Self-Guided Walking Tours & Biking Tours

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Dolomites Alta Via 1 North - self-guided trek


  • Delighting in the charm of authentic rifugios as you stay high in the mountains
  • Walking amongst picture-postcard alpine scenery—pastures, peaks and forests
  • Kicking back with a cold beer on the terrace as a golden sunset bathes the landscape
  • The sense of achievement at completing the northern section—next year the south!

Trek the most popular northern half of the ‘High Route 1’, covering around 70km over one week on good trails that are well way-marked, passing glowing peaks, shady forests and rolling pastures. The full north-south trail begins in the Italian Sudtirol and ends some 140km later in Belluno. Stay high up in some of the best mountain huts in the Alps with incredible sunsets and great panoramas.

During the trek you’ll stay 5 nights in ‘rifugi’, but you’ll begin and end your tour in the exclusive ski resort and hikers’ paradise of Cortina, encircled 360° by the Dolomites. Amongst the more famous mountains are Tofana to the west, Pomagagnon to the north, Cristallo to the northeast, Faloria and Sorapis to the east, and Becco di Mezzodì, Croda da Lago and Cinque Torri to south. You’ll stay in a lovely 3-star hotel for the first and last night of your tour, already at an elevation of 1224m.

Set off by bus to the start of the Alta Via 1, at stunning Lago Braies; admire the reflections in the lake as you stride out alongside the water’s edge, then ascend up the first of many zigzags for a well deserved rest at Rifugio Biella, before continuing down to Rifugio Sennes, with its cosy wood-furnished interior, home-cooked food and welcoming hosts, you’ll soon get a taste for the simple life high up in the mountains. Highlights of the northern section include views of the magnificent Marmolada range, the moving WWI open-air museum at Galleria Lagazuoi, and the expansive views from cliff-top Rifugio Nuvolau. Finish the northern stage after an overnight stay at pretty lakeside Rifugio Croda da Lago Palmieri, descending into the low valley for a final overnight stay at Cortina.

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 Pontechiesa***, Cortina

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.

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, 942m ascent, 299m 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, 568m ascent, 639m 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 Lagazuoi (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, 1056m ascent, 412m 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


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: 14km, 1033m ascent, 1144m 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: 8.5km, 399m ascent, 894m 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 Cortina

Descend back into civilisation on peaceful tracks via the Costeana valley, passing through gentle pastureland and small villages. Enjoy views across to the mountain ranges which encircle Cortina in a natural amphitheatre—to the east the Sorpis group, the Fanes to the west, and Cristallo rising majestically behind the town.

Walk: 8.5km, 145m ascent, 971m descent

Overnight: Hotel Pontechiesa***, Cortina

DAY 8: Onward Travel

After breakfast, you can take an express bus service from Cortina to Venice, 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.


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 bed and breakfast basis. For 4 nights you will stay on a half board basis in mountain huts - ‘rifugi’, but not at Refugio Fanes, here you can buy dinner in the refugo. 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.

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.


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 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.

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

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.  

If you choose not to opt for baggage transfer,
you will 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.


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.

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 includes 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 / from Cortina

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.


  • Accommodation for 2 nights in a comfortable 3* hotel (en suite room), and for 5 nights in mountain huts (dormitory accommodation)
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 4 Dinners (in the mountain huts/Rifugios but not Rif Fanes
  • Route descriptions, guide book, maps and a pre departure information pack
  • 24-hour assistance by phone


  • Baggage transfers (can be included as an optional extra)
  • Getting to and from Cortina
  • Travel Insurance
  • Lunches, dinners in Refugio Fanes and Cortina, 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


  • Baggage transfers
  • Single room supplement (if applicable); available for accommodation in Cortina 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?

If you have included baggage transfers in your tour (optional extra) - Your main baggage will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation (except for Rifugio Nuvolau/Averau due to their remote location).

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.

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