One of the Best Loved Ski Resort, Val Gardena
Val Gardena is probably one of the best loved ski resort in the world also the most famous ski area in the whole of South Tyrol. Val Gardena/Gröden is made up of three charming alpine villages; Ortisei at 1236m, Santa Cristina at 1428m, and probably the best known is Selva at 1563m.
The statistics for the area are impressive, with 115km of piste served by more than 80 lifts, including some of the most modern, hi-tech installations anywhere, but while the superb skiing is of course a major asset, most people would probably not list it as their first choice for taking a winter holiday here.
More likely they’d refer to the stunning scenery of the surrounding mountainscape, or maybe the wooden chalet-style buildings, the ambience, the friendliness of the locals, the timeless quality of life here; all the classic ingredients of a South Tyrolean ski holiday.
Of course, skiers are not “limited” to the 115km of runs around Val Gardena (175km together with Alpe Di Siusi). They can go onto the Sella Ronda circuit, which is a network of 26km of pistes and lifts circling the 3151m-high Sella massif linking up with other valleys to create one huge linked ski area, all included on the Dolomiti Sperski pass.
Art in the area and its Ladin cultural heritage are other Val Gardena strengths which are fun to discover, not in dusty museums but through the area’s impressive and diverse gastronomy, ranging from Michelin-starred gourmet restaurants to cosy alpine rifugio serving simple Ladin cuisine.
Whether you like to dine on fresh seafood, apple strudel or sip homemade grappa, Val Gardena has a mountain refuge or hut to suit all tastes. The tasty gourmet cuisine combines the best of the Italian, Tyrolean and Ladin Flavours of the region.
Special choices include the Sophie Hütte, on the Seceda mountain which has built a reputation as the best place in the area to go for spare ribs. Baita Daniel has a tasty and varied wine list, as well as a terrace with spectabular views of the Dolomites. Or, for what many consider the best fish in South Tyrol, visit Rifugio Emilio Comici.
As one of the largest resorts in the region, Val Gardena has much more to offer non-skiers. Besides 42km of cross-country trails there are 50km of well-prepared winter walking paths and trails, as well as facilities for snow-shoeing, ice climbing, indoor/outdoor ice-skating, horse riding, sleigh riding, paragliding, curling and sledging. Indeed the 6km Ortisei toboggan run on Rasciesa in one of the most thrilling in the Alps.
Spa and wellness facilities are also extensive, and the wide range of accommodation options from every category of hotel to Bed and Breakfast, self-catering apartments or remote mountain refuges means there is something to suit every taste.
Families are particularly well looked after in Val Gardena. As well as free skiing for children up to 8-years-old in common with the rest of South Tyrol, there are great hotels such as the 4-star superior Family Spa Grand Hotel Cavallino Bianco in Ortisei. It operates a “families with children only” policy, offering a wide variety of play areas and a theatre, and during the winter children aged 3 years or over can take part in the hotel’s own ski school with nursery slopes outside the hotel.