Italy: The Dolomites

Guided Walking Tour, Italy: The DolomitesGuided Walking Tour, Italy: The Dolomites

Italy

The Dolomites

overview

 

With distinctive limestone spires, wind-etched cliffs, and lush, green valleys, the Dolomite Mountains are a naturalist’s dream. But don’t miss out on the region’s cultural treasures: from the cathedral and cloisters of Bressanone, the cobbled lanes and moun­tainside vineyards of its Tyrolean hamlets, to the Abbey of Novacella—a frescoed Baroque jewel beside the Isarco River—the Dolomites offer a fascinating window into the vibrant Ladin culture flourishing in the foothills of the Alps. Walkers will love the lush valleys, quaint cabins, and wildflower-dizzy meadows of natural parks like Puez-Odle and Fanes-Senes-Braies. Stroll from the Alpine basin of Prato Piazza to chic resort town Cortina d’Ampezzo, the “Pearl of the Dolomites.” In the evenings, relax with a glass of vin santo and savor the rosy light of the enrosadira—the gorgeous sunsets that paint the white limestone summits each day. Stay in exquisite chalet-style hotels, savoring the effortless blend of rustic mountain charm and modern amenities.

 

Activity Level
Moderate to
challenging;
5-7 hours daily
Meet
Bressanone/Brixen, Italy
Depart
Bressanone/Brixen, Italy
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
View All

From our blog

Guided Walking 
7 days, 6 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 8 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals except for 1 dinner; local wine included
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Transportation from the meeting to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff
per person double occupancy
Solo surcharge + $0
 

2014 Single supplement + $495
2015 Single supplement + $510
Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION
Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION

gallery

Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Bressanone
View on map
2
San Vigilio di Marebbe
View on map
3
San Vigilio di Marebbe
View on map
4
Cortina d’Ampezzo
View on map
5
Cortina d’Ampezzo
View on map
6
Cortina d’Ampezzo
View on map
7
Cortina d’Ampezzo
View on map
Day 1

Bressanone

Arrival. Mount Plose; 4 miles, easy to moderate

The tour begins in the charming medieval town of Bressanone (as it is known in Italian; in German, it’s Brixen) located just 28 miles south of the Brenner Pass, the border between Italy and Austria. Bressanone is located in the South Tyrol, the part of Italy encompassing the Trentino and Alto Adige regions, a bilingual region that belonged to Austria until 1918. In fact, German is spoken more than Italian by the inhabitants. This “Ancient Bishop’s City” is nestled between two rivers and enveloped by mountains sloping down to vineyards and lush orchards, with a pleasant center of narrow cobblestone streets, pastel-colored houses, and lovely buildings and bridges.

Following a brief orientation at your centrally located meeting point and first night’s hotel, you set out for an afternoon walk at the neighboring ski area, Mount Plose. A scenic 10-minute gondola ride high above Bressanone and the Isarco Valley brings you to the start of your loop walk at an altitude of 6,700 feet. You follow a well-maintained panoramic trail with spectacular views over the Odle peaks, site of tomorrow’s walk, before a return gondola ride to the base of the mountain.

This evening, you stroll to a nearby restaurant for an aperitivo of local Alto Adige wines and cured ham (speck) and cheeses, before sitting down to a dinner of outstanding South Tyrolean cuisine. A first course may be handmade spinach-filled ravioli followed by a main course or secondo piatto of river trout, local game, or lamb, and you toast the start of your adventure with a crisp local white wine. Dessert may be your first taste of the region’s delectable apple strudel.

Hotel Goldener Adler

The historical, family-run Goldener Adler is located among the cobblestoned streets of Bressanone’s historical center, just steps away from the town’s Baroque cathedral. This four-star property offers well-appointed riverview rooms, an elegant bar and restaurant, charming outdoor courtyard, as well as a spa and wellness center with sauna, steam bath, and massage facilities.

Day 2

San Vigilio di Marebbe

Parco Naturale Puez-Odle (Puez-Odle Natural Park): Sass de Pütia Circuit; 9 miles, moderate with a one-hour challenging uphill section, elevation gain and loss of 1,150 ft. (Total walking time: 6.5 hours & lunch)

You awaken to a generous breakfast buffet in your hotel’s warm, wood-beamed dining room—eggs to order, cheeses, speck, and an assortment of Alto Adige yogurts, cereals, juices, pastries, fruit, and, of course, cappuccino! Check out and board your private coach for a one-hour drive through the Funes Valley—the Dolomites’ northwest boundary—and on to the Passo delle Erbe, roughly “the Grassy Pass,” where you can see the extraordinary peaks of the Odle that resemble a castle’s battlements.

Today’s route is the Sass de Pütia loop, which starts out on a wide gravel path bordered with heather and bilberry, and ascends gently past summer hay huts and the local Ladin people’s small summer mountain cabins called baita. This ancient culture of a small minority population living in the Dolomites and speaking the Ladin language developed in the isolated mountain valleys from the time of the Roman Empire.

In the summer, Ladini families climb to their summer cabins to relax, picnic, hay, and carve wood, and, at many of the cabins, refreshments or snacks are offered to hikers. Continuing through meadows, the trail narrows, skirting a mountain, and at this point, you encounter the day’s greatest challenge—a 650-foot ascent of about an hour. Switchbacks make their way steeply up the hill, through large boulders, a trickling stream, and Rhaetian poppies, with steps and timber traverses at the final push. The view from the top of the saddle, Pütia Fork, at about 7,700 feet, is well worth the effort—rolling pastureland thick with yellow buttercups, gentians, and pink mountain thrift, and views of the upper Badia Valley, the Fanes Range, and the Sella Group.

Rounding Pütia Mountain, the route then joins the famous Alta Via 2 (the second of a network of eight long-distance footpaths through the Dolomites, called Alte Vie, meaning “high paths”). These trails are weeklong routes and are served by numerous rifugi (“refuge huts”). The next mile or so is on a beautiful level trail between green pastures and grazing cows, with views of the Sella group and the Odle, and soon your lunch spot comes into view—the welcoming Rifugio Genova at 7,566 feet. Stunning views accompany a lunch of homemade mountain fare, such as polenta with cheese, homemade noodles with mushrooms, and a local Forst beer. After lunch, you continue on a farm track, through sloping pasture that is home to marmots and abundant wildflowers; raptors soar above the mountain passes. With views below to the village of Antermoia, you enter a shaded forest trail where black grouse may be flushed out. After a farmhouse refreshment stop, the trail loops back to the starting point at the Passo delle Erbe.

A short transfer takes you on to your home for the next two nights in the idyllic mountain village of San Vigilio di Marebbe, where you are welcomed by the family that has been running their Art Nouveau hotel for generations. Surrounded by a crown of mountains, the hotel’s garden is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail and experience the enrosadira, the Ladin word for the pink sunset glow illuminating the peaks as the sun’s last rays strike the white dolomitic limestone. You proceed to the hotel’s dining room for the chef’s fare of locally raised meat, fresh vegetables, and herbs picked from the garden.

Hotel Monte Sella

An intimate, Art Nouveau, turn-of-the-century Tyrolean hotel nestled in a small mountain village. Run by the same family for generations, this welcoming, four-star property boasts inviting guest rooms, as well as an indoor pool and Ayurvedic spa and wellness center offering an array of treatments, massages, and sauna facilities.

Day 3

San Vigilio di Marebbe

Parco Naturale Fanes-Senes-Braies: Pederü to Capanna Alpina; 5- or 8-mile options, moderate to challenging, elevation gain of 2,047 ft. (or 367 ft. if choosing 5-mile option) and loss of 1,483 ft. (Total walking time: 5.5 hours for the complete walk & lunch)

A sumptuous breakfast buffet fuels you for today’s walk in the Fanes-Senes-Braies Park. That being said, instead of starting off with a long, but gradual ascent, a very convenient option would allow you to take a jeep ride to meet the group at lunchtime, and then enjoy the afternoon’s 5-mile walk. For those who choose the morning option, a short drive brings you to the eastern end of the Val Badia and the glacially carved Pederü Valley. From the Rifugio Pederü at 5,079 feet, a long, wide mountain road over gradual switchbacks climbs for 2½ hours (elevation gain of 1,680 feet), larch trees lining the way.

After passing a rocky gorge, you emerge onto the level Fanes Pasture. After passing green pastureland, yellow wolfsbane, rushing rivers, and grazing cows, you encounter the family-run Rifugio Fanes, a backcountry lodge of wood and stone with a huge deck overlooking the natural bowl of the Sasso della Croce and the Cunturines groups of mountains. The unique stratified rock layers and solitary pines in the horizon are known as the “Marmots’ Parliament,” part of the rich Ladini folklore of stories and legends about these mountains. A “Radler”—a refreshing mix of beer and lemonade—may hit the spot to accompany lunch, a hearty bowl of pasta, soup, or polenta.

After lunch, a 15-minute ascent (367 feet) of gradual switchbacks through a carpet of junipers brings you to Limo Pass (at 7,126 feet, the highest point of the day’s walk). The trail then levels out at azure Lake Limo, gently undulating into a wide natural amphitheater, as you enjoy the Fanes high plateau with its typical karstic limestone landscape of wind-carved rock formations, caves, fissures, underground streams, and small lakes. A growing population of fox, deer, chamois, mountain goats, and eagles thrive under the park’s protection. After a final stunning view at the Forcella Col de Locia, a steep and narrow descent of steps brings you to the Capanna Alpina (5,643 feet), where you are rewarded with a refreshing drink or snack. A short drive brings you back to San Vigilio di Marebbe, where there is time to relax, stroll through town, or schedule an Ayurvedic massage at the hotel, before gathering for dinner in the hotel’s dining room.

Hotel Monte Sella

An intimate, Art Nouveau, turn-of-the-century Tyrolean hotel nestled in a small mountain village. Run by the same family for generations, this welcoming, four-star property boasts inviting guest rooms, as well as an indoor pool and Ayurvedic spa and wellness center offering an array of treatments, massages, and sauna facilities.

Day 4

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Prato Piazza to Strudelkopf to Prato Piazza; 6.5 miles, moderate, elevation gain and loss of 985 ft. (Total walking time: 3 hours & lunch)

Departing San Vigilio after breakfast, you head east for the approximately 45-minute drive through the Pusteria Valley, toward Cortina, your home for the next three nights. Today’s walk takes place en route, in the area of Prato Piazza—a picturesque Alpine basin that is home to dairy cows, pine forests, and timber chalets. Set 6,561 feet above sea level, the beautiful Prato Piazza is integrated into the Fanes-Senes-Braies Natural Park and offers splendid views of some of the Dolomites’ most imposing peaks: Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Tofane, Monte Cristallo, and the majestic deep red Croda Rossa. Following an initial gentle ascent of two hours, you reach the peak of Strudelkopf. Sitting at 7,569 feet, the summit offers astonishing views onto the Sesto Dolomites. Following a 30-minute descent, you arrive at the small, old-style Rifugio Vallandro for lunch. Bordered by the ruins of a World War I Austrian fort, the rifugio boasts great views of the Croda Rossa (west) and Cristallo (south).

After lunch, an easy 35-minute descent returns you to Prato Piazza and your waiting bus for the 30-minute drive to Cortina. Cortina d’Ampezzo, known as the “Pearl of the Dolomites,” is perhaps Italy’s most beautiful—and stylish—ski resort town. Set in a valley ringed by 9,000-foot peaks, it is appreciated for its miles of ski runs as well as its bustling center full of chic cafés and shops. Your historical hotel is perfectly situated in the heart of the pedestrian zone for strolling around the town. After settling into your room, you regroup for dinner at a favorite local restaurant.

Hotel de la Poste

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Established in 1835, this large, family-run Alpine chalet boasts an ideal location in the heart of Cortina. Steeped in tradition, the “Posta” offers charming guest rooms, old-fashioned sitting rooms, a grand dining room, and a celebrated bar and terrace.

Day 5

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Sesto Dolomites: Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit; 6 miles, easy to moderate, 525-ft. elevation gain and loss with one steep/challenging 15-minute 280-ft. elevation gain. (Total walking time: 4 hours)

This morning, a 45-minute drive takes you to the start of the day’s walk, a circuit around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, in the Sesto Dolomites Natural Park. The distinctive three peaks are one of the Dolomites’ best-known landmarks; prized by rock climbers for their sheer rock faces, appreciated for their amazing pastel and vibrant red hues at sunset, and historically the site of some of the most intense mountain warfare of World War I. In fact, the range constituted the border between Hapsburg Austria and Italy up until 1918. Today’s loop walk provides views at all angles, beginning with a drive up the beautiful Tre Cime Panoramic Road to the Rifugio Auronzo at 7,644 feet.

After a fortifying cappuccino, you set off along a wide trail, a former military track, just beneath the peaks. After visiting a chapel commemorating the First World War, you veer north, passing the Rifugio Lavaredo. Soon, breathtaking views of the Tre Cime open up, and you may spot rock climbers at seemingly impossible heights on the rock face. After dipping below the Mount Paterno ridge, which is still riddled with wartime tunnels, a level traverse across a scree slope brings you to the Rifugio Locatelli.

After a short break, the route initially descends a series of switchbacks, then traverses an undulating basin called the Pian da Rin, a grassy wildflower-filled meadow where you may hear whistling marmots. This tranquil trail offers spectacular views of the Tre Cime, surrounded by a mountain quiet only interrupted by the dull clanging of cowbells. A steep but short ascent of 280 steps, probably the day’s most challenging section, is soon over and followed by a flat stretch to a mountain dairy hut, where you may be able to taste incredibly fresh homemade yogurt or cheese. You then round the south side of the Tre Cime at the Col di Mezzo pass, and close the loop back at the starting point, the Rifugio Auronzo. A short drive delivers you to a traditional restaurant for a satisfying lunch—perhaps homemade canederli (bread balls with cheese) or a plate of patate all’ampezzana (pan-cooked potatoes and onions flavored with local speck ham).

This evening you are free to explore Cortina on your own, perhaps browsing its enticing shops, before enjoying a people-watching aperitivo on the terrace of the Hotel de la Poste, and then venturing out to discover one of the town’s many fine restaurants.

Hotel de la Poste

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Established in 1835, this large, family-run Alpine chalet boasts an ideal location in the heart of Cortina. Steeped in tradition, the “Posta” offers charming guest rooms, old-fashioned sitting rooms, a grand dining room, and a celebrated bar and terrace.

Day 6

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti Ampezzane: Val Travenanzes; 9-10 miles, moderate, with an easy-to-moderate elevation loss of 4,265 ft. over 5 hours. (Total walking time: 5 hours & lunch)

Today’s walk is considered to be one of the finest routes in the Dolomites for its variety of scenery—high peaks, remote wild areas, and significant evidence of World War I warfare. After breakfast at your hotel, you board the coach for the 30-minute drive to the Falzarego Pass to catch a cable car to the 9,000-foot summit of Mount Piccolo Lagazuoi. The walk starts at the summit’s family-run Rifugio Lagazuoi, which is the highest refuge in the area, reachable only on foot or by cable car. On its terrace, you’re on top of the world, with 360-degree views overlooking the Dolomites’ impressive peaks, such as the Marmolada, the Croda da Lago, and the Cinque Torri. The mountain you’re standing on has thousands of feet of tunneling, a result of the fierce fighting between Austrians and Italians during World War I to control the peak and surrounding territory. Other wartime remnants are still ubiquitous, such as barbed wire, shell fragments, and building rubble. You initially pass these tunnels, trenches, and caves, near massive anti-avalanche fortifications, then gradually descend the Val Travenanzes, with the majestic Tofane di Rozes rising straight above the rubble and debris. Here, far from the more frequented trails of the Dolomites, you may be lucky enough to spot sure-footed chamois on the rocky slopes. The path dips into a larch forest, passing streams, waterfalls, and an abandoned shepherd’s hut, surrounded by pink alpenrose.

Farther along, the trail traverses an expanse of white gravel, crisscrossed by streams that may need to be forded, depending on the water level. Among the dramatic scenery of mountainside, rock faces, and waterfalls, a picnic spot is found to enjoy a spread of thinly sliced speck from Cortina, fresh creamy Pusteria Valley cheese, fruit, and other treats. Fueled for the final leg, you descend the valley into a canyon, with a torrent churning below and the Croda Rossa’s distinctive silhouette coming into view. Soon the path enters a shady pine needle-covered trail, crosses the Ponte Alto—a high bridge over a deep ravine—and concludes at a cool stream where you can reward your feet with a soak before being picked up by jeep for the return drive to Cortina.

This afternoon you have time to relax, pack, and do any last-minute shopping before gathering for your farewell dinner on the outskirts of town. You are welcomed with a glass of sparkling Prosecco on the deck of the warm chalet restaurant on a small lake at the base of the Croda da Lago peak. In this intimate locale, the first course, or primo piatto, may be the Cortina specialty of handmade, crescent-shaped ravioli stuffed with tender red beets and topped with melted butter, poppy seeds, and a generous dusting of parmesan cheese. Tonight’s main course may be fresh lake trout, grilled to perfection, as you toast your discovery of the beauty of the Dolomites.

Hotel de la Poste

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Established in 1835, this large, family-run Alpine chalet boasts an ideal location in the heart of Cortina. Steeped in tradition, the “Posta” offers charming guest rooms, old-fashioned sitting rooms, a grand dining room, and a celebrated bar and terrace.

Day 7

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Departure from Bressanone

Departing shortly after breakfast, a scenic two-hour drive returns you to the tour’s starting point of Bressanone, where you can conveniently make rail connections throughout Europe, south to Verona, Venice, or Milan, or north to Innsbruck, Munich, and beyond.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guides

Claudia Piombi-Barnabé

Claudia infuses the Dolomites tour with her passion for mountains and professional expertise in geology. A formal mountaineering guide of the Italian Alpine Club (CAI), Claudia brings a high level of precision and safety to all her tours. Her knowledge and love of the mountains is matched only by her appreciation of the region’s food, and she is thrilled to introduce both guests, and her young daughter, to the trails and Alpine lodges of the Dolomites.

Alessandro Gullo

Alex is a native of Italy with Sicilian ancestry. Educated in the U.S. as well as Italy, he is a certified guide of historic monuments in Umbria. He combines his charming personality with a vast knowledge of culture, art, history, food, and wine on many of our vacations in Italy.

Angelica Turi

Angelica has been working in the field of art restoration in her hometown of Florence for many years, specializing in paintings on canvas and icons. She is equally comfortable in the Tuscan countryside where her family has been producing wine and olive oil since the mid-19th century. An outdoor enthusiast, Angelica has a deep appreciation of the fine food and wine of Italy, which she gracefully shares on many of our Italian tours.

Guest Comments

A. Goresh, Massachusetts, June 2013

Breathtaking views, challenging hikes and great food. The guides were terrific, very knowledgeable and inspired confidence on the challenging sections.

M. Farley, Massachusetts, June 2013

Although the design of a tour is very important, the crucial factor in making the trip a memorable experience is the guides. Our guides were outstanding. They were very personable and knowledgeable, and clearly intimately familiar with the routes, towns, hotels, restaurants and culture. They very nimbly worked around some adverse weather. The overall experience was one that we couldn't ever duplicate on our own. We are highly satisfied.

F. Blood, Florida, September 2012

Could not have been better.  All the staff, the guides Claudia and Angelica were wonderful, as were the drivers Alex and Fabrezio.  Claudia in particular did a fantastic job.  As an example, on the last day, I brought a map of the Dolomites to Claudia to mark our hikes, but she had already marked maps for every person!  The four of them worked well together.

R. Landgraff, Michigan, September 2012

The Dolomites trip was outstanding—our guides, Claudia and Angelica, were sooooooooooooooooooooooo great as well as the guide/driver Alex and driver Fabrizio.

G. Warren, Washington, September 2011

Great hiking, excellent food, wonderful guides. Best trip yet to Italy!

M. Jelinek, Virginia, September 2011

This was a fabulous adventure: the Dolomites are an awesome, almost other-worldly landscape, and, day after day, I found myself looking back in amazement: “”Hey! We just went up that, and down THAT!” To be able to get so high and close―sight-lines down into distant valleys, over to other mountains, and sometimes across to little villages―and all on foot: tremendous! The tour, the people on the tour, the guides and the scenery, the scenery, the scenery! CW vacations are the best—I returned to find myself rested, energized, stronger and more enthusiastic, even more so this time. Rock on, CW!

N. Lavori, New York, September 2011

This was the most arduous and rewarding CW trip we have taken. Guides were outstanding.

J. Lowenberg, Texas, September 2011

Another wonderful CW vacation: challenging, but rewarding hikes in spectacular scenery. Delicious and authentic cuisine; spacious, clean, and well-appointed accommodations; warm, knowledgeable, and caring guides; fun and interesting fellow travelers!

Experience More

Select Experience Tour, Italy: Venice

Italy: Venice

Stay in Venice—a city beloved for its romantic maze of walkways, canals, campos (squares), and majestic palaces—and you’ll be enchanted... Departure Dates: This tour is available on request.
Guided Walking Tour, Austria and Germany

Austria & Germany: Bavaria & the Tyrol

Brisk mountain air refreshes as you walk the scenic Alpine paths through rolling valleys and picturesque hamlets... Scheduled Group Departures: September 7, 2014, June 21, 2015, July 5, 2015, September 6, 2015
Guided Walking Tour, Italy: The Lakes

Italy: The Lakes

The contrasts of Italy’s incredibly beautiful lake country are a vision you will long remember... Scheduled Group Departures: June 15, 2014, August 31, 2014, September 14, 2014, September 28, 2014, May 17, 2015, June 14, 2015, August 30, 2015, September 13, 2015, September 27, 2015
PDF Download Capture: