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Val Gardena

A mix of Italian, Ladin and Austrian culture come together in Val Gardena to give the ski resorts of Ortisei, St Cristina and Selva their individual characters and charms. Connected by road and slope, you can move between the three villages, access the larger Dolomite ski area and enjoy leisurely evenings of seriously good food and wine.





At a glance: • Traditional • Linked ski area • Cross-country

Great for: • Families • Scenery • Culture

A mix of Italian, Ladin and Austrian culture come together in Val Gardena to give the ski resorts of Ortisei, St Cristina and Selva their individual characters and charms. Connected by road and slope, you can move between the three villages, access the larger Dolomite ski area and enjoy leisurely evenings of seriously good food and wine.

Val Gardena Region

Val Gardena is a 20km valley stretching itself through the Dolomite mountain range in the South Tyrolean region of Italy.

Austria is a bit to the north and the valley actually belonged to the Austrians before the First World War, leaving a mix of Austrian and Italian influence. To add to the diversity, 90% of the population speak the ancient Rhaeto-Romanic language, Ladin. This is why you’ll probably hear the area referred to by three different names; ‘Gröden’ in German and ‘Gherdëina’ in Ladin as well as the more widely used Italian ‘Val Gardena’.

First and foremost, this is a stunning place to be; the striking Dolomites, or Pale Mountains, provide a rocky platform for climbing and mountain biking activities in the summer and all-things-snow come winter. The jaw dropping Puez-Odle Nature Park is just half the story of the area’s UNESCO world heritage status, with the iconic peaks of the Sassolongo, the Sella Massif and the Marmolada not far off.

Sporadically along 8km of the valley you’ll find Val Gardena’s three mountain villages, each with its own unique character. Entering from the west side, you first reach Ortisei (1236m), also known as St Ulrich. It has a pedestrian friendly centre and via a gondola, you also have access to the highest mountain plateau in Europe at Alpe di Siusi.

Continue up the road from Ortisei and you’ll soon meet up with Santa Cristina (aka Sankt Christina at 1428m); the smallest and quietest of the three villages. If you like to begin the day with a choice of runs, finish it off with a quiet drink and enjoy a bit of local history thrown in along the way, you’ll love it here.

Last, but the opposite of least, is Selva or Wolkenstein (1563m); the most well-known resort and the largest in culture and atmosphere. The closest of the three to an enormous skiing area, it also has a diverse and fun-packed leisure programme.

Stats & FAQ

Location: Italy, The Dolomites

Open: December - May

Downhill: 175km

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 52km 30%

  • 105km 60%

  • 18km 10%

Highest Altitude:2518m
Lowest Altitude:1236m
No. lifts:82
No. runs:77
Slope Orientation:N, S, E, W
Night Skiing:Rasciesa
Glacier:Yes, Marmolada
Downhill Runs:175km
Beginner slopes:30%
Advanced slopes:10%
Lift Pass Price: Dolomiti Superski Pass: 210.00 €
Val Gardena Ski Pass: 194.00 €
Resorts: Ortisei, Selva, St Cristina, Dolomiti Superski

Skiing/BoardingSkiing in Val Gardena

The Val Gardena and Alpe di Siusi ski pass keeps things progressive if you’re a beginner, interesting if you are intermediate and fairly steady for the more advanced.

Each village has its own nursery area. The ones in the Selva and Santa Cristina are particularly good if you want to drop someone off as you can continue on up to the runs at Dantercepies or Ciamponoi. The blue runs at Piz Sella and Piz Seteur are great for those progressing while the gentle slopes, ski lessons and mythical witch tour at Alpe di Siusi (accessible from Ortisei) are sure to excite the little ones.

Intermediates will need to be good at the multi-tasking thing as the panorama from the Seceda side is enough to put off anyone’s concentration (look out for the Sassulongo). The 10.5 km La Longia run winds from 2518m all the way down to Ortisei and is a great way to enjoy the views.

Ciampinoi is great for accessing the other checklist areas in the Val Gardena area. Ski the Sella Ronda with the Dolomiti Superski pass (we prefer orange route) – the ‘Hidden Valley’ is also worth seeking out for an unforgettable descent.

For something more advanced, you can also tip yourself down the 839m vertical of the Saslong run, which is used for downhill world cup events, including the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup.

There are individual options for cross-country skiing across all three villages. The Vallunga Valley by Selva is a good place to start before completing the 8km track between the Val Gardena and Alpe di Siusi, across the Paluscmeadow. Monte Pana also has a good selection of clearly signposted trails.

Brush up on your freestyle at the Kinglaurin snow park or show-off your skills with the frequently run programs and 120m half pipe at the Piz Sella snowpark.

There are a variety of guided routes to get involved in, spiced up with a bit of history or slowed down with a particular view in mind.

Val Gardena Apres Ski

Whatever is done in Val Gardena is done pretty well. The activities are diverse, the gourmet experience leisurely and the bars a nice mix of lively and chilled. Ask your barman for a local favourite and he’ll probably serve you up with a Bombardino; a mixture of cognac and advocaat with variances and coffee editions.

Santa Cristina promises and delivers a bit of calm. There’s Café Andy and Crazy pub for a spot of leisurely après ski, or you can explore dainty little churches, the Castle Gardena and the old railway. Afterwards, have a Tyrolean dish at L Fudle or La Tambra, followed by an early night in or a night of dancing at Piz 5.

In Selva you’ll easily find the nearest bar, sun terrace or live music scene down your last run of the day. La Stua near the Costabella lift is always fairly animated, as is Hotel Piz Seteur at the bottom of the Sassolungo and Yello’s Music Lounge Bar in town. For pizza and pasta have a taste at La Bula or try out one of the local hotel restaurants for a bit of stylishness. Staying up later? Dali-Disco Dance and the Heustadl in the Hotel Wolkenstein is always a bit of fun.

Ortisei will also have a drink and patch of dancing space waiting, especially at Vinoteque La Cercia and the Siglu Bar. The Museum de Gherdeina and the Parish Church are two good places to soak up some history and culture. For the tastebuds, the Seceda Curona Hutte is a local secret, the Tubladel does a good international dish and Batie Sofie is the ideal setting for a glass of something on the slopes.

The St Cristina Iman centre and the Pranives Sports centre both have ice rinks and there’s a swimming pool over at Ortisei with Turkish baths nearby. Stay outside for a toboggan run, Husky-pulled dog sleigh ride or horse riding at Monte Pana.

Best time to go

Best time to ski Val Gardena

When is the best time to ski Val Gardena?

The Val Gardena ski season usually runs from December until midway through April. You’re bound to find a positive whatever time of year you go. All you really have to weigh up is the colder temperatures and darker evenings of the earlier months against the sunny potential and slushier endings of the later months. Mornings are a great time to sort out any curiosity you may have about the lower slopes and there’s always something satisfying about being the first one to ski down a patch of freshly pisted snow...

Disappointment in snow condition is made all the more rare by the decent altitude of the slopes (from 1236m all the way up to 2518m) and 90% snow canon coverage, perfect during the colder months of the season if the slopes need a little more dusting. You can’t go wrong with the snow sure Marmolada Glacier at 3342m; get a Dolomiti Superski pass and you can glide down a few kilometres of peak perfection in both snow and scenery – it’s stunning!

Peak Dates

Lights, camera, action and you have your perfect Christmas in Val Gardena, except there’s nothing staged in the mountains. The lights of the Tyrolean Christmas markets will put a twinkle in your eye and a trinket in your pocket, your camera should be fully charged because of the scenery and there’s plenty of festive action to get you nice and merry.

Spend New Year in Val Gardena and it should be a memorable week on the mountains. Past years have had a mixture of night skiing, torch-lit descents, music, fireworks and a chance to party on through to a brand new year at one of the main night clubs.

Get the family out to the dolomites for Half Term in Val Gardena. With 175km or 1200km of piste depending on the pass you go for, you can get the best ski school option or ski guide experience to really make your week one to take back to the classroom or office.

Easter in Val Gardena is a great time of year, with the possibility of good skiing and sunny slopes. A visit to the chocolatier in St Cristina, a day of glacier skiing with the extended pass or a drink in a deckchair and you pretty much have your bases covered.

Families in Val Gardena

If you’re travelling with children and plan to organise ski school, each resort has a good option. In Selva you have a choice of three: the Top Ski School, Ski School Selva as well as the Snowboard and Ski School 2000. Ski School St Cristina runs the usual courses and in Ortisei you have the Ski and Snowboard School Saslong and the Ski School Ortisei. Lots of the schools run ski show events and the St Cristina Ski school sometimes runs a kids week over the half term period. You also have a kid’s park over at Piz Sella.

Alpe di Siusi, accessed from Ortisei, dedicates a lot to children in terms of some gentle blues and even a Witches Tour for something a bit different. Intermediates will benefit more than beginners here but if you feel like venturing further than the nursery slopes, the blues around the Piz Sella and Piz Seteur area are a good choice. For a family day out if you’ve all skied a few times before, complete the full Sella Ronda circuit which has lots of restaurants dotted in and between the villages along the way.

Lots of the restaurants in Val Gardena are run by families so they like it when you bring along your own. Pop into La Tambra in Selva for a chilled-out pizza, L Fudle in St Cristina for a more sophisticated evening and the Seceda Curona Hutte in Ortisei for a real Tyrolean cuisine experience.

GroupsGroup Holidays Val Gardena

If your group are most concerned with the après side of things, you’ll find Selva and Ortisei are larger and livelier than St Cristina. If you all prefer to settle down in a corner and have a rather more tranquil drink, St Cristina is the place for you (you’ll ski past Baita Daniel and Baita Cuca if you’re on the Seceda side though and these make a livelier chill-out at zone). Things can get a bit raucous over at Hotel Piz Seteur near Selva, with music and the famous GoGo girls. For a more sophisticated post-run-of-the-day drink there’s Yello’s Music Lounge Bar. It is not unusual to see a group or two taking the party to the early hours of the morning, Piz 5 in St Cristina, Dali-Disco Dance and the Heustadl in Selva and Igloo or Vinoteque La Cercia in Ortisei should be more than welcoming.

Ski routes can be planned in accordance with group ability. For beginners, the nursery slopes are quite well-placed in St Cristina and Selva so more advanced members can continue up the mountain after the morning drop-off. For a real day trip, the Sella Ronda takes an average of 6 hours to complete. Lots of people tend to hare round and miss out on the more idyllic divergences such as the Edelweiss valley or the Hidden Valley at Lagazuoi – well worth stopping off to explore.

Non-skiers have lots of options waiting to fill the day. With the shopping in Ortisei, culture in St Cristina and liveliness of Selva you’ll probably want to explore all three and the bus system will easily sort you out for this. Ortisei’s Museum de Gherdëina has exhibited some amazing gothic artwork in the past whilst St Cristina showcases the traditional wood carving trade rather well. It also has a sweet little church or two and the option to walk up to the Castel Gardena. You can mooch along the old railway line from the village; it’s signposted with descriptions down its route. For a more active day, there’s ice skating in the sports centres, horse-riding at Monte Pana, snowshoeing excursions and an indoor tennis centre.

Whether it’s the cheap and cheerful or a lot of luxury that you’re after, there are some superb hotels and chalets across the Val Gardena valley. Getting a chalet for sole occupancy means you can all have the property to yourselves, making the whole week a lot more relaxing. Hotels are great for the use of the facilities – swimming pools are perfect for keeping kids happy in the evenings and while one adult draws the short straw to supervise, the others can head off to the wellness facilities. In both accommodation types, you can all sit together at mealtimes, have a good old chat and enjoy the ambience of the food and service.

More Val Gardena Holiday Resources

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