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Self-Guided Alta Via 1 Trek - Dolomites

Self-Guided Alta Via 1 Trek - Dolomites


  • Incredible, UNESCO World Heritage scenery

  • Wonderful history, culture and wilderness

  • Very comfortable refuges

  • Partial luggage delivery

  • Delicious Italian food

Why Choose Cloud 9 Adventure

  • Excellent quality refuges

  • Private rooms wherever possible

  • Hand-picked hotel at start and finish

  • We can book your meals in advance

  • Luggage delivery where possible

Self-Guided Alta Via 1 Trek - Dolomites: Overview

Trekking the Dolomites Alta Via 1, which covers a distance of over 100 km and around 7000m of ascent and descent, is one of the best ways to experience the fabulous Italian Dolomites. This beautiful mountain range, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, forms one of the most distinctive landscapes in the world. There are 18 peaks at over 3000 metres, and the rock formations and geology are exceptional, with incredible rock spires and towers, vertical walls and sheer cliffs.

Your trip will pass some of the most famous peaks, including the Tofane, the Tre Cime, the Pelmo, the Civetta and the Moiazza, and of course, you'll see the Marmolada (the highest peak in the Dolomites) and its glacier from many a viewpoint over the course of your self-guided Alta Via 1 adventure.

You will also experience the unique culture of the region, which is an interesting mix of Austrian and Italian traditions, food and folklore. The South Tyrol area is known as the Südtirol in German, and as the Alto Adige in Italian, and you will find that every village has both a German and an Italian name.

The hiking can be fairly strenuous, but you'll follow good quality trails and walk at a steady pace so that you can enjoy the scenery and surroundings. If you are looking to compare it with other treks, it is slightly easier in terms of distance and height gain than the Tour du Mont Blanc, but as you stay in rifugi rather than hotels once your hike begins, we grade both trips at a similar level.

We think that the Dolomites, or the 'Dollies' as they are affectionately known, are a very special place and deserve their reputation as one of the most beautiful places in the world - and should certainly feature on every trekker's bucket list.

Are there any via ferrata sections on this trek?

We at Cloud 9 have devised this self-guided itinerary for you so that it includes the hiking aspects of the trail, missing out the via ferrata sections. If you would like to try a via ferrata do let us know and and we can book an IFMGA guide to join you for the relevant section, to extend your trip. 


What are the rifugi like? 


The rifugi in the Dolomites are of a higher standard than most mountain huts, so if you are used to Alpine refuges you will be pleasantly surprised. We have also specifically selected for you the most comfortable rifugi on the route, and will request and book private rooms for you wherever available. 

Which is the best airport to travel to?

There are a few different airport options within three hours of your start point. These are Venice Treviso (2 hours), Venice Marco Polo (2.5 hours), Klagenfurt (2.5 hours), Trieste (2.5 hours), Verona (3 hours) and Innsbruck (3 hours). We generally recommend Innsbruck and Venice as the public transport links from these airports are the most convenient. 



9 nights

8 days' trekking


Partial luggage delivery


Starts: Dobbiaco or Villabassa

Ends: Belluno


Convenient Airports: Innsbruck , Venice (Marco Polo or Treviso) 


Other Airports: Klagenfurt 



2 nights in hotels

7 nights in refuges






Self-Guided Alta Via 1 Trek - Dolomites: Itinerary


Day 1 - Arrive in Dobbiaco or Villabassa

In order to start your self-guided Alta Via 1 hike bright and fresh tomorrow morning after breakfast, settle into your hotel tonight for a good meal and a sound sleep.  


Accommodation: Comfortable 3*** hotel, dinner included

Luggage access


Day 2 – Bus to Lago de Braies then hike to Rifugio Pederu

Today starts with a bus ride to the beauty spot of Lago di Braies. A turquoise gem of a lake set against impressive, towering cliffs, it's one of the largest and deepest natural lakes in the region. You’ll contour the lake then ascend through pine trees until you arrive beneath the striated (meaning striped or streaked) cliffs of Monte Muro, to impressive views at the Porta Sora il Forn at 2,388 m (7,832 ft). It’s then a quick downhill into Rifugio Biella for a welcome local lunch, perhaps some minestrone soup. A flower-filled afternoon follows lunch, past meadows and farms. Save a burst for the end of the day, as a steep ascent beneath striking cliffs will bring you to today’s overnight stop at Rifugio Pederu.


Accommodation: Mountain refuge, dinner included

Luggage access

Walking: approx. 7-8 hrs

Distance: 17 km / 10.6 miles

Altitude gain / loss: +1045 m / -984 m (+3427 ft / -3227 ft)


Day 3 - Hike from Rifugio Pederu to Rifugio Lagazuoi

There’s more uphill than down today, so your knees will thank you for that! You’ll earn your excellent Italian coffee at Rifugio Fanes, after a steady ascent through the rocky and wild Vallone di Rudo to Lago Piciodil. The trail continues to Passo di Limo at 2172 m (7124 ft), and its namesake lake, a popular spot for picnickers. The lake’s framed by high peaks and unusual limestone slabs which are pocked with scented pine trees. A challenging traverse then takes you to the Forcetta del Lago at 2486 m (8154 ft), followed by a memorable descent to the reflective green waters of Lago di Lagazuoi. Tonight’s Rifugio is the reward of a 200 m (656 ft) climb. Your route is now aligned with World War One’s front line, evidenced by tunnels carved out of the ridgeline and gun emplacements. Serving as a well-preserved reminder of darker times, Rifugio Lagazuoi’s phenomenal cliff-edge location will snap you back to the present, its wood-fired sauna ready to ease your muscles as you soak up the unforgettable mountain view. 


Accommodation: Mountain refuge, dinner included

No luggage access

Walking: approx. 9 hrs

Distance: 18 km / 11.3 miles

Altitude gain / loss: +1685 m / -450 m (+5526 ft / -1476 ft)


Day 4 - Hike from Rifugio Lagazuoi to Rifugio Averau or Passo Giau

From the military history and artefacts of the Lagazuoi and Casteletto mountains, today sees you push on to enjoy close-ups of the wonderful summit of Le Tofane. The route kicks off by heading over the Forcella Travenanzes at 2507 m (8222 ft) then descends past a sobering WWI memorial that commemorates the bitter fighting that took place here. Incredible views of the Cinque Torri (the Five Towers) await once you’ve conquered the rocky and wild Forcella Col dei Bos. With luck you’ll savour a late-morning cake and coffee stop at the Rifugio Dibona. To reach the Cinque Torri themselves, you tackle a steep descent through larch forest, then heading back up to reach the Cinque Torri themselves, where rock climbers are often pitted against the towers’ sheer faces. Beneath the towers is a good lunch option today, at the Rifugio under the towers. It’s then a relatively easy climb to the lovely refuge at Averau whose delights include cheeses, game meats and ice cream with hot raspberries. Relax on Averau’s high-altitude terrace to savour views of Le Tofane, Lagazuoi and Cinque Torri. Passo Giau is another end-point option for today.

Optional add-on: If you’ve energy to spare for another 120 m (393 ft) ascent, take the opportunity head off along the rocky skyline to Rifugio Nuvolau. Boasting a dramatic cliff-top setting, it’s one of the Dolomites’ oldest refuges with authentic features to match.  

Accommodation: Mountain refuge, dinner included

No luggage access

Walking: Approx 7 hours

Distance: 16km / 10 miles

Altitude gain / loss: +855 m / -1150 m (+2804 ft / -3772 ft)


Day 5 - Hike from Rifugio Averau (or Passo Giau) to Rifugio Staulanza

Today, descend from Averau’s lofty heights down through rocky, flower-filled meadows to reach your next pass at the Forcella Giau at 2350 m (7708 ft). From here, enjoy views over to Monte Pelmo as you enjoy a coffee and contemplate this punishing road bike climb in the Giro d’Italia, Italy’s answer to the Tour de France. An almost 10km (6 mile) climb with gradients between 9.4% and 14%, it’s something to aspire to... Next you'll trek across the mountainside following Monte Formin’s impressive south cliffs before climbing up to the Forcella Ambrizzola at 2277m (7468ft). Views of the glorious Civetta accompany your route to the next pass, after which a gentle descent through cow-dotted pastoral lands awaits. Today’s efforts are completed with a traverse beneath the impressive spires and epic peaks of Monte Pelmo, one of the Dolomites’ signature mountains. Tonight’s Rifugio Staulanza is run by renowned mountaineer Marco Sala, and comes after a descent through larch forests.


Accommodation: Mountain refuge, dinner included

Luggage access

Walking: approx. 8 hrs

Distance: 19 km / 11.8 miles

Altitude gain / loss: +644m / -1150 m (+2112 ft / -3772 ft)


Day 6 - Hike from Rifugio Staulanza to Rifugio Vazzoler

This morning, you’ll get away from the crowds to find a trail less travelled. You’ll climb to a ridge that gives the impression that few walkers go there. All the better for you after a steady, post-breakfast ascent. Peace and tranquillity prevail and you’ll soon reach the Casera di Pioda dairy farm, whose local cheeses are a hit in the summer months. Leaving the rural idyll behind, you’ll attain a well-graded mule track to take you to the shoulder of Cima Coldai, an outlier of the Civetta (another true symbol of the Dolomites). You’ll visit the Rifugio Sonino Al Coldai – another great refuge in another stunning location – before continuing down to the stony beaches and enticing, turquoise waters of Lago Coldai. You truly are being spoiled today. Next you cross the Forcella Col Negro at 2203 m (7225 ft) before losing height to drop into Val Civetta. With its iconic slabs, peaks and pinnacles, Monte Civetta’s west face towers 1200 m (3936 ft) overhead, and it’s an impressive 7 km (4.4 miles) long, with a hanging icefield – the Cristallo – clinging to the cliffs of its highest point. Known as the ‘wall of walls’, this face is unique in the Alps. Dragging yourselves away, head over the Forcella di Col Rean to reach your overnight stop at the remote Rifugio Vazzoler.


Accommodation: Mountain refuge, dinner included

No luggage access

Walking: approx. 7 hrs

Distance: 14 km / 8.7 miles

Altitude gain / loss: +952 m / -800 m (+3122 ft / -2624 ft)


Day 7 - Hike from Rifugio Vazzoler to Passo Duran

Unique views leave their indelible mark today. Panoramas of Torre Trieste’s towering rock face and Cima della Busazza at 2894 m (9492 ft) can be seen directly from your Rifugio as you set off to cross a stony slope below the cliffs. You’ll soon reach the steep little pass of Forcella Col Dell’Orso at 1823 m (5979 ft). Next comes a short section along a flowered rock face (which has chains provided as a hand rail), before the trail rises across boulders and pastures. Your route then drops before the jutting beauty of Moiazza’s south face. Following the Val Framont, you can then take a relaxing lunch detour to the commanding outcrop that’s home to Rifugio Carestiato. What a stunning location. Your day’s trek draws to a close with an easy walk through pine forests and pastures to reach the Passo Duran and Rifugio Sebastiano by early afternoon. Your luggage awaits at the Rifugio, in readiness to prepare for the final stages of your epic Dolomites traverse.


Accommodation: Mountain refuge, dinner included

Luggage access

Walking: approx. 6 hrs

Distance: 14 km / 8.7 miles

Altitude gain / loss: +740 m / -800 m (+2427 ft / -2624 ft)

Day 8 – Hike from Passo Duran to Rifugio Pian de Fontana

Nearing the end of your adventure, you'll enter the Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi. This is the wildest of the national parks included on the Alta Via 1 trail, and comes with a good chance of spotting wildlife from marmots to deer. After an advised early start, you’ll head round the southern slopes of Tamer Grande at 2547 m (8356 ft), passing the remains of Moschesin garrison to reach the Forcella del Moschesin at 1940 m (6364 ft). Continue on to your coffee stop for the morning at Rifugio Pramparet, for snacks in a wonderfully remote setting and views along the Costa dei Nass valley. Ascend gradually to the more open Portela dei Pezedei, whose terrain is rockier under foot. Upon reaching the western slopes of the Cima de Zita, the trail narrows to a ridgeline path; this can feel exposed for a short section. Just look forward to the day’s next milestone and highest pass at 2451 m (8041 ft). Enjoy glimpses across the Venetian plain as you drop down to Rifugio Pian de Fontana. Perched on a shelf at 1632 m (5354 ft), it’s your high-altitude home for the night.


Accommodation: Mountain refuge, dinner included

No luggage access

Walking: approx. 6-7 hrs

Distance: 16 km / 10 miles

Altitude gain / loss: +1100 m / -1030 m (+3608 ft / -3380 ft)

Day 9 – Hike from Rifugio Pian de Fontana to La Stanga (bus to Belluno)

Today’s the day you complete your Alta Via 1 adventure. An easy trail back to civilisation allows time for contemplation and to reflect on the highlights of your fabulous mountain journey. Leaving Rifugio Pian Fontana’s tranquil location behind, you'll first descend through pine forests to pick up the Alta Via Bellunesi trail. A short ascent then takes you up to Forcella la Vareta at 1704 m (5590 ft) then passes north of La Schiara 2565 m (8415 ft) in the Veneto Dolomites, your final major summit on this route. You can savour a final mountain coffee at Rifugio Furio Bianchet before the twisting descent along a farm track to reach the trail head at La Stanga. From there, busses are available to take you to your hotel. Schedule some afternoon shopping or lazy aperos before a final, celebratory meal at the hotel.


Accommodation: 3*** Hotel

Luggage access

Walking: approx. 4 hrs

Distance: 12 km / 7.5 miles

Altitude gain / loss: +250 m / - 1600 m (+820 ft / -5249 ft)

Day 10 Departure day from Belluno

It’s departure day from your hotel in Belluno. Your self-guided Via Alta 1 trekking adventure officially finishes after breakfast.


  • Detailed route maps and advice

  • All accommodation 

  • All breakfasts and evening meals

  • Luggage transfers on 3 of the 7 refuge nights

  • A shower wherever there is an additional charge for this in the refuges

Not Included

  • Flights

  • Travel insurance

  • Airport transfers 

  • Lunches

  • Personal drinks & snacks

  • Tips

  • Towel or sleeping bag liner hire in the refuges (best to bring your own)

Self-Guided Alta Via 1 Trek - Dolomites: Book Online

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