The Alps are an awesome winter destination and there are many regions where it's worth going to.
I actually love "driving" to the Alps, though it is a long drive from Cologne with around 8-10 hours.
It means getting up and leaving very early in the morning, so that you arrive in the afternoon. That's also what we did this time and we were already on the Autobahn at 5 am. Instead of using our own car, I've looked up a rental car, as I like testing and driving different cars. Auto Europe got me a good rate in my area and a few days later I was sitting in a Skoda Superb. The Superb is more or less an Audi A6, but just with a different logo. And it was the brand the rental company allowed to have for a trip to Italy.
Yes, we chose the Alps in Northern Italy, which meant that we had to drive through Austria and/or Switzerland before, after spending hours of driving in Germany. But luckily it's still fun to drive in Germany, if the traffic allows it. At the moment you arrive in the South and you might get a bit tired, the views of the mountains keeps you awake.
Driving through this stunning landscape is a highlight every time!
And that's where Livigno really gets you, as it's definitely not the easiest and quickest ski destination to go to. The closest airport is Zürich and from there it's still a 3-4 hours drive, though you could also choose the train to enjoy the panorama.
And exactly that drive is so worth it. You do know the travel quote “The journey, not the arrival matters.” by T. S. Eliot, correct? In this case the quote is right and wrong, as the drive is fab, but the arrival as well.
The nav-gat first led us through Austria and from there over small windy roads to the border crossing in Hoch, Austria, and further into a narrow valley in Switzerland. Take enough coffee breaks, as the roads are narrow, but fun to drive. After another hour it will take you higher up into the mountains and then you have to drive through the (private) Munt la Schera tunnel.
This tunnel is a one way, so that only every couple of minutes the one or other side is allowed to drive through it. And on the other side is also the border crossing into Italy. As soon you exit the tunnel you have to pay a good amount, around € 40 for a return ticket, for the use of this shortcut.
But it also means to enter a new world and the (tax free) valley of Livigno. Yes, it's so hidden, that this region is tax free, and some will love this fact with the combination of having over 200 shops in the city.
For me that was less of interest, but more that it does feel like another world. This winter was not the best in the Alps, with little snow and quite warm temperatures, but the moment we got out of the tunnel, it was colder and there was more snow. Yay!
Then Livigno still has plenty of old houses made out of wood or stones. Those provide a very special, cozy and unique atmosphere.
This "old" doesn't mean dusty, as Livigno is full of action!
Every year car brands like Maserati, Ferrai and Lamborghini show up to present their newest sport cars. You could even end up driving a few turns for yourself on a snow track.
Not to forget the many slopes on both sides of the valley for some serious fun for snowboarders or skiers. The slopes are wide, so that even on busier days you will have plenty of space.
But there are more options!
You could rent a fat bike, use it for some downhill fun or just a "family" trip through the valley. For that you can get a trailer on skis, if your kids are still a bit too small to ride the bike for themselves. Check out Silene Sport in town for rental.
Or have you ever tried ski-doo? Get up on the hill to Eira, there you can hop on one and enjoy a few turns while looking down into the valley and overlooking the Alps. Trepalle Service are the ones to contact for prices and more info.
After so much action in nature you might feel like some rest. Take the afternoon off and head to AquaGranda. You feel like a massage, but your kids do not? No worries... At Aqua Granda the kids have their own "water-playground" while the adults can head a level beneath to enjoy the big and nice wellness area. Here you'll find different saunas, a pool, steam baths or a good massage to get you ready for the next day again.
We stayed in Hotel Touring, which is a great base for your stay, especially if you come with kids. The staff is very kids friendly and the youngsters will like the play areas, whether it's in the restaurant or the kid's room in the cellar, where they can go to leave the rest of their energy before falling into the comfortable beds.
The hotel is situated in the main street, which is a pedestrian street. You can still use that road to get to your hotel, which also provides an underground parking garage. Very handy!
Just a few meters next to the hotel you'll find the big "Kinder Club Lupigno", where they have around 7 "magic carpets" of different lengths, which are the right spot to teach your kids to ski or snowboard. And if they loose concentration, give them a break, let them slide down a curvy track with a big tube or by just letting them have some fun on the playground, which got slides, trampolins and some sleds.
And then there is the food!
You have entered the culinary area of Italy. The Hotel Touring served a really good breakfast, with a huge variety. For dinner, you could choose from a good menu with several courses and full salad buffet.
But it's also worth it to leave the hotel and try out a few other places. A surprise was the Ristorante Camino, just outside of the town. From the outside you would not expect the quality and high standard you will get served here. The staff does the rest and knows how to treat their guests well.
And if you need a special approach... Then you should go for La tea da "Cip e Ciop", which is a little mountain hut with a nice view onto the valley. You should not just reserve a table, but also the ski-doo transfer to get to the hut. They will pick you up at the Carosello 3000 lift station and also make sure that you arrive back there safely. In the time in between, you will get served more very delicious meals while looking down onto Livigno.
Sooner or later you will have to leave this hidden winter paradise again, heading back through the tunnel, the windy roads in Switzerland and Austria, leaving the stunning landscapes of the Alps...
but I'm sure that it's only a question of time, until you will be back!