Locarno is definitely one of the highlights in Ticino canton in Switzerland.
Locarno is situated next to one of the most popular and famous lakes in Switzerland called Lake Maggiore wich makes this city even more interesting as not only mountain activities are possible there, but water sports and tourism is possible as well.
Let us have a look what you can do in Locarno and what to expect from this nice beautiful city in a perfect Swiss location.
We will have a look to: how to get to Locarno, some facts about Locarno and top 5 things to do in Locarno.
How to get to Locarno
Locarno is located in Ticino canton, not that far from Italy, so the next big city is Lugano (the biggest city in Ticino canton) and Milan (in Italy).
Zürich is a bit further, 201 kilometers away, but with your car you can reach it in less than 3 hours. I must warn you that if you go to Locarno with your car, you are going to pass Gotthard Tunnel. And that can cause very huge delays, I spent couple of times more than one hour before I got into this tunnel, so you must be careful when you are going there. Gotthard Tunnel is very busy on friday evenings going to Italy direction and very busy on Sundays going to Zürich direction. The best time, in my personal experience, is very late evenings and early mornings; in the mid day, especially in summer, anything can happen.
When you come with your car to Locarno, you can easily park in Central parking where you can pay with a credit card. The address of this parking is: 1, Via Giuseppe Cattori, 6600 Locarno.
If you are going to Locarno by train, you will avoid any traffic jams and the trip should be around 2 hours 20 minutes, most likely you will have to change the train in Bellinzona (the capital of Ticino canton).
Please check all the latest prices and time schedules right here: Swiss trains.
You can reach Locarno from Italy by train as well, especially from Milan. There is very famous connection Milan – Zürich which includes the longest train tunnel in the world.
Facts about Locarno
As mentioned before, Locarno is situated in Ticino canton, meaning that the spoken language in Locarno is Italian. Boun giorno! Switzerland is such a fascinating place that even 4 languages work together perfectly. You just cross the Gotthard Tunnel and you get into italian language, architecture, food – but still the same country.
Locarno is not a big city, population is just over 15 000 people.
Locarno would be considered a very old city as the first signs of life there are dating back to 14th century BC. Do not forget that Italy is right there and huge Roman Empire was all the time in these surroundings.
One very very interesting fact (or speculation) by historian Marino Vigano was made that Leonardo da Vinci itself designed Locarno’s castle. What about that 🙂 ?
Top things to do in Locarno
Locarno is a perfect for many things: mountains, hiking, lake activities, museums, visit old town and many other things, so let’s have a look what you can do there.
Old town tour with a walk by the lake
As mentioned before, Locarno is right next to famous Lake Maggiore, it is a beautiful crystal clear huge lake next to the mountains. It is a perfect location just to sit and enjoy the views, but if you as well connect this with a nice walk in the old town, you are going to have a really refreshing experience.
Your first spot in this tour should be Piazza Grande. It is a huge square in the middle of the old town, it is a perfect place just to relax, observe people passing by and drink an italian espresso.
Next thing would be Visconteo Castle. It is a castle with a museum which is famous for its Roman glass exhibition.
Once you walk in the old town, you will get to see many more old churches, towers, old buildings, overall city has a very strong italian atmosphere.
Once you finish you old town tour, stroll to the lake. You are going to love the walk by the lake as you can enjoy the views to the peaks next to it, maybe even white peaks in mid winter. The lake is very clean and clear, with many birds looking for food or just resting – it is a Swiss lake wonderland. Calm, nice, beautiful.
Time needed: 1-2 hours depending on how much you enjoy the atmosphere.
This place is pretty specific. Do you like falcons? Or do you at least would like to see some of them? I think this is pretty much the only place in Switzerland which specializes in falcons. It is like mini zoo. It has a small amphitheatre where they make bird shows, so you can see how falcons are close to people. You can see those rare train falcons.
This is one of a kind place not just in Switzerland, but in all Europe.
You can get tickets for 25 CHF (for adults) and you will get to see one hour show as well. You can find all information about this place right here: Falconeria Locarno.
Time needed: 1-2 hours in total with a show.
Ghisla art collection
If you are a fan of art, you must visit Ghisla art collection. It is a very neat art museum in the center of Locarno.
The art begins right in the beginning as the building of the museum is exceptional as well. It was designed by local Locarno architects Moro & Moro.
In the exhibition you are going to find modern art, conceptual art, pop art, New Dada, abstract art and many other outstanding art works. If you are a fan of modern art – it is a place to visit.
You can find all information right here: Ghisla art collection.
Time needed: 1-2 hours depending on how much a fan of modern art you are.
Very close to Locarno is a famous Valle Verzasca with its beautiful river and small canyons. The nature there is fascinating. You can hike, even swim (pay attention to the official government signs regarding swimming) and make pretty cool instagram pictures. This place is mega popular among locals and tourists. This place is burning on social media.
Depending on how much you like the nature, you can spend the whole day just exploring Valle Verzasca, hike to the mountains, hike by the river, have a dinner in local restaurants and just overall have a great time.
I have written an article about hiking in Valle Verzasca, where you can find some useful information where you can go, what kind of peaks you can reach and some cool mountain huts as well. Have a look here: Hiking in Valle Verzasca.
Lake Maggiore boat tour
You can take a boat to the next villages, ports and cities which is on the other side of Lake Maggiore. This is pretty much a public transport, but you are going to love such experience on such a lake among mountains. What can actually be better?
The views are amazing all trip long.
You can just hop on, take a trip to Magadino, Ascona, Ranzo, Brissago, explore these places, have your lunch/dinner/snack and come back by boat back to Locarno. If you don’t use boats that much (as me), you are going to love such experience. Simple, but effective. I didn’t grow up myself and never lived in a place where boat transport was a usual thing, so it is always fun to experience such things.
You can find all time schedules and latest ticket prices right here: Lake Locarno.
If weather is not windy, the lake is almost like a glass. Calm.
White peaks are mostly seen just in winter, as summers are hot in Ticino and those peaks in the view are not that high up so it can hold ice all year long.
With a daily ticket which costs 37 CHF, you can see quite a lot, explore many places, enjoy great views. That, for me, is an ultimate experience.
Locarno has a lot to offer to fellow traveler. There are many more cozy, nice, hidden places to visit. The opportunities to hike around Locarno are endless. Small nice villages around Locarno are countless.
Overal Ticino canton is a great place to visit and you shouldn’t forget about it once you visit Locarno. You can get to another beautiful places as hidden mountain village Indemini or once called the most beautiful village in Switzerland – Soglio or museum-like village Morcote.
You can just pack your small hiking bag (with plenty of water) and head to the mountains around not just Locarno, but all around Lake Maggiore. I have once visited the high up place next Lake Maggiore called Alpe di Neggia and the views were stunning.
Locarno has a perfect symbiosis between nature and city life. You can visit many restaurants, historical museums, art museum and at the same time be 5 minutes away from the amazing Swiss Alps nature.
I hope you enjoy this article and if you have any questions regarding Locarno, please let me know, I will do my best to help you.
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