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!
Last updated in November 2022
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.
Are you looking for an offer for the Alta Via 1? Check out our options here!
Where Is the Alta Via 1?
The Alta Via 1 is located at the heart of the Dolomites. Now, where can we find this stunning mountain range? The Dolomites can be found in north-eastern Italy and stretch throughout the provinces of Belluno, South Tyrol, and Trentino. The name of this group of mountains comes from the French geologist who discovered the dolomite mineral found here in 1791, Deodat de Dolomieu. Most of the peaks of this mountain range go above 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 you can find 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.
Are you looking for an offer for the Alta Via 1? Then check out our options here! When you book the Alta Via 1 on Bookatrekking.com, we provide an interactive route map where navigating becomes a breeze. Here you can find all our packages.
When Is the Best Season to Hike the Dolomites Alta Via 1?
The season for the Alta Via 1 trek is from mid-June to mid-September. The relatively short season is due to weather conditions that limit access to the trails. A typical summer day in the Dolomites is characterized by bright sunshine and clear skies. However, there may be occasional rain showers or afternoon storms. There is no snow on the trails, which is the main limiting factor for off-season accessibility. In the summer, there may be some light snowfall, but the snow does not accumulate and is usually gone by the next morning. Be sure to bring waterproof and warm clothing, not just shorts.
Alta Via 1 and COVID-19
The Alta Via 1 is a perfect option to avoid ending up in crowded hotels or bivouacking on overcrowded beaches. Of course, you will still need to spend the night in huts where you will certainly not be alone. To control the COVID-19 pandemic, consider the following measures:
- 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
The situation regarding COVID-19 is constantly changing. We at Bookatrekking.com are well aware of the situation on the ground. Do you need advice? Do not hesitate and contact our trekking experts via this link, we are happy to help you.
Where Does the Alta Via 1 Start and How Do I Get There?
The trailhead of the Alta Via 1 is in 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 for the Cortina Express. The line runs four times per day and the ticket costs around 25€ per person. The bus ride to Cortina 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 about half an hour.
The Alta Via 1 ends at the La Pissa bus stop. Here you can catch a 20-minute bus ride to Belluno. You can buy your ticket on the bus. Once in Belluno, you can continue your journey by train or bus.
Sometimes it is easier to arrange a taxi for your transportation around your Alta Via 1. If you book a package through Bookatrekking.com we are happy to help you with this. Find all our options for the Alta Via 1 here!
Accommodation on the 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 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 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!
Availability in the rifugios is limited in season and booking your huts is not easy on the Alta Via 1. We at Bookatrekking.com maintain warm contacts with rifugios and are happy to take this burden off your shoulders. Find all deals for the Alta Via 1 here.
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. This version can also be booked through Bookatrekking.com.
Stage 1: Lago di Braies - Rifugio Fanes
The first stage starts at the beautiful Alpine lake Lago di Braies, surrounded by towering mountain peaks and pine forests. It starts with a steady climb to the first pass Forcella Sora Forno. On this part of the route you encounter several steep rock faces which you cross by short but exciting zigzag routes using cables. At the pass you enter the Dolomiti National Park. The Panorama of the wide, expansive pass is vast and breathtaking, including views of the peaks of the northern Dolomites, as well as the peaks of Marmolada and Tofane. You then begin a steep descent into the rocky valley with fascinating orange rock walls, the last part of the stage consists of a final long uphill section.
Distance: 20 kilometers
Elevation: 1500 meters
Rifugio Fanes, the Faneshütte, is located on the alpine meadows of Kleinfanes above San Vigilio in Enneberg. Built in 1928, the hut boasts a long tradition. The atmosphere has not changed over the years. Everywhere you will find photos, memories, stories and unique objects that remind you of the origins of this fantastic place. The beautiful views of the Fanes Dolomites, the rich culinary offerings and the warm hospitality make a day in the Faneshütte an unforgettable experience.
Stage 2: Rifugio Fanes - Rifugio Lagazuoi
On this stage, the real highlights of the trip begin when you reach the Cortina d'Ampezzo Valley, cross one of the most exciting passes of the entire trip and reach the pinnacle of the trip: The summit of Lagazuoi. The stage begins through idyllic meadows, streams and rolling stone pastures and becomes rockier and more exciting. As the day progresses, the trail heads toward the Forcella Del Lago pass. From the top of the pass you are faced with a steep descent. Eventually you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the picturesque Lago di Lagazuoi. You round off the stage with the steep climb to the top of Mount Lagazuoi. At the top you reach the busy Rifugio Lagazuoi with one of the most beautiful panoramas of the entire Dolomites.
Distance: 12 kilometers
Elevation: 1150 meters
Ugo and Alda decided to leave the quiet village life in 1964 to build a rifugio on the summit of Lagazuoi, 2752m. Since then, the same family has run this mountain refuge in the heart of the Dolomites. Much has changed in 50 years, but the spirit of Ugo and Alda and their love and respect for nature remain. The mountain hut 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 Averau
This stage takes you to the heart of the Cortina Valley: Cinque Torri, perhaps the most beautiful and spectacular spot of the entire trip. Today, the Alta Via 1 descends briefly into the valley before making the climb to Nuvolau. Along the way you'll pass the fascinating and famous Cinque Torri area, the center for rock climbing, and well worth a detour to explore the "five-rock towers". You'll spend the night at Rifugio Averau but you'll want to experience the sunset at the adjacent Rifugio Nuvolau, the newly renovated rifugio built on a spire and offering a 360-degree panorama.
Distance: 14 kilometers
Elevation: 900 meters
The sun rising from the peaks between the Cadini of Misurina and the Faloria, illuminating the walls of Dolomia of Mount Averau and the Cinque Torri. Every morning, the birds' singing echoes. The aroma of Margot's freshly ground coffee mingles with the smell of freshly baked cake, and while Sandrone lights the fire and stoves, Matteo prepares to descend into the valley and get the fresh ingredients for the day. Welcome to Rifugio Averau.
Stage 4: Rifugio Averau - Rifugio Passo Staulanza
The stage begins with the most technically challenging and exposed part of the entire route, a series of Via Ferrata or routes with cables and ladders stretches to descend from Nuvolau into the valley. This part of the trail is exciting, but short. Then you descend the rest of the way to a mountain pass near the valley where you begin to climb again, to the pass of Forcella Ambrizzola. As you cross this pass, the impressive Monte Pelmo looms in the background. Here you descend through stretches of forest until Monte Pelmo, also known as the Throne of the Gods, suddenly becomes incredibly close. You walk along Rifugio Città di Fume further to the Staulanza pass where you will find the pleasant Rifugio Passo Staulanza.
Distance: 16,5 kilometers
Elevation: 400 meters
Rifugio Passo Staulanza
Located at the top of the Staulanza mountain pass, this rifugio is a popular stop for hikers on the Alta Via 1. Built in 1968, it is furnished entirely with wood and recalls the old Dolomite tradition with an earthenware stove, fireplace and the typical "stube" (traditionally a room in a farmhouse made entirely of wood, where the stove stood and cooking was done) and can accommodate a total of 50 guests. The excellent restaurant offers a selection of traditional local dishes and desserts - don't miss the pappardelle with wild boar or the apple and pine nut strudel!
Stage 5: Rifugio Passo Staulanza - Rifugio Vazzoler
Today you will make a long steep ascent past Rifugio Coldai where you will enter the surroundings of Monte Civetta. Along the way you will enjoy some of the best views of the magnificent massive Pelmo that towers high above the valley from Refugio Coldai. Continue on to the beautiful Lago Coldai. You can take a break at Rifugio Tissi, a popular rifugio on the Alta Via 1, but the goal for today is Rifugio Vazzoler, on the south side of Punta de Gasperi.
Distance: 15 kilometers
Elevation: 780 meters
Rifugio Vazzoler is a favorite with mountaineers, and the hut is a proud part of the Club Alpino Italiano. The hut is named after Mario Vazzoler, the founder of the CAI section of Conegliano. In 1968, the same CAI section created a botanical garden next to this hut, which is now managed by the Belluno Regional Forest Service. The garden covers an area of about 5,000 square meters where a network of paths runs along with the various flower species that are indicated by signs. And in the hut? Northern Italian delicacies of course. Indulge!
Stage 6: Rifugio Vazzoler - Rifugio Carestiato
From Rifugio Vazzoler you begin a steady climb approaching the exciting pass of Forcella Col de l'Ors. This is followed by a short climb to Forcella del'Camp. Your descent is surrounded by huge rock formations and you slowly but surely approach your goal for today: Rifugio Carestiatio.
Distance: 9 kilometers
Elevation: 610 meters
Located on the panoramic Col dei Pass and at the foot of the southern side of the Moiazza mountain range, you'll find Rifugio Ceratiato, owned by the Club Alpino Italiano. The hut has shared dormitories with bunk beds and is tremendously welcoming. On cold evenings you can enjoy the warmth of the lovely blankets provided in each room. In the morning you are 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
Want to book this route? You can! Find all the information here and book now!
Short Alta Via 1 with Cinque Torri (4 days)
Are you short on time or don't have the legs to hike the Dolomites for more than a week? No problem. Because Cortina d'Ampezzo is close to some of the highlights of the Dolomites, it is also possible to hike a shorter version of the Alta Via 1. This starts like the full version at Lago di Braies but ends at the insanely beautiful Cinque Torri, in English the Five Towers, and the epicenter for mountain sports in the Dolomites. With this program, you have a slightly easier start so you have more time and energy for the stretch between the Sennes plateau and Lagazuoi. Both Cinque Torri and Lagazuoi have a good connection to Cortina d'Ampezzo in the form of cable cars, so you can save both time and your legs on the last day. Check out our program for a 4-day Alta Via 1 here and get the most out of your time in South Tyrol. With a slight adaption this can also work if you're looking for a hut-to-hut hiking trip with kids.
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 (hand)wash them at the rifugio 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
Alta Via 1, Italy: Guided or Self-Guided?
You can do the Alta Via 1 accompanied by a guide or by yourself, it's up to you. If you decide to go with a guide, the person will have accommodation and meals arranged for you and you won't have to worry about planning each stage of the route. Most importantly, there is no chance of getting lost. However, the truth is that the trails of the Alta Via 1 are very well marked and signposted. If the weather is clear and you follow the trail, the chances of getting lost are very low. As for the weather, it can get pretty foggy in the afternoon, so make sure you have a map, a compass (and know how to use it), and a whistle just in case.
On Bookatrekking.com you can find self-guided packages for the Alta Via 1. Here you can find all the options.
Trail Markers on the Alta Via 1
The Alta Via 1 is quite well signposted along the way. There isn't only one mark, signs vary from painted arrows The Alta Via 1 is well signposted along the way. There is not just one waymark sign; the signs range from painted arrows or circles to more specific signs, such as a "1" inside a triangle. Although the route is fairly clear throughout the hike, it is important to have a map and compass with you. Snow or low clouds can make navigation quite challenging. Under the snow, the markers are hidden and it is important to rely on your map and compass skills.
Where Can I Book My Alta Via 1 Trek?
At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Alta Via 1. We arrange the mountain huts for you and make sure you receive all relevant information well in advance. If you have any questions about the Alta Via 1, please contact our trekking experts. They will be happy to help you!
Here you can find all our offers for the Alta Via 1.
Are you looking for an alternative hut-to-hut or hiking tour in Europe? Then check out one of our blog posts below:
- The GR20 in Corsica(France)
- Tour Du Mont Blanc(France, Italy, Switzerland)
- Peter Habeler Runde(Austria)
-Kesch Trek (Switzerland)
- The GR221 in Mallorca (Spain)
- The Camino Francés (Spain)
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