The Alta Via 1, also known as the Dolomite High Route 1, is one of Italy's most famous trekking trails. The Dolomites are a series of individual, self-contained, pale-colored, limestone rock formations. The Famous Alta Via 1 is the easiest and most popular of the high routes that go through the Dolomites. In this long read, you will find all you need to know for your Alta Via 1 Dolomites adventure, including a map, the difficulty of the route, an itinerary, and the accommodation along the trail. Get ready for hiking in the Dolomites, the Alta Via 1 awaits!
The Dolomites are, since 2009 a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to their sublime, monumental, and colorful landscapes, these mountains feature some of the most stunning mountain landscapes in the World. If you are looking for a true Italian adventure, search no more. The Alta Via1 offers it's trekkers the quiet and majesty of the mountains combined with the Italian warmth and delicious cuisine.
Where is the Alta Via 1?
As mentioned above, the Alta Via 1 is located at the heart of the Dolomites. However, where is this stunning series of mountains? Well, the Dolomites can be found in north-eastern Italy and stretch throughout theprovinces of Belluno,South Tyrol,andTrentino. The name of this group of mountains comes from the French geologist who discovered them in 1791, Deodat de Dolomieu. Most of the peaks of this mountain range go above the 3000 meters and the highest peak is Marmolada Peak, which stands at 3343 meters.
What is the Alta Via 1 difficulty?
Although the Alta Via 1 is indeed the easiest option when it comes to hiking in the Dolomites, this does not mean that the trail is a walk in the park. Most of the trek is quite straightforward and there are no Via Ferratas, glacier crossings, or climbing sections. However, there are some stretches of steep, rocky ground. There are also some narrow and exposed paths, not recommended for trekkers with fear of heights, like the narrow ridge between Passo Duran and Pian de Fontana. The good news is that there are metal cables as handrails in the tougher sections.
Alta Via 1 Map
Are you looking for an Alta Via 1 map? We have prepared a map for you where you can see the Alta Via 1 route and some of the huts along the way:
For the trail, however, you will need a more detailed map. You can purchase the map online in advance or you can get it on paper once you get there. There are plenty of shops where you can get a good and detailed map of the Alta Via 1 in Cortina d'Ampezzo and in Dobbiaco. You can also download the Tabacco Maps app on your phone and download the Alta Via 1 map on your phone for a small sum.
When is the best season to hike the Dolomites Alta Via 1?
The season for the Alta Via 1 trek is from mid-July to mid-September. The short season has to do with the weather conditions that limit the access to the trails. A typical summer day in the Dolomites involves hot sun and clear skies. However, there may be some occasional rain or afternoon storms. However, there is no snow on the trails, which is the most important factor. There may be some light snowfalls during the summer, but the snow doesn't accumulate and is usually gone by the next morning. Make sure you pack waterproof and warm clothing together with your summer trekking shorts.
Alta Via 1 in 2020 and Covid - 19
For the summer of 2020, the Alta Via 1 is a perfect option to avoid having to stay in overcrowded hotels in coastal countries and to socially distance oneself from others. But obviously you still will have to spend the night at huts where you will certainly not be alone. In order to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control, the following must be taken into account.:
- Do not visit the Huts if you have symptoms!
- Huts aren't allowed to work at full capacity, so make sure to book your stay in advance
- Bring your own facemask!
- You must bring your own sleeping bag, liner, and pillow cover
- Bring your own travel towel
Where does the Alta Via 1 start and how do I get there?
The trailhead of the Alta Via 1 is Lago di Braies in northern Italy. The nearest airport is Venice and the easiest way to get from the airport to the starting point of the Alta Via 1 is using public transportation. Once you exit the baggage claim area in Venice take a left and find the ATVO bus ticket line. There you can purchase a one-way ticket on the Cortina Express. The line runs four times per day and the ticket costs 25€ per person. The ride toCortina d'Ampezzo takes about 2 hours.
You can either spend the night at Cortina d'Ampezzo or take the next bus to Dobbiaco and spend the night there, closer to the trailhead. Either way, at some point, you will have to get to Dobbiaco. To get there, take the SAD bus, line 445 (make sure that it has "Dobbiaco" displayed on it). You can get the ticket on the bus for 5€ per person and the ride takes approximately 50 minutes. Once there, you will take line 442 to Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee. This ticket also costs 5€ and the ride takes 27 minutes.
Accommodation at Alta Via 1 - Is camping allowed?
Let's be clear: wild or dispersed camping is not allowed during your Alta Via 1 trek. Trekkers are required to spend the nights at mountain huts, rifugios in Italian. The good thing about spending the night at the huts is that you don't need to carry a tent, cook set, and the food for the 7-10 days. The rifugios vary in size and accommodation options, but they all offer a shower, a good night's sleep, and a half-board including tasty local dishes.
Most rifugios usually offer private rooms as well as shared dormitories. They are not super fancy, don't forget you are in the middle of the mountains, but they are well equipped and offer their guests comfortable beds, a friendly atmosphere, and great Italian food!
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What does a typical Alta VIa 1 Itinerary look like?
The Alta Via 1 is one of the most famous trekking adventures in Italy. It is usually done in 8-10 days depending on your pace. There are several Rifugios along the way here you can choose to spend the night. Here we have prepared an 8-day itinerary for the Alta Via 1 with suggested Rifugios along the way.
Stage 1: Lago di Braies - Rifugio Fanes
Stage one starts at the beautiful Alpine Lake Lago di Braies surrounded by towering peaks and pine forests. It begins with a steady climb to the first pass Forcella Sora Forno. In this section of the trail, you will encounter several steep walls of rock that are surmounted by short, but thrilling zigzag routes aided by cables. At the pass, you enter the Dolomites National Park. The Panorama from the broad, meadowy pass is vast and breathtaking including the northernmost Dolomite Peaks as well as the Marmolada and the Tofane Peaks. From here the Alta Via 1 crosses rolling and undulating meadows with far off views of dolomite spires spread out around you. You will then begin a steep descent into the rocky valley with fascinating orange rock walls, the last portion of the stage involves a final extended uphill stretch that finishes and a beautiful Alpine basin.
Distance: 20 kilometers
Elevation: 1500 meters
The Fanes hut is situated on the alpine pastures of Kleinfanes above San Vigilio in Enneberg. The hut was built in 1928 and can look back on a long tradition. The atmosphere has not changed over the years. Everywhere you will find photographs, memories, stories, and unique objects that remind you of the Ladin origin of the place. The splendid view of the Fanes Dolomites, the rich culinary offer, and the warm hospitality make a day in the Fanes hut an unforgettable experience.
Stage 2: Rifugio Fanes - Rifugio Lagazuoi
On this stage, the real highlights of the trip begin as you enter into the Cortina D'ampezzo Valley, cross one of the most thrilling passes of the entire trip, and reach the trips high point on the summit of Mount Lagazuoi. The stage begins through idyllic meadows, streams and rolling stony pastures and becomes rockier and more captivating. As the day goes on, the route heads towards the pass Forcella Del Lago. From the top of the pass, you are faced with a plunging descent. However, the walk is made slowly and secure by reinforced switchbacks. Ultimately you will be rewarded with stunning views over the picturesque alpine Lago di Lagazuoi. The stage closes with the stiff uphill climb to the summit of Mount Lagazuoi At the top, you reach the busy RefugioLagazuoi featuring one of the best Panorama of the entire Dolomites.
Distance: 12 kilometers
Elevation: 1150 meters
Ugo and Alda decided to leave the quiet village life to build a refuge on the top of Lagazuoi, 2752m, between the spring of 1964 and September 1965. Ever since, their family has run this mountain hut in the heart of the Dolomites.Many things have changed in 50 years but the spirit of Ugo and Alda and their love and respect for nature remain.The refuge offers private rooms and spacious dormitories with bunk beds. All rooms have views of the Dolomites. This family-run traditional Rifugio is the perfect stop during your Alta Via 1 trek!
Stage 3: Rifugio Lagazuoi - Rifugio Nuvolau
This stage takes you to heart of the Cortina Valley at Refugio Nuvolau, perhaps the most beautiful and spectacular spot on the entire trip. Today, the Alta Via 1 drops down into the valley briefly before making the climb to Nuvolau. On the way, you will pass the fascinating and famous Cinque Torri area, a center for rock climbing, and well worth a detour to explore the five-rock towers. You will then begin the steady climb to Nuvolau. Nuvolau is the highlight of the entire route, located on a prominent summit of the Cortina Dolomites with a breathtaking 360-degree Panorama.
Distance: 14 kilometers
Elevation: 900 meters
Standing on the peak of a mountain , Nuvolau hut is famous for the incomparable panorama it offers: a spread 360 degrees views from the Marmolada ski resort to the famous Tofana mountains through Austrian glaciers. No warm water, showers, or other hotel facilities are available (remember that you are on a cliff at 2600 m.) and a little of adventure spirit is required. Nuvolau hut is one of the oldest ones in all Dolomites as it was founded in 1883 and keeps its original aspect in all of its parts. Enjoy a beautiful roseate sunrise from this breathtaking hut!
Stage 4: Rifugio Nuvolau - Rifugio Citta di Fiume
The stage begins with the most technically challenging and exposed part of the entire route, a series of Via Ferrata or cable and Ladder aided stretches to descend from Nuvolau to the valley. This section of the trek is thrilling and vertigo-inducing but short. You will then descend the rest of the way to a road pass at a valley where you begin ascending, once again to the grassy pass of Forcella Ambrizzola. You then head into a beautiful pasture amphitheater backed by the impressive Monte Pelmo, looming up behind it. Here you descend through patches of forest until, all of a sudden, the Monte Pelmo, also known as Throne of the Gods, rears up incredibly close. The rifugio Citta di Fiume is situated right at the base of it.
Distance: 12 kilometers
Elevation: 400 meters
Rifugio Citta di Fiume
This Rifugio is located in an enchanting location. Behind it, you will find the gentle slopes of Col de la Puina, the majestic northern face of Pelmo, Pelmetto, the Civetta, and, far away, the Marmolada glacier. Enjoy a cozy stay at this simple hut, get to know other hikers and enjoy a warm meal at the end of the day!
Stage 5:Rifugio Citta di Fiume - Rifugio Tissi
Today you will make a long and steep climb past the Refugio Coldai where you enter the Realms of Mount Civetta. On the way you will enjoy some of the best viewpoints of the beautiful massive Pelmo towering high above the Valley from Refugio Coldai. Continue to the beautiful Lago Coldai. From here finish the climb up to the Refugio Tissi where you get a beautiful sunset surrounded by the amazing Dolomites.
Distance: 14 kilometers
Elevation: 900 meters
This refuge is dedicated to the memory of the mountaineer and patriot Attilio Tissi, who died in 1959 following an accident on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The hut is situated on the summit of Col Reàn, at an altitude of 2,250 m, in a panoramic position on the north-west face of the Civetta. From the Rifugio you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Alleghe Lake and most of the main mountain groups of the Dolomites: Marmolada, Sella, Col di Lana, Fànes, Lagazuoi, Tofane, Dolomiti Ampezzane, and Pelmo. The refuge is open during Summer and Autumn and offers showers and hot water.
Stage 6: Rifugio Tissi - Rifugio Carestiato
From Tissi you will descend gently through meadows across from the phenomenal Cibetta as you round the southernmost corner of the Cibetta. From here you will begin a steady climb approaching the thrilling pass of Forcella Col del'Orso. After this follows a brief short climb to Forcella del'Camp. You descend and Traverse through large hoods and scree before reaching Rifugio Carestiato.
Distance: 14 kilometers
Elevation: 600 meters
Situated on the panoramic Col dei Pass and at the foot of the southern sector walls of the Moiazza group, this Rifugio is owned by the Agordina section of the Italian Alpine Club. The mountain hut has shared dormitories with bunk beds and will welcome you in the friendly atmosphere of this mountain hut. On cold evenings you can enjoy the warmth of the fantastic duvets available in each room. In the morning you will be welcomed with a hearty homemade breakfast!
Stage 7: Rifugio Carestiato - Rifugio Pian di Fontana
Your day begins by descending to a road pass from where you enter theDolomiti Bellunesi National Park. The Alta Via 1 continues and after a short climb reaches a spectacular lookout just before the Forcella del Moschesin where you take in the Cime di Zita formation before you. From here you begin the ascent to one of the most difficult passes on the whole trip the Forcella di Zita Sud. This is one of the best sections on the whole Alta Via 1. After a final steep ascent, you reach a narrow exposed Rocky Ridge. Here you have several steep exposed sections, which are short but not for the faint-hearted. The pass is the gateway to one of the most beautiful valleys on the Alta Via 1. The Descent is gentle at first but it then steepens down a grassy Hillside before reaching the Rifugio Pian di Fontana.
Distance: 19 kilometers
Elevation: 1090 meters
Rifugio Pian di Fontana
Rifugio Pian de Fontana is located at 1632 m, in the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, in the third of the nine mountain systems that make up the Dolomites. The hut is located at the head of Val dei Ross, on a pasture at the base of the Van de Zità glacial basin. The hut offers shared dormitory accommodation, cold showers (hot showers sometimes available), free wifi, and delicious warm dishes to enjoy at the end of your hike.
Stage 8: Rifugio Pian di Fontana - La Pissa
From Rifugio Pian di Fontana, you quickly drop down before a short but steady wooded ascent to a grassy balcony path, with plunging views down before you. After passing Rifugio Bianchet you enter a dramatic and beautiful Ravine as you make the final descent to the La Pissa Bus Stop, where the Alta Via 1 ends.
Distance: 13 kilometers
Elevation: 120 meters
What to do after the Alta Via 1 ends?
The Alta Via 1 ends at the La Pissa bus stop. The closest city to La Pissa is Belluno. At la Pissa, you can catch a 20-minute bus ride to Belluno and you can buy your ticket on the bus. Once in Belluno, you can get back to Venice by train or bus.
If you, however, want to go back to Cortina d'Ampezzo or Lago di Braies at the end of the trek, then a taxi is more convenient. Taxi Alleghe is a taxi service from Alleghe, a town close to La Pissa, and they offer convenient prices to take you back to the trailhead. Here are some estimated prices:
La Pissa Bus stop - Lago di Braies: EUR 210,- per car
La Pissa Bus stop - Cortina d'Ampezzo: EUR 160,- per car
Bear in mind that prices are per car. The more trekkers that take the taxi, the cheaper it will be.
Packing List for hiking the Dolomites' Alta Via 1
Packing the right clothes and equipment is essential for any trekking adventure. For the Alta Via 1 trek, you must make sure that you carry clothes for warm temperatures during the day, but also for quite chilly nights and mornings. Make sure that you don't overpack. 2 or 3 t-shirts are ok, you can wash them at the Refugio at night and they will be ready to use again the next morning. Here are our packing recommendations for your Alta Via 1 trek:
- Convertible lightweight, quick-drying trousers.
- Lightweight, quick-drying t-shirts
- Good walking socks
- Lightweight fleece layer
- Waterproof jacket
- Thermal jacket
- Cotton leggings and t-shirt to wear in the huts in the evenings.
- Sun hat
- Good quality walking boots
- Flip flops for the huts
- Walking poles
- Sleeping bag and liner
- Travel towel
- Water bottle
- Dry bag
- First aid kit
- Phone charger
- Guide book and maps
Enjoying the peace and quiet of nature is one of the pleasures of trekking in the mountains. However, sometimes we need an extra push to keep going. When you feel like giving up, having the right playlist in your bag can help you to get the motivation necessary to reach the top. Here are our top picks for your Alta Via 1 trek playlist. Don't forget to take your headphones and some extra batteries in your backpack!
Alta Via 1, Italy: Guided or self-guided?
This trek is available guided or self-guided. If you do the trek with a local, professional guide you will have the accommodation and meals arranged for you and you won't have to worry about planning every stage of the route. Most importantly, there is no chance of you getting lost. That being said, the truth is that the trails on the Alta Via 1 are very well marked and signposted. If the weather is clear and you follow the road, the chances of getting lost are very limited.
If you want to go on a self-guided trek, make sure you get all the accommodation booked in advanced and you do some research about the route before. If you want to go on a self-guided trek but you want some assistance with the planning, we can help you out. In bookatrekking.com we offer self-guided Alta Via 1 treks where we take care of arranging the itinerary and accommodation for you. That way, your only concern will be enjoying the views along the way. Find out all our options here.
Marks during the trail
The Alta Via 1 is quite well signposted along the way. There isn't only one mark, signs vary from painted arrows or circles to more dedicated signs, such as a "1" inside a triangle. Although the route is quite clear throughout the trek, it is important to carry a competent navigator with a map and compass. Snow or low clouds can make navigation quite challenging. Under the snow, ground features are hidden and reliance on a map and compass skills are key.
Where can I book my Alta Via 1 trek?
There are several websites where you can book your Alta Via 1 trek. At Bookatrekking.com we try to make a selection of providers who have everything in place, who take good care of the staff and the environment, while still offering competitive prices. Here you can find all our offers for the Alta Via 1 in the Italian Dolomites.
If you have any questions about the Alta Via 1 trek, please contact our trekking experts. They will be happy to help you!
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