Alpe di Suisi was one of those places I had seen a picture of, and just had to see in real life.
This is the largest alpine meadow in Europe and heavily protected - but once you visit you’ll see why. This is exactly what I picture heaven to be like. How to visit Alpe di Suisi is another question, and was one of the most complicated places we visited on our trip. But after a few hours scouring the internet (and a nice parking fine of our own) I thought it'd be best to share all the rules and regulations!
Also, let me say that I am talking about the Alpe Di Suisi near Ortisei and Kastelruth - there is another nearby area by the same name.
Now, let's begin, starting from Ortisei.
Step One: Getting from Ortisei to Compatsh
You can drive the road up to Compatsch before 9 am and after 5pm, and park one of the 3 parking lots. Don't worry, you can exit down at anytime during the day. If you’re wanting to shoot sunrise, you’ll need to drive up and use parking lot 2 (it’s the closest). It’s 17 euros to park and the parking booth opens at 8 am but if you leave before 8am, you won’t have to pay.
If you are not planning on getting there for sunrise, you can catch the gondola at Ortisei for 17 euros return and it runs on a seasonal schedule which you can find here. Alternatively, the bus runs throughout the day and schedules are here.
Step Two: Getting from Compatsh to Alpe Di Suisi
Alpe Di Suisi is located a 5 minute drive or 1 hour walk from the town of Compatsch. The problem is, the road there has restricted entry unless you’re staying at a hotel and have prior approval from the local council (which there is still other rules that apply). There are no major signs or anything written in English, nor are there any cars usually around at sunrise but believe me, they patrol this area pretty well. We drove on the road at 6am and got hit with a 112 euro fine. Ouch.
Instead, you'll have to lace up your shoes and walk - it's a flat, easy stroll taking around an hour. If you follow the road towards Adler Lodge you'll walk straight by the famous meadow, or just put this location into your GPS. It's very straightforward!
Step Three: Enjoying Alpe Di Suisi
The best time to enjoy the meadow is at sunrise — seeing the sun rays hit the alpine meadow and light up the peaks of Sassolungo was one of the most incredible mornings I remember. The area does get very crowded throughout the day. But - to see the sunrise you will need to wake up very, very early and walk in the dark to catch the first light.
Alternatively, and if I were to do it again, I would book a night in Alpe di Suisi at the scenic Adler lodge or cheaper option of Hotel Icaro, so I could enjoy sunrise, sunset and everything in between at this picturesque spot.
Lastly, if you're after some breakfast after your long hike, visit Malga Sanon. This has a wonderful scenic view, delicious food, and a cute, wooden swing!