Dolomites Alta Via 1 South8 Days & 7 Nights 4.7 Read 7 reviews
- 6 days of walking amongst classic peaks; Civetta, Monte Pelmo & Cinque Torri
- A warm Italian welcome, delicious food and camaraderie at the mountain huts
- The chic ski resort of Cortina and atmospheric and historic rifugios
- Quiet paths through the wild Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi
- Admiring the sunset from the lofty terrace of ridge-top Rifugio Nuvolau
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active trip.
Hut to Hut Hiking | 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 traveler this tour would be suitable for is: 16 Years
Activity Level & 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. There are two particularly long days on this trip; Day 8 & Day 9 where you can expect to be walking between 8-10 hours each day. We can split these days up if you prefer, 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 a comfortable 3* hotel (en suite room), and for 5 nights in mountain huts (mixed-sex dormitory accommodation)
- 7 Breakfasts
- 5 Dinners (in the mountain huts/Rifugios)
- Route descriptions, guide book, Tabacco maps and a pre departure information pack
- 24-hour assistance by phone
- Travel Insurance
- Lunches, dinners in 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
- Baggage transfers (can be included as an optional extra)
- Getting to Cortina and from Belluno
- Additional nights during the trip
- Private room supplement for the rifugios (subject to availability, rooms with either shared or en suite facilities).
- Baggage transfers
When To Go
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 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.
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.
It is a condition of booking with us that you have suitable travel insurance that covers you for cancellation, curtailment, illness or injury.
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.
From Cortina, escape into the calm of the mountains. 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).
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.
Two toilets (both ‘squat’ toilets) are located outside of the main building (one has cold running water). A third flushable toilet with cold running water is located inside the building (for use during the night only). No washing of clothes in the sinks is permitted. There is a phone charging point in the hall.
24 beds are in rooms of 3-8 (dormitories). Please make sure you bring your own sleeping bag liner. You will be asked to place your order for your evening meal on arrival (dinner is served at 19:00). Please note that there is no fixed half board menu at Rifugio Nuvolau you have a EUR20 per person credit towards dinner – you can choose from the a la carte menu – any extra charges above EUR20 per person are to be paid locally, direct to the rifugi. Please also order any packed lunch for the next day at that time (payable locally). No credit card payments possible.
Paul Grohmann sings its praises in his work “Wanderungen in den Dolomiten” (Hiking in the Dolomites), written in 1877: “… a sea of mountains lies before us, and it would be useless to try and list them or describe them. Only the camera can fix our impressions…”.
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. Reach Rifugio Passo Giau (2236m) then enjoy a wonderful afternoon of truly lovely walks through flower-filled meadows.
With any luck you’ll spot eagles overhead and hear the calls of marmots as you stroll through grassy fields and farmland strewn with impressive boulders.
Founded in 1964, the rifugio’s “Malga” is the typical housing of the valley; the basement is constructed of local stone while the upper part (roof included) is made of wood. The ground floor, with its three arched spaces (rooms), is well-preserved example of a traditional cowshed. A dwelling is thought to have been built here as early as 1600 and appears on maps dating from 1833. The present building dates back to 1924; with further modifications made in 1964 when the building changed from cowshed to Rifugio! Accommodation is in mixed-sex dormitories only.
This traditional Rifugio is run and cared for by the Sala family. Offering private rooms and dorms, there is also a Sauna available for use upon request and payable locally.
A longer but rewarding day awaits as you cross lush pastures and some scree paths to Rifugio Passo Staulanza (1783m), at the pass of the same name. With views to Monte Pelmo (3168m), an easier option follows a pleasant and peaceful track which then ascends to Rifugio Coldai (2132m).
Stroll around Lago Coldai and up to a small pass before you drop down into the valley with views of Lago di Alleghe. Ahead you’ll reach the mountain pass, Forcella di Col Rean. The path to Rifugio Vazzoler (1714m) brings several passes 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.
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).
Rifugio San Sebastiano has been recently constructed in a traditional chalet-style, offering double/twin rooms (some with bunk beds) with shower and WC. It is nestled between two beautiful valleys, and along the Zoldana Agordina on road SS347. There is a small shop and a lovely café bar, as well as a wonderful fireplace where you can relax at the end of the day’s walking. Please note that there are two rifugios at Passo Duran; San Sebastiano is the more ‘traditional looking property’ and you will walk pass Passo Duran ‘C Tome’ to get to San Sebastiano.
Rifugio Passo Duran ‘C Tome’ offers a warm welcome, with rooms in dormitories as well as double/twin rooms. Please note that there are two rifugios at Passo Duran; C Tome is the first one that you will come to.
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).
This is a lengthy stage with a steep descent at the end of the walk. It is possible to split today’s walk in two by staying at Rifugio Pramperet (1857) if you prefer—please talk to our experts.
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!
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.
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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