We love Italy’s famous Dolomites: the ski area is massively underrated and the scenery is beyond belief. The Dolomites have been classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its limestone cliffs, which have a pink hue about them, dating back to their creation 20,000 years ago when they were underwater.
Within the Dolomites is the Sella Ronda circuit – a huge network of lifts that allows you to cover seemingly endless intermediate slopes and ski a complete circle within one day.
If you’re looking to ski as much of the slopes as possible during your trip then this network of lifts and pistes will not disappoint; the 175km of piste on offer exceeds that of the Three Valleys in France.
It’s possible to ski around the Sella Ronda circuit by following some very colourful signs; although mainly cruising reds, there are a couple of more challenging sections so it’s recommended for good intermediate level skiers. It’s important to remember to leave no later than 10am otherwise you might not make it round in time before the lifts start to close.
You have two choices: clockwise or anti-clockwise……
Clockwise (Orange Route) offers more variety and tends to be slightly quicker but it is also the busiest option. Whereas Anti-Clockwise (Green Route) is quieter but has a few extra lifts to ride.
It’s possible to cover all this in a day, covering up to 27km of runs and 14km of lifts. For high level intermediates expect the circuit to take around 3 hours to complete non-stop, however many people like to make a day of it to appreciate the beautiful scenery and stop for a traditional Tyrolean lunch.
The Dolomiti Superski lift pass covers the Sella Ronda as well as a few other resorts dotted around, and has a total piste-distance of 1220km. In total there are twelve different piste maps for the whole area, so be sure to pick up a detailed and comprehensive one from the Tourist Offices in resort.
You can track your activity with your lift pass which will keep a log of the distance and verticals achieved through the lift system and is available to view on the Dolomiti Ski Web site. Alternatively, download the Crystal Ski Explorer app for information on the area, resorts, individual runs and to keep track of your stats.
To explore this area it’s best to stay in the resorts of Selva and Val di Fassa.
Selva is a great base from which to explore the Sella Ronda – it has a traditional Tyrolean feel and despite the World Cup fame of Val Gardena, Selva is a good value, low-key resort, relaxed and family-friendly.
Around the Selva area most of the runs are reds, so it’s suited to intermediate skiers & boarders. Within the Dolomiti Superski area there are 22 snow parks making it a brilliant area for the more adventurous as well.
Head up the Dantercepies Gondola for panoramic views of Val Gardena and towards the valley of Colfosco and Corvara. Under the Gondola you will find a few long scenic red runs. If you want to head onto the Sella Ronda circuit or further afield then be sure to purchase an area pass.
One of the best areas here is the Seceda Mountain which is part of the 10.5 km run down in to Ortisei, the longest run in the Dolomites. For amazing off-piste skiing on the other hand, head over to Colfosco, where the snow collects really well in amongst the trees.
The village sits in the middle of the valley, with the two main chairlifts either end of Selva. Many of the hotels offer a shuttle bus to get you to the main lift stations and there is also a ski bus service which goes right the way through the valley to Ortisei.
Just above Ortisei you will find many walks in the Alpe di Siusi area, a sports centre, sleigh rides and tobogganing there’s plenty to do on and off the slopes.
The restaurant range is good here too, ranging from Italian pizzas to traditional Tyrolean menus. If you are looking for souvenirs to take home; the valley is famous for local wood carvings which you will find on display wherever you look.
A favourite bar is LuisKeller, a very traditional bar where the staff all wears Lederhosen, or the Stua for a bit of live music and reasonably priced drinks.
Val di Fassa
Val di Fassa is split into two sections; Canazei, and Campitello. It’s really easy to get onto the Sella Ronda circuit from both parts of Val di Fassa and each route will allow you to go in both directions too.
The great thing about Val di Fassa is that, with so many areas close by, there are lots of pistes to discover and many overlooked areas. Find great mountain huts and quieter runs by heading away from the Sella Ronda Circuit for the majority of your stay to get the most of your time.
If you fancy a change of pace, in the Ciampac Ski area you will find some great areas for Cross-Country skiing as well.
Canazei is a pretty, bustling resort in the south-west corner of the Sella Ronda Circuit. Take the Belvedere Gondola to Pecol and then the Cold dei Rossi and join the circuit here.
In the Belvedere area you will find mostly red runs, making it a great playground for intermediates but beginners will need to head to the nursery slopes across the other side of the village.
After a long day on the slopes, head to the Paradis -an atmospheric converted barn – or the Rosengarten – which has free popcorn and other snacks. The El Piela restaurant, in the town centre, offers incredible food and the best wine in the area.
For cake, head to Peters Bar at the bottom of the gondola which opens at 7.30am if you fancy something sweet for breakfast – and the coffee is great.
If you want a little pampering, take yourself to the new swimming complex next to the nursery slopes. This has fantastic pools, a hot pool, Jacuzzi and an outdoor salt pool with Jacuzzi beds so you can relax and enjoy the views of the immense mountains.
Downstairs they have seven types of sauna and many treatments to spoil yourself.
Campitello remains a largely unspoilt resort and is slightly quieter than neighbouring Canazei.
From here, take the Col Rodella cable car up from the village and you can explore the nearby areas, as well as join the Sella Ronda circuit. The area above Campitello is great for red run capable skiers and has some of the best cafes in the area. From here you can ski down to the Lupo Bianco and cross up to the Pecol .
Once you’re there, you can catch the six man lift and shoot across to the Marmalda. The route can also take you down to Plan di Grabla where there is a snow park and a cross ski section. From there you can go down to Santa Cristina and over to Selva. You can also continue round till you reach Colfosco and Corvara. From here you can go across to LaVilla and experience the fantastic black world cup run. The area is vast and great to explore.
Going down the valley, you can catch the bus to Pera and go up the chair into the unspoilt area that is the Rosengarten, which is a small area with great blues and reds. This area is all tree lined and has a great run into Vigo Di Fassa. Alternatively, you can take the bus into Pozza and go up the gondola to the top and take the long run back into Pozza which is great and very scenic. On a Wednesday and a Friday you can go down to Pozza and experience the night sking there.
Campitello has a more quiet approach to après and nightlife but go along to the White Rabbit which has great music and an even better atmosphere. It’s also worth trying the Evita in the main square – it has nice food and if you want to watch the football, or any sport, you will find it there. The shopping is limited but has small family run shops. The supermarket has two levels one for food and the other a hardware store that sells everything. Restaurants are limited but are very nice and offer traditional menus.
So if your looking for good access to the slopes but a more quiet resort, Campitello has it.
So to sum up, the Sella Ronda circuit offers a great route to explore the incredible Dolomites. Selva is a great all round resort, offering long scenic runs and a range of things to do in the evenings. Val di Fassa is also a great place to visit, as it offers the two areas of Canazei and Campitello, which provide a variety of options to keep even the most demanding of skiers happy.
Have you been round the circuit? We’d love to hear if you have. Leave us a comment below, or talk to us on Facebook.