The Best Things to Do in and Around Ascona

Ascona, Switzerland
Ascona, Switzerland | © Ben039 / Pixabay
Photo of Chiara Assi
28 August 2018

With its labyrinthine cobblestone alleys, brightly coloured houses, pretty courtyards and small, perfectly manicured gardens, there is plenty to explore in Ascona.

Discover Ascona’s Old Town

There are fewer places in Switzerland that are as great as Ascona for walking: the town is located in an idyllic spot between the picturesque, hilly area of Monte Verità and the blue waters of Lake Maggiore and it offers countless possibilities for those who like to explore on foot. The Old Town and the lakeside promenade are particularly quaint and picture-worthy.

Ascona, Switzerland | © Ben039 / Pixabay

Take a dip at Lido Ascona

Swimming Pool

Located right on the lake, the Lido Ascona is large and beautiful and it’s one of Ticino’s best-loved places for a swim. The Lido offers several lake accesses, including low, medium and tall diving boards for those who want to show off their diving skills. If you want to stay active, there are two beach volleyball courts, many ping pong tables and there is also the chance to rent stand up paddling equipment. In the mood for relaxing? You can head to one of the two bars: either the lounge on the terrace by the entrance or the small beach bar by the water, with its Caribbean-inspired groove and delicious cocktails.

Walk around Monte Verità

Monte Verità is a wonderful hilly area that is easily reachable on foot from Ascona’s town centre and is a very special place to visit whether you are looking to get some exercise or simply be surrounded by nature. Several walking paths lead visitors around and offer the chance to take in beautiful views of the old town from above. The tea house, the park and the Casa Anatta Museum are all interesting spots on the hill, but you can simply enjoy the silence and meditate on a bench before heading back down.

Experience the unique atmosphere of Casa Anatta


Located on the lush and beautiful Monte Verità above Ascona, Casa Anatta Museum is home to a permanent exhibition about Monte Verità itself. Here, in 1902, a group of various artists founded a naturist colony, where they lived for 18 years following a strict vegetarian diet as well as a very alternative lifestyle. This fascinating story can be learned today in Casa Anatta’s exhibition, which includes a wealth of materials linked to the history of Monte Verità.

Stunning views at Madonna del Sasso

Church, Museum
Madonna del Sasso Locarno
Madonna del Sasso | © m_baecher / Pixabay

Perched on a hill not far from Ascona, the Madonna del Sasso boasts incredible views over Lake Maggiore. Reachable by taking a steep path or with the Orselina cable car, the church itself is a work of art, embellished with incredible frescos. It’s also home to the Museo Casa del Padre, a must-see for those who want to admire some of the finest sacred art in the area. The Friars’ Library, with its 14,000 volumes, is well worth a visit, too.

Beautiful Baroque at San Sebastiano Parish Museum


This Parish Museum is located in the oratory of Saints Fabian and Sebastian, which dates back to the 9th century, making it one of the oldest buildings in Ascona. The museum is home to documents and accounts about the history of the building itself, as well as sacred furnishings from the parish. Numerous sacred objects date from the Baroque period. Of particular interest are the altarpiece depicting the Madonna with Saints Fabian and Sebastian by Giacomo Damotti from Palagnedra and The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio’s pupils.

Museo Leoncavallo for music experts


Right between Ascona and the Italian border, don’t miss the chance to see Museo Leoncavallo in Brissago. The building in which it is housed, the historical Palazzo Branca-Baccalà, is a stunning Baroque mansion that deserves a visit in itself. It also offers incredible views over the village and the shores of Lake Maggiore. Inside the palace, you will find documents and private objects that belonged to Ruggero Leoncavallo, a famed Italian composer who lived for a long period in Brissago at the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s.

Greenery at Isole di Brissago Botanical Park

Botanical Garden
The Isole di Brissago (centre right) would be protected by the new proposed national park | © Thomas Wenger / Flickr

A delightful place to relax, this botanical garden is located on the small Brissago Islands and is filled with lush imported plants. A haven of peace, the garden is a tranquil spot and is easily reachable by ferry boat from Ascona. Enjoy lunch at the local restaurant, which offers typical food and stunning views of Lake Maggiore.

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