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Hiking in Villanders – Excursion from Lake Garda to South Tyrol

Villanders or Villandro is located between Bressanone and Bolzano in the Valle Isarco and is easily accessible from the Brennero freeway. Villanders is one of the most attractive destinations in the Eisack Valley. Villandro stretches from the vineyards to the picturesque Villandro Mountain. In addition, there’s the mega beautiful Villanderer Alm in the area – one of the most beautiful mountain pastures in the Alps. From there you have a great view of the Dolomites opposite. The distance from Lake Garda (Riva) is about 1h 45 minutes.

Hotel Ansitz zum Steinbock in Villanders

During dinner at La Fenice, Käthe had the idea to make a trip to Villanders to do some hiking. We arrived on Monday and stayed in the historic manor house Ansitz zum Steinbock from the 15th century. We liked the hotel on Booking and although it is in the 4-star category, it was affordable. The rooms were okay and appropriate for the price. The breakfast was great and the restaurant was a special experience, more about that later…
Hiking in Villanders - Hotel Ansitz zum Steibock exterior view

Walk circular trail Villanderer Alm

After arriving, we set out for the first “walk” and walked the circular trail Villanderer Alm. We parked in the parking lot at the Gasser hut.
Actually, we wanted to eat a snack on the way, my stomach was already growling and I got a little grumpy. If you’ve read the other posts, you know that I get obnoxious with a hungry stomach.

The plan was to stop at the Pforderalm, but it was lunchtime and the alp was very busy. We would have had to wait over an hour to get something to eat. Unfulfilled, we left again (with hungry stomachs) and made our way back. Shortly before we reached the parking lot, it was already late afternoon, we found something edible after all.

The Mair in Plun hut had what felt like the most delicious apple strudel in the world and at that moment the world was all right again for me. The remaining meters to the parking lot were then a breeze, lightly saturated it runs then better 😉 The remaining meters to the parking lot proved to be an easy game, if you have already fully refreshed, because with a light saturation it is undoubtedly effortless to walk along.

After a short relaxation period and an extensive shower at the hotel, we went to dinner. Not that you think that we are all about food, but food intake does take on a certain importance… Since the hotel restaurant was closed that evening, we went to the restaurant Pizzeria Rustika. The food there was good and the service was very attentive.

Hike to Villanderer Berg via Sarner Scharte – Overconfidence part 478….

The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, the head of the house asked us what was on our agenda for today and if we would be dining with them in the evening. “Of course” we answered, not knowing what to expect. The lady also asked about the destination of today’s hike. As a matter of course we answered: “To the Sarner Scharte”. To which the housekeeper replies, “Oh, all the way up?” We still thought, yes what do you think? One should have become alert when the housekeeper asks such a question….

No matter, we thought, according to Komoot, the route has “only” 16 km and 820 meters of altitude. This is no problem for professional alpinists like us! There it was again, our overconfidence…Before we started, we got some food at the local bakery, because we didn’t want to experience such a hunger tour like the day before again.

Hiking in Villanders - View of the Dolomites

The way up led us again a bit up the Villanderer Alm until we turned left at the Mair in Plain hut. The path became narrower and narrower and there were only a few other hikers on the way. Was that a sign? The route became steeper and steeper and at times it was difficult to find the trail markings. Käthe was already pretty exhausted and had to keep her strength in check when the Sarner Scharte towered up in front of us.

The way there was extremely steep, up it went on a dirt hiking trail in zigzag lines. We had the choice of either going all the way back or torturing ourselves up the steep ramp…Giving up was not an option for Käthe, so we slowly made our way up the steep path. Once there, we thought we had survived the worst. Unfortunately, there were still a few ramps to come, including a path secured with ropes (No via ferrata). All in all, however, the climb to the Sarner Scharte was actually the worst part.

The further way led us over the Villanderer Berg, the Zwölfernock and the Totensee. Since we were both very exhausted, the last kilometers dragged like chewing gum.

Lake of the dead Villandro alpine pasture

At Totenkirchl we finally went downhill and back to the parking lot. Admittedly, in retrospect the hike was a dream, the views were gigantic. If you are lucky, you can hear the marmots, if you are very lucky, you can even see one. Even if we have weakened in between, we can be proud to have made the tour.

Hotel-Restaurant Ansitz zum Steinbock – 2 Michelin toques

When we finally got back to the hotel and parked the car, I spotted a Michelin restaurant guide sign at the hotel entrance. The restaurant of the hotel has actually 2 Michelin toques! We had not known that and already feared that the restaurant will be of upscale quality…Of course, we had no appropriate clothing with us and went to dinner quite casually dressed.

We were led to the table and as an aperitif we first had a champagne. We would have loved an Aperol Spritz, but that wasn’t available. Then came the menu selection, you could choose between 3 menus: Expensive, very expensive and very very expensive. We opted for the medium option, accompanied by a wine pairing. Anyway, that evening nothing could shock us anymore.

After our hike we were very hungry and were really looking forward to the food. Then came the appetizer…What was that? A work of art made of different ingredients that you had to look for on the plate!!! From this you should be full????

Taste-wise, the appetizer was actually excellent, excellent unbelievable 😉 It could have been just a little more. The second course, the main course and the dessert were really delicious, a real feeling of satiety did not want to arise. The wine was really good and went great with the dishes.

Artistically designed appetizer Ansitz zum Steinbok Villanders

About the bill I do not want to comment now, just so much about it: At Lake Garda we had to cut back a bit 🙂

Hiking in Villanders – Our conclusion

It was a great trip and everything that makes us tick was represented again. From merciless overconfidence during the hike on the second day, to a hungry Ändy, to a somewhat bizarre dinner at the Ansitz zum Steinbock.

The hike to the Villanderer Berg was great, despite the effort, with many great views. The hotel was also good, including the dinner. At least if you know beforehand what to expect.

Hiking in Villanders – Impressions

The pictures will certainly make you want to hike in Villanders even more!

FAQ about hiking in Villanders

Is hiking in Villanders possible with children?

From the Gasser Alm start several trails, two of which are accessible for strollers. One of these trails leads to the Rinderplatz hut, which can be reached in about 20 minutes. The path consists mostly of small stones or earth. Swampy areas are bridged with footbridges and thus easily passable. There are roots to negotiate during the trail, but these should not present any major difficulties for a stroller.

The trail leads slightly uphill and is suitable for all hikers, large and small. During the hike you will meet horses and there is also a small stream where you can refresh your hands and feet.

The Cattle Place Lodge is very inviting and has elegant outdoor tables, barrels, benches and lounge chairs for all to enjoy. For children there is a large playground with slides, climbing walls, swings, a sandbox and much more. There is also a fountain in a hollow trunk and a small alpine zoo.

How far is Villanders from Lake Garda?

Villanders is about 1h45 from Lake Garda (Riva del Garda) and easy to reach via the Brenner freeway. It is recommended to plan an overnight stay in any case.

What equipment is recommended for hiking in Villanders?

As described in our article“Where is the best place to hike on Lake Garda“, we recommend also in Villanders to TRagen hiking equipment. One should not forget: The villanderer mountain is located at 2509 meters, which is alpine terrain and should not be underestimated! Here, a certain level of fitness and surefootedness is indispensable.

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