Castelrotto is, in my opinion, the best town in the Dolomites. San Vigilio di Marebbe is a close second for me, but Castelrotto is my favorite. From the first time I laid eyes on this charming village back in 2011, it was love. And that love has grown for this wee town with each visit. Known as Kastelruth in German, this town has it all — small town charm, loads of accommodation choices, an array of restaurants, stunning views, accessibility by public transport, lots of trails, good winter activities and plenty of things to do, see and experience in the surrounding area.
Castelrotto is located in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Northern Italy. And specifically it’s in the Alto Adige part of the region. This town sits in the mountains about 26km from the main town of Bolzano (Bozen). It lies in a valley just below the famous — and breath taking — Alpe di Siusi, the highest alpine meadow in Europe. Castelrotto is also known as Kastelruth. This is because the Alto Adige — also known as Südtirol — was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to WWI. So this piece of Italy is very Germanic — language, food, architecture, and other traditions. It’s neat and tidy here with things running more on time. You’ll find that the people here easily speak both German and Italian. English?
Some folks do, some don’t. Be prepared to know at least some words in either Italian or German (or both) to help you out. Also there are some folks who are part of the Ladin ethnic group. These folks comprise about 4% of the Südtirol population so you’ll see them scattered about in this area, including Castelrotto. They have their own language and their own unique culture. So if you hear something that’s not Italian or German, it’s probably Ladin. Okay…now let’s get to all the good reasons why Kastelruth is the best town in the Dolomites.
One of the great things about Kastelruth is the many different kinds of accommodation. You can find self-catering apartments/houses, simple guesthouses/B&B’s and high end luxury hotels — and most everything in between. And there’s something for every budget as well. I stayed at a lovely hotel right in the heart of the village, Hotel Cavallino d’Oro, on my first visit. I’d call it a mid-price hotel. It’s a wonderful place that I highly recommend. Friendly and helpful staff!! Then for my next 2 stays, I stayed at what is known as a garni which is close to a B&B. Both stays were great with simple rooms and a plentiful breakfast. The garni I stayed in 2014 is now called something else as it was bought by another family. So I won’t comment on what it’s like now as it’s definitely different. On my last visit I stayed at Garni Doris.
Really. Castelrotto is the best town in the Dolomites because it is so damn charming. Look a it! There’s a cute little town square with a gorgeous church and bell tower. The buildings are beautiful. In fact, some of them have these gorgeous paintings on the sides. The narrow pedestrian lanes are just begging you to wander about. And it’s all wrapped up in a wee town that you can easily navigate by foot. No there aren’t a lot of sites. But you’re here for the outdoors. Which brings me to the next reason why Kastelruth is the best town in the Dolomites.