Parents Guide to Locarno, Switzerland With Kids.
Locarno is a picturesque, Italian speaking, resort town. Situated on Lake Maggiore at the base of the Swiss Alps, It also boasts Switzerland’s warmest weather and sunny days. It’s a great choice for a low-key family vacation.
We originally made an unfortunate hotel booking choice complete with a view of a graffitied building along a train route and unwelcome critters in the bathroom. (This is why I am suspicious of deeply discounted hotels that look great online now.) After one night there we checked out with a partial refund. Then, we overcompensated and booked a high-end hotel (i’m not complaining). Before that twist of fate, Locarno wasn’t even on our radar.
Things to do in Locarno
- Piazza Grande – Shops, restaurants & architecture
- Lake Maggiore – Boat rentals are available by the hour, however, you have to stay along the northern tip of the lake because the boats are not permitted to enter Italy.
- Lido Locarno – Indoor/Outdoor Waterpark
Educational & Active:
Where to Stay in Locarno
The Belvedere. This was a last minute booking and we had little idea what we were in for. This hotel is PERFECT for kids!
The Rooms: We had a one bedroom suite with an attached balcony. I appreciated the extras for the kids. They laid out no tear kids shampoo, dinosaur shaped soaps, and my personal favorite, tiny robes! The balcony was completely enclosed in plexiglass so I was able to leave the doors open and enjoy the fresh mountain air. The only thing I would change would be the 2 feet tall gaps by the stairwell on the upper floors… I just carried my kids through that area.
The activity lawn had an indoor/outdoor pool, a volleyball pit, a couple playground toys, table tennis, etc. My toddlers especially enjoyed the oversized chess board.
The Belvedere also had one of the best breakfast buffets I’ve ever had – which is saying a lot because I am spoiled by India’s over the top hospitality.
Where to Eat in Locarno
There’s a seemingly endless supply of gelato and pizzerias. Most have outdoor dining with views of the lake or the Piazza. I wasn’t great at keeping track of where we ate (my bad) but it was ALL delicious. The standout was BLU – an upscale restaurant with lake views AND a children’s play area – with certified childcare providers manning it…. With no minimum age requirement! If I lived there, I think I would be there every weekend. I would love to go back to Locarno, next time I think I will plan a visit in December when the Piazza is transformed into a Christmas wonderland… ice rink and all!
Day Trips from Locarno
Tips & Tricks for Locarno
Bring your passport if you get into a car (or boat). Since you are so close to the border you don’t want to make a wrong turn and end up in Italy without it.
While the town is predominately Italian speaking, you can get by speaking English or German in most places. Most of the sidewalks and roads are cobblestone. If your traveling with small children an all-terrain stroller will work but leave the umbrella stroller at home. The town is mostly closed down on Sundays, making it a perfect day for a family stroll to take photos without anyone photobombing.
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