Trekking in South Tyrol: the best hut-to-hut tours

By Sierd van der Bij

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Trekking in South Tyrol: the best hut-to-hut tours
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Hiking in South Tyrol is something special. We love Tyrol, but South Tyrol just offers a bit more. It's like the same cake, but with the cherry on top. We admit, we're making big claims here, but anyone who has come face to face with the Three Peaks or the Marmolada will agree that a hut tour in South Tyrol is a guarantee for adventure and, since we're in Italy, for enjoyment. Welcome to the Dolomites, welcome to South Tyrol. These are our favorite hut hikes!

South Tyrol has more than 16,000 km of marked hiking trails that lead through diverse natural landscapes, including themed paths, multi-day tours, hut hikes, climbing routes, and high-alpine paths. What about the Three Peaks or the Dolomite High Route 1? We know there's much more, but for our trekking experts, these hut hikes are the favorites.

1) The ultimate hut-to-hut tour: Dolomites Alta Via 1

The hut tour in the Dolomites that takes the top spot is the Alta Via 1 or Dolomite High Route 1. What is an Alta Via? Alta Via simply means high route. In the Dolomites, there are many high routes. That's why the most popular six have been given a number. The paths that are part of these routes also have their own number. On the map, it looks like a road network. Very practical because it allows you to plan the most beautiful routes. If you go on High Route 1, you don't need to plan anything else. This route takes you to all the highlights like Puez, Lagazuoi, and Cinque Torre.

High Route 1 starts at Lake Pragser Wildsee, the lake pictured above. Pragser Wildsee is easily accessible from the nearby Cortina d'Ampezzo and Dobiacco (Toblach). From Lake Pragser Wildsee, you can hike to Cinque Torri in four days. Ideal for a shorter hiking vacation. The entire High Route 1 is about 120 kilometers long and ends at a bus stop near Belluno. You've been on the road for about 10 days, and a short bus ride to Belluno marks the end of it. On the complete route, you not only have the highlights in the north and the middle of the route but also get to enjoy the untouched beauty and tranquility of the southern Dolomites. If you want to read more about the Dolomite High Route 1, you can do so in this detailed blog post.

The complete Dolomite High Route 1 or the shorter version? We organize it for you. You can find all our offers here.

1) The ultimate hut-to-hut tour: Dolomites Alta Via 1

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2) Hut-to-hut tour for mountain goats: Dolomites Alta Via 2

Another high-altitude trail? Yes, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are several high-altitude trails in the Dolomites. The Alta Via 2 is number 2, but in terms of beauty, it could just as well have been number 1. It's the somewhat tougher sibling of number 1. Think of via ferratas, steep ascents and descents, and a high adrenaline level. On this extraordinary route, you'll hike from north to south. The route starts in Brixen, also known as Bressanone, and ends in Croce d'Aune. Are you curious about how it looks? Hans Nijenhuis, a Dutch journalist, was there and made the following video about it:

3) One-day hut hike in South Tyrol: Three Peaks

One can turn it into a proper hut tour, but it's not mandatory. The Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks) are so famous that they must not be missing from this list. We can't go around them, but you can! Yes, you can hike around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The circumnavigation of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo can be done in just 4 hours, but you can also turn it into a longer day tour and include legendary huts like the Laveredo Hut and the Tre Cime Hut.

The Tre Cime di Lavaredo are located not far from Toblach/Dobiacco and thus very close to Cortina d'Ampezzo and Lake Prags. If you're looking for more action for your Dolomite High Route 1 vacation, you should definitely include the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Want to know more? Our trekking experts are happy to help.

3) One-day hut hike in South Tyrol: Three Peaks

4) Not really South Tyrol, but the Dolomites

We've already mentioned High Route 2, one of the most adventurous high routes in the Dolomites and South Tyrol. In the heart of this route, you'll find another gem of a hiking trail. Although it's in the province of Trentino and not quite in South Tyrol, we're still including it here. That's the Palaronda Trek, one of the coolest short hikes you can do in the Dolomites. The classic version, also known as Palaronda Soft Trek, is 4 days long, covers about 35 kilometers, and involves almost 3,000 meters of elevation gain. Sounds like the life of an ibex, but you can do it too. Your daily hiking time is not much longer than a maximum of 5 hours, so you have plenty of time in the huts to rest your legs, refuel, and recharge.

Another great trail, a bit further south and definitely not in South Tyrol, is the Alta Via del Granito. The Alta Via del Granito (Granite High Route) is a three- or four-day circular hike through the unique granite area of the Cima d'Asta - Cime di Rava group in the northern Italian Lagorai chain, which geographically still belongs to the Dolomites. The high route follows a network of old paths and former military roads dating back to World War I, connecting the group's two few shelters. Three days of pleasant hiking amidst magnificent natural landscapes, stark memories of World War I, mountain huts and alpine pastures, strong evidence of the old pact between humans and nature. In short, the Alta Via del Granito is quite spectacular.

Find all our offers for Italy, South Tyrol, or Trentino right here.

4) Not really South Tyrol, but the Dolomites

How do I get to South Tyrol?

The Dolomites span across South Tyrol. It's not a huge area, but it can take some time to get from A to B because travel times in the valley are long. However, getting there is not that difficult. The Dolomites have a well-developed public transportation network, and by car, it takes about 7 hours to reach the heart of the Dolomites, Brixen, from Frankfurt. The journey to the most beautiful areas around Brixen/Bressanone and Cortina d'Ampezzo depends on the route you choose. For simplicity, we've divided them into High Route 1 and 2, our favorite options in the Dolomites. Traveling by train or bus is challenging. If you're not driving, the easiest way is to fly to Venice or Innsbruck in Austria.

Dolomites High Route 1 and Tre Cime: Cortina d'Ampezzo

The start of Dolomites High Route 1 is at Lake Prags in northern Italy. The best place to begin is the town of Cortina d'Ampezzo. It's easily accessible from Venice, has an excellent connection to Lake Prags via Dobbiaco and Toblach, and you can easily return here after the hike.

Dolomites High Route 2: Brixen/Bressanone

Dolomites High Route 2 begins just outside of Brixen. So, you don't have to take a bus from Brixen to a starting point. Brixen is on the A22, the main Alpine route in this region, making it easily accessible by car.

Sometimes, it's easier to arrange a taxi for your transportation in the Dolomites. When you book an offer at Bookatrekking.com, we're happy to help with that. Find all our options for Alta Via 1 and 2 here!

The Dolomites and South Tyrol, the other Italy

Yes, you're in Italy, but you might as well be in Austria. Don't shout it from the rooftops because the residents of South Tyrol, and therefore the Dolomites, primarily consider themselves Tyroleans. In German and Ladin, it's South Tyrol, in Italian, it's Alto Adige, informally just Sudtirolo. The region is trilingual. The majority has German as their first language, a quarter has Italian as their mother tongue, and a small minority speaks (still) Ladin. This is a very ancient Rhaeto-Romanic language that you won't easily understand.

Don't speak Italian? No worries, if you speak German, you'll quickly make friends in the Dolomites. All signs are in both German and Italian, dishes often have a German name, and the common room in the huts is simply called "Stube."

The Dolomites and South Tyrol, the other Italy

South Tyrol and the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The impressive formations were created when the African and European plates collided 30 million years ago, giving rise to the Alps. If you've ever hiked in the Dolomites, you understand well why this area was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2009. The Dolomites are divided into 9 subregions, and the entire area spans the provinces of Udine, Perdenone, Belluno, Trento, and Bozen. In the latter four subregions are our favorites, the Alta Via 1 and 2.

South Tyrol and the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

What is the best time of year for a hut hike in South Tyrol?

The season for a hut-to-hut tour in the Dolomites is from mid-June to mid-September. The relatively short season is due to weather conditions that restrict access to the hiking trails. A typical summer day in the Dolomites is characterized by bright sunshine and a clear sky. However, there may occasionally be a rain shower or thunderstorm in the afternoon. Nevertheless, there is no snow on the trails, making accessibility most challenging outside the season. In summer, there may be light snowfall, but the snow does not accumulate and is usually gone by the next morning. Make sure to bring waterproof and warm clothing, not just shorts.

Hiking in South Tyrol: What is a via ferrata?

A Via Ferrata is a secured climbing route fixed to rock walls with ropes, ladders, and iron supports. There are several famous Via Ferratas in the world, with the highest one being in Kota Kinabalu! The purpose of the Via Ferrata is to assist hikers on their way up. However, the Via Ferratas on the Alta Via 2 had a different purpose when they were built. During World War I, the Dolomites were the scene of battles between Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces. The Via Ferratas were established in those years to provide faster access to the front line for the troops.

Most trekkers on the Dolomite Alta Via 2 carry a climbing harness and a helmet as a safety precaution. These items are not mandatory, but if it helps you feel more comfortable on the route, they are always recommended. Safety first!

Interested but have questions about Via Ferrata or not sure what you need? Our trekking experts are here to help you!

Hiking in South Tyrol: What is a via ferrata?

Can I camp during my hiking holiday in South Tyrol?

Let's get straight to the point: Wild camping is not allowed on the Dolomite Alta Via 2. Hikers must stay in mountain huts, called "Rifugios" in Italian. The good thing about staying in the huts is that you don't have to bring a tent, cooking equipment, or food for the 13 days. The Rifugios vary in size and accommodation options, but all provide a shower, a good night's sleep, and half-board with delicious local dishes.

At Bookatrekking.com, we have warm connections with the Rifugios and are happy to take the burden of booking off your shoulders. Here you can find all the offers for the Dolomite Alta Via routes.

Can I camp during my hiking holiday in South Tyrol?

Is a solo hut tour in South Tyrol possible?

Yes, it is entirely possible to go on a hut tour individually. Finding accommodation as a single person is often much easier because in the dormitories, there is often a spare bed that you can claim. Individual hiking is widely practiced, even by Italians themselves. In the huts, you often have a brief chat with other hikers, so you don't have to spend your evenings alone.

Our offers in Italy can also be booked for 1 person. Check out all our options here.

Weather on a hut-to-hut tour in South Tyrol

The most important rule for hut tours and hikes in the Alps or other high mountain ranges is that the weather changes much faster in areas above 2,000 meters, and different climatic conditions prevail than at the elevations where we usually travel. When planning a hut tour and mountain hikes, always consider the weather forecasts. Even in midsummer, when the temperature in the valley is above 30 degrees, it can snow in the high mountains. The reason is that the temperature can drop by 5-6 degrees per 1000 meters in elevation. Since cold air can also hold less moisture, it rains or snows more often in the high mountains than in the lowlands. In the high mountains, a thunderstorm can be particularly dangerous; generally, the likelihood of thunderstorms increases in the afternoon, and the weather can change very quickly due to the altitude.

You can recognize a possible thunderstorm by lightning strikes or the formation of small cumulus clouds. A sharp drop in air pressure is also a sure sign of an approaching storm. During a thunderstorm, always avoid the via ferrata and other metal objects. Seek shelter in a cave or under a rock overhang as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, good protection from the sun is important. The tree line in the Alps is at an elevation between 1,800 and 2,200 meters - above this altitude, you are exposed to the burning sun, which is always strong in the high mountains.

Weather on a hut-to-hut tour in South Tyrol

Hiking safely in South Tyrol in Italy

When embarking on a hut tour in the Dolomites, there are a few things to keep in mind. Even if it's not your first time, never underestimate the Dolomites for your hiking holiday to be a safe and enjoyable experience, our trekking experts have the following tips for you.

1. Don't Overdo It: Mountain hiking is the perfect escape from everyday life, but don't overdo it. "Over and underestimations are dangerous. Don't overestimate yourself and don't underestimate the route," says Sierd, also a Kilimanjaro expert at Bookatrekking.com. "Choose the slower option and take more time for your plans. Hiking under time pressure is not pleasant, and a high pace can be dangerous. Don't forget the word 'holiday' in 'hiking holiday'."

2. Plan Carefully: Good planning is half the battle! Hiking maps, literature, the internet, and expert advice are invaluable for tour planning and allow you to determine the length, altitude difference, difficulty, and conditions of your tour. If you plan group hikes, always plan the tour for the weakest member of the group! Weather in the mountains can change incredibly fast, and rain, wind, and cold increase the risk factor. Therefore, always check the weather forecast in advance. Also, reach out to our trekking experts and get informed before you go.

3. Fully Equipped: Equipment is everything. In extreme cases, it makes the difference between life and death, and in all cases, it makes the difference between joy and suffering. Food, rain, cold and sun protection should always be in your backpack, as well as a first aid kit and a mobile phone (European emergency number: 112). However, lighter luggage makes walking easier, so don't bring too much additional luggage. Your equipment should always be suitable for your planned tour.

4. Suitable Shoes: Trail running shoes are good for weekends in the mountains, but for longer tours, you should have at least A/B-class hiking boots. This means high mountain boots that are also waterproof. On the Alta Via 2, for example, a fairly technical trail, your ankles need extra support, and you want to avoid sprains.

5. Stay on Marked Paths: In the Dolomites, there are endless marked hiking trails - these are well-maintained. It may be tempting, but it's not a good idea to cut the path or take alternative routes through unmarked terrain. If you do, you have a good chance of getting lost. Steep slopes with packed old snow are also often underestimated and can be dangerous. In doubt? Then don't do it.

6. Regular Breaks: As mentioned, you're on a hiking holiday. Take time for your walk and rest regularly. Our advice: If you have little time, it's better to take the short arrangement than to speed up the long one.

7. Kids Rule: If you're going on a hut tour with the kids, the kids rule is the motto at Bookatrekking.com. The kids are happy, mom and dad are happy. Listen to them and don't exhaust them. Play a game on the way so they don't ask you every five minutes if you're there yet. Of course, always choose the child-friendly option.

8. Respect Nature: Don't leave any trash behind, avoid noise, stay on marked paths, leave the animals alone, and respect the protected areas.

Hiking safely in South Tyrol in Italy

Where can I book my walking holiday in Italy?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book many treks in Italy. We take care of all the details for you, give you personal trekking advice and give you the best service possible. Find all our offers for Italy 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 a walking holiday in Italy 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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