The Valle Verzasca you won’t find on social media

Valle Verzasca is the most famous valley in the whole of the Ticino, and not without reason. With its picture-postcard views and the clear emerald green water of the Verzasca river, this valley is a popular destination in summer. But there’s far more to it than the dam wall made famous by James Bond and the Ponte dei Salti bridge in Lavertezzo. Discover the Valle Verzasca you won’t find on social media.


The Verzasca Valley lies in a lush green mountainscape, perfect for hiking or cycling in nature. Steer clear of the better known, popular places and discover places that are just as beautiful, but still uncrowded and quiet, such as Val d’Osola, Sonogno, Val Redorta, the Cascata della Froda waterfall and Alpe Bardughè.  And if it’s a more sustainable, car-free holiday you’re after, then all these places are perfect for exploring on foot or by bike. Plus, you can comfortably reach them by public transport from outside the train station in Locarno.

There’s an ample choice of different tours away from the more touristy, often crowded places in the valley.  So, if you want to see a different side to Valle Verzasca, unlike the classic images on social media, in viral videos and on TV, then here’s a couple of amazing alternative excursions.  If you want to explore the valley on bike, remember you can catch the number 321 PostBus to Sonogno at Locarno train station and take your bike with you. Get off at the Brione Verzasca (Paese) bus stop, right in the heart of the village.  Jump on your bike, take the narrow road running next to the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and venture into the woods. You’re about to discover the silence and charm of Val d’Osola. Almost entirely traffic free, this dirt track is perfect for mountain bikes. It soon runs parallel to the Osura river. The water here is an intense turquoise, just like that in the Verzasca river. There are plenty of beaches, ideal for sunbathing or even, on hot days, a dip in the pools formed by the boulders, provided you take the proper precautions.  This minor valley is not as busy as the Verzasca Valley and so is a wonderful alternative for a morning bike ride or an afternoon by the river. Stop to eat in Brione on your way back. Why not have a go at the escape room in Marcacci Castle with its Verzasca theme. 

Val d'Osola

If you still have the energy for more cycling, it only takes about half an hour from Brione to reach Sonogno, the last village in the Verzasca Valley. Here the landscape is decidedly mountainous, at times almost alpine, while the village is particularly pretty, with its stone houses and gardens teeming with flowers.  As well as visiting the Casa della lana (House of Wool) and the local museum Museo di Val Verzasca in Sonogno, you can also head off up Val Redorta to the beautiful Cascata della Froda waterfall. 

If, on the other hand, you prefer hiking, why not admire the Verzasca Valley from on high and climb to Alpe Bardughè? If it’s a walking tour you want, then make your way to the train station in Locarno and take the postbus to Sonogno: a pretty village always worth a visit. Stop off in Brione on your way back, just before reaching Vogorno, to see the famous Verzasca dam.  This is the start of the ethnographic walking trail to Alpe Bardughè, a vast plateau on the slopes of Pizzo Vogorno with incredible views over Lake Maggiore. The 12 km circular route takes roughly 5 and a half hours, with an elevation gain of 1186 metres. There’s an “agriturismo” farmhouse in Odro where you can stop and rest, plus a small museum dedicated to the practice of wild haymaking, an activity of great importance in the Verzasca Valley.  There’s also an unattended hut on Alpe Bardughè, open from May to October. Round off your day by visiting the dam in Vogorno before catching the PostBus back to Locarno.

Good to know

Want to explore the Valle Verzasca on two wheels but haven’t got a bike with you? No worries: you can rent a mountain bike at Locarno train station thanks to the bike sharing scheme.  

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