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, 690m 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 Rifugio Nuvolau
Enjoy a sunrise coffee on the rifiugio’s veranda before setting 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).
The AV1 becomes a gentle and fairly even trail through fragrant pine forests, where you should keep an eye out for chamois. Continue through rhododendron forests as 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: 15km, 510m ascent, 850m descent.
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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: Walk to Agordo. Bus to Belluno
This morning you’ve a steep climb to the next pass; Forcella del Camp (1933m). Descend into the Val di Frela, towards the town of Agordo, where you can take a bus (approx. 40 mins) to Belluno.
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, 560m ascent, 1300m 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 10: 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.
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 and near capacity for many 2017 dates. 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.
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.
Breakfast is included each morning. Dinner is not included in Refugio Fanes, Cortina or Belluno as there are plenty of restaurants to choose from.Whilst staying in the other rifugi, dinner is included (excluding drinks). This is always simple, hearty fare.
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.
It is a condition of booking with us that you have suitable travel insurance that covers you for cancellation, curtailment, illness or injury.