Val Gardena (Grödnertal) is a valley in South Tyrol in the Italian Dolomites, stretching from Gardena Pass (Passo Gardena / Grödnerjoch) and Sella Pass (Passo Sella) to Valle Isarco (Eisacktal).
From Val Gardena, you can easily access Puez-Odle Nature Park, the Sassolungo Group, the Sella Group, Resciesa Plateau, and the Alpe di Siusi meadows. With so many beloved hiking destinations at your doorstep, you can see why hiking in the Val Gardena mountains is like hiking in heaven. And, because Val Gardena is an established ski region, a network of cableways and gondolas makes hiking here even more accessible.
An added bonus of staying and hiking in Val Gardena is the free transit system for overnight guests. If you’re traveling in the Dolomites without a car, Val Gardena is a perfect place to base yourself for a few days.
Best Hiking Trails in Val Gardena
- Seceda Ridgeline to Rifugio Firenze – Easy-Moderate circuit trail starting in Ortisei.
- Resciesa to Rifugio Brogles and Seceda Ridgeline – Moderate circuit, or point-to-point hike starting in Ortisei.
- Rifugio Stevia and Col dala Pieres – Difficult circuit hike starting in Selva di Val Gardena.
- Lake Pisciadù and Pisciadù Peak Hike – Difficult loop, or point-to-point hike starting at Gardena Pass.
- Monte Pic Summit Hike – Moderately difficult circuit hike, starting at the Praplan car park, above Santa Cristina
- Alpe di Siusi to Monte Pana – Easy hike starting at the Ortisei-Alpe di Siusi Ropeway mountain station and ending in Santa Cristina.
- Sassolungo Loop Trail – Moderate day hike starting at Sella Pass.
Val Gardena Map
Val Gardena encompasses the towns Ortisei, Selva di Val Gardena, and Santa Cristina. Because this is a German-, Ladin-, and Italian-speaking region, each town, nature park, mountain hut, etc… has three names. So, Ortisei is also called St. Ulrich and Urtijëi. Selva di Val Gardena is also called Wolkenstein and Sëlva.
For hiking, we recommend this Tappeiner Val Gardena hiking map.
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1. Seceda Ridgeline to Rifugio Firenze (Regensburger Hütte)
- Starting Point: Ortisei
- Trailhead: Seceda cableway mountain station
- Distance: 8.9 km circuit
- Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
- Time Needed: 3 – 4 hours
The Seceda ridgeline is one of the most iconic places in the Dolomites. You’ve seen the photo a million times. And, yet it’s even more spectacular in person.
This Val Gardena hike begins at the Seceda mountain station, which is accessible by aerial cableways from the village of Ortisei.
From the Seceda summit, you’ll approach the dagger-like Odle peaks along a level path. The hike continues to the Pierlongia hut, marked by two twin spires. The hike then continues to Rifugio Firenze, which is a great place for lunch. From the mountain hut, you’ll circuit back to Seceda mountain station.
Learn More: Seceda to Rifugio Firenze Circuit Hike
2. Resciesa to Rifugio Brogles and Seceda Ridgeline
- Starting Point: Ortisei
- Trailhead: Resciesa Funicular mountain station
- Distance: 8.5 km point-to-point
- Difficulty: moderate/difficult
- Time Needed: 3 hours +
Update 2021: The trail from Malga Brogles to Seceda via Forcella Pana/Panascharte is closed due to a rockfall. You can still hike this route via Furcela De Mesdi/Mittagsscharte, but it’s longer and more difficult. For up-to-date information on trail conditions, please contact the Seceda cableway.
Did you know that the Seceda ridgeline can be approached in an entirely different way? This exciting Val Gardena hiking route starts in Ortisei with a funicular ascent to the Resciesa plateau.
You’ll hike across Resciesa and gently descend to Rifugio Brogles in Val di Funes. With wonderful views of the beloved Odle peaks, Malga Brogles is a great place for lunch or just a drink. From the hut, the trail ascends all the way to the Seceda ridgeline via the Forcella Pana/Panascharte notch.
From the Seceda ridge, you can descend to Ortisei via the Seceda-Funes-Ortisei cableways, or continue hiking to Col Raiser gondola mountain station and descend to Selva and Santa Cristina.
Learn More: Hiking from Resciesa to Seceda
3. Col dala Pieres
- Starting Point: Selva di Val Gardena
- Trailhead: Col Raiser mountain station
- Distance: 13.7 km circuit
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Time Needed: 6 – 7 hours
It’s impossible to choose a favorite Val Gardena hiking trail. But, if we really had to, it would be this hike to Col dala Pieres.
From the Col Raiser mountain station, follow the easy trail to Rifugio Firenze/Regensburger Hütte. From the Firenze hut, you’ll make your way to trail 17B and then tackle the somewhat challenging ascent to Forcella Piza (2489 m), the notch between Muntejela and Mont De Stevia. From Forcella Piza, the trail continues left to the Col dala Pieres summit.
Before heading to the summit, we recommend detouring right to Rifugio Stevia, for hearty South Tyrolean food and equally sumptuous views of Sassolungo, Sella, and Cir.
The ascent to Col dala Pieres isn’t a hard one. However, the descent over Forcella Forces de Sieles is a bit more challenging. Now, if you thought the hike was great so far, wait till you get here. Those Odle/Geisler peaks impress from this angle as well.
Learn More: Col dala Pieres Day Hike
4. Pisciadù Peak Hike
- Trailhead: Gardena Pass
- Distance: 8 – 12 km circuit or point-to-point
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Time Needed: 6 hours
This hike in the Sella Group begins in Gardena Pass/Passo Gardena/Grödner Joch, the mountain pass between Alta Badia and Val Gardena.
From the pass, you’ll follow a delightful balcony trail to Val Setus, a steep sloping “valley” defined by crumbling rocks and scree. The ascent up Val Setus to Lake Pisciadù is steep and partially secured (no equipment necessary).
From Lake Pisciadù, you can extend your hike to the Cima Pisciadù summit, which is very demanding.
The trail continues to Val de Mezdi (steep descent) and ultimately back to Passo Gardena. This is a strenuous hike for experienced alpine hikers.
Learn More: Lake Pisciadù Day Hike
5. Monte Pic
- Trailhead: Cristauta/Praplan Parking Lot above Santa Cristina
- Distance: 13.9 km
- Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
- Time Needed: 6 hours
Monte Pic/Pitschberg (2363 m) is a mountain that rises above Santa Cristina and Ortisei. From its summit, the views of the surrounding mountains are sensational.
The fastest ascent route to Monte Pic is via the Baita Sëurasas alpine pastures. However, we decided to combine Monte Pic with the Seceda ridgeline, opting for a longer circuit route.
Starting at the Cristauta/Praplan Parking Lot, follow trail 4 to Baita Gamsblut and then steadily hike up the Seceda meadows. You’ll pass Rifugio Fermeda, Baita Daniel, Mastlé, and Baita Sofie, on your way to the Seceda lookout point. From Seceda, follow the ridge to Forcella Pana/Panascharte and then descend to Baita Troier. Continue the easy path to Cuca saddle.
From here, you’ll start ascending to Monte Pic (40 minutes). When you reach the summit, you’ll be amazed by the views of Sella and Sassolungo. You’ll even be able to spot Cima della Vezzana, the highest mountain in the Pala Group.
To complete the circuit, hike down the Monte Pic ridge to the serene Baita Sëurasas alpine pasture hut and then through the forest to the car park.
Learn More: Monte Pic Trail Guide
6. Alpe di Siusi to Monte Pana
- Starting Point: Ortisei
- Trailhead: Ortisei-Alpe di Siusi Ropeway (aka Mont Sëuc gondola) mountain station
- Destination: Santa Cristina
- Distance: 12.8 km point-to-point
- Difficulty: Easy
- Time Needed: 3:30 hours
This pleasant Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm in German, Mont Sëuc in Ladin) day hike begins with the Ortisei-Alpe di Siusi gondola ascent from the village of Ortisei to the Alpe di Siusi plateau.
You’ll hike across Europe’s largest mountain plateau to Saltria and then slowly descend to the Monte Pana plateau. This short Val Gardena hike ends in the village of Santa Cristina.
Learn More: Alpe di Siusi to Monte Pana Trail Guide
7. Sassolungo Circuit
- Trailhead: Sella Pass
- Distance: 17.6 km circuit
- Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
- Time Needed: 6 hours
This popular day Val Gardena hike circuits the entire Sassolungo (Langkofel) group. Along the circuit, there are many cozy rifugios, affording hikers relaxing places to eat and drink.
From Sella pass (accessible by bus from Val Gardena), the hike continues in the direction of Rifugio Federico Augusto along a wide gravel road. We ate lunch at Rifugio Sasso Piatto/Plattkofelhütte, which marks the half-way point of the hike. Here, you’ll have an outstanding view of Alpe di Siusi, which is the largest alpine plateau in Europe. Until this point, the hike isn’t difficult.
From Plattkofehütte, the Sassolungo circuit continues to wrap around the mountain group. This half is more challenging than the first, as you ascend to Rifugio Vicenza/Langkofelhütte and ultimately to Rifugio Emilio Comici.
Tip: Avoid hiking here on the weekend. The trail gets very crowded.
When to Hike in Val Gardena, Dolomites
Early/Mid-June until Mid/Late-October.
Fortunately, Val Gardena’s summer season is very long. Many restaurants, cableways, and mountain huts stay open until mid-October. Though, some hotels and mountain huts will certainly close by late-September.
If you want to take advantage of the valley’s many gondolas and cableways, we recommend visiting Val Gardena before mid-October.
However, late October is a quiet and colorful time to visit Val Gardena, if you’re willing to put in the extra work (longer ascents and descents without the cableways).
We think Fall is the best time to visit Val Gardena. Read next:
Where to Stay in Val Gardena
You can stay in Ortisei, Selva, or Santa Cristina. When you stay in any hotel, guesthouse, or Red Rooster farm in Val Gardena – which are members of the Val Gardena Tourist Association – you’re given a free 7-day Val Gardena Mobil Card, which gives you free transit on regional buses. You can use this throughout South Tyrol (Alto Adige), making it easy to hop around the valley and to places like Alta Badia and Bolzano.
We’ve stayed in all three towns. Ortisei is the largest village, with the highest concentration of hotels and restaurants. Santa Cristina and Selva are both stretched out and don’t have a town center like Ortisei. But, hotels in Selva and Santa Cristina offer peace and quiet in addition to amazing views. Here are the hotels we highly recommend in Val Gardena.
For more guidance regarding where to stay in the Dolomites, also check out:
Luxury accommodation in Santa Cristina
Dorfhotel Beludei is located in Elysium, of that I’m certain. Sorry, for all the heaven references in this post, but it is the Dolomites after all.
When you do a lot of hiking in Val Gardena, then you really deserve three things: excellent food, rejuvenating wellness facilities, and a comfortable room. Dorfhotel Beludei delivers all those things and more.
#1 Excellent Food. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Dorfhotel Beludei serves the most visionary and delicious food in the valley. The resident chef concocts recipes that seem to canter off into the land of the bizarre and fantastic. Like composing a symphony, the chef orchestrates with colors, flavors, and textures. Whatever you eat here, you’ll never eat again: it simply cannot be replicated.
#2 Lavish Wellness Facilities. I’ll keep this short and less dramatic. Dorfhotel Beludei’s wellness center comprises a steam bath, Finnish sauna, indoor pool (with an imaginative mural), an outdoor hot tub, and a spacious relaxation room. So, basically, it’s amazing! Upon entering, you’ll see a bar with a lovely selection of teas and cookies.
#3 Comfortable Rooms. The rooms in Beludei are more than comfortable, they’re livable. I even asked the hotel manager if we could move in. I’m talking plush bedding, balcony views of Langkofel, and so much space that you can have your own interpretive dance performance.
If you stay at Dorfhotel Beludei, you can also join any scheduled guided hike for no extra charge. The weekly schedule is posted near the entrance.
Mid-range accommodation in Selva
Location, location, location. Repeat! Hotel Rodella just can’t be beaten in terms of its location. First of all, you’re within walking distance to the Col Raiser gondola valley station. So, the Puez-Odle Nature Park is yours to explore at your pleasure. Second, you’re perched up above Selva di Val Gardena, so the sunset views over Langkofel and Sella are mind-blowing.
If you’re like us, it’s always disappointing to leave the mountain in time for dinner, because it means you’re going to miss the sunset. But, if you stay here, you can save that disappointment for another hotel in the valley, because Hotel Rodella offers you comfort and epic views. So, grab your aperitif and head outside.
Now let’s talk about the rooms. We stayed in room #1 and we loved it. After hiking Alta Via 1 and then hiking around Alta Badia for days, we took our first proper rest day here. I spent hours in my light-filled room, looking out the window and watching the light dance across the fields beyond.
Rodella’s wellness area is being renovated in fall 2019. We can’t wait to see what it looks like.
Hotel Angelo Engel
Luxury accommodation in Ortisei
The 4-star family-run Hotel Angelo Engel occupies the best possible location in Ortisei (St. Ulrich/Urtijëi). Situated directly in the town center, it’s only a short way to reach Plaza Sant’ Antone, the main transit hub in Ortisei. Hotel Angelo Engel is also within walking distance to the Resciesa funicular, Ortisei-Furnes-Seceda cableway, and the Ortisei-Alpe di Siusi gondola (Mont Sëuc Ropeway).
If you’re traveling to the Dolomites without a car, this is where you need to stay. You can easily access the best places in Val Gardena by foot, or by transit.
Recommended Hiking Gear for the Dolomites
I’m a firm believer that hiking boots are the key to safe and easy hiking. We always marveled as other hikers seemed to fly down the mountain, seemingly unaffected by the uneven and unstable terrain (e.g. scree). Well, we discovered their secret this summer, when we upgraded our boots to grade B/C. And, oh my goodness, what a difference it made.
For the Col dala Pieres and Pisciadù hikes, you’re going to want boots like these: Hanwag Tatra II GTX, or Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (what Kati and I wear). Here’s the men’s version: Hanwag Tatra II GTX. For us, these difficult hikes were very manageable because we had excellent boots and hiking poles like these Black Diamond trail poles.
Other hiking essentials: a reusable water bottle, polarized CAT 4 sunglasses, rain jacket, sunhat, and camera. We love our Sony Alpha A6000 mirrorless digital camera. It’s lightweight, easy to hike with, and captures landscapes beautifully.
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Plan your trip to the Dolomites:
- Dolomites Travel Guide
- Dolomites Blog Archive
- Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
- Dolomites Road Trip Itinerary
- Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
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