All you need to know to plan your day at Olperl Nature Park, the best nature park and mountain playground for kids in Val Pusteria, Trentino Alto Adige, Italy.
Olperl Nature Park is a wonderful nature trail and playground for kids on the top of Mount Elmo, in Sesto/Sexten, on the Italian Dolomites.
The park is at over 2000 mt high and a fantastic spot for kids to play, explore and experience the mountains in a fun and interactive way.
Here, you have mountain animals, tree houses, small mountain huts, treehouses and a fantastic mountain trail for you to hike… in your bare feet!
Visiting Olperl Nature Park with kids is easy and rewarding at any age however, some planning and possibly budgeting is needed.
We visited today and had a wonderful time: our kids are 9 and 11 we declared this one of our favorite family spots in the Dolomites (and if you follow us, you know we already have many!).
What is OIperl Park?
Olperl Park is a family friendly nature park at the top of Mount Elmo, in Sesto Pusteria, Italy.
The park is organized like a loop trail and it is made for kids but enjoyable for adults too.
The start of the park has small huts, a water mill and small mountain farm animals such as goats and rabbits, and this area is perfect for toddlers and small kids.
It also has a small playground with sand toys and swings, which is perfect for kids big and small.
The real star of the show here however is the mountain trail. From the little mountain kids’ village, signs point you to a loop path that brings you around the summit of the mountain and offers stunning views.
The path is easy and you can choose to walk it normally or to do it barefoot: beside the main course, you find a sensory trail purpose built to be experiences without shoes and it is simply fantastic!
Following it with no shoes, you can feel under your feet stone, wood, wood chip, sand, moss, mud and the feeling is exhilarating.
Children will love the different sensations and it is really cool for adults too – I am not one who usually enjoys being barefoot in nature but I did it and had an absolute blast. I highly recommend it!
Who is Olperl?
Olperl is a magical creature who lives in Sesto!
During the day, he is said to hide in the woods but at sundown, he takes the appearance of a gnome and he plays tricks on those he encounters!
He is friends with all the animals of the mountains and is a glutton for berries. Olperl Park is a place where you can learn about his world!
What to expect at the Olperl Nature Park kids’ Mountain Village
The first area of the Olperl Park you encounter is the kids’ mountain village.
This is a miniature reconstruction of an authentic mountain village and it is a delight for small kids. The area is contained enough to be safe but big enough for small kids to feel like they can go explore independently and it has reconstructions of mountain huts, farms and a fun, functioning water mills.
Kids as young as toddlers can run around and get in and out of the wooden hut, all surrounded by wonderful nature and the funny glances of the local goats!
This is a fantastic place for kids, perfect for toddlers who can choose to explore, play in the sand pit or have a turn on the swing set.
Parents can join the children or watch them from the terrace of the Monte Elmo restaurant just beside it, where you also find hot food, restrooms and a drinking fountain to fill your water bottle.
The barefoot trail in Olperl, Mount Elmo
From the kids’ mountain village, a loop path departs, around one of the summits of Mount Elmo.
The trail is easy and you can choose your preferred way to experience it:
If you have a stroller or just want to hike it, you can follow the accessible trail. This takes anything between 1h and 1.5 hours and it is a relaxing walk with small elevation gain and stunning views.
If you are more adventurous, you can embrace nature and follow the sensory path, which invites you to experience the mountain barefoot!
The sensory path runs parallel to the accessible path and it is perfect for kids of all ages. You take off your shoes and follow the path along stretched with different soils, for you to experience.
Parts of the path are on wood, some are on stone, bark, moss, sand and one small stretch is even in mud!
You can do as much or as little of it as you want: the different stretches are beside the main path and you can always go from one to the other, so this is not one of those things you have to commit to – you can try it and, should you not like it, simply put your shoes back on!
However you decide to do it, the path is fabulous. Part of it overlooks the Sesto Valley and part overlooks the green mountains of Austria. It is an exciting and very beautiful place that all ages will enjoy.
The path is also dotted with fun and interesting info panels, each dedicated to one of the many animals of this area.
How to get to the Olperl Park
Olperl Park is at the very top of Mount Elmo, so the best way to reach it is by using the cable car from Sesto or that from Versciaco.
The cable car station stops right in front of the park and the loop starts and ends there.
Technically, you can also walk up the mountain to the park but the hike is very long and hard (it takes about 4 hours) which is why I believe it is not really an option with kids!
Top tip! If you want to stretch your legs a little more, you can follow the large road that goes from the park to the Gallo Cedrone Mountain Hut. The walk is easy and it takes about 30 mins – even less if you have older kids who are used to walking. Here you can have a rewarding hot lunch with stunning views!
How much does it cost?
Olperl Nature Park is free however, the cable car up is not. At the time of writing (summer 2021) the cost to go up was 23 Euro both ways for an adult (lower cost for kids under 8 and under 16).
For a family of 4, we paid 75 Euro both ways so while it was totally worth it for the day we had, you may need to budget for this before promising a day here to the kids!
Top tip! If you have slightly older kids who are used to hiking, you can go up by cable car and walk down! You can follow the main road or walk up towards the Gallo Cedrone Hut and follow the trail (steep but doable with kids) – either way, it takes about 1h40mins to get back to Sesto. I did it today with my 11 year old and it was super fun and rewarding!
What to pack for a day at Olperl Nature Park Sesto
If you reach the park by cable car and go down the same way, you do not need any special equipment to visit the park.
Since you are over 2000 mt o.s.l. however, it is handy to be equipped with:
Walking shoes or runners – even if you go barefoot, there are several nice areas to discover around the park and a nice walk to the Gallo Cedrone Mountain Hut (20-30 mins from the park), which will require comfortable footwear.
A light sweater (summer) – it is significantly cooler here than in the valley, make sure you have a sweater just in case!
A wind breaker – it can get quite windy up here!
A bottle of water – that you can fill with the delicious water free flowing from the fountain outside the park
More resources to enjoy this area with kids
Find here >>> our favorite places to visit on the Dolomites (with kids or without!)
Find here >>> easy family hikes on the Dolomites we love
Find here >>> our packing list for visiting the Dolomites in summer