Last updated on July 5th, 2023
Völs am Schlern is our family’s favorite base for visiting the Dolomites in Italy. I first visited in 2004 for work, and I’ve returned every year since, for both work and play. Our family loves this tiny village at the base of the Schlern for its:
- fantastic views of the Schlern (Sciliar) range
- easy access to the mountains and fantastic hiking (yet it’s only 25 minutes from the Autostrada)
- ‘real’ village feel – it’s not set up just for tourism
Good To Know: You’ll hear Völs am Schlern called by another name – Fiè allo Sciliar. Völs is the German name for the village, and Fiè is the Italian name. ‘am Schlern’ and ‘allo Sciliar’ mean at the base of the Schlern/Sciliar range.
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Who Should Visit Völs am Schlern?
While I adore Völs, it may not be the place for you.
You should definitely visit Völs am Schlern if you want:
- to stay in a quiet village in the Dolomites
- to be close to amazing hikes in the Dolomites
- easy access to local public transport
- to be close to Bolzano and the Autostrada
You may want to steer clear of Völs am Schlern if you want:
- a very Italian experience in the Dolomites. Völs has a distinct Austrian feel (it was part of Austria until the end of WW1. You’ll hear German more than Italian, and you’ll find more Austrian influence (like more knödel than pizza).
- to stay in a lively town in the Dolomites. While there are events in town during the year, there’s no nightlife and it’s a small village.
Where is Völs am Schlern (Fiè allo Sciliar)?
Fiè allo Sciliar is a small village located at 900 meters above sea level in the Dolomites in Northern Italy. It’s part of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano-Südtirol (South Tyrol) and the Autonomous Region of Trentino-Alto Adige (Südtirol).
Bolzano – 15 km
Milan – 290 km
Venice – 250 km
Verona – 170 km
Innsbruck – 120 km
Fun Fact: Fiè allo Sciliar (Völs am Schlern) has mostly German speakers. It’s just a short 15- to 20-minute drive from Bolzano, where 2/3 of residents are mother-tongue Italian speakers.
Map of Völs am Schlern (Fiè allo Sciliar)
When to Visit Völs am Schlern
You can visit Völs am Schlern year round, but it’s at its best in the summer (for hiking and spending time outdoors) and the winter (snow sports, especially on nearby Alpe di Siusi).
The late spring and late fall can be dreary, and most lifts are closed, but you can always get cozy in your hotel and spend time at the spa and explore restaurants in town and nearby (this is a favorite quick weekend getaway for me and my husband).
- Last half of June, July, September – excellent times to visit
- August – beautiful time as well but expect large crowds
- October – can be hit or miss with weather, trees changing colors
- December – winter sports, Christmas events and markets in nearby villages
Trying to decide when to visit Italy? Check out our monthly guides:
Italy in January
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Italy in May
Italy in June
Italy in July
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Italy in December
Things to Do In and Around Völs am Schlern
Walk Up to St. Peter’s Church
You can’t miss the tiny church on the tiny hill on the edge of town. Make your way up the dirt path to the top (10 min). You may need to share the trail with the local goats. Up top, enjoy the views of Völs, with the Schlern in the background.
Head to Bolzano
Take a quick bus from the main traffic circle in Völs (or drive) down to Bolzano for a little ‘city’ break. Go shopping along the porticoed streets, see Ötzi the Ice Man at the Archaeological Museum, stroll the market in Piazza delle Erbe, take in the pastel buildings and beautiful architecture, have a coffee or aperitivo in Piazza Walther.
We love to head down for the day or afternoon.
Walk to Tuff Alm
Malga Tuff Alm is an alpine hut at the base of the Schlern, in the hills above Völs. The setting is magical, in the middle of a huge green field surrounded by woods and with the Schlern towering above. Delicious mountain food awaits, as well as cold beer or a sciwasser (a lemon/raspberry/sparkling water drink). Live music completes the perfect scene – it’s usually on Thursdays, but double-check before you head up.
You can walk up from Völs (lots of up… but on the way back, lots of down!). Or, drive up to the Laghetto di Fiè parking lot and walk the rest of the way up. You can also reserve a horse carriage ride.
Visit the Pflegerhof Herb Farm
Nearby, this huge organic herb farm is nestled in the hills. You can explore the farm and its beautiful colors, or look for souvenirs in the small shop. I love Pflegerhof’s teas and always bring some home (for others and for myself!).
The owners are also happy to talk about the farm and its organic methods and answer any questions you have.
Go to the Spa
I recommend the spa at Hotel Turm. You can book an appointment for a treatment (facials with Guinot or local products), hay baths, dry and humid saunas. This is an excellent spa and you can also use the salt room.
You could also take a hay bath at Hotel Heubad, the home of the original haybath in Völs – well, after the farmers! In the 1800s, Völs became famous for its hay treatments. They started when local farmers woke refreshed after napping on piles of the alpine hay. Eventually, people began to visit from nearby Bolzano for the healing treatments, which continues to this day.
Go Swimming at Laghetto di Fiè
This small lake has won awards for clean water, and the setting is dreamy. It draws lots of locals, so don’t expect to be alone. Instead, go for a swim, try the cold water walk (Kneipp trail), have a snack at the café, walk on the trails around the lake, or sunbathe on the large wooden dock.
There are toilets (open 9:00-21:00), and you can park in a lot (paid) just a 5-min walk from the lake. There are also volleyball courts.
There are a few excellent places to have apertivo in Völs. Wherever you are, make sure you time it to see alpenglow on the Schlern in the evening. My favorite places for aperitivo in Völs am Schlern:
- Outdoor terrace of Romantik Hotel Turm’s Bar. Have an hugo spritz (pronounced OO-go) and toast your day! If it’s chilly or raining, get cozy on the leather chairs and check out some of the books and art in the indoor bar area.
- Paulis Caffè or Alpin Roof Flora. Snag one of the few outdoor tables at Paulis and hang with the locals. Alpin Roof Flora is a good option if you want to eat right after.
- Binderstube. My favorite spot for a wine aperitivo.
Take the Gondola up to Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)
This is a must-do if you’re in Völs. The Alpe di Siusi (western Europe’s largest alpine plateau) offers:
- breathtaking views
- hikes for all levels
- road cycling and mountain biking
- horse carriage rides
- casual dining in mountain huts
- gorgeous scenes to photograph
Of course, in the winter, it’s an epic snow sports destination.
Read all about Visiting Alpe di Siusi.
Both mountain biking and road cycling are popular in and around Völs am Schlern. My husband and I cycle a lot of out-and-backs, including up to the Alpe di Siusi and on the road past Castelrotto and over into the Val Gardena. There are also a ton of mountain bike trails.
You can rent bikes at the Alpe di Siusi lift and take them on the cable car up to the Alpe, where roads and trails await. We see a ton of people e-biking too, so there’s something for everyone!
If you want to avoid hills, you can head down into the valleys and ride on the network of bike paths. Check out Südtirol Rad for bike rentals in the valleys. These valley rides are one of our favorite things to do with kids or friends and family who want a gorgeous, less-strenuous ride.
Besides being an interesting castle in a lovely setting, Prösels Castle (Castello Presule) has a unique history. In the 16th century, the castle’s lord accused nine local women of being witches. According to the lord, they had stolen babies and flown with them on their brooms to the Schlern, where they feasted on them with the Devil. The women confessed – after being tortured.
Time it so you can do the guided tour of the castle, (don’t miss the toilet and the dungeon). After, have a coffee in the small café.
Watch or Participate in an Event
For such a tiny village, Völs sees a lot of action! There are a few boards up around town with upcoming events and there are activities and celebrations for all ages and interests (hiking, food and dining, nature, etc). Some of Völs am Schlern’s main events include:
- Riding Tournament Oswald von Wolkenstein – Early summer horse riding tournament. Local villages participate.
- Schlern International Music Festival – Each summer, the town fills up with musicians from around the world. There are concerts in town and places nearby (like Prösels Castle), and you can hear the musicians practicing in town – beautiful.
Völs makes a nice base for skiing or other snowsports in the area. Many head up to nearby Alpe di Siusi, but you can also hike and snowshoe closer to Völs. And after, use the sauna or take a hay bath at one of the town’s spa hotels.
More Things to Do in and Around Völs am Schlern
- Go golfing at the course near Siusi (Golfclub St. Vigil Seis). I haven’t played at it (yet), but every time I drive by it, it’s in good shape.
- Attend the weekly market in the center of the village (Wednesday mornings).
- See the beautiful cemeteries in Völs. One is at the church in the center of the village, and the other is next to the pond, at the base of St. Peter’s church (on the small hill). Instead of traditional gravestones, the region uses iron crosses. They’re all designed differently and there’s often a photo as well.
- Explore the village center. There are a few shops, the main cobblestone piazza, and the cathedral.
Völs am Schlern Hotels
For such a small village, there are quite a few places to stay. I recommend staying near the main traffic circle in town or in the village center so you can easily walk to everything (restaurants, hike starts, bus stop, shops, pharmacy, grocery store, etc). Here are places I’d recommend staying.
My favorite hotel in the Dolomites (and possibly all of Italy). Stefan and Kathi run a beautiful and unique hotel in the center of Völs am Schlern. The hotel is full of interesting art (inside and outside) and plenty of nooks and crannies for relaxing and enjoying the views of the mountains. Amazing breakfasts with local products, delicious dinners (sit outdoors), large and beautiful sauna and spa area (the facials, massages, and hay baths are my favorite), indoor/outdoor swimming pool, climbing wall and gym. I could go on and on. I recommend rooms on level -2 (minus 2) – spacious rooms with modern mountain décor, balconies, and views of the Sciliar. Or the tower suite if you feel like splurging (it’s worth it).
Daniela and her family run this B&B and apartment building (next door to each other) on the edge of Völs am Schlern. It’s meticulously clean and has a nice grassy area for relaxing. The apartments have more modern décor with beautiful pine and balconies for enjoying the views. The B&B is perfect if you’ll be doing a lot of hiking and just need a quiet, clean place to sleep at night.
Family-run, clean, nice grassy area for relaxing, balconies with amazing views of the Schlern, excellent location in town. We stay here with our family, but it would also make a perfect apartment stay for couples. There are one- or two-bedroom apartments. The décor is kind of ‘old school South Tyrol,’ and they are amazingly clean. We love this place. There are four apartments for rent: Apt 1, Apt 2, Apt 3, Apt 4.
Other Accommodations in Völs am Schlern
- Pitschlmann – Apartments with pool. The location isn’t super convenient (it’s downhill from Völs so it would be helpful to have a car), but the setting is gorgeous and there is an excellent restaurant on site.
- Gartenhotel Völser – adults only hotel option in Völs. I’ve stayed here and I wasn’t a huge fan of the modern décor, but they’ve got a lovely garden area with pool. The staff was also very kind and helpful.
- Albergo Kreuzwirt – no frills option in the center of Völs. It’s fun to stay on the main piazza but know that it’s super simple. I found it to be a little loud if there’s something happening in the town center.
- Hotel Emmy – I liked staying here because you can enjoy views of Völs (it’s on the hillside above town) and the Schlern range. It’s also convenient if you want to hike up to Tuff Alm, Laghetto di Fiè, or up to the Alpe di Siusi. You’ll need to decide if you want a village or mountain view (both lovely, especially the view of Völs in the evening).
Our Favorite Völs am Schern Restaurants
Romantik Hotel Turm – We love eating here, both the menu and a la carte. The salad bar is delicious. Get there early (7:00pm) and ask for an outdoor table (amazing Sciliar views). Arrive before dinner and have an aperitivo upstairs in the bar or on the stone terrace with views of the mountains. Piazza Chiesa, 9
Pistchlmann – Local dishes, also great for aperitivo or a light dinner. Sit out on the terrace and enjoy the views. Sometimes there’s live music. Via Peterbühel, 17
Pizzeria Tschafon – Excellent pizza, super casual spot, always full of locals. Sit outside on the terrace. Via Bolzano, 11
Binderstube – Lovely setting, both indoors and on the patio. Perfect place for a glass of wine or to try local dishes. Besides the Turm’s salad bar, this is the next best place for a good salad in Völs. Via del Paese, 10
Malga Tuff Alm – Up the hill from Völs am Schlern (hike up or drive part way up to Laghetto di Fiè and walk the rest of the way). Amazing setting in a green field at the foot of the Schlern. Mountain hut food (think potatoes, sausage, canederli). Live music usually on Thursday afternoons (but double-check). Located above Völs
Umser Mühlele – A hidden gem in the hills above Völs, in Umes. Carefully prepared dishes using local ingredients whenever possible. Umserstrasse, 47 – Umes
Outdoor Picnic – Another option is to make your own meal with local products like bread, speck, cheese, wine, fresh in-season fruit, and chocolate. There are grocery stores in town for supplies. The best one is Despar Dolomiti. There’s also a fruit shop on the corner by the roundabout and another small grocery store just down the steps. There are multiple bakeries in town – choose your favorite. Once you’ve got your supplies, head up to the small church on the hill. It has a commanding view of Völs am Schlern and the Schlern Range.
Good To Know: Craving coffee? Yes, you can get it in Völs, but there’s also a coffee roaster and café just outside of town in neighboring Sant’Antonio – Caroma Kaffeerösterei. Don’t miss the enormous collection of coffee grinders. You can walk from Völs to Sant’Antonio on the small gravel/dirt path to the left of the main road.
You may want to read about Tipping in Italy.
How to Get To Völs am Schlern
You can arrive easily by car or by train+bus.
We usually drive up, but we end up using the public buses often (for example, they’re convenient to take to Alpe di Siusi and Bolzano).
Getting to Völs am Schlern 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 Völs on smaller mountain roads. We usually arrive from the south, so we exit the A22 at Bozen Nord and take the SS12/LS24 up to Völs.
Having your car in the Dolomites and Völs am Schlern isn’t necessary, but it gives you a little more flexibility (bathroom breaks, stopping to take photos, etc).
If you’re traveling from a great distance, typically the fastest way to travel to Bolzano (the main city closest to Völs) is by train, followed by car and bus.
Getting to Völs am Schlern by Train
You can’t take a train directly to Völs am Schlern, but you can take one to Bolzano and then take a 25-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 Völs am Schlern by Bus
If you’re already in the Dolomites, you can reach Fiè using the region’s excellent bus network. The buses into and out of Fiè are dependable, comfortable, and punctual. Even if we drive to Fiè, we use the buses to get around (for example, to get to the base of the Alpe di Siusi cable car).
You can also take long distance buses to Bolzano, and then take the local bus up to Fiè. 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).
Getting to Völs am Schlern by Plane
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 Völs am Schlern.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Völs am Schlern
- The tourist info office at the main roundabout has excellent info and tons of brochures and maps. Inside you can also see local costumes and books on the area.
- Eat dinner outdoors at Romantik Hotel Turm or have aperitivo on its outdoor bar terrace.
- Walk up to the Chiesa San Pietro in Collo (St. Peter Kirche) church for views of Völs from above. Or walk into upper Völs (the eastern part of the village, up on the hill) to see another viewpoint from above.
- Park and leave your car at your hotel – you don’t need it to get around. Take the bus to Bolzano and Alpe di Siusi. You can begin many hikes from Völs – even hikes to Alpe di Siusi.
- There is a store with sports clothing, but you’ll find more selection in Bolzano, at the base of Cabinovia Alpe di Siusi, or in the Val Gardena towns (Ortisei, Selva di Val Gardena, and Santa Cristina Val Gardena).
- You can fill up your water bottles with fresh, drinkable mountain water here and here.
- If you’re just visiting for the day, you can park in the garage in the center of the village or the small lot not far from the main traffic circle. See map above.
Völs am Schlern with Kids
Our family used Völs as a base for exploring the Dolomites, but you can also stop in with your family for an afternoon or a night or two. Like I said, it’s a quiet village, but that ends up being perfect when traveling with kids. You don’t have to constantly look through crowds to find your kids and you can participate in ‘real life’ activities like going to the playground and visiting the market with local kids. Plus, there are a ton of fun things to do in the area with children:
- Visit the two playgrounds.
- Walk around the path at the pond and search for the frogs.
- Walk up to St. Peter’s church and say hi to the goats.
- Check out the snail fountain in the main piazza.
- Walk to up to Tuff Alm to have lunch, see the animals, and play at the playground.
- Take the gondola up to Alpe di Siusi.
- Swim and play in the woods at Laghetto di Fie.
- Make apple strudel in a lesson at Romantik Hotel Turm.
- Participate in summer events – like the open-air cinema in the piazza
- Visit Prösels castle
- Look for witches – inside restaurants, iron works on buildings, wooden carvings on trails.
Völs am Schlern Italy FAQ
The mountain logo on Loacker’s packaging is the Schlern range. You get amazing views of it from Völs!
Völs am Schlern can be covered in snow in the winter, or it can be without it. Follow weather websites for the latest info.