Last Updated on 18th January 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
The Locarno Christmas market is not nearly as large as those of Zurich, or even the oldest city in Switzerland, Chur. However, there’s something so charming about the smell of Glühwein wafting down the cobbled lane and the smell of fresh cinnamon in the air of Switzerland’s prettiest piazza. Here’s your guide to visiting the Locarno Christmas Market!
Locarno Christmas Market: Festive Fun in Switzerland’s Prettiest Piazza
The market can be found around an eight-minute walk away from the central train station. In the central town square that is often thought of as the most beautiful in all of Switzerland, once there you’ll find numerous chalets, ice igloos housing bars, and even an ice skating rink.
The ice skating rink “Locarno on Ice,” as well as the Christmas Market ‘Mercato di Natale’ is held from the 22nd of November until the 6th of January. As well as traditional food stalls (raclette, minestrone soup, chocolate, mulled wine, and the like- check out my vin chaud recipe here), there’s a series of chalets selling all manner of handcrafted and locally made wares.
How to visit Locarno Christmas Market in Ticino
Located within the beautiful Swiss town of Locarno, the Christmas market can be found right in the heart of town. Below the Sacro Monte di Locarno (which is well worth visiting either by foot or funicular), the market is held in the Piazza Grande during December. All red carpets and igloo bars, it’s perfect for all ages.
When planning a trip, I highly recommend setting aside an entire weekend in which to explore Locarno. Though many might maintain that the summertime is the best time to visit the resort town, the lack of tourists and festive celebrations mean that winter is just as great a time as any to plan a trip.
Locarno on Ice is open on a daily basis from 10 AM to 1 AM in the morning. The town itself is easily reachable via train from many of Switzerland’s main cities, though Locarno is quite far from Zurich. For example, should you wish to plan a trip, the journey from Zurich will take around two and a half hours, and you’ll have to change trains in Bellinzona.
Things to see and do while in Locarno
Of course, while the Christmas market is magical, there are still plenty of things to see and do in Locarno that don’t involve spying lights or seeking out Christmas decorations. After all, this is a predominantly summer destination and this area of Ticino is often referred to as the ‘St Tropez of Switzerland’.
Visit the Madonna del Sasso: Situated on the mountain above the town, the Madonna del Sasso is imposing and can be best viewed from the winding road that snakes its way to the very top of the hill. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the inside of this ecclesiastical building is ornate. Nearby, a calvary featuring the stations of Christ leads its way to the sanctuary, while the rest of the monastery buildings feature a whole host of life-sized statues.
Admire the Visconteo Castle: Located on the fringes of the old town, somewhere between the maze of cobbled lanes that form the Borgo and the main road that winds its way around the city, you’ll find Locarno’s Castle. Dating all the way back to the 12th or 13th century, today the ruins and adjacent buildings function as an archaeological and town museum.
Visit the town of Ascona: Just across the River Maggia (and less than ten minutes away via public transport) the town of Ascona is easily one of the most beautiful in Switzerland. Featuring Italianate architecture and a series of stunning churches, the pedestrian-only cobbled streets are a particular highlight.