The Dolomites, where 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 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 5 nights from Canazei to Selva, while Dolomites East includes the last 5 nights from Selva to Cortina.
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 Canazei. Canazei is a small, sunny village at the upper end of the Fassa valley, with miles of hiking trails radiating in every direction. We’ll start our tour with a loop around the Gardena valley, visiting a couple high huts along the way, before heading east to Alta Badia, past the mighty Sella mountain, on to the historic mountaintop Lagazuoi, and finally to Cortina d’Ampezzo. 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. 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. We will leave one dinner in Selva free, giving you a chance to explore on your own.
The Dolomites is truly a special region. With beautiful inns and hikes, this Dolomites tour will make an unforgettable vacation.
Canazei – 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).
We’ll meet here, and then take a private taxi transfer to Canazei, surrounded by stunning scenery at the upper end of the Fassa valley. We’ll enjoy a wonderful welcome dinner and settle in to our comfortable and friendly 4-star hotel for the 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. The rolling trail brings us past the famed Catinaccio/Rosengarten group, with a stop at the lively Alpe di Tires hut for lunch.
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 somewhat more rustic, with private rooms, bathrooms down the hall, no showers. Their beautiful dining room is a cozy place to relax in the evening enjoying a night high in the Dolomites.
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.
Selva – Hiking up from our hotel, we’ll pass the oldest chapel in the valley and rise up through the woods to the high mountain meadows of Seceda.
The views from here are spectacular in all directions. Backed by the dramatic Puez-Odle group, we’ll also have views across the valley to Sella and Sassolungo. Descent to the village of Selva-Wolkenstein for the night. This night marks the end of the Dolomites West 5-night trip.
Selva – With a well-deserved rest day in Selva, you can visit the local spa, or perhaps take a moderate walk around town. Or for a more adventurous outing, meet up with a local guide for a via ferrata climb on one of the local routes.
This day also marks the beginning of our 5-night Dolomites East tour. Dinner will be on your own tonight in one of the many fine restaurants in town.
Corvara – We’ll start out through the glacially-carved U-shaped Vallunga valley before climbing to the Coaz 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 our comfortable 4-star hotel.
Lagazuoi hut – Today’s dramatic walk takes us high above the 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.
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