Alta Pusteria (Hochpustertal in German, Upper Puster Valley in English) is the gateway to the Northern Braies/Prags Dolomites and the Northern Sesto/Sexten Dolomites in South Tyrol, Italy.
Home to Lago di Braies and Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Alta Pusteria is one of the most visited destinations in the Dolomites. But, most people don’t know what this region offers beyond these two famous attractions.
This guide will help you deeply understand what to see and do in Upper Puster Valley. Stay a minimum of three nights in this holiday region to see the top attractions of Val Pusteria.
Visiting Alta Pusteria in Northern Italy
- When to Visit: June – October for hiking, January – March for skiing and other winter activities
- Top Places to Visit: Val Fiscalina, Val Campo di Dentro, Prato Piazza, Lago di Braies, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, and the Carnic Alps
- Where to Stay in Dobbiaco: Ansitz Steiner (budget), Hotel Rosengarten (midrange), or Hotel Laurin (midrange-luxury)
- Where to Stay in San Candido: Residence Silvia (budget), ATTO Suites & Cuisine (luxury aparthotel), or Naturhotel Leitlhof (luxury)
- Where to Stay in Braies: Garni Bergblick (budget), Berggasthaus Agritur Moserhof (budget), or Farmhouse Hanslerhof (midrange)
- Where to Stay in Sesto: B&B Grüne Laterne – Lanterna Verde (budget), Hotel Schoenblick (midrange), or Hotel Monika (luxury)
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Alta Pusteria Map
Where is Alta Pusteria
Puster Valley (Val Pusteria in Italian, Pustertal in German) is one of the largest longitudinal valleys in the European Alps, stretching between Lienz in East Tyrol, Austria, and Mühlbach in South Tyrol, Italy.
Puster Valley also marks the northern border of the Dolomites.
Upper Puster Valley (Alta Pusteria in Italian, Hochpustertal in German) is the easternmost part of Puster Valley.
Within the context of the Dolomites, Alta Pusteria comprises the South Tyrolean towns of Villabassa/Niederdorf, Dobbiaco/Toblach, and San Candido/Innichen as well as the side valleys of Braies/Prags and Sesto/Sexten.
Local tourist boards call this region the “Three Peaks Dolomites Holiday Region.” Standing on the border between South Tyrol and Belluno, the magnificent Three Peaks (Tre Cime di Lavaredo in Italian, Drei Zinnen in German) are the reigning symbol of this Dolomites region.
While Alta Pusteria is mostly associated with the Dolomites Mountains, it’s worth noting that the mountains to the north of Upper Puster Valley are not part of the Dolomites.
The northern side of Sesto/Sexten Valley is flanked by the Carnic Alps (Karnische Alpen). The mountains north of Upper Puster Valley are part of the Villgraten Mountains (Villgratner Berge) aka Deferegg Alps.
The Carnic Alps and the Villgraten Mountains straddle the Austrian-Italian border.
If you’re visiting Alta Pusteria in high season (July 10 – September 10), several roads are closed to private traffic during the day. You can easily avoid these restrictions, if you get an early start.
Find out what the current traffic regulations are to these popular destinations: Pragser Wildsee Lake (Lago di Braies), Plätzwiese High Plateau (Prato Piazza), Three Peaks, and Fischleintal Valley (Val Fiscalina).
Alta Pusteria Top Attractions
Val Fiscalina (Fischleintal in German) is a side valley of Sesto/Sexten Valley. This is one of the most majestic gateways into Tre Cime Nature Park.
The 4.5 km valley runs from Moso/Moos in Sesto/Sexten to the base of Cima Una/Einserkofel.
The Sexten Dolomites border the valley on three sides. It’s a dramatic succession of soaring spires, towering above alpine meadows.
Val Fiscalina is an appealing destination, because it’s accessible all-year-round. In winter, the valley is popular for cross-country skiing. The rest of the year, the valley is a scenic place for leisurely walking.
From the town of Sesto/Sexten, you can walk through Val Fiscalina all the way to Rifugio Fondovalle/Talschlusshütte. This 12.2 km valley walk takes 3:15 hours. To shorten this walk, you can park at the car park across from the Croda Rossa/Rotwand Cable Car valley station or even at the paid car park next to Rifugio Piano Fiscalina/Fischleinboden. Learn more about this walk in our Val Fiscalina guide.
You can also hike to Rifugio Locatelli/Dreizinnenhütte and to the Prati di Croda Rossa/Rotwandwiesen alpine pastures. Learn more about these trails in our Sexten Dolomites hiking guide.
Val Campo di Dentro
Val Campo di Dentro (Innerfeldtal) is another side valley of Sesto/Sexten valley, located just west of Val Fiscalina.
Val Campo di Dentro is quieter and wilder than its neighbor. It’s home to a single mountain hut: Rifugio Tre Scarperi/Dreischusterhütte.
Drive, or take the Val Campo di Dentro shuttle bus to Antoniusstein Car Park to visit this alpine valley in the Sexten Dolomites.
When we visited, we hiked the Torre dei Scarperi circuit trail, which leads to Rifugio Locatelli/Dreizinnenhütte. It’s an extraordinary hike, but entails some secured scrambling.
Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese) is a high plateau above Braies/Prags Valley in the protected Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park.
It stretches between Picco di Vallandro/Dürrenstein and Croda Rossa d’Ampezzo/Hohe Gaisl.
Read our Prato Piazza guide to get an overview of how to visit this must-see destination in Alta Pusteria.
Though located in the Braies/Prags Dolomites, Prato Piazza offers riveting views of the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites and Ampezzo Dolomites.
Walk to the summit of Monte Specie/Strudelkopf to see Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Monte Cristallo, and the Cadini di Misurina peaks.
Our favorite trail is the Gaisl High Trail to Malga Rossalm and Ponticello.
Lago di Braies
Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee doesn’t need an introduction. The most beautiful lake in the Dolomites lies at the foot of Croda del Becco/Seekopfel in the Braies/Prags Dolomites.
Lago di Braies is the starting point of the famous Alta Via 1 long distance trail. It’s also one of the most popular photography motifs in the entire Dolomites.
Read our Lago di Braies guide to understand how to visit, especially during high season.
We highly recommend visiting early (sunrise, or early morning).
To get the most out of your visit, we suggest hiking to Hochalpenkopf. This is a varied, full-day hike which starts directly at Lago di Braies.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen are the famous three peaks of the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites.
Early in this guide, we said that you can hike to Tre Cime di Lavaredo from both Val Fiscalina and Val Campo di Dentro.
However, there is an easier way. You can actually drive all the way up to the south side of the Three Peaks via the Rifugio Auronzo toll road. Rifugio Auronzo is the starting point for the Tre Cime di Lavaredo circuit trail and the Cadini di Misurina viewpoint hike.
Very experienced hikers can hike the Sentiero Bonacossa trail to Rifugio Auronzo. Check out our Sentiero Bonacossa North Trail Circuit.
The Carnic Alps flank the north side of Sesto/Sexten Valley. It’s very easy to overlook these mountains, because they stand opposite the more eye-catching Sesto/Sexten Dolomites.
However, if you venture into the Carnic Alps, you’ll be rewarded with excellent vistas of the Dolomites. Furthermore, you can visit some of the largest alpine pastures in the area teeming with free-roaming horses, donkeys, and cattle. To learn more about safely visiting mountain pastures, read Visiting the Alps in Summer.
We did some hiking in the Carnic Alps in June, when there was still a lot of snow in the Sexten Dolomites (after a long winter). The south-facing Carnic Alps were almost entirely snow-free and bustling with activity.
On our first hike, we took the Helmjet gondola from Sesto to Monte Elmo mountain station and hiked along the Italian-Austrian border to Sillianer Hütte and Hornischegg, which lie on the Carnic High Trail. We descended to the Helmjet valley station via the Klammbachalm mountain pasture.
Another time, we hiked from Passo Monte Croce/Kreuzbergpass to Casera di Coltrondo, Casera di Rinfreddo, and Nemesalm. This circuit hike links several active mountain pastures.
Where to Stay in Alta Pusteria
Dobbiaco / Toblach
Located at the confluence between Val Pusteria/Pustertal and Val di Landro/Höhlensteintal. Dobbiaco is the most central village in Alta Pusteria.
Val di Landro is a 15-km-long valley which runs from Dobbiaco to Monte Cristallo, effectively dividing the Sesto and Braies Dolomites. This valley boasts two beautiful lakes: Lago di Dobbiaco/Toblacher See and Lago di Landro/Dürrensee. It’s also the direct connection to Lake Misurina, Passo Tre Croci (Lago di Sorapis trailhead), and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Budget | Ansitz Steiner is a top-rated apartment-style accommodation in a rural area above Dobbiaco. Stay here for the rustic charm and price point.
Midrange | Hotel Rosengarten is a 3-star, family-run hotel with an on-site restaurant. Breakfast is included and half board is optional.
Midrange-Luxury | Hotel Laurin is an excellent 4-star hotel with tastefully-furnished rooms, an on-site restaurant and bar, outdoor swimming pool, and spa. You can book breakfast-only, or half board.
Luxury | Romantik Hotel Santer features warm, woody Tyrolean-style interiors, spa facilities (two pools, saunas, gym), an on-site restaurant, and bar.
San Candido / Innichen
San Candio is located east of Dobbiaco. Packed with shops and restaurants, the historic center of San Candido is the most atmospheric place in Upper Puster Valley.
Apartments | Residence Kugler offers new, fully-equipped apartments in San Candido.
Luxury | Naturhotel Leitlhof is a 4-star-superior, climate-neutral wellness hotel in San Candido. Situated at a slight elevation and bordered by forest, idyllic Naturhotel Leitlhof overlooks the village and the gorgeous Sexten mountains, including Haunold/Rocca dei Baranci and Dreischusterspitze/Cima di Tre Scarperi. Sunsets and sunrises are glorious here. Guests have complimentary access to the hotel’s 2000 m² wellness facilities, including multiple indoor and outdoor saunas, an indoor and outdoor pool, a fitness room, and relaxation spaces. The hotel kitchen crafts divine South Tyrolean and Italian multi-course menus, which change daily. Extra Perks: free garage parking, guided excursions (biking, hiking, snowshoeing), and complimentary shuttle serv This is one of the very best hotels in the Dolomites. Read our Naturhotel Leitlhof Hotel Review.
Luxury | ATTO Suites & Cuisine is a new luxury aparthotel in San Candido, furnished with the highest quality local materials. These gorgeous, minimalist apartments teeter stylistically between Alpine and Nordic. An excellent breakfast is included (with gluten-free options). Other included services: parking, shuttle service to the Leitlhof spa, and bicycle storage room.
Adults-Only Luxury | Post Hotel – Tradition & Lifestyle Adults Only is located in the center of San Candido, close to the pedestrian zone. This chic boutique hotel offers a spa, rooftop terrace, and on-site restaurant and bar. Half board is available.
Valle di Braies / Pragser Tal Valley
Valle di Braies valley is the best base for exploring everything that the northern Prags/Braies Dolomites has to offer. The top attractions are Prato Piazza and Lago di Braies. But with more time, you can venture off-the-beaten-path to the Ütia Fojadora mountain pasture, Grünwaldtal valley and Hochalpensee lake, Hochalpenkopf peak, Croda del Becco/Seekofel summit, Herrstein peak, Grosser Rosskopf peak, and Malga Rossalm.
Budget | Garni Bergblick is a darling guesthouse in Braies/Prags Valley, located a mere 5.6 km (8-min drive) from Lago di Braies, 6.2 km (9 min drive) from Ponticello, and 11.3 km (18 min drive) from Prato Piazza. Set in an idyllic meadow surrounded by trees, Garni Bergblick is the perfect base for exploring the Braies/Prags Dolomites. Breakfast is included in the rate.
Budget-Midrange | Berggasthaus Agritur Moserhof is a traditional and cozy farm stay, perched high above Braies/Prags Valley. Breakfast and dinner are included in the rate. From Moserhof, it’s a 5-minute drive down to the valley and a 11-minute drive to Lago di Braies.
Midrange | Farmhouse Hanslerhof is a mountain guesthouse and farm overlooking Braies/Prags Valley and surrounded by meadows. Guests love the charming stone pine rooms, homemade breakfasts (included the room rate), and quiet location. From Hanslerhof, it’s an 8 minute drive to Lago di Braies.
Midrange | Hotel Erika is a 3-star hotel situated at the entrance of Valle di Braies. Guests have access to a lovely 400m² wellness area containing a Finnish Sauna (90 °C), steam bath (42-45° C), bio sauna (60 °C), infrared lounge, jacuzzi, and relaxation rooms. Rooms are clean and comfortably furnished in a Tyrolean-alpine style. A rich and varied breakfast buffet and a 5-course dinner are included in the room rate (half board). From Hotel Erika, it’s a 10-minute drive to Lago di Braies and a 20-minute drive to Prato Piazza.
Midrange | Hotel Turmchalet (3 nights minimum) is a family-run 3-star-superior hotel in Valle di Briaes, praised for their superior service and friendliness. The hotel was recently renovated, resulting in tastefully-designed, alpine-modern bedrooms and a standout facade. Guests describe the cuisine as delicious, sensational and outstanding. Breakfast and dinner are included in the room rate (half board). And, there’s also a wellness area.
Sesto / Sexten Valley
Sesto Valley is wedged between the Northern Sesto/Sexten Dolomites and the Carnic Alps. From Sesto, you’re well-positioned to explore Val Fiscalina/Fischleintal and Val Campo di Dentro/Innerfeldtal, two valleys which lead into the heart of Tre Cime Nature Park.
Budget | B&B Grüne Laterne – Lanterna Verde is a traditional, alpine guesthouse with an on-site restaurant.
Midrange | Hotel Schoenblick is a lovely 3-star hotel with sparkling clean rooms and apartments facing the Sesto Sundial. Breakfast is included and half board is optional. 3 nights minimum stay requirement in high season.
Midrange | Hotel Royal is a 3-star-superior hotel with alpine-modern rooms and apartments in Sesto. Stay here for the hospitality, dreamy mountain views, and fantastic breakfast buffet.
Luxury | Hotel Alpenblick is an exceptional hotel in Sesto with a standout gourmet kitchen, committed to sustainability. Ingredients are sourced regionally and from their very own Alpenblick farm. Breakfast, a 5-course dinner, and an afternoon snack (3 pm – 5 pm) are included in the room rate. Beyond the culinary appeal, Hotel Alpenblick is a super friendly and welcoming accommodation with a spa and pool. 5 nights minimum stay requirement.
5-star Luxury | Hotel Monika – MY WELLBEING HOTEL DOLOMITES enjoys a splendid setting on the edge of a meadow with views of the Sexten Dolomites. The hotel spa dazzles with its sky infinity outdoor pool, indoor pool, five saunas, and relaxation zones. You can schedule massages and other treatments as well. Book half board to savor the full experience.
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Dolomites Trip Planning Essentials
Use our Dolomites Travel Guide to plan an unforgettable trip to Northern Italy.
When to Hike in the Dolomites
The best time to hike in the Dolomites is between mid-June and mid-September. If the weather is stable, the hiking season can extend until late October.
How to Get to the Dolomites
Read How to Get to the Dolomites to find out how to travel to the Dolomites from the closest airports, train stations, and bus terminals.
If you’re traveling without a car, also check out How to Visit the Dolomites Without a Car.
The easiest way to travel between hiking destinations in the Italian Dolomites is with your own car. Check out our itineraries for trip inspiration:
We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
Tip: If you can only drive automatic transmission cars, as opposed to manual transmission cars (stick shift), book your car rental as early as possible.
Best Places to Stay
Figuring out where to stay in the Dolomites is probably the biggest hurdle to planning a trip to the Dolomites. We’ve created three guides to help you decide where to stay:
- Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer: best villages and towns in South Tyrol, Trentino and Belluno
- Best Hotels in the Dolomites: best boutique and luxury hotels in the Dolomites
- Dolomites Accommodation Guide: farm stays, mountain huts, wellness hotels, aparthotels
- Val Gardena Hotels: best accommodations in Ortisei, Santa Cristina, and Selva
We suggest choosing 2-4 bases for your Dolomites trip and spending 2-4 nights in each base.
- Base 1: Val Gardena
- Base 2: Val di Funes
- Base 3: Alta Badia
- Base 4: Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Base 5: Alta Pusteria
- Base 6: San Martino di Castrozza
What to See & Do
During your trip to the Dolomites, you can go via ferrata climbing, culinary hiking, hut to hut hiking, cycling, paragliding, and so much more. We’ve highlighted our favorite experiences in Best Things to Do in the Dolomites.
Wherever you decide to stay, you’ll be surrounded by glorious mountain scenery and incredible natural landmarks.
In Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites, we’ve outlined the most iconic attractions as well as lesser-known destinations across the Dolomites, including Alpe di Siusi, Lago Federa, Seceda, and Baita Segantini.
Dolomites Packing List
- Day Pack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Reusable Water Bottle: Ion Leakproof 32 oz Water Bottle
Outdoor Photography Gear
- Camera Body: Sony Alpha a6400
- Mid-range Zoom Lens: Tamron 17-70mm 2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
- Wide angle Zoom Lens: Sony – E 10-18mm F4 OSS Wide-angle Zoom Lens
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip
Dolomites Hiking Guides
Hiking in the Dolomites is our passion. Year after year, we love discovering new trails and expanding our knowledge of the area. For day hiking, check out Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites. For trekking, take a look at our guide to Hut to Hut Hiking in the Dolomites and Alta Via 1.
For region-specific hiking trails, check out:
- Best Hikes in Val Gardena
- Best Hikes in Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Best Hikes in Alta Badia
- Sexten Dolomites Hiking Guide
Recommended Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone Guide: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites