Crossing the border from Switzerland into northern Italy, Lake Maggiore is unique amongst the Swiss lakes. Its shores are known for being comfortably warm, and its neighbouring towns are rich with Italianate buildings, vibrant colour, and medieval history. A seven night stay in this region of Switzerland will undoubtedly prove to be unlike any other, with all the benefits of the southerly climate, but still with good proximity to the snow-capped Alps.We recommend travelling to Switzerland by train from London to Ascona, via Paris, Basel, and Locarno. Return flights from the UK with rail travel in Switzerland can also be arranged. Your destination is Ascona, Locarno’s more peaceful neighbour, in the canton of Ticino. This region is the warmest in Switzerland, with a near-Mediterranean climate. Palm trees grow on the shoreline of Lake Maggiore, in front of the colourful houses, and behind the rows of quaint fishing boats. On the southern side of the water, opposite Locarno and Ascona, stands the impressive and green Monte Tamaro. Hiking trails and walking routes have a different tone here to further north, with panoramic summery vistas of bright flowers and wildlife. During your week here, explore the Italianate towns, such as Bellinzona and Lugano, seek out the waterfalls on the River Ticino, and visit the medieval castles. A stay on Lake Maggiore offers visitors a wholly different experience to that offered by the Bernese Oberland, by the northern cities, or by the Engadine. Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.Day-by-day summaryDAY ONETravel from London to Ascona by rail on your first day; or fly into Zurich and travel the rest of the journey by rail. The Eurostar leaves in the morning for Paris, where you change to a TGV train headed to Basel. Here, change for Locarno, and travel into Ticino. Check into your resort hotel.DAYS TWO TO SEVENSpend seven nights enjoying the highlights of Lake Maggiore, first making the most of your three day rail pass to explore the lakeside towns and villages, the mountains, and the Mediterranean feel.DAY EIGHTOn your eighth day, board an early morning train from Locarno back to Basel and Paris. Spend up to two hours in Paris before catching your connection back to London, arriving in the early evening. Choice of hotelsEden Roc Hotel – 5 star superiorPricesBy rail from the UK, from £2,920 per person with standard class rail travel for the duration of your holiday. Upgrade to first class from £460 per personBy air from the UK to Zurich, from £2,810 per person with standard class rail travel within Switzerland. Upgrade to first class from £240 per personWhat’s included:Rail travel London to Switzerland via Basel in standard/ second class (first class can be booked at a supplement) return, or scheduled return flights from the UK to Geneva3 days Swiss rail pass for travel on 3 consecutive days7 nights’ bed and breakfast in your resort hotelWhat’s not included:Transfers in ParisTransfers in Switzerland station to hotel unless offered by your hotelOptional extensions:Combine this holiday with one of our Iconic Swiss Rail Journeys or another long stay in a different part of the country.
At just 192m above sea level, Ascona and Lake Maggiore mark the lowest altitude point in Switzerland. This accounts for the warm climate and the rich greenness of the environment. Home to just over 5,000 people, Ascona marks the fine balance between urban cultural experience and rural seclusion; and with Locarno just across the Maggiore River, guests here are at their leisure to determine just how much of the bustling marketplaces and lively lakefront they would like to experience. Ascona itself is also recognised as a centre for the arts as it has an abundance of galleries and craft shops nestled down quiet alleyways.Places of interest on Lake Maggiore:• Museo Comunale d’Arte Moderna – housed in the Palazzo Pancaldi, exhibiting works by local artists as well as famous artists connected with Ascona, including Paul Klee• Casa Anatta Museum, Monte Verita – dedicated to the ‘back to nature’ enthusiasts from the beginning of the century• Settimane Musicali – this international festival of classical music is held between August and October each year in Ascona• Festa New Orleans – a Jazz Festival held at the end of June on open-air stages• Isles of Brissago – accessible by boat and known for their botanical gardens• Ronco – famous for its cigars• Madonna del Sasso, Locarno – the sanctuary has an enviable hillside position, from which you can look down across Locarno and Ascona; inside, famous paintings are exhibited in the church, and unique statues line the stairway• From the sanctuary, take a cable car up to Cardada, and then to Cimetta at 1672m above sea level• Locarno’s Old Town – rich with Italianate squares and arcaded townhouses; this is also the best place to seek out some pre-17th century churches• Castello Visconti, Locarno – this 15th century castle houses a Roman and bronze age exhibition• Locarno International Film Festival – for two weeks in August, since 1948, the Piazza Grande is taken over by this festival every evening• Giardini Jean Arp, Locarno – a lakeside park populated by surrealist sculptures• Bellinzona – the capital of Ticino and home to three medieval castles; each has its own museum• Grand Castle, Bellinzona – the middle of the three castles; dates from the 6th century• Montebello Castle, Bellinzona – raised above the town• Sasso Corbaro Castle – higher on the hillside, and therefore requires more of a walk • Bellinzona Saturday Market – on the main street• Piazza Blues, Bellinzona – an open-air Blues festival that lasts for three days at the end of June• Lugano’s Old Town – full of winding alleyways and quaint piazzas; every Tuesday in the summer, a free guided walk is conducted by the Tourist Office• St Lawrence Cathedral – this cathedral has a Renaissance façade and three elegant doorways; frescoes from the 16th century decorate the interior• Alprose Chocolate Museum, Lugano - tour the factory of Switzerland’s largest chocolate manufacturer and learn about the history of chocolate production• Lido, Lugano – offering beaches and swimming pool• Primavera Concertistica – a series of classical music concerts held in Lugano during April and May• Monte San Salvatore – bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro• Monte Bre – take the funicular railway from Casserate to reach the summit• Centovalli Express – take this two hour journey from Locarno to Domodossola in northern Italy, passing many pretty villages and striking historic buildings: including the Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Blood in ReLocal sports suggestions:• Walking and hiking on Monte Tamaro, Monte Bre, and Monte San Salvatore• Swimming in Locarno and Lugano• Water sports on Lake Maggiore or Lake LuganoThe abundance of available activities, from exploring picturesque waterside towns and villages to scenic walks and hiking, will ensure that each of your days on Lake Maggiore is unique and memorable. This seven night rail holiday allows you to make the most of this variety and get to know the region in-depth.Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.
As part of this single centre rail touring holiday, we include a seven night stay at the Eden Roc Hotel in Ascona, near Locarno. Other options in Ascona and Ticino are available on request, and additional nights can be added here or in other destinations.Eden Roc HotelThe five star superior Hotel Eden Roc proudly sits on the banks of Lake Maggiore in Ascona, Ticino. This area of Northern Italy is known for its stunning natural beauty, as green mountains rise on either side of the deep blue waters of the Italian and Swiss Lakes, separated from the tranquil hotel swimming pool by a row of swaying palm trees. Behind the yachts and private boats of its own personal marina, the Hotel Eden Roc is a modern building with an abundance of large windows and long balconies. Divided into the Hotel Eden Roc and the Eden Roc Marina, the vast selection of room types are split across two main areas, and linked by a low-rise lobby and public area. Gardens, trees, sun loungers, and parasols extend right up to the water’s edge, providing idyllic, verdant spaces in which to relax and enjoy the sunshine. Inside, a traditional grandeur is introduced in a sleek, sophisticated fashion. In the Eden Roc Marina, the dining room is decorated with intricate chandeliers, floral curtains, and vases in the centres of tables. The radiant white colour scheme, minimalist furniture designs, and double-storey windows, bring these traditional features up to date. Guests can enjoy the fresh mountain air while dining on one of the restaurant terraces, in the walled waterside courtyard at La Casetta, or in the pretty poolside garden at the Restaurant Eden Roc. During the day, guests are encouraged to indulge further at the ultra-modern Wellness Centre and Spa. The main spa rooms are lit by an ethereal blue light, with a choice between a crescent-moon-shaped dipping pool and a larger half-indoor half-outdoor swimming pool. Enjoy a range of personalised treatments, before relaxing in the spacious lounge, the sauna, or enjoying a beauty treatment. At the end of a relaxing day, retire to your room. Each guestroom has been individually appointed, with quirky, colourful features and bold artworks which inspire a themed colour scheme. All are spacious, with textured, tactile fabrics, and large windows and balconies that open up onto unbeatable views. For the ultimate Ascona experience, upgrade at the time of booking to a room with a direct lake view. The area around Ascona is perfect for day excursions, with plenty of cultural activities in neighbouring Locarno, and excellent train connections to cities such as Lugano, and Italianate Bellinzona. We would recommend including this hotel as part of a longer rail touring holiday around Switzerland, stopping off in a range of towns and cities and staying in a tailor-made collection of luxury hotels.Click here to find out more information about the Eden Roc Hotel. Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.
Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.
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