Last updated on September 18th, 2023
Castelrotto (aka Kastelruth in German, Ciastel in Ladin) is one of the prettiest and most charming villages in the Dolomites, thanks to its frescoed buildings, cobblestone center, and dramatic mountain scenery.
It’s been one of the Borghi Più Belli d’Italia (Most Beautiful Villages in Italy) since 2019.
I’ve been visiting this small village in Northern Italy since 2004, and I happily return, year after year. My kids love the playground and kid-friendly hikes nearby, so Castelrotto always makes its way onto our Dolomites itinerary.
While you can definitely visit Castelrotto with your family in the winter, we prefer visits when we can take advantage of the walks in the area, so this guide is focused on the summer months, as well as late spring and early fall.
Let’s take a look at the best things to do in Castelrotto (Kastelruth) with kids and how you can make your visit to the village smooth and fun for your entire family!
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Best Things to Do in Castelrotto with Kids
Look at the Murals on Castelrotto’s Buildings
You can see some when you drive by town, but you’ll find even more beautiful murals if you walk through the town.
Most of the murals you see are by resident Eduard Burgauner in the early 20-th century.
- Hotel Zum Wolf (via Oswald von Wolkenstein, 5)
- 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
See the Elementary School
It’s fun to have kids see what other schools are like, and although you can’t go inside, you can check out their playground and see how it differs from yours at home.
Good To Know: The public toilets are right next to the school.
Listen to a Band Play
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been in Castelrotto and stumbled upon live music (folk music or classical). There are a ton of events in this area (Castelrotto-Siusi-Fiè allo Sciliar) in the summer, so check with tourist info to see if there will be any music when you’re there. It’s a perfect time to dance with locals (and maybe even eat grilled sausages!).
Take the Chairlift Up to Marinzen Hut
If you’re in Castelrotto with kids, this is a must-do.
Marinzen Hut (aka Rifugio Marinzen) is a mountain hut above Castelrotto with epic views, delicious mountain food, goats, and a play area for kids (with swings, slides, sandbox, climbing structures, a see saw, and more). You can easily spend all afternoon or even all day at Marinzen with kids – eating, playing, and taking short hikes from the hut.
To get to Marinzen, take the open chairlift from Castelrotto (located in the lot just behind the Coop (address is via Panider, 26).
Important: This is an open lift. I would not let my baby or wiggly toddler go up on the lift without being in a baby carrier. I would also evaluate if you feel comfortable with other younger kids on the lift. For example, last summer, I wasn’t quite ready to let my then four year old ride (while I would have been fine with my eldest riding it at that age). Use your best judgement and don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.
Good To Know: You’re allowed to bring your stroller on the lift – just fold it up and put in on the seat next to you.
Visit the Playground
Castelrotto’s playground is kind of hidden in town, so you can’t park right in front of it. But, my boys say it’s worth a visit. You’ll find:
- Slack lines
- Merry go round
- Spinning nets
- Baby rocker horses
- Climbing structures
It’s partly shaded, completely fenced, and there’s a water fountain and benches (but no toilet).
Get a Gelato
Our favorite gelateria in town (Andreas) is closed (oh no!), but there’s another location in neighboring Siusi. If you don’t want to drive to Siusi, grab a Magnum bar at the Eurospar.
Go For a Walk
There are quite a few trails that leave from Castelrotto (pick up a map at tourist info), but many of them are long loops that are too long for little kids. I recommend doing out-and-backs or strolling the town center and smaller roads that lead from town.
You can also head up to nearby Alpe di Siusi for some of the area’s best hiking (including easy hikes for families).
A classic walk from Castelrotto is to the Chiesa San Valentino (see below).
Walk to San Valentino Church
This is a classic walk 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 loved at sunset (although that can be tough to pull off with small kids). If your kids enjoyed the frescoes in town, let them know there are some on this church too.
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’re pushing a stroller. 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 a snack 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).
Other Hikes: The Mushroom Trail (starts in nearby Telfen, 6 km, 1 hr 45 min, not stroller-friendly) or the Peace Trail (3 km, 45 min, not stroller-friendly). I haven’t hiked these, but they’re on our list!
More Ideas for Things to Do With Kids in Castelrotto
- 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, and they aren’t particularly kid-friendly, but if you have a child with a particular interest in one of these areas, you may want to check them out.
- Castelrotto is home to a famous folk band – Kastelruther Spatzen. You can check out the museum and shop in the center of Castelrotto (via Dolomiti, 21A).
Things to Do with Kids Near Castelrotto
One of the best things about Castelrotto is that there are a ton of things to do with kids nearby:
Pflegerhof Herb Farm Alpe di Siusi – Organic herb farm with small children’s play area; fun to see the huge herb farm and you can buy teas and products in the small shop. Pflegerhof teas are one of my favorite Dolomites souvenirs!
Fiè allo Sciliar – Swim at Laghetto di Fiè; visit the animals at Malga Tuff Alm; play in the town’s playgrounds. Read our guide to Fiè allo Sciliar with Kids.
Bolzano – See Ötzi the Iceman at the Archaeology Museum; play at the incredible Talvera Park; visit castles. Read about Bolzano with Kids.
Alpe di Siusi – Take the long cable car up to the Alpe di Siusi, and explore the alpine plateau on foot and with other lifts. Read about Visiting Alpe di Siusi with Kids.
Ortisei – Play at our family’s favorite mountain playground; stroll the Luis Trenker path; take the funicular up to hike Resciesa; browse the woodcarving shops. Read our Tips for Visiting Ortisei with Kids.
Corvara in Badia – Challenge yourself at the Colfosco Adventure Park; play at the town’s playground or one of the amazing Movimënt playgrounds above Corvara on the Pralongià high plateau; play at the nearby Summer Park La Crusc. Read more about Visiting Corvara in Badia with Kids.
Siusi allo Sciliar – Explore the village center; we love its playground; play a game of (simple) minigolf at Bar Erika Seis.
Where to Eat with Kids in Castelrotto
Pizzeria Sporthutte (via Tiosler, 3) – Pizza and more; casual dining; indoor and outdoor seating; 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; excellent pizza and local cuisine; indoor and outdoor seating
Marinzenhutte (above Castelrotto) – Mountain hut dining (lunchtime) with spectacular views and a play area for kids
Family-Friendly Hotels in Castelrotto
We usually stay in nearby Fiè allo Sciliar when we visit the area as a family, but Castelrotto makes a nice base if you’re looking for a livelier village (Fiè is quiet).
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 Schgaguler has family suites (with bathtubs, not a given here in Italy) and apartments (with kitchens). Parking garage.
Aparthotel Kastel Seiser Alm – This is a place your kids will remember (and you will too). There’s a great outdoor playground and there’s an indoor play area and game room. Plus, there’s a swimming pool and spa area (for adults). Family apartments, excellent location in the town center. Parking garage.
Agriturismo Hofer Hof – This agriturismo is outside the center of Castelrotto, but just 7 minutes away by car. Kids will love the small playground, swimming pool, saying hi to the cows in the field, and trying the fresh farm products. Simple, Dolomites-style décor, amazing views. Ask for an apartment with a balcony. Easy on-site parking.
How To Get to Castelrotto with Kids
You can arrive easily by car or by train+bus.
I’ve traveled both ways with my family. I find that with smaller children, it’s easiest to arrive by car because you have a little more flexibility with schedule and the amount of luggage and kid equipment (like strollers). 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 find it makes things a little easier when you’re traveling with kids. You can stop to use the bathroom whenever you want, pull over to say ciao to cows, or plan your day around your schedule (and things like nap times).
Parking is easiest at the main garage (Zentrum Garage). If you’re planning on heading up to Marinzen Hut, you can also park right in front of the chairlift (but parking is limited compared to the 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
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.
Castelrotto Family Logistics
Strollers – Castelrotto is stroller-friendly. The streets are cobblestones or pavement, and there are steps occasionally, but you’ll find a ramp nearby.
Toilets – There is a free public toilet by the bus station.
Diaper Changes – You can use the public toilet (see above), the bathroom in a restaurant, or use a portable changing mat.
Breastfeeding – You can breastfeed outdoors on benches in town or in restaurants or cafes. Italians are very open to breastfeeding and won’t blink an eye if you need to feed your baby.
Baby Supplies – You can find the basics (diapers, wipes, diaper cream, baby formula, baby food, etc) at the Eurospar grocery store, the Coop, or the MPREIS discount grocery store. We always end up at the Eurospar.
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)
Need help deciding where to go in Italy with your family?
Read about the Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids!