Dolomites, whose sheer pink and yellow limestone pinnacles 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 takes you on a circuit the Val Gardena, our favorite corner of the Dolomites.
Our tour begins in Bolzano, a beautiful small city filled with plazas and museums, including the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology, where you can see Ötzi, the 5300 year old ice man found in a nearby glacier. We’ll meet in Bolzano and then take a 1 hour drive to Selva. Selva is a tiny village at the upper end of the Val Gardena, with miles of hiking trails radiating in every direction. We’ll start hiking from there on a traverse across the Gardena valley, visiting a couple high huts along the way, before arriving in the the pleasant village of Ortisei. We’ll have 2 nights in high huts and mountain inns (note, there are no single rooms at the huts), and 4 nights in comfortable and casual 3-4 star hotels with great food. You won’t want to leave!
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. 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. If you are interested in joining us for the full 10-night tour, please see our Guided Great Dolomites Traverse page. If you’re interested just in the 2nd half of this tour, see our page on the Guided Great Dolomites Traverse, East for days 5-11 of the full tour, from Ortisei to Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Selva – Arrive in Italy and transfer by train to Bolzano, your gateway to the Dolomites. Bolzano is a pleasant city with large squares, outdoor markets, and a captivating natural history museum (home of the famous Ötzi iceman); a night or two here makes a natural pre-tour or post-tour extension.
We’ll meet here, and then take a private taxi transfer to Selva-Wolkenstein, surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Gardena valley. We’ll enjoy a wonderful welcome dinner and settle in to our comfortable and friendly 3-star hotel for the night.
Selva – Selva is surrounded by pleasant hiking trails and is blessed with beautiful views from every corner.
A dramatic first dayhike leads you through the U-shaped Vallunga valley, and up to the Puez hut, perched on a high, rocky shelf. Return to Selva for a 2nd night.
Plattkofel hut – Hiking hut-to-hut, we’ll start with a circuit of the towering Sassolungo mountain group, to the Plattkofel hut, tucked at the base of jagged, imposing rock spires.
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.
Schlernhaus hut – After a night at Plattkofel, we’ll continue on a mellow high-level traverse above the Alpe di Siusi, the largest mountain meadow in the Alps, to Schlernhaus, an historic mountain inn atop the mighty Schlern peak, with breathtaking views in every direction.
As at Plattkofel, we’ll have private rooms tonight, but no showers at Schlern hut.
Ortisei – Today we descend across the vast meadows of the Alpe di Siusi, famous in alpine circles as the largest alp (a high mountain meadow) in the Alps. After lunch at the unforgettable Gostner Schwaige farm, we’ll catch a cable car down to Ortisei.
Ortisei is a beautiful village with shops and cafes lining their cobblestoned, pedestrian-only main road. In the evening, you can unwind and enjoy the excellent cuisine at our wonderful 4-star hotel.
Ortisei – Today, we start with a cable car ride to a ridge high above town. Here, one of our favorite hikes in the valley takes you through the high scenic meadow trails of Seceda, beneath the rugged Geisler mountains, where you can look back across the valley on almost your entire route.
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.
depart – Today, you say goodbye to the Dolomites, and transfer to Bolzano for your post-trip destinations.
Dolomites East starts in Ortisei, and heads east through the Puez-Odle and Fanes National Parks to Cortina d’Ampezzo.Learn more ›
Our guided hut-to-hut hike across the Dolomites is an unforgettable collection of quaint villages, comfortable huts, and rugged landscapes.Learn more ›