• Distance 5 km
  • Elevation gain 370m
  • Difficulty
  • Epic rating

You can ride Passo Sella from the north (either from Selva di Val Gardena in the valley or the junction below the Gardena Pass at Plan de Gralba) or from the south (from Canazei in the valley or the junction below the Pordoi Pass).

This guide is based on the journey up from the north, from the junction at Plan de Gralba, which is the direction you’ll be coming from if you’re following the Sella Ronda Bike Day route.

This side of the pass has quite a different character from the southern approach – it feels relatively open and green, compared with the vertical slopes that feel close enough to touch on the southern side from Canazei (which is also a much tougher climb).

As you ride up from Plan de Gralba, the valley feels quite wide here and there are lush green pastures on either side, towered over by the immense Sassolungo range to your right and the Sella range to your left. The pass is topped by the wonderful Torri del Sella and Mesules.

All metrics in this article are approximate.

Highlights of the Passo Sella

Views of the Sella and Sassolungo ranges in the final kilometre before the top.

The views from the final hairpin before the summit are particularly extraordinary.

Cyclings on Passo SellaFollowing a line of porsches up from Plan d’Gralba!
View from the top of the Passo SellaIncredible view from the top looking back towards Plan d’Gralba
Cycling up the Passo Sella from Plan d'Gralba, DolomitesNearing the top of the Passo Sella

Passo Sella climb info

The early kilometres of the climb are through trees, with the peaks poking their craggy tops out above the treetops.

As soon as you’re above the treeline, you can’t help but be blown away by the spectacular scenery. To your right is the craggy, grey bulk of the Sassolungo range and, as you climb, you’ll notice the Sasso Piatto behind it.

Unusually, the climb from the Plan de Gralba side doesn’t really have hairpins and the gradients rarely reach double figures.

About 1.5km from the top you pass some buildings and a car park – this isn’t the top of the climb, which is still ahead of you.

If you want to get some photos, the time to do it is just before the summit – the summit is covered by a gaggle of buildings and you can’t see any views.

Cyclists cycling Passo Sella, DolomitesCycling up from Plan d’Gralba
Supercar on Passo SellaDon’t mind being passed by one of these!
Two cyclists cycling Passo Sella from Plan d'Gralba, DolomitesHigher up on the Passo Sella

A few points to note about the descent down towards Canazei and the Pordoi Pass:

  • You’ll soon see what we mean about the other side having a very different character. The mountains seem close enough to each, and tower around you, vast and vertical.
  • Beware the crossroads towards the bottom of the descent (where you head left for the Pordoi or right to head south, out of the Dolomites). The reason to take care is that there are often cars, motorbikes and cyclists stopped around this crossroads, confused by the sudden decision they have to make over which direction to go. Don’t crash!
Cyclists at summit of Passo SellaSummit views
Passo Sella from CanazeiOn the way up on the Canazei side
View from Passo Sella towards CanazeiSavouring the view…

Café stops

There aren’t any cafes on this climb, other than the hotel just before the summit and the hotels and restaurants at the top.

Accommodation

In general, we think Corvara is the best place to base yourself to take on the peaks of the Dolomites, but we’ve got lots of suggestions in our main guide to the Dolomites.

Tips

Read our tips on cycling holidays in the Dolomites before you set out.

Mount Sella is known as the “castle of the Dolomites”. Sella, means saddle, and its table top makes it a walker’s paradise. The Sella’s highest point is Piz Boe at 3,151 metres.

Be aware that there may be parked cars along the road towards the top of the climb. This is a really popular area with climbers and there isn’t much formal parking.

A bit of history: the mountain pass road was built in the 1850s. Three mountain huts followed which are still open: at the top of the pass is the Passo Sella Mountain Hut, which dates back to 1903, the Carlo Valentini Mountain hut, the oldest hut of the area (1884) and the Maria Flora Tavern (1934). The new road contributed greatly to the economy of the region and opened the area to tourism.

At 2,244m the Passo Sella has twice been the Cima Coppi or highest point of the Giro d’Italia.

Other useful information:

Here’s the Sella Strava segment

Maratona dles Dolomites climb number 3

Sella Ronda climb number 2 assuming starting in Corvara and going anti-clockwise

Read on…

Don’t miss our main guide to cycling in the Dolomites – you’ll find loads of information to help you plan your trip and links to all our other Dolomites cycling guides, including Passo Gardena, Pordoi, Campolongo, Falzarego/Valparola, Giau, Fedaia.

 

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Clare Dewey

Clare Dewey is a road cyclist with a passion for travel. She set up epicroadrides.com to help make it easy for road cyclists to explore new places by bike.

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