A fairytale province of culinary treasures offset by fabulous skiing for all levels, the hugely underrated mountain escape of South Tyrol is a perfect secret getaway for those in the know thanks to its beautiful setting in the Dolomites, it's amazing array of restaurants and it's superb slopes. And at the very centre of it all: a unique fusion of Italian and Austrian cultures. HELLO! took a trip to visit the area and discover the best places to stay, to ski and to eat, and were not left disappointed!
The best time to go
Like most ski resorts, prime time to visit South Tyrol is from December to April time, though for fans of winter sports, December is the most special time to go as the Ski World Cup takes place there every year in Alta Badia. The long weekend is a breathless combination of watching pro ski racing and a host of other events, including parties with live bands, Austrian and Italian cuisine and beer, and has a fun atmosphere that shouldn't be missed!
How to get there
We travelled to South Tyrol by a quick 90-minute flight from Gatwick to Venice, before hopping onto a two-hour transfer. Other useful airports to fly into include Verona, Treviso or Innsbruck, all of which provide regular shuttle transportation. If you don't fancy a transfer, you can get the train from Verona, Rome or Florence, which can be very cost effective!
Hit the slopes in style
We took a trip to Alta Badia, a ski resort 20 minutes from the village of San Cassiano and instantly got fitted for our boots, skis and poles, hopped on a cable car, and just like that we were at the top of the Dolomites. For beginners or intermediate skiers, there is a selection of ski schools in the area that will host you on the steady blue slopes for the day. The views are breath-taking as you glide down to mountains, a feat that took us (beginners) around 20 minutes to complete. And just like that, we were in a cable car up to the top to do it all over again!
Spend a day in the lap of luxury
Some people want to go on a winter's holiday and do nothing but ski down the mountains, but others wouldn't say no to a little rest and relaxation! For day two, we settled on the second option! The amazing hotel Rosa Alpina has a breath-taking, uncrowded spa complete with two saunas, a steam room and a plunge pool, along with a beautiful swimming pool by a wall of glass so that you can swim while enjoying the tranquil scenery of snow-covered fir trees. If you would like to seriously unwind, try the facility's amazing alpine herbs muscle relief massage.
Take a hike and see some sights
A beautiful place to hike in the summer (and be sure to pack your snow shoes for a walk in the snow), South Tyrol is full of stunning sights, so go and have a wander about! Some notable spots include Lake Resia, which has the remains of a church steeple submerged in the blue waters of the lake, and Tyrol Castle, which doubles as the South Tyrol Museum of History - the perfect place for any history buff to spend their afternoon!
Where to stay
We spent a wonderful time being well cared for by the second-to-none staff at Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano, Alta Badia. The family-owned alpine hotel has an elegant but comforting atmosphere, with a reception filled with comfy chairs, roaring fires and candles, a lively bar, and two wonderful eateries being just some of the charming amenities that the hotel has to offer. The bedrooms are spacious, with beautiful standalone baths, allowing you to have plenty of downtime after a long day of skiing, and see above to find out more about their incredible spa.
Where to eat
The Wine Bar & Grill
Don't fancy wrapping up for the mountain weather during your trip? Stick around Rosa Alpina and spend the evening enjoying some casual dining at this cosy restaurant which is all about serving delicious homemade pizza and pasta. And keep an eye out for the dessert's trolley, it is top notch!
The Las Vegas Lodge
The Las Vegas Lodge is famous in Alta Badia, and for good reason. The explosion of hundreds of brightly coloured skis and snowboards lined up outside along with the restaurant/club's alpine vibe gives it a chic 80s vibe, which was most welcome after a breathless couple of hours of skiing. Settle in and enjoy their dumpling soup, and we would most definitely recommend sipping on a Hugo, the perfect winter beverage.
Restaurant St. Hubertus
Need the perfect place to celebrate a special night on your vacation? Look no further than the restaurant St. Hubertus. After opening in 1996, the amazing dining experience has gone on to be awarded three Michelin stars for their menu which changes with the seasons, using only seasonable vegetables in their inspired creations for a dining experience like no other, and with acclaimed chef Norbert Niederkofler at the helm.
Moritzino mountain lodge
Who says you can't get great seafood on the slopes? In Badia Valley, this restaurant is an absolutely must visit, as it has everything from delicious squid ink noodles to deep fried octupus to scallop carpaccio, which will make you want to go back over and over again. For a bit of adventure, this lodge can only be reached at night via snow plough after leaving the cable cars!