An attractive town at the southern end of the Stelvio National Park and Stelvio Pass and within the Upper Valtellina area, Bormio is best known for the spa treatments available in the town and as a winter ski resort.
The first thing you will notice is that the centre of Bormio is rather more attractive than you might expect from a small mountain town, which tend to be rather sombre. Although the centre is quite dominated by the hotels that cater to the substantial influx of skiers in winter, and there is also a region that is older with cobbled streets passing between medieval palazzos, some of them featuring frescoed exteriors.
Although there are no historic monuments of great importance, there are several small churches and in the main square, Piazza Cavour, you can see a traditional market hall with stone pillars, a sturdy clocktower with an oversized clock, the pastel pink Kuerc with a neo-classical entrance and with origins dating in the 9th century, and the adjacent collegiale church, from the 17th century.
The small stone bridge over the river Frodolfo is also interesting, and the small 12th century Church of Saint Vitale is interesting because of the medieval frescoes on the wall around the entrance.
Bormio is one of the most prestigious alpine ski resorts and skiing is also accessible most of the year on the glacier at Stelvio. The town has played host to the annual Alpine World Ski Championship on more than one occasion (1985 and 2005) and is best known for its downhill and Nordic skiing.
The spa centre in the town, called Bormio Terme, has been established since ancient Roman times and offers the wide range of spa treatments and mudbaths you would expect in a luxurious environment. Unfortunately I am not qualified to comment on how effective the treatments are so see their website at Bormio Terme for details, booking and prices.
Actually there are three different spa centres here: Terme di Bormio ("Thermal Baths") in Bormio itself and Bagni Vecchi ("Old Baths", established in Roman times) and Bagni Nuovi ("New Baths", established in the 19th century) nearby.
Another place of interest is the botanical gardens called Giardino Botanico Alpino Rezia" that have been established near Bormio here for more than 30 years. Although quite small at 1.5 hectares, the gardens bring together a wide selection of plants from the Alps and other mountain regions around the world.
There are several ancient festivals and events that take place in Bormio during the course of the year. Perhaps the most unususual takes place on January 31st when the children of the town 'wake up the spring' by dragging metal objects through the town and making as much noise as possible. Called the Geneiron, this tradition is said to date back at least 2000 years.
Thoughout the region there are numerous natural and scenic highlights to explore and Bormio is of course principally a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. In fact there are mountain passes in almost all directions: Stelvio Pass (2757 metres), Umbrail Pass (2501 metres), Foscagno Pass (2291 metres) and Gavia Pass (2621 metres).
As you can imagine, the presence of these mountain passes also make Bormio very popular with cycling enthusiasts and as a stage on the Giro d'Italia cycle race.
The journey north through the Stelvio National Park and along the hairpin bends of Stelvio Pass is a highlight of your visit to Bormio. Stelvio is the highest traversible mountain pass in Italy and second highest in Europe.
The walks in the surrounding Alto Valtellina area are often very scenic as you discover small lakes, waterfalls and glaciers deep in the mountains, so although best known as a winter destination there is also a lot to enjoy in other seasons.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Lombardy guide.