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Arctic Road Trip – Day 3: Inderøya – Rabothytta

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Rabothytta

From Inderøya, continuing your drive towards the arctic circle, one obvious choice would be the coastal route, which starts in Steinkjer and runs along the coast all the way up to Bodø. Having explored the southern part of the coastal route before, this time I went for the much faster, but oh so boring, drive along the route E6, as one of my main targets for this road trip was the architectural gem, Rabothytta (the Rabot cabin), which is one of many DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) lodging facilities throughout Norway. This turned out to be a really amazing experience, which I will get back to below.

Exploring Inderøya

Considering the long drive, you may want to get your heart rate up exploring Inderøya in the morning. I went for a short and sweet roller ski workout north along route 761. If you opt for a longer workout, taking the other direction, towards Mosvika, would allow you to get a taste of ski legend Petter Northug’s training ground and the beautiful Skarnsund bridge. Another great way to explore the area would be a run along the 16 km long coastal trail between Vangshylla and Straumen.

Strava for details: Inderøya roller ski

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Rollerskiing at Inderøya

In any case, make sure you drop by some of the local entrepreneurs, such as Gangstad Gårdsysteri (ice cream/cheese). Look up The Golden Road for more information.

The Drive

The drive from Inderøya to the starting point for the hike to Rabothytta is 355km and about 5h 30min, the last part on roads with poor conditions. There are not so many things to do or see on this drive, so stack up on podcasts and snacks, or spend a few more days and opt for the coastal route. I suggest stopping in Mosjøen (after about 4 hours drive) for a proper meal before the final part of the drive and the hike towards the cabin. Make sure you reach the starting point in time for completing the hike in daylight (which of course is no trouble in the summer).

The Rabot Cabin

Located 1200 meters above sea level near the mountain range Okstindan and the Okstindan glacier, the cabin was designed by Jarmund/Vigsnæs and completed in 2014. The cabin is named after the French glaciologist and geographer Charles Rabot who thoroughly explored the mountain areas in the 1880s.

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The cabin is self-served, which means you have to bring all the food you need for your stay as well as sleeping bag or bed linen. There are beds for 30 people and reservations should be made in advance.

The hike to the Rabot cabin starts from the parking space at the upper end of Leirskardalen and is about 5 km with 520 meters of incline (about one hour hike, if you are in good shape). The trail is well marked with red Ts, however, there is also a well marked trail from the same parking on the wrong side of the river, so you want to make sure you take the trail on the left side of the river (facing uphill). Despite taking the wrong trail and having to run all the way back to the starting point, this was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done: The views of the green valley in the evening sun was like nothing I have seen before, the thunder from the mighty river, and the incredible sight of the cabin resting in the sun with the glacier and mountains surrounding it, when I finally reached my destination.

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Strava for details: Rabothytta (with all the wrong turns). Look at the last 65 minutes for the right trail.

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Once there, you want to explore the cabin and the surroundings from the inside as well as the outside, from every angle. The weather can extremely tough in this area, this night however, the sun was shining almost the whole night and you felt like an idiot going to bed. Had I known that I would win the jackpot weather, for sure I would have brought a sleeping bag to sleep outside on the terrace.

The Rabot cabin may also be visited in the winter and the surrounding area is very popular for randonee skiing (even in the summer, although you have to carry your skis for a while).

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Featured

Arctic Road Trip – Day 2: Trollheimen – Inderøya

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Blåhøa 1671m

Waking up at Gjevilvasshytta in Trollheimen you have multiple hiking and running options on your doorstep. I had decided on a run to Blåhøa, peaking at 1671 meter about 12 km from Gjevilvasshytta. You can take the car to a parking 1-2 km from the cabin if you want to avoid running the hard sufaced road. The path is surprisingly runable and not too technical, except for the last couple of km. The view from the summit is amazing on a sunny day!

Strava for details: Blåhø run

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Blåhøa towards Gjevilvatnet

Make time for a coffee and a cinnamon bun outside Gjevilvasshytta and, if you didn’t the evening before, a stroll along Gjevilvatnet, before you hit the road.

The Drive, 245 km/3 h 40 min

In Oppdal, about 25 minutes from Gjevilvasshytta, Bakeriet Sprø is worth a stop for loading up on sandwiches and coffee for the road. Unless you want to make a stop in Trondheim, in another three hours or so driving the route E6, you reach Inderøya. Inderøya has created its own concept, The Golden Road, catering for tourist on the road, or as a destination in itself.

Accomodation & Restaurant

At Inderøya you have several unique accomocation alternatives. This time I stayed at Husfrua, a country farm hotel situated on a hill top with great views of the fjord. Husfrua offers rooms in historic  surroundings as well as modern free-standing small external houses in the farm yard. The highlight of my stay was the home made breakfast served on the sunny terrace of the main building. Another option would be Jegtvolden Fjordhotell.

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Husfrua

A few hundred meters away from Husfrua you find Øyna, a truly fantastic place offering local food and magnificient views of the fjord. Remember to make a reservation in advance, and if the weather is good, ask to be seated outside.

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Øyna restaurant

Arctic Road Trip – Intro & Day 1

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Manshausen Island

I don’t know about you, but I have already started planning my travels for 2019. Last year I did a spectacular road trip to the north of Norway. I spent months planning it to make sure I could secure my preferred accommodation options, explore the trails I had made notes of when browsing Ute and other magazines, blogs and websites over the last years, and don’t miss out on any of the remarkable sites created along the scenic routes I had decided to explore. The planning of this road trip and the experiences I had during my travel inspired this website and thus I have been looking forward to take you through the trip I made, and inspire you to plan your own.

I started my journey from Øyer in Gudbrandsdalen, where I have a place in the mountain, but you may start of from Oslo, Gardermoen (airport), or anywhere you like of course.

My itinerary in short:

Day 1: Øyer/Lillehammer – Trollheimen

Day 2: Trollheimen – Inderøya

Day 3: Inderøya – Rabothytta, Helgeland

Day 4: Rabothytta, Helgeland – Rødøy

Day 5: Rødøy – Saltstraumen

Day 6: Saltstraumen – Manshausen, Steigen

Day 7: Manshausen, Steigen

Day 8: Manshausen, Steigen – Nyksund, Vesterålen

Day 9: Nyksund, Vesterålen – Stave, Andøya

Day 10: Stave – Hamn, Senja

Day 11: Senja

Day 12: Senja – Eide, Tysfjord

When planning my trip I was aiming at:

  1. Staying at unique places
  2. Choose Norwegian Scenic Routes when practical
  3. Beautiful surrounding for running/roller skiing/biking

Let’s go!

Day 1: Øyer/Lillehammer – Trollheimen

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Sohlbergplassen

The Drive, 220 km/3 h 10 min

For a long time I have been a big fan of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration’s project “Norwegian Scenic Routes“, which to a great extent inspires my travel in Norway. The destination for the first leg of my road trip was Gjevilvasshytta in Trollheimen, not far away from Oppdal. Instead of driving the “highway”, E6 I chose to drive county road 27, which makes out the Rondane Scenic Route from Ringebu to Hjerkinn.

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Venabygdsfjellet

When reaching the mountain plateau Venabygdsfjellet the scenery is absolutely amazing, with the mountain Muen as the natural focal point. Continuing through Folldal towards Hjerkinn, there are a few attractions along the road. My favorite was Sohlbergplassen, a view point at Atnsjøen lake. The platform frames the view towards the lake and the rounded peaks of the Rondane massif almost exactly as they appear in Harald Sohlberg’s famous painting “Winter’s Night in Rondane”. I also made a stop in Folldal to load up on waffles.

At Hjerkinn I made a short detour to Viewpoint Snøhetta. The viewpoint is a short hike from the parking, providing an excellent opportunity to stretch your legs.

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Snøhetta Viewpoint
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From inside the viewpoint looking towards the mountain Snøhetta

From Hjerkinn there is another hour drive to Gjevilvasshytta, my suggested accommodation for the night.

Today’s Activity

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Mount Muen

My planned activity for this first day of driving was to go roller skiing on Venabygdsfjellet. Due to heavy winds and a recent rib fracture I had to skip it for this time. If you bring your bike I would highly recommend that you make a stop for biking over Venabygdsfjellet, see feature in the cycle magazine Landevei (I went back to do that later in the summer). This time I did a beautiful evening trail run from Gjevilvasshytta, finishing of with some nice stretching at the nearby lake.

Strava for details: Evening trail run

Accommodation

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Gjevilvasshytta

My choice of accommodation was Gjevilvasshytta. Built in 1819, it is the oldest building being used for accommodation by Turistforeningen (the Norwegian Trekking Association), and is situated 710 meters above sea level at Gjevilvatnet, offering a great starting point for hiking and trail running in Trollheimen. The cabin is very popular and its atmosphere and location are amazing, however the sleeping comfort rather basic with shared bathrooms in the hall and thin walls.

Day 1 Highlight

The view of the lake, Gjevilvatnet, when arriving at Gjevilvasshytta. Google it!

Closing the Senja chapter: Grytetippen, Keipen and Sukkertoppen

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The view from Grytetippen

Bringing the Senja trilogy to an end (for now), let me take you to three breathtaking peaks, Grytetippen, Keipen and Sukkertoppen. These three may be done in one day as Grytetippen and Keipen are right next to each other sharing most of the same trails, and Sukkertoppen is short enough to make a quick morning or evening run. The drive between the two is about one hour and in between you find the beautiful Ersfjordstranda, the perfect spot for recharging and refueling.

Let´s go!

Grytetippen & Keipen

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Segla, Hesten and “Kongene” from Grytetippen

You find the joint trailhead of Grytetippen and Keipen next to the road half way along the lake Mefjordvatnan. There is a sign next to the road. For exact position see the Strava link provided below. It is also possible to start the run from the tunnel at Mefjordbotneidet (direction Fjordgård). The start of the trail from Mefjordvatnan is a bit messy and wet with more than 450 meters of ascent in less than two kilometers, after which you can enjoy about a kilometer of easy running and maybe get a glimpse of  reindeers. The view is great already from the start and you will have Breidtinden on your left side during the climb. After about 2.5 km from the trailhead the steep climb towards the ridge between Grytetippen and Keipen starts. I went for Grytetippen, the southern and lower peak with 885 meters first and reached the top after about 70 minutes. Despite having been to legendary mountains as Segla and Husfjellet the previous days, my jaw dropped by the sight that awaited me and I was screaming for joy! The view of the “black wall” is brutal and Segla from this new angle looks almost like a small hill. You can also see Husøy, where the TV-program “Da damene dro” was recorded.

Make sure you take a lot of photos before you start the descent of about 160 meters before the climb towards Keipen. On my way to Keipen I met a couple who told me that the view from Keipen was even better than from Grytetippen, and its 360 degrees of glory from 938 meters above sea level did not let me down.

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The view from Keipen

Both Grytetippen and Keipen have steep and dramatic edges and instagramable outcrops, but the trails are safe and fairly easy.

Strava for details: Grytetippen and Keipen

Ersfjordstranda

Make sure you pack what you need for a picnic at Ersfjordstranda when driving between Keipen/Grytetippen and Sukkertoppen. There are no shops or restaurants nearby. This beach is the location of the famous golden toilette and a popular site for camping. There is also an outdoor shower next to the toilette.

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Ersfjordstranda

Sukkertoppen

Sukkertoppen is only 456 meters above sea level and a fairly short run close to the hotel and restaurant Hamn. You can start the run from the hotel or take the car to the parking next to “Nikkelverket”, about a km from Hamn. The Strava link provided below starts from Nikkelverket and finishes at the hotel.

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From Sukkertoppen
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From Sukkertoppen towards Hamn and Husfjellet

The trail is easy to find and is marked towards Sukkertoppen. The beginning is quite easy and runable, while the last climb gets steeper and raises your heart rate. Given the short distance and reasonable climb it provides a great opportunity to play with some speed, also because you will have your back towards the view for the most of the climb. Don´t forget your camera though. Once you reach the top you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the archipelago of Hamn. In the distance you can also see Husfjellet.

Strava for details: Sukkertoppen (“The Sugar Peak”)

Some last notes

  • Go back to Senja – Segla, Hesten and (almost) Breidtinden and Husfjellet – my favorite on Senja for more on Senja, where to stay, how to get there, other attractions along the road and a suggested itinerary.
  • The best season to check out the trails is June – September. Go in June/July for the midnight sun and try to do at least some of your runs in the late evening in order to enjoy the midnight sun from a mountain top (weather permitting).
  • Remember to fill up a cooler with food and beverages as there are few supermarkets and even less restaurants on the island.

Coming up

I have a series of posts in the making, which will take you on an exciting road trip all the way from Oslo to Senja. Stay tuned!

Husfjellet – my favorite on Senja

 

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Husfjellet towards Steinfjorden

The trails of Senja continue and I decided that Husfjellet deserves its own post. This beautiful run/hike is my definite favorite on Senja, and the tale goes also the queen´s. One reason may be that it saved the day when I with great disappointment failed to reach the peak of Breidtinden, but there are so many other reasons to love this mountain: The amazing views, the kind terrain, and the thrill of exploring the outcrops when you reach the top – all this without the crowds you usually meet on the more famous Segla. Last summer I tried to time my run with the midnight sun, only to be surprised by heavy fog when reaching the ridge. The added excitement of not knowing if and when I could make a safe return and the spectacular view created by the fog compensated for the lost view of the midnight sun and gives me another reason to return.

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Halfway up to Husfjellet facing Okstindan (the Devil´s teeth) behind the fog

The Trails

You find the trailhead behind the picnic area next to the church in Skaland, where you can also park your car. After a few hundred meters a sign points you to a trail on your left, but you can also continue straight ahead for a dryer option through the forest and follow the next sign towards Sommerdalen. Soon you gain some height and can enjoy the views of Bergfjorden to your left. Don´t bother to take up your camera just yet, the views will only get better.

Follow the trail across the boardwalk and the ascent towards Husfjellet starts. Stay safe running with good distance from the edge on your right, but don´t be afraid to move close to the edge to take in the views.

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Husfjellet towards Okstindan

 

After less than 3.5 km and reaching 635 meters above sea level, you are on the top of Husfjellet, hopefully with the weather on your side to take in the panoramic views and to explore the outcrops. Bring some extra clothes so you can afford to stay a bit before you return the same way or down towards the beautiful Bøvær beach. On my last run to Husfjellet I met two girls who set up their tent on the top. I can only imagine the beauty of watching the midnight sun from here.

Strava for details: Husfjellet 2018 and Husfjellet 2016

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Husfjellet outdrops towards Bergfjorden
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Husfjellet 635m

Nice to know

  • more on Senja and how to make Husfjellet a part of your Senja puzzle: Senja – Segla, Hesten and (almost) Breidtinden
  • The best time for running up Husfjellet is june – september. If you are there during the summer, do plan for a midnight sun run if the weather is on your side.
  • Include the Bøvær beach in your run (I will, next time), either by doing your descent from Husfjellet towards Bøvær, or go for a run or drive there after returning to your car (the beach is less than 5 km by road from the trailhead next to the church).
  • Stock up on groceries at the store in Skaland (grocery stores are scarce on Senja).
  • You can also attack Husfjellet on the bike, of course.
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Bøvær beach

Senja – Segla, Hesten and (almost) Breidtinden

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Downhill from Segla

From one paradise to another, Senja is my magic place, the place I always dream of returning to. The island is said to be a miniature of Norway, and with its spectacular fjords and mountains it very much lives up to this tale, and is as perfect for road trips as it is for trail running. If you have not visited the region before, I recommend to fly to Tromsø (more about Tromsø in a post later) and spend a night or two there before or after visiting Senja.

There are a number of peaks and runs to explore in Senja, and I love that most of them are fairly short, which enables you to reach several summits in a day. In this post I will take you to the legendary peak Segla, which is featured over and over again on several instagram accounts promoting Norwegian nature, its neighbor peak, Hesten (“the Horse”), and Senja´s highest mountain, Breidtinden. In the next post we will explore Sukkertoppen, Husfjellet, Grytetippen and Keipen.

Segla

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Segla

The climb to Segla starts from the school in the village of Fjordgård. Go in the early morning or in the evening if you can. During the summer, you will have 24 hours of daylight.

The path is well marked and easy to find. The distance to the top is only 2 km, but with a total elevation gain of almost 600 meter, it will get your heart pumping. The start is pretty easy, with about 15% incline during the first kilometer, before the tough last kilometer with an average of 40% incline. For safety keep to your right when climbing the ridge, but do look for the gramable spots close to the edge on your left, without taking any chances. The paths will show you where it is safe. Once you have reached the summit, do allow for some time to enjoy the panoramic view. Although Segla is already a social media hero, most photos are taken from the other side, from Hesten or the area between the two peaks. For this reason, Hesten is your next run.

Strava for details: Segla

Hesten

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Segla from Hesten

After Segla, the easiest way to reach Hesten is to run all the way down to the parking and a few hundred meters through the village to the bottom of the ski slopes (see Strava link for guidance). The path starts next to the wooden shelter and is easy to follow all the way to the peak. The last part of the climb is a bit technical, but no equipment is needed. From Hesten you have the iconic view of Segla to the south and the multiple Kongen peaks to the north. More about these mountains here.

The Hesten run is not as steep as Segla, but a little longer. It took me around 2:30h to complete both (with additional time for photographing, of course).

Strava for details: Hesten (together with Segla)

Breidtinden

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Downhill from Breidtinden

I have seen people run down the ridge of Breidtinden and was caught by surprise when fear prevented me from reaching the summit. It was with great disappointment I had to give up Senja´s highest mountain. Maybe it would be easier had I not been on my own, thus  I am determined to give it a second chance. In the meantime, why don´t you give it a try? The run is beautiful whether you reach the peak or not. In any case, leave a comment on the blog if you give it a go.

To reach the trail, park on the right side of the road after the tunnel “Svartholla” if driving south.

Strava for details: Breidtinden attempt

Races to join

Sans Senja Skyrace takes place in the early summer every year, in 2019 on 22 June. Its 25 kilometer and 2800 meters of elevation gain will take you over some of the most spectacular mountains in Senja.

How to get to Senja

You need a car to explore Senja. Unless you bring your own, I would suggest flying in to Tromsø. In the summer, the ferry will take you from Brensholmen, about 50 minutes from Tromsø Airport, to Botnhamn. From Botnhamn I highly recommend to follow the Norwegian Scenic Route driving south. You can return the same way, or make it a round trip via Ånderdalen National Park and Finnsnes back to Tromsø, or, if you have even more time, take the ferry (only in the summer) to Andøya and explore Vesterålen islands before returning to Tromsø.

Another option is to go on a cruise with Arctic Haute Route.

The Norwegian Scenic Route

One of the 18 Norwegian Scenic Routes goes through Senja and makes it almost as much a pleasure to stay on the road as on the trails. However, the roads are narrow and bumpy, so pay attention, and make sure to take a break or two at one of the many attractions along the road. For sure, Ersfjordstanda, with its amazing beach and mountain backdrop as well as a toilet made in gold, should be on your radar. Other spots are the “Devil´s teeth” (Tungeneset) and the viewpoint Bergsbotn.

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Tungeneset

Where to stay

Unfortunately, there are not that many options for accommodation in Senja. My preferred option is renting an apartment at Hamn. The location is great and the apartments are fairly new and with great views. If you don´t mind sleeping in a tent, Ersfjordstranda provides an amazing spot to do that, but you will probably not be alone. For other options, check out Visit Senja.

Suggested itinerary

Day 1: Morning ferry from Brensholmen to Botnhamn. Hike/run to Keipen and Grytetippen (next blog post). Drive to Ersfjordstranda. Make sure you bring a cooler and some food, or pick up some food at the store in Mefjordvær (check opening hours). Stay at Mefjordvær or Hamn.

Day 2: Early morning run to Segla and Hesten. Pick up some food in Fjordgård after the run and have a break at Tungeneset or the beach in Bøvær.

Day 3: Breidtinden in the morning and Husfjellet (next blog post) in the evening (try to catch the midnight sun).

Day 4: Morning run to Sukkertoppen (next blog post) before departure.

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Bergsbotn

Seiser Alm

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Seiser Alm is Europe’s largest high-altitude pasture, located in the heart of the Dolomites in the Italian Alps. For a long time it has been a training destination for endurance athletes, such as Scandinavian cross country skiers, aiming for improved performance, but, stunningly beautiful as it is, it is also attracting outdoor-loving tourists in general. 

What Makes It So Special?

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is surrounded by dramatic mountain peaks and its trademark mountain, the Schiliar (or Schlern in German). Any direction you turn would qualify for a postcard and there are multiple trails ranging from easy to moderate in terms of technical difficulty, including a running park with signposted routes of different length and effort. The area is very peaceful thanks to driving restrictions.

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The Trails

Let´s skip straight to the important stuff, the best trails! Here are my suggestions for three long trail runs.

The Classic – Denti Rossi & Schiliar

 

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This run will take you over the pointy red teeth to the Rifugio Alpe di Tires. Grab an espresso “al banco” and maybe a piece of apple strudel, fill up your bottles and enjoy the easy flow trails behind the Denti Rossi before some more uphill running take you to the plateau of Schiliar. Take a short detour to Forcella di Terrarossa, if you are collecting peaks, before cruising over to Rifugio Bolzano for some kaiserschmarrn for lunch, before or after collecting your second peak for the day, Monte Pez. Returning downhill to your starting point you will enjoy a fabulous view of Seiser Alm and the Sasso Lungo/Langkofel and Sasso Piatto/Plattkofel.

Strava for details: Denti di Terrarossa & Schiliar 

More information here.

Sasso Piatto

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To reach this almost 3000 meter above sea level high peak you can cheat by taking the chair lift from Saltria (a ten minutes bus ride from Compatsch), or you can choose the longer and more scenic route crossing the pastures and multiple bottle holes on your way to Rifugio Sasso Piatto, where the steep, but fairly easy, climb to the top starts. Watch your steps once on the top, enjoy the view and make sure to do your instagramming before returning to the rifugio for lunch. To add some variety to the run, choose the “backside” of the ridge on the return to your starting point.

Strava for details: Sasso Piatto

More information here

The Long Run – around Sasso Piatto and Sasso Lungo

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I tried this run for the first time last year and it immediately became my favorite in Seiser Alm as it is more “runable” than the other routes and provides stunning views of the Dolomites from a variety of angels. You can add the climb to Sasso Piatto (see previous run) if you wish. I like to start this run with the chair lift from Saltria, then I run clockwise around the peaks and take the “backside” from the Rifugio Sasso Piatto back to Compatsch. You may choose the slightly shorter Dialer trail or run via Rifugio Alpe di Tires.  

Strava for details: Around Sasso Piatto/Sasso Lungo (Dialer return), Around Sasso Piatto/Sasso Lungo (Alpe di Tires return)

More information here.

Races To Join

Rosengarten Skymarathon is a long distance skyrace consisting of 44 kilometer and 2980 meter elevation gain (main race), with starting point in Tiers – Saint Cyprian. The track passes by Rifugio Alpe di Tires and Rifugio Bolzano. In 2019 the race will take place 13 July. I will be on the starting line. Will you? 

Seiser Alm Half Marathon runs on non-technical paths across the pastures of Seiser Alm. Its 21 kilometer consist of 601 meters of elevation gain. Start and finish are in Compatsch. In 2019 the race will take place on 7 July.

What Else?

The road from Seis and Kastelruth to Seiser Alm provides a great climb for roller ski. Take the bus from Compatsch to Kastelruth or the cable car from Compatsch to Seis and roll up. 

Strava for details: Seis – Seiser Alm roller ski

And why not rent a road bike and do the legendary Sella Ronda round? We did! The best rental bikes are in Corvara.

Strava for details: Sella Ronda

Your Carbo-fix

Most hotels offer half-board accommodation, thus, except for your meal on the run, usually had at the nearest rifugio, restaurant advice is not much needed. However, should you find the time, make sure you have kaiserschmarrn, or a full meal, at Gostner Schwaige.

Hotel Recommendations

There are several nice hotels on Seiser Alm ranging from basic to luxury. What most of them have in common is that they need to be booked early, especially during high season. I have personally tried all hotels listed below, except for Alpenhotel Panorama, and have enjoyed each one of them. If you are looking for cheap, basic accommodation, try the conveniently located Piccolo Hotel Schiliar or some of the nearby rifugios.

Hotel Goldknopf – for the view and nicely designed rooms.

Hotel Steger Dellai – for the traditional Tyrolean experience.

Sporthotel Sonne, – for their deluxe suites.

Hotel Icaro, – for nice atmosphere.

Alpenhotel Panorama – for suberb location and reasonably priced rooms.

Make It a Tour

Although Seiser Alm is the most beautiful place, after a few days you have covered the area. If you fancy more mountains and maybe some great roller ski or bicycling opportunities, combine Seiser Alm with Livigno (will be covered in a later post). Fancy the beach? Go to Lago Garda or Lago Como.