Nestled in the majestic mountainous landscape of southern Switzerland’s Ticino region, the Valle Verzasca is one of the most legendary natural swimming pools in the country. Though visitors can dive into almost any area of the Verzasca river, which cuts through the valley, most people head to the rural village of Lavertezzo.

The ice cold waters (even at the height of summer) are deep green in color and pool forms among the rock formations where swimmers can cool off, then climb out and sunbathe after a refreshing dip. The landscape is so idyllic and the water so clear and green that Verzasca is sometimes nicknamed the “Maldives of Switzerland.”

The smooth and sloping rock formations sometimes even form natural rock slides and mini waterfalls. The more daring amongst them enjoy jumping off the stone double arch bridge that spans Lavertezzo, called Ponte dei Salti.

Ponte dei Salti bridge in Lavertezzo

Photo: Florian Muharremi/Shutterstock

According to people who have traveled there before, once you arrive at the river in Lavertezzo, it might look crowded, but people tend to congregate near the bridge. If you prefer a quieter spot, just keep walking along the rock formations until you find a less populated area – there are swimming holes scattered all over the river. Just be sure to avoid the sections of the river with rapids, especially if you’re with children.

Valle Verzasca is a region of stunning mountain vistas that hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts will not want to miss out on. Trails pass through rural towns of Corippo, Lavertezzo and Sonogno, or visit Vogorno and walk across the dam where part of the James Bond movie GoldenEye was filmed. Easy hikes for families include the BoBosco Trail, which features a marble run that kids will love.

How to get to Valle Verzasca

Lavertezzo in the Valle Verzasca is 30 minutes from the resort town of Locarno, or two and a half hours from Zurich, by car. There are two parking lots in the town of Lavertezzo – one is all day while the other will only

If you aren’t driving, it is possible to take the train from Zurich. The Tenero train takes three hours to reach Locarno, then from Locarno, take the bus until you reach the Lavertezzo, Paese stop, another hour and fifteen minutes. If you’re planning a visit to Valle Verzasca, it’s probably better to say overnight in Locarno, and then plan a day trip from there.

Once you get to Lavertezzo, there’s a dirt path that runs along the side of the river. From the path you should be able to see the Ponte dei Salti. Walk along the path until you get to the bridge, cross it, and then traverse the rock formations (carefully!) until you find an unoccupied spot on the rocks to spread out your blanket and go for a swim.