Aosta Valley- or Valle d’Aosta- is the smallest Italian region, an autonomous territory at the foot of the three highest mountains in Europe: Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, and the Matterhorn. Visiting Aosta Valley means immersing yourself in breathtaking landscapes and discovering a land rich in history that still preserves the traditions of the past. There are many things to do but in this article, we will focus on seven absolute musts to experience during your stay in the highest altitude in Italy.
- Mont Blanc’s Skyway
- QC Terme and Terme Saint Vincent
- Visiting castles
- Trying polenta concia and Fontina DOP
- Hot air balloon ride
Aosta Valley boasts a series of ski facilities that put it at the top of the list of the most recommended places for skiing in Europe. One of the main reasons is that thanks to its altitude you’ll find snow throughout the year (the slopes on the Plateau Rosa glacier are always open!). It shares its border with Switzerland where you’ll find the highest ski resort in Europe at almost 4,000 meters. It is one of the few places where it’s possible to ski in two countries on the same day because the Cervinia-Zermatt connection allows you to visit Switzerland without ever taking off your skis. Do not miss the ski resorts in Cervinia and Torgnon (known as “sunshine town”) in Valtournenche, Monte Rosa, Pila, and Thuile.
If you love nature in its purest form, then this is the activity for you. La Vallée is full of very well-marked trails for snow hikes. Suitable for everyone, these snowshoe trails will give you a glimpse into areas untouched by man and far away from the noise of everyday life. Simply stop in at one of the tourist offices and ask about snowshoeing in the area where you are staying. I highly recommended this experience!
3. Mont Blanc’s Skyway
You cannot visit Aosta Valley without experiencing the thrill of coming face to face with the highest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc. The Skyway is more than a cable car, it is a 360-degree experience that offers some of the most breathtaking views anywhere in the Alps. The most important advice I can give you is to only go if the weather conditions are perfect. In case of cloudy skies, you will miss the most beautiful part. In high season it is advisable to book in advance.
4. Thermal Baths: QC Terme, Terme Saint Vincent and Monterosa SPA
The keyword here is relaxation. After a day on the slopes, nothing could be better than a steaming hot soak in the thermal waters of Aosta’s beautiful establishments (open through the winter). QC Terme is the largest and most elegant but also the most crowded. For a more intimate experience, I recommend the Terme di Saint Vincent and Monterosa SPA. You will still need to book in advance.
5. Visiting Aosta’s Castles
Did you know that there are more than 130 castles and noble residences in Aosta Valley? If you didn’t know, it’s certainly time to visit some of them and here, the choices are overwhelming. You could start with Fenis Castle which seems to have just come out of a fairy tale; Savoy Castle, so loved by Queen Margherita; Bard Fortress and Sarre Castle are just a few. Plus, if you’re traveling with children, they’ll love them.
6. Try Valpellinenze Soup, Polenta Concia and Fontina DOP
As on any self-respecting trip, tasting local delicacies is obligatory. Aosta Valley’s cuisine is simple and tasty and what will amaze you the most is the quality of ingredients that are carefully selected and then prepared according to tradition. The Valpellinenze soup was born in the Valpelline Valley and is Aosta’s signature dish. If you’re imagining a typical vegetable soup with some pasta, don’t because this goes far beyond anything you’ve ever tasted! Fontina cheese, dark rye bread, and savoy cabbage are just some of the flavors.
7. Hot Air Balloon Ride
Yes, you read that correctly. In Aosta, you can soar up high admiring the landscape of mountain peaks and snow-covered valleys. The average altitude reached with each flight is between two and three thousand meters making it one of the highest flights in Europe.
As far as this article goes, our seven must-do experiences end here, but hopefully, for you, it will only be the beginning of your adventure in beautiful Aosta Valley.
To find out more about the region, read on!
Article and photos by Alexandra Turbatu
Alexandra is a nature-loving traveler who, after traveling the length and breadth of the world, has chosen to make Aosta Valley’s mountains home. She is passionate about hiking and in everyday life she organizes group trips abroad but also mountain hikes to share the endless wonders of the smallest Italian region.
She writes travel tips on her blog sviaggiando and shares her adventures on her Instagram page alexandra.svg