Nothing prepares you for the otherworldly beauty of the 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 Great Dolomites Traverse, West, inn-to-inn tour makes a circuit of the Val Gardena, our favorite corner of the Dolomites. A longer self-guided tour can be arranged with additional days extending east to the Badia valley and Cortina d’Ampezzo, so check out our self-guided Classic Dolomites Traverse.
The Val Gardena is easily and quickly reached from Bolzano, where we will have a private taxi bring you to the valley. You’ll start with 2 nights in Ortisei, an attractive village with narrow cobblestoned streets lined with elegant shops, and with miles of hiking trails radiating in every direction. This will be followed by 3 days/2 nights of hut-to-hut hiking high above the valley, sleeping in remote mountain inns – the historic mountaintop Schlernhaus Hut and tidy Tyrolean Plattkofel hut. Then you’ll circle back to the Gardena valley for 2 nights in Selva, a small village at the upper end of the valley. Both of our mountain inns feature delicious home-cooked meals and private rooms–except singles, subject to availability.
Your typical day starts with a delicious buffet breakfast at our 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. You’ll carry extra clothes in your daypacks for the 2 consecutive nights in huts, and your luggage will be transported for you from Ortisei to Selva.
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.
The Dolomites is truly a special region. With gorgeous hotels, charming villages, and numerous exciting hikes, this Dolomites tour will make for an unforgettable vacation.
Ortisei- Arrive in Italy and make your way to Bolzano, a beautiful small city surrounded by vineyards and filled with plazas and museums. Bolzano’s natural history museum is home to the famous Ötzi iceman, and it’s worth spending some time here to see the museum and other nearby attractions.
We’ll have a private taxi meet you in Bolzano and take you to Ortisei, a beautiful town surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Gardena valley. Enjoy a wonderful welcome dinner and settle in to your comfortable and friendly 3-star hotel for the night.
Ortisei – Today’s hike starts with a funicular train ride to a ridge high above town, and take a dayhike through high scenic meadows to the Brogles hut, where you can scan practically the entire Gardena valley and gaze upon the jagged needles of the Puez-Odle peaks.
In the evening, spend some time exploring town. Ortisei is a beautiful village with shops and cafes lining their cobblestoned, pedestrian-only main road. Your stay also includes entrance to the Mar Dolomit pool and spa, a great place to relax for an hour or two.
Schlernhaus hut – After a relaxing morning, begin today by ascending a gondola to the rolling green hills of the Alpe di Siusi, the largest mountain meadow in the Alps. After a mellow crossing of the meadows and an unforgettable stop at the lively Gostner Schwaige for lunch, continue on a short but steep ascent to the peak.
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 fairly rustic, with private rooms, bathrooms down the hall, and no showers. Their beautiful dining room is a cozy place to relax in the evening enjoying a night high in the Dolomites.
Plattkofel hut – Off to the next hut, you’ll make a moderate high traverse toward the towering Sassolungo mountain group. The trail provides stunning views of the famed Catinaccio/Rosengarten group enroute.
Plattkofel hut is tucked at the base of the pyramidal peak it is named for, and an optional trail leads to the top, if you are in the mood for an energetic day. Plattkofel hut is more a comfortable mountain inn than a hut, with cozy private rooms and hot showers, and a quiet ambiance that encourages relaxation.
Selva – Today you traverse around the northwest corner of the Langkofel Group, towering in stark relief over the Alpe di Siusi. You’ll spend the day winding your way through boulder fields, grassy meadows, and spruce-larch forests before catching a cable car down to Selva.
A more strenuous optional trail leads right through the heart of the Langkofel/Plattkofel group, and is a fun, dramatic detour for those looking for a challenge.
Selva- Today you’ll hike up to explore the high Seceda meadows below the dramtic Puez-Odle mountain group, perhaps stopping in at the Regensberger or Stevia huts along the way. There are dozens of criss-crossing trails through this area that invite exploration, and all boast unforgettable views of the region.
In the evening, you can unwind and enjoy the delicious cuisine at your tasteful village hotel. Many of our Selva hotels include small spas if you would like to relax before your final dinner.
depart – After breakfast, your taxi driver will meet you at your hotel to take you back to Bolzano.
The otherworldly beauty of the Dolomites is on full display on this hut-to-hut hike from the Gardena valley to Cortina d’Ampezzo.Learn more ›
The self-guided Haute Route tour links Chamonix to Zermatt via a spectacular series of trails with high passes, quiet trails, and stunning views.Learn more ›