The Dolomites are a fabulous region filled with limestone towers, quaint villages, and awesome hiking trails. It’s also a region rich in cultural diversity, where Italian, Austrian, and ancient Ladin cultures intermingle among the small, scattered villages. The eastern half of our Great Dolomites Traverse is a bit more rugged than the western half, and is filled with great variety and memorable views.
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 Selva, a small village in the Gardena valley with miles of hiking trails radiating in every direction. From Selva, you’ll hike eastward, past the mighty Sella mountain, through the Alta Badia region and finally to the soaring rock towers that surround Cortina d’Ampezzo. You’ll have 1 night in a high hut (no singles, and private rooms extremely limited) and 5 nights in comfortable and casual 3 and 4-star hotels with great food. Our deluxe tour includes some truly fabulous 4 and 5-star hotels with amazing meals and luxurious spas.
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 daypack for the 1 night in the mountain hut, 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 Cortina free, giving you a night 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. If you are interested in hiking the full 10-night tour, please see our Self-guided Great Dolomites Traverse page. If you’re interested in just the 1st half of this tour, see our page on the Self-guided Great Dolomites Traverse, West, for days 1-7 of the full tour, a circuit of the Gardena valley.
Selva – 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). From Bolzano, you’ll be shuttled by taxi to Selva for your first night in the mountains.
Enjoy a wonderful welcome dinner and settle in to your comfortable and friendly 3-star hotel for the night.
Selva- Today’s hike leads up into the high meadows of the dramatic Puez-Odle mountain group for a beautiful introduction to the region. You’ll have the option to stop at a couple mountain huts along the way – the Regensberger or Stevia huts – for lunch to just to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
In the evening, you can unwind at your hotel and enjoy a well-deserved meal.
Corvara – Leaving Selva, a dramatic hike through the U-shaped Vallunga valley leads you to a high, rocky landscape and the Puez hut, set on a high ridge atop the valley. This is a popular stop for hikers from all directions. From Puez hut, a long and quiet descent leads directly to Corvara, in the traditional Alta Badia region.
If you’d prefer a shorter day, you can take a bus or cable car to Gardena pass instead, where views of the massive Sella mountain dominate. From here, a more moderate, scenic descent (or even a short bus or gondola transfer) brings you to Corvara. You’ll stay at a comfortable and friendly hotel in this pleasant village.
San Cassiano – A more moderate day over the meadows of Pralongia, the hills that separate Corvara and San Cassiano. Pralongia is dotted with restaurants and crossed by multiple hiking and biking trails. Cable cars on either end can make this a truly relaxing walk.
For a longer day you can take an optional out-and-back excursion to the Setsas peak for gorgeous views all around. You’ll hike down to the lovely small village of San Cassiano, framed by a gorgeous backdrop of mountains. Although quite small, San Cassiano has a number of very fine hotels that promise a welcoming and comfortable night.
Lagazuoi hut – Today’s dramatic walk takes you high above the valley to the rifugio Lagazuoi, a dramatic hut perched at the summit of a mountain with incredible views and rich history. Lagazuoi has easy access from the south by cable car, and is an extremely popular hut. We always book private rooms if possible, but these fill quickly, and we’ll book space in dormitory otherwise. Early booking gives you a better chance to have private rooms all nights.
This region was the scene of fierce fighting in WWI, and many tunnels and artifacts remain to this day. Lagazuoi has comfortable rooms, fairly spacious dorms and hot showers. Despite their busy restaurant, Alma and Guido and their crew work hard to make you comfortable and take care to serve abundant and delicious meals.
Cortina d’Ampezzo – Finally, you’ll cap your trip with a hike to Cortina d’Ampezzo. Your hike leads you through the famous Cinque Torri region. Start with a straightforward descent to the Falzarego pass (if you’d like an easier day, you can take the cable car) to reach Cinque Torri, a region of WWI tunnels and relics, with dramatic scenery, numerous trails and mountain huts.
We’ll describe a loop trail through the towers back to the pass, where we arrange a taxi to meet you for a short transfer to Cortina. Finish in Cortina d’Ampezzo, the lively town at the heart of the eastern Dolomites for a final, celebratory evening. Dinner will be on your own tonight. There are many options in Cortina.
depart – Today you say arrivederci, and depart for your post-tour destinations. Transportation by private taxi from Cortina to Venice is included in your tour, or a custom taxi can be booked for custom travel to other destinations.