Ortisei, Italy – Complete Guide + Our Top 14 Things to Do

Ortisei, Italy is a riverside village with a delightful pedestrian center in the Val Gardena in the Dolomites.  It makes a great base for hiking or skiing in the Dolomites, and it’s also an excellent place for:

  • Photographers – the area in and around Ortisei has spectacular mountain views, especially viewpoints reached by the Mont Seuc cable car, Resciesa Funicular, and Seceda cable cars.
  • Families – playgrounds, the adventure park, a pedestrian center, and family-friendly hikes make it an ideal base for exploring the Dolomites with kids. [LINK]
  • Cyclists – easily reach mountain passes on a road bike or take your mountain bike up to Alpe di Siusi; join internationally known races like the Maratona dles Dolomites or HERO Dolomites.
  • Couples – explore the trails together; stroll the main street of Ortisei; stay in a luxury hotel and use the spa
  • Spa lovers – stay in one of Ortisei’s many hotels with wellness areas; enjoy infinity pools and spas with mountain views
  • Foodies – dine at the Michelin-starred Anna Stuben in town and others in surrounding villages
  • Shoppers – shop for wood figurines, presepi (nativity scenes), clothing for children and adults, sportswear

You may want to check out our 20 Favorite Things to Do in the Dolomites!

Good To Know:  Ortisei is home to generations of woodcarvers.  It’s been a base for the craft since the 17th century and is now known worldwide.  

I’ve been visiting Ortisei annually since 2004, and I continue to return with family and friends who come to the Dolomites.  I hope you find this guide useful for planning your trip!

If you’re visiting the Dolomites with your family, you may want to read our posts
Dolomites with Kids
Ortisei with Kids

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How to Pronounce Ortisei

First things first.  Ortisei is pronounced OR-tee-zay.

Listen to it here:

Where is Ortisei, Italy?

Ortisei is in Northern Italy in the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The town is in the Val Gardena (German: Saint Ulrich, Ladin: Urtijëi, English: Gardena Valley), in the Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige.  

Ortisei is the main village in the Val Gardena.  The others are Santa Cristina di Val Gardena and Selva di Val Gardena.

Good To Know:  Alto Adige is the Italian name for Südtirol (German) and South Tyrol (English).

Fun Fact:  Ortisei’s name in Ladin (Urtijëi) comes from Latin urtica – nettles.

Map of Ortisei

When to Visit Ortisei

Ortisei, Italy lit up with Christmas lights and decorations.

Ortisei can be visited year-round.  It’s a popular skiing and snow sports destination in the winter months, and a hiking destination in the summer.

The best months to visit in the winter are December through March.  December is a lovely time to visit because Ortisei and towns throughout the Dolomites have Christmas decorations, markets, and events.  But, there are also large crowds and higher prices. 

The best months to visit in the summer are from mid-June to mid-October. July and August are busy, but you can still find your space on the trails and in the meadows near Ortisei.  The main hiking areas and trails will be crowded, so if you think that will bother you, avoid July and August.   

My favorite times to visit Ortisei are in early July and in September. 

Trying to decide when to visit Italy? Check out our monthly guides:
Italy in January
Italy in February

Italy in March
Italy in May
Italy in June
Italy in October

Italy in November
Italy in December

Best 14 Things to Do in Ortisei

Participate in the Passeggiata

Walking in the pedestrian zone of Ortisei, Italy.

Ortisei has one of the most beautiful pedestrian zones (zona pedonale in Italian) in the Dolomites.  Throughout the day, stroll the cobbled streets, window-shop, stop for a coffee, and enjoy the mountain views. 

In the evening, join locals and visitors for the evening passeggiata, a leisurely pre-or post-dinner walk.

Good To Know:  Cortina d’Ampezzo also has a pedestrian street worthy of a stroll!

Enjoy an Aperitivo

The Dolomites have excellent local cocktails like the Hugo, along with other Italian classics like the Aperol Spritz.  Rest your legs after a hike and take a seat at one of Ortisei’s small bars or wine shops.  Enjoy your aperitivo cocktail before dinner or traditional mountain food (or pizza!).

Learn more about Italian Aperitivo and Italian Digestifs!

Go Shopping for Wood Crafts

Wooden figurines in a shop in Ortisei, Italy.

You probably didn’t come to the Dolomites to shop, but Ortisei has a variety of shops and boutiques carrying local handicrafts, clothing for adults and children, sporting goods, and souvenirs. 

The highlight of shopping in Ortisei is the traditional woodcarving.  The town’s artisans create elaborate statues, ornaments, tiny animal figurines, religious art, and more.  Ortisei is especially well-known for its presepe, or nativity scenes made from wood. 

Learn more about Presepi (Italy’s Nativity Scenes) – What They Are & Where to Find Them.

You may be thinking, ‘but wood carvings aren’t really my thing…’ and I get that.  But, you really should take a peek at some of the wood art created by these craftsmen (and women).  Their families have been doing this for centuries!  And, who can resist a coin-sized wooden hedgehog?

Good To Know:  If you’re traveling with kids, let them check out the window displays at Alberto Comploj (especially the mini wooden figurines of animals) and Rusina (toys). 

Good To Know:  Want to shop for something local, but not wooden?  Ortisei is a great town to shop for traditional Dolomites clothing (like the dirndl).

Learn about Ladin Culture

As one of the main Ladin valleys in the Dolomites, Val Gardena is a perfect place to learn more about their language, food, traditions, and more. 

In Ortisei’s center, you can visit the Museum Gherdëina to see its exhibits on woodcarving, history of the area, local dress, and native legend, Luis Trenker.  It’s a worthwhile stop and the best Ladin museum we’ve been to.  Kids and adults will find something to capture their attention (although kids also love the Ladin museum in San Cassiano with its exhibit of the cave bear).

Another way to learn about the Ladin culture is to spend time with a local!  You can go for a hike (or walk) with Heidi from the neighboring Ladin area of Alta Badia.

Shop for Christmas Decorations

Presepe in a shop in Ortisei, Italy.

Ortisei’s woodcarvers make gorgeous Christmas decorations, including ornaments, wooden Christmas trees, statues, and presepi (nativity scenes).

  • Nadel Urijëi – If you’re in town during the holidays, you can visit Ortisei’s Christmas Village.  Good To Know:  Santa Cristina and Selva di Val Gardena also have Christmas markets.
  • Woodcraft Shops – Ortisei (St. Ulrich) is full of artisan workshops that display finished art.  We love looking at the ornaments, presepi, and the Arc with animal figurines at La Zipla.
  • Dolfi Land – The shop just outside of town has four floors and a huge Christmas decoration section.

Take the Cable Car Up to Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)

Panoramic view from the Alpe di Siusi, Italy.

A highlight of any visit to the Dolomites is a day (or more) on Alpe di Siusi (German: Seiser Alm, Ladin: Mont Sëuc).  On Europe’s largest high alpine meadow, you have a variety of activities available to you, depending on the season you’re visiting.

In the summer, you can:

  • Hike
  • Cycle
  • Rock climb
  • Go Nordic walking
  • Try a via ferrata
  • Go on a horse carriage ride
  • Eat mountain food
  • Relax in a spa

In the winter, you can:

  • Ski
  • Go on a horse carriage ride
  • Eat mountain food
  • Relax in a spa

The Mont Sëuc cable car is a 2-minute walk (across the river) from the town center.  The funivia takes you from Ortisei (1236 m) up to Alpe di Siusi (2000 m) in just a few minutes.

Learn more about Visiting Alpe di Siusi and read our Helpful Tips for Visiting Alpe di Siusi with Kids!

Ortisei makes a great base for visiting Alpe di Siusi because you’ve got the lift in town and after a day on the Alpe, you can head back to Ortisei with its excellent hotels, restaurants, and shops.

Walk to St. Jacob’s Church

St. Jacob’s Church (German: St. Jakob’s Kirche, Ladin: Dlieja da Sacun, Italian: Chiesetta di San Giacomo) is Val Gardena’s oldest church.  It’s located near the little hamlet of San Giacomo, in the hills above Ortisei. 

The best way to get to the church is to walk from Ortisei (6 kilometers round trip).  The way there is all uphill (over 300 meters elevation gain) and takes around 1 hr to 1 hr 15 min.  The way back is easier and takes around 1 hour. 

The views alone are worth the walk – the church is in a postcard-perfect setting with Sassolungo and Sassopiatto towering in the background.  Stop for a picnic, and then head inside to see the Baroque altar.   

Good To Know:  St. Jacob (aka James) is the patron saint of travelers and pilgrims. 

Take the Funicular to do the Resciesa Hike

boys hiking resciesa above ortisei, italy

The Dolomites have plenty of cable cars and chair lifts, so it’s fun to head up to the Resciesa hike using a funicular (a little ‘train’ that moves on a track up the mountain).

The hike that begins at the top of the funicular station is a fairly easy hike (my young kids walk it easily).   It’s four kilometers to the Resciesa Mountain hut, and it takes around 2.5 hours (150m elevation gain).  Once you get to the hut, you can stop for a skiwasser or continue to the cross.  You can see the climb to the cross and can decide if you’re up for it!

Hike the Seceda Ridgeline (or Just Enjoy the Views)

Seceda ridgeline, easily accessed from Ortisei, Italy.

Another popular hike and viewpoint that is easily reached from Ortisei is Seceda.  There are two cable cars (you’ll switch at Furnes) that take you up to the top.  Take a quick walk to the panoramic viewpoint where you can walk inside an iron ring that has the surrounding mountains labeled. 

The views of the ridgeline and mountains are jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Walk or Cycle on the Luis Trenker Promenade

Statue of Luis Trenker along his namesake promenade in Ortisei, Italy.

Ortisei-native Luis Trenker (1892-1990) was a man who wore many hats – including architect, alpinist, bobsledder, film director, actor, and wood carver.

The Luis Trenker Promenade (aka Luis Trenker Path, Luis Trenker Passeggiata) is a gentle 8-kilometer paved and gravel pedestrian trail that runs from Ortisei through the Val Gardena, passing Santa Cristina before it finishes in Selva.    

You’ll find walkers, cyclists, and joggers enjoying the path throughout the day.  It’s also lit up at night.

Relax at the Spa

Outdoor area at the ADLER hotel in Ortisei, Italy.
ADLER outdoor area in the center of Ortisei

There are many Spa Resort Hotels in Ortisei and the Val Gardena, or you can visit a day spa at one of them.  The ADLER Spa in the center of town has dreamy indoor and outdoor spa, pool, and wellness areas.

If you’re not interested in staying inside, try the Kneipp trail (cold water walking path) in the Anna Valley.  It’s outdoors, free, and incredibly refreshing, especially after a hike!  To reach the Kneipp trail, take the walking path from the base of the Seceda cable car into the Anna Valley.

Go Skiing

Ortisei is an ideal ski resort town in the winter months. 

You can ski car-free by using the network of ski buses and ski lifts.  Ortisei is close to the nearby Sella Ronda, which is great for more experienced skiers.

Not into skiing?  You can also snowboard, go sledding or snowshoeing, or even just take in the gorgeous snowy views from inside the spa or hotel bar.

From Ortisei, you can connect easily to the Dolomiti Superski area.  Ortisei is a part of the Val Gardena skiing area.

Good To Know:  Nearby Alpe di Siusi is extremely family-friendly and has ski and non-ski snow activities for all ages.  It’s the preferred snowy spot for our kids in the winter in Italy.

Fun Fact:  Ortisei hosted the 1970 Alpine Ski World Cup.

Smell the Roses at the Pufels Rosarium

A somewhat unknown gem just outside of Ortisei is the family-run Pufels Rosarium, or the Uhrerhof Rose Garden.  It hosts over 6,000 (!) rose bushes and other flowers, which are at their colorful best in July and August. 

If you missed the Dolomites wildflowers, you can still catch these gorgeous roses. 

Helpful Tip:  Bring a picnic lunch! 

Go Paragliding

I’ve never had a guest that wasn’t mesmerized by their experience paragliding in the Dolomites. 

From Ortisei, the best places to paraglide are on Alpe di Siusi (Spitzbuhl) or Seceda. 

You don’t need to have prior experience, as you can tandem paraglide with an experienced guide. 

Good To Know:  This is a memorable experience for teens too!

Where to Eat in Ortisei

Typical Dolomites dumplings, canederli.

My favorite place to eat in and around Ortisei?  On the grass with views of the mountains! 

Head to one of Ortisei’s grocery stores for picnic supplies, especially if you’re headed out on one of the three main hikes from town (Alpe di Siusi, Resciesa, or Seceda).  There are three main grocery stores in Ortisei.  I prefer the one in the pedestrian area (Despar – more specialty foods) and the one below the Luis Trenker playground (Conad City). 

Read our Visitor’s Guide to Italian Grocery Stores!

If you want to eat in a restaurant, check out:

  • Sneton Stube – local South Tyrol dishes in a cozy atmosphere
  • Turonda Pizza Bistrot – unique pizzas
  • Tubladel – delicious food presented beautifully
  • Anna Stuben – 1-star Michelin restaurant; creative cooking using local produce

Best Hotels in Ortisei, Italy

Cavallino Bianco family hotel in Ortisei, Italy.

Ortisei is full of luxury spa resorts, simple B&Bs, and apartments.  Like everywhere in the Dolomites, the best B&Bs and apartments book up quickly (many guests book for next year when they check out this year), so as soon as you find a place that looks good, reserve it!

Adler Spa Resort

Ortisei’s best-known spa hotel.  Outdoor Swimming pool, indoor pool, large spa and wellness area.  Excellent location with easy access to the pedestrian zone and the Luis Trenker Promenade.

Mountain Spa Resort Albion

Simple, modern, and luxurious, with spectacular views of the Garden Valley.  It’s located outside of Ortisei, toward Passo Pinei, so I wouldn’t make it a base if you’re visiting with kids.

Cavallino Bianco

The Family Resort in the Dolomites, with a dedicated kids area and staff, kid-friendly meals, and more.  Luxury, highly-rated.

Hotel Niblea

Family-run hotel above Ortisei; beautiful wood furnishings; plenty of green space and mountain views; incredible wellness area with a dreamy infinity pool

Hotel Montchalet

Small Luxury Hotels of the World member; located just outside of Ortisei; simple, modern style; indoor swimming pool and outdoor hot tub; wellness area

Hotel Garni Planaces

Excellent location close to the pedestrian area; also has apartments available.

Hotel Grones

Boutique hotel with a reputation for excellent service and food; family-run; great place to stay with kids

Gran Tubla Apartments

Simple family apartments; beautiful sauna and wellness area; within walking distance of Ortisei’s best park (1 km).  More casual, but still great for families – Apartment Iris and Apartment Paladina, both just off the Luis Trenker Promenade.

Transportation to Ortisei

The easiest way to get to Ortisei is by car – whether it’s you driving a rental car or a private driver (NCC – noleggio con conducente) shuttling you to town.

Car

If you’re arriving from outside the Dolomites, you’ll probably be traveling on the A22.  Exit Chiusa-Val Gardena.  If you’re coming from the Cortina d’Ampezzo direction, you’ll take the scenic route over mountain passes to get to Val Gardena. 

Parking in Ortisei – If you’re staying in town, organize parking with your accommodation.  Otherwise, for day trips, use one of the town’s parking garages.  If you’ll be taking the Mont Sëuc cable car, you can park in the garage at its base.  Or, for a visit to the town center, we use the Garage Central.   

If you’re planning on driving in Italy, check out our posts on:
Renting a Car in Italy
Italian Gas Stations and Getting Gas in Italy
Important Italian Road Signs
Driving in Italy

International Driving Permit for Italy
Renting a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License
Italian Toll Roads – Driving on the Autostrada
Paying Tolls in Italy

Plane

Innsbruck (INN) and Verona (VRN) are nearby international airports, but you will probably find better flight schedules and prices from larger airports like Venice (VCE), Milan Malpensa (MXP), and Munich (MUC). 

If you’re arriving from within Italy or Europe, check flights into Treviso (TSF), Bolzano (BZO), Milan Linate (LIN), or Bergamo (BGY).

From the airport, it’s easiest to arrive by car (rental car or private driver).  You can also take a bus or taxi.

Train

The easiest way to get to Ortisei by train is to take a train to Bolzano, and then take the bus or a taxi, or drive a rental car to the village.

Bus

You can get to Ortisei by bus, changing in a larger city like Bolzano or Bressanone.  South Tyrol has an excellent public bus network.

Getting Around Ortisei

View from the front seat of the Resciesa funicular on the way back down to Ortisei, Italy.
View from the front seat of the Resciesa funicular on the way back down to Ortisei

The easiest way to get around Ortisei is by foot. 

You can also use the cable cars and funiculars to get to hikes and viewpoints:

Mont Sëuc Cableway

Takes you from the center or Ortisei to Alpe di Siusi, a highlight of a trip to the Dolomites.

Resciesa Funicular

Takes you from Ortisei (upper part of town) to the start of the Resciesa hike, a panoramic walk that’s suitable for all levels of hikers.

Seceda Cableway

Takes you up two cable cars to get to the Seceda Ridgeline.  You can also do a short 10-minute walk to the main viewpoint.  You don’t have to do a major hike at the top.

Helpful Tip: Use the bathrooms at the cable car stations, or the main public toilet in the pedestrian area (near the post office).

Read more about Bathrooms in Italy!

Rainy Day Activities in Ortisei

Rainy days do happen in the Dolomites!  If your hike to Seiser Alm or other outdoor activity is rained out, Ortisei makes a nice stop.  If the weather is poor, you can still:

  • Have a hot chocolate in a café or get cozy in a restaurant
  • Try out your climbing skills at the Ortisei Climbing Hall
  • Visit the Gardena Museum (Italian: Museo della Val Gardena, Ladin: Museum de Gherdëina, German: Museum Gröden)
  • Treat Yourself at a Day Spa (like the Golden Day Spa)
  • Step inside Ortisei’s beautiful churches

Things to See and Do Near Ortisei

Colorful buildings in Bolzano, Italy
DESTINATIONWHY VISIT?
Corvara in Badianearby hikes; Michelin-dining; cycling routes
BolzanoIce Man; Talvera Park; local markets; great place for kids
Castelrotto frescoed buildings; small, charming village; folk band
Fiè allo Sciliarquiet, local village; Laghetto di Fiè; Hugo at Hotel Turm
Alpe di Siusihiking; cycling; mountain hut meals
San CassianoLadin Museum; Michelin-dining; Santa Croce hike
Cortina d’Ampezzochic mountain town; Cooperativa shopping; Cinque Torri hike
Messner Mountain Museumslearn about all aspects of mountain climbing and life

Ortisei With Kids

Part of the main playground in Ortisei, Italy.
Small section of Ortisei’s playground on the Luis Trenker Promenade

Ortisei is an excellent base for exploring the Dolomites, especially if you’re visiting with kids. 

You can also visit for the day or evening if you’re based nearby. 

Ortisei Activities with Kids

  • Resciesa Funicular and hike to hut
  • Secedar Cable Cars with short walk to viewpoint
  • Luis Trenker playground (one of the best in the Dolomites!)
  • Run wild in the pedestrian area
  • Pick out our favorite mini wooden figurines
  • Get gelato

Ortisei Hotels with Kids

  • Cavallino Bianco is a luxury kids resort.  It’s expensive, but guests who stay there love it.
  • Otherwise, rent an apartment with a kitchen so you don’t always need to go out for meals.  There are three large-ish grocery stores in town and local bakeries.

Ortisei Dining with Kids

  • Picnic –  Get supplies at a grocery store and picnic on a hike.  Kids love it and it’s so much easier.  Even if you don’t have a kitchen, you can just get foods like crackers, cheese, fruit, salame, and biscotti.  Kids love exploring grocery stores and being in charge of part of the meal.
  • Turonda Pizza & Bistrot – Kids may want a pizza and there are unique pizzas for parents who want to try something new.  Their dessert pizza is a hit with kids.
  • Mauriz Keller – Typical South Tyrolean dishes along with pizza.  Nice atmosphere.

What We Do:  We use Fié allo Sciliar as a base and visit Ortisei for the Resciesa hike, the Seceda Viewpoint, the amazing playground, and to explore town. 

For more details, see our post on Visiting Ortisei with Kids!

You may also want to check out
Italy With a Baby or Toddler
Packing List for Italy with a Baby or Toddler
Italy with Teens

FAQ

Is Ortisei worth visiting?
Ortisei is worth a visit during the summer months for its incredible hiking and during the winter months for its skiing and snow sports. Visit Ortisei year-round for its delightful pedestrian center and traditional woodcarving shops.

Do you need to have a car in Ortisei?
You don’t need to have a car in Ortisei. You can easily get around by using your own two feet, the cable cars, the funicular, and taxis.

Can I get by with English in Ortisei?
You’ll be fine speaking English in Ortisei, but attempting to speak the local language(s) will definitely be appreciated.

Is Ortisei in South Tyrol? 
Ortisei is in South Tyrol, in the Ladin-speaking Val Gardena.