Valle Verzasca, aka Val Verzasca or Verzasca Valley, might just be the most inviting Swiss valley you can find in this beautiful country.
It is a stunning example of unspoilt nature that was made famous by James Bond GoldenEye when one of the characters jumped off it. But, there is a lot more to it than just being a James Bond attraction.
Between the stunning views, crystal clear river, beautiful dam, mountain peaks, and quaint villages, you want to make sure you visit the Verzasca Valley on your next trip to Switzerland.
Join me as I run through everything you need to know about visiting this magical place from how to get there, things to do, where to stay, and more.
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Where is Valle Verzasca located?
The Verzasca Valley is located in southern Switzerland in the Italian-speaking Ticino region of the country, very close to the Italian border.
The Valle Verzasca spills out onto Lake Maggiore just to the east of the town of Locarno with the pre-alps to the north and stunning lakes surrounding it, it is a very inviting Swiss valley.
How to Get to Valle Verzasca
Since the Verzasca Valley is in southern Switzerland, the two best places to start your journey are Milan and Zurich, both of which have international airports with regular flights.
Getting to the Verzasca Valley from Zurich is very easy. You have the choice of using public transport or driving.
By Public Transport
There are regular trains to the Verzasca Valley from Zurich HB. The total journey time is around 2.5 hours and it requires 3 changes. The views along the way are beautiful, especially when you enter the alps.
Take the train from Zurich HB to Bellinzona, change to Tenero, and then grab the bus to Lavertezzo, Ai Poss. Google Maps will show you the way.
The drive from Zurich to the Verzasca Valley takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours, depending on traffic. The roads are excellent but you may have to drive on some steep mountain roads so be prepared for this.
It is nice to have a car when visiting the Valle Verzasca as it allows you to explore the remote parts of the unspoilt nature the area has to offer.
It is a little bit faster to get to Valle Verzasca from Milan Central station than Zurich, particularly if you intend to drive. Here are the details.
By Public Transport
The train from Milan Central Station to Valle Verzasca takes under 2.5 hours, and they depart quite regularly. Take the train to Chiasso and change to Tenero, after which you will need to hop on the bus to Lavertezzo, Ai Poss.
The drive from Milan to Valle Verzasca takes between 1.5 and 2.5 hours on average. It is a beautiful drive and again, it is handy to have a car at Verzasca so you can get off the beaten track a bit more.
Things to Do in Valle Verzasca
Walk Across Ponte dei Salti
Ponte dei Salti is the most photographed place in the entire valley and once you see it, you won’t be surprised why.
Ponte dei Salti is a stone bridge that dates back to the 1800s and crosses the Verzasca river. It sits on one of the most beautiful parts of the river and remains as it was except for a minor restoration in the 1960s when a part of it collapsed.
You will find Ponte dei Salti in the small village of Lavertezzo quite a ways up the valley. You can get there by bus or by car. There are 3 large parking areas on the east side of the river and once you have parked you will see the bridge up a dirt path.
It is a wonderful place to see and after you have crossed the bridge, you can explore the village and even stop for a traditional lunch at Grotto al Ponte which overlooks Ponte dei Salti.
Go Swimming & Diving In The Crystal Clear Waters
The Verzasca river is one of the most famous swimming spots in all of Switzerland, mainly because the water is so clear and the surroundings are so beautiful. But, it is also a very easy place to swim too.
As the Verzasca winds its way down the valley it creates small plunge pools, mini-waterfalls, and long deep sections where it is safe to swim. Simply stop off and pick a spot for a dip.
Swimmers should be cautious though as the water temperature is cold and the currents can be dangerous. Swimmers should avoid areas with rapids and strong currents, and look for calm areas where swimming is safe.
You should also be aware that the flow of the river can change while you are swimming, so be cautious and get out of the river if you feel the flow increasing.
Divers can also enjoy the crystal clear waters of the Verzasca and its beautiful rock formations that can be seen under the surface. There are numerous dive centers around Lake Maggiore that can organize diving in the Verzasca for you.
Explore The Many Hiking & Mountain Biking Trails
The Verzasca Valley is a bit of a hiker’s paradise and there are a number of great hiking trails that allow you to explore some of the most beautiful parts of the Verzasca river and learn about the history too.
The Verzasca Valley trail follows an old mule trail along the river, through the woods, past old buildings, churches, waterfalls, and more. The whole trail is 22 km long but is quite easy and you can always stop and take public transport at any point along the way.
It is a wonderful hike to do in combination with a swim and seeing the Ponte dei Salti.
Mountain bikers will also adore the Verzasca Valley. There are more than nine awesome mountain biking trails that take you all over the valley, through the villages, next to the river and more. You can find them all here.
Do Some James Bond Bungee Jumping At The Verzasca Dam
The Verzasca Dam is worth visiting even if you don’t want to go bungee jumping as the views from the dam are pretty incredible.
But, the views are even better when you are diving off the edge of it, just like James Bond.
Aptly named 007 Bungy will happily take you bungee jumping between April and October. They offer quite a few different bungee jump options from backward to classic. The jumps are pretty expensive though and cost around CHF 220. Visit The Last Village Of The Valley, Sonogno
Most people don’t venture all the way up to the village of Sonogno as it is a bit out of the way at the end of the valley, but this is a mistake.
It is super easy to get to via car or public transport, and you can even mountain bike there if you like.
Sonogno is a stunning village filled with local architecture and traditional practices. Imagine walking around stone houses and along cobbled streets with flowers in bloom and the views of the valley to go with it.
Sonogno is also home to the Verzasca Museum where you can learn all about the valley and its cultural history.
Stopping off the Casa della Lana (House of Wool) is also a great experience as you can see traditional wool making in action as the local craftsmen dye the wool and turn it into lovely warm clothing.
A quick hike will have you standing at the base of the beautiful Froda waterfall and you can even have lunch at the Grotte Efra while you listen to the waterfall in the background.
Where to Stay in Valle Verzasca
There are lots of different accommodation options in Verzasca or close by. You can choose from mountain huts, holiday homes, campsites, hotels, and more.
If you want to have access to great restaurants and lots of activities, the city of Locarno on Lake Maggiore is a great option.
Tenero is another great option. Sitting at the bottom of the valley with a lot of accommodation options, it is smaller and more peaceful than Locarno. But, it still has great restaurants and things to do when you are not exploring Verzasca.
Other great options are hotels along the Verzasca dam which have great views and awesome access to the valley.
You can also go one step further and book a mountain hut or a guest house in the valley itself so you can make the most of it and live in the unspoiled nature that surrounds it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Valle Verzasca worth visiting?
Yes, Valle Verzasca is 100% worth visiting. It is the perfect mixture of unparalleled access to stunning natural scenes, quaint architecture, mountain activities, and a wealth of culture down the road in the cities of Locarno and Tenero. There are not many places in the world where you can find all of these things in such close proximity, and being one of the most beautiful valleys in Switzerland, how could you miss it?
Can you swim in Valle Verzasca?
Yes, you can definitely swim in the river in Valle Verzasca. It is a popular thing to do for both locals and tourists alike.
Where is the Verzasca River?
The Verzasca river runs through the Valle Verzasca in the canton of Ticino in southern Switzerland.
Is Valle Verzasca busy?
Valle Verzasca can get busy on weekends and over the summer holidays. It is a popular place to go swimming and to visit all the local attractions from nearby Locarno.
Why is Verzasca Dam empty?
The Verzasca Dam was emptied in the winter of 2021/22 to do scheduled maintenance on the dam.
Where is the dam in Golden Eye?
The dam in the James Bond movie Golden Eye is the Verzasca Dam located at the beginning of the Valle Verzasca in southern Switzerland.