12 Best Day Trips From Locarno

One of the most sought-after destinations in the Ticino is Locarno. Together with Ascona, Locarno makes for a wonderful destination. Ticino is a Mediterranean-like canton, and it offers lots to see and do. You can stroll around Piazza Grande, visit Madonna del Sasso in Orselina, or trek up Cimetta-Cardada for stunning panoramas.

There are many options for getting away from Locarno if you would like to do so. Locarno is actually close to the romantic valleys of the canton such as Verzasca with its emerald-green waters and Bavona with its stony formations. Locarno offers a lot of options for day trips because it’s close to a lot of other bigger towns such as Ascona, Tenero, and Bellinzona.  

If you’re looking for more ideas once you’re there, here are some of the 12 best day trips you can take from Locarno.

1. Bellinzona

Castelgrande. Image by TouringSwitzerland.com

Only 20 minutes by train, Bellinzona is a fantastic day trip from Locarno.

There are many reasons to visit Bellinzona in Switzerland. This is a remarkably beautiful and historically significant area. Bellinzona is famous for three castles (Castelgrande, Montebello, Sasso Corbaro). Since 2000, Bellinzona has been listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for its castles, defensive wall, and ramparts.

Its impressive medieval architecture and the role it has played in managing the entire valley of Ticino make Bellinzona a town worth visiting.  

Visit our article on Bellinzona for more information: Bellinzona: Everything You Need To Know.


2. Intragna (and Centovalli)

Image of Centovalli from Pizza Leone by Claudio Ermanni from Pixabay

Discover Intragna in Centovalli, only a mere 24 minutes away from Locarno with the bus.

Intragna, the seat of the Centovalli region near Locarno, has an ancient city center. It is a town of ancient buildings and narrow, winding streets. Also, it has the canton’s highest bell tower, providing a magnificent view of Ticino.

The scenic Centovalli train is a convenient way to get there from Locarno. Centovalli Railway from Locarno, Switzerland to Domodossola, Italy covers 50 kilometers of rugged cliffs, dense forests, and numerous bridges.  


3. Lugano

Image of Lugano and the lake by Andreas from Pixabay

The biggest city in the canton of Ticino is definitely worth a day trip from Locarno. In half an hour with the train, you can reach Lugano from Locarno.

Lugano is the largest town in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino and ranks ninth in the country as a whole. Lugano lies right along Lake Lugano. The city of Lugano as well as the districts of Barbengo, Brè, Gandria, Biogno, Cantine di Gandria and Castagnola are all part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. 

Besides 17 Swiss heritage sites in and around Lugano, the city has several other sites of interest. Lugano’s attractions include the Church of Santa Maria Degli Angeli, Via Nassa, Piazza della Riforma, and the Palazzo Civico. 

Visit our article on Lugano for more information: Make the Most of a Long Weekend in Lugano.


4. Corippo

Corippo, Ticino via Wikimedia

Corippo is also an easy and interesting day trip from Locarno. In 37 minutes, you can reach this beautiful village situated at the foot of a steep hill in the Verzasca Valley.

Corippo is one of the prettiest villages in Ticino despite its small size. Corippo is a municipality renowned for stone houses and for being Switzerland’s least populous. Providing panoramic views of the valley, it is an ideal place for relaxation. 

Corippo is currently listed in the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.

If you would like to read more about Corippo, check out our article Corippo, Switzerland: Ticino’s Charming Hilltop Village.


5. Lavertezzo

Ponte dei Salti, Lavertezzo. Image by TouringSwitzerland.com

With direct buses from Locarno Train Station, Lavertezzo is only 40 minutes away from Locarno and definitely worth a day trip.

Lavertezzo is known for its Roman bridge, Ponte dei Salti. The Verzasca River Bridge is one of the most famous spots in Verzasca Valley. It also has a baroque church dating from the 18th century.

Despite how tempting it might be, do not go swimming directly after rain in Lavertezzo. 


6. Brissago Islands

Image of Brissago Islands by Joseph Grunig

Only 40 minutes by boat from the pier of Locarno, Brissago Islands (or Isole di Brissago) is definitely worth visiting for the day. The boat will stop quickly in Ascona before it proceeds to Brissago Islands.

Brissago Islands (Isole di Brissago) are a pair of islands in Lake Maggiore close to Ronco sopra Ascona and Brissago. Isola Grande is a big island with many subtropical plants native to both the northern and southern hemispheres. The big island has been a popular tourist destination since 1950. 


7. Foroglio

Foroglio, Ticino
Foroglio. Image by TouringSwitzerland.com

Despite the limited number of buses, it is still easy to reach Foroglio in Bavona Valley from Locarno. Foroglio is a great place to spend a few hours. It is approximately 70 minutes away from Locarno. Before you reach Foroglio, you will have to change buses in Bignasco, Posta

The town of Foroglio lies in Bavona Valley (Val Bavona), arguably the wildest one among the valleys of Ticino. This spectacular side valley is part of the Maggia Valley. The whole region is part of the Lepontine Alps – a mountain range that covers various parts of Switzerland (Valais, Ticino, Uri, Graubünden) and Italy (Piedmont and Lombardy). 

It is known for being an extremely photogenic little village and its waterfall.

Visit our article on Foroglio for more information: The Scenic Village of Foroglio, Switzerland.


8. Sonogno

Image of Sonogno, Ticino by Viktar Palstiuk via flickr

With its rustici and a pretty location in Valle Verzasca, Sonogno is a charming little village. Buses from Locarno to Sonogno run directly and take around 75 minutes. It is definitely worth a day trip. A visit to Sonogno can be combined with a visit to Corippo. 

Sonogno is a village in the district of Locarno, located at the very end of the Verzasca Valley. A number of well-maintained granite houses line the alleyways. A sheep’s wool workshop is also located in Sonogno (Casa della Lana). Sonogno is home to 96 people.


9. Mesocco

Image of Castello di Mesocco by wikimedia

Mesocco is a village in canton Graubünden. It is around 90 minutes away from Locarno and definitely also worth visiting for a day. From Locarno, you will have to take the train to Castione-Arbedo. A bus runs from Castione to Mesocco.

The municipality of Mesocco is in the Moesa Region in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. The Castello di Mesocco and the Church of S. Maria al Castello are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance.

Among the largest ruins in the canton are those at Castello di Mescocco. It was considered an impregnable castle back in the day. The castle’s original owners were the noble family of Sax until 1480. In the 15th century, the castle was held by the Trivulzio family. From the castle, you can hike further along the old train line until Soazza.

Located at the foot of the castle is the Church of Santa Maria al Castello. The church was first mentioned in 1219. Many frescoes from the workshop of Seregnesi are housed here.


10. Bosco/Gurin

Bosco/Gurin. Image by TouringSwitzerland.com

There are many turns and narrow roads on the way to Bosco/Gurin. Did you know that they speak German here as well? It is nevertheless fascinating to visit this far-flung village with its own special dialect. By bus, Bosco/Gurin is around 100 minutes away from Locarno. You will have to change buses in Cevio to reach this location. 

Bosco/Gurin is the highest mountain village in the canton at 1,506 meters above sea level. From Bosco/Gurin, you can explore traditional Walser houses, Rossboda and Grossalp. A lot of the houses in the area have sgraffiti, white etchings on their facades.

Visit our article on Bosco Gurin for more information: History of Bosco Gurin And Why It’s Worth A Visit.


11. Robiei and Basodino Glacier

Robiei by wikimedia

Robiei can be reached from Locarno by traveling to Bignasco first. Switch to the bus in Bignasco going to S. Carlo (Bavona). You can then take a cable car up to Robiei from San Carlo in Bavona. From Locarno, it will take approximately 2 hours. Even so, the beautiful landscape here makes this day trip worth it. 

Once reaching Robiei, you will find a mountainous landscape with hydropower plants. After hiking a little more than a kilometer south, you reach the dam, where the glacier path begins. A well-marked path now takes you south-westward for 400 meters.

As soon as you reach the highest point and the southernmost spot of the glacier path, you should admire the magnificent sight of the Basodino Glacier. Then, you can begin the descent back to the starting point. 


12. Splügen

Splügen. Image by TouringSwitzerland.com

By public transportation from Locarno, you can reach Splügen in about two hours. Regardless, I’d recommend it as a day trip or stopover when heading to Zurich or Graubünden. This is not a major detour, and the scenery will be worth seeing, even if only for an hour or two.  

Splügen is a well-preserved Walser village in Rheinwald. The village was an important pass village for traffic crossing the Alps. For a long time, Splügen was a bridge connecting Graubünden and Italy. In the winter, there is a ski area at the foot of Pizzo Tambo, which borders Italy. 


Summary

Locarno is a great base for day trips. In case you want to see how long it takes by train or bus to get there from Locarno, we have included a table below for your future reference. 

For your next visit to Locarno, we hope you will find one of the destinations below interesting.

PlaceDistance from LocarnoTravel Time by Train/Bus
Bellinzona22.8 km20 minutes
Intragna8.7 km24 minutes
Lugano43.6 km30 minutes
Corippo16.6 km37 minutes
Lavertezzo 18.2 km 40 minutes
Brissago Islands6.7 km40 minutes
Foroglio34.5 km 70 minutes
Sonogno31.4 km 75 minutes
Mesocco56.7 km 90 minutes
Bosco Gurin41.7 km 100 minutes
Robiei and Basodino Glacier39.9 km2 hours
Splügen91.2 km2 hours