In the heart of the Italian Dolomites, the Sella Ronda’s a 26km ski circuit. It loops the summits of the Sella Massif, crossing four mountain passes and skirting five authentic villages along the way. And with kilometre after kilometre of pristine piste and UNESCO-protected views, it’s something you’ll definitely want to add to your must-ski list. Here’s what you need to know to tick off one of the world’s greatest ski routes.
What’s it like to ski the Sella Ronda circuit?
You’ll never ski the same piste twice, and the lift links are near-seamless, so there’s only a couple of spots where you’ll need to click out of your skis and walk. The circuit is mostly made up of cruisy blues and reds, plus a few steeper sections, making it a dream for intermediates – and experts can challenge themselves to see how fast they can complete the whole loop.
You can ski it in either direction, and it’s easy to follow the colour-coded signs – orange for clockwise and green for anti-clockwise. The clockwise route is the most popular of the two, packing in the most varied slopes and fewest lift rides. But if you feel like taking things easier, the anti-clockwise route tends to be quieter and also skips some of the trickiest terrain.
If you fancy an extra challenge, you could even add on some detours. Speed down the Saslong downhill run in Santa Cristina Val Gardena or the giant slalom piste in La Villa. Head to the heights on the Marmolada glacier, or explore the lesser-known runs around the Alpe di Suisi plateau.
The slopes are scattered with excellent mountain huts too, so you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a lunch stop.
How long does it take to ski the Sella Ronda?
Following the quicker clockwise route, the sportiest skiers can complete the whole circuit in around three hours. But most people prefer to make a day of it, stretching it to around six hours, with stops for coffee and a leisurely Italian-style lunch. If that sounds like the plan for you, aim to leave no later than 10am, so you can make it back to your resort before the lifts close.
Where should you stay on the Sella Ronda circuit?
There are villages and towns dotted along the whole length of the circuit, including some of the top ski resorts in Italy. Here’s a run-down of the best places to stay.
Selva Val Gardena
Selva’s the biggest of the three Val Gardena resorts and a popular base for exploring the Sella Ronda. Spread along a wooded valley, the town has plenty of South Tyrolean charm and some lively après bars. Skiing-wise, the local runs are mainly red – and any experts will want to tick off the nearby Saslong downhill too. To access the circuit, jump on the speedy Ciampinoi or Dantercëpies gondolas.
Val di Fassa
Made up of seven smaller villages, Val di Fassa is known for its easy-going atmosphere. To get to the Sella Ronda, stay in Canazei and ride the Belvedere gondola towards Col dei Rossi. Or choose Campitello at the other end of the valley, and join the circuit right from the village by hopping on the Col Rodella cable car. There’s also lots to do around the resort when you’re not racking up the ski miles, whether it’s getting active at the climbing centre or making a splash at the waterpark.
Along with Selva, Corvara’s one of the most well-connected resorts in the area. There’s easy access to the Sella Ronda circuit in both directions by heading towards either Colfosco or Arabba. And you can also take the lift from the top of the village to explore the steep, wooded slopes around La Villa. The village itself is a relaxed place, filled with cosy hotels and high-quality restaurants.
Colfosco’s a chocolate-box village with traditional buildings and an onion-domed church. It’s the highest resort in the Alta Badia ski area, so the snow’s usually great too. Take the lift to Corvara to start the clockwise Sella Ronda or ride the gondola to Passa Gardena to tackle it in the other direction. Closer to the village, the red run below the Forcelles chairlift has some of the best views in the resort.
Home to the steepest runs on the Sella Ronda, and with easy access to high-altitude blacks on the Marmolada glacier, Arabba is a good pick for advanced skiers. The clockwise route kicks off with a long red run from the resort’s high point, Porta Vescovo. Or you can hop on the chairlift towards Paso di Campolongo to ski the anti-clockwise route instead. Back in the village, things are pretty quiet, and evenings are all about enjoying low-key drinks in a hotel bar.