Sightseeing Switzerland: the Via Mala Schlucht (gorge)

There are several deep gorges spread all over the world. A river flows through most of these. Switzerland also has several gorges. One of these is the Via Mala Schlucht in the canton of Graubünden. The Rhine River flows through this narrow gorge. This gorge has existed for a very long time and the road through the gorge was used in earlier times, among other things, as a trade route with mules and as a smuggling route. This road was then the only access to the San Bernardino and Splügen Pass in the south of the country. The road that goes through the gorge is still a beautiful road. The old Wildener bridge clearly shows that this used to be an access road.


  • Via Mala Schlucht in Graubünden Switzerland
  • Via Mala road
  • History
  • Place of interest
  • Entrance fees (2020)
  • When open (2020)
  • Guided tour
  • Activities
  • Treasure hunts for children
  • Canyoning
  • Night experience Viamala Notte
  • Also fun to do
  • How to reach
  • From the north
  • From the south
  • Address data
  • Book and film

Via Mala Schlucht / Source: ©ottergraafjes

Via Mala Schlucht in Graubünden Switzerland

In the past, the passage through this narrow gorge was a terrifying event for traders, mule transporters, soldiers and, not to mention, smugglers. It happened regularly that stones fell down. It also happened that the water of the Hinterrhein rose and everything was flooded. There are many – both people and animals – who have died here. They plunged into the deep gorge and drowned in the low river. It is not known how many died. The name Via Mala means in Romansh : bad or evil way .

Via Mala road

The Via Mala road lies between Thusis and Zillis-Reischen and is approximately 7 kilometers long. The road is asphalted and there are several galleries to prevent any stone chips on the vehicles. You also drive over a number of bridges to get from one side of the gorge to the other. This used to be different. The Via Mala road was used as early as 1219. In the past, this road was considered a passage through the Alps. This allowed one to travel to the San Bernardino and Splügen Pass in the south of the country. Nowadays that is no longer the only option. With the arrival of the A13 motorway (in 1967) from Chur to Bellinzona, it is faster to drive to both passes. The A13 is part of national road 13 (N13). In some places, due to a lack of space, the road has not been extended to the A13 and is therefore a motorway.


Wildener Brücke in the background / Source: ©ottergraafjesUntil the 13th century – and in some places even into the 18th century – it was an access road for the Romans. At some point the road was used less and less, as travelers took advantage of the Septimer Pass . The Via Mala road fell into complete disrepair and then the name lived up to it. In 1473 it was decided to repair the road. It is still clearly visible that this is an old road. Traces of two old galleries from Roman times are still visible. The current road no longer goes through here. The old Wildener Brücke (built in 1739) is also visible along the road, but also from the gorge. Traffic no longer goes over this either.

Place of interest

It has been possible to view this impressive gorge up close since 1903. A parking lot has been created for visitors. In the winter months (November to March) it is not possible to view the gorge. This is for safety reasons. A visit is not free, but it is worth it. A visitors center opened in 2014.

Entrance fees (2020)

Adults pay CHF 6.00, children aged 6-16 pay CHF 4.00 and children up to 6 years pay nothing.

When open (2020)

As mentioned earlier, the gorge is closed in the winter for safety reasons.

  • Furthermore, the gorge is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April 1 to April 30 and from October 1 to November 1.
  • From May to September you can visit the gorge daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

You can enter until half an hour before closing time.
part of the steps with a road in the background / Source: ©ottergraafjes Stairs
There are no fewer than 359 steps to get to the lowest point. At the narrowest of the gorge you are surrounded by rocks 300 meters high. Along the way you have a beautiful view of the gorge. These steps are difficult for the disabled. However, the walk does not only consist of steps. You also walk through various galleries. The view is different at every point.

Guided tour

You can of course visit the gorge on your own, but it is also possible to take a guided tour. This is possible for individuals, but also for groups. A guided tour is only possible in July and August and not every day. Please inquire about this in advance. A tour takes about an hour. The tour includes entrance to the gorge.


In addition to a tour, it is also possible to participate in various paid activities. For many activities, admission to the gorge still requires payment. The following activities are possible:

  • treasure hunt for children
  • canyoning
  • night experience Viamala Notte


Treasure hunts for children

This is for children aged 7 to 12 years. This can be done both in groups and with the family. The price for this treasure hunt includes a treasure map and a bag. As a surprise they receive a small treasure. Treasure hunting is possible every day during the opening hours of the gorge. Entrance to the gorge still has to be paid for.


Accompanied by trained staff from Swiss River Adventures GmbH, you can participate in canyoning through the Via Mala Gorge for a fee (CHF 149 per person in 2020). This is very suitable for people who like water, but prefer not to do all the rough work. Canyoning is offered as an activity on a fixed day from mid-June to September. The minimum age is 14 years, but an adult must accompany you. If this is not the case and a child participates in a group, he/she must be at least 16 years old. This adventure lasts a total of 3 1/2 hours. Of this, you will spend approximately between 1 1/2 hours and 2 hours in the gorge itself. The remaining time is travel time. The starting point is in Thusis itself. The price includes the following:

  • transport from Thusis to the gorge
  • necessary equipment
  • entrance to the gorge
  • guidance and instruction
  • a drink to refresh yourself

Swiss PO Box / Source: ©ottergraafjes

Night experience Viamala Notte

The name suggests that this is done entirely at night, but that is not entirely true. You will depart from the station in Thusis around 7:45 PM with the Swiss post bus and will then be taken to the Via Mala Schlucht. You will be dropped off again at the station in Thusis around 10:30 PM. During this mystical experience, an employee – he carries a lantern – takes you into the history of the gorge. The price in 2020 is CHF 39 per person and must be paid in cash in the post car. The price includes the following:

  • transport by post box
  • entrance to the gorge
  • presentation and guidance during the tour
  • nice souvenir

It is possible to participate in this experience from mid-July to the end of August. It is only done on Thursdays and you must register before 12 noon that same day. There are only a limited number of available places.

Also fun to do

In addition to visiting the Via Mala Schlucht, it is also possible to walk in this area. There are various possibilities. For example, you can do the Veia Traversina walk here . This is a stage of the four-day ViaSpluga hike . This walk takes you from Thusis to Chiavenna, Italy, in four days. You will then also cross the Splügen Pass. The starting point of the Veia Traversina is in Thusis, the end point is in Zillis. The walk takes about 5 hours. You must have sufficient fitness and experience with hiking in the mountains. During this walk you will cross two suspension bridges. The first is the Traversiner Steg . This suspension bridge goes over the ravine of the Traversinertobel. This bridge has been there since 2005. The previous bridge was completely destroyed by a rock avalanche in 1999 and disappeared into the abyss. The second suspension bridge you cross is the Punt da Suransuns .

How to reach

You can reach the Via Mala Schlucht from different directions.

From the north

From the A13 motorway – Chur towards Bellinzona – turn off at Thusis. You then arrive on the road from Thusis to Andeer (road 13). There you follow Ausfahrt Viamala P” Nr. 23.

From the south

From the A13 motorway – Bellinzona towards Chur – at Andeer take exit 25 towards Andeer-Zillis-Viamala.

Address data

Via Mala Schlucht
7432 Hinterrhein

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