Gran Paradiso National Park Hiking – Trails, Tips and Travel Info

Updated: May 18, 2023
Gran Paradiso National Park Hiking

Gran Paradiso is Italy’s oldest National Park. It is also one of Europe’s biggest attractions for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning 70,000 ha, Gran Paradiso National Park Hiking trails are seemingly endless. Amongst these trails are some of the most popular treks in Italy.

The park was established to protect important ecosystems in the valleys around the Gran Paradiso mountains. In particular, the park is a stronghold for the ibex population which was once on the verge of extinction. Today, visitors regularly see animals in the meadows and mountains of this beautiful landscape.

With all the options, planning a hike in Gran Paradiso can feel a bit overwhelming. In this article, we’ll go through some important information about the park as well as some popular hikes in Gran Paradiso to get you started.

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Planning A Gran Paradiso Hiking Trip - The Basics

Where Is Gran Paradiso National Park? 

Gran Paradiso National Park is located in the Piedmont and Aosta Valley regions of northern Italy.

The Piedmont side of the park is the most popular area for tourism activities. This section has a visitor centre and regular organized activities. This area is accessible via the Orca Valley road from the Towns of Turin, Ivrea, and Pont Canavese.

If you are travelling by public transport. The towns above also have train stations from which you take a train to either Rivarlo or Pont stations. From here, ride the bus to Valley Orco or Valley Soana.

The other side of the park, the Aosta valley, can be reached from the Aosta railway station

If you are flying in, the closest airport to Gran Paradiso is Turin and Aosta airports. Buses run from both these airports. 

You can check schedules and prices on the GetByBus website.

When is the best time for walking and trekking in Gran Paradiso National Park?

The best time to hike in Gran Paradiso for the weather is between May to September. However, all seasons have something to offer as long as you are prepared for cooler weather.

Summer (June - August)

Most people choose to visit Gran Paradiso in Summer when days are warm and you don’t need to worry about snow, This is also Gran Paradiso’s busiest season. August is particularly crowded as this month is holiday time for France and Italy..

Spring (End of March-May) 

One of the best times for hiking in Gran Paradiso. The snow starts to thaw and wildflowers blossom, bringing the park to life. There are fewer people around but you do get the odd snowy day, especially early on in the season

Autumn (September- November)

September is the start of the seasonal change and end of the holiday season. It is a peacefull time in Gran Paradiso. If you hike Gran Paradiso in October to November you will get to experience the change of leaves. Days are cooling down but temperatures have not quite reached the icy lows of winter.

autumn in Gran Paradiso, Italy

Winter (December - March)

Many trails are still open to hiking (Particularly in the Orco valley). However, this is a better time to visit if you are interested in skiing and other winter sports.

Where to stay when hiking in Gran Paradiso National Park?

Where you stay will depend on which trails you are hiking and in which valley. Luckily, there are a lot of different options both in the park and in the nearby towns and villages.

If you are planning on trekking in the peak European holiday season (July-August), it is particularly important you make reservations ahead of time.

These are some of the main accommodation options in and around Gran Paradiso National Park:

Refugios / Mountain huts

Refugios are mountain huts that offer basic accommodation and meals to hikers and climbers. There are several refugios located throughout the park, including Refugio Vittorio Emanuele II, Refugio Chabod, and Refugio Sella. Refugio's prices start from 30- 50 euros pp for a night.


There are several designated campsites located within the park, including the Camping Gran Paradiso and Camping Sogno di Berdzè sites. These campsites offer basic facilities, including restrooms and showers and electric points. Campsites cost around 6€pp

Hotels and B&Bs 

You have a lot of choice between hotels and bed and breakfasts located in and around the park, particularly in the nearby towns of Cogne and Valsavarenche. These accommodations offer more comfortable amenities and are a good choice for those who need creature comforts.

Chalets in the park cost between 100-150€ (for the entire unit). Guesthouses/ Airbnb’s for two people cost anything from 60€ upwards to 500€ for a upmarket hotel.

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Gran Paradiso Hiking Trails

Gran Paradiso National Park Hiking

Along the trail in Gran Paradiso (Picture by Franck Michel)

The Gran Paradiso National Park is a Huge area that is made up of 5 regions or valleys, namely;

  • Valle de Cogne
  • Valle Orco
  • Valle Soana
  • Valle di Rhemes
  • Valsaverenche

Each valley has its own charms and routes to explore. it would be near impossible to list every trail in the park. Therefore, I’ve selected some of the most famous multi-day treks and day hikes. This should at least give you an idea of what’s available and something to start with.

Multi-Day Treks In Gran Paradiso National Park

Alta Via 2 

The ‘High route 2” or AV2 is one of the best hikes in Europe. This challenging trek is 160km (100 miles) from Bressanone to Croce d’Aune through the Dolomites.

It is a challenging route and you will need to be fit and have previous hiking experience. Most people take between 11-14 days to complete this trail.

Alta Via 2 ( runs along the south side of the Aosta valley in Gran Paradiso. If you want to hike along the north side, you will be looking at the Alta Via 1 Trail. (AV1)

A few hardcore adventurers do AV1 and AV2 trails together. This is a 31-day epic known as the Tor de Geants (The Giant’s Trail). This 330km trail is the route for one of the hardest ultramarathons in the world

Gran Paradiso Circuit Trek

The best type of hiking to do in Gran Paradiso is a hut-to-hut circuit trek that includes several trails. Trekkers spend their days hiking through the mountains past picturesque alpine meadows, waterfalls and lakes.

Basically, a circuit trek is a highlights tour of Gran Paradiso National Park. If you spend more than one day in the park, your chances of seeing wildlife like ibexes, chamois and marmots is greatly increased.

When trekking a circuit, there are a lot of route variations. depending on personal preference. Ideally, you will want at least 4 days to make the most of the park.

Although it’s possible to do a circuit trek independently, its not a bad idea to book through a local tour operator. This way our transport, accommodation, and food will all be organized for you.

You will need enough fitness to be able to trek around 8-15km each day, on trails with mixed terrain.

Climb Gran Paradiso Summit  

Gran Paradiso peak is the highest summit in the park. It stands 4,061m above sea level. Gran Paradiso is considered one of the easiest 4000m mountains in the Alps. People who aspire to climb Mont Blanc often use this as a practice trek.

Despite this reputation, it is not a beginner's hike. Mountaineering experience and good fitness is required to make it to the top.

When setting off to climb Gran Paradiso peak, you start at Pravieux in Valsaverenche (1850 m). You then have the option of trekking to one of two huts; Rifugio Chabod or Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II. It’s much of a much in terms of distance from the start.

On either route, you will be hiking across terrain with lots of boulders. From the trailhead to the refugios is a short walk, about 2.5 hours. People often hike to these refugios and back as a day trek.

The path from Refugio Chabod to the summit is around 1- 1,5hrs longer than that from Refugio Vittorio. This is not entirely bad as you get some views not offered on the trail from Refugio Vittorio. The pathways from both refugios take hikers over a glacier before a final short and steep scramble to the summit.

To climb Mount Gran Paradiso, you need crampons and a pick axe to cross the glacier. Most people take between 4-5 hours for this ascent.

5 Best Gran Paradiso Day Hikes

Hiking in Italy

1. Valnontey River trail 

This is an easy, 2.2km trail which starts at Valnontey village and follows the River. You pass by some old farm buildings and end with a view on to glacial waterfalls.

It is a super easy walk as its almost entirely on a flat gradient. For this reason, the river trail is popular as a short walk for families with young children. Most people do this trail in less than 1 hr.

Note: If you are driving your own car, there is a parking fee in Valnontey village (€1 per hour / €4 per day)

2. Lago de Loie

This is a challenging 11.5km / 7 mile hike with some steep switchbacks. The trail is a loop that starts and ends Lillaz. This is a popular tourist town as it has a good view of Mont Blanc.

From Lillaz, you start by crossing the river and walking towards the Lillaz waterfall. Its not long before the first sign to Lago de Loie appears and you start the ascent up the mountainside.

The trail takes you through meadows and pine forests. There are also some great viewpoints of the waterfalls and Mont Blanc.

Lago de Loie is around 3.5km into the hike. Many people simply return the same way from here. It’s worth continuing on and hiking the circuit, this way you get to experience the beautiful Bardoney valley. You will almost definitely see marmots in this valley.

Follow the signposts which take you on a loop back to Lillaz. You will be walking for about 4-6 hrs, depending how often you stop to look at the view

3. Thumel - Lago di Goletta

This 14km return hike starts at Thume near Rhêmes-Notre-Dame. The hike takes you to the beautiful Lago di Goletta at an altitude of 2,305 meters. It is an easy to moderate route.

The lake is surrounded by breathtaking alpine scenery and is a popular spot for picnics and swimming.

The first part of the trail follows the Dhora di Rhemes river. This route has a bit of everything, waterfalls, glaciers panoramic views. Give yourself between 5-6 hours to hike this trail

4. Rifugio Vitorial Sella

This popular trail starts at Valnontey in the Cogne Valley. Cross the river and follow the signs for Route 18. The trail takes you up the mountainside past waterfalls, abandoned farm buildings, glaciers and, alpine meadows. After almost 10.6km (6.5 miles) you reach the refugio

There is a lot of wildlife in this area including marmosets, Ibex, and chamois. Golden eagles are also residents here.

The Refugio is Open from mid-March to the end of September. Here you can buy delicious meals and refreshments. Bring cash as most of these mountain huts do not have a card machine. Afterward, you return on the same route.

This is a challenging hike with a lot of uphills. You will need to be reasonably fit. Estimated time: 5-7 hours

5. Orvieille Hunting Lodge and Djouan Lakes

This trail starts at the village of Degioz in the Valsavarenche Valley. The first part of the trail (6km / 3.8 miles) takes you to a historic hunting lodge in a high-altitude meadow. Originally, this lodge was built for the king but, after an avalanche destroyed it in the 80s, it has been rebuilt as a rangers hut.

After the hunting house, the route continues to the Djoun Lake. It should take just over an hour to reach Lake Djouan from the hunting lodge. If you are able to, its worth summiting Monte Chandelly from the lakes. This extra 300m elevation gain will give you a spectacular panoramic view of the park’s major peaks.

You return the same way you came. In total, this hike takes between 6.5- 8hrs, depending if you continue up Mt. Chandelly.

Join a Gran Paradiso Circuit hike

Book with our recommended local guide

Trekking In Gran Paradiso: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Camp In Gran Paradiso National Park?

Yes, there are several official campsites within Gran Paradiso National Park.

How Fit Do You Need To Be To Hike In Gran Paradiso?

All fitness levels can hike in Gran Paradiso National Park. There are a variety of trails to choose from ranging from very easy to extreme.

Do You Need A Permit To Hike In Gran Paradiso, Italy?

You do not need a permit to Hike in Gran Paradiso. Entrance to this park is free.

About the author 

Alison Macallister

With a degree in Nature Conservation and experience working with wildlife including the Big 5, Alison used to work as a guide for a 5-star safari reserve in South Africa. Today she is a full time traveller and editor for Mountain IQ. She has travelled and hiked extensively in South America, including many solo hikes in Patagonia, the Cusco region of Peru, Ecuador and Chile.

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