Summer holidays to Ortisei, Italy for summer 2023 & 2024 with SNO® Summer holidays to Ortisei, Italy for summer 2023 & 2024 with SNO® Summer holidays to Ortisei, Italy for summer 2023 & 2024 with SNO®
Highlights: • UNESCO protected landscape • Val Gardena’s biggest town
Whether you’re a short-stroller or long-haul hiker, worldly wayfarer or footpath fledgling – walking in the Dolomites should be on everyone’s bucket list. The Gardena Valley has routes galore, taking you to panoramic plateaus and ridges with boulders to scramble, meadows to roam and rivers to traipse along. It’s not uncommon for the tourist office to put on guided walks, and they usually publish a route map each year if you’d rather explore solo.
One of our top walks from Ortisei (actually a Dolomite-wide favourite) sets off from the Furnes middle station then leads over to the Resciesa cableway. The route goes via the Sella Cuca saddle and Monte Pana wind gap, starting relatively easily then getting more challenging as you descend over a gaggle of rocks. Thankfully it passes the Brogles hutte which serves a smashing strudel and some corking views of the Odle peaks – thought to be the most beautiful bit of the Dolomites.
You can’t visit Ortisei without hiking into Alpe di Siusi - the largest mountain plateau on the continent with pastures for miles ringed by gargantuan peaks. One good route goes along the Rio Gardena into the Jender valley to the village of Saltria. If you’re hungry for more, Saltria’s a super starting point for hiking the Sassolungo, Sciliar or Sasso Piatto mountains, or heading over to the settlement of Compatsch/Compaccio.
There’s still oodles of choice if you want something easier on the limbs – let the lifts take care of the climb and enjoy scenic ambles and long mountain hut lunches. There are some lovely routes at valley level too - anyone with kids in tow should head to the Seceda cable car base station, then walk over the bridge and downstream through forest into the Val d’Anna. The path leads to a meadow and playground which little ‘uns go wild for.
Being bang in the centre of Val Gardena gives you no end of terrain to explore on two wheels. The valley has dozens of mountain bike routes to master, served by a bike-friendly lift system and Ortisei’s a big enough base to make finding hire bikes, service and repair centres a breeze.
Both the Seceda and Rescia lifts lead to some spectacular trails – opening up gorgeously scenic routes in the Puez Odle Nature Park. Seceda happens to be home to the best singletrack in the valley – hop on the lift, head up to the ridge and drop down the trail, stopping at the Pieralongia and Regensburget huts then continuing down to Selva.
You’ve several Dolomite passes on your doorstep - Passo Gardena and the Passo Sella both within Val Gardena, and other beauties found further out. Ride four in one fell swoop on the Sella Ronda tour, a not-too-testing route that packs in one hell of a punch when it comes to Dolomite scenery.
There are also shorter, flatter routes aplenty, and the E-bike offerings seem to be improving each year if you want to try the more strenuous stretches with the boost of battery power. For some pedalling pointers, the MTB Bike School Ortisei run a bike park in the centre where beginners can learn the ropes, and more experienced riders can have a crack at jumps and tricks.
This baroque style parish church is dedicated to Saint Ulrich and appeared in the history books in 1342. In it you can see some excellent evidence of the local woodcarving trade.
St Antonio’s is a renaissance style chapel built in the 1670’s. If you go inside, look out for the oil paintings by Josef Moroder-Lusenberg.
Above the town and amid the forest, this charming church is accessed by some super footpaths. Dedicated to St Jacob, this is thought to be Val Gardena’s oldest church, supposedly the work of the Counts of Stättenecke in the 13th century – in it, you can see gothic frescos and a baroque alter.
This museum of local heritage is in the village centre and displays some interesting exhibits concerning natural and cultural history in the area. Favourite features include antique wooden toys and fossils showing evidence of the Dolomites life as a coral reef, millions of years ago.
This gallery is part of the Typak Centre which is located near the entrance to Ortisei. Woodcarving has been part of Ortisei life for centuries and the gallery showcases some incredible hand carved creations. Every summer, Unika host a sculptor’s fair in the tennis centre at Roncadizza – worth checking out if it’s on while you’re here.
Between the parish church and Antonius church, the pedestrianised part of the village is thought to be the Dolomites’ most beautiful shopping street. It has some gorgeous boutiques and cafes which you can while away hours wandering between.
Spanning the Odle, Puez and Sass de Putia mountains, this parkland totals over 10,000 acres including some stunning rock formations. The area is UNESCO protected and features some fabulous hikes.
With over a thousand different grips, this bouldering hall is just the place for climbers to practice skills or kill time on a rainy day.
Ortisei usually hosts two markets through the summer months – one farmer’s market at the church square and another market in Via Stazione.
Selva (13 min drive, 2 hour walk) - Selva’s the highest of the Val Gardena villages and a cracking place to explore with chapels, castles and gorgeous hiking and cycling routes.
St Cristina (7 min drive, 1 hour walk) – a village of peace, quiet and sunshine in lovely Val Gardena, St Cristina puts on some fascinating cultural events in the summer months.
Compatsch / Compaccio (7 min drive, 2.5 hour walk) – this is the biggest settlement in Alpe di Suisi (the highest alpine plateau in Europe) and has excellent mountain lift connections to the rest of the area.
Alta Badia (40 minute drive) – the Alta Badia valley neighbours Val Gardena, home to the villages of San Cassiano, Badia, Corvara, Colfosco and La Val. In it you’ll find rolling meadows and some of the finest food in the Dolomites.