After two days at Cortina, we headed to Ortisei (Urtijëi) to spend another two days exploring the beautiful Dolomites. We had a quick breakfast, included with our paid room rate, at our hotel, Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa. The breakfast spread was 5* in terms of Western style but can’t compare to the breakfast we had in Asia.
After the quick breakfast, we hit the road on the most scenic drive of our trip – Passo Gardena (Gardena Pass). The 1.5 hours drive from Cortina to Ortisei ended up being more than 2 hours with stops along the way. Look at the pictures, how can you not stop for photos?
We passed by so many ski towns and they all looked lovely!
Every turn with views of mountain ranges was picture-worthy!
Our first real stop was at Colfosco Church near Corvara. This church is surrounded by mountain ranges as backdrops.
After the church, the road was zig-zagging uphill. We stopped at a camping parking lot to take photos of the Corvara town below:
I was so happy to see the wildflowers in bloom!
The scenery was so beautiful that we set up the tripod for photos of us two 😀
I was planning to stop at Rifugio Jimmi for the mountain viewpoint but their parking lot was completely full and they charged a fee to park. It looked so busy so we decided to skip that. We continued down the road and found a small parking lot with a few camper vans parked. It was totally free and with incredible views like this!
A lady stopped and asked us to take a photo of her with her iPad (yes iPad LOL) and in return, we asked her to take a pic of us with Jason’s Samsung S21 phone:
We finally arrived Ortisei, parked our car and checked in at our hotel – Hotel Luna Mondschein. Since I booked the trip only a few months prior, most of the hotels are fully booked in Ortisei and Cortina so I didn’t have many choices especially hotels with garage parking. The walk to the town center where the cable car station (Alpe di Siusi Ropeway) is located is a10 minutes from the hotel. The town center is more busy compared to Cortia.
The bridge connecting the town center to the cable car station:
The view of the town from the bridge, I love those wooden houses on the mountain!
If you are not staying in town, parking is only €6 all day at the cable car station but I am not sure if it fills up quickly in high season. The roundtrip cost €23.50 on those enclosed gondolas:
It looked small but quite roomy inside:
The view going up was spectacular enough though I am afraid of height!
We arrived at the highest Alpine meadow in Europe – Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm). From the cable station, we took the left route and the walk was pretty much downhill to Malga Schgaguler Schwaige.
They even have a playground and a trampoline, my daughter would love that! The view was unbelievable!!!
The menu is quite simple, the usual burger and sandwiches, good enough for a quick lunch and a pit stop – expensive but consider the location: €39.
After lunch, it was time to explore this picturesque Alpine meadow. Each photo is postcard-perfect, you can’t take a bad photo here, for real!!! I am quite surprised that there were not a lot of tourists here considering the peak of summer! You can really enjoy the peacefulness and take photos without people here!
From Malga Schgaguler Schwaige to Malga Sanon, we made a lot of stops, set up our tripod, and take photos. It’s my favorite place in the Dolomites!
There are not many roads up here so you don’t need to worry about getting lost! The roads are also marked to the malga (restaurant or mountain hut) and the cable car station. The reason to Malga Sanon since we had lunch already? The swing at the playground next to it!
Swing with a jaw-dropping view like this, is magical!
After Malga Sanon, we took the loop up on another path back to the cable car station to give a higher view. Also, the cable car closes at 6 PM (6:30 PM from end of July to early September, you can check the price and time here) so we want to make sure we get back on time. Time flies when we are taking pictures!
People from this house were doing yard work…we wondered how long it takes them to mow a lawn this size!
Pictures from the higher hiking route:
Those little cabins are for storing logs.
Picture with wildflowers!
We were thirsty so we stopped by the nearest mountain hut/restaurant to take a break and get a drink. I mentioned this before, I love hiking at the Dolomites because there are plenty of mountain huts/restaurants to get food, and drinks, and use the bathroom! Especially in Alpe di Siusi, most of the huts have playgrounds so it’s super family-friendly! I told Jason that when our kids are a little bit older, this is one of the places that I would love to bring them here!
This hut requires some upward hike to reach it but it has incredible views! Look at this table and chair set made from tree trunks.
They have swing beds and lounge chairs for you to enjoy the views!
The way down from the hut back to the hiking trail:
Those pink flowers really pop from the rest of the white and yellow wildflowers.
I just can’t get enough of this view!
We got back to the cable station at around 5 PM and went back down to town to explore the center.
This hotel stands out from the rest and is centrally located right next to the cable car station.
The buildings are pretty just like in Cortina.
Cortina is filled with luxury brand shops while Ortisei is filled with wood-made souvenir shops (very expensive stuff) and cheese shops.
There are plenty of restaurants but our room rate includes breakfast and dinner so we had all our dinner at the hotel restaurant; I paid $666.49 for two nights including dinner so not bad of a deal.
Dinner was a 3-course meal and the menu changed every day, here’s the menu of the day.
In addition to the a la carte menu, they also provide a buffet style which includes bread, vegetables (salad bar), fruits and dessert.
Thanks to the buffet to fill us up, look at the size of the 3-course dishes…how can anyone be full with this? The hors d’oeuvres of tomatoes:
The cream soup was okay:
The tiniest pork fillet I ever had! The taste was pretty good, can I have 3x more please???
Their tiramisu and panna cotta were actually great, we enjoyed their dessert the most!
I think Ale Di Siusi is the most beautiful place in the Dolomites! I do wish that we stay up at Alpe Di Siusi but the hotels there are very limited (I booked late), often require a minimum of 3 nights stay, and a lot more expensive. I think it’s still worth it for the sunrise and sunset photos, next time!