Lake Maggiore


Lake Maggiore extends from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland far into the Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. Thanks to its mild climate, there is lush, Mediterranean vegetation along its shores. In the hinterland is a wild and romantic mountain landscape with breathtaking views.

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On the Swiss, northern side of Lake Maggiore are some well-known holiday resorts in the Tessin: Locarno enjoys what is probably the best climate in Switzerland, with nearly 2300 hours of sunshine a year and an average annual temperature of 15.5 °C. The town is full of southern charm, and has the added attraction of several cultural events, including the famous international Film Festival. From Cardada/Cimetta, the closest mountain to Locarno, you can enjoy a fantastic panorama of Lake Maggiore. It is easy to reach the viewing platform by the cable-car, designed by the leading architect Mario Botta. The bottom station is immediately above the famous pilgrims’ church of Madonna del Sasso in Orselina.

Right next to Locarno is Ascona. Situated in a sunny bay, this little town, both chic and romantic, has lots of boutiques and art galleries to visit. Brissago, a little place with narrow, ancient alleyways on the border with Italy, is at the lowest point in Switzerland, 197 m above sea level. On the Brissago Islands in the lake there is a botanical garden to visit with 1500 varieties of sub-tropical plants.

The pleasure boats on Lake Maggiore serve not only Locarno, Ascona and Brissago but also smaller places around the lake and they also cross the border to serve the Italian side.

The easiest way to discover this charming region is by the Lake Maggiore Express, a combination of train and boat. The narrow-gauge railway goes from Locarno through the Centovalli – the valley of a hundred valleys – to Domodossola in Italy. After a short walk or lunch, your tour continues to Stresa, back by Lake Maggiore. From here you go by boat – with a few stops – back to Locarno. As well as the Centovalli, numerous other valleys lead back from the lake into the hinterland of the Tessin, including the wild and romantic Verzasca valley or the Maggia valley. There are also numerous walks along the Gambarogno Riviera on the opposite side of the lake from Locarno and Ascona.

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