Alta Via 1: Map, Difficulty, and Route on the Italian Dolomites

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Alta Via 1: Map, Difficulty, and Route on the Italian Dolomites
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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.

At Bookatrekking.com, we not only book your huts, we also send you on your way with a comprehensive hiking guide with the most important information for your Alta Via 1, including interactive Komoot maps. Browse all our options here and turn your dreams into reality.

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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.

Where Is the Alta Via 1?

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.

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.

When Is the Best Season to Hike the Dolomites Alta Via 1?

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:

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.

Where Does the Alta Via 1 Start and How Do I Get There?

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!

Accommodation on the Alta Via 1 - Is Camping Allowed?

What Does a Typical Alta via 1 Itinerary Look Like?

Day
1

Lago di Braies - Rifugio Pederü

Duration: 06:00 h
Distance: 14.3 km
Ascent: 920 m
Descent: 830 m
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.

Rifugio Pederü

Info
Rifugio Pederü
Day
2

Rifugio Pederü - Rifugio Lagazuoi

Duration: 07:45 h
Distance: 17.5 km
Ascent: 1540 m
Descent: 420 m
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.

Rifugio Lagazuoi

Info
Rifugio Lagazuoi
Day
3

Rifugio Lagazuoi - Rifugio Averau

Duration: 04:00 h
Distance: 9.23 km
Ascent: 440 m
Descent: 730 m
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.

Rifugio Averau

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Rifugio Averau
Day
4

Rifugio Averau - Rifugio Passo Staulanza

Duration: 06:15 h
Distance: 15.7 km
Ascent: 420 m
Descent: 1150 m
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.

Rifugio Passo Staulanza

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Rifugio Passo Staulanza
Day
5

Rifugio Passo Staulanza - Rifugio Vazzoler

Duration: 05:25 h
Distance: 16.3 km
Ascent: 900 m
Descent: 970 m
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.

Rifugio Vazzoler

Info
Rifugio Vazzoler
Day
6

Rifugio Vazzoler - Rifugio Carestiato

Duration: 06:30 h
Distance: 14.7 km
Ascent: 940 m
Descent: 1360 m
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.

Rifugio Carestiato

Info
Rifugio Carestiato
Day
7

Rifugio Carestiato - Rifugio Pian di Fontana

Duration: 08:10 h
Distance: 18.9 km
Ascent: 1010 m
Descent: 1180 m
Your day begins by descending to a road pass from where you enter the Dolomiti 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.

Rifugio Pian de Fontana

Info
Rifugio Pian de Fontana
Day
8

Rifugio Pian di Fontana - La Pissa

Duration: 05:05 h
Distance: 11.7 km
Ascent: 250 m
Descent: 1350 m
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.
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Short Alta Via 1 with Cinque Torri (4 days)

Are you short on time or don't have the strength to hike in the Dolomites for more than a week? Don't worry, you don't have to. As Cortina d'Ampezzo is close to some of the most iconic places in the Dolomites, it's also possible to walk a shorter version of the Alta Via 1. Like the full version, this one also starts at Lago di Braies, but ends at the incredibly beautiful Cinque Torri, the epicentre of Dolomite mountaineering. With this itinerary, you will have a slightly easier start, leaving you with more time and energy for the stretch between the Sennes plateau and Lagazuoi. Both Cinque Torri and Lagazuoi have good connections to Cortina d'Ampezzo via cable cars, so you can save time and energy on the last day.

Day
1

Lago di Braies - Rifugio Pederü

Duration: 06:00 h
Distance: 14.3 km
Ascent: 920 m
Descent: 830 m
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.

Rifugio Pederü

Info
Rifugio Pederü
Day
2

Rifugio Pederü - Rifugio Lagazuoi

Duration: 07:45 h
Distance: 17.5 km
Ascent: 1540 m
Descent: 420 m
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.

Rifugio Lagazuoi

Info
Rifugio Lagazuoi
Day
3

Rifugio Lagazuoi - Rifugio Averau

Duration: 04:00 h
Distance: 9.23 km
Ascent: 440 m
Descent: 730 m
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.

Rifugio Averau

Info
Rifugio Averau
Day
4

Rifugio Averau - Cortina d'Ampezzo

Duration: 07:45 h
Distance: 15.5 km
Ascent: 510 m
Descent: 1700 m
The hike back to Cortina d'Ampezzo begins with a reunion of the Cinque Torri. You'll notice that the difference in time of day can give this particular mountain formation a different glow. The next stop is Rifugio Dibona. Here you can break up the hike and take a cable car to Duca d'Aosta and Piè Tofana, for example. There are several options here to take a cable car, but the downhill hike is also fine. Cortina d'Ampezzo is approaching quickly and before you know it, your multi-day hike is at an end.
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Packing List for the Alta Via 1

It doesn't matter where you are going trekking or for how long: Carrying the right equipment with you is paramount. For a hiking trip in the mountains, you will need, first and foremost, a good backpack. Its size will depend on how many days you will be spending in the mountains, the season, and the clothes you will be taking with you. We have prepared a packing list with some essential clothing that you should include and some extras that you may find useful:
  • Essentials

  • Extras

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.

Alta Via 1, Italy: Guided or Self-Guided?

Did you know that we can book all huts and refuges for the Alta Via 1 for you? Check out all our options here.

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.

Trail Markers on the Alta Via 1

Safe hiking tips for the Alta Via 1

When you go on walking holidays it is wise to be aware of a few points. Even if this is not your first time, you should never underestimate the mountains. Good tour planning and compliance with the regulations on the mountains will significantly increase safety. To ensure that your hiking holiday is a safe and enjoyable experience, here below you can find a list of 8 recommendations for safe hiking in the mountains:
  • Know your limits

    Hiking the Alta Via 1 is the perfect outlet to escape from daily life. It is an endurance sport along with a beautiful nature experience with a positive effect on body and mind —as long as one is in good shape and has a realistic picture of one's possibilities and limits—. Never overestimate yourself or underestimate the route. Don't overdo it! Always choose the slower variant and take more time for your plans. Hiking under time pressure is not fun and at too fast a pace it can be dangerous. Be wise!

  • Plan carefully

    Good planning is half the work! Hiking maps, literature, the Internet and expert advice are invaluable when planning the route in the Alta Via 1 and enable you to determine the length, altitude difference, difficulty and conditions of the hike. When planning group treks, the itinerary should always be planned for the weakest member of the group! The weather in the mountains can change incredibly quickly and rain, wind and cold all increase the risk factor. For this reason, always check the weather forecast beforehand and contact our trekking experts to find your way around before you start.

  • Be fully equipped

    Equipment is everything. In the most extreme case, it makes the difference between life and death, and in any case, it definitely makes the difference between having fun and having a bad time. Food and water, sunscreen and waterproof and warm clothes must always be in your backpack, as well as a first aid kit and a mobile phone with a full battery (in case there is an emergency). However, packing light makes walking easier, so don't take too much extra luggage with you. Your equipment should always be suitable for the terrain you'll be hiking on in the Alta Via 1.

  • Wear suitable footwear

    Good walking shoes protect your feet and provide a better fit. Shoes with a good fit, with non-slip soles, water-resistant and lightweight are a must for additional walking pleasure during the Alta Via 1. Trail running shoes are great for a weekend in the mountains, but on longer hikes or more technical trails, you'll want at least A/B hiking boots. That means it is recommended wearing high mountain shoes that are water-repellent with extra ankle support to prevent sprains.

  • Stay on marked trails

    Alta Via 1 has endless marked hiking trails, which are controlled and maintained and should not be deviated from. It may be tempting, but it's not a good idea to take shortcuts or alternative routes through unmarked terrain. It increases the risk of disorientation and you're more likely to get lost and have accidents or fall in the mountains. Even steep slopes of packed old snow are often underestimated and dangerous. Are you in doubt? Better don't do it. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you. FYI, 75% of stumbles occur due to carelessness on marked paths or roads, not in open terrain!

  • Take regular breaks

    Remember you're on a hiking holiday. Timely and regular breaks not only provide welcome relaxation but also make it possible to enjoy the Alta Via 1. The body needs a regular food and drink intake to maintain performance and concentration. Our advice is that if you have little time, it's better to follow the short itinerary than to speed up the long one.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the Alta Via 1.

  • Respect nature

    Leave no rubbish behind, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where Can I Book the Alta Via 1?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Alta Via 1 and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the Alta Via 1 not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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