The Italian Alps arch across six regions of Northern Italy: Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Lombardy, Trentino – South Tyrol, Veneto, and Friuli Venezia Giulia. The northwest of Italy is dominated by massive glaciated peaks and the highest mountains in the alpine chain (e.g. Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Matterhorn) while the northeast of Italy is defined by craggy limestone massifs.
The geological and cultural diversity of the Italian Alps is one of the reasons why hiking in Northern Italy is so interesting. Visit Aosta Valley, and you’ll be surrounded by snow-capped crystalline peaks and medieval castles. Visit German- and Ladin-speaking South Tyrol-Trentino, and you’ll step into the heart of the Dolomites, where jagged peaks collide with dreamy alpine pastures.
In this guide to hiking in the Italian Alps, we’re highlighting our favorite destinations, hiking trails, and places to stay.
Italian Alps Hiking Destinations
- Stelvio National Park
- Aosta Valley
- Pale di San Martino Group
- Puez-Odle Nature Park
- Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park
- Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park
- Sella Group
- Sesto Dolomites
This post links to products and services we love, which we may make a small commission from, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our blog!! – Sabrina and Kati
1. Stelvio National Park
Stelvio National Park (Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio/Nationalpark Stilfserjoch) is a nature reserve straddling the regions of Lombardy and South Tyrol-Trentino. The park encompasses almost the entire Ortler – Cevedale Group, a prominent mountain range named after Mount Ortler (3905 m).
You can access the park from Val Martello/Martelltal Valley, Solda/Sulden, Stelvio/Stilfs, Trafoi, Val d’Ultimo/Ultental Valley, and other valleys.
We ventured to Stelvio National Park in order to hike part of the Ortler High Trail, a multi-day hiking trail that wraps around the Ortler Massif. Here’s our Ortler High Trail trekking guide.
If you’re visiting the region on a road trip, we highly recommend hiking from Stelvio Pass, the highest paved mountain pass in Italy, to Rifugio Forcola/Furkelhütte along the Goldseeweg Trail. This easy path affords some of the best views of the Ortler Alps and you’ll be descending the whole time.
For delicious food and views, stay at Hotel Bella Vista in Trafoi. From the village of Trafoi, take a bus to Stelvio Pass and hike 3 hours down to the Rifugio Forcola/Furkelhütte mountain hut. From the hut, descend back to Trafoi via the Trafoi Chairlift. Alternatively, you can ascend with the Trafoi Chairlift to Rifugio Forcola/Furkelhütte and do an out-and-back hike to Stelvio Pass.
While you’re in Val Venosta, also check out the Solda Glacier Trail.
2. Aosta Valley
Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta) is an autonomous region in Northern Italy, nestled between France, Switzerland, and the Piedmont region. Aosta is home to Roman ruins, medieval fortresses, and the highest mountains in the Alps.
Hikers journey to Valle d’Aosta in order to hike at the foot of the mighty Mont Blanc massif. The world-famous Tour du Mont Blanc long-distance hiking trail circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif, passing through Aosta Valley. For easy-going day hikes, we recommend heading to the resort town of Courmayeur and hiking through Val Veny and Val Ferret.
Another very popular hiking destination is Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy’s first national park dating back to 1922. From Aosta Valley, you can enter the park from Valle di Cogne, Valsavarenche, and Valle di Rhêmes.
The park’s history is tied to the protection of 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.
Learn More: Best Things to Do in Aosta Valley, Italy
Aosta Valley Hiking Base
- Budget: Hotel Vallée Blanche
- Midrange: Villa Novecento Romantic Hotel
- Luxury: Hotel Auberge De La Maison
3. Pale di San Martino Group
Pale di San Martino is a majestic Dolomites mountain group in Trentino and Belluno, between the Primiero, Valle del Biois, and Agordino Valleys.
About 300 million years ago, the Pale di San Martino Group was an atoll, a ring-shaped coral reef, in the Tethys Ocean (source). The mountains you see today are these ancient coral reefs, which have been weathered and shaped by the elements over millennia.
For hiking, base yourself in San Martino di Castrozza, a resort town in Primiero Valley. Pale di San Martino towers above the sloping Pirimiero Valley, forming a vertiginous wall of towering peaks. At sunset, these dolomite peaks burn like flames.
Directly from the town center, you can hop on the Col Verde gondola followed by the Rosetta cableway to access the central plateau of the range. The lunar-like Altopiano delle Pale di San Martino looks like a bleached-stone ocean.
For the best views of the range, we recommend hiking from the Passo Rolle mountain pass to the Baita Segantini alpine pasture hut. This easy hike is best tackled in the late afternoon.
Pale di San Martino Hiking Trails
- Pala di San Martino Circuit: Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Pradidali, San Martino di Castrozza
- Cima della Vezzana, San Martino di Castrozza
- Val Venegia to Rifugio Mulaz, Val Venegia
- Baita Segantini, Passo Rolle
Pale di San Martino Hiking Base
San Martino di Castrozza, Trentino
Learn More: Top Things to Do in San Martino di Castrozza
4. Puez-Odle Nature Park
Puez-Odle Nature Park (Naturpark Puez-Geisler in German) is located in South Tyrol between Val Gardena, Val Badia, and Val di Funes. The park comprises two prominent Dolomites mountain groups: the Odle Mountains and the Puez Mountains.
In 2009, Puez-Odle Nature Park was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status due to its scenic beauty and its geomorphological and geological significance.
Home to some of the most instantly recognizable peaks in the Italian Alps, Puez-Odle Nature Park delights from every possible vantage point and trail. Atop Seceda, the Fermeda Peaks look like knives, ready to be wielded with precision. From the Val di Funes Alpine Pastures, the razor-sharp Odle spires look like jagged teeth, stabbing the sky.
You can explore the park from multiple valleys: Val di Funes, Val Gardena, Val d’Anna, Val Badia, Val de Longiarù, Val d’Eores, Val de Chadul, and Vallunga.
Read Next: Ultimate Guide to Puez-Odle Nature Park
Puez Odle Hiking Trails
- Adolf Munkel Trail, Val di Funes
- Rifugio Genova Circuit, Val di Funes
- Tullen Summit, Val di Funes
- Seceda to Rifugio Firenze/Regensburger Hütte, Val Gardena
- Resciesa Plateau to Seceda, Val Gardena
- Monte Pic and Seceda, Val Gardena
- Col dala Pieres, Val Gardena
- Gran Cir, Passo Gardena
- Rifugio Puez: Across the Gherdenacia Plateau, Alta Badia
- Sass de Putia Circuit, Passo delle Erbe, Alta Badia
Puez Odle Hiking Base
Ortisei, Val Gardena
Ortisei is a the largest town in Val Gardena. This is a perfect base for anyone who wants easy access to the Odle/Geisler peaks and Resciesa Plateau. It’s also one of the best places to stay in the Dolomites, if you’re traveling without a car.
- Budget: Casa al Sole
- Midrange: Chalet Hotel Hartmann – Adults Only
- Luxury: Hotel Angelo Engel (photo)
- Luxury: Alpin Garden Luxury Maison – Adults Only
Learn More: How to Visit Oritsei, Val Gardena
Santa Maddalena, Val di Funes
Santa Maddalena is located in the upper part of Val di Funes at an elevation of 1339 meters. From the village, you’ll have easy access to the main attractions of the valley: the Santa Maddalena Church, the Santa Maddalena Panoramic Trail, Church of St. John of Nepomuk (Chiesetta di San Giovanni) in Ranui, and the Zannes/Zans trailhead in Puez-Odle Nature Park.
Learn More: How to Visit Val di Funes
5. Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park
Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park (Naturpark Schlern-Rosengarten in German) encompases the Sciliar Massif, Catinaccio Group, and part of the Alpe di Siusi Plateau.
Popular hiking destinations include the Sciliar plateau, Vajolet Towers, and Lake Antermoia.
This Italian Alps hiking destination is particularly appealing because of its many perfectly-positioned mountain huts. The red-roofed Rifugio Alpe di Tires/Tierser Alpl is situated at the foot of the Denti di Terrarossa/Rosszähne peaks. Rifugio Bolzano/Schlernhaus sits atop the Sciliar plateau, facing the Catinaccio, Latemar, and Sassolungo mountain groups. Rifugio Alberto/Gartlhütte is positioned at the base of the Vajolet Towers. And, Rifugio Passo Principe/Grasleitenpasshütte is wedged between Rosengartenspitze and Kesselkogel.
You can approach the park from Val di Fassa, Alpe di Siusi, Eggental, Val Duron, and Val di Ciamin/Tschamintal.
Sciliar-Catinaccio Hiking Trails
- 3-Day Rosengarten Traverse, Carezza, Eggental
- Rifugio Bolzano – Rifugio Alpe di Tires, Compaccio, Alpe di Siusi
- Alpe di Siusi to Rifugio Alpe di Tires, Compaccio, Alpe di Siusi
Sciliar-Catinaccio Hiking Base
Alpe di Siusi
Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm in German, Mont Sëuc in Ladin) is the largest high-alpine pasture in Europe, covering a surface area of 56 square kilometers.
From this gorgeous plateau, you can hike to the Sciliar/Schlern massif and enter the legendary realm of King Laurin´s Rose Garden.
Learn More: How to Visit Alpe di Siusi
Carezza, Val d’Ega
Val d’Ega/Eggental is a valley in South Tyrol located between the Catinaccio and Latemar massifs. The tiny hamlet of Carezza is a perfect place to stay, when you want to hike the Santner via ferrata to the Vajolet Towers.
We stayed in Sporthotel Alpenrose, an excellent 4-star hotel situated adjacent to the Paolina Chairlift valley station. The hotel’s mountain views are spectacular.
6. Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park
The UNESCO World Heritage Site Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park (Naturpark Fanes-Sennes-Prags in German) is bounded by Val Badia in the west, Val di Braies in the north, Valle di Landro to the east, and Val Travenanzes in the south. The park is characterized by rocky highlands surrounded by a ring of steep mountains.
Dolomites visitors flock to this corner of the Italian Alps to behold the pearl of the Dolomites, Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee.
Our favorite hiking destination in Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park is the romantic Armentara Plateau. Perfect for gentle strolling, the rolling meadows of Armentara extend to the base of the imposing Sasso delle Croce (Sas Dla Crusc, Kreuzkofel Gruppe) rock wall.
Fanes-Sennes-Braies Hiking Trails
- Rifugio Fanes and Rifugio Lavarella, Alta Badia
- Path of the Larches, Alta Badia
- Armentara Meadows, Alta Badia
- Hochalpenkopf, Alta Pusteria
- Lago di Braies, Alta Pusteria
- Alta Via 1, a long-distance hiking trail that starts at Lago di Braies
Fanes-Sennes-Braies Hiking Base
San Candido, Alta Pusteria
San Candido is a historic village in Alta Pusteria/Pustertal with a romantic and lively town center. The village sits at the base of the craggy Monte Baranci/Haunold mountain, one of the most attractive mountains in the Dolomites.
San Candido is an ideal base for exploring both the Braies/Prags and Sesto/Sexten Dolomites.
We highly recommend staying in Naturhotel Letilhof. Leitlhof easily enchants visitors with its Sexten mountain views, panoramic outdoor pool, crescent-shaped wellness area, and spacious bedrooms. But, its the gourmet cuisine that will completely dazzle you.
La Villa or San Cassiano in Alta Badia
San Cassiano and La Villa are two villages in Val Badia which are perfect bases for exploring the Fanes Group of Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park.
Recommended Places to Stay in San Cassiano:
- Camping + guesthouse: Camping Sass Dlacia
- Budget: Residence Ada
- Midrange: La Stua
- Luxury: Lagació Hotel Mountain Residence
Recommended Places to Stay in La Villa
Learn More: Alta Badia Summer Hiking Guide
7. Sesto Dolomites
The Sesto/Sexten Dolomites form the northeasternmost group of the Italian Dolomites and are located in the provinces of South Tyrol and Belluno. These mountains are bounded by Puster Valley in the north, Sesto Valley in the east, Val d’Ansiei in the south, and Höhlensteintal in the west.
The most popular hiking trail in the Sesto Mountains is the circuit trail around Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen, which are three colossal peaks located on the border between South Tyrol and Belluno.
During the First World War, battles were fought in the Sexten Dolomites between the Italian and Austrian troops. For years, the opposing sides tried to defend and expand their positions under the most adverse conditions. They braved high altitudes, the snow, avalanches, supply difficulties, and of course loneliness. Evidence of the war is still ever-present throughout these mountains. To learn more about WWI, consider visiting the Bellum Aquilarum open-air museum.
Sexten Dolomites Hiking Trails
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit Trail, starting at Rifugio Auronzo, Belluno
- 3-day Tre Cime di Lavaredo Trek, starting in Val Fiscalina, South Tyrol
- Sexten Dolomites Hiking Guide
Sexten Dolomites Hiking Base
Val Fiscalina, Sesto
The best base for exploring the northern Sexten Dolomites is Sesto/Sexten Valley and its side valley Val Fiscalina/Fischleintal in South Tyrol.
There are two fabulous hotels in Val Fiscalina:
We wrote about our experiences staying in both hotels in our Sexten Dolomites Hiking Guide.
8. Sella Group
The Sella Group is a flat-topped massif bounded by Val Badia, Val Gardena, Val di Fassa, and Valle di Fodom.
Our favorite hike in the Sella Group is Cima Pisciadu, which starts at Passo Gardena, the mountain pass between Val Gardena and Val Badia. After a gentle beginning, the trail quickly ascends the rock-laden Val Setus to Lake Pisciadu. From here, it’s one more hour to the summit.
Sella Group Hiking Trails
- Cima Pisciadu, Passo Gardena
Sella Group Hiking Base
Colfosco, Alta Badia
Colfosco is located between Corvara and Passo Gardena/Grödnerjoch. It’s the highest village in Val Badia and the perfect base for anyone who wants to divide their time between Alta Badia and Val Gardena.
We love Colfosco because of its views of the Sella Group and its proximity to Passo Gardena. From the pass, you can conquer peaks in both the Sella Group and the Cir Group (e.g. Gran Cir).
- Budget: Mountain Hotel Mezdì
- Luxury Aparthotel: Lüch de Costa
- Luxury: Hotel Kolfuschgerhof
- New: Romantik Hotel Cappella
And while you’re there, connect with us on Pinterest!
If you thought this post was helpful, follow us on Instagram @moonhoneytravelers
Plan your trip to the Dolomites: