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Hike the Alta Via 1

hike the alta via 1

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the rundown

Duration: 8 days/7 nights

Distance: 120km (75 miles)

Elevation gain: 6,705m (22,000')

Trailhead: Lago di Braies

Every summer Alex and I like to take one long backpacking trip. When we were in the planning process for 2017's trip I stumbled across some photos of the Dolomites. Alex and I had talked about this picturesque region before and we both mentioned our desire to visit it. It felt exactly like what we were looking for so I began researching hikes in the Dolomites. I noticed the Alta Via 1 showed up on nearly every website I found. There are eight Alta Via routes in the Dolomites but number 1 is the most popular. After reading about the trail and talking it over with Alex we decided it was the one! We would spend 8 days hiking the Alta Via 1. 

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planning your trek in the dolomites

Are permits required? No. Reservations for the rifugios are also not required, however, I strongly recommend booking your rifugios in advance if you know where you want to stay each night. I booked all of my rifugios immediately after Alex and I decided to hike the Alta Via 1 way back in January. By the time July and our hike rolled around many of the most scenic rifugios, such as Lagazuoi, were already booked. Below are the rifugios Alex and I stayed at and some helpful information about them. Please remember these rifugios are high in the mountains so while they all have Wifi it can be very, very unreliable. The prices are also based on half board, which includes a bed in a dormitory and breakfast. 

Rifugio Lavarella - 35€ per night, 20€ deposit required, Wifi (unreliable), Shower - free 

Rifugio Lagazuoi - 55€ per night, 30€ deposit required, Wifi (worked well), Shower - 3,5€ 

Rifugio Nuvolau - 24€ per night, 0 deposit required, Wifi (unreliable), No shower

Rifugio Città di Fiume - 50€ per night, 30€ deposit required, Wifi (unreliable), Shower - free

Rifugio Coldai - 51€ per night, 15€ deposit required, Wifi (worked very well), Shower - 3,5€ 

Rifugio Carestiato - 48€ per night, 16€ deposit required, Wifi (worked well), Shower - 1€ for two minutes

 Rifugio Nuvolau - named after the Italian word for cloud, "la nuvola"

Rifugio Nuvolau - named after the Italian word for cloud, "la nuvola"

How to get to the trailhead: This hike begins at Lago di Braies in northern Italy. The nearest airport is Venice. Since this is a thru-hike and renting a car isn't a feasible option you will likely use public transportation to get to the starting point. We took three buses and caught the first one right outside the airport.

After you exit the baggage claim area in Venice take a left and find the ATVO bus ticket line and purchase a one-way ticket on the Cortina Express. The line runs four times per day and costs 25€ per person. It takes just over two hours to get to Cortina and there is Wifi on the bus. 

In Cortina Alex and I stayed at Hotel Villa Blu, which was a ten minute walk from the bus station. There are plenty of hotels near the bus stop if you want to stay in Cortina or you can choose to continue onto Dobbiaco. Transfer to a SAD bus (line 445), the bus should have "Dobbiaco" displayed on it. You can buy a 5€ ticket onboard. The ride to Dobbiaco is 50 minutes. In Dobbiaco you will transfer to SAD line 442 to Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee. This ticket also costs 5€ and it takes 27 minutes to get to Lago di Braies. 

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When to go: July and August are the best months to hike the Alta Via 1. August is typically when Europeans take holiday so I would recommend hiking in July. 

Gear to pack: 

  • 35-45L backpack
  • Trekking poles
  • Sturdy hiking boots or trail running shoes (whichever you feel more comfortable in) 
  • Water bottle
  • Sleeping bag liner (required by rifugios)
  • First aid kit
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • Rain jacket, fleece mid-layer, insulating layer
  • Sleeping clothes
  • Sunglasses
  • Brimmed hat

Personal Trip report:

Photo Gallery

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