With its palm trees and much-hyped 2300 hours of sunshine a year, visitors have swooned over Locarno’s near-Mediterranean setting since the late 19th century. Switzerland’s lowest-altitude town is quite special, for sure, with an air of chic insouciance, a promenade strung along its mountain-facing lakefront and botanical gardens bristling with subtropical flowers and foliage. Beyond the lake, there’s a pretty Renaissance Old Town to roam, which fans out from the Piazza Grande, host of a renowned music and film festival in summer.
For an eyrie-like view over the lake and an escape from the crowds, hitch a ride up to the forested peaks of Cardada and Cimetta. Or do as centuries of pilgrims have done before you and hike up the many steps to the Santuario della Madonna del Sasso.