Few places in the Dolomites are as captivating and historically significant as Val Fiscalina (Fischleintal). Discover how to embark on a soul-soothing hike through this verdant valley of lush larch meadows, majestic peaks, and charming mountain huts.
Not every jaw-dropping hike in the Dolomites requires you to donate a bucket of sweat. In fact, some of our favorite adventures in South Tyrol are more casual strolls than arduous treks. Such leisurely walks allow you to soak in the breathtaking landscapes, savor the crisp mountain air, and experience the region’s natural beauty without intense exertion — making them perfect for travelers of all ages and fitness levels.
If that sounds like your kind of outing, consider stamping Val Fiscalina on your itinerary. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for a relaxed day, a family hiking with kids, or a beginner wanting to dip your toes into the world of mountain trails, Val Fiscalina is a gentle invitation to connect with nature, to pause and reflect, and to discover the subtle magic that makes the Dolomites a haven for wanderers.
About Val Fiscalina Valley
Val Fiscalina, or Fischleintal as it is called in German, is a 2.8-mile (4.5 km) long side valley of Val di Sesto (Sextental) in South Tyrol’s Val Pusteria holiday region, which is home to a number of wonders in the Dolomites including Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lago di Braies, Prato Piazza, Lago di Dobbiaco and more.
It is part of the Drei Zinnen Nature Park (also known as Tre Cime Nature Park and Three Peaks Nature Park) that encompasses more than 29,000 acres of alpine wilderness. Note: You may see Val Fiscalina referred to as being in Alta Pusteria, or Hochpustertal. This simply means it is located in what is considered “upper” Val Pusteria.
The valley’s Italian name arises from the Latin word “fiscalina”, which implies “belonging to the royal treasury”. Its German name, on the other hand, literally translates into “Valley of the Little Fish”. With a land as steeped in legends as the Dolomites, we are certain there is a fascinating tale associated with the odd name but have yet to come across it.
Famous alpinist, film director, and actor, Luis Trenker, proclaimed Val Fiscalina to be “the world’s most beautiful valley”. Considering his deep immersion in the alpine world, both on-screen and off, Trenker’s opinion is worth heeding. However, the valley wasn’t always so enchanting.
Like the Three Peaks to its north, during World War I the alpine front tore through its heart, ravaging the landscape with the grim face of war. Fighting here was unfathomably brutal. The historic villages of Sexten (Sesto) and Moos (Moso), nestled at the entrance of Val Fiscalina, were reduced to ruins. And the surrounding mountains, once a source of awe and wonder, became harbingers of doom. In the winter of 1916 /1917, avalanches and the piercing cold alone took the lives of over 10,000 men.
Today, remnants of these wartime activities, from tunnels to trenches to artillery shells, can still be found in the region. But over the decades, the wounds of war have largely faded, and the awe-inspiring splendor that captivated Trenker is on full display.
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What You Can Expect to See in Val Fiscalina
Given that Val Fiscalina plunges into the Sexten Dolomites, naturally the most striking sight in the valley are the summits that frame it like a work of art. Among them are the peaks comprising the Sesto Sundial, the largest stone sundial in the world. This unique phenomenon, locally known as the Meridiana di Sesto, or Sextner Sonnenuhr, is a marvel of nature and timekeeping.
Formed by five main peaks, each representing an hour from noon to 5 PM, the Sesto Sundial has been a reference for local time for centuries. As the sun moves across the sky, the shadows cast by these peaks indicate the time of day.
In the valley, you can admire the sawtoothed Dreischusterspitze (Punta dei Tre Scarperi), which roars on the right side to a height of 10,351 ft (3,152 m) — making it the undisputed king of the Sexten Dolomites. Across from this behemoth, left of the valley, is the eyepopping Croda Rossa di Sesto (Sextener Rotwand) and the Elferkofel (Cimi Undici).
Ahead of you thunders the massive north face of the Einserkofel (Cima Una) and the poetically-peaked Zwölferkofel (Croda dei Toni). The wildly varying faces of these mountains offer a bewitching spectacle you’d expect to find on the cover of a fantasy novel.
But Val Fiscalina’s stone titans are not the only giants you will encounter wandering here. The valley is also famous for its larch trees which tower skyward, their slender trunks and feathery foliage painting the landscape in hues of green, gold, and amber, especially during the autumn months. These ancient trees, some of which have stood for centuries, add a different kind of majesty to Val Fiscalina. When you walk beneath their canopy you feel a certain magic unique to this corner of South Tyrol.
The juxtaposition of the valley’s larch meadows against the backdrop of the mountains creates a wild contrast, as do the flowers punctuating the pastureland. Amid roaming cows and weathered hay barns, you will find a buffet of flora beaming with vibrant colors and delicate fragrances.
Every step seems to reveal a new facet of the valley’s rich biodiversity. As we sat with our eyes closed beneath a larch tree, we could actually hear the gentle hum of bees and the flutter of butterflies flitting from flower to flower. If that doesn’t transport you to a realm of serenity, nothing will.
Of course, few things can shatter a serene moment like the tug of hunger, but Val Fiscalina has a hearty answer for that as well. Located in the valley are a few wonderful places to savor a local specialty with a beverage or two.
We dined at Bistro Bergsteiger, a new architectural gem hidden in an embankment along the main trail, as well as at Talschlusshütte (Rifugio Fondovalle), a rustic beauty providing front-row seating to the peaks mentioned above. Another option we did not get a chance to enjoy is the Fischleinbodenhütte (Rifugio Piano Fiscalina), which sits next to Hotel Dolomitenhof.
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How to Hike Val Fiscalina / Fischleintal
There are many ways to venture into Val Fiscalina – or Fischleintal – if you prefer. The hike we recommend is an easy circuit trail that begins in the village of Sexten. It is 8 miles (12.8 km) and will take you 3.5 to 4 hours not including stops at the huts along the way.
Note: This charming route allows you to avoid the Val Fiscalina traffic restrictions, which are typically in effect from mid-June to early October, and prohibit cars from driving into the valley. If you do not want to hike in Val Fiscalina from Sexten and prefer to have your car, you should plan to drive to the Piano Fiscalina / Fischleinboden car park before 9 AM or after 4 PM.
Begin by navigating to the S’ Grillhittl in Sexten, a quaint restaurant you can consider visiting on your return hike. Next to it is a free public car park with a number of parking spaces. From there, you walk past the restaurant and begin hiking to Val Fiscalina by following trail no. 1 towards Talschlusshütte (Rifugio Fondo Valle). You will cross a small bridge over the Rio Sesto (Sextner Bach) where you will spot a pair of binoculars that look as if they have been left atop the railing.
Upon closer inspection, they look vintage and rather shiny and are unmovable. A small plaque beneath them informs you they are “Spuren / Tracee”, which means traces. The cast aluminum artwork is part of an initiative aimed at celebrating the memory of mountaineering pioneers who conquered the Sexten Dolomites more than a century ago. Throughout the region, you will encounter these reproductions of vintage climbing gear located in unsuspecting places as if they were forgotten — each telling a different story of a notable alpinist.
After the bridge, you will come across an intersection. Ignore the option to go left or right and continue hiking straight ahead past an old wayside shrine and barn. Shortly, you will have the opportunity to take a left or right again. Take a left to follow the Sextner Rundweg (Sentiero intorno a Sesto) trail, which will eventually transition into a dirt path and lead you upslope into the forest.
This forested section of the Val Fiscalina hike is rather dense so you may find yourself adding a layer once out of the sun. Along the trail, you will encounter intriguing information stands that may pique your interest. For example, a split-open tree trunk reveals details about the region’s woodpeckers, while an overturned spruce highlights the contrast between the shallow roots of spruces and the deep anchors of larches. And then there’s the towering wooden mushroom, which helps would-be mushroom poppers distinguish the edible from the toxic.
Staying on trail no 1, the spruce forest gradually thins out and you enter the “Fischleintalwiesen”, which are the valley’s famous larch meadows. Here, the mountains show their faces again and the hike is accompanied by the melody of cowbells. The trail gently winds downward until merging with trail no. 102, which you then take towards the Fischleinbodenhütte (Rifugio Piano Fiscalina). Once there you can decide to grab a bite to eat or continue on to Bistro Bergsteiger, which is a short walk further into the valley in the direction of Talschlusshütte (Rifugio Fondovalle).
From this point on the trail, the final destination on the circuit hike, Talschlusshütte, is less than 30 minutes away so we opted to dine there first. If you are hiking Val Fiscalina with kids, we recommend doing the same. It has a playground and a small zoo that will keep youngsters busy while you relax. After visiting the hut, begin the return hike by initially following the same trail where you will pass by Bistro Bergsteiger again. Tip: We highly recommend leaving room for dessert while at Talschlusshütte so you can stop and devour a decadent creation here.
Once you pass by the Fischleinbodenhütte again, look for trail no. 102, which will take you towards Bad Moos. This trail sweeps beneath the higher trail you first took to reach the valley. By going this route, you can appreciate the larch meadows from an entirely different perspective. And you can stroll through the village of Moos if you wish before returning to the car park in Sexten.
The village’s St. Josef Church is worth a quick visit if you are in the mood to admire some lovely frescoes. It was built in 1679 and artwork is owed to Rudolf Stolz, a celebrated Tyrolean painter. There is also a museum dedicated to him in Sexten a few minutes walk from the car park.
How to Reach Val Fiscalina / Fischleintal
Sexten is located less than 10 minutes from San Candido (Innichen), the most prominent town in Val Pusteria. As we noted above, you can drive into Val Fiscalina if you do not wish to embark on the hike we outlined from Sexten.
The entrance to Fiscalina Valley is in Moos, which is a 2-minute drive beyond the car park we recommend in Sexten. You will turn right into the valley as instructed by a road sign that is impossible to miss. From there it is a 5-minute drive to the pay-to-park Piano Fiscalina / Fischleinboden car park.
Traffic Restrictions Reminder: Car traffic is restricted in Val Fiscalina from mid-June to early October. To avoid it, either hike into the valley from the ideal starting point we recommend or use South Tyrol’s public bus system by taking bus no. 446 from Toblach (Dobbiaco) or the Fischleintal Shuttle from Sexten during the traffic restriction period. Tip: Our travel planning guide provides easy-to-follow instructions on how to use public transportation in South Tyrol if do not intend to drive in Italy. Another option during this time is to drive to the Rifugio Piano Fiscalina car park before 9 AM or after 4 PM.
Additional Easy Hikes in the Dolomites
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If you’re looking for family-friendly hikes in the Dolomites or simply want to enjoy less strenuous outings amid the mountains, consider adding the following destinations to your travel plans:
Each of these destinations offers easy hikes, as well as opportunities for challenging excursions should you feel up to the challenge.