The second tallest waterfall in Europe can be found right here in the Bergamasque Alps north of Bergamo. The Cascate Del Serio hike (also known as Serio Falls) is the hike to do if you want to see the famous cascading waterfall in northern Italy.
With a 315 meter drop, it makes Cascate Del Serio the second-tallest cascading waterfall in Europe (the tallest one is in Iceland in case you’re wondering). Even though the power of the water isn’t that strong, the sheer size of the waterfall makes it worth visiting.
The hike itself is absolutely stunning and one of the best hikes to do in the Bergamasque Alps. You’ll be treated to some amazing views along the way and finish it off with an incredible view of the falls.
Also, something very special happened to us at this viewpoint! We share a little bit about what happened further in the post but here’s a hint: 💍!
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Everything you need to know about the Cascate Del Serio hike
Like on most hikes in the Bergamasque Alps, you’re really going to work for it on this hike. The trail up to Cascate Del Serio is beautiful but quite long with a good chunk of elevation. Especially if you start in the town of Valbondione like we did. All the hard work will be totally worth it though since the view of Del Serio is one of the best in the whole Lombardy region!
The trail is quite easy to follow from both of the two starting points (Valbondione and Grumetti) but there is a lot more parking in Valbondione since it’s a little further away. So we decided to park in Valbondione and hike a little further!
You follow the same trail the whole way so there’s not much room to get lost. It’s still good to have the Cascate Del Serio hike trail map though so you can follow it just to be sure! We recommend downloading the free Mapy.cz app because the detail of it is amazing and makes all the hikes we recommend easy to follow.
We always say it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Along the trail, there aren’t many rest stops but once you’re about halfway you’ll walk through a few Refugio’s (mountain cabins) in the small mountain town of Maslana. Here you’ll find running water you can drink. There’s also a small little restaurant/cafe where you can grab some snacks if you need to.
The rest of the hike is for enjoying the views and taking in the Bergamasque Alps! Soon, near the top of the hike, the Cascate Del Serio will appear and finally, you’ll have your first sight at one of the tallest waterfalls in Europe!
Practical information about the Cascate Del Serio hike
Distance: 8.5 km return / 5.28 miles return
Elevation: Roughly 528 m / 1745 ft. elevation gain
Type: In-and-out trail (multiple trails connecting to the same ones)
Length: 4-5 hours total (with a break at the top and time for pictures)
Difficulty: Hard (lots of incline)
Click here to see a map of the beginning of the Cascate Del Serio hike.
Here’s a picture of the parking for the Cascate Del Serio hike:
Starting the hike in Valbondione towards Cascate Del Serio
From what we heard and the research we did, it made sense to start the Cascate Del Serio hike in Valbondione. There’s a chance to start a little bit closer to the main trailhead but there’s a lot more parking available in Valbondione. Also, the trail from Valbondione towards the start of the hike is actually really beautiful.
You can look at the trailhead map we created here. If you look at the beginning of the trail, this is exactly where we parked. We paid €5 to park there for the whole day. You might be able to find parking on some side streets for free but for us, paying €5 to park at the trailhead was just easier.
There is a little ticket machine where you can pay either by card or cash (see image above). After paying, you will get a little receipt which you have to put on the dashboard inside your car. Once you have that boring stuff out of the way you can find the trail and start the journey to Cascate Del Serio.
Just cross the bridge and turn right and you’ll be on your way!
Hiking parallel to the Serio River
The beginning of the hike is nice and pleasant since there’s basically no elevation for the first 30 minutes or so. This is the time to enjoy the sound of the Serio River, the beautiful nature, and the mountains around you. This trail is the entryway into this stunning mountain range and one of the most exciting hikes in the Bergamasque Alps.
The best part about the beginning of this trail is the fact that you have the sound of the river running parallel to you and the views are simply epic! It’s also a good warm-up because there is quite a bit of elevation ahead of you!
Up the mountain towards Cacate Del Serio
This is where the hike gets fun – or some would say hard! From the second you get off the first section of the trail from Valbondione and onto the Cascate Del Serio trail, the elevation starts. Thankfully though, the first part of this section here offers a good amount of shade as you’re walking in between the trees.
You’re going to be welcomed with plenty of switchbacks to make the elevation easier even though it doesn’t feel that way. It’s worth it though and at least the trail is really easy to follow without too many side trails to confuse you.
As you get closer to Maslana (which is point 3 on the trail map) the hike will start to open up and the beauty of the hike really starts to come to life!
Hiking through Maslana on the way to Cascate Del Serio
Maslana (or Rifugio di Maslana) is a super beautiful little mountain town and it’s worth spending a bit of time exploring before you continue up to the falls or on your way down. It’s a rural village located at 1150-1200 meters above sea-level.
Hiking through Maslana we thought was almost as cool as seeing Cascate Del Serio. Maybe because we weren’t expecting this little mountain “village” on the hike. I feel like sometimes when something is unexpected and comes out of nowhere it just WOWS you that much more!
The WOW factor was real. You’ll come around a bend from the forest and then out of nowhere these old-school but very well-maintained Italian mountain houses come to view. This little miniature village just appeared out of nowhere almost and it was really really cool.
There’s a little water fountain with fresh flowing water where you can fill up your water bottle. There’s also a tiny little restaurant/cafe you can stop at if you need to replenish yourself.
This village consists of just a few little mountain houses called Rifugios (or Refuges in English) and the best part is that you can actually book some of these for the night if you want to. Check out this one for example.
You can also see the Rifugio di Maslana here and Refuge Merelli to Coca here. To book either of these options, you’ll have to call the place and request to make a booking.
We didn’t get the chance to stay in one since we didn’t know about these mountain houses until we were actually on the trail. But we do want to share with you that it’s possible.
It’s still so cool just walking through Maslana, filling up your waterbottle at the water tap, and admiring these tiny authentic little mountain homes. Once you walk through Maslana you’re not too far from the iconic viewpoint of the Cascate Del Serio waterfall.
The last stretch to the Cascate Del Serio hike Viewpoint
After you’ve taken in Maslana, filled up your water, and maybe had a coffee at the little restaurant it’s time for one last push to get to the Cascate Del Serio viewpoint.
By push we mean the last hour of hiking to the viewpoint where the famous Cascate Del Serio will come into view. You can actually see it a little earlier than at the viewpoint but the viewpoint itself is roughly an hour’s walk away from Maslana.
There’s quite a bit of incline but soon you’ll see why all this elevation is worth it. Like we said earlier, we were going to share a little surprise of what happened once we got to the viewpoint.
Usually, we try to get a few pictures together at the viewpoints using our tripod. So we also did that this time as well, but this time was different. Because after a few takes, Dom got down on one knee and PROPOSED!!! 💍
Excitement, surprise, disbelief, and a moment we’ll definitely remember forever! So this hike is definitely going to have a special place in our hearts forever and with the incredible view of Cascate Del Serio, we hope it turns out to be one to remember for you as well.
The viewpoint is a great place to take a break and eat your lunch or snacks you brought. There’s lots of room to sit down and enjoy the view of the waterfall.
If you want to continue the hike, there’s also an artificial lake above the waterfall that feeds Cascate Del Serio. You can hike up to this lake and another smaller alpine lake that’s worth checking out as well. Make sure to add an extra few hours to get to the top of those. You can check out the trail directions on AllTrails here.
For us, the view of Cascate Del Serio (and the engagement) was enough for the day. We felt accomplished enough to not go to the top but rather to turn around and not rush hiking back down! We would definitely come back and do it though.
This mountain range is beautiful and there’s so much to see in the Bergamasque Alps!
Also read: Hiking to the Top of Monte Colombina Near Lake Iseo
Back down to Valbondione
The Cascate Del Serio hike is an in-and-out trail so you’ll make your way back the same way you came up. You’ll pass through Maslana again where you can stop for a coffee if you didn’t on your way up (you know coffee in Italy is a must). You can also fill up your water there if you need to as well.
Then from there, you’ll continue back down through the forest until you hit the Serio River. From there it’s only a short walk back to the carpark in Valbondione.
Once you’re in Valbondione there are also a few cute cafes and shops that you can stop at before leaving the mountain town! We stopped here and ordered a “caffè” and were surprised when we got an espresso each (I guess we should’ve known!). So if you don’t want an espresso, just clarify what type of coffee you want 😋
After having a coffee, we stopped at a store across the street to buy a bottle of wine and some nice fresh pasta so we could go back to our Airbnb and celebrate our engagement!
What to bring on the Cascate Del Serio hike
One of the most important things to bring on the Cascate Del Serio hike is sunscreen and some water. Even in early October, the sun can still be pretty warm.
When it comes to water and thinking from a sustainable travel perspective we love our LifeStraws because we can fill them up wherever we go. This hike is a prime example since halfway up in Maslana there is a water tap!
We usually pack our Osprey bags with everything we need… Water, PB&J sandwiches, sunscreen, extra layers, etc!
Cascate Del Serio is one of the more challenging hikes in the area so a backpack full of stuff is recommended for this one.
Packing list for Cascate Del Serio:
- Water! Like we said, we always fill up our LifeStraw bottles before hikes and even during them when we can. This is one of the easiest ways to minimize your plastic waster, and the LifeStraw bottles are great because with their filters you can fill them anywhere! (No kidding, we drank tab water in Mexico)
- Sunscreen is highly recommended when hiking – especially at such high altitudes that you’ll find yourself at when hiking in Italy. During the second half of the hike, you’ll be exposed to the sun the whole time on your way to Cascate Del Serio. So sunscreen will be a lifesaver!
- A power bank is always nice to have on a hike! You don’t want a dead phone halfway through a hike. Especially if you’re in a foreign country and don’t 100% remember how to get back to your accommodation.
- Bring some lunch to eat at the waterfall viewpoint. There is a little cafe along the trail in Maslana but it’s a long hike and snacks along the way are recommended!
- If you have weak knees or don’t want to bang them up, you might want to bring hiking poles. The ascents and descents to Cascate Del Serio will be much more pleasant with a good set of hiking poles.
How to get from Bergamo to Valbondione
Having a car to explore the Bergamasque Alps is by far the easiest way to get to most of the trailheads. That being said, you can still get around by bus if you don’t want to (or can’t) drive. The only downside is that it will take a lot longer by bus to get to some of these smaller mountain towns. But it’s totally doable!
Bergamo to Valbondione by public transport
Out of the hikes that we’ve done in the Bergamesque Alps, the Cascate Del Serio hike is actually one of the best hikes to do if you want to go by public transport from Bergamo. There’s a direct bus that runs from Bergamo to Valbondione and it only takes 2 hours.
The other upside is that the bus runs quite a few times a day between Bergamo and Valbondione so this hike is actually great to do if you plan to go by public transport.
Rent a car in Bergamo
Although you can get to Valbondione by public transport, we still think that renting a car is by far the best option. Especially if you’re in the Lombardi region of Italy for a while to do multiple hikes. Most of the hikes in the Bergamasque Alps are just so much easier to get to by car.
One thing that surprised us about renting a car from Bergamo Airport was the fact that it was so affordable. We went in October and paid around €30 a day + gas (and the car was a hybrid so we didn’t even use that much gas). Being able to drive will save you so much time in the Alps!
You can look at different rental car options from the Bergamo Airport here.
Before you hike Cascate Del Serio
Check the weather
No matter where you hike, you should always check the weather before you go. The mountain area near Valbondione is known for great weather in the summer but like in any mountain area, the weather can change quickly.
It never hurts to be a little over prepared with some extra layers and clothes. You can see the weather for Valbondione here to give you an idea on what to pack for your trip.
Wear hiking shoes
For this hike in specific, I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing it without a good pair of hiking shoes. The distance is long, and the terrain is a bit rocky, steep, and at times challenging so do yourself and your feet a favour and put on the right shoes.
Almost everywhere in northern Italy, you’re going to want proper hiking shoes. We wear them on all mountain hikes we do. It makes the hike so much more enjoyable.
When is the best time to hike Cascate Del Serio?
The fall is a stunning time to be in the Bergamasque Alps and around Valbondione. The trails are quieter, the fall colours are coming to life, and usually the weather is still quite good this time of year.
Since Cascate Del Serio is the second tallest waterfall in Europe you get a lot of people from Milan, Bergamo, and all over visiting this famous waterfall. But what we noticed was that in October, especially on the weekdays, most of the trails in the area were basically empty with only a few hikers!
If you like the hikes to be less crowded and more peaceful then late September to mid October is an awesome time to hike Cascate Del Serio.
You may also like…
- Hiking up Monte Blum to the Beautiful Capella Alpani Monte Blum
- Hiking to the Top of Monte Colombina Near Lake Iseo
Recap of the Cascate Del Serio hike from Valbondione
We hope you enjoy the trail to the tallest waterfall in Italy and the second-tallest waterfall in Europe. The hike up to the Serio Falls is awesome!
First, you have a section of the hike next to the river followed by an uphill section deep in the forest. Then you have a little section where you walk through a tiny tiny mountain village. And lastly, you get the amazing view of Cascate Del Serio!
We may be biased since we got engaged on this hike but along with the Corna Trentapassi hike next to Lake Iseo, this has to be one of the best hikes we’ve done in Italy to date!
Even though the Serio Falls isn’t the most powerful waterfall, the sheer size of it is incredible!
Enjoy the hike and if you have any questions about getting there, the bus, renting a car, or whatever then message us. You can easily get a hold of us on Instagram here or you can leave a comment below.
What a seriously beautiful and memorable hike!! Nice job, Dom! 😉
Yes it was stunning and a very lucky day for me! 😉