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 can also shorten this tour if you don’t have time for the full trip.
Your 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. You’ll be transferred by private taxi to Canazei, a small, sunny village at the upper end of the Fassa valley, with miles of hiking trails radiating in every direction. You’ll start your tour with a loop around the Gardena valley, visiting a couple high huts along the way, before heading east past the mighty Sella mountain, on to the historic mountaintop Lagazuoi, and finally to Cortina d’Ampezzo. You’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. We always book private rooms if possible, and space in dormitory otherwise. Early booking gives you a better chance to have private rooms all nights.
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. You’ll carry extra clothes in your daypacks for the 3 nights in huts, and your luggage will be transported for you from between villages.
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. We typically leave dinner in Canazei and Cortina free, giving you two nights 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). If you have extra time, we can arrange additional nights in Bolzano to give you time to explore this small, vibrant city before heading to the mountains.
From here, you’ll take private taxi transfer to Canazei, a pretty little village in the traditional Ladin-speaking Fassa valley. Canazei is surrounded by stunning scenery, including some of the Dolomites more famous mountains, the Catinaccio, Marmolada and Sella. Dinner will be on your own tonight at one of the restaurants in town.
Plattkofel hut – Hiking hut-to-hut, start with a circuit of the towering Sassolungo mountain group, to the Plattkofel hut, tucked at the base of jagged, imposing rock spires. You can hike start hiking right from Canazei, or choose an easier day by starting with a cable car or bus to a higher point along the trail.
Newly renovated, with comfortable private rooms and hot showers, Plattkofel is more a comfortable mountain inn than a hut. It’s a popular daytime stop with hikers, and takes on a quiet ambiance in the evening that allows us to relax and enjoy a beautiful evening high in the mountains.
Schlernhaus hut – After a night at Plattkofel, you’ll continue on a mellow high-level traverse above the Alpe di Siusi and along the Catinaccio mountains. Stop in at the Tierser Alp hut for lunch before a dramatic traverse that leads to Schlernhaus, an historic mountain inn atop the mighty Schlern peak, with breathtaking views in every direction.
As at Plattkofel, you’ll have private rooms tonight, but there are no showers at Schlernhaus. Their historic dining room provides a cozy atmosphere for the evening.
Ortisei – A steep and somewhat rugged morning descent leads to the vast meadows of the Alpe di Siusi, the largest mountain meadow in the Alps. The undulating trail across the meadows passes by a number of small mountain inns. We’ll send you to a favorite lunch spot with where you can enjoy some of the best homemade local flavors in the Dolomites, including our favorite Kaiserschmarrn in South Tyrol.
After lunch, continue across the Siusi on a short ascent to a cable car that whisks you down to the pleasant and attactive village of Ortisei. In the evening, you can unwind and enjoy the excellent cuisine at our tasteful hotels. This marks the end of our Dolomites West tour, and beginning of the Dolomites East hike.
Ortisei – One of the charms of Ortisei are the many different trail options surround the village. On your 2nd day, you might take a dayhike through high scenic meadows to the Brogles hut, where you can look back on almost our entire route so far and gaze upon the jagged needles of the Puez-Odle peaks.
Or for a more adventurous outing, meet up with a local guide for a via ferrata climb (guide and gear not included) on one of the local routes. Via ferrata climbs are famous throughout the Dolomites, and there are many options to choose among, from easy beginner hikes to steep, challenging routes. The local guide office can help you decide on an appropriate route, rent gear, and provide a guide. If you’d prefer to relax in town, Ortisei has a nice, pedestrian-only town center and a great pool and spa.
Selva – Leaving Ortisei, you’ll hike into through the high Seceda meadows and under the towering Puez-Odle mountain group to the small village of Selva at the upper end of the Gardena valley. You’ll have multiple options, either walking right from your hotel, or starting with a cable car to gain the high meadows.
This gorgeous valley is not to be missed, with quiet meadows and extensive views of the towering mountains all around. A number of mountain huts lie along the route, and make great stopping points for lunch or a snack.
Corvara – A dramatic hike through the U-shaped Vallunga valley leads you to a high, rocky landscape and the Puez hut, and then across to the Gardena pass, where the massive Sella mountain dominates.
From here, a scenic descent or a short bus transfer brings you to Corvara in the traditional Alta Badia region. Stay comfortable and friendly hotel in this pleasant village.
Corvara – You have a number or great choices for a dayhike from Corvara, in the Alta Badia region and surrounded by Dolomite mountains in all directions.
Perhaps you make an energetic ascent up into the high rocky plateau of the Sella, to the rifugio Boe. An easier option leads you 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 you high above the valley to the rifugio Lagazuoi, a popular hut perched at the summit of a mountain with incredible views and rich history. (We always book private rooms if possible, and space in dormitory otherwise. Early booking gives you a better chance to have private rooms all nights.)
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, you’ll cap your trip with a hike to Cortina d’Ampezzo, and your choice of hikes. A strenuous option includes 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.
For a more relaxing day, take a shorter traverse beneath the Tofane di Rozes mountain. This brings you to a mountain inn where we arrange a taxi to meet you for a short transfer to Cortina. Both routes finish in Cortina d’Ampezzo, the lively town at the heart of the eastern Dolomites for a final, celebratory evening.
depart – Today you say arrivederci, and depart for your post-tour destinations. Transportation by bus from Cortina to Venice is included in your tour, or a taxi can be booked for custom travel to other destinations.
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