Alta Badia is one of the best places to ski in the Dolomites. It has gentle slopes accessible from several villages (Corvara, Colfosco, San Cassiano and La Villa) and is a great base for exploring the Sella Ronda.
- The breathtaking scenery that’s completely different from anywhere else in the Alps.
- Day excursions on a variety of ski tours.
- Some of the best food you will eat in Italy.
- The range of villages – choose one to suit your taste.
- Several of Scout’s favorite ski hotels are in this area.
- There isn’t a great deal of advanced skiing and limited off-piste.
- The ski areas are spread out and while they’re all connected it can feel a bit discombobulated.
- Choose your village base wisely based on the type of skiing you want to do, and the village style.
- Corvara is the main hub, connecting the Sella Ronda and Val Gardena ski areas with Alta Badia.
- The region’s culture is Ladin and all aspects of this valley reflect a mix of its Austrian and Italian heritage. Some of the locals still speak Ladin, but most speak German or Italian. Ladin cuisine typically involves dishes made up of a few hearty ingredients.
Alta Badia is one of the major ski resorts in the Dolomite ski area in Italy, just below the border of Austria. Located in the Sudtirol (South Tirol) region, it is made up of several villages that serve as bases for this spectacular ski resort. And while Alta Badia is a large resort itself, one of its huge advantages is that it forms the northeastern corner of the Sella Ronda circuit, the famous roundtrip that links resorts around the Sella massif and its awe-inspiring limestone formations. It takes an entire day to ski the 40km of runs without ever having to take off your skis (see excerpt below for more detail on the Sella Ronda). Of course, you will want to take them off to enjoy lunch at one of the many fantastic mountain hut restaurants scattered around the slopes. Alta Badia ski resort emphasises dining so if you’re into Italian food (how could you not be?) then this is certainly a great place to come. There are three restaurants in the area that have been awarded Michelin stars, and some of the top chefs from the area have partnered with mountain huts to provide dishes highlighting local Ladin (the region) specialties. As far as on-mountain dining goes, very few ski resorts in the world can compete with Alta Badia and the Dolomites region – and better yet the meals (and the wine) are usually great value.
Each of the villages making up the Alta Badia area is quite distinct in character, each with its own advantages.
Alta Badia’s most central and well-known village, Corvara serves as a great base for skiers who want to do as much exploring around the region as possible. To the east is the main Alta Badia ski area. To the west is the Selva and the Val Gardena area, which has some of the area’s more advanced ski runs and to the south is Arabba – another area for more advanced skiers. Staying here gives you the best access to everything (including the Sella Ronda). The village is quite busy, spread out and sadly dominated by a main road. But there are some quaint hotels (including the Scout favorite – La Perla), good restaurants and some decent shopping. Out of all the villages of Alta Badia, Corvara has the most lively après scene.
Just up the road from Corvara, Colfosco is a smaller village that is well connected with the slopes. There isn’t much in the village in the way of an après scene, apart from a handful of restaurants and bars – it is a bit of a sleepy village. It is the closest to the Val Gardena/Selva slopes with a few beginner/low-intermediate slopes surrounding the village.
Further west from Corvara is La Villa. This would be an excellent choice for families as the village is small and the ski runs and lifts are all within easy walking distance of the hotels. There’s also a bunny slope right near the center of the village. La Villa has a small selection of hotels, retail and rental stores. The main slopes of Alta Badia extend up from La Villa, which connect to the Sella Ronda at Corvara.
One of the quaintest (and quietest) villages of the lot is San Cassiano. A small collection of excellent quality hotels, it’s a little separated from the ski lifts, but a wonderful place to stay if you prefer charm and substance. Most hotels supply shuttles for the very short trip to the gondola that connects to the main Alta Badia slopes. There’s a small, quiet main street with a few shops and restaurants, but not much else. Further down the valley is the tiny hamlet of Armentarola. This has a lift connecting with the ski area and is also the jumping off point to link to Cortina d'Ampezzo.
The Alta Badia ski area is a predominantly blue-run, intermediate skiers resort spread over a vast area between the elevations of 1300-2778m (4265-9114ft). Scattered throughout are more quality mountain restaurant huts than anywhere we’ve seen – there are 45 just in the Alta Badia area alone. And with its breathtaking scenery of the Dolomites it’s hard not to stop several times each run just to take in the view. We don’t know anywhere in the world that is a more wonderfully relaxing place to ski than this.
Alta Badia resort does have a few drawbacks. The snowfalls in the Dolomites can be erratic so it’s a good thing they have a vast amount of high-quality snowmaking. There’s also not much in the way of challenging skiing and off-piste is generally banned, but advanced skiers can get their thrills at the connected areas of Arabba and Selva. We actually think it’s a good thing that Alta Badia is so gentle in character because it’s what makes it so unique.
A day pass to the Alta Badia ski area only ranges between €42-52 a day for an adult (2016/17 prices).
The Sella Ronda
Connected to Alta Badia is the world famous Sella Ronda. Not to be confused as a ski resort, the Sella Ronda is a ski “tour” that circles the Sella massif (a huge limestone formation) and dips in and out of several different resorts; Alta Badia, Arabba, Fassa and Val Gardena. Go clockwise one day and anti-clockwise the next for a completely different experience and different views – and since it’s well signposted and completely on-piste you don’t need a guide. The whole route is 40km and never covers the same run twice. The Sella Ronda is all connected by lifts and ski runs so you don’t ever have to walk or catch a bus (unless you miss the last lift back!). Generally, you want to allow around six hours to take it at a leisurely pace, including a decent pit stop for lunch.
The First World War Tour & Lagazuoi ski tour
Similar to the Sella Ronda – the First World War tour encompasses a variety of resorts but is longer, and involves some transport other than skis and lifts, including a bus and, the best bit, being pulled (on your skis!) by a horse drawn sleigh. This area saw some pretty heavy fighting during World War I and on this tour you will see many artifacts and traces of the war, including barbed wire, trenches, parapet walks and forts. The connection between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Alta Badia involves taking the spectacular Passo Falzarego cable car and the scenic Lagazuoi “Hidden Valley” run. It’s at the base of the run that, for a few Euros, a horse and sleigh will drag you 1.5km back to the lifts at Armentarola. The whole circuit takes 7-8 hours so requires an early start. Most hotels or tourist offices have maps and timetables for the buses. Any of the villages in Alta Badia can be a start and end point for the tour.
Dolomiti Superski Pass
One lift ticket called Dolomiti Superski encompasses the entire Dolomites ski area – that’s 12 ski resorts, 450 lifts and 1200km of slopes. This is the lift ticket to buy if you plan on skiing outside the Alta Badia area, on a tour like the Sella Ronda, First World War tour or just spending a day in another area such as Val Gardena or Cortina. At just €46-57 a day for an adult ticket, they’re not much more expensive than the Alta Badia ticket so worth it for the added flexibility. Plus you can go online at the end of the day to track where you’ve been, kilometers skied and altitude difference. It even gives you a score for the “wellness achieved” though we’re not entirely sure what that means and if that takes into account wine consumption?
Alta Badia makes a great choice for families, particularly those looking for easy slopes because here they are in abundance. There are several ski schools (at least one in each village) and first-timer areas in most villages that don’t require having to go up to the main ski area. Although there are apartments for rent, most of the lodging consists of B&B or half-board hotels so families will want to be comfortable dining in hotel restaurants. Some villages are more spread out than others, so depending on the age and mobility of your children you may want to pick your village and accommodation carefully based on the proximity to the slopes. Ski schools with (non-skiing) day care are located in Colfosco, La Villa and Corvara. The only downfall for families is that there are not a huge amount of non-skiing activities if your kids need entertaining after skiing is done for the day.
Getting to Alta Badia from a major airport on the shuttle bus may not suit families with younger children or those with lots of luggage, so a private shuttle or car rental might be a better way to go.
Alta Badia villages have every type of lodging you could imagine, apart from large chain hotels. Most hotels are small to medium and family-run over several generations. Some of Scout’s favorite ski hotels in the world are here including the charming La Perla in Corvara, beautiful Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano and, for a truly peaceful escape, Ciasa Salares in Armentarola. Not surprisingly, food is the emphasis at many of the hotels so half-board is not necessarily a bad thing. Some hotels have fantastic wellness centers. Let Scout know what your priorities are and we’ll match you with the perfect hotel.Search Hotels and Deals Get your
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Apart from skiing, enjoying food and wine and wellness centers in hotels, there aren’t a huge amount of other activities in Alta Badia. However they do have:
- Ice-skating (Corvara)
- Sledging (sledding/toboggan)
- Indoor climbing (San Cassiano)
- Indoor pool (La Villa)
- Winter horse riding
As for après ski, Corvara has the area’s best bars, including the legendary, not-to-be-missed L’Murin next to La Perla Hotel – it’s like a nightclub in a barn.
A few airports can be used as a gateway to Alta Badia, and while none are super close they’re not that difficult for connecting with Alta Badia. Munich, Innsbruck, Verona, Venice and Milan all have shuttle buses that either go direct to Alta Badia villages, or connect to a bus that does.
If you’re arriving by train the best train station to use is Brunico, 37km to the north of La Villa, as it has the most frequent bus connections to the Alta Badia valley.
There are shuttle buses connecting all of the villages of Alta Badia as well as further to Cortina, Arabba and Val Gardena.
Alta Badia’s ski slopes are open for operation from the end of November until the start of April. Given snowfall is fairly erratic it is hard to say when is the most reliable time, but typically late January and February should be fairly safe for snow. However, since the scenery is the hero here (and sitting out on restaurant terraces is so enjoyable), this is one place where you want to pray for fine weather and sunshine more so than snowfall.
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