• Croda da Lago from Lagazuoi, Dolomites of Italy
  • Nigritella orchid in the meadows of the Dolomites of Italy
  • Flowering meadow near Passo Gardena, Dolomites of Italy
  • View from Rasciesa, the Odle Geisler, Dolomites of Italy
  • Hiking to Rifugio Locatelli in the Sesto Dolomites of Italy

Best Hikes in the Dolomites

The Sesto Dolomites, Val Badia & Val Gardena

Printable version of trip itinerary

Dolomites Slide Show

Prefer a July Dolomites trip in 2017? Please see the description for our 20th Anniversary “Best Hikes in the Dolomites – Part II” hiking tour.

Explore the trails and landscapes amidst the peaks whose jagged silhouettes inspired one writer to call the mountains, “flames frozen in stone.” Among the most visually stunning mountains anywhere, the Dolomites offer a superb network of trails—from broad, well-graded paths to challenging vie ferrate—that caters to hikers of all abilities. The first part of the trip centers on the eastern Dolomites where the needle-like spires and pinnacles of the range are at their finest. The second part focuses on the western portion of the range where extensive meadowlands, flower-filled villages, and soaring peaks make for a quintessential Dolomites adventure! The classic alpine landscape and the wide range of hiking choices make the Dolomites one of our favorite hiking destinations! Revel in the glory of the Monti Pallidi (“Pale Mountains”) that legend says wear a cloak spun from moonbeams! In 2009, the Dolomites were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This week in the presence of lofty mountains…I have felt renewed by the awesome beauty of this country. My own senses teach me, but not completely. Your passions and knowledge and insights about this small patch of glorious earth teach me much more—and deepen my love for it. How kind you have been to all—how respectful and sensitive to our needs and unique interests…It is your generosity of spirit which will make my Dolomites adventure live forever in the great memories.

–SALLY SHORR

Lago di Misurina and Sorapiss mountain.

Day 1
Overnight in Dobbiaco
Dinner included
The trip begins this morning at our meeting point in Bressanone. Travel from Bressanone to Lago Misurina, an alpine lake that legend says was filled by the tears of a princess. Our route takes us up the Pustertal and brings us eventually to a small settlement on the shores of Lago Misurina whose still waters reflect the magnificence of the surrounding peaks. Start your exploration of the Dolomiti di Sesto with a hike into the heart of the Cadini mountain group, bristling with rocky spires and pinnacles. Follow a gentle trail through larch woods high above the Val d’Ansiei with stunning views toward the peaks of the Marmarole. For a longer hike, ascend to the rolling, grassy alpine meadows of the Pian della Mussa beneath the sheer walls of the Ciadin de la Neve. After the hike, travel the short distance to the South Tyrolean town of Dobbiaco in the wide and lovely Val Pusteria where you’ll enjoy a welcome dinner and overnight accommodations.

Approaching Rifugio Citta di Carpi. The peaks of Marmarole to the left, Sorapiss to the right.

The peaks of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo as seen from Rifugio Locatelli.

Day 2
Overnight in Dobbiaco
Breakfast and dinner included
After breakfast, travel a winding mountain road to Rifugio Auronzo at the base of the spectacular mountain spires of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (called Drei Zinnen in German). A broad, well-groomed trail leads along the base of the Tre Cime to the Rifugio Lavaredo. Continue over the Paternsatel to reach the more remote Rifugio Locatelli which offers the quintessential view of the Tre Cime! Or opt for a more strenuous 7-hour loop hike around Monte Paterno through the heart of the rugged Dolomiti di Sesto; this is one of the finest hikes in the Dolomites. Enjoy lunch on your own in one of the mountain rifugi. Share tales of your trail adventures with your fellow travelers over dinner this evening.

The Cadini group of peaks and the Rifugio Lavaredo.

Hiking in the Ciadin dei Tocci. The peak of Croda Rossa in the distance.

Day 3
Overnight in Dobbiaco
Breakfast and dinner included
Continue your exploration of the Sesto Dolomites! In the Cadini mountain group, you can hike through larch woods and flower-filled meadows to the upper edge of a glacial cirque called the Ciadin dei Tocci where the spectacularly-sited Rifugio Fonda Savio awaits! Sure-footed hikers can consider an option to ascend to the Rifugio Fonda Savio via a more challenging route from the Forcella Rinbianco.

Hikers approaching the Rifugio Fonda Savio in the Cadini.

Cinque Torri.

Day 4
Overnight in Colfosco
Breakfast and dinner included
After breakfast, you’ll travel by vehicle to the Cinque Torri seggiovia (“chairlift”) that will whisk you to the meadows adjacent to the impressive limestone towers of the Cinque Torri (“Five Towers”). Relax at the mountain rifugio and watch climbers picking their way up the precipitous walls of the towers. Or, explore the newly restored World War I trenches and fortifications on an interpretive trail. From the trail, enjoy stunning views of the peaks of Tofane rising magnificently to the north. Descend by chairlift and continue a short distance by vehicle to the Passo Falzarego where you’ll hop aboard a cable car to travel to the top of Monte Lagazuoi for one of the most stunning panoramas in the Dolomites. Ride the cable car back down, or descend on foot by way of the Galleria Anticima, a spiraling tunnel that was blasted through the heart of the mountain during World War I. Continue by vehicle to the quiet mountain village of Colfosco nestled in the upper Val Badia.

Hiking to the Galleria Anticima at Lagazuoi.

The flowery meadows en route from Passo Gardena to Colfosco.

Day 5
Overnight in Colfosco
Breakfast and dinner included
Explore the trails of the upper Val Badia. From Colfosco, trails provide access to the Cir group of peaks and the austere mountain landscape of the Puez Plateau. Or you can choose to wander trails that wind through the vast expanse of meadows below Passo Gardena where a riot of wildflowers awaits. At the end of the day, both hiking options descend by different routes into the Edelweisstal before continuing to Colfosco village.

Lago Crespeina in the heart of the Puez mountain group.

Snowy Marmolada and rocky Gran Vernel as seen from the Bindelweg.

Day 6
Overnight in Colfosco
Breakfast and dinner included
Hike into the high, other-worldly landscape of the Sella massif. Ride a cable car to the Belvedere ridge high above the Fassa Valley for stunning “front and center” views of glacier-clad Marmolada, a peak known as the “Queen of the Dolomites.” Hike along the route known as the Bindelweg to a picturesquely-sited rifugio offering an inspiring view of the Marmolada and the Gran Vernel. If you’re seeking a more challenging option on this day, you can descend from Belvedere to Passo Pordoi from where a cable car lifts you to the edge of the lofty Sella plateau. Follow a trail that winds through a spell-binding, lunar-like landscape to reach the Rifugio Boe set in the heart of the Sella massif and surrounded by craggy peaks.

Rifugio Boe in its lonely, lunar-like setting atop the Sella masif.

The peaks of the Sassolungo rise over the Alpe di Siusi, one of the largest alpine meadowlands in Europe.

Day 7
Overnight in Santa Cristina
Breakfast and dinner included
Travel by vehicle from the Val Badia to the neighboring Val Gardena via the twisting road over the Gardena Pass. The towering peaks of the Sassolungo (“Long Stone”) stand like sentinels at the upper end of the Val Gardena, home to people who speak Ladin (or Ladino) which linguists classify as a Rhaeto-Romance language. Dating from the fifth century, Ladin developed when the Romans invaded the high valleys and the local mountain language mixed with Latin. About 40,000 people consider themselves Ladin. Arrive in Ortisei, largest town in the Val Gardena, and ascend via cable car to the Alpe di Siusi (or Seiser Alm, in German). Two hiking options provide you with an intimate encounter with this superb landscape—one of the most expansive alpine meadowlands in Europe. At the end of the day, arrive in Santa Cristina, your base for four nights. SEVEN DAY OPTION CONCLUDES THIS DAY (breakfast and transfer to Bressanone the following morning are included).

The meadows of Mont Seura at the end of the Alpe di Siusi hike.

Hiking from Seceda to the Forcella Pana and the Odle Geisler.

Day 8
Overnight in Santa Cristina
Breakfast included
From Ortisei, ascend into the mountains via the Seceda cable car. Hike among the craggy peaks of the mountain group called the Odle Geisler (odle means “needles” in Ladin), and amble through the open meadowlands of the Alpe di Cisles and Mastle Alm. Descend to Santa Cristina via the Col Raiser gondola. Or, undertake the classic Dolomites hike across the Forcella Pana. Ascend via the Rasciesa funicular to the wide-open meadows of the Rasciesa di Dentro and follow the path to the picturesquely-sited Rifugio Brogles. Follow the exciting, switchbacking path into the heart of the Odle Geisler to the narrow mountain notch known as the Forcella Pana. From here, a spectacular vista of meadow and mountain peak suddenly unfolds! Amble through meadowlands to the gondola at Col Raiser and ride down to Santa Cristina.

The two rocks of the Pieralongia rise from the flowery meadows of the Alpe di Cisles.

Gastronomic Delights from the Val Gardena

The Ladin culture has its own gastronomic signature which can be sampled by travelers to the Dolomites. Crafuncins are a form of ravioli; panicia is a barley soup with pieces of smoked meat; ribl da furmenton is a kind of buckwheat pancake dish. A jufa is a puree made with corn meal and wheat flour; grosti da patac cun craut are roast potatoes and sauerkraut; tirtles are pastries filled with spinach; and crafons are pastries with a poppy seed filling. Yum!

Kaiserschmarrn topped with red currant preserves and powdered sugar—a Dolomites delight!

The isolated farm of Prauleta hangs above the Val Gardena on the route from Col Raiser to Ortisei.

Day 9
Overnight in Santa Cristina
Breakfast and dinner included
Ride the Col Raiser cable car to its upper station from where you set off on a delightful hike above the Val Gardena on quiet paths and farm lanes. Wander through rolling alpine meadows, cool forests and past mountain hamlets. Beyond the scenically-situated St. Jacob’s church, the path descends to the town of Ortisei where the hike ends. A second hiking option ascends via a spectacular set of constructed switchbacks and steps to a less-frequented portion of the mountains where a supremely perched mountain hut offers stunning views over the upper Val Gardena.

Well-positioned Rifugio Stevia enjoys a view of cloud-capped Sassolungo.

Heading into the Sassolungo.

Day 10
Overnight in Santa Cristina
Breakfast and dinner included
Get “up close and personal” with the Sassolungo, the distinctive mountain that dominates almost every view from Santa Cristina. Ascend by chairlift to Mont Sëura from where you can follow a trail that leads into the heart of this magnificent mountain massif. Pause for a rest at the Rifugio Vicenza before continuing upwards to the notch of the Forcella di Sassolungo where views of the Marmolada and the peaks framing the upper Val di Fassa greet you. A less strenuous hiking option skirts the north and east faces of the Sassolungo leading through the scenic and aptly-named City of Rocks (Citta dei Sassi). Return to Santa Cristina for the evening; enjoy a farewell dinner. Your breakfast tomorrow morning is included.

Enrosadira on the Sassolungo as seen from Santa Cristina in the Val Gardena.

The Cinque Torri (left) and the spiny ridge of Croda da Lago as seen from Cengia Martini, Lagazuoi.

Printable version of trip itinerary

Dolomites Slide Show

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Lago di Antorno and Sorapiss.

Cloud-wreathed Sassolungo as seen from Col Raiser.

Photos on this page are by John & Amy Osaki except as otherwise credited.

Trip Dates
September 9-18, 2017 (10-day version)
September 9-15, 2017 (7-day version)

Price
$4,495 (10-day version)
$4,075 (7-day version)

Single supplement
$400 (10-day version).
$350 (7-day version).
Single accommodations are subject to availability and may be limited.

Meeting Point
Hotel in Bressanone (Brixen), Italy on the morning of September 9, 2017 for both the 10-day and 7-day version of the tour. We suggest you plan your arrival in Bressanone for September 8.

Departure Point
For the 10-day tour: Tour services end officially in Santa Cristina, Italy after dinner on September 18, 2017. However, your lodging for that evening and your transfer to the train station in Bressanone, Italy the next morning is included in the price of the trip. Estimated arrival time in Bressanone on the day of the transfer is 12:00 noon. Please plan your departure from Bressanone for some time after 12:00 noon.
For the 7-day tour: Tour services end officially in Santa Cristina, Italy after dinner on September 15. However, your lodging for that evening and your transfer to the train station in Bressanone, Italy the next morning is included in the price of the trip. Estimated arrival time in Bressanone on the day of the transfer is 12:00 noon. Please plan your departure from Bressanone for some time after 12:00 noon.

Accommodations
For the 10-day tour: Ten nights in hotels. All rooms with private bath. Ten breakfasts and nine dinners are included. Please note that lodging in Bressanone on the evening of September 8 (the evening prior to the start of the trip) is not included in the trip price; however, we will be happy to assist you in booking accommodations for that evening.
For the 7-day tour: Seven nights in hotels. All rooms with private bath. Seven breakfasts and seven dinners are included. Please note that lodging in Bressanone on the evening of September 8 (the evening prior to the start of the trip) is not included in the trip price; however, we will be happy to assist you in booking accommodations for that evening.

Other Information
For travel to the Dolomites, the nearest large international airports are in Munich, Germany and Milan, Italy. Rail connections are available from both airports to the city of Bressanone. Travel time from Munich Airport to Bressanone by rail is about 4 hours. Travel time from Milan’s Malpensa Airport to Bressanone by rail is about 5 hours. You may consult rail schedules at Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) website. It is also possible to fly into Innsbruck, Austria, a 1.5 hour rail journey from Bressanone.

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