A Guide to Alpe di Siusi | Italy’s Alpine Paradise

mountain huts on the alpe di siusi with the sassolungo mountain range in the background
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My ultimate guide to visiting the Alpe di Siusi / Seiser Alm, including essential travel information, hikes, accommodation recommendations, and responsible travel tips for planning your own epic stay.


After an hour of walking in the dark, I’m beginning to wonder what I’ve let myself in for. Then, at the top of a winding mountain road, I see the most improbable sight.

A vast alpine meadow rolls out before me, gentle hills meandering towards distant mountain spires. The entire world glows gold in the light of the rising sun.

This is the incredible Alpe di Siusi, also known as Seiser Alm, hidden away in the highest reaches of the Dolomites.

Europe’s largest high altitude alpine plateau is more than just a vision in shades of sunlight. Working farms are dotted across the mountain pasture. You’re just as likely to come across horses and cows as photographers searching for the perfect composition. The imposing peaks of the Sassolungo and Sasso Piatto tower over all.

Spring brings a carpet of wildflowers that simply add to the magic of the location. In summer it’s a hikers paradise and in winter you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to activities. As part of the Val Gardena ski area, there’s everything from cross country skiing to snowshoeing on offer.

Perhaps you’ll find yourself stepping aside to allow a horse and carriage to pass you by. Maybe you’ll lace up your boots and head for the mountains on one of the many trails that criss-cross the area. If you’re smart, no matter what else you do, you’ll find a mountain hut serving the delicious food typical of South Tyrol.

This guide has everything you need to know about visiting Alpe di Siusi / Seiser Alm, from how to get there, when to visit, where to stay and what to do.

the sun rising over the high altitude meadow of Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)
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ALPE DI SIUSI ESSENTIALS

CLAIM TO FAME | Europe’s largest mountain plateau

BEST TIME | Covered with wildflowers in early July, but beautiful year-round

HIGHLIGHTS | hiking and cycling in summer, all the snowsports in winter

ACCESS | Access by private vehicle is limited so plan ahead!

ALSO KNOWN AS | Seiser Alm (German) and Mont Sëuc (Ladin)

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A COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALPE DI SIUSI / SEISER ALM IN THE ITALIAN DOLOMITES


Why visit Alpe di Siusi?

I’d become rather used to feeling dwarfed by the massive peaks everywhere I went in the Dolomites. I love hiking in the mountains, but sometimes it’s nice to find something just a little different. That’s what you get at Alpe di Siusi.

Wandering through golden meadows, little wooden huts dotted across the hills, it’s hard not to feel like you’re in a painting of somebody’s idea of alpine perfection.

There are mountains off on the horizon, a constant allure to anyone who loves a challenge. Mouthwatering smells drift on the breeze from the many restaurants, promising a future feast.

It’s a softer place than the rest of South Tyrol. The landscape treats you kinder. Makes you feel less insignificant. It’s still spectacular though.

I thoroughly recommend finding yourself a spot to sit and watch the sunrise. Relish the quiet moments before the world explodes into colour around you. Maybe you’ll have clear skies and golden hills. Perhaps you’ll have pastel fog and mountains cloaked in shadows. Either way, Alpe di Siusi will give you something special.

two small mountain huts with the peaks of the sassolungo massif in the background
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Things to do in Alpe di Siusi

No matter what time of year you visit Alpe di Siusi, you’re bound to find an activity that suits you. In the warmer months, there are a huge variety of hiking trails to wander. There are trails from a couple of hours to a full day walking. Winter brings the snow and, from November to April, the area becomes a snowsports lover’s paradise.

In my opinion, the best photography spots for the classic views over Seiser Alm can be found along the via del Piz near the Adler Lodge Alpe. Many of the images in this blog post were taken here, and it’s about an hour walk from the parking area in Compatsch.

Hiking in Alpe di Siusi

There are 450km of hiking trails in the Seiser Alm area, so you truly are spoiled for choice. There are gentle strolls through the meadows or more challenging day hikes. You can even include this area in a multi-day adventure. Here are 4 of the best options for hiking in Seiser Alm.

Ortisei / St. Ulrich to Compaccio / Compatsch loop

TRAILHEAD | Ortisei-Alpe di Siusi cable car
DISTANCE | 13 km
TIME | 3 hours
ELEVATION | +/-200m
DIFFICULTY | Easy

This is an easy hike that takes in the best views across the Alpe di Siusi. You’ll definitely recognise it from Instagram! You’ll pass several mountain huts, and I recommend going to Malga Sanon for lunch on this route if the timing works.

First, take the Seiser Alm cable car from Ortisei. At the top, take path 9 to the left towards Malga Schgaguler Schwaige which you’ll follow downhill to Sporthotel Sonne. From here you can either head towards Malga Sanon for lunch along path 6b to the right (1km detour), or continue along Harlweg to the left until it becomes path 9 again. Take the second path 3 turn and then head right on path 30 until you reach Compatsch.

To return, take path 14 uphill and then 14b towards Monte Piz. When you reach the junction you’ll turn right and then left up Monte Piz before continuing uphill on path 6a to the top of the cable car. Hop on and ride back to Ortisei.

Alpe di Siusi Monte Pana hiking trail (Ortisei to Santa Cristina)

TRAILHEAD | Ortisei-Siser Alm cable car
DISTANCE | 13 km
TIME | 3 hours
ELEVATION | +200 -800m
DIFFICULTY | easy

The Monte Pana hiking trail is another great hiking trail recommended by Sabrina and Kati of Moon & Honey Travel. Be sure to check out their blog for lots of other great hikes in the region too!

The benefit of the Monte Pana hike is that it’s almost all downhill. Also, you’ll not only get to take in that classic Alpe di Siusi vista but get away from the crowds around the Compatsch area. It’s easy to catch the bus from Santa Cristina back to your starting point in Ortisei.

a close of of the huts on alpe di suisi
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a single tree glows in the early morning sun on alpe di siusi
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From the top of the Seiser Alm cable car, you follow path 9 as above, but this time follow it all the way to Saltria. This part of the hike will take you around an hour but it’s all downhill. Once again, it’s possible to take a short detour to Malga Sanon for lunch, but I would advise continuing on to Saltner Schwaige just beyond Saltria.

At Saltria take path 30 towards the Monte Pana plateau, passing the Saltner restaurant. This section involves some gentle uphill before reaching the plateau, but the views are wonderful so you’ll be distracted. From the plateau simply continue down along path 30 until you reach Santa Cristina.

Take bus 350 Bolzano-Val Gardena (year-round) or 352 Express Ortisei-Selva Val Gardena (summer only) back to Ortesei.

Rifugio Alpe di Tires loop

TRAILHEAD | Compatsch
DISTANCE | 18 km
TIME | 6 hours
ELEVATION | +/-750m
DIFFICULTY | moderate

This is a more challenging hike that takes in the views of Alpe di Siusi from the opposite direction to what you’re used to seeing. It’s a nice change of pace and well worth doing if you’re in the area for a couple of days. Rifugio Alpe di Tires / Tierser Alpl is a stunner, renovated to an incredibly high standard in 2015, and I would strongly recommend splitting the hike to allow an overnight stay here.

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From Compatsch, follow trail 7 uphill to the Panorama hotel then continue to ascend along trail 2 to the high pass of Denti di Terrarossa / Rosszähne. The final part of the trail is a tough uphill with switchbacks and loose scree, but the joy of Rifugio Alpe di Tires awaits you at the top, so that should keep you going. If you’re not staying overnight, then at least stop here for lunch.

TIP | I strongly recommend bringing hiking poles and good quality hiking boots if you’re planning on doing any day hikes in the Dolomites

Once refuelled, retrace your steps along trail 4 before turning right onto trail 8 and heading downhill to Rifugio Molignon. At each fork take the left, continuing on trail 8 until it becomes trail 7 leading you back to your starting point at Compatsch.

The Dolomites Castle loop

TRAILHEAD | Compatsch
DISTANCE | 22 km
TIME | 8 hours
ELEVATION | +/-1100m
DIFFICULTY | moderate – hard

Although this hike can be done in a day, you’ll need to time it carefully if you’re not staying up at Alpe di Siusi overnight.

If you’re keen to do this one, then you’ll find a complete guide to the Rifugio Bolzano circuit hike from Sabrina & Kati (Moon & Honey Travel) which will help you plan your day more efficiently.

You might want to stay overnight at one of the rifugios or, alternatively, consider making this 3-day loop part of your schedule.

sunrise on a tree from the alpe di siusi
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From Compatsch take trails 7, 10 and 5, before continuing uphill to the Saltnerhütte along trail 1. You might want to stop here for a quick refreshment before powering up the rest of the ascent to the Sciliar / Schlern plateau. Turn right on trail 3 to Rifugio Bolzano / Schlernhaus, which is a good option for lunch depending on the time.

There’s an option here to take a quick 20-minute uphill detour to the top of Monte Pez with amazing views over the Alpe di Siusi region.

Once you’ve finished here, turn back along trail 4 and continue across the Cima di Terrarosa all the way to Rifugio Alpe di Tires. From here, take trail 2 over the Denti di Terrarossa and descend down the switchbacks, being careful of the loose scree underfoot, before strolling through the meadows all the way back to Compatsch.

TIP | You can find a trail map of Alpe di Siusi / Seiser Alm here

Cycling in Alpe di Siusi

There are 600km of cycling trails through the region, so you can choose your own adventure if you’re bringing your own bike. If you just want to hire one for the day, then an e-bike is a great choice, since the area’s not quite as flat as it seems at first glance! Several of the huts and restaurants have charging stations.

THE DETAILS

Who | Bamby Rental

Where | Valley station of Ortisei – Seiser Alm cable car

Cost | from €50/day with free bike ticket for the Alpe di Siusi cable car and 20% discount with a guided tour

Alternatives | Gasko e-bikes in Seis and Sport Hans in Compatsch

For information on trails, you can go here.

Winter in Alpe di Siusi

With extensive ski slopes and its connection to Val Gardena including South Tyrol’s longest downhill, this is a great area for skiing in the winter. If you’ve missed out on hiking season, then you can cross country ski or snowshoe along the 80km of trails in the area. Alpe di Siusi gets some of the most reliable snowfall in the Dolomites, so if you’re headed here in the winter, it’s a great option.

St Valentin’s Church

There are a lot of gorgeous churches in the Dolomites. Nestled in lush green fields with mountains soaring high above, you’re kind of spoiled for choice. St Valentin’s church is definitely one of the best located and well worth a stop if you’re heading up to Alpe di Siusi via the town of Siusi / Seis. To get there, park in Seis and take the small path to the left between the houses at the start of Fasslfunerweg.

st valentin church in seis
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a close up of st valentin shurch in siusi
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Where is Alpe di Siusi

Located in the Trentino-Alto Adige region, Alpe di Siusi is also known as Seiser Alm in German and Mont Sëuc in the local Ladin language. Nestled in the western area of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site the region contains the Naturpark Schlern-Rosengarten as well as the stunning peaks of the Sassolungo group.

When to visit Alpe di Siusi

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT ALPE DI SIUSI

For me, the Dolomites is all about hiking, so I would aim to be here for the colourful eruption of the 790+ species of flowers that happens here from mid-June to mid-July. Early July tends to be most reliable for the flowers.

Autumn is also a great time to visit, with the meadows turning a beautiful shade of amber, and the larch trees that are scattered across the pastures glowing gold. The weather tends to be more settled come mid-October, and you have the added benefit of missing most of the crowds. The downside is that some of the huts and restaurants may have already closed.

If you want to have a winter holiday then few places in the Dolomites are as beautiful as this high alpine pasture under a blanket of snow.

The only time I recommend avoiding is the peak European holiday season in August.

sunrise at alpe di siusi
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BEST TIME OF DAY TO VISIT ALPE DI SIUSI

Sunrise is undoubtedly the best time to be here if you’ve got limited time available. You get to watch the sun lighting up the fields with that special light that’s so characteristic of the Dolomites. Later in the season (from mid-October) it takes about an hour after sunrise for the light to make it over the Sassolungo peak into the pasture itself. It’s a magical time of day.

Sunset from Monte Pez is glorious, with 360° views of the region. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the Burning Dolomites phenomenon, where the mountains glow red as the sun goes down. It’s like Alpenglow, only a million times better!

How to Get to Alpe di Siusi

During the day, from 9am – 5pm, it’s forbidden to drive private vehicles up to Alpe di Siusi unless you’re going to your hotel on the meadow. The road up from Seis / Siusi also has a large barrier at the information centre which is put in place once the hours of restriction are in effect. You can, however, drive down at any time.

This rule is strictly enforced during the season when the cable cars are running, and significant fines are handed out. Once the cable car to Compatsch stops, you can drive the road at any time.

Driving on the Alpe di Siusi during the day is completely prohibited by visitors who aren’t staying at a hotel (leaving included), so you can only go as far as Compatsch unless you’re planning to leave before 9am.

The best way to get around Alpe di Siusi is using your own 2 feet, the cablecars if they’re open, or the express bus #11 that runs between Compatsch and Saltria.

HOW TO GET TO ALPE DI SUISI BY CAR

To Compatsch from Bolzano | about 45 minutes via the SS12 and LS24 to the parking lot

From Ortisei | about 30 minutes via the SP64

From Seis | 15 minutes

PARKING AT ALPE DI SIUSI (COMPACCIO / COMPATSCH)

In order to get to any of the parking areas beyond the information centre, you need to arrive prior to 9am or after 5pm unless you have a hotel reservation. If you’re staying at a hotel then you’ll get your pass from the information centre.

The first parking lot you reach, P1, is about a 25-minute uphill walk to Compatsch, but is free.

The P2 parking area at Compatsch is much more conveniently located, but costs €19 during peak season (the same as the cost of the cable car) or €9.50 off season.

alpe di suis with the sassolungo range in the background
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mountain huts in alpe di siusi with the schlern massif in the background
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HOW TO GET TO ALPE DI SUISI BY CABLE CAR

CABLE CAR FROM ORTISEI

Route | Ortisei/St. Ulrich – Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi Gondola Lift

Hours | 8:30am – 5pm from mid-May to early November and 8:30am – 6pm from late June to late September. Check exact times here.

Cost | €20.90 return or €14.60 one way/adult with paid parking at the valley station

CABLE CAR FROM SEIS

Route | Seiser Alm Aerial Cableway

Hours | 8am – 6pm from late May to early November and 8am – 7pm from mid-June to mid-September. Check exact times here.

Cost | €19 return or €13 one way/adult with free parking at the valley station

HOW TO GET TO ALPE DI SUISI BY BUS

Local bus | From Bolzan take bus 170/170S to Seis, and if you’re coming from Ortisei you need bus 172

From Seis | Take express bus 10 or 11 to Compatsch.

All timetables can be found here.

Where to Stay in Alpe di Siusi

Obviously, the most convenient place to stay is up on the Seiser Alm itself. However, the hotels here tend to fall in the luxury price range. The rifugios are a wonderful option for anyone on a budget. If staying in Alpe di Siusi itself isn’t an option for you, then Seis or the towns of Val Gardena (Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva) are a great alternative.

Prices are based on a July stay and will vary seasonally.

BOOKING YOUR TRIP | If you book your trip via my links I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps keep me on the road. Thanks for your support – Cat.

LUXURY HOTELS

Paradiso Pure Living Vegetarian Hotel | In the meat lovers area of South Tyrol, this is a pleasant surprise – a hotel that’s 100% vegetarian. All their produce is organic and they have a sustainability focus in everything from food to furnishings. €2500 half board for 7 nights (minimum stay). Check rates and availability here.

Adler Lodge Alpe | The height of luxury, with personal suites and chalets that have amazing sunrise views, this is the place to go if you’re looking to splurge. From €2500 full board for 4 nights (minimum stay). Check rates and availability here.

Sporthotel Sonne | With a stunning spa and wonderful food, this is a fantastic option right up in the heart of the action. Their deck has amazing views across the Sassolungo and Sasso Piatto mountains. From €2100 half board for 7 nights (minimum stay). Check rates and availability here.

Icaro Hotel | With an emphasis on art and architecture, you’ll be torn between looking at the walls and looking at the views! Another gorgeous hotel with an excellent spa, this beautiful modern hotel is a great option. From €356/night half board. Check rates and availability here.

MID-RANGE HOTELS

Hotel Saltria | This beautiful property is great value for money, with a fantastic spa and onsite restaurant with the food getting rave reviews. As with all the other hotels in the region, the views are simply spectacular. From €146/night. Check rates and availability here.

RIFUGIOS

Rifugio Alpe di Tires / Tierser Alpl | With its bright red roof and beautiful wooden interiors, the only thing better than the location here is the food. Open from mid-June to late October. From €78/night half board. Check dates and book here.

Schlernhaus / Rifugio Bolzano | the castle in the mountains, this rifugio has stellar sunset views and really great food. Open from early June to mid-October. From €45/night B&B with a la carte dining available. Check dates and book here.

Mahlknechthütte / Rifugio Molignon | This hut is another lovely option if you’re planning on a slightly longer stay at Alpe di Siusi. Open from mid-May to late October. From €48/night B&B with a la carte dining available. Check dates and book here.

Where to Eat & Drink in Alpe di Siusi

If you’re staying in one of the hotels or rifugios then you’ll have a restaurant available for dinner, but if you’re just here for the day then here are some other options for a delicious lunch.

Malga Sanon | Serving great quality, delicious local specialities, this is definitely one of the best restaurants in the area. It’s located near some of the best views in the Alpe di Siusi. Be sure to try their spinach canederli/knödel.

Rauchhütte | delicious food, an extensive wine cellar and 4th generation owners. What more do you need to know? This restaurant is slightly off the beaten track but deserves a detour to sample some of the yummiest food around. It’s not so great for vegetarians, but few places in the Dolomites are.

Malga Contrin | Many ingredients are sourced from their own farm so this is about as local as it gets. An absolute gem and open a little later than many of the restaurants in the area. Well worth a visit.

How to Get to The Dolomites

The Dolomites are located in northeastern Italy, but there’s no “Dolomites” airport or station. There are, however, plenty of good options for reaching the area from various nearby hubs. Alpe di Siusi is located in the Val Gardena region of the Dolomites.

DISTANCE TO VAL GARDENA FROM MAJOR AIRPORT HUBS


ITALY | Venice Marco Polo
200km | 3h 10min

ITALY | Milan Malpensa
350km | 3h 50min

ITALY | Verona
190km | 2h 10min

GERMANY | Munich
310km | 3h 10min

AUSTRIA | Innsbruck
115km | 1h 40min

BY CAR

Undoubtedly the easiest way to get from the airport to the Dolomites is by hiring a car. Since the Dolomites is technically an autonomous region in Italy, there’s less hassle if you hire a car in Italy as you don’t have to worry about crossing borders. I recommend checking out AutoEurope for the best car deals and Insurance4carhire to cover excess insurance.

BY BUS

From the airports you can take either the AltoAdigeBus which has thousands of destinations throughout South Tyrol. Alternatively, take the Flixbus to Bolzano where you can transfer to a local bus service.

BY TRAIN

Honestly, with the number of train changes and cost, this is unlikely to be a convenient way to get to your destination. You’ll have to take another means of transport from Bolzano. If this is something you want to investigate further though, I recommend using Omio to check your options.

Planning A Trip To the Dolomites?

With world-class hiking in summer, incredible skiing in winter, and a perfect blend of Italian and Austrian culture, the Dolomites is one of my favourite European destinations. Here are more posts to help you plan your own trip to this wonderful part of the Alps.

PLANNING A TRIP TO ITALY | TIPS FOR TRAVELERS TO ITALY

DOLOMITES DAY HIKES | A COMPLETE GUIDE TO HIKING SECEDA, HIKING TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO and THE BEST DAY HIKES IN THE DOLOMITES

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO | A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE DOLOMITES (COMING SOON)

THINGS TO DO | A COMPLETE GUIDE TO VISITING LAGO DI BRAIESBEST PLACES TO VISIT IN THE DOLOMITES (COMING SOON)

TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t go anywhere without it! I use and recommend Safety Wing.

THOUGHTFUL TRAVEL | No matter where you go, try to always be aware of the fact that travel impacts the place and people that live there. Being a thoughtful traveller is more important than ever. Here are my top tips to make your trip a mindful one.

PHOTOGRAPHY | Love my photos and want to know how to take better shots on your own trips? Then my photography guide is for you. Here’s all the photography gear I use too. Want to buy one of my images? Head to the Print Store.

ESSENTIAL GEAR | You’ll find my travel essentials here, and a complete guide to all my hiking gear here.


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