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.