The Verzasca Dam, originally known as the Contra Dam and Locarno Dam, is a 1960’s built dam in Switzerland. It is the 4th biggest dam in Switzerland and has even been in a famous film. If you are visiting the stunning Ticino canton, here are our reasons why you should consider visiting Verzasca Dam too!
History Of the Verzasca Dam
Constructed in 1961 to 1965, the Verzasca Dam is located in the Ticino canton of Switzerland. Owner Verzasca SA was formed to set up the dam for the Verzasca Hydroelectric Complex.
It took 18 months to pour concrete for the structure ,which was sourced from a nearby gneiss-rock quarry. There are a series of steel pipes that helped the cooling process. There was also a special grout curtain around the dam, preventing any leakage. Since the dam is located at much lower elevation than many other Swiss dams, the work, any checks and construction could be done all year round.
Facts About The Verzacsa Dam
Here are some fun facts about the dam to know before you visit:
- The dam is based in the Ticino canton, which is the sunniest location in Switzerland!
- It’s the 4th tallest dam in Switzerland (220 meter high!)
- The reservoir was filled in September 1965
- Official name is the Contra Dam
- The dam is famously known from the 1995 film GoldenEye where James bond ‘jumps’…
- …and you can now actually bungee jump here yourself for the same experience!
How To Get To the Dam?
There are a few ways visiting the Verzasca Dam, with the easiest being by car. Travelling by car does mean that you may struggle to get a parking spot, since there are around max 20 spots near the dam. You will also need to buy a parking ticket, so bring some cash coins for the parking ticket machine.
If you do not have access of a car, the local public transport is very good and always on time! There is a local bus 321 that you can take from the below three destinations as a direct transport or with a combo or another bus or train. Tickets can be bought at the machines of via their app/website.
Below we’ve highlighted the distances from each location (one way) by car or by public transport:
What to See At the Verzasca Dam?
The concrete dam is of course the main thing you can see here, which is great to see in person how it’s been built and how tall it is. It is free to visit, so you can walk right on it from one side to the other. On one side is the reservoir full of water, like the photos showing that we took during our visit in Summer. On the other side, it’s the deep drop down to the bottom of the valley and rock floor bed. If you are not scared of heights, dare yourself to look over the edge. There is also little shop here if you wish to visit with some treats and souvenirs.
Bungee Jumping In Ticino
Alternatively, a lively activity for those who class themselves as an adrenaline junkie, is to find yourself getting strapped up safely before jumping off the dam attached to the rope. You can officially bungee jump here for a rush of excitement and fun, which is super scary to watch in my opinion! While visiting the dam, you can of course watch all the daredevils jumping, since it’s part of the dam and open space to the public.
Check all information for bungee jumping here if you dare!
If you have more time in Ticino, combine your visit of the Verzasca Dam with the following local highlights:
- Lavertezzo – an idyllic, crystal clear water paradise, perfect for a swim or dipping your toes in the cold waters. It is a further up the same valley, with the same bus or driving route north.
- Ascona – walk the tiny streets and shop in some local boutiques, before sitting at one of the local restaurants on the water’s edge. Perfect for an afternoon with sunshine.
- Ponte Brolla – enjoy some waterfall fun just a little further than Ascona. It’s easily reachable with a different bus or by car.
- Bellinzona – visit the capital of Ticino to see the 3 local castles as well as the weekly market for some local treats