This guided village-based tour is a great way to explore the Dolomites with flexibility and comfort. The Dolomites are fantastic… a delightful melange of Italian, Austrian, and ancient Ladin cultures. The mountains are majestic 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. The Dolomites are also a surprisingly beautiful wildflower destination, and June will often see vast meadows carpeted with colorful flowers.
We’ll stay in comfortable and classy 3 and 4-star hotels in each village, enjoying some of the finest hiking in the Alps on our 5-7 hour dayhikes, returning to the same hotel each night. See the main sights that you won’t want to miss and many small, off-the-beaten-path places as well. In general, we like to avoid the more crowded areas, and seek out the more peaceful trails.
Our typical day starts with a continental buffet breakfast at our hotel – delicious fresh baked bread and croissants, local meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, coffee and 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! Other times we will stop at a local hut for lunch along the way.
We should finish our hike around 4 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax, or perhaps do a bit of shopping in town. After that, we’ll enjoy dinner together at our hotel or another local restaurant. These are multi-course feasts, often centered on local Austrian and Italian specialties. Our hotels all serve fabulous food, and dinners will be hearty, filling, well-earned and very delicious. We will leave one night in Corvara free, so you will have a chance to explore on your own.
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 meet in Bolzano and transfer by taxi on the 50 minute trip to Ortisei, a charming village with narrow, cobblestoned streets lined with elegant shops – and our base for hiking for the next 3 nights. We’ll have a welcome dinner at our hotel and talk about the trip to come.
Ortisei – Ortisei is surrounded by pleasant hiking trails and is blessed with beautiful views from every corner. One favorite hike takes us 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.
We’ll walk through flower-filled meadows, past alpine farms and huts, and will stop 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 our tasteful hotel.
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 we ascend. An optional detour brings us 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 we can stop for a break.
From here, we’ll continue up toward the jagged Odle mountain group, where a cable car whisks us back to Ortisei.
Corvara – Leaving Ortisei after breakfast, we’ll now head east, to the Alta Badia region, and the pleasant little village of Corvara. For a long day, we might stop in Selva, where a long and beautiful trail leads us through the U-shaped Vallunga valley, up over high, rocky passes, and down to Corvara.
For an easier option, we can stop instead at the Gardena pass enroute, where a pleasant downhill trail offers a half-day or 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 we 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 us to the village of San Cassiano across the valley. From San Cassiano, we 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. We 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 us down to a bus to return to the valley below for our final night!
depart – After breakfast, a group shuttle can take you back to Bolzano or Bressanone. Alternate final destinations can be arranged on a custom basis.