In summer 2019, Kati and I hiked the Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites. Holding back our tears, we hiked through rain and snow for the first three days of our trek. We were crushed with disappointment, as we saw absolutely nothing during those initial days.
Fortunately, after the trek, we spent a few days in Alta Badia and were well-positioned to revisit the Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park. So, we decided to hike to Rifugio Fanes and see a huge chunk of what we had missed.
The day hike from Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes/Fanes Hütte is a moderate one. Most people will do an out-and-back hike, starting and ending in Capanna Alpina. This is the easiest option.
We opted for a long linear route. After reaching Rifugio Fanes and Rifugio Lavarella, we continued the hike to the mountain pass Forcella de Medesc (2533 m) and descended all the way down to La Villa in Val Badia.
This was a very long day hike and our knees were aching by the end of it. Only do this variation if you’re comfortable with long descents and you have hiking poles like these Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles. Otherwise, stick to the out-and-back hike.
Capana Alpina -Rifugio Fanes – La Villa Day Hike
- Starting Point: Capanna Alpina, San Cassiano | Google Maps
- Ending Point: La Villa
- Distance: 20 km point-to-point
- Time Needed: 8 hours
- Elevation Gain: 1077 meters
- Elevation Loss: 1381 meters
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Min. Elevation: 1390 meters
- Max. Elevation: 2531 meters
- Where to Stay in San Cassiano: Lagacio Hotel Mountain Residence (luxury aparthotel)
- Where to Stay in La Villa: Ciasa Agreiter (budget), Hotel La Majun (luxury), or Hotel Cristallo – Wellness Mountain Living (luxury)
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Rifugio Fanes Hiking Map
When to Hike to Rifugio Fanes
June to October. It only makes sense to hike here when the mountain huts are open.
The Fanes mountain hut (Rifugio Fanes / Faneshütte / Ücia de Fanes, 2060 m) is open from the start of June to the middle of October.
Ten minutes away from Fanes is another lovely mountain hut called Rifugio Lavarella / Lavarella Hütte (2050 m). Lavarella is open from mid-June until mid-October.
Rifugio Fanes Trailhead
The day hike to Rifugio Fanes begins at Capanna Alpina (1726 m), close to San Cassiano in Alta Badia.
How to get to Capanna Alpina
From La Villa in Alta Badia, we took the bus line 465 in the direction of Passo Falzarego to Sciaré (1.50 EUR one-way).
Bus 465 is operated by SAD. It takes 20 minutes to walk from the bus stop in Sciaré to the Capanna Alpina mountain hut.
If you’re driving to the trailhead, there’s a parking lot directly at Capanna Alpina.
Bring cash, as they don’t accept credit card payments for parking. The rate is 5 EUR/day.
Rifugio Fanes Trail Description
Capanna Alpina to Col de Locia
It takes about 3 hours to hike from Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes.
From Capanna Alpina (1720 m), follow trail 11 to Col de Locia (2069 m). Initially, you’ll cross a bridge over a river.
The ascent to Col de Locia takes about 1 hour. It’s continuously uphill though never too steep.
At Col de Locia, the trail levels and there’s a bench to enjoy the view.
Col de Locia to Malga Gran Fanes Alm and Ütia de Gran Fanes
Continue on trail 11 to Malga Gran Fanes Alm (2105 m).
The hiking path is mostly flat. At the alpine pasture of Malga Gran Fanes, you’ll see cows eating and sunbathing.
You’re now on the Alta Via 1. The trail continues to Ütia de Gran Fanes, a mountain hut with resident donkeys.
The trail marker says 40 minutes to Rifugio Fanes/Fanes Hütte.
Ütia de Gran Fanes to Lec de Limo and Rifugio Fanes
Continue hiking on Trail 11. The trail divides. Opt for the upper left trail (the hiking path).
The lower trail is a cycling path. You’ll pass by the lake Lé de Limo (2159 m). The final stretch is a descent to Fanes mountain hut (2060 m).
Lunch at Rifugio Fanes or Rifugio Lavarella
You can either eat lunch at Rifugio Fanes or continue another 10 minutes to Rifugio Lavarella. There’s no wrong decision.
We stayed the night at the Fanes mountain hut during our Alta Via 1 trek and enjoyed the food very much.
So this time, we opted for Rifugio Lavarella, which happens to also be the highest microbrewery in Europe.
Rifugio Lavarella is surrounded by tiny rustic huts and grazing cattle, making it perhaps the more scenic choice.
Return to Capanna Alpina, or Continue on Trail 12 to Forcella de Medesc
From Lavarella Hütte (2050 m), it’s a 4:30-hour hike to La Villa (Stern).
The trail to the Forcella de Medesc (2533 m) mountain pass begins just above Lavarella Hut.
You’ll ascend along a narrow trail through the forest. The views of Lé Vert and the huts below are enchanting.
After an hour, the trail dips into an expansive and wide karst plateau. You’ll hike across this plateau for another hour to the pass.
Off to the left, you’ll see the small mountain lake Lé Parom.
Forcella de Medesc to La Villa
At the pass between Piz de Medesc (2655 m) and Piz D’Lavarela (3055), a sign indicates 2 hours and 10 minutes to La Villa (Stern).
Here, you’ll descend down scree slopes for a long time (6 km).
The trail eventually reaches the tree line and you’ll continue to hike through a dwarf pine forest. Continue along trail 12 following signs to La Villa/Stern.
As you near the valley floor, you’ll hike by happily situated farmsteads.
Make sure to turn back around to see Fanes in all her glory. To get into the heart of La Villa, you’ll cross a few roads.
We used Maps.me to find our way to Hotel Ciasa Soleil.
Where to stay in Alta Badia
La Villa (Stern) is a small village in Alta Badia between Badia and Corvara. Advantageously situated between the Fanes Group and Puez Group, La Villa is one of the dreamiest places to stay in the Dolomites.
Set further away from Passo Gardena, La Villa enjoys a quieter location than neighboring Corvara and Colfosco. Sunset views here are unforgettable. When we stayed in La Villa, we hiked to Gherdenacia Plateau, Rifugio Fanes, and the Armentara Meadows.
Budget | Pensione Camoscio is a well-run charming hotel with cozy, Tyrolean-style rooms, excellent breakfasts and dinners, and a peaceful setting. Great value for money.
Budget Apartments | Ciasa Agreiter in La Villa is a pet-friendly property with beautiful, well-equipped apartments with stunning mountain views.
Luxury | Hotel La Majun exudes luxury in the shape of gourmet Ladin cuisine (half board available), modern rooms, and an elegant atmosphere.
Luxury | Hotel Cristallo – Wellness Mountain Living enjoys an idyllic setting between La Villa and Corvara. This 4-star-superior hotel pampers guests with its heavenly wellness facilities, high-quality half board offering, and stylish rooms.
Luxury | We loved our stay at Hotel Ciasa Soleil, a beautifully designed boutique hotel that feels fresh and modern. The cuisine is excellent. The wellness area is small but lovely. And, we loved the views of the Fanes mountain group from the dining room, outdoor hot tub, and terrace.
San Cassiano (St. Kassian) is a high-alpine village in Alta Badia between La Villa and Falzarego Pass, the gateway to the Ampezzo Dolomites and Cortina d’Ampezzo. This is an excellent base for exploring the Fanes Group and the Pralongià High Plateau.
From the village, you can walk the Path of the Larches. From Capanna Alpina, you can hike to Rifugio Fanes and Rifugio Lavarella.
Budget | Camping Sass Dlacia is a guesthouse and campground at the entrance of the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park. From the campground, it’s a 15-20 minute walk to Capanna Alpina. They have one of the best pizzerias in the region.
Budget Apartments | Ciasa Milandura offers spacious, clean apartments with fully-equipped kitchens and balconies in San Cassiano. Minimum stay requirement up to 4 days.
Midrange | Hotel Conturines is a very welcoming hotel in the heart of the pedestrian zone of San Cassiano, offering comfortable rooms, high-quality breakfasts and dinners, and a small spa area. Minimum stay requirement up to 6 days.
Top Choice – Luxury Aparthotel | Lagació Hotel Mountain Residence ingeniously blends rustic alpine charm with modern comforts. Guests enjoy spacious apartments with kitchens as well as a wonderful spa area and daily breakfast.
5-star Luxury | Hotel Fanes dazzles with its first-class spa facilities and skypool, phenomenal food, flawless staff, and magical setting. Breakfast, a Marende (afternoon snack buffet), and dinner are included in the rate. Minimum stay requirement up to 6 days.
The town of Corvara is centrally located in Val Badia at the base of Sassongher mountain, between Colfosco and La Villa. It’s the tourist center of Alta Badia and offers the most in terms of shops, restaurants, and accommodations.
Midrange | Ciasa De Munt Lifestyle Living strikes just the right balance between urban and the outdoors, with its clean aesthetic, modern elegant lines and location. Guests have access to top-notch wellness facilities, storage lockers, and a washing machine. A fresh breakfast buffet featuring homemade cakes, cold cuts, and eggs is laid out each morning. Take advantage of the mountainside breakfast offering in their Piz Boé Alpine Lounge (2200 meters).
Midrange | Sporthotel Panorama is a great value hotel with an on-site restaurant and spa, perched above the village of Corvara. Guests love the setting, outstanding food, and friendly staff. The outstanding room rate will have you overlook the slightly dated interiors.
Luxury Family Aparthotel | Movi Family Apart-Hotel offers new and stylish apartments for families. This modern property blends everything we love about a hotel (amenities and breakfast buffet) with everything we love about an apartment (self-sufficiency and space). Extra Perks: kids and family spa area with pool, adults-only spa, summer outdoor playpark, entertainment for kids (ages 3-12, 9:30 am – 9:30 pm).
Luxury | We stayed in Hotel Col Alto, a 4-star hotel facing Sassongher peak in Corvara. We loved the hotel’s extensive wellness and spa area, the half-board experience, and the accommodating staff.
Luxury | Hotel Marmolada is a superb 4-star hotel which delivers an all-around excellent experience: facilities, parking, breakfast, and spa. Half board is available. When booking, pay attention to room categories: many rooms are newly renovated, but not all.
5-star Luxury | Hotel La Perla is a family-run hotel set in an 18th century building with charming alpine interiors, several restaurants, and a spa. Breakfast and dinner, both included in the room rate, are served in the hotel’s Les Stües restaurant. If you’d like to dine in the hotel’s 1-star Michelin restaurant, La Stüa de Michil, it’s necessary to make a reservation in advance.
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Dolomites Trip Planning Essentials
Use our Dolomites Travel Guide to plan an unforgettable trip to Northern Italy.
When to Hike in the Dolomites
The best time to hike in the Dolomites is between mid-June and mid-September. If the weather is stable, the hiking season can extend until late October.
How to Get to the Dolomites
Read How to Get to the Dolomites to find out how to travel to the Dolomites from the closest airports, train stations, and bus terminals.
If you’re traveling without a car, also check out How to Visit the Dolomites Without a Car.
The easiest way to travel between hiking destinations in the Italian Dolomites is with your own car. Check out our itineraries for trip inspiration:
We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
Tip: If you can only drive automatic transmission cars, as opposed to manual transmission cars (stick shift), book your car rental as early as possible.
Best Places to Stay
Figuring out where to stay in the Dolomites is probably the biggest hurdle to planning a trip to the Dolomites. We’ve created three guides to help you decide where to stay:
- Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer: best villages and towns in South Tyrol, Trentino and Belluno
- Best Hotels in the Dolomites: best boutique and luxury hotels in the Dolomites
- Dolomites Accommodation Guide: farm stays, mountain huts, wellness hotels, aparthotels
- Best Val Gardena Hotels: best accommodations in Ortisei, Santa Cristina, and Selva di Val Gardena
We suggest choosing 2-4 bases for your Dolomites trip and spending 2-4 nights in each base.
- Base 1: Val Gardena
- Base 2: Val di Funes
- Base 3: Alta Badia
- Base 4: Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Base 5: Alta Pusteria
- Base 6: San Martino di Castrozza
What to See & Do
During your trip to the Dolomites, you can go via ferrata climbing, culinary hiking, hut to hut hiking, cycling, paragliding, and so much more. We’ve highlighted our favorite experiences in Best Things to Do in the Dolomites.
Wherever you decide to stay, you’ll be surrounded by glorious mountain scenery and incredible natural landmarks.
In Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites, we’ve outlined the most iconic attractions as well as lesser-known destinations across the Dolomites, including Seceda, Alpe di Siusi, Lago di Braies, and Lago di Sorapis.
Dolomites Packing List
- Day Pack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
Outdoor Photography Gear
- Camera Body: Sony Alpha a6400
- Mid-range Zoom Lens: Tamron 17-70mm 2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
- Wide angle Zoom Lens: Sony – E 10-18mm F4 OSS Wide-angle Zoom Lens
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip
Dolomites Hiking Guides
Hiking in the Dolomites is our passion. Year after year, we love discovering new trails and expanding our knowledge of the area. For day hiking, check out Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites. For trekking, take a look at our guide to Hut to Hut Hiking in the Dolomites and Alta Via 1.
For region-specific hiking trails, check out:
- Best Hikes in Val Gardena
- Best Hikes in Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Best Hikes in Alta Badia
- Sexten Dolomites Hiking Guide
- Puez-Odle Nature Park
Recommended Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone Guide: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites