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 circuit 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 Selva to Ortisei, while Dolomites East includes the last 6 nights from Ortisei 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 Selva. Selva is a small, sunny village at the upper end of the Gardena 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 through the hidden Funes valley, past the mighty Sella mountain, on to the historic mountaintop Lagazuoi, and finally to Cortina d’Ampezzo. We’ll have 4 nights in high huts and mountain inns (note, there are no single rooms at the huts, and we will all be in dorm at Lagazuoi), and 6 nights in comfortable and casual 3-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 Ortisei 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.
Selva – Arrive in Italy and transfer by train to Bolzano, your gateway to the Dolomites. From here, you’ll take private taxi transfer to Selva, surrounded by stunning scenery at the upper end of the Gardena valley.
Bolzano is a pleasant city with large squares, outdoor markets, and a captivating natural history museum (home of the famous Ötzi iceman). We’ll enjoy a wonderful welcome dinner and settle in to our comfortable and friendly 3-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 a lively alpine 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 – We have our choice of either a rugged descent through a narrow gorge or an easier descent across the vast meadows of the Alpe di Siusi, where we’ll catch a bus or cable car down to Ortisei, 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. This marks the end of our Dolomites West tour, and beginning of the Dolomites East hike. Dinner is on your own your first night in Ortisei.
Ortisei – On our 2nd day, we might take a dayhike through high scenic meadows, where we can look back on almost our entire route so far.
Or for a more adventurous outing, meet up with a local guide for a via ferrata climb on one of the local routes.
Genova hut – Leaving Ortisei, we’ll hike into the beautiful and quiet Val di Funes to the Genova hut. This gorgeous valley is not to be missed, with quiet meadows and extensive views of the towering Puez-Odle mountain group.
Genova hut is another comfortable stop, with a variety of private rooms and small dorms, and a tasty and filling traditional menu.
Corvara – For strong hikers, a dramatic hike through high, rocky landscapes brings us high across the Puez-Odle group where the massive Sella mountain dominates.
An easier option leads down from Genova hut, into a quiet side-valley filled with historic mills. Passing quiet farms, you’ll finish with a short taxi ride into Corvara.
Corvara – We have a number or great choices for a dayhike from Corvara.
Perhaps an energetic ascent up into the high rocky plateau of the Sella, to the rifugio Boe. An easier option leads us through gentle, scenic meadows of Pralongia, with constant panoramic views of the entire region. Stay in Corvara a 2nd night.
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 long descent on a quiet, lightly-traveled route through the Fanes National Park.
This surprising descent is filled with waterfalls, and promises yet another memorable day. 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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