Dolomites Alta Via 1 Classic10 Days & 9 Nights 5 Read 3 reviews
- Admiring the ‘alpenglow’ as the mountains turn vivid pink in the late afternoon sun
- Great hearty Italian food, the company of fellow walkers and authentic mountain huts
- Following well-waymarked paths across mountain passes, pastures and forests
- Exploring the hiking capital of Cortina and charming Belluno
- Superb mountain views over 8 days of rewarding walking on a classic long distance trail
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent holiday.
Hut to Hut Walking | A point to point walking trip, staying in a new location each night, usually with remote mountain huts or refuges included
As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveller this holiday would be suitable for is: 16 Years
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. It may be possible to split some of the longer days of the itinerary, please see the detailed itinerary for more info. You should have a good level of walking fitness to get the most from this trip, and be an experienced mountain walker.
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) and access to our smartphone navigation app along with GPX tracks, 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.
We specifically select your rifugi 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 the first and last nights of your tour, you will stay in a friendly 3* hotel on a breakfast basis. In Refugio Fanes only breakfast is included, but you can buy dinner locally at the refugio. For your remaining 6 nights you will stay on a half board basis in mountain huts - ‘rifugi’. They offer comfortable accommodation and good local food and drink. Some of the rifugi 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 & Solo Walkers
This trip is not available to solo walkers due to the remote terrain and single rooms are not available except on the first and last nights (in hotel accommodation). A supplement is payable.
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). Dinner is not included at Rifugio Fanes where dinner can be bought locally from an a la carte menu. Meals in the mountain huts are always simple, hearty fare.
- Accommodation for 2 nights in comfortable 3* hotels with 7 nights in mountain huts
- 9 Breakfasts
- 6 Dinners (in the mountain huts/Rifugios but not in Fanes)
- Route descriptions, guide book, Tabacco maps and a pre departure information pack
- Access to the Macs Smartphone App
- 24-hour assistance by phone
- Flights to / from Venice
- Travel Insurance
- Lunches, drinks & snacks
- Dinners in Fanes, Cortina and Belluno accomodations
- Public transportation, including buses, trains and cable cars
- Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Baggage Transfers
- Single room supplement; available for accommodation in Cortina and Belluno only
- Private room supplement for the rifugios (subject to availability)
- Additional nights during the trip
When To Go
***July is an incredibly busy month on the Alta Via and therefore we may block out certain dates should some of the essential huts (Refugio Lavarella, Refugio Fanes and Refugio Lagazuoi) be fully booked. If the dates available do not suit you but you would like to travel to the Dolomites in July we would recommend considering one of our other Dolomites trips such as the Alta Via 1 South or one of our trips in the Tyrol instead.
***Should there be no availability in Rifugio Lagazuoi we will need to book Rifugio Col Gallina or Rifugio Scotoni, both will require extra walking to be reached.
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. 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 the 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.
Getting to the Start
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.
Getting from the End
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 to Cortina from Belluno: 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
Bag transfer is available as an optional extra. Due to the remoteness of some of the huts, it is not possible to transfer bags to each overnight location. If you opt for bag transfer, bags cannot be delivered to Rifugio Averau/Nuvolau, Rifugio Coldai, Rifugio Vazzoler and Rifugio Fontana. On these days, simply carry a few overnight things in your day pack to see you through. If you choose not to opt for baggage transfer, you will need to carry your kit with you each day. Since 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.
We suggest that you book as soon as your plans are finalized as its a popular trip with a short season and accommodation is limited (particularly private rooms). However, we will always try to accommodate your plans.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ItineraryDay 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.
A friendly and traditional Alpine style hotel which is very popular with walkers. Enjoy the cosy and comfortable rooms, locally sourced produce from the breakfast buffet as well as wifi in the rooms. There is an on-site restaurant serving typical regional dishes, or venture into the centre of Cortina (5-10 min walk) and choose from one of the many restaurants here.
Centrally located and a stone’s throw away from Cortina’s pedestrianised centre, the Hotel Ambra is a wonderful place to stay. With comfortable alpine style rooms, a continental buffet breakfast and free wifi, you have all the amenities you may need for a fantastic stay. Please note that as of June 2018 City Tax of approx. €3.50 will now need to be paid to the hotel directly upon departure.
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).
Rifugio Sennes offers accommodation for up to 60 guests in dormitories and rooms with shared facilties, as well as rooms with private facilities. Enjoy the comfort of a family-run lodge with traditional food, lovingly cooked by the owners. The rifugio enjoys panoramic views over some of the most beautiful peaks in the Dolomites: Croda Rossa (3146m), Cristallo (3221m), Sorapis (3205m), and Tofana (3243m). Managed by Erich and Cilla Palfrader, the rifugio was built by the Palfrader Family ‘Corjel’ between 1937 and 1939, and has opened year-round since the 1940s.
This is a simple but well run mountain hut. Now run by the Italian Alpine Club, this Rifugio was established in 1907. In a stunning location at the foot of the Croda del Becco (2810m), which can also be climbed as a side trip if time and stamina allows!
The Munt de Sennes Refuge is located in the Fanes - Senes - Braies Natural Park and is an ideal place for numerous excursions on foot or by mountain bike. The Croda del Becco with its breathtaking view of Lake Braies, Muntejela de Sennes, Croda Rossa and Fojedöra are just some of the places that can be reached in a short time from the refuge.
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.
The Fanes Hut is found in Val Badia, and offers various room types, from en suite rooms through to dormitory-style accommodation with shared facilities (total of 70 beds). The rifugio was built in 1928 by brothers Fritz, Rudi and Alfred Mutschlechner, and is now run by Alfred’s son Max, who has run it since 1978. The rifugio was completely renovated in summer 1996, and so offers a great standard of accommodation with plenty of wood and charming features. The team at the rifugio pride themselves on offering typical Ladin cuisine, with a selection of wines, grappar and liquors also available, as well as typically South Tyrolean produce.
The history of the Lavarella mountain lodge goes back to 1912, when Mariangelo Frenner of San Vigilio di Marebbe built the first mountain hut, serving as a barn. In 1919, he then pioneered the construction of a mountain lodge. Utilizing materials from abandoned First World War constructions, Mariangelo built a small one-storey hut made of stone and wood. Here the first climbers and mountaineers could find shelter and a little something to eat and drink. In 1934, Fritz Frenner (Mariangelo's son) renovated the hut, adding one floor and making it a real mountain lodge, which his family and descendants have maintained up to today. The hut burned down entirely in 1939, but it was reconstructed in the same year. Fritz Frenner sadly lost his life in the events of the Second World War. This was when his brother Peter took over the lodge, refurbished it and managed it until the late 1970's. It was then the turn of his own son Hanspeter and his family to run the mountain hut, which they have successfully done up to this day. The Lavarella lodge is run by him, his wife Michaela (the chef) and his daughter Anna with husband Gábor. The lodge was renovated in 1980, 1986 and finally in 1997. The rooms have private washing basins since 2006 and since 2009 there is a Finnish sauna at 2.050 m above sea level with an outstanding Dolomites view for their lucky guests! The kitchen was renovated and modernised in 2013.
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.
Rifugio Lagazuoi was built in 1965 by Ugo Pompanin and has been run by his family ever since. In 1978, the rifugio was passed on to his sons, and is now managed by Guido and his wife Alma, who offer years of experience in the area, and are particularly helpful with advice on routes and weather forecasts. The rifugio offers 74 beds in total with two types of accommodation (all with shared bathroom); rooms on the first floor (some with balcony) are furnished in wood and include bed linen. There are also spacious dormitories with bunkbeds which include a mattress cover and eiderdown (bed linen is not provided – please bring your own sleeping bag liner). Dormitory accommodation is in large rooms. There is a boot drying room.
Rifugio Col Gallina, set at the foot of Mount Lagazuoi at Passo Falzarego and easily reachable by car, is a wealth of nature, fun, and traditional hospitality.
Starting point of charming hikes in the summer, the Rifugio is just right on the Col Gallina ski slopes in winter.
This delightful hut is a great place to stop for some fantastic food and drink, and also to rest after a day’s walking in the Dolomites. Try the apfelstrudel with cream, which is simply delicious! Rooms are as follows (each has private facilities): 1 x 6-bed dorm, 1 x 5-bed dorm, 2 x 4-bed dorm. Bedlinen and towels are provided. Half board is a set menu. Credit cards accepted. The surroundings of the Scotoni hut were the setting for much conflict between the Italian and Austrian armies in the First World War. Make time to visit the small chapel in honour of all war victims and take the opportunity to learn more about the history of the Dolomites.
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), you may be staying in either Rifugio, depending on availability.
Enjoying a spectacular location perched atop a rock, this rifugio was founded in 1883, making it the oldest in the Dolomites. The Siorpaes family have been running the rifugio for over 30 years, and the special atmosphere and charm more than make up for the lack of modern facilities (remember that you are atop a cliff at 2600m!). There are outside tables where you can watch the sun set, and inside there is a cosy seating area (where dinner and breakfast is served) with an open fire, as well as a separate bar.
Rifugio Averau offers ensuite double/twin rooms in the loft area of the building, with further dormitory-style rooms with shared facilities also available (6 or 10 beds). Downstairs, Paola and Sandrone take turns at cooking, and are well known for their delicious cuisine, which you can enjoy on the rifugio’s wide terrace with its incredible view of the Civetta and the Marmolada.
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).
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!
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).
Rifugio Coldai has been run by the De Zordo family since 1968 and boasts stunning views over Civetta. Accommodation is in dormitories and there are two showers and toilets.
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.
Photogenic Rifugio Vazzoler, with its red roof and shutters, also has an impressive alpine botanical garden. Accommodation is in dormitories. Breakfasts and dinners are simple. Showers are payable locally.
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.
The Cappello e Cadore Hotel is a popular 3* star hotel with 32 rooms which occupies a fantastic location in the heart of the historic centre of Belluno. You’ll find it nestled between the central Martiri and Piloni piazzas. Rooms have aircon, TV, electronic safe, minibar, hairdryer, and there is free WiFi in the lobby.
After breakfast, you can take a train from Belluno (via Conegliano) to Venice—just a 1h50mins journey, or continue your travels in Italy.
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