Alpe di Siusi (also known as Seiser Alm) in Italy is one of the Alps’ most treasured hiking destinations. Here’s everything you need to visit this rollicking meadowland of the Dolomites.
Awe-inspiring. Breathtaking. Majestic. All words you may have heard describing Alpe di Siusi. But the one you really need to know before visiting is “vast.” Alpe di Siusi is Europe’s largest mountain plateau. Picture an area even bigger than Manhattan soaring thousands of feet above the valley floor.
With 270+ miles (440+ km) of trails and rustic mountain taverns throughout Alpe di Siusi, you could spend an entire holiday in South Tyrol exploring the area. The options to explore the landscape can be overwhelming.
In this post, you will discover how to intimately experience the heart-pounding scenery of Alpe di Siusi including the Sassolungo (Langkofel), Sassopiato (Plattkofel), and Schlern (Sciliar) massifs in all their glory. We detail our favorite hiking routes and show you the variety of beauty to expect with and without snow. In addition, we share a bounty of tips such as how to reach the plateau, where to eat (you must dine up here), where to stay, and additional sights to consider while visiting Alpe di Siusi
- Alpe di Siusi Overview
- Where is Alpe di Siusi
- How to Get To Alpe di Siusi
- Alpe di Siusi Hiking Options
- Where to Eat on Alpe di Siusi
- When to Hike Alpe di Siusi
- Alpe di Siusi Hotels
- Additional Tips for Visiting Alpe di Siusi
Alpe di Siusi Overview
Alpe di Siusi is a soul-stirring dreamland for outdoor enthusiasts of any age. Anchored by thundering mountains all around, its trails gently wind in between peaceful farms, old-growth evergreen forests, and billowy meadows. You can be lost in the unbridled brawn of Sassolungo one moment and the effortless beauty of a wildflower the next.
The number of peaks you can admire on Alpe di Siusi may only be rivaled by hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo. But unlike, Tre Cime, you can comfortably enjoy these mountains in any season.
- Hiking Time: Multiple days if you wish. The round-trip hikes we highlight will take 4-5 hours
- Top Sights: Schlern Mountain, Sassolungo Group, Rosengarten Group, Seceda Ridgeline, Sella Group
- Hiking Difficulty: Easy
- Size of Alpe di Siusi: 34 sq. miles (56 sq. km)
- Number of Trails Available: 60+
- Altitude: 5,200 to 9,700+ ft (1,600 to 2,950+ m). The meadowland lies at 5,200+ ft.
It’s interesting to note, the plateau wasn’t always a wide-open buffet for livestock. If you arrived on Alpe di Siusi in the Middle Ages, the sprawling pastureland you see today was a dense spruce forest. About 800 years ago these ancient forests were felled to carve grazing grounds for cattle.
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Where is Alpe di Siusi
Before we jump into specifics on this hike, let us paint a clear picture of where Alpe di Siusi is located. The name of the plateau can cause some confusion for travelers as it also denotes a broader holiday region in the Dolomites.
The Alpe di Siusi holiday region includes the plateau as well as villages and valleys lying far below to its north and west. Also often associated with the plateau is the holiday region of Val Gardena, which lies to its northeast.
As we detail below, both holiday regions serve as excellent launching points for hiking Alpe di Siusi. The nearest major town from Val Gardena is Ortisei (St. Ulrich) while the nearest in the Alpe di Siusi holiday region is Castelrotto (Kastelruth).
Whether beginning your hike from Val Gardena or Alpe di Siusi, the hiking route we cover is the same. The only difference is your starting and end points.
By the way, you do not need to base yourself in either holiday region to enjoy Alpe di Siusi while visiting South Tyrol. You can be on the plateau in only 40-60 minutes by car from Bolzano, Brixen, or Merano.
How to Get To Alpe di Siusi
You have three main options to reach the top of Alpe di Siusi: by foot, cable car, or automobile/bus. Using a cable car to visit Alpe di Siusi is the most popular way to reach the plateau. In a matter of minutes, you can be amid the jaw-dropping splendor of the Dolomites.
Which lift you choose to use should depend on where you are based. If you are not sure where to base yourself in South Tyrol, connect with us to help you make the best decision based on your interests and aspirations.
Alpe di Siusi Cable Car Option #1
Those in or near Val Gardena should plan to take the Mont Sëuc Cable Car (Mont Sëuc means Alpe di Siusi in Ladin), which is located near the heart of Ortisei. Here are the step-by-step directions to take the Mont Sëuc lift:
- If arriving in Ortisei by car, you have a couple of parking options to consider. You can park in the underground garage at the Mont Sëuc Cable Car Station or at the underground “Garage Central” parking lot in the center of Ortisei. From Garage Central it is just a 5-minute walk through town and over a foot/bike bridge to the station. Both parking areas are nicely located if you intend to also explore Ortisei.
- Once at the Mont Sëuc Cable Car Station, purchase a round-trip ticket. The cost for 2022 is € 23.90 per person.
- To reach the cable car boarding area, insert the ticket into the turnstile ticket slot. Then wait for a station staff member to direct you to board an available cable car. Sit back and soak in the views on the way up. To the east, the Seceda mountain massif and alp will gradually reveal themselves.
Alpe di Siusi Cable Car Option #2
Those staying in the Alpe di Siusi holiday region near Castelrotto should plan to take the Alpe di Siusi Aerial Cableway up from the village of Seis. In 2023, the cable car cost is € 24,00 per person for a round-trip ticket.
If you arrive at the lift station by car, you can park in a free lot near the station or at the multi-level garage next to the ticket office. The cost to park in the garage for the day is € 6,00.
Reaching Alpe di Siusi by Car
There is a lot of confusion about driving to Alpe di Siusi. Here is what you need to know: to keep the plateau as pristine as possible, automobile traffic is restricted on the plateau itself from 9 am to 5 pm. This means if you wish to drive around Alpe di Siusi instead of hike, you can only do so before 9 am or after 5 pm. The only exception to this restriction is for guests checking in at a hotel located on Alpe di Siusi.
Hotel guests are required to have proof on hand that they arriving to check into their hotel. If you are caught driving on the plateau during restricted hours, you can face a heavy fine.
Note: You can drive up the plateau to the Alpe di Siusi trailheads located by the village of Compatsch (Compaccio) if you arrive before 9 am or after 5 pm. Parking is available on the right side of the road in Compatsch near the Alpe di Siusi visitor center in a lot called P2. The cost to park for 2023 is € 24,00 per day. There is a lot called P1, but it is not the most convenient location for the best trailheads. You can depart Compatsch and drive back down the plateau at any time.
Alpe di Siusi Hiking Options
The number of hiking routes you can experience on Alpe di Siusi is virtually endless. Multiple trails crisscross each other and are well-marked allowing free-spirited exploration without ever feeling as if you might get lost. That said, due to its sheer size, we recommend having a hiking plan before visiting Alpe di Siusi.
An Epic Hike from the Mont Sëuc Cable Car Station
The first Alpe di Siusi hiking route we cover involves setting out from Ortisei in Val Gardena. This hike will carry you past the thunderous faces of the Sassolungo Group and then across the plateau towards the emblematic peak of South Tyrol: Mt. Schlern.
As we detail above, you will take the Mont Sëuc Cable Car to the top of Alpe di Siusi. The ride up is amazing, but the real thrill begins after departing the cable car station. Few sights can rival the roaring beauty of the Sassolungo Group as it first meets your eyes.
Begin your hike by heading left on trail no. 9 towards the Sassolungo Group. The trail will descend through stands of pines until opening into the rolling meadowland.
On your left, you will pass the Malga Schgaguler Schwaige, the first of many mountain huts on Alpe di Siusi. “Schwaige” “Baita” and “Rifugio” are all used to denote mountain huts. These relaxing Alpine sanctuaries have tended to travelers since the Middle Ages.
When you approach a fork in the trail stay on trail no. 9 to the left which will bring you past the Sporthotel Sonne. Follow trail no. 9 for a good distance enjoying the rugged faces of the Sassolungo Group staring down at you. Eventually, you will come to Hartlweg which intersects the trail. Take a right onto Hartlweg.
When Hartlweg runs into trail no. 6B take a right to visit Malga Sanon if you want to take a seat for a bit and soak in the views. If not, take a left onto 6B.
Trail no. 6B will merge into trail no. 9 for a short distance. You will come to an option to take trail no. 3 to the right, but continue on 9 until you come to the second intersection for trail no. 3. Then take a right onto 3 towards Compatsch.
Stay on trail no. 3 until it ends at trail no. 30, which is also known as the Hans & Paula Steger Weg. Named after two South Tyrolean climbing and skiing legends who once called the pasture home.
Take a right onto trail no. 30 and follow it for roughly another 20 minutes until reaching Compatsch. The Sciliar mountain from this stretch is at its most stunning.
If you are ready for a meal, snack or drink at his point, another wonderful nearby hut to visit is Gostner Schwaige. This family-owned establishment is renowned for its homemade alpine cheeses. You can reach Gostner Schwaige within 5 minutes by taking trail no. 6B, which branches off trail no. 30.
Once at the village, you can give your legs a rest at the restaurant in the Nordic Ski Center. It offers a more contemporary setting than the rustic mountain huts you encounter, but the menu serves up delicious pasta if that suits your mid-hike appetite.
After you’re done visiting Compatsch, set out to return to the Mont Sëuc Cable Car Station via the same route. You’ll pass by Malga Schgaguler Schwaige again. From their terrace, you can devour a delicious meal and your final views of Sassolungo before zipping back down to Ortisei on the cable car.
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An Epic Hike from Compatsch
If you are interested in spending most of your time in the Alpe di Siusi holiday region, embarking on a hike of Alpe di Siusi itself from Compatsch is an excellent option to choose. Some of South Tyrol’s most alluring villages, churches, and castles reside in this holiday region.
This hiking option follows the same route as above except instead of hiking to the Mont Sëuc Cable Car Station, the mid-point for your hike will be the Malga Schgaguler Schwaige before heading back to Compatsch.
You can certainly hike up to the cable car station and enjoy a refreshment and meal there if you wish in their restaurant. But our preference is to dine at Malga Schgaguler Schwaige or Gostner Schwaige.
Here’s the hiking route you will follow from Compatsch. From the parking lot, you will pick up trail no. 30 (Hans & Paula Steger Weg).
Follow trail no. 30 until it intersects with trail no. 3 where you will take a left towards Saltria. Trail no. 3 will eventually merge into trail no. 9 where you will have the option to go left or right. Be sure to follow trail no. 9 to the left.
Stay on trail no. 9 and then take a right onto trail no. 6B. This trail will slowly curve to the east until coming to Hartlweg. Like above, you can stay on 6B to take a break at the Malga Sanon if you wish or take a right to continue trekking across Alpe di Siusi.
Hartlweg will lead you to trail no. 9 where you will take a left. Follow trail no. 9 all the way to Malga Schgaguler Schwaige.
After you have enjoyed a hearty meal and glass of South Tyrolean wine or beer, set out for the return hike to Compatsch. It’s worth pointing out that you do not have to initially take trail no. 9 back if you don’t wish. Take a glance at your map and you will see other trails that eventually bring you to trail no. 30 into Compatsch.
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Where to Eat on Alpe di Siusi
Alpe di Siusi boasts a number of restaurants spread throughout the alp. The hikes we feature here highlight two mountain huts that are not to be missed in our opinion.
Whether you visit them for a meal or simply to have a refreshment with dessert, Malga Schgaguler Schwaige and Gostner Schwaige are one-of-a-kind dining experiences. They specialize in farm-fresh cuisine that is richly comforting and soars with flavor. If the spectacular scenery hasn’t put you in a mountain mood yet, their menus certainly will.
In terms of ambiance, each restaurant has its own charms. Malga Schgaguler Schwaige, for example, possesses an astounding view of the Sassolungo Group. Gostner Schwaige, on the other hand, offers a postcard-perfect sight of Schlern’s Santer Spitze towering between the trees.
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When to Hike Alpe di Siusi
Alpe di Siusi is a year-round destination. Our favorite time to visit is spring, fall, and winter.
Summer is dazzling of course but like all destinations in the Dolomites, you will have to contend with crowds. That said if you wish to experience Alpe di Siusi when the meadows are in full bloom with wildflowers, you should time your visit from mid-June to mid-July.
If you want to see cows lazily roaming the pastures, visit the plateau beginning in mid-July. The cattle typically are driven up in early July and driven back down by mid-September to early October when the food supply has dwindled.
Those wanting to enjoy the meadowland with a blanket of snow should plan on visiting Alpe di Siusi from November through April. The holiday season is especially beautiful as you can also include South Tyrol’s Christmas markets in your itinerary. But keep in mind, that mountain huts in the Dolomites are not open year-round. Be sure to review the posted signs at the main trailheads to see which huts will be open before beginning your hike.
By the way, if you want to embark on another meadowland hike in the Dolomites, consider adding Prato Piazza to your travel plans. This high-mountain plateau is located in Val Pusteria and is like a balcony to some of the grandest peaks in the Dolomites. It is a must-hike especially if you already have plans to visit Lago di Braies or Lago di Dobbiaco.
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Alpe di Siusi Hotels
We recommend staying in the Val Gardena region or the Alpe di Siusi region for a hiking outing on the plateau. Our personal preference is to stay on Alpe di Siusi itself. Not only will you wake up with the sun spilling over the peaks, but you will also be able to enjoy the trails before the day-trippers arrive in mass. A rustic accommodation that is perfectly situated for exploring the alp is Hotel Ritsch. We adored everything about this family-owned farm stay.
If you prefer to stay in a village beneath Alpe di Siusi, consider Castelrotto, Siusi and Völs am Schlern. A wonderful option in Völs is Romantik Hotel Turm. This unique retreat immerses you in beautiful history and art from as far back as the 13th century. We were dazzled by the hotel’s sumptuous cuisine and wellness area that guarantees soul-mending relaxation.
Staying here also places you near one of our favorite casual hiking trails: Oachner Höfeweg. This hidden gem leads through rolling farmsteads flush with vineyards, orchards and chestnut-riddled forests beneath the peaks of the Dolomites. If you visit in autumn, the Oachner Höfeweg also provides a wonderful way to enjoy the festive tradition of Törggelen.
⇒ EXPLORE ALPE DI SIUSI HOTELS
Additional Tips for Visiting Alpe di Siusi
- Instead of hiking consider booking a romantic carriage or sleigh ride across the Alp.
- Make plans to explore Ortisei and the fascinating tradition of woodcarving in Val Gardena before or after hiking Alpe di Siusi.
- Alpe di Siusi is home to more than 800 different species of wildflowers. If you’re a plant enthusiast you will have a field day here…no pun intended. Get help identifying flowers with The Dolomites: (Plant Hunters Series) book.
- If you prefer to savor the botanicals of Alpe di Siusi rather than pinpointing them in a guidebook, be sure to order WILD CRAFT Gin while visiting the huts. This rare Alpine spirit is made from wildflowers and larch shoots foraged right from the plateau.
- The Parish Church of St. Ulrich in Ortisei is well worth a visit as well. Built in the late 1700s, the church’s red bulbous dome is easy to spot making it a beacon for history and architecture lovers. Its interior is among the most gorgeous we have ever seen. Precious frescoes, oil paintings and woodcarvings adorn every inch.
- The Mont Sëuc Cable Car Station is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm (the lift operates until 6 pm from mid-June to mid-October). The station begins operating in mid-May after ski season and closes again in early November before reopening for the ski season typically in December. Mountain weather can impact opening and closing dates so make sure to review the lift schedule.
- If you are visiting Alpe di Siusi in the fall, consider attending one of the Almabtrieb Festivals that take place in the region.
- Want to see the sunset on Alpe di Siusi? You’re in luck. Once per week in the summer, the Mont Sëuc Cable Car Station runs from 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm to allow evening walks and dinner at their restaurant. Review the night schedule to see if the dates align with your trip to South Tyrol.
- If you are planning to hike in Val Gardena for more than one day, save money by purchasing the Val Gardena Card. This card allows unlimited use of specific lifts and cableways. Note: The Val Gardena card does not provide access to lifts based in the Alpe di Siusi holiday region.
- Hiking isn’t the only way to enjoy Alpe di Siusi. If you’re a biking enthusiast, consider renting a mountain bike or e-bike. BAMBY rental is located right next to the Mont Sëuc Cable Car Station.
- Harness the natural energy of Alpe di Siusi to improve your well-being. Be sure to explore the wellness products originating from its meadows. Up to 80 different kinds of grass, herbs, and flowers can be found in just a handful of hay from Alpe di Siusi. Local companies like Trehs create natural cosmetic and wellness products based on the ancient wisdom passed down through the ages from the mountains of South Tyrol.
- If you embark on a hike of Alpe di Siusi from Compatsch, don’t miss a visit to the historic St. Valentin Chapel, which sits below the Schlern massif in Seis. Its steepled beauty has graced the mountain backdrop since 1244.
- Like all the regions of the Dolomites, Alpe di Siusi is shrouded in age-old legends. Witches long ago performed rituals on the plateau. You can embark on a spell-binding hike from Castelrotto that takes you to the famous “Witches’ Benches”.
- For recommended hiking gear and clothing to wear while hiking Alpe di Siusi, pick up our South Tyrol Travel Resources. Before any hike, pay attention to the weather forecast as mountain weather can change quickly.
Have you embarked on your own Alpe di Siusi adventure? If so, please share in the comments below any helpful tips, insights, and worthwhile hikes.