City guide Locarno
Southern plants such as palm trees or lemon trees flourish in Locarno and give the city its special charm. The heart of the city is the Piazza Grande, well-known for its annual film festival. The narrow lanes of the Old Town all lead to the Piazza. Castello Visconteo, a castle dating back to the 12th century, lies at the edge of the Old Town. About a fifth of the castle has been preserved in its original state.
The pilgrimage church of Madonna del Sasso is located above Locarno, in Orselina. The church is said to have been established as a result of an appearance of the Virgin Mary. It is the most notable sight in Locarno, and boasts an extraordinary view of the city, the lake and the mountains.
The valleys around Locarno have long attracted connoisseurs. The characteristic villages with their ancient church spires and stone-covered houses are accessible by Centovalli train and a large number of PostBus lines, which open up the Maggia Valley, Centovalli, the Verzasca and Onsernone valleys or, higher up, Robiei or Bosco Guring. Besides hiking, adventurous visitors undertake mountain treks or horseback rides to the distant chestnut forests. In summer, Cardada / Cimetta, located high above the city of Locarno, can be reached with a panoramic cable car and a chairlift. It is a popular venue for hang-gliders and para-gliders.
Weather conditions permitting, visitors enjoy skiing on Cardada/Cimetta, Locarno’s very own mountain. There are also a toboggan run and winter hiking trails - or one simply enjoys the breathtaking view of Lago Maggiore (with the islands of Brissago), stretching for 65 kilometers. Three ski runs are at your disposal; five restaurants and mountain huts offer delicious local cuisine.
- Pilgrimage church of Madonna del Sasso – a holy place above Locarno with fantastic views over the town, lake and mountains.
- Locarno's nearest mountain, the Cardada-Cimetta – the cable-car designed by leading architect Mario Botta takes visitors up to the hiking, skiing and sledging paradise above Locarno.
- Old Town with Castello Visconteo – wander through the picturesque Old Town behind the Piazza Grande to the medieval castle with its archaeological museum.
- Verzasca valley & Maggia valley – romantic and largely unspoilt valleys in Locarno's hinterland. Bus connections from Tenero and Locarno.
- Lago Maggiore – swimming, water sports and excursions in, on and round the lake, e.g. to the Brissago Islands.
- International Film Festival in Locarno – for eleven days every year, thousands of film fans enjoy the magnificent setting of the Piazza Grande (August).
- The new Lido Locarno is a unique oasis for leisure, sport and wellness. The best equipped and most modern bathing complex in Ticino, it is open throughout the year with its thermal baths, swimming pools, water slides and leisure pools. The Lido Locarno is located by one of Lake Maggiore's most beautiful beaches and surrounded by an impressive seascape against the backdrop of the Alps.
- Locarno on Ice – A large ice skating rink for everyone, various entertainment programs, music, gastronomy and lots of fun surrounded by the magical Piazza Grande (December-January).
- Locarno Camelie – Big Camellia exhibition at the beautiful town park fully dedicated to the camellia flower, located on the shore of the lake. Market and various entertainment (March-April).
- Moon & Stars Locarno – 10 magical nights at the Piazza Grande in Locarno hosting concerts of international pop and rock stars (July).
- Locarno Film Festival – Event that attracts a great number of visitors and is highly rated both by cinephiles and the general public. For 11 days Locarno becomes the world capital of cinema. Spectacular evening open air screenings on the Piazza Grande (August).