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6 Best Things to Do in Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta), Italy

Have you heard of Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta), the smallest region in Italy?

Surrounded by Europe’s highest peaks and snuggled between France, Switzerland, and Piedmont (Italy), this Northern Italian region is brimming with historical, culinary, and natural treasures.

This is the heart of the European Alps.

Though a favorite alpine holiday destination among Italians, Aosta Valley is virtually unknown to the rest of the world. 

Valle d’Aosta is made up of a central valley, from which branches 13 side valleys. You could spend weeks exploring the many hamlets and trails of these glacial and river valleys. Some of these side valleys branch into Gran Paradiso National Park, while others extend in the direction of Switzerland.

The noteworthy Val Veny and Val Ferret lie at the foot of Mont Blanc.

Saint-Pierre Castle, Aosta Valley, Northern Italy

When to Visit Aosta Valley

Aosta Valley Mont Blanc Massif, Northern Italy

Valle d’Aosta is a seasonal destination.

Italians vacation here chiefly in summer (June – September) for hiking and cycling and winter (December – March) for skiing. If you come off-season, it may feel lifeless.

Many properties in the region are second homes, which means that outside of those peak seasons, many areas in the valley are empty.

We visited Aosta Valley in May. While traveling to Aosta Valley off-season has its advantages, it also feels rather dead. Many restaurants and businesses are closed.

From a weather standpoint, spring is a tricky time to visit. The weather isn’t stable and there’s a good chance that many trails are still covered in snow.

We recently revisited Aosta Valley in early September whilst hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc. The weather was quite good and the trails weren’t overly crowded.

We recommend visiting Aosta Valley during the main seasons.

Where to Stay in Aosta Valley

Sarre Castle Interior, Aosta Valley, Italy

We recommend basing yourself in the town of Aosta, or the town of Courmayeur.

Stay in Aosta Town

Budget | Maison Du-Noyer is a clean and comfortable guesthouse located above Aosta (10-15 drive). It’s ideal for exploring the surrounding countryside.

Midrange | Relais Bondaz is a stylish family-run hotel in Aosta. The location is superb. And, the breakfast is excellent!

Luxury | Hotel Milleluci is a beautiful hotel in Aosta with panoramic views and spa facilities, including an outdoor pool, sauna, and Turkish bath. Breakfast is superb.

Look for accommodation in Aosta.

Stay in Courmayeur

Budget | Hotel Vallée Blanch is a charming, top-rated hotel in Courmayeur with unbeatable mountain views.

Midrange | Hotel Croux is advantageously located in the pedestrian zone of the Courmayeur town center, close to many shops and restaurants. Stay here for the location, clean private rooms (single, triple, family), and tasty breakfast.

Midrange | Hotel Walser Courmayeur is a simple family-run hotel with a great restaurant, close to the center of town. You can book double/twin, triple, and quadruple rooms. The food is excellent.

Midrange | Villa Novecento Romantic Hotel is a boutique hotel in Courmayeur, walking distance to the town center (8 minute walk). Guests love the spacious rooms, the ambience, the helpful staff, and the meals (breakfast and dinner).

Luxury | Hotel Auberge De La Maison is the best hotel in Courmayeur. Rooms are decorated in a refined-rustic style. Views are phenomenal. And, you can enjoy top-rated Valdostana cuisine in a wood-paneled dining room, warmed by a large fireplace. Located in the Entrèves neighborhood, this Courmayeur hotel is also only 300 meters from the Sky Way Mont Blanc cable car. Guests have access to a heated outdoor pool, sauna, Turkish bath, and solarium.

Luxury | Gran Baita Hotel & Wellness Resort is a welcoming hotel with an on-site restaurant, bar, and wellness area (heated indoor-outdoor swimming pool, sauna, hot tub). Rooms are rustic, yet elegant. The hotel is a 10-minute walk to the pedestrian zone of Courmayeur. Half board available.

Look for accommodation in Courmayeur.

1. Hike around Courmayeur

Aosta Valley Hiking Trail, Italian Alps

The Italian Alps frame Valle d’Aosta in epic fashion. As you journey deeper into the valley to Courmayeur, the snow-capped mountain views become increasingly more dramatic.

Courmayeur is an alpine town at the foot of the towering Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) massif. It’s also one of the most sensational hiking destinations in Europe.

For a short day hike, head to Ermitage (1467 m), the trailhead to La Suche (1810 m). To reach Ermitage from the center of town, drive up Strada Grand Ru in the direction of Villair Inferiore and Plan Gorret.

From Ermitage, it’s a 50-minute ascent to La Suche, a mountain hut situated on a high plateau. From the plateau, you’ll have staggering views of Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc, and the many peaks that mark the French border.

Many more hikes begin in Val Veny and Val Ferret, two valleys that extend in opposite directions from Courmayeur. You can visit the local tourist office in town for maps and trail recommendations.

Learn More: Epic Things to Do in Courmayeur, Italy

2. Tour the Aosta Valley Castles

Saint-Pierre Castle, Valle d’Aosta, Northern Italy

A string of castles decorates the central valley of Aosta, adding a level of enchantment to this corner of Italy.

Simply driving through the valley affords you terrific views of the many hilltop castles. However, one of the best things to do in Aosta Valley is to visit one, or several of these eye-catching buildings.

Fénis castle, Sarre Castle, Bard Fortress, Savoy Castle, and Sarriod de La Tour Castle (Saint-Pierre) are all open to the public.

To see the castle interiors, you must join a guided tour. At this time, tours are only conducted in Italian. 

3. Explore Gran Paradiso National Park

Gran Paradiso National Park (Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso) is a protected area located in both Aosta Valley and Piedmont.

From the Aosta Valley side, you can access the park from Valle di Cogne, Valsavarenche, and Valle di Rhêmes. 

The history of Italy’s first national park is tied to the protection of the ibex. In the mid-19th century, the ibex population was rapidly dwindling.

Luckily, King Vittorio Emanuele II declared the alpine region a royal hunting reserve, thus safeguarding the population from extinction. By 1922, the hunting reserve was donated to the Italian State, for the creation of Gran Paradiso National Park.

Today, the park’s ibex population continues to flourish. While you’re out exploring the park’s valleys, keep your eyes out for herds of ibex.

There are many ways to experience Gran Paradiso National Park. In summer and early fall, you can embark on rewarding day hikes as well as multi-day hut-to-hut tours. Check out Cicerone’s Guide to Walking and Trekking in Gran Paradiso

In winter, you can go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Climbing and cycling opportunities abound as well.

Val di Rhêmes

Val di Rhêmes is a valley that extends into Gran Paradiso National Park from the central Aosta Valley. As we drove deeper into the valley to Rhêmes-Notre-Dame, we saw grazing chamois and Ibex.

The end of the road brings you to Thumel, where you can park and continue on foot. We recommend hiking the mostly flat and easy path to Rifugio Gian Federico Benevolo. You’ll see dozens of marmots – which look like joyful balls of fur – playing and chasing each other across the open meadows.

Note: This hike is best undertaken in summer and early fall. We hiked in mid-May and weren’t able to get all the way to the Rifugio, because of the snow. With snowshoes, it may have been possible.

4. La Salle

La Salle, Aosta Valley, Northern Italy

La Salle is a village between Courmayeur and Aosta. The base of the village sits at 891 meters, while the top (Planaval) is located at a lofty 1762 meters.

We recommend zigzagging your way up the village for sunset views of Monte Bianco and the surrounding mountains.

You’ll pass the tower of Castello di Chatelard on your way up. In summer, there’s a restaurant at Planaval, the top of the village, that you can visit. It’s also the trailhead to a bunch of hikes.

For an off-the-beaten-path adventure in Aosta Valley, you can hike to the ridge Col de Bard (2178 m) from Challacin in La Salle. This 2-hour hike (one-way) is best tackled in summer and early fall.

We hiked here in May, and it was difficult to follow the trail due to snowfall and fallen trees. 

The trail follows a gravel road for 10 minutes before sharply veering right on a forest path. You’ll follow the forest trail for about 15 minutes to the peaceful Arpelles hamlet. From here, continue straight and follow signs to planta monumentale and the yellow circle with 2.

5. Roman Ruins in the Town of Aosta

Praetorian Gate Roman Ruins, Aosta Town, Aosta Valley

Aosta town is the capital of Aosta Valley and the region’s largest city.

In 25 BC, the Romans occupied the region and founded Augusta Praetoria, which is modern-day Aosta. Because of its proximity to the Great and Little Saint Bernard Passes, Aosta has always been a very strategic intersection in the Western Alps.

Evidence of the Roman colony can still be seen throughout the historical center.

Notable sites include the Roman Bridge, Augustan Arch, the Praetorian Gates, the Forum Cryptoporticus, the Roman Theater, and the city walls.

While there’s no fee to see the gates, walls, and arch, there’s an entrance fee to visit the Roman Theater and Forum Cryptoporticus.

6. Eat Fontina Cheese

Fontina Cheese, Aosta Valley

Fontina is a mountain cheese made from the milk of Valdostana cows. Aosta Valley is the only region officially authorized to produce Fontina since it has DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) status.

To make Fontina, cheesemakers must use just-milked raw milk that hasn’t been treated in any way. The whole cheese-making process is conducted by hand and adheres to centuries-old traditions.

To sample Fontina and other regional specialties, head to La Bottegaccia in Aosta town. The shop is located on Via Sant’Anselmo near the Augustan Arch.

Here, you can order cheese and charcuterie boards along with local wine. In addition to Fontina, ask for lardo di Arnad (another DOP food), motzetta, and prosciutto crudo di Saint-Marcel (if you consume meat).

You can also buy Aosta Valley wines, meats, and cheeses at the supermarket Gros Cidac, located at Via Paravera, 4 in Aosta town. We highly recommend Fontina d’Alpeggio DOP. 

How to Get to Aosta Valley

Aosta Valley, Italian Alps, Italy

Aosta Valley is located in the northwestern corner of Italy.

You can approach the valley from France, Switzerland, or the Italian region of Piedmont.

The closest airports are in Turin, Milan, and Geneva.

From France: Chamonix to Courmayeur

There is an 11.6 km tunnel that connects the French town of Chamonix-Mont Blanc to Courmayeur in Aosta Valley.

You can get to Aosta from Chamonix by bus, or by car. If you drive the Tunnel du Mont-Blanc, you will pay over 40 EUR.

You can calculate the cost of the crossing here.

If you opt for a bus, you’ll pay around 15 EUR per person. Bus connections between Chamonix and Courmayeur are operated by SAVDA. Book your ticket in advance.

From France: Haute-Tarantaise to Thuile

Little Saint Bernard Pass is a mountain pass connecting the valley of Thuile (Aosta Valley) with Haute-Tarantaise (France). France.

The pass is usually open from June to the end of October.

From Switzerland: Bourg-Saint-Pierre to Aosta Town

The Great San Bernard Tunnel links Aosta Valley with Switzerland. There is a toll to use the Tunnel del Gran San Bernardo, starting at 26.90 EUR (car) for a one-way crossing.

In summer, you can drive the San Bernard Pass, Colle del Gran San Bernardo. 

From Piedmont, Italy: Turin to Aosta Valley

Turin connects directly with the A5 motorway, which runs through Aosta Valley.

The city of Turin is 55 km to Pont-Saint Martin, the so-called “Eastern Gate” of the valley.

More Northern Italy Travel Guides

Italian Alps:


Aosta Valley Travel Guide, Northern Italy

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Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails,

Sabrina & Kati