Ascona is a small town next to Locarno at the Lake Maggiore in Ticino.
Ascona was able to maintain its charm as a colony of artists and drop-out even as the touristy Locarno developed into a big tourist destination. Strict limitations for cars ensure that the main center of the town is car free. Its tranquil people make this town a calming and refreshing visit. The old buildings have been beautifully kept restored. Ascona is popular for day trips and boat tours to the Brissago Islands. The Lake Maggiore cools the town in summer and ensures a Mediterranean feeling in winter.
By public transport
Two bus lines connect Ascona to Locarno which are run by the public transport system FART. The Locarno railway station connects the area to the Swiss train network.
- Bus 1 goes from Locarno to Ascona every 15 minutes.
- Bus 316 goes to Brissago and stops at Ascona on the way. One trip per hour.
Visitors from most of Switzerland will arrive from the east, taking one of the two bridges over the river Maggia. You can bypass the sometimes heavy traffic in Locarno using the Mappo-Morettina tunnel. To arrive from southwestern parts of Switzerland (e.g. Valais), it can be faster to take a shortcut through the Simplon Pass and the Italian town of Domodossola. A road on the western shore of Lake Maggiore also connects Ascona to the Italian region of Piedmont via Brissago.
The old town cannot generally be reached by car, but there are several public parking lots surrounding it. From any of these, it's a short walk to the lakefront.
Boats on Lake Maggiore stop at the Ascona boat dock in the middle of the old town. These can be a pleasant way to get into Ascona from Locarno, Brissago and the Italian towns on the lake.
By bike or on foot
The distance by bike or on foot from Piazza Grande, the main square of Locarno, to the Ascona old town is about 3 km. A pedestrian bridge, completed in 2020 and therefore not visible on some older maps, makes the trip easier for bikes and pedestrians. Bike rentals can be found in Locarno.
The town is best discovered on foot as small lanes are in general pedestrian only.
- Lake promenade
- Bagno pubblico - the public beach of Ascona
- House Serodine, Town Hall Square. Facade on three floors (1620) in Baroque style with stucco decorations Serodine of John the Baptist (1587-1626).
- 1 Museo Castello San Materno, via Losone 10, ☏ +41 91 759 81 60, firstname.lastname@example.org. Th-Sa 10:00-12:00, afternoon variable, Su 14:00-16:00. The oldest still standing part of this castle goes back to the 6th-8th century. Today it is used as a art museum. Fr. 7/5.
- 2 Museo Comunale d'Arte Moderna, via Borgo 34, ☏ +41 91 759 81 40, email@example.com. Th-Sa 10:00-12:00, afternoon variable, Su 10:00-12:30. Museum of modern arts. Fr. 10/7.
- 1 Brissago Islands (Brissago Islands), ☏ +41 91 791 43 61, fax: +41 91 791 07 63, firstname.lastname@example.org. Season 2013: 20 March – 28 October. The Brissago Islands, the Botanic garden of Canton Ticino, give you the wonderful opportunity to escape from the noise and confusion of frenetic modern life. Adults Fr. 8, Children (6-16) Fr. 2.50.
- Ascona Locarno and the Magic Valley. 3-4 hours. Regional bicycle path n. 31: Tenero – Locarno – Losone – Avegno – Gordevio – Maggia.
- JazzAscona, 3, Luini St (Tourist Office Lake Maggiore, Locarno), email@example.com. latest 20th - 29th of June 2014. Jazz Ascona is one of the major world events dedicated to the classic jazz and New Orleans' Beat.
- Musical weeks of Ascona, Tourist Office Lake Maggiore (Locarno), ☏ +41 848 091 091, fax: +41 91 759 76 94, firstname.lastname@example.org. Since the founding of the Settimane Musicali of Ascona in 1946 the event represents a recurring and very much appreciated date on the annual events calendar and therefore has become an integral part of the traditions and the music entertainment panorama of the Lake Maggiore region especially and the Canton of Ticino in general.
- Street Artists' Festival, 3, Madonna della Fontana St, fax: +41 91 791 21 02, email@example.com.
At the lakefront there are mostly hotels and restaurants, but the narrow pedestrian streets leading away from the lake have dozens of little stores where you can find almost anything.
There are numerous restaurants at the lakefront. In these, you'll generally have to pay for the view - which may well be worth it, as the view is very nice indeed. On the other hand, if you're only after food, you may find better value for your money a block or two inland.
- 1 Osteria Nostrana, Piazza G. Motta, ☏ +41 91 791 51 58, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 1 Hotel La Perla, Ascona, Via Collina 14, ☏ +41 91 791 35 77, email@example.com. from Fr. 144.
- Locarno is the next city, just across the river and offers all modes of transportation.
- Losone is the neighboring town just upriver. It is mostly residential and less touristy than Ascona or Locarno, but there are several traditional Ticinese "grotto" restaurants there.