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Locarno is a city at the northern end of Lake Maggiore in Switzerland.


Locarno was a spot for the rich and famous to meet and cure (real or supposed) ailments due to its climate and clean air. It was here that foreign minister Stresemann of The German Weimar Republic managed to negotiate a rapprochement with Britain and France that earned Germany re-admittance into the League of Nations and him the Nobel Peace Price. However, as Stresemann died in 1929, the peace he helped build ultimately did not last.

Get in

By car

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 take you to the center of Locarno. Parking available in the new Piazza Castello parking.

From the west, take the road along the coast of Lake Maggiore from Verbania through 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

  • 1 Locarno railway station. Regular trains link Locarno directly with Bellinzona from where you can transfer onto trains to ZurichBaselLucerneMilan. The Centovallina train line connects Locarno and the Simplon line (from Geneva or Bern).

By plane

Lugano airport. Then take the bus to Lugano and the train to Locarno.

Get around

By bike

Bike rental can be found at the train station (Piazza Stazione, Tel. +41 91 7436564). Rental fee: Fr. 30/day (08:00–19:00).

On foot

Most of the city 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.

Ticino Discovery Card

With this card you get access to all major tourist attractions in Ticino canton including unlimited travel on public transport, cable cars, furniculars and museums. Price of the card is Fr. 87. People holding Swiss GA Travel card or Half fare card get Fr. 10 discount. Card is valid for 3 days. A real good deal to discover Ticino and is available at major hotels, hostels, train station and Tourist Offices. [1]


  • 1 Piazza Grande. A heart of the city centre and the major shopping area.
  • 2 Città Vecchia (Old town).
  • 3 Santuario della Madonna del Sasso, Largo Zorzi 1, ☎ +41 848 091 091.
  • 4 Castello Visconteo (Visconti Castle), Piazza Castello 2, ☎ +41 91 756 31 70. A castle which today serves as Municipal and Archaeological Museum.
  • 5 Pinacoteca Casa Rusca (Casa Rusca Gallery), Piazza S. Antonio, ☎ +41 91 756 31 85.


  • Walk the Lake Maggiore promenade
  • Take a boat trip on Lake Maggiore.
  • 1 Ride a funicular, Viale Balli 2, ☎ +41 91 751 11 23. Take a historical funicular up to the old monastery of the Santuario della Madonna del Sasso and cable car station, from where you can take the cable car above the town to approx 1,600 m, or walk back down into the town via the monastery and a stone pathway, approx 30 minute walk down. Single: Fr. 4.80; Return: Fr. 7.20.
  • Moon and Stars Music Festival. In July attracts international acts.
  • 2 Locarno Festival. In the first two weeks of August on Piazza Grande, biggest open air screen in Europe. August.
  • Falconeria Locarno. An interesting show of birds like Peregrine Falcon, American Eagle, White Owls and Vultures. Check the show timing before reaching the place.
  • Other events. See.


Most of shopping areas are in 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.


  • Albergo Ristorante Cittadella (old town). Fish specialties and pizza.
  • Osteria Borghese (old town). Traditional.
  • Pizzeria Primavera (old town). Pizza, icecream.
  • Ristorante Universo. Pizza, pasta, and more.
  • Ristorante Vallemaggia (old town). Original, good quality/price ratio, operated by a foundation.
  • Govinda (old town). Indian vegetarian.
  • Marnin (old town). Breakfast / tea time.


  • Bar Sport. Free entry, house music.
  • Bar Castello. Free entry.
  • Bar Pardo. Free entry.
  • Cantina Canetti. Free entry.
  • Max's way (old town). Aperitifs lounge music.
  • Vanilla Club. Disco in Riazzino, expensive, good house music.



  • Campsite Lago Maggiore, Via Lido 4 (In the neighboring village of Tenero), ☎ +41 91 745 18 48, e-mail: info@clm.ch. Family-friendly campsite at the shore of Lake Maggiore. Reservation possible.
  • 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.
  • Pensione Olanda, Via ai Monti 139a. Bed-and-breakfast-style pensione; beautiful breakfast terrace with views of the lake; wonderful innkeeper Irmgard Balbina, very helpful.
  • Kon Tiki B&B, Via Fiorina 1 (Two minutes walk from Piazza Grande), ☎ +41 79 325 55 46, e-mail: info@kon-tiki.ch. Fr. 49 per person.
  • Hotel Casa DaVinci, Via Bartolomeo Rusca 6 (in the old town), ☎ +41 91 751 30 64, e-mail: info@casa-davinci.ch. Beautiful historical building. From double rooms to 6 bed flats, well suited for families. Lift, free WLAN, bike rental outlet are all there.
  • Ramada Hotel Arcadia, Lungolago G. Motta, ☎ +41 91 756 18 18. This hotel offers children programs.
  • Hotel du Lac, Via Ramogna 3 (Near the shore of Lake Maggiore).
  • Hotel Dell'angelo, Piazza Grande. Great location, although some travellers complain of the noise at night.
  • Hotel Gottardo Garni, Via San Gottardo 18.
  • Castello Schloss-Hotel, Via B. Rusca 9 / S. Francesco 7a. (min. 3 nights).
  • Hotel Belvédère Locarno, Via ai Monti 44, ☎ +41 91 751 03 63, e-mail: info@belvedere-locarno.com.
  • Hotel Alexandra, Via San Gottardo 43, 6602 Muralto, ☎ +41 917 432 523, e-mail: hotel.alexandra@bluewin.ch. Fr. 150 for a room without shower.
  • Mirafiori, Via al Parco 25, fax: +41 91 743 77 39, e-mail: info@mirafiori.ch. Three star hotel. Small, on the south hill of Locarno, 2km from the city center and from the railway station. Double room from Fr. 240 (season of April 2009).

Go next

  • Ascona
  • Verzasca Valley
  • Bellinzona
  • Lugano

Fodor's Switzerland (Full-color Travel Guide)

Fodor's Travel Guides

Written by locals, Fodor's travel guides have been offering expert advice for all tastes and budgets for 80 years. Switzerland, Europe's mountain playground, is a classic tourist draw. Fodor's Switzerland is the perfect guide for travelers seeking to ascend the slopes of the Alps and feel on top of the world. When they come down from the mountains, they find thriving, cosmopolitan cities steeped in history and culture.This travel guide includes:· Dozens of full-color maps · Hundreds of hotel and restaurant recommendations, with Fodor's Choice designating our top picks· Multiple itineraries to explore the top attractions and what’s off the beaten path· In-depth breakout features on scenic train rides and drives, The Bernese Alps, and vineyards of Lavaux· Coverage of Zurich, Eastern Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Graubunden, Ticino, Luzern and Central SwitzerlandBaselFribourg and Neuchatel, Bern, Berner Oberland, Valais, Vaud, and Geneva

Southern Switzerland - Zermatt, Lugano, Verbier, Locarno & Beyond (Travel Adventures)

Kimberly Rinker

Verbier, ZermattSaas-FeeLugano, Locarno, Ascona - these are some of the attractions here. This region contains the two southernmost cantons of Valais and Ticino. Though connected, both are vastly different in terms of geography, language and culture. Valais is home to some of Switzerland's best ski resorts, including the village of Zermatt, and the mighty Matterhorn – perhaps the most frequently photographed mountain in the world outside of Mt. Everest. Located on the western side of the region, Valais is literally one long valley that sits snugly in between the Bernese and Valais mountain ranges. You can drive through easily via Highway 9, which will take you from one edge of the canton to the other, or you can take a train from almost anywhere in Switzerland. One of the best drives ever is to go south from Visp on Highway 9 to the village of Täsch, park your car and then take the rack railway up to the auto-free village of Zermatt. The scenery is spectacular and the roads are just plain fun if you enjoy a bit of challenging driving. The sister canton of Ticino at the eastern side of the southern region features palm trees, fruit groves and beautiful lakes. Here, Italian is the most popular language, and the atmosphere is laid-back and much more relaxed than in any other Swiss canton. Ticino is a mountainous area with attractive Alpine foothills, lakeside walking paths, and majestic peaks. Merlot is a very popular local wine, and the landscape and hills are dotted with tiny houses that are more reminiscent of neighboring Italy than of traditional Swiss chalets. It is here that you can travel through the St. Gotthard Pass or walk along the Strada Alta hiking trail. The author is a long-time resident of Switzerland and she details all of the best places to stay and eat, the castles, the walks, boat trips, skiing, shopping, museums, the foods, the best ways to get around - all you need to know.

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