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Dolomites: Ortisei or Castelrotto?

Would appreciate help with planning a first trip to Dolomites. Identified these two locations in my intial research. Should we try to do both locations? Are they too similiar? Different landscape at each location?

Travelers: two active seniors (60+)
Length: five - seven days
Time: Sep or early Oct
Transport: public transportation
Interests: walking, bird watching, bike riding, local food and wine, photography. Waterfalls, caves, hot springs would be a plus. No hardcore hiking or cycling.
Appreciate feedback on must do activities and must do locations

Posted by
533 posts

If it were me, I would stay in Castlerotto the whole time and take the bus to get around. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
60 posts

Well, they are only 11 miles away from each other, Kastleruth (Castlerotto) is the quainter of the two, it is the 'undiscovered' village of Rick Steve from decades ago and is hardly 'undiscovered' anymore, it's famous for its village bell that rings ever hour. Kastleruth is considered the 'gateway' to the Sieser Alm since it sits closer to it than Ortisei (but there is a chairlift to Sieser Alm from Ortisei too). I would not say there is a lot of difference scenery-wise between them being so close to each other and sitting basically in the same valley.

Should you try to do both locations? With 5-7 days you probably will need to, that's a lot of time for both, let alone just one of those places! Ortisei and Kastleruth are just small towns/villages, they both are pretty central places for people to base themselves to explore the area they sit in which is the Val Gardena. I would think a good amount of people staying in either of those towns are there to explore the Val Gardena area itself and not just the town.

Ortisei will be more central to more things, Castleruth further to the west will be more central to visiting only Sieser Alm.

For ideas of what to do there besides walking around the villages... the two biggest attractions are:

1) Near Castleruth the mega attraction is the Seiser Alm, of course, is a huge tourist draw for hikers (Maybe overhyped for tourists but to each their own), it's also a fun experience to rent E-bikes and explore it, you can rent them at the base and take them up with you or rent them at the top. (You can also stay in the smaller village of Siusi Seis just a couple of miles south of Castleruth, and walk to the tram that takes you up to the Seiser Alm)

2) In Ortisei the main mega attraction is the Seceda, taking the tram up to the top, hike around see the amazing scenery, drink and eat at the different rifugios, you can walk down into the nearby village of St. Cristina and take the bus #350 back to Ortisei if you are a tiny bit adventurous.

There are lots more things to do in the area you are looking at which I'm sure others will give you details of.

A good way to start figuring out what you want to do is google image search the things I named here to see how special they are - Seiser Alm, Seceda...

Posted by
4 posts

We have been to the Dolomites twice and stayed in Castelrotto. We found Castelrotto, quieter, fewer tourists, with good restaurants within walking distance. We utilized the free bus pass that the hotel provided and visited Ortisei and took the tram up to the Secada. Looking forward to a trip back there in the future.

Posted by
1724 posts

The 2 towns are very close to each other so not a major difference, Ortisei seems to have more in the town itself and close to most locations in the mountains so would be my choice. Definitely NO to 2 bases so close would be zero reason to do that and many to not ; if you said Ortisei to see 1 side of the Dolomite range and then Cortina D'Amprezzo for the other base ; that makes some sense as the drive between them is not as easy to do more than a couple times.

Castelrotto has a lift to Alpe Di Suisi ; Ortisei has a lift to both Seceda and Alpe Di Suisi ; plus a 3rd rail style lift to a mid area where there is an outdoor restaurant.

BUT that said a few things stand out to me:

Time: Sep or early Oct : things close down end of Sept.

Transport: public transportation : Not great in this part of Italy. Car is much better though both towns have bus service
Waterfalls, caves, hot springs would be a plus: None of that here. You are in the mountains (think Swiss Alpine villages)

There are plenty of nice walks that do not require strenuous hikes ; take advantage of the many lifts in the area to bring you to the views.