The Val Gardena is a long mountain valley in northern Italy with some of the country’s best ski areas. The Val Gardena (or Grödnertal as it is called in German) stretches east from the main Isarco valley descending south from the Brenner Pass to Bressanone and Bolzano and heads up into the heart of the Dolomites.
The area is also at the heart of three different languages and cultures. It is part of Italy, but also a part of the autonomous region of the mainly German-speaking South Tyrol. And it is where the few remaining enclaves which speak the minority Ladin language are located.
Thus it is not uncommon to see three different versions of place names on signs and maps. For example, the town of Selva di Val Gardena (Italian) can also be called Wolkenstein (German) or Sëlva (Ladin).
How to get to Val Gardena
The closest airport to Val Gardena is the small one at the provincial capital of Bolzano. However there is only a limited choice of destinations and flights available from and to Bolzano.
Most visitors choose to fly to Innsbruck, to the north in neighbouring Austria. The journey south over the Brenner Pass is almost all motorway until the start of the Val Gardena and the distance of less than 100 kilometres to the valley entrance can be driven in 90 minutes in good conditions.
The other alternative for flights is to head south to the city of Verona or, even further, to the airports around Venice or over at Bergamo and Brescia.
The three ski resorts in Val Gardena
The valley of the Val Gardena is just over 20 kilometres long and ends at Selva di Val Gardena, where the ski slopes connect over high mountain passes into the Alta Badia and Val di Fassa ski areas as part of the renowned Sella Ronda circuit.
Ortisei is near the other end of the valley and offers access to ski slopes on both sides of the town. Santa Cristina is between the two and is connected to the skiing above Selva.
There is a local Val Gardena ski pass available, which covers all three ski resorts in the valley. An alternative, especially for those staying in the village of Selva, is to take the slightly more expensive Dolomiti SuperSki Pass, which allows access to the connecting ski area of Corvara over the Gardena Pass or the ski area at Val di Fassa over the Sella Pass.
Ortisei – St Ulrich – Urtijëi
Ortisei is the first ski resort that most visitors will reach and the largest in terms of population. The main valley road runs through the lower part of the village, while the higher part is an attractive group of older buildings.
Skiing here is on both sides of the valley. To the south is the Seiser Alm (Alpe di Siusi), which is a high plateau reached by a gondola from the village. The skiing here is fabulous for intermediate level skiers and offers stunning views of the peaks of the Dolomites. There are also cross country skiing trails and options for winter hikers.
The skiing on the northern side of the valley is reached either by a funicular to the Reschiesa restaurant or a gondola into the Val Furnes. This links into the skiing above St Cristina at Col Raiser.
Ortisei accommodation map
The map below shows accommodation availability in Ortisei. Choose the dates of your proposed stay and zoom in and out on the map using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ signs (zooming in can show more accommodation options). Click on the accommodation prices for further information.
S Cristina – St Christina – Santa Cristina
Santa Cristina is located between Ortisei and Selva and is connected to both ski resorts by road and by ski slope. The village is the smallest of the three ski destinations and offers skiing in three distinct locations on both sides of the mountains above the settlement.
As mentioned above, the ski runs on Col Raiser connect through to the slopes above Ortisei on the northern side of the valley. The skiing here is mostly in an open bowl above the tree line which is perfect when weather conditions are good.
Over on the southern side of the valley are two distinct ski areas, both of which connect through to the skiing above Selva.
Monte Pana is reached by a chairlift and has a beginners’ area with a number of drag lifts. A chairlift rises to Mont de Sëura and links to the ski runs at Piz Sella.
The other ski area is the famous Ciampinoi, which is reached by the Saslong gondola from the village. This is the venue for one of the spectacular ski races on the World Cup calendar each year, with the black expert run leading all the way back down to the valley.
Skiers can also take the long red run down to Selva under the Ciampinoi gondola.
Santa Cristina accommodation map
The map below shows accommodation availability in Santa Cristina. Choose the dates of your proposed stay and zoom in and out on the map using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ signs (zooming in can show more accommodation options). Click on the accommodation prices for further information.
Selva di Val Gardena – Wolkenstein – Sëlva
Selva is probably the best known of the ski resorts in Val Gardena. The village at the end of the valley has a wide range of accommodation and connections into the famous Sella Ronda ski circuit around the Dolomites.
The ski connections between Selva and Santa Cristina via the Ciampinoi gondola have been discussed above.
The route through to the Val di Fassa is on the same southern side of the valley. To access the ski slopes above Canazei, skiers take the Ciampinoi gondola before dropping down to Plan de Gralba and several short lifts across to Piz Seteur and the Sella Pass.
The ski runs head down to the ski resorts of Canazei and Campitello or there is the option of heading off on the green anti-clockwise Sella Ronda circuit through to Arabba and Corvara.
The other alternative from Selva is to take the Dantercepies gondola up towards the Gardena Pass and the orange route down to Colfosco and Corvara. This is either the start of the clockwise Sella Ronda circuit or, from Corvara, the way into the skiing of the Alta Badia.
Selva accommodation map
The map below shows accommodation availability in Selva. Choose the dates of your proposed stay and zoom in and out on the map using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ signs (zooming in can show more accommodation options). Click on the accommodation prices for further information.
Discover more about skiing in the wider region on our Dolomites ski resorts page.