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Alta Via 1 Dolomites Hiking Guide

Alta Via 1 Dolomites Hiking Guide

The Alta Via 1 is a long-distance hiking trail in the Italian Dolomites in Northern Italy, starting at Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) in South Tyrol and ending at the La Pissa bus stop near Belluno. This is a very approachable multi-day hike, perfect for people getting acquainted with long-distance trekking and hut to hut hiking. It’s also said to be the easiest of the Alta Vie, Dolomites high routes.

As wild camping is forbidden along the route, you’ll stay in Rifugios (Hütten in German) along the way. These mountain shelters range from rustic to luxurious. No matter where you stay the night, you can expect yummy food, excellent company, and a comfortable place to sleep. Some of our fondest memories of hiking the Alta Via 1 were the conversations and laughs we shared with fellow hikers inside the rifugi.

In this guide, we’ll explain exactly how and when you should book rifugios, what itineraries to consider, how to get to the trailhead, and more. If you still have questions, send us a DM on Instagram, or contact us here

Alta Via 1 Hiking Trail Overview

  • Total Distance: 120 km
  • Days Needed: 8 – 10 days. Shorter routes are possible.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Permit Needed: None
  • Start: Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee), South Tyrol
  • End: La Pissa Bus Stop, a 20-minute bus ride to Belluno.
  • Accommodation: Rifugios (mountain huts).

How difficult is the Alta Via 1 trail?

Easy (Grade 2). We’ve done a fair amount of hut to hut hiking in the Alps, and by comparison, the AV1 is rather easy. Even though the trail wasn’t challenging, we still loved it. The mountain views were spectacular and the route itself is outstanding. Because the traditional stages are on the short-side, experienced thru-hikers may want to combine some of the stages.

While the trail is easy-to-follow, it’s not always obvious. The Alta Via 1 waymark ( “1” inside a triangle) isn’t consistently marked throughout the trekking route. So, I wouldn’t recommend relying on Alta Via 1 signage alone to guide you in the right direction. We met other hikers who got lost or took accidental round-about routes to the next rifugio. It can easily happen.

This guidebook is an essential companion on your Alta Via 1 trek. You can purchase trail maps in the Rifugi. Each night, we studied the trail, marking the next day’s route on our Maps.me app.

As easy as a trail might be, the weather can change everything. Kati and I barely made it to Rifugio Lagazuoi, because we got lost in a snow blizzard. YES, a SNOW BLIZZARD. I wrote about it here. The lesson we learned is: if it starts snowing, stop gaining elevation.

When can you hike the Alta Via 1?

July, August, or September. You have to time your trek with the opening times of the rifugios. The huts typically open-up around mid-June and stay open until late-September. If you hike the Alta Via 1 in June, you’ll likely encounter snow on the trail.

We hiked the Alta Via 1 during the first week of September. September is usually a very stable month in the Dolomites, but we had a stroke of bad luck. During our first three days, we hiked in the pouring rain and snow. After that nasty spell, the weather was miraculous the following weeks.

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Alta Via 1 Dolomites Hiking Guide

Alta Via 1 Trail Guide Overview

  • Alta Via 1 Itinerary Options: complete route, north route, south route, our route + lessons learned
  • Alta Via 1 Route Map
  • How to Make Reservations for Rifugios
  • Alta Via 1 Cost 
  • How to get to the Alta Via 1 trailhead: Lago di Braies 
  • Alta Via 1 Packing List
  • Alta Via 1 Stages Explained
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Forcella Ambrizzola, Alta Via 1 Hike, Dolomites, Italy

Alta Via 1 Itinerary

The 120-km-long Alta Via 1 (Dolomiten Höhenweg) is hiked north to south and generally broken up into the following 10 stages. Many hikers will combine stages 7 and 8.

Alta Via 1 Complete Route

  1. Lago di Braies – Rifugio Biella (or Rifugio Sennes)
  2. Rifugio Biella – Rifugio Fanes (or Rifugio Lavarella)
  3. Rifugio Fanes – Rifugio Lagazuoi 
  4. Rifugio Lagazuoi – Rifugio Nuvolau (or Rifugio Averau)
  5. Rifugio Nuvolau – Rifugio Città di Fiume
  6. Rifugio Città di Fiume – Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai
  7. Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai – Rifugio Vazzoler
  8. Rifugio Vazzoler – Rifugio Carestiato (or Passo Duran)
  9. Rifugio Carestiato – Rifugio Pramperet (or Rifugio Pian de Fontana)
  10. Rifugio Pramperet – La Pissa Bus Stop  – Bus to Belluno

Many people choose to hike a shorter section of the trail. For example, we met lots of people hiking the 4-stage Alta Via 1 North route (Lago di Braies to Cortina d’Ampezzo), or the 6-stage Alta Via 1 South route (Cortina d’Ampezzo to La Pissa/Belunno). 

Alta Via 1 North Route

  1. Lago di Braies – Rifugio Biella (or Rifugio Sennes)
  2. Rifugio Biella – Rifugio Fanes (or Rifugio Lavarella)
  3. Rifugio Fanes – Rifugio Lagazuoi 
  4. Rifugio Lagazuoi – Cortina d’Ampezzo

Alta Via 1 South Route

  1. Cortina d’Ampezzo – Rifugio Nuvolau (or Rifugio Averau)
  2. Rifugio Nuvolau – Rifugio Città di Fiume
  3. Rifugio Città di Fiume – Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai 
  4. Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai – Rifugio Carestiato (or Passo Duran)
  5. Rifugio Carestiato  – Rifugio Pramperet (or Rifugio Pian de Fontana)
  6. Rifugio Pramperet  – La Pissa  – Bus to Belluno

Our Alta Via 1 Route

  1. Lago di Braies – Rifugio Biella
  2. Rifugio Biella – Rifugio Fanes
  3. Rifugio Fanes – Rifugio Lagazuoi
  4. Rifugio Lagazuoi – Rifugio Nuvolau 
  5. Rifugio Nuvolau – Rifugio Città di Fiume
  6. Rifugio Città di Fiume – Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai
  7. Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai – Rifugio Vazzoler – Rifugio Capanna Trieste – Listolade Bus Stop – (Bus to Corvara)

We hiked the first 7 stages of the Alta Via 1, departing the trail at Rifugio Vazzoler. We opted for a shortened route because we were eager to return to South Tyrol, especially Alta Badia and Val Gardena. Also, we had just hiked the Berlin High Trail and the Rätikon Circuit, so we didn’t want to commit to a 10-day hike. When you’re tired, hiking hut-to-hut isn’t fun.

So, on Day 7, we hiked from Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai to Rifugio Vazzoler, and then descended to Rifugio Capanna Trieste. We spent the night at Rifugio Capanna Trieste so that we could easily reach the bus stop at Listolade the next morning. 

Though our plan worked out, I wouldn’t recommend exiting the Alta Via 1 the way we did. The descent from Rifugio Vazzoler to Listolade is very long and monotonous. And, Rifugio Capanna Trieste was the worst refuge we stayed in during our trek. The food was overcooked and the owner was not amiable, to put it mildly. 

 
Croda da Lago, Alta Via 1 Dolomites Hiking Guide

Alta Via 1 Map

Alta Via 1 Trail Stages
  • Places to stay before/after the trek + Transit
  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2
  • Stage 3
  • Stage 4
  • Stage 5
  • Stage 6
  • Stage 7
  • Stages 8 - 10
  • Listolade Exit Route
Rifugio Nuvloau, Dolomites, Italy - Trekking the Alta Via 1

How to Make Reservations for Alta Via 1 Rifugios

Each rifugio needs to be booked individually. Some huts can be booked by email, other huts can be booked via an online form.

Because the rifugios along the Alta Via 1 route are very popular, most require deposits. Typically, you’ll pay a deposit of 15 – 20 EUR per person to secure your reservation.

When you make reservations, you’ll usually have to specify whether you want half board (breakfast and dinner), or bed and breakfast. If you choose the B&B option, you can order dinner from the hut’s a la carte menu.

How to Book Alta Via 1 Rifugios

Rifugio Biella – we made our reservation by email: [email protected]. They asked us to re-confirm our reservation one week before our arrival. Rifugio Biella didn’t request a deposit.

Rifugio Fanes – we submitted this reservation request form online. Rifugio Fanes replied to our request by email, confirming availability for the date we specified. To complete the reservation, we had to pay a 40 EUR deposit for 2 people. In the email, there’s a link to the payment gateway, where you can pay the deposit using a Visa, Mastercard, or a Maestro. 

Rifugio Lagazuoi – we made our booking online, using this reservation form. Simply enter your desired dates and number of people, and you’ll automatically see if there’s availability. If there is, you can choose which room you want (dormitory, double room, triple room), and complete your booking. The last step requires you to enter your credit card details (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, or Diners Club) to pay your deposit (20 EUR per person). We paid a 40 EUR deposit for 2 people.

Rifugio Nuvolau – we emailed Rifugio Nuvolau ([email protected]) to find out if there was availability for our dates. They replied saying “yes,” and that we needed to transfer 50 EUR via PayPal to secure our reservation, using the “Click here for reservation deposits” link on the homepage

Rifugio Città di Fiume – We sent a booking request using this online form. Next, the hut reached out via email confirming availability and provided directions on how to pay the deposit (20 EUR per person). You can pay the deposit with a credit card, or IBAN BIC transfer. 

Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai – We made a reservation by email: [email protected] They replied confirming availability plus directions on submitting our deposit. To secure our spots, we had to transfer 30 EUR (15 EUR per person) to their account using the bank details (IBAN / SWIFT) they provided in the email. It’s important to include your reservation name and dates of stay on the transfer. They also said it’s possible to pay with Visa or Mastercard: you just have to let them know if that’s your preference. 

Rifugio Vazzoler – email: [email protected]

Rifugio Carestiatobooking form

Passo Duran – There are two rifugios at the Duran mountain pass:

Rifugio Pramperet – Email: [email protected]

Rifugio Pian de Fontana – Email: [email protected]


Rifugio Cancellation Policy

Each Rifugio has a different cancellation policy. Make sure to note these policies as you make your reservations. Some huts offer a 100% refund if you cancel up to 30 days before your arrival date. Other deposits are non-refundable.

 
Alta Via 1 Dolomites Planning

How much does the Alta Via 1 cost?

You should budget 70 EUR per person per day if you’re sleeping in dormitory rooms. If you’re opting for private rooms, budget an additional 30 EUR per person per day. Note: not all rifugios offer private rooms.

In some rifugios, you’ll pay for everything separately. For example, in Rifugio Biella, we each paid 15 EUR for our dormitory bed, 9 EUR for breakfast, and about 15 EUR for dinner and drinks, which we ordered from an à la carte menu. In other rifugios, you’ll have the option to pay a single half board sum, which includes your bed, breakfast, and dinner. Drinks are not included.

Prices may also vary depending on the season, as some huts differentiate between summer low season and summer high season.

Alta Via 1 Rifugio Pricing (on average)

Rifugio Dormitory Prices

  • Dormitory Bed: 13 – 15 EUR
  • Dormitory Bed with Breakfast: 40 EUR
  • Half Board (Dormitory Bed, Breakfast, Dinner): 45 – 68 EUR.

Rifugio Private Room Prices

  • Private Room for 2-3 persons with private bathroom (breakfast included): 70 EUR per person (e.g. Rifugio Fanes Pricing)
  • Double room (breakfast included): 132 EUR for the room (e.g. Rifugio Lagzuoi)

Rifugio Food Prices

  • Packed Lunch (optional): 8 – 10 EUR
  • Breakfast: 9 – 10 EUR
  • Main Dish: 8 – 12 EUR
  • Beer: 4.50 EUR for .4 L
  • Wine: 1.50 EUR / glass
  • 1 Liter of Hot Water: 3 EUR
  • Espresso Drinks: 1.5 EUR for espresso / 2.5 EUR for a cappuccino

Other Costs

  • Local Tax: 1 EUR per person
  • Hot Showers: 4 – 5 EUR

When to Pay

Typically, you’ll pay for your room and board when you arrive in the hut, or in the evening before you go to bed. The rifugios have a record of your deposit, so you’ll just pay the difference.

Payment Options

Traditionally, mountain huts are cash-only establishments. However, a few rifugios along the Alta Via 1 accept credit cards. When you make your reservation, you can find out what your payment options are.

Alpine Club Membership Discount

Many Alta Via 1 rifugios are privately owned and not owned and managed by an alpine club. When a rifugio is affiliated with an alpine club, you can present your alpine club membership card, and you’ll receive a discount on your lodging.

During our trek, Rifugio Nuvolau, Rifugio Città di Fiume and Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai were the only huts that provided an Alpine Club Membership discount.

 
Alta Via 1 Trailhead: Lago di Braies

How to Get to Lago di Braies - The Alta Via 1 Trailhead

When you arrive at the Venice Marco Polo Airport

International travelers will commonly fly to Venice Marco Polo Airport, the closest international airport to the Dolomites. From the airport, you can hop on the Direct Coach from Venice to Cortina d’Ampezzo (2 hours).

Either stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo or continue to Toblach (Dobbiaco) via SAD Bus 445 (40 minutes). The 445 departs Cortina six times a day. Use the SüdtirolMobil website to determine your departure time.

From Toblach (Toblach Busbahnhof) you can take SAD Bus 442 to Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee). More details here. This final bus trip takes 28 minutes.

Where to Stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo

If you’re arriving in Italy after a long international flight, you may want to recover from your jet lag in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Budget | Hotel Meuble Oasi is a delightful alpine hotel, located close to the Cortina Bus Station. In high season, there’s a minimum stay of 3 nights here.

Mid-Range | Hotel Regina is a friendly, family-run hotel located directly in the town center. A delicious breakfast is included in the room rate.

Luxury | Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa is a five-star luxury hotel in Cortina that spoils guests with its mountain views, wellness center, 3 in-house restaurants, superb breakfast, and professional and attentive staff. Because this hotel is located outside the “town center,” they offer a free shuttle from town. You can use the hotel’s shuttle service throughout your stay.

Look for accommodation in Cortina.

Where to Stay in Lago di Braies

If you want to spend the night directly at Lago di Braies, before embarking on your Alta Via 1 trek, you have one option: Hotel Lago Di Braies.

 
Alta Via 1 Packing List, Dolomites Trekking

Alta Via 1 Packing List

Alta Via 1 Packing List

Here’s our complete hut to hut hiking packing list.

It’s always tempting to bring a big pack, but you don’t need anything larger than the Osprey Kyte 36 (for women) and Osprey Kestrel 38 (for men) for this trek. If you have a 45 L backpack, that’ll work too.

Rifugios provide sheets, blankets, and pillows, but you need to bring a sleeping bag liner for hygienic purposes.

No special equipment is needed. However, if you hike in June, it’s probably a good idea to bring crampons. There are some trail variations along the Alta Via 1 which follow Via Ferrata assisted climbing routes. If you choose to do those, you’ll need a via ferrata kit.

Alta Via 1 Guidebook

Alta Via 1 Trail Maps

You can purchase trail maps in the Rifugios.

Hiking Insurance

For peace of mind on the trail, make sure you have hiking travel insurance. When you have World Nomads insurance, you’ll get emergency medical insurance, emergency medical transportation, gear protection (in case of theft, loss, or damage), and trip protection (in case of cancellation). 

Learn more about hiking insurance here.

 
Rifugio Biella, Alta Via 1 Dolomites

Alta Via 1 Stage 1

Day 1: Lago di Braies – Rifugio Biella

  • Distance: 6.5 km (4 miles)
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Altitude Difference: 870 meters ascending / 60 meters descending 
  • Time Needed: 3 – 3.5 hours

Stay in Rifugio Biella

  • Showers: None
  • Drinking Water: No potable water
  • Electronic Charging Stations: There’s a single charging station on the second floor by the bathroom.
  • Payment: Cash Only
  • Food: Good
  • Half Board or à la carte: à la carte only
  • Rooms: Rooms with 4 beds. Walls between rooms are paper-thin, so it’s hard to sleep.

Rifugio Biella is a well-run, economical mountain hut. However, Rifugio Sennes is probably the better option, in terms of comfort and food. From Biella, it’s a 50-minute walk to Rifugio Sennes – a suitable option for stage 1.

 
Alta Via 1 Stage 2, Italian Dolomites

Alta Via 1 Stage 2

Day 2: Rifugio Biella – Ücia Pederü – Rifugio Fanes

  • Distance: 13.5 km (8.4 miles)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Altitude Difference: 630 meters ascending, 870 meters descending 
  • Time Needed: 4.5 hours
  • Lunch Option: You can grab a bite to eat at Pederü. We enjoyed a coffee and apfelstrudel here.

Stay in Rifugio Fanes

  • Showers: Yes. There’s no fee to use the showers.
  • Drinking Water: Tap water is safe to drink
  • Electronic Charging Stations: In rooms
  • Payment: Cash, or Credit Cards
  • Food: Great. The food and wine menus are very extensive.
  • Half Board or à la carte: both available
  • Rooms: Dormitory and private rooms available

Tonight, you can also stay in Rifugio Lavarella, which is a 5-minute walk away from Fanes.

 
Rifugio Lagazuoi, Dolomites, Italy

Alta Via 1 Stage 3

Day 3: Rifugio Fanes to Rifugio Lagazuoi

  • Distance: 12 km (7.5 miles)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Altitude Difference: 1150 meters ascending, 450 meters descending
  • Time Needed: 5:30 hours

Stay in Rifugio Lagazuoi

  • Showers: 3.50 EUR for 3 minutes
  • Drinking Water: No potable water.
  • Electronic Charging Stations: In the dining area
  • Payment: Cash, or Credit Cards
  • Food: Great
  • Half Board or à la carte: Both options available.
  • Rooms: Private and dormitory rooms available

Rifugio Lagazuoi is an iconic mountain in the hut in the Dolomites. Because of its close proximity to a cable car, many people visit and overnight in this hut, without actually hiking here. So, that changes the atmosphere, naturally.

We arrived in Rifugio Lagazuoi in a snow blizzard. We were wet, frozen, and exhausted. Luckily, we could warm up in the hut’s tiny sauna, which fits 4 people. Sauna access costs 20 EUR per person and comes with a towel, bathrobe and a shower token.

Our only complaint about this hut was the dry room. It was way too small, and there wasn’t enough room for everyone’s shoes and clothing. So, we hiked in wet shoes the next day.

 
Hiking up to Rifugio Nuvloau, Alta Via 1, Dolomites

Alta Via 1 Stage 4

Day 4: Rifugio Lagazuoi to Rifugio Nuvolau

  • Distance: 14 km / 8.7 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Altitude Difference: 900 meters ascending / 1080 meters descending 
  • Time Needed: 5 hours

There are a few different ways to hike from Rifugio Lagazuoi to Rifugio Nuvolau. The Cicerone trail guide does a great job outlining your options. One route takes you to Rifugio Dibona via Forcella Col dei Bos and then up to Cinque Torri, before ascending to Rifugio Nuvolau.

You can also descend to Passo Falzarego via the cable car, or hiking trail, and hike up past Lago di Limides to Forcella Averau, and then up to Nuvolau.

The first route is probably more gratifying. We opted for the second, because of the heavy snow conditions along the route to Forcella Col dei Bos, from the freak storm the day before.

Stay in Rifugio Nuvolau

  • Showers: None
  • Drinking Water: Tap water isn’t drinkable
  • Electronic Charging Stations: There’s a charging station by the entrance (available until 10 pm).
  • Payment: Credit cards (minimum: 25 EUR), or Cash
  • Food: Good
  • Half Board or à la carte: à la carte. When you check-in, they ask you to order dinner between 5:30 and 6 pm.
  • Rooms: Dormitory only

Rifugio Nuvolau was the only hut along the AV1 that asked to see our passports.

Tonight, you can also stay at Rifugio Averau, Rifugio Scoiattoli, or Rifugio Cinque Torri.

 
Alta Via 1, Dolomites

Alta Via 1 Stage 5

Day 5: Rifugio Nuvloau – Passo Giau – Forcella Giau – Forcella Ambrizzola – Rifugio Città di Fiume

  • Distance: 12 km (7.5 miles)
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Altitude Difference: 400 meters ascending, 1050 meters descending
  • Time Needed: 5:30 – 6:00 hours
  • Lunch Options: You can grab something to eat at Giau Pass Rifugio. They have excellent cakes.

Stay in Rifugio Città di Fiume

  • Showers: 3.50 EUR for 4 minutes
  • Drinking Water: Tap water isn’t potable.
  • Electronic Charging Stations: In the hallway upstairs
  • Payment: Credit cards, or cash
  • Food: Okay
  • Half Board or à la carte: Both available. You can choose when you arrive.
  • Rooms: Dormitory rooms only
 
Stage 6 of the Alta Via 1 Hike, Dolomites

Alta Via 1 Stage 6

Day 6: Rifugio Città di Fiume – Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai

  • Distance: 9.3 km (5.8 miles)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Altitude Difference: 520 meters ascending, 300 meters descending
  • Time Needed: 4 hours
  • Lunch Option: Rifugio Passo Staulanza

Stay in Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai

  • Showers: 5 EUR for 6 minutes
  • Drinking Water: Tap water isn’t potable.
  • Electronic Charging Stations: In the dining room
  • Payment: Cash only
  • Food: Good
  • Half Board or à la carte: Both available. You can decide when you order dinner at 6:30 pm.
  • Rooms: Dormitory, and private rooms available. It only costs 2 EUR extra (per person) for a small room (2 beds).

Before you settle in, make sure to hike up to Lago Coldai. The lake is gorgeous in the late afternoon. We checked in, dropped off our bags in our room, and walked up to the lake before dinner.

 
Lago di Coldai, Alta Via 1, Dolomites

Alta Via 1 Stage 7

Day 7: Rifugio A. Sonino Al Coldai – Rifugio Vazzoler

  • Distance: 9.5 km (6 miles)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Altitude Difference: 380 meters ascending, 800 meters descending 
  • Time Needed: 4 hours
  • Lunch Options: Rifugio Tissi (optional detour)

Exit Route to Listolade

As explained earlier, we decided to exit the AV1 at Rifugio Vazzoler. We hiked down to Capanna Trieste, where we stayed the night. The next morning, we finished the walk to Listolade and caught the Dolomiti Bus to Corvara in Alta Badia.

Rifugio Capanna Trieste

  • Showers: Yes, Free
  • Drinking Water: Tap water is drinkable
  • Electronic Charging Stations: Upstairs
  • Payment: Cash Only
  • Food: Not good. All the vegetables were overcooked and mushy.
  • Half Board or à la carte: half board only
  • Rooms: Dormitory rooms only. But, we didn’t share our “dormitory” room with anyone else.

For those of you continuing the trail, we recommend pushing on to Rifugio Carestiato on day 7. 

On Day 8, continue to Rifugio Pramperet. 

And On Day 9, you can finish the trek. AV1 hikers will catch the bus at La Pissa bus stop to Belluno.

Check out Dolomiti Suite (Budget accommodation with a washing machine) or Suite Hotel Astor (Midrange hotel) in Belluno.

Look for accommodation in Belluno.

It’s a 2.5 – 3 hour bus ride from Belluno to Venice Marco Polo Airport.

 
Pelmo, Alta Via 1 Hike, Dolomites
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