Locarno tourist information & hotel reservations.
We warmly welcome you to visit Locarno and wish you a wonderful vacation.
Locarno is located 22 kilometers west of Bellinzona and 40 kilometers north of Lugano. It is situated on the banks of Lake Maggiore and is a wonderful resort with long history. The climate is mild and some of the Mediterranean plants that live there include camellias, magnolias, mimosa, wisteria, azaleas, oleander, olives, figs and pomegranates.
In 1925 the resort became an important town because there were held some meeting that led to the so called Locarno Pact. In this town at the end of World War I the enemies decided to coexist peacefully. Supposedly Locarno was chosen because the mistress of the French representative desired to be on Lake Maggiore.
Near Locarno, on the way to the Simplon Pass, you can see the Centovalli River and its belonging neat villages. The name of the river comes from the numerous valleys that gather in it. Also from Locarno you can take a train to Carnedo in Italy and the Santa Maria Maggiore Plateau. It is a wide, infertile stretch of land at 840 meters elevation. Down from it there is the railway crossroad of Domodossola which connects Gotthard and the Simplon lines via some magnificent bridges.
You should begin exploring Locarno from piazza Grande which is of course the main square. North from it there are many shops where you can find antiques, handicraft and boutiques. Again from the piazza you can go along Francesco Rusca and reach the Old Town. You can take a short detour and visit the Castello Visconti, piazza Castello 2. This used to be a medieval castle, home of the Milan dukes. Unfortunately the castle was badly damaged in 1518 and you can see only this remain. In it you can visit the Museum Civico and admire some great Roman artifacts. The museum is open from April till October.
The most attractive place in the area is the Santuario della Madonna del Sasso which is located on a rock just above Locarno in the small village Orselina. The most devoted believers or the ones who seek adventure can climb to the church – 350 meters above the sea level. But there is also a comfortable funicular. The church was founded in 1480 because a monk called Bartolomeo da Ivrea saw Virgin Mary according to the legend. It was also reconstructed in 1616 and inside you can see many artworks, one of which is Flight to Egypt by Bramantino from 1520. There is also a museum next to the church where you can see pieces by people like Raphael and the painting of Antonio Ciseri – Christ Carried to the Sepulcher ("Caravaggiesque"), 1870. From the church you can also see breathtaking scenery including Locarno and Lake Maggiore. The whole area is open from March till October and you can visit the church only by prearrangement.
You can also explore the resort by bike, which you can hire from the train station at Piazza Stazione. One can also visit the nearby village of Sonogno by taking bus №630 – the trip takes an hour. Sonogno is located in one of the most gorgeous valleys in Ticino – Val Verzasca. From the village you can take the 3 hours and a half trip to Lavertezzo which goes through beautiful glens and rivers. If you don’t feel like walking you can take a bus to there.
The Gambarogno Riviera is a stretch of land covering around 11 kilometers of the shore of Lake Maggiore. It begins at Contone, below Monte Ceneri and includes a part of the Piano di Magadino and the nature reserve Bolle di Magadino, plus many small villages up to the Italian border.
The whole area is worth admiring with its colourful forest and the crystal waters of the lake. The climate is Mediterranean and during the summer you can practice numerous water sports. In close proximity to the Riviera there are Monte Tamaro (1 950 meters elevation) and Monte Gambarogno (1 710 meters). You can also see an amazing view from Monte Rosa. In the area there are around 200 kilometers of hiking trails. You can get a map of the trails in the Locarno Tourist Bureau.
One of the trails can lead you through the most beautiful places in the area including the Ticino River and the Magadino village, plus possibilities for seeing some nice local animals. Only the birds that can be found there are around 300 kinds.
By plane you can go to Lugano and from there take a train for 45 minutes to Locarno.
There is an electric railway which can take you from Locarno to Domodossola in Italy. From there you can reach Brig via the Simplon Tunnel and then go to Lake Geneva and Bern via the Lotschberg Tunnel, also by train. To Locarno you can take a 4-hour trip by train from Bern or Lausanne. Also from Bellinzona, Locarno is only 23 kilometers away.
Locarno is also connected to Ascona, Lugano, Chur and many more villages by bus.
If you travel by car through the St. Gotthard Tunnel, you should pass Bellinzona via the N2 and then take Route 13 to Locarno.
The Locarno Tourist Bureau is open from March till October, the whole day during the week and Saturday; Sunday till noon. You can also visit is from November till February but only during the week.
For flights, trains and car-rental reservations as well as for buses, coaches and taxi ski transfers refer to the general Switzerland Transportation page!