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

  1. Stelvio National Park
  2. Aosta Valley
  3. Pale di San Martino Group
  4. Puez-Odle Nature Park
  5. Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park
  6. Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park
  7. Sella Group
  8. Sesto Dolomites

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1. Stelvio National Park

Ortler High Mountain Trail, Stelvio National Park, Italian Alps
Ortler High Trail
  • Mountain Range: Ortler Alps 

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

La Suche, Mont Blanc massif, Courmayeur, Italian Alps Hiking Destinations

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

Courmayeur


3. Pale di San Martino Group

Pale di San Martino, Italian Alps Dolomites
  • Mountain Range: Dolomites
  • Italian Provinces: Trentino and Belluno

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. The Pale di San Martino mountains tower 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.

Other hiking highlights include the circuit trail from Val Venegia to Rifugio Mulaz.


Pale di San Martino Hiking Trails


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, Italian Alps
  • Mountain Range: Dolomites
  • Italian Province: South Tyrol

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


Puez Odle Hiking Base

Ortisei, Val Gardena

Learn More: How to Visit Ortisei, Val Gardena

Santa Maddalena, Val di Funes

Learn More: How to Visit Heavenly Val di Funes


5. Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park

Tierser Alpl, Alpe di Tires, Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park, Italian Alps
  • Mountain Range: Dolomites 
  • Italian Provinces: South Tyrol and Trentino

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


Sciliar-Catinaccio Hiking Base

Alpe di Siusi

Carezza, Eggental


6. Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park

Armentara Meadows, Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park, Italian Alps
  • Mountain Range: Dolomites 
  • Italian Province: South Tyrol

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


Fanes-Sennes-Braies Hiking Base

San Cassiano, Alta Badia

La Villa, Alta Badia

Learn More: Alta Badia Summer Guide


7. Sella Group

Sella Group, Italian Alps Hiking Destinations
  • Mountain Range: Dolomites 
  • Italian Provinces: South Tyrol, Trentino, Belluno

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.

Though hiking in Sella is thrilling, the best views of the massif are from afar. We recommend hiking to Monte Pic or Gran Cir, for the most memorable views of beautiful Sella. 


Sella Group Hiking Trails


Sella Group Hiking Base

Colfosco, Alta Badia

Corvara, Alta Badia


8. Sesto Dolomites

Cadini di Misurina, Sexten Dolomites, Italian Alps
  • Mountain Range: Dolomites
  • Italian Provinces: South Tyrol and Belluno

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


Sexten Dolomites Hiking Base

Upper Puster Valley

We recommend staying in the villages of Sesto (Sexten), San Candido (Innichen), or Dobbiaco (Toblach) in the Upper Puster Valley (Val Pusteria in Italian, Hochpustertal in German). These towns are part of the Three Peaks Region of South Tyrol.


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