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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Highlights

  • Walking high amongst the classic picture-postcard spires of the Dolomites
  • Savouring sumptuous Italian food—flavourful pastas and firey grappas
  • Café-side people-watching in Cortina on your mid-trek rest day
  • Morning coffee as you enjoy the peaceful sunrise from your rifugio
  • Capturing glowing sunsets and mist-piercing peaks on camera

A well-paced two-week tour along the iconic Italian ‘High Route 1’ through the best of the Dolomiti mountains, with a mid-walk rest day to recharge and explore the region’s ‘hiking capital’ - Cortina. Follow the full Alta Via 1 from north to south on some 140km of well-marked trails.

You will start your journey in fashionable Cortina, located in a natural amphitheatre of mountains, including Tofane (3244m), Croda Rossa (3156m), Cristallo (3221m) and Sorapis (3205m), You’ll return here for a two-night stay in the middle of your walking tour, where you can enjoy a relaxing rest day. Walk from hut-to-hut as you absorb the spectacular mountain peaks, pine forests and lush pastures of the High Dolomites. The Alta Via 1 finishes in the small town of Belluno; with its shops and cafés it is an ideal end to your trek. Enjoy the Dolomites’ greatest summits and vistas, including Lake Braies at the start of the trail; the imposing Sennes and Fanes massifs and natural parks; Monte Lagazuoi with its sky-scraping rifugio; the Tofana range with its WWI battlefields, Croda da Lago with its lakeside Rifugio and further numerous enchanting mountain passes.

With walks averaging around 12km a day (shortest 7km, longest 18km), and daily ascents of around 300-700m (highest 900m), this is a long-distance trail for experienced walkers, sitting just below the Tour du Mont Blanc in terms of grading. Whilst we provide you with detailed route notes, you’ll also be equipped with 1:25 000 walking maps and a comprehensive guide book. Some of the ‘rifugi’ are simpler than others, and all are chosen for their character, history and charm; often with the opportunity to upgrade from dormitory-style accommodation to private rooms. Although not for everyone, overnighting in the huts allows you to stay high in the mountains and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow walkers.

DAY 1: Arrive Cortina

You’ll find pretty Cortina nestled in the heart of the Dolomites. It’s a great place to spend your first night amongst the mountains and to buy any last-minute provisions. Known as the ski and mountaineering centre of the High Dolomites, Cortina offers plenty of restaurants and shops. Reaching Cortina from Venice is easy; there is a twice-daily express bus service.


Overnight: Hotel Panda***, Cortina


The friendly Hotel Panda is full of alpine character and boasts an appealing mountainstyle décor. It is just steps away from Cortina’s glamorous Corso Italia and enjoys views of the Tofane and Monte Cristallo mountains. The hotel does not have its own restaurant, however there are plenty to choose from nearby.


DAY 2: Bus to Lago di Braies. Walk to Rifugio Sennes

After a good sleep, take a scenic bus via Dobbiaco to Lago di Braies (1494m), a spectacular lake and the official start of the Alta Via 1. Stride out from the far end of the lake with the mountains looming high on all sides, walking through patches of dwarf pines to the head of the valley. In clear weather you may catch sight of the three giant monoliths of the Tre Cime.


Your first day on the Alta Via 1 involves a good ascent to Rifugio Biella (2327m) from where you can take an optional hike up to the summit of Croda del Becco (2812m), or continue on the mountain track down to Rifugio Sennes, located at 2126m with panoramic views over Croda Rossa (3246m), Cristallo (3221m), Sorapis (3205m), and Tofana (3243m).


Walk: 10km, 900m ascent, 260m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Sennes


Rifugio Sennes can accommodate up to 60 guests in dormitories and rooms with both en suite and shared facilities. Managed by Erich and Cilla Palfrader, the Rifugio was built by their family between 1937 and 1939, and has opened year-round since the 1940s.


DAY 3: Walk to Rifugio Fanes

Today’s trek is along an old WWI mountain track, as you follow switchbacks on a 500m descent to Rifugio Pederü (1548m), which is ideally placed for a bite to eat. Admire views of the Sennes and Fanes massifs.


Continue across the Valle di Rudo as the trail then climbs up the Valun de Fanes to reach Rifugio Fanes (2060m), located above the town of San Vigilio di Marebbe, in a karstic limestone bowl in the Fanes-Senes-Braies Natural Park.


Walk: 10km, 510m ascent, 580m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Fanes


The lovely Fanes Hut offers both en suite private rooms and dormitory-style accommodation (total of 70 beds). The Rifugio was built in 1928 by brothers Fritz, Rudi and Alfred Mutschlechner, and has been run by Alfred’s son Max since 1978. The Rifugio was renovated in 1996.


DAY 4: Walk to Rifugio Lagazuoi

Continue along the AV1 passing shimmering Lago di Limo (2157m). As you climb the slopes of the Fanes group pause to admire the views to the southern mountain ranges and Marmolada. Crossing the grassy bowl of the Passo Tagéda, we suggest opting for an easier broad track past the windy slopes of Forcella del Lago (2486m), with a (manageable) steep descent on a path through scree to Lago Lagazoi (2182m).


Here in the Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti d’Ampezzo you’ll see remnants of the Austrian- Italian WWI front line. Stop at the open-air ‘Museo all’aparto della Grande Guerra’ with its fascinating interpretation boards. Ascend on a zig-zag path to the Rifugio which lies at 2752m.


Walk: 12km, 1150m ascent, 300m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Lagazuoi


Rifugio Lagazuoi offers 74 beds in total with private rooms on the first floor (some with balcony), as well as spacious dormitories. Built in 1965 by Ugo Pompanin, the Rifugio is now managed by Ugo’s son. Guido and his wife Alma are particularly helpful with advice on routes and weather forecasts. You can pay to relax in the Finnish sauna!


DAY 5: Walk to Cortina

If you wish to take the easiest option, there’s a cable car which operates from  Lagazuoi station down to Passo Falzarego, where there’s a bus to Cortina.



Alternatively, you can enjoy a lovely walk down to civilisation. Set out across rocky slopes dotted with the remains of WWI; gun ramparts, trenches and officers’  quarters—this is a poignant place for its history and beauty. Care should be taken on the narrow pass traversing the slopes of the Tofana des Rozes, which descends to  Rifugio Dibona (2037m).



From here, continue walking to Cortina, or follow Trail 442 to the main road to catch the bus the last 6km.


Full Walk: 16km, 1000m descent


Overnight: Hotel Panda***, Cortina


DAY 6: Rest Day in Cortina


Adding a rest day at this mid-point of your trek means you can enjoy a long hot shower, with the chance to catch up on laundry and procure any bits and bobs you may need. Cortina lies in a natural amphitheatre of mountains, with plenty of opportunities for optional walks if you prefer!


Overnight: Hotel Panda***, Cortina


DAY 7: Walk to Rifugio Nuvolau

From Cortina, escape into the calm of the mountains. As before, you can take an optional bus to miss the first 6km of your walk if you wish.



Continue through rhododendron forests as the peaks of the Cinque Torri come into view. Reach Rifugio Averau (2413m), then it’s a 20-min climb to the oldest Rifugio in the Dolomites— Nuvolau (2575m).


Walk: 18km, 675m ascent


Overnight: Rifugio Nuvolau*


Built by a baron from Dresden in 1883 (and spared by his nephew on a WWI bombing raid), this simple mountain hut is perched atop a rock. The Siorpaes family have run the Rifugio for over 30 years. The special atmosphere more than makes up for the very basic facilities. There is limited cold water available via a washbasin, and the toilets are located outside of the main building. 24 beds are in rooms of 3-8 (dormitories).


*If you prefer, it is possible to stay at the Rifugio Averau, where there are twin/double en suite rooms as well as dormitories.


DAY 8: Walk to Rifugio Croda di Lago

Start by returning to the road at Rifugio Averau, thereby avoiding the route which takes in a short section of via ferrata. Pass by the Cinque Torri, as you follow this variant of the Alta Via 1 through orchid-filled meadows and patches of shady pine trees. A series of switchbacks is rewarded by superb views over Cortina and the valley, then its a pleasant stroll to Rifugio Croda da Lago G Palmieri (2066m).


Walk: 11.5km, 370m ascent, 720m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Croda di Lago (2066m)



This simple Rifugio is run by mountain guide Modesto Alverà, his wife Monica and their five children. Located by the tranquil Lago del Federa, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere as you relax with a treat by the stove –Monica’s ricotta cake, strudel and flavoured grappas are legendary! 51 beds are located in dormitories accommodation 6 or more.


DAY 9: Walk to Rifugio Coldai

Keep watch for scampering salamander as you walk through patches of scree and grass to Forcella Ambrizzola (2277m). In contrast to the high alpine slopes, the AV1 moves on across lush pastures and some scree paths to Rifugio Passo Staulanza (1783m), at the pass of the same name. It is rumoured to serve the best hot chocolate in the Dolomites—so we suggest you indulge yourselves!


With views to Monte Pelmo (3168m), an easier option follows a pleasant and peaceful track which then ascends to Rifugio Coldai (2132m).


Walk: 16.5km, 350m ascent, 360m descent


Overnight: Rifugio A Sonio al Coldai


Rifugio Coldai has been run by the same family since 1968. This picturesque rifugio offers beds in dormitories.


DAY 10: Walk to Rifugio Vazzoler

A lovely stroll around Lago Coldai up to a small pass sets the scene for today. Drop down into the valley with views of Lago di Alleghe, before climbing up towards the days’ first major pass, the Forcella di Col Rean.



The path to Rifugio Vazzoler (1714m) brings forcella after forcella (mountain passes), in another rewarding stage of the AV1 as you skirt by the Civetta massif.


Walk: 9km, 300m ascent, 420m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Vazzoler



Photogenic Rifugio Vazzoler, with its red roof and shutters, also has an impressive alpine botanical garden. Accommodation is in dormitories.


DAY 11: Walk to Rifugio Passo Duran

Today you’ll walk an undulating path as you first climb steeply to the next pass; Forcella del Camp (1933m), followed by some straightforward trekking high in the Dolomites. Finally, a mountain road takes you down to Passo Duran (1605m).


Walk: 10km, 560m ascent, 350m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Passo Duran San Sebastiano


Charming Passo Duran San Sebastiano offers 25 beds in both dormitories and private rooms. There is a lovely seating area around an open fireplace, a bar and restaurant.


DAY 12: Walk to Rifugio Pian de Fontana

After breakfast, set out on trails that feel more remote than before, with ever-impressive alpine vistas. Today you’ll be walking via the Forcella del Moschesin (1950m) and up the rocky western slopes of the Cima de Zita.


You are now entering the Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi, the wildest of the national parks on the trail and with a good chance of spotting deer and marmots. A vibrant orange lily flowers amongst the grass, rocks and shrubs.


In one or two places you’ll find the gradient particularly steep, and the ridge path to the day’s highest pass at 2451m feels somewhat exposed. Enjoy glimpses of the Venetian plain. Descend sharply to Rifugio Pian de Fontana (1632m).


Walk: 16km, 850m ascent, 820m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Pian de Fontana


This is a simple but homely rifugio, with 32 beds in dormitory-style accommodation. There’s often a roaring fire which goes well with a tipple of grappa!


DAY 13: Walk to La Muda. Bus to Belluno

As you descend the twisting mountain track back into civilisation, find time to reflect on the incredible vistas, wonderful food and wine, and unique characters you’ll have met along the Alta Via 1.


The final stage of your walk is via Rifugio Bianchet (1245m), through woodland dotted with boulders and tiny cyclamen, to meet the road at La Muda, from where you can take a bus (30 mins) to Belluno.


Highly experienced mountain walkers and climbers can check their maps and guidebook for the challenging route up the northern slopes of La Schiara, with a dramatic three-hour descent on almost unbroken via ferrata.


Belluno is the perfect town in which to end your long distance trail. With its compact size, you will enjoy a leisurely stroll around the cafés and boutiques of the old town.


Walk: 14km, 250m ascent, 1250m descent


Overnight: Albergo Capello e Cadore***, Belluno


The Cappello e Cadore Hotel is a popular 3-star hotel located in the heart of the historic town centre, between the central Martiri and Piloni piazzas. The 32 rooms each have aircon, TV, minibar, hairdryer, with free WiFi in the lobby so you can reconnect with friends and family!


DAY 14: Onward Travel

After breakfast, you can take a train from Belluno (via Conegliano) to Venice—just a 1h50mins journey, or continue your travels in Italy!


Additional Nights and Extensions

You can add additional nights at any point before, during or after the walk. Contact us for arrangements or see our website.

Accommodation

We specifically select your rifugios to give you a taste of warm Italian hospitality and so that you are able to join in the camaraderie with your fellow walkers.


For nights 1, 5, 6 & 13 of your walk, you will stay in a friendly 3* hotel on a breakfast basis. In Refugio Fanes you can buy your dinner locally. For your remaining 8 nights you will stay on a half board basis in the other mountain huts. They offer comfortable accommodation and good local food and drink. Some of the rifugios are more basic than others; they are a mixture of CAI (Italian Alpine Club) and privately-run properties.


Hut accommodation is booked in mixed-sex dormitories made up of alpine-style communal sleeping areas or in bunk beds. We can often book private rooms in the huts (some with shared and some with en suite) and where this type of room is available this is noted against each accommodation; this 'room upgrade' is at an optional supplement. Private rooms are popular and therefore always subject to availability.


Please note that private rooms in the mountain huts are extremely limited. If you wish to ask for a private room you need to BOOK EARLY. While we are always happy to ask, it may not be possible to reserve private rooms in the mountain huts.


Single Rooms

This trip is not available to solo walkers and single rooms are not available except on the first and last nights (in hotel accommodation). A supplement is payable.


Baggage Transfer

Due to the remoteness of the huts, it is not possible to transfer bags between your accommodation. You will therefore need to carry your kit with you each day. If you are staying in dormitory-style accommodation then you will need to bring a sleeping bag liner (or you can sometimes buy or hire one locally). Bedlinen is provided when booking private rooms.

Availability

This tour is available to start any day of the week from July to September. Upgrades to private rooms will be shown as an option during the booking process. Option & extension prices will be displayed as part of the booking process.


Please note that private rooms in the mountain huts are extremely limited. If you wish to ask for a private room you need to BOOK EARLY. While we are always happy to ask, it may not be possible to reserve private rooms in the mountain huts.


Time of Year

The best time to walk is July to mid-September, with August the most popular month (with the locals too!) and so busier in the huts. It is not unheard-of for snow to fall on higher ground during the summer, and patches of snow may still be present into July. For this reason, we offer the walk starting from beginning of July. July and August are the hottest months and carry the greatest risk of thunderstorms, which can be torrential and usually occur in the afternoon—being well-prepared and equipped for all these eventualities is essential.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is not available to solo walkers and single rooms are not available except on the first and last nights (in hotel accommodation). A supplement is payable.


Grade & Terrain

This walk is graded moderate to strenuous and includes daily walks of between 9 and 16.5km with ascents of up to 900m, descents of up to 1300m. You’ll be following switchback footpaths, country lanes, both narrow and wide tracks and rough mountain paths. You should be prepared for rocky and loose ground and unavoidable narrow paths across scree slopes. We have deliberately avoided routes involving via ferrata.

Some of the ascents and descents are considerably steep and some can be exposed so require a good head for heights and sure-footedness in places. You should have a good level of walking fitness to get the most from this trip, and be an experienced mountain walker.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

As this is a self guided walk you will be responsible for navigation, decision making and safety during your trip. This walk is strenuous, crosses high mountain passes and the weather can change quickly. You should be able to navigate easily with a map and compass in poor visibility and be experienced in the mountains.

We supply you with route notes for the recommended routes, as well as a comprehensive guidebook and Tabacco printed maps (1:25 000), so you will have no problem following the route each day. You are of course free to walk wherever you choose, with the possibility of following the guidebook and/or reviewing the map to make your own route.


Baggage Transfers

Due to the remoteness of the huts, it is not possible to transfer bags between your accommodation. You will therefore need to carry your kit with you each day. If you are staying in dormitory-style accommodation then you will need to bring a sleeping bag liner (or you can sometimes buy or hire one locally). Bed linen is provided when booking private rooms. For some packing tips and advice, please have a look here.


Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes, trekking towel. Walking poles are highly recommended as the Alta Via 1 is tough on the knees.


Meals

Breakfast is included each morning. Dinner is not included in Cortina or Belluno as there are plenty of restaurants to choose from.Whilst staying in the rifugi dinner is included (excluding drinks). This is always simple, hearty fare.


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sunhat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includeds standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a daypack.


Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking with us that you have suitable travel insurance that covers you for cancellation, curtailment, illness or injury.

Getting to Cortina / from Belluno

By Air: Venice Marco Polo Airport is the most convenient airport, with various interational airlines operating here. The smaller Venice Treviso Airport is serviced by low-cost carrier Ryanair (London Stansted, Bristol, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford).


From Venice Marco Polo airport (or Venice Mestre bus station): it is possible to take the Cortina Express to Cortina (approx. 2h20); departures are twice-daily, usually in the afternoon, so please ensure you check their website for timetables.


From Venice Treviso Airport: From the airport take a bus (approx.12 mins) to Treviso, then from Treviso Sud there is an ATVO bus once a day to Cortina (approx. 2 hrs). Or you can take a bus from Treviso town to Venice Mestre or Marco Polo Airport for onward connections with the Cortina Express (see above). Check the timetable on the ATVO website.


To from Belluno to Venice: From Belluno you can take a train (changing at Conegliano) to Venice Santa Lucia station (approx. 2h30); see www.trenitalia.com for timetables. From here, take a bus from Venice Mestre to Venice Marco Polo Airport (35 mins). See timetable.


To return from Belluno to Cortina: Dolomiti Bus Lines 9 and 30 run between Belluno and Cortina, if you need to return there to collect any additional luggage (we can request if luggage be left at your first hotel in Cortina—subject to prior agreement). Journey time takes just over 1 hr. For timetables, see www.dolomitibus.it/dolomitibus/jsp/orari


Included

  • Accommodation for 4 nights in a comfortable 3* hotels (en suite room), and for 9 nights in mountain huts (mixed-sex dormitory accommodation
  • 13 Breakfasts
  • 8 Dinners (in the mountain huts/Rifugios but not at Fanes)
  • Route descriptions, guide book, Tabacco maps and a pre departure information pack
  • 24-hour assistance by phone

Excluded

  • Getting to Cortina and from Belluno
  • Travel Insurance
  • Lunches, dinners in Refugio Fanes, Cortina and Belluno, drinks & snacks.
  • Public transportation, including buses, trains and cable cars.
  • Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned in the program.

Extras

  • Single room supplement (if applicable); available for accommodation in Cortina and Belluno only.
  • Private room supplement for the rifugios (subject to availability, rooms with either shared or en suite facilities).
  • Additional nights during the trip.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest that you book as soon as your plans are finalized as it's a popular trip with a short season and accommodation is limited (particularly private rooms). However, we will always try to accommodate your plans.

How do the baggage transfers work?

There is no baggage transfer on this trip; you will need to carry all your overnight things, including a sleep sheet and towel.

What happens if I can't walk a stage?

Due to the remoteness of the huts it is not usually possible to take any form of transport between them. The staff at the rifugi will be able to advise you of your best options

How fit do I need to be?

This trip is graded moderate to strenuous and requires good physical condition.You must be used to mountain walking, crossing scree or snowy patches, and challenging ascents and descents to get the most from this trip.

When is the best time of year?

The best time to walk is July to mid-September, with August the most popular month (with the locals too!) and so busier in the huts. It is not unheard-of for snow to fall on higher ground during the summer, and patches of snow may still be present into July. For this reason, we offer the walk starting from beginning of July. July and August are the hottest months and carry the greatest risk of thunderstorms, which can be torrential and usually occur in the afternoon—being well-prepared and equipped for all these eventualities is essential.

What personal equipment do I need?

Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take. This includes standard walking gear such as waterproofs, good walking shoes/boots, sun protection, water bottle and a comfortable backpack with waist strap.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

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macs adventureDolomites Alta Via 1 Relaxed
 
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5.0

Spectacular hiking on the Alta Via 1

By Julie

from Sydney, Australia

About Me Occasional Traveller

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Great Accommodations
  • Rewarding
  • Spectacular
  • Well Organised

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Holiday

    Comments about macs adventure Dolomites Alta Via 1 Relaxed:

    I love a walking holiday as a complete time-out from life, where all you have to do each day is get to the next place. The Dolomites are dramatic and beautiful, and the AV1 Relaxed by Macs Adventures was the perfect hike for us. We appreciated some shorter days and the rest day in Cortina, giving us the energy and satisfaction of the couple of harder days (especially the second last!). The rifugios were great - a couple really luxurious - and all arrangements were effortless.

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