Ascona and Locarno in 24 hours

The guide to a successful break on Lake Maggiore.

Piazza Grande

A morning in Locarno cannot start other than seated at the wobbly table of a bar in the Piazza Grande, savouring a cappuccino sprinkled with cocoa and a brioche filled with jam. Even in winter, it's possible to breakfast outdoors in the sunshine while watching the comings and goings on the piazza. Breakfast is followed by a stroll beside the lake and a visit to the sacred mountain of the Madonna del Sasso. A funicular train leads directly from Locarno to Orselina. The trip isn't long, and it offers delightful glimpses of the landscape.

Morning is the perfect time for enjoying the peace and quiet. Visiting the complex is an experience in itself: from the wall containing the votive offerings at the entrance to the golden, living facade of the shrine, the intimate and colourful interior reflects the unique character of this building and the beauty of the surrounding landscape. The Via Crucis is a good alternative to the funicular for the walk back down or for anyone wishing to make the ascent on foot: it leads to Locarno's old town quarter, which can be explored in the company of a free audio guide.

An afternoon of relaxation: After lunch while enjoying views of the lake, how about some "me" time? 

A wellness treatment at the Locarno Lido or Termali Salini & Spa is the best way to relieve tension and relax, even if you're here for only one day. After some time spent in the warm water, make your way back to the centre for some shopping under the arcades.

The aromas of the Ticino: How can you not end the day in Locarno sampling some typical Ticino fare in one of the region's many grotti

For this reason alone, it's worth returning to Lake Maggiore for a longer break in summer and trying out all 17 of the grotti that, according to Watson, must be visited at least once in a lifetime.

Charming seduction: Ascona is a labyrinth just waiting to be discovered. 

The day begins with an Italian-style cappuccino in one of the small cafés. Ascona has a fascinating past and any number of cultural treasures. To learn more about its history, it's worth taking the free audio guide tour, which leads through Ascona's maze-like streets to the remotest corners of this gem on Lake Maggiore.

Hill of artists: Monte Verità, the hill above Ascona, is definitely worth a visit! 

It's rich in history and features a number of curiosities, such as the northernmost green tea plantation in Europe, the Casa del Tè, and the Casa Anatta museum, where the founders of the naturist colony (1902-1920) once lived. Monte Verità also has a restaurant serving excellent meals and offering fantastic views of Lake Maggiore..

It's a jolly holiday with Mary… by the lake! Back at the lake, the colourful lakeside promenade is a great place for exploring boutiques and art galleries. 

Make sure you stop off somewhere for an aperitif in the sun with snow-covered mountains and the Brissago Islands in the background. Talking of the Brissago Islands, you must come back in summer to visit this little slice of paradise with its Mediterranean climate that allows even exotic plants to thrive.

More than 24 hours: There's so much more to discover, but it will have to wait for your next visit! 

In the meantime, why not share your favourite moments with us using the hashtag #myasconalocarno? We look forward to seeing your posts!

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