Ten amazing things to do in Ascona-Locarno this spring

Exotic island gardens, beautiful lakeside beaches, encounters with eagles and one of Switzerland’s most special views – the Ticino region is a springtime paradise for families, nature fans and sports lovers alike

Written by
Time Out editors
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The Brissago Islands are the canton of Ticino’s botanical park. In 1885 Richard and Antoinette Fleming St Leger transformed these two isles on Lake Maggiore into a residence where painters, sculptors, musicians and writers could meet. They also set up an exotic garden that today is still home to 1,700 subtropical plant species from all over the world.

Stroll among 1,000 different species of camellia, including 70 that have yet to be identified, at Locarno’s charming Camellia Park. Inaugurated in 2005 to mark the city’s hosting of the International Camellia Society World Congress, it has since become a world-renowned attraction for its beautiful landscapes and botanical highlights and recently received the International Camellia Society Gardens of Excellence designation.

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Between the mouth of the Verzasca river and the Magadino plain, the beautiful Bolle di Magadino is a renowned wetland wildlife refuge, home to a wide variety of rare and endangered flora and fauna. The reserve is particularly well known as a breeding ground for waterfowl and as a stopoff for many species of birds migrating between Europe and Africa. It also houses a research centre and forms part of Unesco’s Ramsar Convention for the protection of wetland areas.

The shores of Lake Maggiore are scattered with an assortment of lovely beaches and inviting lidos. Take a dip in one of the indoor or outdoor pools at the Lido Locarno lakeside resort or relax in the natural saltwater bath at the Termali Salini & Spa. Many other water activities, including sailing, canyoning and rafting, are also available on the lake and nearby rivers.

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Take the Mario Botta-designed cable car up to Cardada, then jump on the chairlift to the 1,670m summit of Cimetta to experience a panorama like no other. Not only does the 360° view stretch out across Ascona-Locarno, the Lake Maggiore basin and the surrounding Alps, but, remarkably, also takes in both Switzerland’s lowest and highest spots: the Maggia river delta and the Dufourspitze peak on Monte Rosa. Elsewhere, children will love the fun and educational games found along the 1.2km play path, while Cardada-Cimetta is also the starting point for a huge range of hikes suitable for all abilities.

Get a squirrel’s-eye view scrambling among the branches at Parco Avventura di Gordola. You’ll need a head for heights, careful balance and keen focus to negotiate the cables, platforms and zip wires that make up the adventure park’s network of forest walkways. Different routes are available to suit all ages and abilities.

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With breathtaking landscapes, a mild climate, and a diverse mix of flat and mountainous routes, Ascona-Locarno is a region ripe for exploring by bicycle. Take a relaxing pedal along Lake Maggiore and discover some of its sublime scenery, or get those calves working on a ride up the regions valleys. The area also has three mountain bike trails recognised by the Switzerland Mobility Foundation.

10. Get into the swing
© Golf Gerre Losone / Daniel Martinek

10. Get into the swing

Those looking to improve their golf game will find plenty to discover in Ascona-Locarno. In recent years the region has become an important destination for passionate golfers. Try a round at Golf Ascona, Golf Gerre Losone or the pitch and putt at Albergo Losone. Alternatively, book a course at Golf School Locarno and pick up some pointers.

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