The Alta Via 1 is the premier long trail of the Dolomites, point to point with defined days. Get on the trail and go. Depending on variations, the trail is about 140 kilometers in length and passes through the heart of the Dolomites amongst its most famous peaks; the Tofana, Lagazuoi, Pelmo and of course the mighty Civetta. When compared to the Alta Via 2, it is slightly easier, less remote and more crowded.
For the visiting hiker, should they choose to do a tour instead of day trips, either the Alta Via 1 or 2 surely top the list of Must Dos’. Both allow the hiker to fully experience the Dolomites. With the exception of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Alta Via 1 takes in the landmarks of the range, passing either amongst, below or within sight of all the Dolomite’s most dramatic areas.
The Trail is very well marked throughout, caution needs to be made when there are Alta Via 1 options, for example at the north end of Mont Pelmo where the trail goes both to the east or west sides. The East is the classic route. Like all long trails in the Dolomites, there are many options and care must be taken to stay on the desired route.
The proper method of doing the Alta Via 1 is north to south. Beginning in the Sud Tirol at Lago di Braies, the trail winds its way through the Dolomites before ending in Belluno. Numerous huts are passed en route allowing the hiker to modify the route and nights according to the chosen speed, however pre-booking is required, and cancellations of reservations a must.
Alta Via 1 Classic Itinerary
1: From Lago di Bràies to Rifugio Biella
2: From Rifugio Biella to Rifugio Fanes (via the Rifugio Sénnes and Rifugio Pederü)
3: From Rifugio Fànes to the Rifugio Lagazuòi
4: From Rifugio Lagazuòi to the Rifugio Nuvolàu
5: From Rifugio Nuvolàu to the Rifugio Città Di Fiume
6: From Rifugio Città Di Fiume to the Rifugio Venezia
7: From Rifugio Venezia to the Rifugio Vazzolèr
8: From Rifugio Vazzolèr to the Rifugio Carestiato
9: From Rifugio Carestiato to the Rifugio Sommariva Al Pramperét
10: From Rifugio Sommariva to the Rifugio Pian De Fontana
11: From Rifugio Pian De Fontana to the Bivacco Del Màrmol or Rifugio Bianchet
12: From Bivacco del Màrmol to the Rifugio 7° Alpini, Case Bortòt and Belluno
This is only the recommended “classic” itinerary, there are countless variations taking in additional trails or other huts. But, one important thing to understand is that an itinerary should be planned for ahead of departure, and then stuck to.
The reason is that hut reservations MUST be made in advance, do not assume you may arrive and stay at any hut along the trail. The Alta Via 1 is extremely popular and as such the huts fill up. The month of August is particularly busy, so much so that it is not even recommended to attempt the Alta Via 1. The entire month of August is an Italian national holiday and hordes of them arrive to the Dolomites.
The best time to visit is late June – August 1, or early September through the closure of the huts in either late September or early October.
Many of the classic route huts along the route stay open until the first weekend of October, just for Alta Via 1 hikers, but be sure to confirm with the huts themselves. All phone numbers and contacts may be found for the individual huts online. But, be warned – hut reservations can be very difficult to make for the simple reason getting a hut keeper on the phone. Services like Holimites can book all the huts for you.
Remember, there is no reason to camp on this trek, in fact it is not legal in many places, nor is there reason to take much day food beyond the first two days worth. Dinner and breakfast are included with each stay in the huts and day food may be purchased at any hut along the way. Often, while hiking to your destination hut, you will pass another mid-route, be sure to time your arrival for lunch.
In planning your own itinerary, be sure to consider linking some of the days on the classic route. It is often possible to continue past the classic night’s huts to one not listed on the classic itinerary. In doing so, and if necessary, you will easily eliminate days.
The full length of the Alta Via 1 is about 140km, divided by 12 days for the classic itinerary is only 12km (7.5 miles) a day. The entire trail is only moderately difficult, adding distance shouldn’t be a problem. When considering options, just be sure to confirm that your additional mileage is not also a major pass and that there is in fact an open and available hut.
The classic question we get is, “What if we only have one week of time?”
In this case, beginning at Lago di Braies at ending at the Passo Duran is a 5 star trip, in other words, this is the section to not miss. A bit longer days, but still moderate.
Alta Via 1 Alternate 7 day Itinerary
1: From Lago di Bràies to Rifugio Fodara
2: From Rifugio Fodara to Rifugio Lagazuoi
3: From Rifugio Lagazuoi to the Rifugio Nuvolàu
4: From Rifugio Nuvolàu to the Città Di Fiume
5: From Città Di Fiume to the Rifugio Venezia
6: From Rifugio Venezia to the Rifugio Vazzoler
7: From Rifugio Vazzoler to the Passo Duran
Maps : Tabacco Maps
The word “Hut” in Italian is “Rifugio”. On the maps you will see the abbreviation, “Rif.” There are also “Malga’s, some of which dot the map alongside the Alta Via 1. Malga’s are basically family run farms which may, or may not, serve food. Do not count on them being open.
For Americans, the Italian Huts will likely be remembered as much, or more, than the actual Dolomite landscape. They are remarkable in their service and comfort. The Dolomites make the journey along the Alta Via 1 amazing, but the huts cap the experience by making the overall experience quite remarkable.
The Overview Page is again the source for info and etiquette at the huts.
What to Take
The Dolomites enjoy mostly fair and warm summer weather. However, like any mountain range, anything can happen. Be prepared for it all.
The high point of the tour is 2750 meters at the Lagazuoi Hut, and each day will include a pass at or near about 2200 meters.
Afternoon thunderstorms are the biggest concern, perhaps a bit of snow on the passes, and maybe an actual summer weather system to cause drizzle to a downpour throughout the day. A good rain jacket, rain pants and a pack cover are mandatory items.
While not only providing fantastic meals and beds, the huts also allow for waiting out bad weather.
Your pack should not weight more than 10-12 kg and a 25 Liter pack should be plenty. Fast & Light has an all new meaning here. You don’t have to skimp on what you carry because thanks to the huts, you just don’t need much …you can’t help but go light. And fast? Well, you’re psyched to keep moving to try the next meal. The beauty of Europe!
One other useful item are walking poles. The Dolomites are a rocky environment and the trails can be steep. Trekking poles allow taking some of the strain from the knees as well as helping to prevent rolled ankles.
While not necessary, it is helpful to have a mobile phone for the trek. Should you choose to change your plans and need to call ahead to a hut, the mobile phone is helpful. Read our information regarding Euro phones on our Overview Page.
Getting To and From / Dolomites Transportation
The Dolomites do not have train service within the range itself. They are somewhat like an island within which there is little transportation beyond buses.
If one starts at Lago di Braies, the logical staging town is Dobbiaco, a small village in the Val Pusteria which marks the entry to the Cortina valley.
From Dobbiaco, buses run to Lago di Braies which is in itself a very popular tourist attraction for tour groups. The tricky part is getting back to Dobbiaco when finished if anything is left.
From Belluno, it is possible to connect trains west and north back to Dobbiaco, or connecting buses via Cortina.
Some online research is highly recommended, or again, use Holimites as they offer shuttle services.
Alta Via 1 / Dolomiten Höhenweg 1 Details
Distance : Approximately 140km. Approximate total elevation gain is 8000 meters.
Days : 6 – 12 days, the classic itinerary is 12 days
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous, but thanks to huts, light packs are normal
Huts : Open from June 20 through late September or early October, approximately €58 each night (with dinner and breakfast, no drinks)
Gear : Lightweight hiking shoes, trekking poles, 25-30L pack, silk sleeping bag liner for the huts.
Food : Day food may be purchased at the huts.
Maps : Tabacco Maps 1:25,000 found throughout the region.
Services : The Dolomites premier Tour Operator service for visiting mountain sport enthusiasts is Holimites. They can provide shuttles, guide services, self guiding packages, hut reservations and are a huge resource of information.
Season : June 20 – the first week of October.
Please be sure to read DolomiteSport’s Overview Page for additional logistics and miscellaneous info.