The name Viamala was used thousands of years ago to designate the bad road between Thusis and Zillis-Reischen. Goods were transported here between Chur and the Splügen and San Bernardino passes.
8 Highlights of the Viamala Gorge
- The Viamala Gorge has impressive rock formations that rise up to 300 m high.
- The rocks have been abraded by glacial ice and the waters of the Hinterrhein River over thousands of years.
- A visitor center presents the history and geology of the gorge. Secured stairs and paths lead you down and through the rocks.
- 359 steps lead to the gorge center.
- About 20 min. walk from the visitor center, the suspension bridge Punt da Suransuns awaits you to the south.
- North of the visitor center, you will find the suspension bridge Traversinersteg II, which has more than 176 steps and covers a height of 22 meters over a length of 62 meters.
- The historic trade route Via Spluga leads through the Viamala Gorge and offers visitors the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the past.
- Canyoning beginners will find good conditions in the Viamala Gorge to familiarize themselves (without abseiling) with the experience.
What awaits you in the Viamala Gorge
The Romans already used this path as a mule track. On narrow, breakneck paths through the rocks, entire wagon loads regularly plunged down into the gorge.
Viamala Gorge Visitor Center
The visitor center presents the history and geology of the gorge. Secured stairs and paths lead you down and through the rocks. The staircase and rock galleries were built as early as 1903.
The modern visitor center was built in 2014. Because of rockfall regulations, it has only a narrow long window facing the cantonal road. The gable roof is slightly asymmetrical and spans about 40 m² of sales area. On the north and south sides, the interior has large windows.
The way leads from the store to the basement through a showroom. From there you reach the gorge and on the way back the new visitor terrace. About 60,000 visitors are recorded annually.
Events and guided tours through the Viamala Gorge
Public guided tours of the Viamala Gorge take place every Thursday (14:00-15:00) from mid-July to mid-August. Meeting point is the visitor center.
"Viamala Notte" is a night event where many characters are allowed to revive in the open stage area of the visitor center. The Roman general Stilicho, who crossed the Viamala Gorge twice in the years between 360 and 408, will have his say. Also the medieval pilgrim, a peasant muleteer and a romantic artist. With music and lanterns we then descend together into the gorge.
Children have fun with the treasure hunt. It is possible every day during the opening hours. A treasure map and the description of a concrete event are given as help. There were many of them, because people and animals regularly died here until the 19th century due to falls, falling rocks or loose debris. Legends tell, for example, of the French treasure. In 1800, 15,000 French soldiers are said to have passed through the gorge. Due to raging winter storms, 15 men, 3 horses, 2 wagons and 6 boxes are said to have fallen down.
Suspension bridge Punt da Suransuns
About 20 min from the visitor center in southern direction you will reach the suspension bridge Punt da Suransuns. It is located deep under the highway bridge, between the Wilden bridge and the bridge at Rania. It does not span the Viamala at this point, but directly the Hinterrhein.
Slabs of granite from Andeer lie on prestressed steel strips. A bar railing additionally stabilizes the bridge. The structure has received several awards.
Traversinersteg II suspension bridge over the Viamala gorge
The suspension bridge Traversinersteg II is located about 1.6 km north of the visitor center and can be reached in about 35 min. It has more than 176 steps and thus overcomes a whole 22 meters of altitude over a length of 62 meters. It is part of the Via Spluga cultural trail. The gorge is located about 70 m below the bridge.
Walking on the bridge, which has won several awards, is an experience. It was made of pine and larch woods. The II in the name comes from the fact that there was already a traverse bridge before. However, this was destroyed by a rock fall a few years after completion.
The lost hole is a rock opening that was created in 1820 during the construction of the old commercial road south of Thusis by blasting the rock. It is located near the village of Rongellen and is often used as a reference point in hiking tours.
Hohen Rätien castle complex
The Hohen Rätien castle complex is one of the oldest settlement sites in Switzerland and is still in use today. It is perched on a mighty rock high above the entrance to the Viamala Gorge to the south of Thusis. Its history is already more than 4000 years old.
Canyoning in the Viamala Gorge
In the Viamala Gorge, canyoning is possible without a climbing harness and rappelling. It is therefore particularly suitable for beginners.
It is not an alpine canyon, but an aquatic canyon. This means that the gradient is comparatively low and is mainly covered by sliding and swimming. Optionally, jumps are included, which provide variety and fun.
Offer at Swiss Activities:
Viamala Gorge: Hikes
You can experience the Viamala Gorge wonderfully on hikes. You will pass through dark gorges and fabulous valleys. Everywhere you will see the markings of the "Via Spluga". This is a long-distance hiking trail from Thusis to Chiavenna, which follows the old trade routes. It is 65 km long in total. The first part between Thusis and Zillis runs through the Viamala gorge.
Hiking routes Viamala Gorge
|route||length (km)||time (hrs)||altitude difference↑||altitude difference↓||special feature|
|Thusis - Sils - Ehrenfels Castle - Hohen Rätien - St. Albin - Traversinersteg II - Visitor Center||7.0||3:10||640||470||Walk over the suspension bridge to Sils, later Traversinersteg II, "Via Spluga" signposted|
|Thusis - Lost Hole - Rongellen - Visitor Center||5.0||2:20||500||330||via traffic circle Thusis South, "Via Spluga" and "Transviamale" signposted|
|Thusis - Übernolla - Bofel - Oberrongellen - Colra - Nesslaboda - Visitor Center||6.3||2:30||560||400||"Via Spluga" and "Transviamale" signposted|
|Sils - Ehrenfels Castle - High Rhaetia - St. Albin - Crap Carschenna - Campi - Sils||7.5||2:45||530||530||Rock drawings in Carschenna|
|Visitor Center - Punt da Suransuns - Cultira Davora - Reischen - Zillis||4.5||1:45||400||310||over stone steps to the Hinterrhein, "Via Spluga" and "Transviamale" signposted|
|Roundtrip Viamala South: Visitor Center - Punt da Suransuns - Rania - Val Baselgia - St. Ambriesch - Visitor Center||3.0||1:15||250||250||over stone steps to the Hinterrhein, "Via Spluga" and "Transviamale" signposted|
How to get to the Viamala Gorge
By car you can reach the Viamala Gorge (Visitor Center) via the A13 / E43.
- from north direction San Bernardino, exit "Viamala P", No. 23
- from south direction Thusis, exit "Zillis Viamala", No. 25
Free parking is available in a limited number directly at the visitor center in the Viamala gorge.
By the way, the Viamala rest stop has nothing to do with the visitor center. The Viamala rest stop is located on the A13 highway, about 7 km north of the visitor center. It is much nicer to take a break here at the Viamala Visitor Center and to combine it with a short visit to the Viamala Gorge.
By public transport you can take the post bus no. 171 from Bellinzona in the direction of Thusis. To get to the visitor center you have to get off at the stop Zillis, Viamala gorge. If you want to get to Rongellen, first go to Thusis and take the post bus n. 541 at Mesocco, Stazione.
From Chur take the train to Thusis and get on the post bus 541.
Opening hours Viamala Gorge
You can visit the Viamala Gorge from April to October. During this time the following opening hours apply:
|April||09:00 - 18:00|
|May to September||08:00 - 19:00|
|October||09:00 - 18:00|
For whom is the Viamala Gorge suitable?
The Viamala Gorge is a special experience for all nature and history lovers and should be high on the bucket list.
Unfortunately, the Viamala Gorge is not accessible for visitors with limited mobility. Dogs can enter the Viamala Gorge free of charge and must be kept on a leash.
The historical trade route is today a hiker's paradise with experiences for canyoning lovers. It stretches for about eight kilometers between Thusis and Zillis through the Viamala gorge. Up to 300 m high and steep rock faces, the Hinterrhein and a thundering waterfall offer a breathtaking natural spectacle with a rich history.Up to 300 m high and steep rock faces, the Hinterrhein and a thundering waterfall offer a breathtaking natural spectacle with a rich history.