One of the most famous hut-to-hut routes in the Dolomites, the Alta Via 1 is a visual feast, a gorgeous hike through rugged territory. Our guided Alta Via 1 tour meets in Brunico, near the picturesque Lago di Braies, and leads us on a high, rocky adventure to remote mountain huts and past jagged, memorable mountains to the Belluno Dolomites. But while the mountains are steep and daunting, the trail through the mountains is surprisingly accessible.
There are a few ways to experience the Alta Via 1… by spending more time up high in simpler huts, or descending to modest roadside inns, and you’ll see various guided itineraries that generally choose one or the other. We’ve elected to focus on welcoming huts in fabulous locations on our tour, with just 3 nights in nice village hotels and 6 nights in alpine huts. While we give up a couple nights of private rooms and luggage transfers, we feel the chance to stay high in the mountains is worth it. We’ll take a short detour off the traditional Alta Via 1 track to visit beautiful San Cassiano midway and recharge in a friendly 4-star hotel with wonderful food and spa.
Our typical day starts with a delicious buffet breakfast, simpler at the huts and more elaborate at the hotels, featuring local bread and pastries, meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, eggs, coffee and freshly squeezed juice – which gives us the energy needed for the task ahead. Soon you’ll be out on the trail, with your own private guide to take care of the details, so you can focus on enjoying the trail. Each morning, you’ll either be handed a lunch to carry or we’ll plan to stop at a hut at a mid-point along the way. We get a lot of compliments on our imaginative lunches – making them something to look forward to as well!
For our hikes, there are generally a couple route options, and we should finish each day around 4 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax, or just gaze upon the outside panorama from your room balcony or hut terrace. After that, we’ll enjoy dinner together at our hut or our hotel restaurant. Food at the huts is hearty, filling and good, with plenty of options to accommodate different dietary needs. Meals in the villages are multi-course feasts, often featuring delicious local Tyrolean and Italian specialties.
Brunico – Arrive in Munich, Milan, Verona or Venice, and transfer by train to the medieval city of Brunico (also called Bruneck). The delightful small city sits in the broad, lush Puster valley, a geographic and cultural crossroads where Tyrolean meets Italian, and a beautiful starting point for our tour.
Our home in Brunico is the very friendly, centrally located Hotel Blitzburg. Once you arrive, check into your room and take some time to see the sites. Wander the pedestrian-only historic center or visit the Messner Mountain Museum, housed in an 800 year-old castle on the edge of town. We’ll meet in the evening, talk about our trip, and enjoy a welcome dinner on our first night.
Sennes – We’ll start with a morning transfer to the Lago di Brais (Pragser Wildsee), and incredibly photogenic lake circled by jagged, dolomitic peaks. Our alta via 1 starts with a gentle traverse of the lake before rising steadily to a high mountain pass.
Gorgeous views greet us on this high, rocky plateau in the Fanes-Sennes-Braies National Park. We can stop at the Biella hut for lunch or a drink, and there are many optional detours to choose from for a bigger day. The main route continues from Biella on a rolling traverse to the Sennes hut. We’ll share a couple of small, private rooms at Sennes on our first night high in the mountains. We won’t have our luggage with us tonight, but can enjoy a hot shower and a hearty alpine meal.
Fanes – Leaving Sennes hut, we’ll traverse the high plateau to the bucolic Fodora Vedla hut, a stretch that should be done slowly and enjoyed, amid a stunning panorama. A long descent from here leads us through a deep valley, to rifugio Pederu.
After lunch, we climb again, this time to rifugio Fanes, a charming inn tucked into a quiet valley. Fanes is a comfortable hut, set in a quiet meadow, and is a great place to meet other hikers from around the world. We have private rooms and hot showers. Our luggage will meet us here.
Lagazuoi – Continuing our hut-to-hut traverse, we have a high trail into the rocky peaks today. Leaving Fanes, we’ll continue south, and then start hiking up the back side of the Lagazuoi mountain. As we approach the top, you’ll see fascinating remnants of the trench warfare that plagued this region during WWI, with tunnels, trenches, and informational placards detailing some of the brutal conditions and sobering history of the war.
Lagazuoi hut itself sits atop the mountain – our highest stop of the trip – and enjoys a commanding view. It’s accessible by cable car, and is always a bustling and popular hut. Our energetic hosts, Guido and Alma, provide a comfortable and welcoming stay, with good food and hot showers. We’ll share a variety of small private rooms.
San Cassiano – We’ll detour slightly from the traditional Alta Via 1 route, descending from Lagazuoi onto the lush meadows of Pralongia in the Alta Badia region of the Dolomites. We’ll hike down to the lovely small village of San Cassiano, where we’ll catch up to our luggage, and enjoy a short break from the high-mountain huts.
San Cassiano is framed by a gorgeous backdrop of mountains. Our home here is the lovely 4-star Hotel Diamant. Comfortable and friendly, the Diamant offers spacious rooms, a luxurious spa, and great meals.
Lago Federa – This day is also heavily steeped in WWI history. After a short transfer to the Falzarego pass, just below Lagazoui, we’ll hike up into the famed Cinque Torri region, an area of rocky spires and many WWI tunnels and memorials.
We like to take a more scenic, alternate alta via route, detouring along wooded trails to the quiet Croda da Lago, a friendly hut next to a tranquil lake. Croda da Lago is a modest hut, with an intimate dining room that invites interaction. We’ll stay in a variety of small dorms.
Pelmo – Our trail today starts with a gentle ascent to a small local pass and then carries us further south, descending first through meadows and then forest toward the mighty Pelmo peak. The impressive North wall of the Pelmo soars over 3000 ft straight up, and we’ll traverse along the base of this to the Staulanza pass.
Continuing from Staulanza, we’ll pass a couple of pleasant alpine farms and start climbing again up the north slope of the Torre di Coldai. Finally we reach the Coldai hut, our home for the night, a comfortable refuge nestled in the high, rocky peaks.
Civetta – An impressive day today as we first make a quick crossing of the Coldai pass and down to a small, beautiful lake. From the Lago di Coldai, we traverse again, this time along the Civetta, a breathtaking mountain wall that towers above us on our left. If time permits, we’ll make a short detour up to the Tissi hut, perched dramatically on the edge of a cliff, with views of the Civetta on one side, and views seemingly to forever on the other.
Leaving Tissi, we descend through meadows and then forest to the Vazzoler hut. The Civetta is just as impressive from this aspect as it is from the Tissi, and the Vazzoler has an inviting location with a pleasant outdoor terrace.
Cortina – Our last hiking day is also one of our most rugged days. For all the rugged scenery, the Alta Via 1 typically consists of fairly moderate trails. Today requires some care but should be fine with a steady pace. It starts easily, with a straightforward descent from Vazzoler hut where we crane our necks to enjoy the southern flank of the massive Civetta above us.
Soon we reach narrow trails with some rocky footing and some steep dropoffs. We’ll cross a succession of small passes, with varied and beautiful scenery, as we round the southern edges of the Civetta. By lunchtime, we should reach the Bruto Carestiato hut, a pleasant stop near the end of our hike. The last hour is easy, as we descend to Passo Duran and meet our awaiting taxi for a transfer to Cortina d’Ampezzo.
In Cortina, we stay in a comfortable 3-star hotel and enjoy a final dinner together celebrating a great hike!
Depart – After breakfast, you can transfer by bus or taxi south to Venice or Verona, or north to Brunico.
Remote huts with luxurious stops in village hotels. A rugged tour with a touch of comfort.Learn more ›
Our beautiful and varied west-to-east guided hike across the Dolomites.Learn more ›