The closer you get to the Italian border, the closer you are to la dolce vita. You can see it, you can smell it, you can feel it. Welcome to Locarno and to its vast ‘to do’ list! The southern air will add a Mediterranean vibe to your adventures. Even plants from the previously-mentioned climate prosper in the region, giving it a unique and ‘precise yet exotic’ type of look. Eager to dive in? Feel free!
In-between seasons or throughout the year
Are you ready to face all there is in store without inserting the /weather permitting/ phrase?
Verzasca Dam. This is the place. It is a 220-meter (721 foot) plunge, the second highest in the world (but the highest free fall). It became famous following the opening scene of 1995 movie ‘GoldenEye’. Actually, this stunt was voted as the best movie stunt of all time in a 2002 poll run by Sky Movies. Due to the arch shape, you feel so close to the walls during the free fall, that it gives you shivers.
2. Take a scenic walk
Take advantage of those sunny days, grab a snack and a bottle of water and start walking from Locarno to Minusio, on the lake promenade. Bonus: Some very beautiful views of Lago Maggiore!
3. Exploring Bolle di Magadino
Bolle di Magadino is a natural reserve of Switzerland, situated at the confluence of Ticino River and Lago Maggiore. Actually, it is a biotope – a location where birds nest and stop during migrations. In 1888, the course of Ticino River was modified in order to allow it to flow straight into the lake; banks and dams were subsequently built to regulate the river. During World War II, the area was cultivated and after the war, the lands were retaken. However, a shift in vegetation was noted, the reserve was set up and it is a very important wetland and bird area today. Waiting to be explored.
4. Parasailing & paragliding
For this specific area, tandem flights from Cimetta, landing in Locarno, are suggested for starters and especially for first-time paragliders. ‘Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned forever skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return’ (Leonardo da Vinci). There are also very interesting and amusing tandem flights, even above massive concerts taking place in Locarno. The vicinity to water also makes the parasailing option available. 360º views included.
5. Shopping | Locarno Local Market
Piazza Grande in Locarno – this is the place to go shopping, the way locals do, year-round. Plus, if you can’t quite find everything you wanted and have some time on your hands, you may head to Ascona, home to a local market too on Tuesdays, between April and November.
Summer is almost here…
…so a different kind of fun has almost arrived, as well.
6. Rafting & canyoning
Most of Ticino River can prove challenging even for whitewater experts. Consequently, cautiousness will be key in any of your outdoor adventures near or inside the water. Guides who know these waters should be contacted both for canyoning and rafting. And if you decide to venture by yourselves, remember not to camp too close to the riverbed, always check the weather conditions, and be informed on the schedules and posts of the dams.
If you thought that you couldn’t try scuba diving or use that license in a landlocked country like Switzerland, think again! The many lakes provide some interesting opportunities. In this case, one not to be missed is the one offered by Lago Maggiore. The visibility is a high one, as would be expected in clear Alpine waters. The maximum depth is 370 meters (1,213 feet), while the average water surface temperature in summer reaches 20 to 22ºC (68 to 71°F).
Have you ever dreamt about having your first-ever sailing lesson or are you already schooled? Lago Maggiore will be the perfect spot to practise what you have learnt, improve your technique, or get you started.
9. Waterskiing, wakeboarding & wakesurfing
You can experience them all on Lago Maggiore! Moreover, the lake banks are perfect for you to relax. You can also go around it by foot, by bicycle, or by car and continuously seek out new itineraries. Views from the ground are very different from those from the water. The latter are said to change rapidly, as in a kaleidoscope.
Joining the snowflakes in winter
When it’s cold outside…
10. Snowboarding & skiing
Recommended? Cardada slopes. Why? Because they’re conveniently located, because they offer quite mild temperatures for Swiss slopes, and because you’ll fall in love with the views. Cardada-Cimetta is the ideal place for beginners and, of course, skiing and snowboarding lessons are provided.
Vallemaggia is viewed as the perfect spot to leave everything behind and enjoy snow-shoeing, winter, and views at their best. Guides are available, and so are multiple options of routes. De gustibus non est disputandum.
12. Ice skating
During Locarno on Ice, Piazza Grande turns itself into a fairytale, as it becomes host to a spectacular skating rink, surrounded by red carpets. In style are also the heated and partially-covered terrace around the rink, the four large transparent igloo bars, and the several smaller food-selling chalets.
13. Spa days
When are spa days a great option? Always! However, they’re far better in winter! You’ve got the snowy peaks yet you’re in deep and warm water, spoiled by massages or all wrapped up. If I go further and mention the largest mineral spa of Ticino, Termali Salini & Spa, I bet I’ve got you hooked. Apart from the waterfalls and grottos reiterating the landscape of Ticino Valley, you’ve got the views, the private spaces, and the healthy bistro on site.