Via Mala

Viamala - Via-Mala-Schlucht

Useful Information

Via Mala, Switzerland. Public Domain.
Via Mala, Switzerland. Public Domain.
Via Mala, Switzerland. Public Domain.
Location: 5 km south of Thusis.
A13/E43 San Bernardino-Thusis, exit 23 Viamala P or exit 25 Zillis Viamala. Follow the old Kantonstraße SS13, at the road.
With train Haltestelle Zillis, Viamala-Schlucht.
(46.662747, 9.448539)
Open: APR daily 9-18.
MAY to SEP daily 8-19.
OCT daily 9-18.
Fee: Adults CHF 6, Children (6-16) CHF 4.
Groups (10+): Adults CHF 4, Children (6-16) CHF 3.
Classification: GorgeGorge
Light: n/a
Dimension: VR=300 m, St=359.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Viamala-Schlucht, Viamala Tourismus, 7430 Thusis, Tel: +41-81-650-90-30. E-mail:
Viamala Tourismus, Bodenplatz 4, 7435 Splügen, Tel: +41-81-650-90-30. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


395 crossed by the Roman army under its leader Stilicho with bullock carriages.
401 crossed by the Roman army under its leader Stilicho with bullock carriages.
1219 written mention.
1473 first road through the gorge built.
1723 road through the Via Mala mentioned to be completed.
1738 new bridge built by Christian Wildener.
1739 second new bridge built by Christian Wildener.
1820 road developed according to the rules of modern roads.
1935 first bridge replaced with bigger one.
1938 second bridge replaced with bigger one.
1960s motorway A13 built parallel to old road through tunnels.


Via Mala, Switzerland. Johann Ludwig Bleuler (*1792-✝1850) 1825. Public Domain.
Via Mala, Switzerland. Public Domain.

The name Via Mala is Latin and translates "bad road". This place is the narrowest section of the Hinterrhein valley on the way to the important San Bernardino Pass (2,065 m asl). This important north-south connection is used for millennia to cross the Alps. Stone Age and Megalithic remains are found here as well as Celtic and Roman.

The name is of Roman origin, created when the Roman road between Lindau and Milano used this place and the Splügen Paß/Passo dello Spluga (2,113 m asl) instead of the San Bernardino. The reason for the name is obvious: the valley narrows to a deep gorge, and it is dangerous to cross it. At Roman times there was no road, but only a narrow trail, which was high above the gorge and thus included some ascend and descend. Some small sections are visible from the old bridge, they are marked with signs showing Roman travellers. The first road was built in 1473, however the first time it was mentioned to be completed was in 1723. This road was redone various times. There is a version which is still used today, which was built at the begin of the 20th century. But the modern highway is most of the time a four lane freeway and crosses this place through two long tunnels.

In order to visit the gorge, it is necessary to leave the modern motorway and use the old road. Exit either at Zillis or at Thusis, where the old road through Via Mala is signposted. The gorge has two extremely narrow sections, which are the most interesting part. The northern one is developed with paths, bridges and many steps.

There is a parking at the old road and a small kiosk. After purchasing the tickets you go down many steps into the gorge. Only ten meters above the bottom is a short path into the gorge to the north and a bridge. Across the bridge and through a tunnel the visitor finally reaches a concrete platform, with a view into the widening and to the southern, second narrow part of the gorge.

All together the gorge is 1000 m long. Only two short parts are narrow gorges, both about 150 m long and 80 m deep. But the most impressive number is the width: at some points it is much less than one metre, and most of the time its little above one metre. When the water rises in spring after snow-melt, the water level in the gorge may rise several tens of meters.

photography photography photography photography
Via Mala, Switzerland. Public Domain.