Maggiore, surrounded by lush green mountains and spectacular valleys, it is a prominent tourist destination, especially between March and October. Appreciated for its mild microclimate, which gives it more sunny days and warmer temperatures than most of Switzerland, it lays in proximity to other popular tourist spots such as Ascona and the Maggia and Verzasca valleys with their crystal clear rivers.

Understand[edit]

The Maggia delta with Ascona and Locarno as seen from the mountains over Gambarogno, on the south-eastern shore of Lake Maggiore.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Lake Maggiore, as seen from Locarno

From the east, take highway A2 Basel to Chiasso, exit at Bellinzona South, direction Locarno. After the Magadino airport, take the A13 highway,direction Locarno. After the tunnel, the first exit will bring you in the center of Locarno. Parking available in the Autosilo Piazza Castello parking.

From the west, take the road coasting the lake Maggiore, from Verbania trough Cannobio and the Brissago customs. Then take the A13 highway, direction Locarno. An alternative, from Simplon and Domodossola, is the Valle Vigezzo and Centovalli road, direction Locarno.

By train[edit]

Regular trains link Locarno directly with Zurich, Basel, Lucerne, Milan and Bellinzona. The Centovallina train line (which is integrated into the national train network, but is run by a private company that goes by the picturesque name of FART) connects Locarno and the Simplon line (from Geneva or Bern).

By flight[edit]

Lugano airport. Then take the bus to Lugano and the train to Locarno. If you land at Milan Malpensa, take the Giosy Tour shuttle bus to Bellinzona. From there the train to Locarno. If you land at Milan Linate, take a shuttle to Milano Centrale train station. From there a train to Locarno.

Get around[edit]

By bike[edit]

Bike rental can be found at the train station (Piazza Stazione, Tel. +41 91 7436564). Rental fee: CHF30/day (8AM-7PM).

There is also the option of using the bike sharing network VELOSPOT, which exists not only in Locarno, but also several other Swiss cities such as Geneva and Vevey. VELOSPOT cards can be purchased online a few days in advance or directly in Locarno at following addresses: Cancelleria comunale, Piazza Grande 18 (Mo-Fr, 9am-11.45am and 2pm-4.15pm), Locarno tourist office at the train station (business hours, closed on Su and over lunch break, except in summer when it is open Mo-Su pretty much all day long). The card costs CHF 10.- for 24 hours plus CHF 2.-/hour if the bike is used for more than 30 minutes. There is also the option of paying CHF 20.- and have unlimited access for 24 hours.

On Foot[edit]

Most Of the city of Locarno can be explored on foot. The Main Square Piazza Grande is walking distance from Main Railway station. Old Town of Locarno is behind Piazza Grande. Ascona can be reached on foot in about 40 minutes.

By bus[edit]

From Locarno you can take bus line 1 to Ascona (10-15 minutes), line 7 to Ascona (10-15 minutes), line 315 to Valle Maggia (20 minutes to Avegno, 30 minutes to Maggia, 45 minutes to Cevio, 1 hour to Cavergno), line 321 to Valle Verzasca (30 minutes to Vogorno and the dam, 45 minutes to Lavertezzo, 1 hour and 15 minutes to Sonogno). However, if you don't have a Swiss Half fare card or the Ticino Discovery card (see below), public transit can be quite expensive. You can check fares on www.sbb.ch. Usually, if you book a hotel or another official accommodation you will get a pass called Ticino ticket, which allows you to use all public transport in Ticino for free during your stay.

Ticino ticket[edit]

With this card you get unlimited travel on public transport in Ticino, major discounts on special transports such as cable cars, funiculars and reduced price at many museums. The Ticino ticket is given for free to tourists spending their nights at hotels, hostels and official camping places in Ticino. However, it cannot be purchased if you are staying in a private house at friends' or family.

See[edit][add listing]

View of Lago Maggiore in winter, looking eastwards
Castello Visconteo, western side view
  • Piazza Grande. It is the heart of the city center and also the major shopping area. In summer it hosts a few major events, such as the Moon&Stars open air concerts, the world famous International Film Festival and, during the winter, Locarno On Ice.
  • Città Vecchia. The charming old town with it's narrow cobblestone streets, small shops, restaurants, cafés, beautiful old buildings and churches.
  • Santuario della Madonna del Sasso, one of the main landmarks of Locarno, this church and franciscan monastery is built on top of a rock and offers a beautiful view over the region.
  • Castello Visconteo, a castle, which today serves as Municipal and Archeological Museum together with the adjacent Casorella.
  • The Casa Rusca Gallery hosts mainly contemporary art exhibitions in a beautiful ancient venue next to the main church of Saint Anthony.
  • Valle Verzasca, a spectacular valley with astoundingly turquoise water and amazing rock formations. The main points of interest are the James Bond Golden eye bungee jump from the dam at the entrance of the valley and the bathing area at the ancient Lavertezzo stone bridge.
  • Ghisla Art Collection, Via Ciseri 3, [1]. 2pm-6pm. A very interesting and rich international contemporary art collection. The building, a big red cube near Piazza Grande, can't be missed.  edit
  • La Rada, contemporary art center
  • Il Rivellino, contemporary art gallery located right next to what is supposed to be Leonardo da Vinci's ravelin

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Walk the Lake Maggiore promenade
  • Take boat trips on Lake Maggiore [13]
  • Ride the Funicular Take the funicular railway up to the old Madonna del sasso monastery and cable car station, from where you can take the cable car to Cardada, approx 1,600m above the town, or walk back down into the town via the monastery and a stone pathway, approx 30 minute walk down.
A view from Cardada onto Locarno, the Maggia river delta, Ascona and Lake Maggiore.
  • Moon and Stars Music Festival [14] in July attracts international acts.
  • Locarno International Film Festival (Locarno Festival) [15] takes places during eleven days towards the beginning of August. It is one of the biggest cultural events in Switzerland and attracts tourists and professionals of the cinema industry from all over the world. Besides its many daily screenings in several theaters, the big attraction are the evening open-air screenings (usually a bit more commercial) on Piazza Grande, which hosts the biggest open air screen in Europe. Locarno becomes very crowded during the festival, which makes it an exciting time to visit for all cinema aficionados, but accommodation needs to be booked in advance.
  • Falconeria Locarno An interesting show of birds like peregrine falcon, American eagle, white owls and vultures. Check the show timing before reaching the place. [16]
  • La Cambusa, theater and theater company with a contemporary style program
  • Paravento, theather and theater company, mainly with a commedia dell'arte style program
  • Other events, see [17].
  • Swim in the refreshing clear waters of the rivers near Locarno - Maggia, Melezza, Verzasca - or in the beautiful lake, either at Lido di Locarno, Bagno pubblico or at one of the free accesses (which don't provide showers or other services).
The big waterfall in Maggia, close to Locarno.
The Melezza river near Intragna, a short distance from Locarno.
One of many beautiful spots for swimming and sunbathing near Locarno: the Maggia river in Ponte Brolla.
Lake Maggiore as seen from Rivapiana, Locarno.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Most of shopping areas are located on the arcades of Piazza Grande or in the Old Town. You can find out very interesting boutiques, sport shop, handmade jewels and many kinds of particular store offering specialities in old town of Locarno.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Locarno has a lot of restaurants serving mainly local, Italian style food but not only. Here's a selection.

  • Albergo ristorante Cittadella (old town)- fish specialties and pizza. Appreciated by tourists and locals alike.
  • Osteria Borghese (old town)- home made style in a cozy atmosphere.
  • Pizzeria Primavera (old town) - pizza, ice cream. Simple, not too pricy, very appreciated by locals.
  • Ristorante Universo (behind Casinò Kursaal) - pizza, pasta, ...
  • Ristorante Vallemaggia (old town) - original, good quality/price ratio, operated by a foundation for the disabled
  • Govinda (old town) - indian vegetarian (hare krisna cuisine)
  • Marnin (old town) - pastry, breakfast / tea time
  • Il Guardiano del Farro (old town) - original vegetarian/vegan cuisine, but not only
  • BarLume (old town) - is mainly a bar, but serves excellent lasagna and occasionally other simple dishes for a good price
  • Negromante (old town) - bar/restaurant with a small selection of food, mainly gourmet home-made burgers
  • Bar Tolomeo (old town) - mainly café and bar, but serves a small selection of good and relatively cheap dishes at lunch time
  • Mono Bar (tow streets behind the Piazza Grande post office) - is mainly a popular bar, but serves good home-made burgers and falafels at night
  • Lungolago (on the lakeside) - bar/restaurant/pizzeria with view on the lake
  • Bottegone (Piazza Grande) - Italian
  • Angelo (Piazza Grande) - pizza (cheaper than elsewhere for a decent quality)
  • La Trattoria - Italian, good, quite fancy
  • La Rinascente (old town) - gourmet
  • Il Malatesta (Muralto, next to the train station) - gourmet
  • Locanda locarnese (close to Piazza Grande, next to Coop) - gourmet

Coffee, drinks and night life[edit]

  • Bar Sport (free entry, lounge bar)
  • Bar Castello (free entry, popular with locals, mainly younger crowd)
  • Bar Pardo (free entry, popular with locals, mainly younger crowd)
  • Mono Bar (free entry, popular with locals, mixed crowd, hosts regular rock concerts)
  • Selz (open during the day and until early evening)
  • BarLume (old town, free entry, popular with locals, mixed crowd, closes at 9.30pm except on Fridays)
  • Bartolomeo (old town, free entry, open during the day until early evening)
  • Negromante (old town, free entry, located in Locarno's oldest non-public building, hosts regular rock and pop concerts)
  • Caffè Borgo (old town, free entry, picturesque terrace and antique rooms)
  • Bad Boys Bar (Ascona, called "Il mago", i.e. the magician by locals as it's run by a magician who loves to play tricks with his customers, open until 3am)
  • Piper club (dancing club in Ascona, quite expensive, mainly commercial music)
  • Vanilla Club (dancing club in Riazzino, expensive, good house music)

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Hotel Casa DaVinci, Via Bartolomeo Rusca 6 (in the old town of Locarno), +41 91 751 30 64 (), [2]. Are you looking for a small, cosy hotel in the hearth of the Old Town of Locarno? Here it is: only a stone’s throw away from the Piazza Grande you will find in a beautiful historical building the Hotel Casa DaVinci. From double rooms to 6 bed flats, well suited for families. Lift, free WLAN, bike rental outlet are all there. Everybody will find his right mix of espresso – hiking – joy of life – reading – walking - ...  edit
  • YHA Locarno, Palagiovani, Via Varenna 18 (15 minutes walk from the central station), +41 91 756 15 00. Budget travellers hostel, single and multi person rooms, clean and modern. many families as well as younger travellers were staying  edit
  • Ramada Hotel Arcadia, Lungolago G. Motta, +41 91 756 18 18, [3]. This hotel offers children's programs  edit
  • Hotel du Lac, Via Ramogna 3 (Near the shore of Lake Maggiore), [4].  edit
  • Hotel Dell'angelo, Piazza Grande (Located in main square of Locarno). Great location, although some travellers complain of the noise at night  edit
  • Hotel Gottardo Garni, Via San Gottardo 18. checkin: http://www.hotel-gottardo.ch/.  edit
  • Garni Fiorentina, Via St.Antonio 10 (Close to the main square, Piazza Grande), [5].  edit
  • Castello Schloss-Hotel, Via B. Rusca 9 / S. Francesco 7a, [6]. (min. 3 nights).  edit
  • Pensione Olanda, Via ai Monti 139a, [8]. Charming bed-and-breakfast-style pensione; beautiful breakfast terrace with views of Locarno and the lake; wonderful innkeeper Irmgard Balbina, very helpful.  edit
  • Kon Tiki B&B, Via Fiorina 1 (Two minutes walk from Piazza Grande), +41 79 325 55 46 (), [9]. 49CHF per person.  edit
  • Hotel Alexandra, Via San Gottardo 43 (In the neighboring suburb of Muralto a few minutes walk from Locarno station), +41 91 743 25 23 (), [10]. 150 CHF for a room without shower.  edit
  • Campsite Lago Maggiore, Via Lido 4 (In the neighboring village of Tenero), +41 91 745 18 48 (), [11]. Family-friendly campsite at the shore of Lake Maggiore. Reservation possible  edit
  • Città Vecchia Locarno (old side of locarno), Città Vecchia Locarno, [12]. The right web site portal where you can find many informations about the old side of locarno city base in south Switzerland. Hotel, restaurant, boutique and many more.  edit

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