The slats on this towering Tibetan-style bridge look very small compared to the vast Alpine landscape around it. The Ponte Tibetano is the longest bridge of its kind in the world, reaching through the air for half a kilometre (0.3 miles) along an epic rocky canyon in Northern Italy.
Those brave enough to cross the Ponte Tibetano will walk up to 90m (295ft) over the valley floor, with views of blue skies, waterfalls and jagged peaks.
Conifers cling to rocky outcrops and water trickles along the valley below. And if walking on air isn’t enough, you can take a detour on an iron ladder up the cliff itself, and explore tunnels dug into the mountain.
Walking on air
The Ponte Tibetano is in the mountains 100km (62mi) west of Turin, near the village of Cesana Torinese. It runs along the San Gervasio Gorge, right next to the border with France. There are actually three bridges: a short stretch that takes you out into the gorge, followed by the main bridge that heads up the gorge, suspended around 30m (98ft) above the ground.
The final stretch is only 90m (295ft) long – but it’s also 90m (295ft) high. It’s possible to branch off at this point to clamber along the cliff itself on a via ferrata – in which iron rungs have been driven into the rock, creating a giant ladder. The via ferrata connects with tunnels that were used during World War I and lead to a viewpoint.
Depending on how you measure the route, it’s 468m (1,535ft) or 544m (1,785ft) long. The main section takes around 90 minutes, and the via ferrata an hour on top of that. The bridge may look like it could blow down any minute, but it’s surprisingly stable, and there’s a safety rail that you clip yourself onto using carabiners and a harness.
The Tibetan Bridge, as its name suggests, is inspired by the famous footbridges of the Himalayas. These suspension bridges feature slats held up by cables strung across a gap. The cables – and thus the walkway itself – sag in the middle, creating their classic dipping shape.
Dramatic pedestrian bridges can be found all over the world, particularly in mountain regions where they offer great views – and an amped-up fear factor. In Russia, the Sochi SkyBridge is a huge 439m-long (1,440ft) structure with views of the Black Sea and an accompanying zip line. In France, meanwhile, the Aiguille du Midi bridge sits a staggering 3,842m (12,605ft) above sea level. It connects the north and south peaks of the Aiguille du Midi, and offers close-ups of Mont Blanc.
As for the longest bridges, the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge in the Swiss Alps, near the famous Matterhorn, is 494m (1,621ft) long, though it lacks the classic Tibetan bridge-style slats. And while many of these bridges cross ravines in the icy mountains, warmer options are available: the 530m-long (1,739ft) Taman Negara National Park bridge in Malaysia heads through a 130-million-year-old rainforest inhabited by tigers.
So, while Ponte Tibetano may not be home to any big cats, if you measure its whole length it is the longest bridge of its kind in the world. The best way to appreciate that fact? Get halfway across – and get an eyeful of the raw landscape around you and the swaying rungs below your feet.
Visiting Ponte Tibetano
The bridge is open every summer, though it may close if the weather is particularly bad. If you’re in the region in winter, there are several ski resorts in striking distance. All equipment can be hired at the start of the route, and there’s no need to book. During busy periods you may have to wait to access the bridge – peak times are 10.30am–4pm on Saturday and Sunday. It’s around a 90-minute drive from Turin, or two hours from Chambéry in France.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.