This self-guided village-based tour is a great way to explore the Dolomites with flexibility and comfort. The Dolomites are fantastic… Italian, Austrian, and ancient Ladin cultures intermingle peacefully in the small, scattered villages in this mountainous region, and hiking trails range from easy, meandering routes to challenging via ferrata climbs. This tour explores the Val Gardena and Alta Badia regions, two of the loveliest and most traditional valleys in the Dolomites.
Your gateway to this Dolomites tour is Bolzano, a beautiful small city filled with plazas and museums, home of the famous Ötzi iceman, and a pleasant Tyrolean ambiance. From Bolzano, you’ll take a private shuttle to the village of St. Ulrich, also known by its Ladin name of Ortisei, for 3 nights. Ortisei is a charming village in the heart of the very traditional Val Gardena, with a pedestrian-only village core and miles of hiking trails radiating in every direction. Then you’ll cross a pass to Corvara in the nearby Alta Badia region, again with numerous wonderful hiking options. The standard tour includes very nice and central 3-star hotels in Ortisei and Corvara, while the deluxe tour upgrades you to great 4-star hotels, luxurious yet casual, with pool and spa, and great food. You won’t want to leave! Luxurious 5-star hotels are also an option… please ask if you are interested.
Your typical day starts with a delicious buffet breakfast at your hotel – a feast of freshly baked bread and croissants, local meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, eggs, coffee and freshly squeezed juice – which gives you the energy needed for the day ahead. Before setting out on your hike, visit a bakery and market for lunch supplies, or bring some money for a stop in one of the alpine restaurants along your route. Soon, you’ll be out on the trail for 6-8 hours, with many hiking options to choose from. As a village-based tour, you’ll be returning to your hotel each night, and it will be easy to to long or shorter hikes… whatever you wish.
Normally, you should finish your hike 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, you’ll enjoy dinner at your hotel restaurant. These are multi-course feasts, often featuring delicious local Austrian and Italian specialties. Our hotels all serve fabulous food, and dinners will be hearty, filling, well-earned and very delicious. Typically we leave one dinner free so you will have time to explore on your own in town.
The Dolomites is truly a special region. With gorgeous hotels and an attractive village to go with and numerous exciting hikes, this Dolomites tour will make an indelible impression.
Ortisei – Arrive in Italy and transfer by train to Bolzano, your gateway to the Italian Dolomites. Bolzano is a pleasant city with large squares, outdoor markets, and an captivating natural history museum (home of the Ötzi iceman) and is worth a stop if you have extra time.
We’ll arrange a private taxi to pick you up in Bolzano, and take you on the 50 minute trip to Ortisei, a charming village with narrow, cobblestoned streets lined with elegant shops – and your base for hiking for the next 3 days.
Ortisei – Ortisei is surrounded by pleasant hiking trails and is blessed with beautiful views from every corner. One favorite hike takes you up to the Seiser Alm, or Alpe di Siusi, the largest high alpine meadow in the Alps. Siusi is threaded with trails of all varieties, with gorgeous views of the Sassolungo and Sassopiatto group, and the massive Schlern mountain.
Walk through flower-filled meadows, past alpine farms and huts, perhaps stopping in for a special gourmet lunch at a favorite local restaurant. In the evening, you can unwind in the sauna or pool in Ortisei, and enjoy the gourmet cuisine at one of our tasteful hotel options.
Ortisei – Another favorite hike starts right from town through a hidden valley behind Ortisei. Hike up through wooded trails past the oldest chapel in the valley, gaining more and more spectacular views as you ascend. An optional detour brings you to the Pic mountaintop for a 360-degree panorama. Now through the Siusi meadow, a variety of trails lead past alpine farms and huts where you can stop for lunch.
Options include hiking down to the village of Selva, where you return to Ortisei by bus, or continuing up toward the jagged Odle mountain group, where a cable car whisks you back to Ortisei.
Corvara – We’ll send a private taxi to your hotel to pick you and and take you one valley to the east, the Alta Badia region, and the pleasant little village of Corvara. If you’d like to hike to day, your taxi can drop you in Selva, where a long and beautiful trail leads you through the U-shaped Vallunga valley, up over high, rocky passes, and down to Corvara.
For an easier day, ask to be dropped at the Gardena pass enroute, where a pleasant downhill trail offers a half-day of walking with jaw-dropping views of the gigantic Sella massif.
Corvara – Corvara, in Alta Badia, is a wide valley with numerous hiking possibilities. The meadows of Pralongia above town beckon with miles of trails, and surprising views in all directions.
An alternate mountain route starts with a gondola ride high above town, where you can hike high, rocky trails to the top of the Sella mountain. A couple of dramatic huts serve as great destinations, including the tiny Capanna Fassa, perched atop Piz Boe, the highest point of the Sella. Return to Corvara for a pleasant evening. Dinner will be on your own to explore at your leisure.
Corvara – A short bus ride brings you to the village of San Cassiano across the valley. From San Cassiano, you have a couple of great options. For a more moderate day, a steady ascent leads north below the Sass della Crusc. This wooded trails offers delightful views and finishes above treeline at the beautiful Santa Croce restaurant and chapel. You can enjoy a meal or a drink here, and descend by chairlift to Badia, returning to Corvara by bus.
A more dramatic and longer hike heads south from San Cassiano into the Lagazio valley and up to the famous Lagazuoi hut. Lagazuoi was the scene of fierce fighting during WWI, and many trenches and tunnels remain to this day, with a few informational placards describing life as a soldier on the front. It’s also a beautiful hike regardless, passing a small lake, a good lunch-time hut, and gaining incredible views from Lagazuoi itself. From the top, a cable car brings you down to a bus to return to the valley below.
depart – After breakfast, your taxi driver will meet you at your hotel to take you back to Bolzano or Bressanone. Alternate final destinations can be arranged on a custom basis.
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