The lovely village is situated on the northern shore of Lago Maggiore. Ascona is the lowest-lying town of whole Switzerland. Well-known for its mild climate, beautiful Old Town and the charming promenade at lake Maggiore. Full of cosy cafes and restaurants offering you a splendid view. In this post, we will inform you about everything you need to know to ensure a fantastic visit to Ascona.
What is Ascona famous for?
Ascona is a picturesque town located directly at Lake Maggiore. It is famous for its mild climate, Old Town full of history and the fabulous lake promenade filled with cafes and restaurants. Ascona has a direct lakeside location, beautiful palm trees and there is a Mediterranean ambience, this creates a perfect combination of Italian and Swiss cultures. Ascona is a popular visited holiday resort, visited by many tourists every year.
If you see Ascona for the first time you will see Ascona is something special. The colourfully picturesquely painted houses make this town so charming. The town invites you to relax, stroll or simply enjoy the sunset while having dinner at one of the many restaurants at the promenade.
Why is Ascona worth visiting?
Besides that Ascona has many good restaurants where you can have lunch or enjoy dinner while enjoying the sunset. Ascona is an ancient village, full of history, of Renaissance and medieval history. Combine the history with its cosy warm summer nights with live music, and theatre this creates a perfect summer holiday destination.
Top things to do and see in Ascona
Visit the church of San Pietro e Paolo
The church of San Pietro e Paolo is located in the historic Old Center of Ascona. In our opinion, this church is definitely worth visiting. The basilica was built in the 16th century. When entering the church you will see that it is defined by columns. In every picture, you can see the famous landmark of Ascona. This is the high bell tower. There are some lovely frescos and paintings in the church. Giovanni Serodini, a disciple of Caravaggio is the author of the interior frescoes of the church in Ascona, of which only part have survived the test of time. In our opinion the inside of the church is way more beautiful than the outside, so do not hesitate to have a look inside!
Esteem the beautiful Italian architecture
I hear you thinking, Ascona is a town situated in Switzerland? Yes, that’s right but first of all, people speak Italian in Ascona. As it is really closely located near the border of Italy. Ascona is full of beautifully painted restaurants, villas, hotels and houses in bright colours. Making a picture of the town is awesome, will look so good on camera.
A stroll around beautiful Ascona
Although Ascona has a tiny centre, it is a wonderful tiny town. There are self-guided walks which lead you through the most beautiful streets and along the lakefront. Highly recommended. The stroll takes around 30-40 minutes, it is an easy walk. The distance of the walk is around 2.4 kilometres.
During the walk, which is self-guided the tour leads you through the prettiest parts of Ascona, in just half an hour. You will see the stunning alleys, the restaurants and cafes along with the lakefront and of course all the boutique shops. Let’s not forget the three churches and the tour leads to a viewing point as well, this will give you a beautiful view overlooking Ascona, definitely take your iPhone or camera with you!
You can definitely do the walk-in for around 30 minutes, but we recommend taking the time, sitting down at some beautiful places taking pictures and maybe relaxing for a while at the lakefront, so worth it!
Here is a brief description of the walking tour through Ascona step by step
- Start at the church, The Chiesa di Sint Mario della Misericordia. Now you can turn around, and directly turn left into the Via Collegio.
- After 125-150 metres turn left into Via beato Pietro Berno. Turn left into the Via S. Sebastiano, after that right into the Via Sant’Omobono.
- Then go right into Vicole Delle Olive and walk to the beautiful lake.
- When you arrived at the lake, turn left and walk along the lake. After a while return and walk along the lake again.
- Now turn right into Vicolo Dogana, take the first street left and then you will reach the church of Saints Peter and Paul. Take a look at the church, after that walk around the church and take the streets to the lake, its called Piazza San Pietro.
- Now turn right and continue to walk along the lake. Follow the small curve left to the Via Moscia.
- 80 metres into Vai Moscia, on your right you will see stairs, take the stairs uphill. Continue following this path until you reach the church called: Chiesa di San Michele.
- This is the viewing point, enjoy the fabulous view of Ascona from above and the lake. Now you can go back to the lake, the same way as you got up to the viewing point.
- After arriving at the lakefront, enter the Via Borgo and after 100 metres turn right into the Contrada Maggiore, turn left after 100 metres in the galleria Della Carrà.
- After a while turn left into Carrà dei Nasi, and then you will reach Via Borgo again. Here you turn right. This means you will be leaving the Old Town centre.
- This is the ending of the tour through Ascona, we hope you enjoyed it a lot!
How to get to Ascona?
How to get to Ascona by train?
There are numerous ways to reach Ascona. Good to know, Ascona does not have its own train station. This means you can travel by train to Locarno. In Locarno, you will need to hop on a transfer bus or take a taxi for a short ride to Ascona. The good thing is, that Locarno has excellent connections with the major railway junction of Bellinzona. Numerous trains arrive and depart to and from Milan and Zurich. Check out this link for train connections.
How to get to Ascona from Locarno
If you arrive in Locarno by train, you can easily take the bus to Ascona. The bus ride will take approximately 15 minutes. The bus leaves often, every 15-17 minutes. One way will cost you around 3 francs, this is around 3 euros. – for more information about the Swiss Franc check out our other post.
How to get to Ascona by car?
Ascona lies at the beautiful Lago Maggiore. This area is really easily accessible. In every season. If you would take the A2-Motorway Basel – Lucerne – Gotthard Tunnel – Belllinzona – Chiasso (exit at the sign “Bellinzona South”).
Ascona also is accessible from the west via the Simplon Pass to Domodossola which is a scenic road, good to mention we found this road quite narrow through the Centovalli Valley. From Northern Italy, there’s a scenic drive along the shores of Lake Maggiore. All in all, Ascona is perfectly reachable by car in numerous ways.
Top restaurants in Ascona
After a day of strolling through beautiful Ascona, you might like to end the day eating in one of the many fabulous restaurants in Ascona. To make things easier for you, we created a list of our top 3 of the best restaurants in Ascona.
- Ristorante Osteria Nostrana – This restaurant has a great view, delicious food and great wine. Most people say this restaurant has the best pizzas in Ascona.
- Grotto Baldoria – this is such a cute place.
- Osteria Ticino – this restaurant offers delicious pizzas.
The picturesque town Ascona is definitely a town we recommend you to visit. It offers a beautiful old centre, lovely charming restaurants and cafes. Many offer a beautiful view of Lago Maggiore. We hope you will have an amazing day exploring the beauty of Ascona. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them below!