Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Gondola Buildings in Venice-Italy-341468_1920_P

Italy Hiking – Dolomites Grand Traverse

REI Adventures
4.4 . Great
100%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
8 days
From: $ 4,399 $ 550 / day
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Overview

Highlights

  • Hike amid dramatic landscapes of lunar-like terrain, soaring peaks and pinnacles
  • Experience one of the best sections of Italy's Dolomiti di Sesto Nature Park
  • Stay at cozy alpine huts with fabulous mountain views and enjoy delicious apple strudel!
  • Stay in the picture postcard villages of San Candido and Cortina

Short Description

Northeastern Italy’s Dolomites spill over with grandeur. This 8-day hike takes us through some of its finest scenes.

With all trails above tree line, our adventure in the Dolomites is nothing short of breathtaking. Magnificent views of limestone pinnacles, alpine lakes, massive rock towers and green valleys below provide an awe-inspiring spectacle during our journey. Because the Dolomites were the front line between Austria and Italy during World War I, the region is still scattered with abandoned bunkers and fortifications, the history of which will be covered by our local guides.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Venice
End City Dolomites

Destinations

Italy

Cities & Attractions

Dolomites Venice

Activities

Culture History Nature

N/A
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Trip Includes

  • Double-occupancy accommodations in 3- and 4-star hotels with private facilities for 4 nights; Co-ed mountain huts (rifugios) with shared 2- to 12-person rooms and shared, same gender bathrooms for 3 nights; 
  • Meals as noted in the itinerary; 
  • Day 1 group transfer from Venice airport to San Candido; 
  • Land transportation and luggage transfers; gondola rides as noted; 
  • Skilled bi-lingual guides; 
  • Group transfer to Conegliano train station at trip's end.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Meet your trip leader in Venice, Italy, and transfer to San Candido.
Our trip begins in Venice, Italy. Meet the trip leader at 1pm at the Venice Airport. Transfer to our first night’s hotel in San Candido-Innichen, Italy, near the Austrian border. We are in the Upper Pusteria Valley, which belonged to Imperial Austria until 1918, and whose residents consider themselves to be Tyrolese first and foremost. Upon arrival, we’ll have some time on our own to admire this charming town’s Romanesque and Baroque-style churches or simply relax at a café in the village piazza which features the towering Baranci chain of mountains as a dramatic backdrop. We will meet our guides in the hotel lounge for an apéritif and a trip briefing at 7pm, followed by a welcome dinner where we get acquainted with our traveling companions and guides. Overnight in San Candido for two nights. Dinner included.

Transfer: 2.5 hours.

Day 2: Hike around the spectacular massif of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Following breakfast we have a short transfer to Auronzo Rifugio to begin our first day of hiking around the spectacular massif of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The “Three Peaks” are some of the most dramatic formations in the Dolomites due to their extraordinary spike-like shape. We hike beneath their imposing rock faces, noticing subtle color changes as the sun traverses the sky and bathes them in a constantly changing light. The Cima Grande (Big Peak) is the highest (9,836’), followed by Cima Ovest (Western Peak) and Cima Piccola (Small Peak). Lunch is enjoyed at a Tyrolese mountain hut located at 7,300 feet with fantastic views of the fairy tale mountain landscape. A hot bowl of nourishing barley soup is a local favorite, followed by a platter of regional cold cuts and cheeses. We make our way back to Auronzo, passing tunnels and bunkers left over from the battles of World War I. Overnight in San Candido. Breakfast and dinner included.

Transfer: 45 minutes; Hiking: 9.6 miles; 5.5 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails, rock and scree; Elevation gain: 2,940’; Elevation loss: 1,870’.

Please note that hiking distances and elevation gain/loss are estimates for all days.

Day 3: From Lake Braies, hike to our cozy rifugio in Sennes.
Today is the start of our grand traverse. The next three nights will be spent in rifugios along our route allowing us to stay high up in the mountains and truly experience what life in this rugged yet breathtaking region is all about. Our luggage is transferred for us to the rifugio; we carry only our personal daypacks with water and other essentials needed for the day’s hike. A short transfer brings us to the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Natural Park and the beautiful emerald green waters of Lake Braies, surrounded on three sides by Dolomite peaks. We start to climb on a well-defined path past dwarf mountain pines, which we soon leave behind, eventually cresting a high saddle. The view back looks over the ice blue waters of Lake Braies, and ahead to the almost lunar expanses of exposed, weather-beaten slabs of rock that characterize this cauldron-like expanse between the massifs of the Croda del Becco and Croda Rossa. Soon we see a square dot amongst this vast panorama. This is Biella hut, where we stop for a well earned hot lunch. Choose from many options including the local favorite of canederli (delicious dumplings of bread, cheese, and spinach sautéed in butter and sage) and of course strudel for dessert! We continue our hike and reach our cozy rifugio by late afternoon. Our hut is nestled into a high alpine meadow where cows’ bells chime as they meander amongst the mountains. There is time to shower and change before we join our group members in the dining room for a hearty South Tyrolean dinner. Breakfast and dinner included.

Transfer: 30 minutes; Hiking: 8.5 miles; 5-6 hours; Terrain: hard packed dirt trails, rock and scree; Elevation gain: 3450’, Elevation loss: 210’

Day 4: Enjoy the karst landscape of the Fanes Plateau
We have an easy start this morning as the trail follows a broad meadow before descending switchbacks to Pederu hut where we can stop for a welcome coffee and fresh made pastry. Here you will see a collection of baita, or small huts that local shepherds use when bringing their livestock up to the meadows for summertime grazing. The trail dips and climbs amongst alpine clearings and sparse pine woods to the Forcella de Medesc. We enter the Fanes Plateau, which features a karst landscape dotted with stubby green pines that soften the otherwise barren sheets of rock. A small stream meanders through the plateau where horses and cream colored cows graze. It is amongst this gentle yet harsh landscape where we overnight at the Rifugio Lavarella (6725’) or Rifugio Fanes (6725’).

There is an optional two- to three-hour hike in the afternoon to Passo di Sant'Antonio, a grassy saddle offering rewarding views of Monte Antelao, the "King of the Dolomites". At the end of the day we enjoy a hearty meal in the cozy wood-paneled dining room. Choose from a wonderful mix of Austrian, Ladin, and Italian cuisine accompanied by a surprisingly good wine list. Tonight we might try the “cajinci”, also known as “Schlutzkrapfen" in South Tyrol and as "ravioli with ricotta and spinach" in Italy. Breakfast and dinner included.

Hiking: 6.5 miles; 3.5 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails, one section involving a long and steep descent; Elevation gain: 2300’, Elevation loss: 1475’

Optional hike: 5 miles; 2-3 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails, rock and scree; Elevation gain: 1,300’; Elevation loss: 1,300’

Day 5: Hike to Rifugio Lagazuoi—one of the highest huts in the Dolomites.
This morning we pack our daypack with what we need for one overnight. Our luggage will be transported to Cortina where we will arrive tomorrow afternoon. After a hearty breakfast we set off on a beautifully serene hike that features a gentle descent along a wide valley lined by majestic peaks for the first two hours. We take an amazing trail that climbs steeply out of the valley, hugging the broad flanks of Monte Cavallo, before threading its way through spires and then plunging back down to rejoin the principal trail to Lagazuoi. It features a truly impressive series of switchbacks that descend steeply towards Lagacio Lake where we will take a break for a picnic lunch. Following lunch we have our epic climb to Rifugio Laqazuoi, which sits perched on a ledge overlooking the strategic Passo Falzarego. A starkly beautiful mountain landscape is made more dramatic by the visible remnants of the terrible struggle that occurred here between 1915 and 1917. Twisted bits of barb wire, trenches, and bunkers line our route up to Lagazuoi, which at 2,752 meters (9,029’) is one of the highest huts in the Italian Dolomites. Our efforts are rewarded by a truly awesome 360° view of the surrounding mountains and distant green valleys. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.

Hiking: 8.5 miles; 5-6 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails, rock and scree, very steep downhill and one section with slight exposure; Elevation gain: 3500’; Elevation loss: 1230’

Note: In case of challenging weather, we have an alternative route which features Rifugio Scontoni, a fairytale mountain hut that serves up the best strudel in the Dolomites!

Day 6: Hike past World War I remnants, arriving by gondola into Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Early risers won’t want to miss the dramatic sunrise over the mountains to the east. We make our way towards Cortina with the high peaks of the Tofane group to our left and the Cinque Torri (Five Towers) on the far side of the valley. During World War I, the Italians developed a redoubt that overlooked the pass. You will often see remnants of the century-old conflict as you pass the rusting remains of barb wire entanglements. Our trail stays high above the valley, following the rocky sides of the Tofanes massif, before arriving for lunch at Rifugio Pomedes, whose terrace offers one of the most breathtaking views over the Ampezzo Valley. After lunch we take several chair lift and gondola rides to descend into Cortina village, thus saving your knees for another day! Cortina d’Ampezzo is a charming alpine resort town surrounded by the stunning peaks of the Monte Cristallo Group. There is free time this afternoon to explore this bustling town and its shopping, regional museum, open-air cafes and galleries, and enjoy a delicious gelato or a cold frothy beer. Later this evening, join our fellow trip members in the hotel dining room for dinner. Breakfast and dinner included.

Hiking: 5.5 miles; 3.5-4.5 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails with some rocky and exposed sections, scree; Elevation gain: 1900’; Elevation loss: 3780’

Day 7: Hike past jagged peaks and an enchanting alpine lake.
Our last day hike features fabulous panoramic views, a jewel-like alpine lake, and the Dolomites signature spire-like rock formations. We transfer from our hotel to the trailhead, where we have a gradual two-hour climb to reach the Rifugio Croda da Lago for a coffee and strudel break. We pass by the enchanting Lake Federa, whose blue—green waters reflect the surrounding peaks. Continuing our climb, we reach the Ambrizzola crest, revealing unparalleled views of Monte Pelmo and "La Marmolada". The path then crosses a gently rolling alpine plateau until ending at 7,335' Passo Giau, the 2nd highest road pass in the Dolomites. Enjoy a well-deserved beer at the rifugio here before transferring back to Cortina.

For those wanting to experience the famous Via Ferrata or "Iron Way" (weather permitting) we will opt out of the hike and head off with a local alpine guide (supplement applies) to summit Punta Fiames. The Via Ferrata is a network of protected iron ladders and cables that enable hikers to ascend vertical or exposed sections of trail without the need to rock climb.

There is some free time to enjoy Cortina before gathering for dinner at a local family-run restaurant. Toast and celebrate our successful grand traverse with newfound friends. Breakfast and dinner included.

Transfers: 50 minutes; Hiking: 8.7 miles; 6 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails, rock and scree; Elevation gain: 3221'. Optional Via Ferrata Activity: 5 hours; Transfer: 20 minutes.

Day 8: Say farewell to the Dolomites.
Our adventure ends with a private 1.5-hour van transfer to the Conegliano train station. We plan to arrive by 10:30am in time for trains departing at 11am. Take a 1-hour train ride to Venice or make connections to other destinations in Italy. Breakfast included.

Availability

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Price From $ 4,399
Price Per Day: $ 550 per day
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  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 499

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9 REI Adventures Travel Reviews & Ratings

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Value
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4.4
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4.4
Meals
4.4

Italy Hiking – Dolomites Grand Traverse

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I loved this trip. The equipment was in very good condition. The fjords are awe strikingly beautiful. The water is clear and the Norwegian people were incredibly nice and hospitable.

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Great way to see a country with a group

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REI's tour groups are a blast. You're able to see much more of the country than you would if you were on your own. The trips are very organized and you never feel bored or too rushed. There's a wide variety of tours to pick from based on region and activity.
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Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 14

Trip ID#:

ItaDolReiAdv

Trip Excludes

  • Round-trip international airfare; 
  • 5 lunches; 
  • Optional side trips; 
  • Optional taxis; 
  • Excess baggage charges; 
  • Airport taxes; 
  • Insurance of any kind; 
  • Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks or snacks; 
  • Optional guide gratuities; 
  • Via Ferrata option; 
  • Items of a personal nature.

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