Santa Maddalena (St. Magdalena in German) is a village in Val di Funes (Villnösstal) in South Tyrol, Italy. This small mountain village is home to the historic Santa Maddalena Church, which is one of the most popular photo motifs in the region. It’s also the start of an excellent panoramic hike.
We love visiting Val di Funes. Usually, we scurry up to the Zannes mountain pasture to hike in Puez-Odle Nature Park. However, during our last trip to the Dolomites, we decided to hike the Panorama Trail (“Panoramaweg” in German) and the Sunny-side Trail (“Sunnseitnweg”), which when linked together creates an easy, scenic circuit hike.
The Santa Maddalena Panorama trail traverses meadows, pockets of forest, and historic Tirolean farmsteads along narrow footpaths as well as low trafficked paved roads.
You’ll see the very best views of the Odle/Geisler Peaks, which form the dramatic backdrop of Santa Maddalena Church. If you’re trying to reach the famous Santa Maddalena photo spot, follow this trail guide. It’ll lead you right there in 20-25 minutes.
This hike gives you a great overview of the Funes/Villnöss Valley. It’s the perfect outing for arrival days, or late afternoon/early evening strolls.
Santa Maddalena Val di Funes Panorma Trail Loop
- Trailhead: Santa Maddalena Village, Val di Funes, South Tyrol
- Distance: 9.5 km circuit
- Time Needed: 3:30 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 380 meters ascending/descending
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum Elevation: 1196 m
- Maximum Elevation: 1394 m
- Route: Santa Maddalena Village – Santa Maddalena Church – Vikolerhof – Runggatschhof – Gsoihof – Austillerhof – Santa Maddalena Church – Santa Maddalena Village
- When to Hike: May – October
- Where to Stay: Fallerhof Apartments (budget), Hotel Fines (midrange), or Hotel Tyrol (luxury) in Santa Maddalena, Val di Funes.
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Panoramaweg and Sunnseitenweg Hiking Map
Where to Stay in Santa Maddalena, Val di Funes
The best place to stay for this hike and any other hike starting in Val di Funes is the village of Santa Maddalena. Here are three central options for every budget:
Budget | Fallerhof is an active farm and a great-value apartment-style accommodation with stunning views of the Geisler Group. It’s a short walk to the Santa Maddalena Church (5 minutes) and the famous Chiesetta di San Giovanni in Ranui (15 minutes). It’s also an 11-minute drive (or 1.5-hour walk) to the Zannes/Zans trailhead. Breakfast is available upon request.
Midrange | Hotel Fines is a welcoming, 3-star hotel in Santa Maddalena, owned by a young and enthusiastic team. Guests love the rich breakfast buffet, central location, and hotel restaurant. Definitely book half board (breakfast and dinner) here. The DolomitiMobil Card is free for all guests.
Luxury | Hotel Tyrol Dolomites is a family-run hotel in Santa Maddalena. This is the best place to stay when you want to combine outdoor exploration with wellness and relaxation. Their wellness area encompasses a Finnish sauna, steam bath, outdoor pool, whirlpool, and a garden with sun loungers and parasols. However, the main reason to stay here is their South Tyrolean cuisine, made with locally sourced ingredients. The DolomitiMobil Card is free for all guests. Tip: book half board and book a room with a Dolomites view (“Geisler Blick”).
Santa Maddalena Panoramaweg Trailhead
This hike begins directly in the village center of Santa Maddalena in Val di Funes.
To find out how to get here (car or bus), read How to Visit Val di Funes.
We started this trail directly at Hotel Tyrol, where we were staying. However, you can start anywhere in Santa Maddalena. We’ve marked the parking lots in Santa Maddalena on the map above. As of 2021, parking is free.
Note: you cannot drive directly to the Santa Maddalena Church.
Rules for Respectfully Visiting Santa Maddalena in Val di Funes
There are clear signs indicating how to respectfully visit. We’ve summarized the main points below:
- Stay on marked trails. Do not hike across the meadows and fields (“Wiesen” in German).
- Do not fly drones anwhere near the Santa Maddalena church or along the Panoramaweg trail.
- Parking is forbidden along the Magdalenaweg road and Panoramaweg trail.
Santa Maddalena Val di Funes Panorama Hike Trail Description
Santa Maddalena Village to Santa Maddalena Church (10 – 15 minutes)
Santa Maddalena is home to about 370 inhabitants and is located in the upper part of the valley at 1339 meters. The village is tightly packed with homes, apartments, and hotels. This is the best base for exploring the valley and the trails leading into Puez-Odle Nature Park: Adolf Munkel Trail, Rifugio Genova Circuit, and Tullen Summit.
The Santa Maddalena Church is located above the village at an elevation of 1394 meters.
When you arrive in Santa Maddalena, head in the direction of Hotel Tyrol along the Kirchweg (“church path”) street. Hotel Tyrol has a striking, alpine modern facade – it’s easy to spot. Continue uphill to the Fallerhof Farm. As you ascend, the church is already visible ahead.
At Fallerhof Farm, turn left (trail 26/Kirchweg), passing in front of a large modern barn, home to dairy cows, and an enclosure of birds (chickens, ducks, and turkeys).
After a few meters, the trail veers right and uphill. This pathway leads directly to the Santa Maddalena Church.
The Santa Maddalena church is open to visitors. There’s no fee to enter. The interior is small and bright and dominated by baroque elements. The stone church dates back to the late 14th century. However, its location has been a place of pagan worship and sacrifice since prehistoric times.
Santa Maddalena Church to Santa Maddalena Photo Spot (10 minutes)
After visiting the church, continue north along the paved Magdalenaweg road. The road descends and you’ll soon pass the Plauer farmstead. After crossing the bridge over the Blauer Bach stream, keep your eyes out for a “Panoramaweg” trail sign on your right side.
Next to a sloping field, this narrow footpath ascends quickly for about 2 minutes. When the trail intersects with the paved road, you’ve arrived at the famous Santa Maddalena photo location.
Even if you’ve seen the photo a million times, words can’t quite capture how magical it is to experience it in person.
It’s a scene of unbelievable contrast. The piercing pinnacles of the Odle/Geisler group form the formidable backdrop of the tiny Santa Maddalena church, surrounded by rolling fields. I wish I could travel back in time to see which pagan festivities took place here.
Panoramaweg Trail (1 hour)
Walk uphill along the road until you see the “Panoramaweg” trail sign, directing you west (left). Follow this pathway for about 150 meters to another trail intersection. Take the left trail. You’ll continue heading west for some time. The undulating Panorama trail leads between meadows and forest.
After about 30 minutes along the Panorama trail, you’ll arrive at a trail juncture with a sign to Sunnseitenweg (also spelled Sunnseitnweg or Sunnenseitenweg). This path is a shortcut. If you have less time, you can hike down this trail and join the Sunnseitenweg early, heading back to Santa Maddalena.
Otherwise, continue along the Panoramaweg for another 20 minutes.
Bergbauernweg (30 minutes)
Note: the trail gets a bit more confusing. We recommend buying at Tabacco 030 Brixen – Villnössertal Map to better follow the trail. You can also use Maps.me and star/mark some of the farms mentioned below, so you know where you’re going.
When the Panoramaweg trail ends, you’ll continue on the Bergbauernweg (“mountain farm trail”), marked as trail 11 (direction: Vikoler Bild) on maps. Follow trail 11 right and uphill, along a wooden fence.
This part of the trail was a bit weird. Hang in there. You’ll hike uphill to SP163.
You’ll soon reach the SP163 road, where there’s a tiny white chapel and a bus stop. Cross the road cautiously. This is the road that leads to Passo delle Erbe (more info here: Sass de Putia hike), one of the most stunning mountain passes in the Dolomites.
The trail steeply ascends through the forest in the direction of the Vikoler Jöchl (small mountain pass). You’ll hike through the Vikolerhof Farm and then descend to the Rungatschhof Farm along a paved road. Follow signs to St. Peter.
Follow the road through the Rungatschhof Farm. Just after passing the lowest building, bare left and descend across the sloping meadow. You’ll dip into a forest and then arrive at a trail intersection. Turn left, following signs to Sunnseitenweg.
Sunnseitnweg (1 hour)
Now you’re walking east towards the Odle/Geisler Peaks.
You’ll cross the SP163 road once more and continue to the Gsoihof farm (you can eat here).
Follow the road to another tiny chapel dating back to 1831.
The main Val di Funes valley road is just below.
At the next road intersection, head left towards Austillerhof farm. Shortly after passing the Austillerhof farm, the trail cuts left (uphill) across a meadow, leaving the road.
The Sunnseitenweg trail runs parallel to the panorama trail, just at a slightly lower elevation.
After 35 minutes walking along the Sunnseitenweg, you’ll rejoin the Panoramaweg. Follow the familiar trail back down to Santa Maddalena.
Golden Hour and Sunset Views of Santa Maddalena Church
After hiking the Panorama Trail, we returned to Hotel Tyrol for dinner. After dessert, we decided to walk back up to the viewpoint to watch the sunset. Luckily, it’s only a 20-minute walk from the village to the viewpoint.
More hikes in Val di Funes:
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Plan your trip to the Dolomites:
- Dolomites Travel Guide
- Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
- Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites
- 7-Day Dolomites Road Trip Itinerary
- Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
Where to Stay in the Dolomites:
Our Favorite Destinations in the Dolomites:
- Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Alta Badia
- Val Gardena
- San Martino di Castrozza
- Ortisei, Val Gardena
- Alpe di Siusi
- Sexten Dolomites
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