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Gran Cir Via Ferrata in the Dolomites, Italy

Gran Cir (2592 meters) is a prominent peak in the Cir Group (Pizes de Cir in Ladin, Gruppo del Cir in Italian, Cirspitzen in German) within Puez-Odle Nature Park in South Tyrol.

This popular hiking destination is easily accessible from Passo Gardena/Grödner Joch, the mountain pass connecting Val Badia with Val Gardena. From the mountain pass, it takes only 1:30 hours to reach the summit of Gran Cir. 

Serving up deliriously majestic views of the Sella Group, Langkofel Group, and Val de Chedul, Gran Cir is prided as one of the best sunrise and sunset locations in the Dolomites. 

Gran Cir Summit, Dolomites

Gran Cir Hiking Map


How Difficult is the Hike to Gran Cir?

Gran Cir view of Chedul Valley, Dolomites
Chedul Valley

Gran Cir is categorized as a sentiero attrezzato, or an easy via ferrata (fixed cable route). We’d describe it as a moderately difficult hike with two secured passages. These fixed cables facilitate your safe ascent/descent. 

The actual “via ferrata” part of the hike is very short.

Some of the stones along the fixed route are very polished, and thus slippery, due to so much foot traffic. So, holding onto the cables ensures that you don’t slip. 

What makes the hike difficult is the terrain, more so than the via ferrata section (in our opinion). If you’re confident hiking in limestone/dolomite terrain (loose rocks/scree), then this hike won’t pose too much difficulty. If you’re not so familiar with the terrain, it’ll be more difficult. 

Some light scrambling is needed.  


Gran Cir Hiking Gear

Gran Cir Gear, Dolomites

The most important thing for this hike is proper hiking boots. Don’t wear sneakers!!! We recommend wearing high-cut Grade B/C hiking boots

We also highly recommend wearing climbing gloves. They help you grasp the cables more easily (especially if your hands are sweating). They also protect your palms, when you’re scrambling and grabbing rocks. 

Recommended climbing gloves: Black Diamond Crag Half-Finger Gloves

Sun protection, including Cat 3 Sunglasses that wrap around your head. I can’t stress this enough: Dolomite rock reflects the light like snow. Investing in high-quality sunglasses is essential when hiking in the Dolomites as well as any other limestone range. 

Recommended CAT 3 Sunglasses: Julbo Fury Sunglasses

Recommended REACTIVE CAT 0-3 Sunglasses: Julbo Fury Sunglasses (photochromic lens) – this lens will adjust automatically to the light environment (shifting from CAT 0 to CAT 3). That means if you’re hiking along a shady trail, it’ll adjust to CAT 2, so you have better visibility. This functionality makes it more expensive.


Do You Need a Full Via Ferrata Kit?

A full via ferrata kit encompasses a climbing helmet, climbing harness, and a via ferrata lanyard. Do you need to bring the full kit? It really depends on your experience and level of comfort. 

I encourage everyone to wear a climbing helmet at the very least. Given the popularity of this trail, you’re better protected from falling rocks, if you wear a helmet. 

Women’s Climbing Helmet: Black diamond women’s climbing helmet

Men’s Climbing Helmet: Black diamond men’s climbing helmet

We wore a climbing helmet, climbing gloves, and of course Grade B/C boots. We’ve hiked along dozens of secured passages across the Alps (Kamnik-Savinja Traverse, Eagle Walk, Berlin High Trail, etc…), so we felt confident hiking without the harness and lanyard. 

In no way are we endorsing not wearing the full via ferrata kit. Everyone needs to decide what’s best for them, depending on their level of experience. 


When to Hike to Gran Cir

Mid/late June until mid/late October, depending on snow conditions. If you’re visiting early or late in the summer season (early June/late October), we recommend reaching out to the tourist office in Colfosco for updates on trail conditions. 

The best months to watch the sunrise on Gran Cir are (late) September and October, when skies are generally clear and the sun rises relatively late (around 7 am). 

When we hiked to Gran Cir in early July, the sun rose at 5:27 am. We woke up at 3 am, drove to Passo Gardena from our Aparthotel Lüch de Costa in Colfosco (15-20 minute drive), and hiked up to the summit. 


What Time of Day to Hike to Gran Cir

This is a wonderful peak to watch the sunrise and/or sunset. We hiked up for sunrise and it was a magical experience. 

We’ve heard that the peak gets really crowded. In our single experience, we only shared the summit with two local trail runners, who descended before the sun even made an appearance. 

For anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable hiking in the dark (with a headlamp), we recommend hiking shortly after sunrise. The light will still be beautiful and you won’t have to share the trail with very many people. 

Try to avoid the middle of the day (10 am – 3 pm). 


Gran Cir Sunrise Essentials 

This may be painfully obvious for some of you, but we want to cover the basics:

Headlamp: Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp

Dry Shirt to change into on the summit. You don’t want to be sitting/standing in your sweat as your body cools off, atop a windy summit. If you wear a bra, we’d also recommend changing it. 

Quick Dry Jacket for extra insulation/warmth

Puffer Jacket to stay warm

Rain/Wind Jacket to shield you from strong winds

Snack: Granola bar/muesli bar

Water


How to Get to the Gran Cir Trailhead: Passo Gardena

Passo Gardena to Gran Cir, Dolomites

The hike begins at Passo Gardena (Grödnerjoch in German, Jëuf de Frea in Ladin). 


Car 

Passo Gardena is accessible from Val Gardena or Val Badia along the paved serpentine SS243 road. 

During the high summer season (July, August), there’s a lot of congestion along this road. You’ll be sharing the road with motorcycles, e-bikes (damn technology!), cyclists (they seem to be multiplying each year!), and regional buses. Driving up here can be frustrating during the middle of the day. So, try to visit early.

Parking at Passo Gardena

There are several paid parking lots at the pass. 

The parking lot adjacent to Rifugio Frara on the Sella side is gated and requires payment as early as 7 am. After your hike, you can pay using cash, or cards, at the parking machine.

The paid parking lot on the Cir side requires a single fee of 6 EUR anytime between 8 am and 6 pm. Someone oversees this parking lot. You’ll pay them directly (cash only) and put the receipt in your dashboard. 


Transit

If you’re traveling without a car, you can access Passo Gardena by bus. Use the Südtirolmobil website to plan your trip. Alternatively, you can stay directly at the pass at Hotel Cir


Cableway

If you’re based in Selva, there’s no need to drive up to Passo Gardena. Hop on the Dantercepies cable car. The mountain station delivers you directly to trail 12A. Follow Trail 12A until you see the Gran Cir trail sign, steering you left. 


Gran Cir Trail Description


Passo Gardena to Rifugio Jimmy (15 minutes)

Passo Gardena, Italian Dolomites
Passo Gardena

First, head to Jimmyhütte, a mountain hut nestled at the base of the Cir peaks. 

If you parked at the gated parking lot (Sella-side), cross the street cautiously, and follow trail 2 (where the flower/wildlife info boards are) up to the Jimmy mountain hut. This is the clearest path. 

However, if you parked at the other parking lots (closer to the chapel), head towards Hotel Cir first. And, then follow the wide track to Jimmy hut.


Rifugio Jimmy to Gran Cir Trail Intersection (10 – 15 minutes)

Trail 12A, Gran Cir Hike, Dolomites
Trail 12A

When you reach Rifugio Jimmy, there will be a large terrace on your left and a small children’s playground on your right. Follow the narrow path leading uphill, past the playground and bird sculpture, to the trail 12A/2 intersection. Turn left onto the wide gravel track (12A). 

You’ll walk along the mostly level path for about 15 minutes, in the direction of the Dantercepies cableway station. 

Keep your eyes peeled for a Gran Cir trail sign on your right side.


Gran Cir Ascent (1 hour)

Gran Cir Hike, Dolomites

The ascent to Gran Cir is waymarked with painted red dots. Following the red waymarks, ascend a series of switchbacks up the gully.

The terrain is characterized by loose rocks and scree. After about 20 minutes of ascending, you’ll come to the base of the first fixed cable passage. 

Gran Cir via ferrata hike, Dolomites

Grasp the cable and ascend along the secured route (7 minutes max). Some of the rocks are semi-polished and slippery due to the high-volume foot traffic over time. After the fixed cable route ends, you’ll continue ascending. Some scrambling might be needed. 

You’ll hike to the base of another secured passage. Once you reach the top of this cable route, you’re almost at the top. 


Gran Cir Summit

Gran Cir Summit, Cir Group, Dolomites
Sella Group

Gran Cir is marked with a giant cross, like all notable peaks in the Alps. 

At the summit, the Sella Group steals the show. However, the view of the Chedul mountains flanking Chedul valley is also fantastic. You’ll also see Sassolungo/Langkofel, the razor-sharp Odle/Geisler Peaks, the Stevia Alp and the oval-shaped Col dala Pieres, Piz Duleda and the Puez Peaks, Sciliar/Schlern, and the Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm Plateau

Chedul, Col dala Pieres, Geisler Peaks, Duleda
Geisler Peaks, Col dala Pieres, Duleda, and Chedul

Gran Cir to Passo Gardena (1 hour)

Gran Cir Via Ferrata, Dolomites

Enjoy the view and descend safely the same way you came up.

Tip: If you want to extend your hike in the Cir Mountains, we recommend hiking to the summit of Sass da Ciampac.


Where to Stay for the Gran Cir Hike


Passo Gardena 

Passo Gardena, Dolomites

In addition to Gran Cir, Passo Gardena is the starting point for many interesting hikes including: Cima Pisciadù and Sass da Ciampac and the Crespëina High Plateau.

Midrange | Hotel Cir is situated directly at Passo Gardena. If you’re eager to hike early (before the crowds descend), or photograph sunrise and sunset, this is the best place to stay. Rooms are simple, but clean. The hotel offers a range of rooms including single, dormitory, and double rooms. Breakfast and dinner are available. 


Colfosco in Alta Badia

Colfosco, Alta Badia, Dolomites in Summer

Colfosco (Calfosch in Ladin) is the highest village in Alta Badia, situated at an elevation of 1645 meters, between Corvara and Passo Gardena. It lies at the foot of the Sella Group and Sassongher on the edge of Puez-Odle Nature Park. With mesmerizing views of the Sella Group, Colfosco is an excellent base for actively exploring Alta Badia. Its close proximity to Passo Gardena and Passo Sella, makes it easy to explore Val Gardena and Val di Fassa as well.

Budget-Midrange | Pension Mirandola is a family-run guesthouse with spotless rooms and an on-site restaurant (half board available). Stay here for the warm hospitality, affordability, and location. 

Midrange | Crëp Sella is a sparkling clean B&B with spacious and comfortable rooms. 

Luxury | Hotel Kolfuschgerhof excels on every level, from its excellent wellness facilities and superb Dolomites views to its fine dining, featuring local and Italian cuisine. The hotel’s design is a winning combination of Tyrolean chalet-style and alpine-modern. Expect extraordinary service and the best spa views of your life.

Luxury Apartments | We stayed at the stylish Aparthotel Lüch de Costa, a historical farmstead in Colfosco which was transformed into several high-end apartments in 2017. This unique accommodation is perfect for anyone who wants the independence of an apartment but the convenience and finer features of a hotel. Here’s what we loved:

Outstanding View. Each apartment has a view of the Sella Group. From our apartment, we could see the following Sella peaks: Dent de Mezdi, Mittagskofel (Cima di Mezzodi)l, Piz Pisciadu, Torre Colfosco, Sas da Lech, Brunecker Turm (Torre Bruneck), and Sas dla Luesa. 

Apartment Kitchen. The kitchen is outfitted with high-end Miele appliances, including an oven, stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator. With ample granite countertop space and every cooking utensil you could possibly need, this is an apartment you’ll actually want to cook in. If you’ve visiting the Dolomites in October, when many restaurants are closed, it’s ideal (Grab groceries in the Gourmet Spar in Corvara). Other Kitchen tools: microwave, cheese grater, citrus press, hot water cooker, electric Italian coffee maker (ask for directions), etc.. 

Daily Apartment Cleaning. Apartments are tidied up each day (bathroom/bedroom/living room), excluding the kitchen. However, the kitchen garbage is removed daily. 

Modern saunas, indoor pool, and outdoor whirlpool. Y’all know we love saunas. The steam sauna, bio hay sauna, and finnish sauna are heavenly.

Book your Stay at Lüch de Costa.

Look for accommodation in Colfosco


Selva in Val Gardena

Sassolungo Circuit, Dolomites

Selva di Val Gardena (Wolkenstein in German), the highest village in Val Gardena (1563 m), is blessed with a dramatic setting at the base of the Sella massif.

Selva is also the closest town to Passo Gardena, which is the mountain pass that connects Val Gardena to Val Badia (Alta Badia region), and Passo Sella, the mountain pass that connects Val Gardena to Val di Fassa. 

From Selva, we also recommend hiking the Vallunga Valley and Val de Chedul Circuit Trail, Piz Duleda Peak, Col dala Pieres Peak, the Sassolungo Circuit Trail, and the Oskar Schuster Via Ferrata.

Budget Hotel Garni Morene is a clean and comfortable family-run guesthouse, set in an idyllic location outside the town center of Selva. Stay here for the unbeatable price, mountain views, and hospitality. Breakfast included.

Midrange | Garni Hotel Bel Vert is a B&B in Selva, located on the Biancavieve Slope, outside the town center. Rooms are beautiful and spacious. There’s even a small spa. 3 nights minimum stay.

Midrange-Luxury | Hotel Freina is a welcoming family-run hotel in Selva with an excellent on-site restaurant (serving vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free options), wonderful spa, and free garage parking. 

Luxury | Hotel Tyrol is a traditional alpine hotel centrally located in Selva. The hotel’s restaurant offers creative interpretations of Ladin tradition with a Tuscan twist. Stay here for the cozy ambience, the wellness area (saunas, indoor and outdoor heated pool, indoor and outdoor whirlpool, salt cave with chromotherapy), and comfortable rooms. Outdoor parking is free and garage parking is an extra charge. 

Luxury | Hotel Sun Valley is a 4-star hotel with a feel-good atmosphere, nice rooms, friendly management and staff, and a great restaurant (half board available). The spa comprises an indoor pool, whirlpool, Tyrolean parlor sauna, Brechel bath with fresh pine branches, and a steam bath, and relaxation areas. 

Luxury | Linder Cycling Hotel stands out with its bold architecture, stylish urban accents, and laid-back atmosphere. Beyond the captivating design, Linder Cycling Hotel boasts excellent facilities, including a rooftop terrace, indoor pool, bar, and the à la carte Luis Eatery restaurant

Find an accommodation in Selva di Val Gardena.


Rules for Hiking to Gran Cir

When you visit Gran Cir, you’re hiking in Puez-Odle Nature Park. Please respect the environment adhere to the rules:

  • Wild camping is prohibited in the park. 
  • Always stay on marked trails and paths. This helps prevent damage to the meadows and alpine pastures.
  • Do not pick flowers.
  • Respect the habitat of animals. Do not make any unnecessary noise.
  • Do not fly drones.
  • Do not light fires.
  • Do not litter. Please take your garbage with you and dispose of it responsibly.
  • Do not touch, or approach grazing animals.


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


Car Rental

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.

Check car rental rates here


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:

We suggest choosing 2-4 bases for your Dolomites trip and spending 2-4 nights in each base.


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 di Braies, and Lago di Sorapis.


Dolomites Packing List

Hiking Gear

Outdoor Photography Gear


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:

Recommended Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone Guide: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites

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

2 thoughts on “Gran Cir Via Ferrata in the Dolomites, Italy”

  1. Hi, thanks for sharing nice content.

    Is the gran cir via ferrata open in april? I mean, Is the access forbidden or is it just not the best time
    Thanks!
    Willy

    Reply

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