Home » Traveling In Italy » Visiting Castelrotto (Kastelruth) Italy – On a Day Trip or as Your Dolomites Base
people walking in the center of Castelrotto in Italy. There are buildings on either side and a cobblestones street. You can see low green mountains in the background.

Visiting Castelrotto (Kastelruth) Italy – On a Day Trip or as Your Dolomites Base

Castelrotto (aka Kastelruth), loved by Italians and visitors, is one of the Borghi più belli d’Italia (one of Italy’s most beautiful small towns).  The village is set in a gorgeous spot with a view of the Sciliar range, and the tiny center is made up of cobblestone lanes, piazzas with cafes, and some gorgeous frescoed buildings.

Is Castelrotto worth a visit – yes

Castelrotto makes a great stop on your way to exploring the Alpe di Siusi, and it’s easily reached from the Autostrada (unlike many Dolomites mountain villages).  The village is full of life, and there are plenty of events, concerts, outdoor activities, and markets to keep visitors busy throughout the year. 

Add in ample choice of lodging and restaurants, a variety of shops, and the stunning scenery, and you may want to choose it as your Dolomites base! 

Castelrotto is also an excellent village to visit with children.  Check out our guide to Castelrotto with Kids.

What We Do:  We usually make our base in the smaller neighboring village of Fiè allo Sciliar and make trips to Kastelruth’s center for the afternoon or evening. 

Good To Know:  While Castelrotto is definitely frequented by Italians and international visitors, it tends to get the most Americans out of any of the Dolomites villages in the area (Rick Steves recommends the town). 

Castelrotto… Kastelruth… which one is it?  Both, and there’s actually a third name for the village. You’ll hear and see the name of the the town in three languages:

  • Kastelruth (German)
  • Castelrotto (Italian)
  • Ciastel (Ladin)

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Castelrotto (Kastelruth) Location

Castelrotto is in the Dolomites in Northern Italy.  

Distance from:

Map of Kastelruth, Italy

When to Visit Castelrotto (Kastelruth), Italy

You can visit Castelrotto year-round.  It’s liveliest in summer and winter months, and quiets down a bit during the spring and fall, when some hotels and businesses close so the staff can take a break.  Still, Castelrotto never feels ‘shut down.’

We prefer to visit in the summer months, when we can take advantage of the walks in the area.

Summer Months – Base for hiking, relaxing in the mountains, lots of events.  We love this time for the bright green hills and wildflowers.

Winter Months – Base for skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing.

Spring and Fall Months – Can still explore the area, but need to be more flexible because of the weather).  Can get good hotel deals.  Late fall can seem a little brown and dreary – it’s my least favorite time to visit Castelrotto and the Dolomites.

What to See and Do in Kastelruth, Italy

My favorite thing to do in Castelrotto is come into town after a day of hiking.  We typically get something to drink or eat at an outdoor café and then just wander around the village.  We also like to try to time it to catch a concert or market.

Find the Frescoed Buildings

Local artist Eduard Burgauner started the trend of painting frescoes on the walls of Castelrotto’s buildings in the early 1900s.  His goal was to turn Castelrotto into one of the region’s most frescoed villages. 

Wander through town and admire the painted facades.  Some are religious, but not all. 

Take a look at:

  • Hotel Zum Wolf (via Oswald von Wolkenstein, 5) – also has short poems and phrases; can you find the music-playing monkeys?
  • Mendelhaus (via Dolomiti, 15)
  • Backerei Burgauner – now Thurn-Edenberg Holiday Apts (via Platten, 10) – our favorite of Eduard’s frescoed buildings; check out St. George and the dragon
  • Villa Felseck (via Platten, 22) – has the months of the year; this was Burgauner’s home

Good To Know:  Frescoes were originally added to buildings as a means of identification – before there were street names or house numbers.

Attend an Event in Castelrotto

Of all of the towns in the area (Siusi allo Sciliar, Tires, and Fiè allo Sciliar), Castelrotto is the most lively.  There’s always something going on, and if you want to time your visit with an event, look at the SüdTirol website (filter for Seiser Alm area).

  • Oswald von Wolkenstein Ride – A horse riding competition that takes place in the early summer in Kastelruth (Castelrotto) and neighboring Seis (Siusi) and Völs am Schlern (Fiè allo Sciliar).  The first of four stages – ring jousting – takes place in Castelrotto. 
  • Spatzenfest – A music festival of the famous local band, Kastelruther Spatzen. 
  • Thursday Market – Takes place in the morning in Piazza Kraus.

Walk to San Valentino Church

San Valentino church near Kastelruth, Italy.  Green grass and a few trees to the left.

While there are many walks to do in the area, this one’s a classic. 

The walk takes you from Castelrotto to a beautiful small church set in a green field near town.  It’s got a backdrop of the Sciliar and is particularly lovely at sunset.

You can walk to San Valentino directly from Castelrotto.  Take via Marinzen out of town, then follow trail 6 and trail 7.  The walk is on pavement, gravel paths, and small dirt trails.  But, you can also follow small roads the entire way (except for the last couple hundred meters to the church on a dirt trail) if you want to avoid the fields (for example, if it’s muddy from rain).  Pick up a map in town at a shop or the tourist info office.  I use the Tabacco #2 Val di Fassa / Alta Badia, but there are plenty of other more detailed area maps. 

Helpful Tip:  Bring evening aperitivo (olives, bread, cheese, wine, etc) from the Eurospar grocery store that you pass right across from via Marinzen.

Good To Know:  It’s not a flat hike, but the climbs are gradual.  There are a couple of benches for resting along the way, and you’ll have plenty to look at (mountains, farms, flowers).

Visit Pflegerhof Organic Herb Farm

Technically, it’s just outside Castelrotto, but it’s worth a quick trip to see this huge organic herb farm.  If you’re curious about how the herbs or grown, or you just want to make a purchase from the onsite shop, head to Pflegerhof

It’s family-run, and they are so kind and willing to answer questions (like what they use instead of pesticides) and explain how the farm works.

I always buy some of the farm’s teas (loose leaf and in the net pyramids) to bring home as a Dolomites souvenir.  I also plant their seeds (you can buy small packets).

Good To Know: If you can’t make it to the farm, you can find a selection of its products at local grocery stores and for breakfast at many hotels.

See the Shop of Kastelruther Spatzen

Entrance to the Kastelruther Spatzen shop and museum in Kastelruth, Italy.  You can see the red and white South Tyrol flag hanging from the building.

The famous local folk band Kastelruther Spatzen (the Kastelruth Sparrows) has a museum and shop in town.  Stop in to listen to some of the band’s music, admire awards and purchase souvenirs.

Even if you haven’t heard of them, it’s worth checking out a big part of Castelrotto’s culture. 

Want to hear them live? You can hear them play during the year at the Open Air festival in June and the Spatzen Festival in October.

Hike on Alpe di Siusi

Panoramic view from the Alpe di Siusi, above Ortisei, Italy.

Almost all of Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm) is part of Castelrotto’s territory. 

You can drive up to Alpe di Siusi to begin you hike on Western Europe’s largest alpine plateau, but our kids (and I) think the best way to get to Alpe di Siusi is by taking the cable car from Siusi allo Sciliar. 

Once you’re at the top, take a minute to soak in the views of the mountains all around you, and choose a hike (all levels), go for a bike ride, or just hang out in one of the small restaurants or cafes and sip on a radler or sciwasser.

If you’re in Castelrotto, don’t miss a visit to the Alpe di Siusi!  If you only have time to do one thing here, make it a stop at the Alpe di Siusi.

Read more about Visiting Alpe di Siusi.

Visit a Local Museum

There is a trio of museums in the vicinity – on traditional costumes, history of area schools, and farmers’ life.  The museums don’t have English explanations, but if you have an interest in one of these areas, you may want to check them out.

Where to Eat in Castelrotto

Look inside an alimentari in Castelrotto, Italy.  You can see cured meats and cheeses behind glass on the right and products on shelves in the shop.
You don’t have to sit down at a restaurant. There are small shops like this one that will make you sandwiches or you can pick up picnic ingredients.

Hotel Zum Turm Restaurant (via Kofel, 8) – Local ingredients are used in local dishes.  Beautiful setting, eat on the terrace for lunch or dinner in the summer, or in the cozy wooden dining room if it’s chilly outside.

Pizzeria Sporthutte (via Tiosler, 3) – Order pizza and more at this casual restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating; You can walk from town but there is also parking.

Eurospar (via Oswald von Wolkenstein, 8/10) – Grab picnic supplies or snacks here and at the shops next door (bread, salame).

Zur Alten Schmiede (via Panider, 7) – Casual dining with indoor and outdoor seating. Excellent pizza and local cuisine.

Kastelruth, Italy Hotels

I recommend staying in the center.  Parking is easy in Castelrotto and you’ll want to be able to walk in the center, to the playground, to restaurants, etc. 

Schgaguler Hotel – I’ve stayed here multiple times, for work and leisure, and it’s always been a pleasant experience.  I love the location in the center, and the views of the Sciliar are fantastic.  The hotel has a lovely spa and the massages are divine!  Parking garage.

Hotel Doris – Cozy and charming B&B with gorgeous views of the Sciliar.  Family-run, simple but spotless rooms.  Relaxing on the balcony is perfect after a long day of hiking!  I stayed here with my parents and it was a relaxing and lovely stay.  Parking, and it’s also right across the street from the bus stop. 

Check out my general guide to Accommodation Options in Italy – From Agriturismos to Villas

Getting to Kastelruth, Italy

You can arrive easily by car or by train+bus. 

I’ve traveled both ways in my 2+ decades of travel to Castelrotto.  We usually end up driving (because that’s the easiest way with three kids), but we’ve also traveled by public transportation and the area is well set up and buses and trains are very dependable.

Getting to Castelrotto by Car

If you’re not traveling from within the Dolomites, you’ll likely arrive in to the area on the A11 Autostrada, and then make your way to Castelrotto (Kastelruth) on smaller mountain roads.  We usually arrive from the south, so we exit the A22 at Bozen Nord and take the SS12/LS24/SP64 up to Castelrotto. 

Having your car in the Dolomites and Castelrotto isn’t necessary, but I do appreciate having a little bit more flexibility with the day.

Read more about
Driving in Italy
Renting a Car in Italy

Driving in the Dolomites

Parking is easiest at the main garage (Zentrum Garage). 

Getting to Castelrotto by Train

You can’t take a train directly to Castelrotto, but you can take one to Bolzano and then take a 35-minute bus ride up to the village.  You can take a fast train from all over Italy and from neighboring countries. 

Read our guide to Taking the Train in Italy
Check out the Printable Italy Train Map

Getting to Castelrotto by Bus

If you’re already in the Dolomites, you can reach Castelrotto using the region’s excellent bus network.  The buses into and out of Castelrotto are dependable, comfortable, and punctual. 

You can also take long distance buses to Bolzano, and then take the local bus up to Castelrotto.  The Bolzano bus station is just 200 meters from the Bolzano train station.

Helpful Tip:  While it’s possible to reach Bolzano by long-distance bus, I recommend traveling by train to save time.  For example, the train from Rome to Bolzano takes 5 hours, while the bus takes 7-10 hours (with at least one change).

Flying to Castelrotto

Bolzano does have a small domestic airport, but if you’re arriving from outside Italy, look at flights to Verona (VRN), Venice (VCE), Innsbruck (INN), Milan (MXP), and Bologna (BLQ).  You can then take a train to Bolzano from any of these cities, followed by the bus up to Castelrotto.

Getting to Castelrotto by Bicycle

This is an excellent area for cycling, and you can arrive by bicycle on the main road that passes through the village (SP64).  You can also ride down from Alpe di Siusi.

Helpful Tip:  Make sure your hotel knows you’ll be bringing a bicycle so it can arrange secure storage for your bike.  Most hotels and B&Bs in the Dolomites don’t want bicycles to be stored in your room.

Castelrotto Logistics

Toilets – There is a free public toilet by the bus station.

Pharmacy – Castelrotto’s pharmacy (farmacia) is next to the Eurospar.  You can also get first aid supplies and blister care supplies. Read our guide to Going to the Pharmacy in Italy.

Groceries – The Eurospar (on the main road in the town center) has a great selection of local products and foods.  In town, you’ll also find:

  • Bakeries, including Trocker (next to the Eurospar)
  • Tito Speck – a shop with local products, including cured meats (next to the Eurospar)

Read our guide to Grocery Stores in Italy.

Hiking Gear – The best place locally is the group of shops at the base of the Alpe di Siusi chairlift in Siusi allo Sciliar (there are also shops at the top) or in Bolzano.

What to Do Near Castelrotto

Maretsch castle in Bolzano, Italy.
Maretsch Castle in Bolzano

Fiè allo Sciliar – Visit Prösels castle, spend the afternoon at Laghetto di Fiè, walk up to Tuff Alm, shop at the Wednesday morning market. Read more about the village of Fiè allo Sciliar (Völs am Schlern).

Bolzano – See Ötzi the Ice Man at the Archaeological Museum, shop at the Piazza delle Erbe market, walk along the river, shop in Bolzano’s boutiques under the porticoes, relax with a drink in Piazza Walther. Read about the Best Things to Do in Bolzano.

Ortisei (& other Val Gardena villages) – Stroll one of the area’s best pedestrian centers, hike Resciesa or Seceda, visit a woodcarver’s workshop. Check out our Guide to Visiting Ortisei.

Corvara in Badia – Hike in the surrounding mountains, dine at Michelin-starred La Stüa de Michil. Check out my guide to Corvara in the Summer.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Castelrotto! 

You may also want to read about
Our Favorite Things to Do in the Dolomites

Alpe di Siusi or Seceda – Which Should You Choose?

Castelrotto (Kastelruth) FAQ

What can I do on a rainy day in Castelrotto?

If you want to stay in Castelrotto, you could cozy up in a café or restaurant.  You could also venture out to one of the nearby museums (see above), or head down to Bolzano where there’s plenty to do in the rain (like shop under the porticoes and see Ötzi the Ice Man at the Archaeological Museum)

How did Castelrotto get its name? 

Castelrotto in Italian translates to ‘ruined castle’ or ‘broken castle.’  While there’s no castle in the town now, it’s believed there was one on site.

Kastelruth's bell tower on the left, and a small cobblestone piazza.  People are sitting at a cafe on the right of a fountain.
You can’t miss Kastelruth’s bell tower!