The Dolomites are an absolutely fabulous region of sheer pink and yellow limestone pinnacles that tower like monuments over quaint villages, flowery meadows, 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 are also home to some of the most luxurious mountain hotels in the Alps, with gourmet, Michelin-starred restaurants and soothing spas. Our Deluxe Dolomites Traverse tour starts in the Val Gardena, our favorite corner of the Dolomites, and ventures east through the lovely Alta Badia region to the soaring rock towers that surround Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Your tour begins with a private taxi to Ortisei, a walkable, sunny village in the Gardena valley with miles of hiking trails radiating in every direction. You’ll hike up to a 5-star hotel high on the Alpe di Siusi and on to Selva at the upper end of the Gardena valley. After a couple days in Selva, you’ll head east past the mighty Sella mountain to Alta Badia, where you’ll stay in a memorable hiker-friendly 5-star hotel. Finally, hike over the historic mountaintop Lagazuoi to Cortina d’Ampezzo. Our deluxe private guided tour features friendly service, gourmet meals, and some truly luxurious 4 and 5-star hotels.
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. Then your private guide will lead you on your way through this sometimes other-worldly landscape. You’ll stop for a picnic lunch prepared by your guide, or perhaps stop in one of the alpine restaurants along your route. Luggage will be transported to your next hotel at every stop, so you’ll only need to carry a small daypack.
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 San Cassiano free, giving you a chance to explore on your own.
The Dolomites is truly a special region. With luxurious hotels and world-class hikes, this Dolomites tour will make an unforgettable vacation. If you prefer 3-star hotels, check out our Private Guided Classic Dolomites Traverse. Custom itineraries are possible… please ask.
Ortisei – Arrive in Italy and meet your guide in Ortisei, with time to wander the village and enjoy the crisp air and dramatic views from town. Ortisei has a nice, pedestrian-only town center and a laid-back atmosphere. Your private taxi transfer from Venice, Verona, Innsbruck or Munich is included in your tour. Stay in a beautiful 4-star hotel with great food and a welcoming pool and spa.
If you have time, you might consider coming early to stop in 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). We can arrange additional nights in Bolzano to give you time to explore this small, vibrant city before heading to the mountains.
Ortisei – One of the charms of Ortisei are the many different trail options surround the village. On your first full hiking day, you might take a dayhike through high scenic meadows to the Brogles hut, where you can look back on almost your 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.
Alpina Dolomites – You’ll start with an easy morning with plenty of time to relax before your hike. Start with a gondola from town up 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 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 to the 5-star Hotel Alpina Dolomites. The Alpina Dolomites is the epitome of mountain luxury, with beautiful rooms and a not-to-be-missed pool and spa. The Alpe di Siusi is a popular destination with hikers during the day, and takes on a quiet ambiance in the evening that allows you to relax and enjoy a beautiful evening high in the mountains.
Selva – Today you’ll traverse the dramatic Sassolungo Mountain Group. One option includes a steep and somewhat rugged ascent leading directly into the heart of the mountains, surrounded on all sides by jagged peaks. You might hike all the way to a high pass, to the Toni Demetz hut, where a fun gondola brings you down to the Sella pass where a bus takes you to Selva.
Alternately, hike along a lower circuit through green meadows with constant views of the mountains, finishing at the Ciampinoi lift, which will bring you directly to Selva. Selva is the highest village in the Gardena valley and has a number of fine hotels and restaurants. We like the traditional elegance of the 4-star Hotel Tyrol.
Selva – A second day in Selva gives you a chance to further explore this beautiful region. A great hike from town leads directly up to the Seceda meadows, part of the Puez-Odle Nature park. Seceda has a number of wonderful trails. A favorite leads to the higher reaches of the meadows to Piera Longia, a picturesque mountain restaurant at the base of the peaks.
Your descent from Seceda can be eased by a lift down to the valley floor, or you can take an energetic detour to the Stevia hut, for their fantastic apple strudel and otherworldly views of the Sella mountain. Return to Selva for a 2nd night.
Corvara – Leaving Selva, a dramatic hike through the U-shaped Vallunga valley leads you to a high, rocky landscape and the Puez hut, and then past the the Gardena pass to the Alta Badia valley.
The Gardena pass is also accessible from Selva by bus or cable car, and you can have an easier day today walking the many pretty trails near the pass. From here, a scenic descent or a short bus transfer brings you to Corvara. Stay luxurious 4-star hotel in this pleasant village.
San Cassiano – This is a more moderate day over the meadows of Pralongia, the hills that separate Corvara and San Cassiano, with gorgeous views all around. Pass below the Setsas peak and hike down on a forested trail to the lovely small village of San Cassiano, framed by a gorgeous backdrop of mountains.
We love the 5-star Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano, a luxurious hotel with a strong sense of culture and tradition that caters to hikers. Although quite small, San Cassiano has a number of very fine hotels that promise a welcoming and comfortable night. Dinner will be on your own tonight. Please ask if you would like a dinner reservation at the Michelin-starred Hubertus (if available) or elsewhere.
Cortina d’Ampezzo – 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. This was the scene of fierce fighting in WWI, and many tunnels and artifacts remain to this day.
After a strenuous hike and time to look around, you can either descend by trail or by cable car to the Falzarego pass. We’ll have a taxi meet you here to take you to your hotel in Cortina d’Ampezzo, the lively town at the heart of the eastern Dolomites. Cortina is a busy mountain town, but with a pedestrian-only main road that is a pleasant retreat.
Depart – Today you say arrivederci, and depart for your post-tour destinations. A private taxi from Cortina to Venice is included in your tour, or we can book custom travel to other destinations.