Photo of Ascona

About Ascona

Ascona is Switzerland's most low-lying town, nestling along the northernmost shore of Lake Maggiore. It boasts all the charm, culture and culinary delights of Provence but without the heaving mass of tourists that tend to descend upon the French Riviera every summer. With a lakeside promenade lined with chic cafes and palm trees, all in the shadow of glacier-crested mountains, and a lake so clean that the water is as clear-as-glass, it makes for the perfect European break. Our collection of best places to stay in Ascona have something for everyone from chic boutiques to luxury escapes.

Ascona bares all the trappings of a Mediterranean town. Part of a big wine-producing region of Switzerland, it has a mild microclimate perfectly suited to viticulture. Luckily for tourists, Switzerland only exports 1.5% of its wine, so getting your hands on some is a great boon.

A particular pleasure is being able to stand awestruck at snowcapped Alpine ridges while sitting in the shade of a palm tree. One such mountain is the Monte Vista - the Mountain of Truth - which during the 20th century was a utopian commune of writers, philosophers and poets, from Herman Hesse to Carl Jung. The museum there offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of the commune and the reasons for its decline. Other writers, like James Joyce, flocked to the beautiful Brissago Islands, now a botanical park. It is easy to see why Ascona is home to over 40 millionaires, in spite of having a population barely exceeding 5000 people.

The lake and its surroundings offer much to the adventurous tourist. You can rent a sail or motorboat to explore Lake Maggiore or even a standup paddleboard from Asconautica; be sure to hire a skipper to take you to the Brissago Islands' botanical park - a breathtaking afternoon excursion! Better still, get yourself to Valle Verzasca and try your hand at adventure sports or go hiking through the spellbinding valleys of Centovalli.

As you stroll through the town, in the shade of palm trees, you will marvel at the picture-perfect beauty of the pastel-coloured houses that line the winding cobbled streets, housing fashion boutiques and lovely chic cafes and art galleries like the Museum of Modern Art. The lakeside promenade, boasting some of the most gorgeous panoramic views in the town, is lined with some amazing cafes. One of Ascona's greatest assets is how unspoilt it is by tourism, demonstrated by how hard it is to find an English menu at a restaurant!

What not to miss

  • Hire a sail or motorboat and explore the calm and pure waters of Lake Maggiore.
  • Get yourself to the Brissago Islands and stroll through the beautiful botanical gardens.
  • Drink local wine at Grotto America while eating cheese and charcuterie.
  • Hike up Monte Verita and learn about the utopian commune founded there in the 20th century.
  • Explore the San Pietro e Paolo Basilica, a 16th century beauty, with a collonaded interior and a high bell tower.
  • Go hiking through the hundreds of valleys in Centovalli.
  • If you're there in July, attend Europe's largest jazz festival, JazzAscona and go to the 200 free concerts by the lake.
  • Drink in the sunset while walking quietly along the lakeside promenade.

To start planning your trip browse through our collection of the best places to stay in Ascona.

The best places to stay in Ascona

Pure luxury

  • Giardino Ascona: a stunning 5* lakeside hotel with beautiful views set amidst gorgeous Italian-style gardens. The rooms are light, contemporary and colourful and the restaurant has two Michelin stars. Barefoot luxury.
  • Castello del Sole: seamlessly blending contemporary comforts with antique flourishes, this luxury hotel looks out onto the lake and mountains. Utterly spoiling spa, a large indoor pool and a superb restaurant. Divinity enshrined.

Romantic break

  • Eden Roc: luxurious and intimate with a gorgeous lakeside setting, this fabulous hotel is ideal couples. Whether you're dining at their superb restaurant or being pampered at the spa, you will be totally indulged.
  • Castello Seeschloss: a magnificently placed property set on the the shore of Lake Maggiore. Offering palatial roomspalatial and a restaurant with lakeside dining with stunning views. A perfect romantic destination.

Chic boutique

  • Art Hotel Riposo: an artfully designed hotel on the edge of the town. Rooms are hip and fresh and most boast private balconies and lake views. There's also a choice of two restaurants and occassionally live music.

For an apartment or villa

  • Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and apartments in the nearby area.

Travel information

  • Fly either to Zurich and then on to Lugano, 45km away, or to Milan, 119km away and then get public transport.
  • If you want to rent a car we recommend you contact our partner Rentalcars.
  • The best time to go is during the summer when the temperature ranges between 16 to 27 degrees.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in Ascona

  • Castello Seeschloss Ascona 45 rooms from £84

    This magnificent Castello's setting on the shore of Lake Maggiore is truly special. The high-ceiling rooms are palatial, with large windows and ornate plaster-work and furnishings. With a heated pool and a restaurant offering lakeside dining with stunning views. A perfect romantic destination.

    Active Holiday  -  With such a maginificent setting, one is involuntarily drawn outdoors, to swim, hike, or perhaps just for a lakeside stoll!
    Back to Nature  -  Get up into the hills surrounding Lake Maggiore to see the beautiful mountain lake and its environs
    Great walks  -  Whether you want to do some serious hiking or just a gentle lakeside stroll, all is possible from the village of Ancona
    Cooking classes  -  The hotel organises cooking classes on request. Ask at reception for more information
    Check Availability
  • Art Hotel Riposo Ascona, Lake Maggiore 31 rooms from £224

    An artfully designed hotel on the edge of the pretty town of Ascona. Brightly coloured rooms are hip and fresh and most boast private balconies and lake views. A choice of two restaurants both with outdoor dining. Live music held on some evenings. A trendy choice in a great location for exploring.

    Local exploring  -  A charming property well located by the lake in order to explore Ascona and the surrounding area.
    Sights nearby  -  Take a stroll through the pretty historic centre of Locarno.
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool.
    Full of character
    Check Availability
  • Eden Roc Ascona 42 rooms from £180

    Luxury abounds at the heavenly Eden Roc on Lake Maggiore. Some of the highlights include a superb spa, a choice of four excellent restaurants and a plethora of water-sports facilities on site. Perfect for those looking for a lavish holiday by a lake.

    Sights nearby  -  Visit the incredible nearby sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso in Orselina, a 15th century pilgrimage site.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
    Check Availability
  • Giardino Ascona Ascona 72 rooms from £259

    A five star property situated on the stunning Lake Maggiore. Set in Mediterranean gardens reflective of it's location on the Swiss Italian border. Contemporary light airy rooms the best of which have french doors leading straight on to the garden. A Two Star Michelin restaurant. Complete luxury.

    Active Holiday  -  Sat on a stunning lake and with golf, sailing and mountain biking all on offer.
    Foodies  -  Ecco Ascona has been awarded two Michelin stars.
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor and outdoor pools.
    Spa
    Recommended by  -  Tablet
    Check Availability
  • Castello del Sole Ascona 78 rooms from £331

    A luxury hotel situated on the lakeshore of Lake Locarno. Framed by mountains and sitting in gardens full of fruit trees. Spoiling rooms mixing traditional furniture in a contemporary setting. The bathrooms are large and very modern. A glorious spa for complete relaxation. A spoiling stay.

    Country Escape  -  With mountains as a backdrop and vineyards surrounding this is an idyllic spot to unwind in some country air.
    Families  -  Numerous activities to keep all entertained plus a playground and babysitting services for children.
    Sailing  -  Use the hotel boat and spend the day cruising on Lake Maggiore stopping off at market places and castles along the way.
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool.
    Recommended by  -  Relais & Chateaux
    Check Availability