The Dolomites are gorgeous, with sheer pink and yellow limestone pinnacles that tower like monuments over quaint villages, flowery meadows, wooded valleys, and sun-soaked trails. Italian, Austrian, and ancient Ladin cultures intermingle peacefully in the small, scattered villages in this mountainous corner of Italy. The Dolomites also boast a surprising variety of beautiful wildflowers in the grassy meadows below the mountains. This inn-to-inn tour starts with a traverse of the Val Gardena, our favorite corner of the Dolomites, before venturing east through the Badia Valley to the soaring rock towers that surround Cortina d’Ampezzo. You’re also welcome to join us for either half of the tour. Dolomites West covers the first 6 nights from Ortisei to Selva, while Dolomites East includes the last 6 nights from Selva to Cortina.
Our tour includes a group taxi transfer from Venice to our first hotel in Ortisei. If you’re arriving on your own, we can help with private taxis from other airports, or extra nights in a nearby city like Bolzano (a very pleasant place to spend a night or two and home to the famous Otzi iceman).
We’ll have 3 nights in high huts and mountain inns (note, there are no single rooms at the huts), and 7 nights in comfortable and casual 3 to 4-star hotels with great food. We won’t have our luggage at the huts, but it will be transferred to each of our village hotels so you won’t need to carry much.
Our typical day starts with a delicious buffet breakfast at our hotel – a feast of freshly baked bread and pastries, local meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, eggs, coffee and freshly squeezed juice – which gives us the energy needed for the task ahead. Hut breakfasts tend to be simpler but are still filling. Soon we’ll be out on the trail, where you’ll get to choose between an easier or more strenuous hike for the day. Each morning, you’ll be handed a lunch to carry, and at a mid-point along the way we’ll choose a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy our picnic. We get a lot of compliments on our imaginative lunches – making them something to look forward to as well!
For our hikes, there are many route options, and a lot of flexibility most days, and we should finish each day around 4 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax, perhaps settle into the pool, or just gaze upon the outside panorama from your room balcony. After that, we’ll enjoy dinner together at our hotel’s fabulous restaurants. These are multi-course feasts, often featuring delicious local Austrian and Italian specialties.
The Dolomites is truly a special region. With beautiful inns and hikes, this Dolomites tour will make an unforgettable vacation. For a deluxe vacation, check out our Guided Deluxe Great Dolomites Traverse, with 5-star hotels and no huts.
Ortisei – Arrive in Italy and and meet our shuttle in Venice. If you are arriving early or to a different airport, we can help with arrangements on getting to Ortisei independently. Ortisei is a lovely little village surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Gardena valley.
You’ll meet your guide, talk about the trip to come. Afterwards, enjoy a wonderful welcome dinner and settle in to our comfortable and friendly 3-star hotel for the night.
Ortisei – Today, we might start with a cable car ride to a ridge high above town, and take a dayhike through high scenic meadows to the Brogles hut, where you can scan practically the entire Gardena valley and gaze upon the jagged needles of the Puez-Odle peaks.
Afterwards, spend a little time in town. Ortisei is a beautiful village with shops and cafes lining their cobblestoned, pedestrian-only main road. The village pool and spa is also included in your stay and is a great place to relax for a couple hours.
Schlernhaus hut – We’ll enjoy a slow morning today and then begin our hike by ascending a gondola to the rolling green hills of the Alpe di Siusi, the largest mountain meadow in the Alps. After a mellow crossing of the meadows and an unforgettable stop at the lively Gostner Schwaige for lunch, we’ll continue our steep ascent to the peak.
Finish the day at Schlernhaus, an historic mountain inn atop the mighty Schlern peak, with breathtaking views in every direction. Trails radiate from the hut for optional walks to even higher views. Schlernhaus is fairly rustic, with private rooms, bathrooms down the hall, and no showers. Their beautiful dining room is a cozy place to relax in the evening enjoying a night high in the Dolomites.
Plattkofel hut – Hiking hut-to-hut, we’ll traverse east toward the towering Sassolungo mountain group, to the Plattkofel hut, tucked at the base of jagged, imposing rock spires. The trail provides stunning views of the famed Catinaccio/Rosengarten group enroute.
For those with extra energy and time, an alternate hike up to the peak of Sasso Piatto will reward you with spectacular views of the whole region. With comfortable private rooms and hot showers, Plattkofel is more a comfortable mountain inn than a hut, with a quiet ambiance that allows us to relax and enjoy a beautiful evening high in the mountains.
Selva- Today we traverse around the northwest corner of the Langkofel Group, towering in stark relief over the Alpe di Siusi. We’ll spend the day winding our way through boulder fields, grassy meadows, and spruce-larch forests before catching a cable car down to Selva.
Selva is surrounded by pleasant hiking trails and is blessed with beautiful views from every corner. Tonight marks the start of the Dolomites East 6-night tour – new arrivals will join the group for dinner.
Selva- Today we’ll work our way up and explore the high meadows of the dramatic Puez-Odle mountain group, and perhaps stopping in at places like the Regensberger or Stevia Huts along the way.
In the evening, you can unwind and enjoy the gourmet cuisine at your tasteful village hotel. This night marks the end of the Dolomites West 6-night trip.
Corvara – We’ll start out through the glacially-carved U-shaped Vallunga valley before climbing to the Puez hut high above the valley. A rocky traverse from here, leads to the next valley and down to the village of Corvara, in the Alta Badia region.
An easier option starts with a bus or gondola ride to the Gardena pass, where the massive Sella mountain dominates your view. An easy descending trail through meadows winds down to Corvara from here.
San Cassiano – Hiking uphill from Corvara, we’ll cross the Pralongia meadows, criss-crossed by numerous hiking trails and dotted with small mountain inns. The views are surprisingly vast, including the Marmolada mountain to the south – the highest peak in the Dolomites.
Although there are some easier options, a good rugged trail leads past the Pico Setsas mountain before descending to San Cassiano and a treat… a beautiful 4-star hotel with a very welcome pool and spa!
Lagazuoi hut – Today’s dramatic walk takes us high above San Cassiano through a quiet valley to the rifugio Lagazuoi, a popular hut perched at the summit of a mountain with incredible views and rich history.
This was the scene of fierce fighting in WWI, and many tunnels and artifacts remain to this day. Despite it’s mountaintop position, Lagazuoi has comfortable rooms and hot showers, and takes care to serve abundant and delicious meals.
Cortina d’Ampezzo – Finally, we’ll cap our trip with a scenic traverse below the Tofane di Rozes mountain. Optionally, we may cross the valley to explore the Cinque Torre region, where more WWI artifacts remain.
We’ll finish in Cortina d’Ampezzo, the lively town at the heart of the eastern Dolomites for a final, celebratory evening.
depart – Today we say arrivederci, and depart for our post-tour destinations. We’ll have a group taxi available for the 2 hour drive to Venice.
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