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Dolomites: Val Gardena or Alta Badia?

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Apr 15th, 2012, 05:51 AM
  #1
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Dolomites: Val Gardena or Alta Badia?

We are planning 5 days of hiking in the Dolomites during the last week of June, and plan to stay in a nice B&B. Not looking for anything fancy, but comfortable and with a nice place to sit with a view of the mountains. I had been looking at Selva di Val Gardena as a good starting point for hikes but get the impression from various discussion boards that the town is mostly touristed and does not seem very authentic. However, it has the advantage of being fairly quick to access the main valley, so if we want to stroll city streets and have dinner in Balzano, Bressanone, or Merano after a day's hike in the mountain, that would be an option. On the other hand, the towns in Alta Badia seem nicer, hiking similar to Selva, and there are a number of restaurants recommended on Chowhound. I get the impression that the accommodations are a bit less expensive there -- leaving more money to spend on dinners. However, if the weather is poor for hiking, and we want to spend the day at a museum, the drive would be longer to the larger towns.
I would appreciate the opinions of people who have been to this area.This will be our first time.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 06:18 AM
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I ended up in the Alta Badia quite by accident and thought it had the most enchanting and pleasant aspect for towns in all of the Dolomiti that I toured (and I toured almost all of it!). It is impossible to complain about the scenery wherever you go, but I took a particular dislike to Selva -- an overbusy town of hotels and lifts -- and my experience of the val di Gardena was marred by it seeming to have a near-forest of construction cranes when I passed through it -- but even if you like it, I really doubt that you will feel like taking drives to visit Bolzano, Bressanone and Merano at the end of the day. I think the main appeal of staying in Selva is the asscess to lifts. The Alta Badia has some, but not as many.

It may all depend on how you envision your time there. If it is mainly about walking, hiking and being in touch with a pristine place, then I think settling into the Alta Badia, somewhere north of Covara gives you that plus the rainy day options of Brunico and Bressanone.

If you really hope to hit the heights and hit the sights, then the reason Sevla is such a tourist pit stop is precisely because it is convenient for that.

If food really matters to you, you should position yourself to take advantage of those Chowhound recommendations because otherwise food in that area is generic, industrial and packaged for a tourism that doesn't want to spend much on meals. The Alta Badia still has cheese and fruit production as an economic mainstay, not just tourism.

Hope that helps.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 06:30 AM
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Here is a wonderful trip report that you may find helpful, especially for the hiking options:
http://www.onelittleworld.com/dolomites_1.html
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Apr 16th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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Hi Jskb, I agree with zeppole: if you’re seriously thinking about hiking in the Dolomites you won’t get back to your rooms soon enough to take a drive to the larger cities. Most of the times it’s simply too long a drive to get there and back. Eating out in the Dolomites is truly great, you do get a great mixture of traditional German/Ladins and Italian food. Val Gardena is a bit more expensive than the Val Badia, so there you need to make a proper decision. The options are also great from the places just outside the Dolomites – for example San Lorenzo di Sebato to the north of the Dolomites. It’s close to the famous Senes- and Fanes area (even there you could stay for days in one of the hotel-huts), Lake Prags isn’t far, and within an 1 1/2hrs drive you’re at the most famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo where you can do great hikes. Also, with Brunico you haven’t got it far to a larger city to dine out. Oh yeah, from here you haven’t got a long drive either to the Dolomiti di Sesto, a wonderful area..

If you do need some more information about hiking in the Dolomites, just visit me on www.hiking-in-the-dolomites.it or write to [email protected].

Hope that helps too.
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Apr 16th, 2012, 03:40 PM
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bob,

Why don't you mention that the trip report you linked to was written by son? There's nothing wrong with giving a link to it if you include your connection. It's one thing for another traveler who doesn't know your son to point to the link saying: "This is wonderful" -- and quite another for you to omit that and pretend you are passing it along objectively.
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Apr 16th, 2012, 04:18 PM
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Geez zeppole, chill out. If it makes you feel better, I will say it. The report that Bob linked is a wonderful report and I don't know Bob or whomever wrote the report!
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Apr 16th, 2012, 04:39 PM
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Bob's son wrote the report and Bob knows that.

I completely disagree it doesn't make a difference to make a post sound sound like you are just another traveller on the board who found a wonderful trip report that another traveler might use. If it is your own trip report, say so. (Maybe that's the reason it's so "wonderful"?) If it is your son's trip report, say so.

You're not taking this trip, ekc. I have a right not "to chill" but to give the OP information about the information he or she is being given. I can't see any harm in letting the OP decide. And I don't think there is any harm in asking Bob to stop his practice of presenting brand new posters with trip reports from bob's family and blindly describing them as "great' and "wonderful" or "very good" as if he was independently admiring work that had nothing to do with him.
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Apr 16th, 2012, 05:15 PM
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Hi,

I find the Alta Badia more scenic in general. We found the Val Gardena in general to be more "touristy", but no more than anywhere else popular with visitors. We stayed in St. Christina, which was pretty quiet and liked Ortisei's small old town pedestrian zone. I didn't find Selva any more touristy or commercial than anywhere else. With a car, you can stay outside of the main village if you prefer. FYI: the 3 towns/villages of the Val Gardena are just a few minutes drive from one another, so any makes a good place to base. Plus the ease of getting into the Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi from Val Gardena is something to consider.

The Alta Badia is a bit more spread out, although Cofosco and Corvara are right next to one another. We stayed twice in La Villa and loved the location. The scenery here is better than in most places, in my opinion. While there aren't as many cable cars, there's enough to keep you busy for 5 days.

I highly doubt you'll be driving to Bolzano, Bressanone or Meran for dinner. We did visit Bressanone from La Villa (Alta Badia) and Bolzano from St. Christina (Val Gardena). Both are about 45 minutes from Val Gardena. Meran is an hour or more. Me, I wouldn't drive 2 hours round trip for dinner. From the Alta Badia, add about 30 to 45 minutes to drive over the Gardena Pass to reach these 3 places.

Driving a couple of passes is a must, in my opinion. The Gardena Pass is a favorite. While the east side of the Giau was just ok, at the top was incredible, as was the drive down the west side of the pass.


As for the above statement:

"If food really matters to you, you should position yourself to take advantage of those Chowhound recommendations because otherwise food in that area is generic, industrial and packaged for a tourism that doesn't want to spend much on meals".

I can't even believe I read that from someone who stayed in these area's. Dinners were fantastic and we never had a bad one, nor a mediocre one, during our 9 nights in these two valleys.

Here's links to the cable cars/lifts for these area's:

Val Gardena:

www.valgardena.it/en/lifts/page65.html

http://www.valgardena.it/en/walking-...ng/page50.html

www.alpedisiusi-seiseralm.com/index.html

Alta Badia:

http://www.altabadia.org/en-US/lifts...dolomites.html

www.altabadia.org/2281.pdf

If interested, we have photo's at:

www.worldisround.com/articles/355539/index.html

www.worldisround.com/articles/324504/index.html

www.worldisround.com/articles/351565/index.html

Again, if interested, we stayed at and can highly recommend these places:

www.garniariston.com

www.montanara.it

Paul
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Apr 16th, 2012, 05:35 PM
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I came upon that trip report months ago and found it extremely helpful, and plan to refer to it for hiking suggestions as we get closer to departure. For the record, I assumed that Bob was a member of the family in the report. Not a big deal either way, as far as I'm concerned.

Thanks, Zeppole, for confirming some of my thoughts about Gardena vs. Badia. I also appreciate the suggestions that i shouldn't plan on city visits during our days of hiking in the Dolomites. Makes sense.

The northern Dolomites sound wonderful but that'll have to wait for the next trip. So many wonderful places to go, so little time....
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Apr 17th, 2012, 07:23 AM
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Hi Jskb - Much as I love the Alta Badia - especially the spectacular views around Colfosco/Passo Gardena - I generally prefer Val Gardena as a base.

Val Gardena has easy access to several excellent lifts - as well as proximity to the wonderful Alpe di Siusi. Ortisei IMO is one of the nicest of the Dolomite towns, with lots of nice eateries. Like Paul I've never had a bad meal in the Dolomites.

Hope this helps ...

Steve
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Apr 17th, 2012, 07:53 AM
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Several years ago my husband and I spent a wonderful week exploring the Dolomites - make sure you do a day hike of the Ale di Siusi - the highest mountain meadow in Europe. I can't even begin to describe how wonderful this area is - Also, visit Castelrotto, a small town in the Dolomites.

Enjoy one of the most beautiful places in the world!
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Apr 21st, 2012, 11:05 AM
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Thanks to everyone for the very helpful advice. We've decided to stick with our initial plans and stay in the Val di Gardena, although we hope to check out the Alta Badia area as well.
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Apr 21st, 2012, 01:11 PM
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We've decided to stick with our initial plans and stay in the Val di Gardena, although we hope to check out the Alta Badia area as well.

I think you'll have a splendid time, regardless of where you stay. It's all gorgeous. We love to hike, and the trails we accessed via the lifts in the Val Gardena offered some of the finest natural scenery we've ever encountered.

Save Merano, Balzano and other city/town locations for days when the weather is less than ideal for outdoor activities, or when you want to give your hiking boots a rest.

(Full disclosure: yes, that trip report is my wife's and mine... and yes, Bob is my dad. But it's worth noting that he and I disagree on quite a lot of things, as fathers and sons often do. So, whatever.)

As a picture's worth 1000 words, I'll leave you with this shot of my teenage daughter, standing at the edge of a very, very long drop:
http://onelittleworld.zenfolio.com/p...8bcd#h1def9d93
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Apr 21st, 2012, 04:56 PM
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You're picture's really are worth a 1,000 words.
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Apr 22nd, 2012, 01:16 PM
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Those beautiful pictures reminded me how much we want to return to the Dolomites. Soon, I hope!

I don't think you'll be disappointed in Val Gardena. We actually stayed in Alta Badia (June 7-13, a couple of years ago (at the Ciasa Montanara in La Villa, thank you for that recommendation, Paul). Since I got hit with a serious stomach bug shortly after we arrived I couldn't really hike uphill, and most of the lifts were closed at that time of year. So we ended up driving all over the area, taking the couple of lifts that were open (Sass Pordoi at the Passo Pordoi, and the Alpe di Suisse out of Ortisei, both great), and doing some less strenuous hikes. At the end of the week my husband left me behind and took a several-hour hike at Passo Campolongo. The lift wasn't open but he parked at Blanac and hiked up the steep but varied and beautiful (he reports) route to Utna Paralorgia, about 3.5 km each way and 450 m vertical. Each stage opened up new vistas, culminating in a 360-degree panorama at the top. As everywhere in these mountains in early June, the meadows were full of stunning wildflowers.

One note about driving: the roads are very good, but in many places they are incredibly curvy and steep, and everywhere they were loaded with zillions of motorcyclists and many bicyclists as well. I'm an excellent driver (yes, I am the person making this statement about myself), but it was necessary to keep all the variables in mind as we went up and down the mountains in our Fiat 500. (The car didn't let us down, even though it was tiny!)

Have a great trip!
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 08:19 AM
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Those beautiful pictures reminded me how much we want to return to the Dolomites.

You and me, both. Thanks.

And I can't believe I misspelled Bolzano like that. Wish we had an "edit" feature...
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 09:35 AM
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Hi Aprilliliacs,

Glad you liked the Montanara. This thread has got us looking to get back to the Dolomites also.
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Feb 26th, 2016, 09:30 PM
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