There are so many magnificent lakes and lots of lakeside villages to visit in Switzerland. Lake Como, Lake Geneva, Lake Zurich and Lake Lucerne along with Lake Lugano may get more tourist attention, but Lake Maggiore is worth a closer look. Not far from Lugano are the towns of Ascona and Locarno, just about an hour’s car or train ride away. They are also easily accessible from Milan in about 90-minutes. The Ascona-Locarno region of the Ticino canton of southern Switzerland is more about nature and a laid-back vibe versus Lugano’s more city-like feel. Italian is the language of choice in this area of Switzerland.


Ascona is a jewel-box-like town on the edge of Lake Maggiore. Colorful buildings line the lakefront promenade making it look like a crayon box. It is the lowest lying village in Switzerland. It boasts a Mediterranean ambiance and mild climate full of history, art and culture. The village center called “Borgo” has winding alleyways filled with boutiques and art galleries. Restaurants here range from “grottos” that serve basic local food and drink to Michelin-starred dining experiences. A historical sight to see is the 16th century church of Saint Peter and Paul. A day trip to the Brissago Islands, with botanical gardens growing 1,700 species of plants, is a must see. It gives visitors a chance to get out on the lake with a boat ride to these garden-like islands right smack in the middle of Lake Maggiore.

Located on the serene shores of Lake Maggiore is 5-star Hotel Eden Roc spread out over three buildings with three pools, two saunas and four restaurants. An outdoor lakeside lunch is a treat here at the Marina Restaurant & Lounge with an incredibly diverse menu from Arabic mezze to dim sum and pasta. Their other restaurants offer Michelin star meals plus Gault & Millau points to satisfy even the most discriminating diners.

Ascona accommodation choices vary, with each offering its own charm, style and setting. Giardina Ascona is in a garden environment with first class service, spa, pools, an Ayurvedic Center and more Michelin starred restaurants. Castello del Sol sits in a park surrounded by mountains with its own private beach. Art Hotel Riposo is a boutique hotel where art, music and food come together in a fairytale-like setting.


Above Lake Maggiore is the lovely town of Locarno at the base of the Alps. From here, visitors capture a more panoramic view of the lake, still within walking distance to its shores. Locarno is home to a majority of the cultural and recreational activities of the region: the ‘Locarno Film Festival’, the most important film festival in Switzerland held every August (August 3-9, 2023) to the concerts of ‘Moon & Stars’ with international music stars performing in a unique setting (July 13-23, 2023) to ‘Locarno on Ice’, where an ice rink takes over the square in the center of the city (November 23, 2023 – January 7, 2024) to ‘Locarno Camellia’ exhibition of 900 species of camellia in full bloom (March 20-24, 2024) to name a few.

The ideal hotel here in a great location is Belvedere Locarno, welcoming guests for more than 125 years. Today the hotel has 90 contemporary rooms with all the creature comforts. It is perched on the hillside overlooking the city with amazing views of Lake Maggiore below, yet close to all the activities.

Belvedere Locarno is the Official Partner Hotel of the Locarno Film Festival. This makes it celebrity central during the festival for rubbing elbows with the stars. And if that is not enough, guests can reach for the heavens at the nearby 15th century Madonna del Sasso church. This famous pilgrimage sanctuary on the sacred mountain in Orselina is where there once was an apparition of Virgin Mary. It is a destination of the devotional hiking route linking Camino de Santiago and the Via Francigena. Belvedere Hotel even has its own funicular stop “Belvedere” that takes visitors to this special spot.

Travelers can easily reach the old part of town by foot, known as Citta Vecchia. Here 13th century Visconti Castle can be seen while strolling around the picturesque, historical area through narrow alleys that lead to the famous Piazza Grande. Meandering even further, and the lakefront promenade appears in all its splendor.

When back ‘home’ to Belvedere Locarno hotel, guests can grab a drink at the bar on the terrace next to the 200-year-old fountain dating back to 1815. La Fontana Ristorante & Bar with a show kitchen awarded 14 Gault & Millau points, offers breakfast with a hearty buffet as well as lunch and dinner. Wines can be selected from the hotel’s wonderful wine library. During summertime, Grotto al Sasso, a typical Ticino Grotto in the garden serves light local fare.
Health and wellness are at your doorstep at Belvedere Locarno Hotel. Their Oasi Spa offers a swimming pool, saunas, massages, fitness studio and beauty care. The outdoor gardens have sun loungers to relax and an assortment of games like pétanque. For bike enthusiasts, Hotel Belvedere is a certified Bike Hotel. Whether a casual cyclist, mountain biker or professional cyclist, Ticino offers trails for everyone at every level, all with amazing landscapes to enjoy. There are also three 18-hole golf courses nearby.

And if business before pleasure is calling, Belvedere Locarno is recognized as an “Inspiring Meeting Hotel.”
Locarno boasts 2,300 hours of sunshine a year, over 879 miles of hiking trails and more than 500 events annually. If that is not enough, well then, there is always the Italian side of Lake Maggiore with towns like Stresa and the three Borromean Islands. But we will save that for another day.

About The Author

Hope Gainer is President of Hope International Marketing & Hope International Properties. She is a global imagemaker, marketer, and branding expert with over 30 years of lifestyle experience with a focus today on the luxury sectors. She produces unique, upscale events around the world. Gainer is a contributor to several luxury magazines. She also represents spectacular ‘trophy’ real estate properties globally and luxury properties in South Florida from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale to Palm Beach. Instagram @hopegainer

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