Hut to Hut Hiking in the Dolomites

The Most Beautiful Routes for Beginners and Experienced Hikers

A hut to hut trekking in the Dolomites is a wonderful way to discover the mountains. There are multi-day tours for beginners, but also for experienced mountain hikers in this part of Italy. Some hiking routes have the same start and end point, for other routes, you can easily travel back by public transport. I've listed the best-rated Dolomites hut to hut tours in this article.

The green alpine meadows, steep mountain slopes, and small villages of the Dolomites form the perfect scene for a multi-day hut to hut tour. According to many hikers, the Dolomites provide the best hut to hut trekkings in Italy. There are many signposted paths that you can follow relatively easily. You can also go on a guided hike in the Dolomites. Many people, for example, like to do a 3-day hut to hut tour. Or a 5-day hut to hut trek in the Dolomites. You might have questions about the numerous hiking routes. In this Dolomites Travel Guide, I try to answer them. 

Preparing a Hut to Hut Trekking in the Dolomites

It is wise to prepare well for your hiking holiday in the Dolomites. Firstly, a sleeping bag liner is compulsory for the mountain huts. Secondly, it is advisable to bring about 2 litres of water, you can fill your bottle at the mountain huts. Thirdly, poles are useful on many hiking trails, as there are large areas with small stones. Don't forget to bring fleece clothing and long trousers in case the weather in the Dolomites turns. Finally, waterproof clothing is also a must.

A mountain hut with a spectacular view of Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

How Do I Book a Mountain Hut for My Dolomites Hut Tour?

Many travellers wonder where to stay in the Dolomites. In this article, I try to indicate how best to book the refuges and mountain huts in the Dolomites. Keep in mind that there are also sometimes bivouac huts that you can book. In any case, it is useful to secure all your sleeping places in the Dolomites in advance. 

This can usually be done on the official websites of the region. I have added these to the description of each hike, so you can do this yourself. You can go on your own or with a group, while everything is arranged. This includes mountain huts, routes, and often meals.  

Alta Via del Granito (27 km)

  • Level: Some experience required
  • Number of days: 3
  • Best time: June to September
  • Altitude meters: 2,050
  • Start and end point: Pieve Tesino - Pieve Tesino

This part of the Dolomites is located in the province of Trentino. It's a unique part, as the landscape consists of granite. The name thus means the High Road of Granite. And so, you hardly see any dolomite, yet this type of rock is visible in the rest of the area. And from which the now world-famous area derives its name.

For your hike in the Dolomites, the starting point is the car park near Malga Sorazza. This is located at Pieve Tesino. It is also the endpoint of the tour, so you don't need public transport. From the car park, you can walk straight into the mountains.

You will stay overnight en route at Rifugio Malga Caldenave and Rifugio Cima d'Asta Ottone Brentari. Both are well-maintained mountain huts, with hearty local meals. The first is located in an alpine meadow by a river, the second on steep slopes. Along the way, you have no opportunities to buy anything in a shop. So, you have to bring everything with you.

More information on the website of Alta Via del Granito

The view en route a hut to hut trekking.

Alta Via 1 (125 km)

  • Level: Beginner mountain hikers
  • Number of days: 8 to 12
  • Best time: early June to late September
  • Altitude difference: 7,300
  • Start and end point: Pragser Wildsee - La Pissa

This is considered by many to be the classic route in the Italian Dolomites. It takes you right through the heart of the mountains. The Alta Via 1 is also known as the Alta Via delle Dolomiti n.1, but commonly it's simply Alta Via 1. For many, this tour is the ultimate hiking holiday in the Dolomites.

You can divide the route into three parts. From the Pragser Wildsee (Lago di Braies) you hike to Tofàne with the Dolomite groups of the Croda Rossa d'Ampezzo, Fànis, Tofàne. You continue the hike from the Tofàne to Civetta with the Dolomite groups Nuvolàu, Croda da Lago, Pelmo and Civetta. Finally, you hike from Civetta to Belluno, with the Dolomite groups of the Moiazza, Tàmer-San Sebastiano, Prampèr-Mezzodì, Schiara. 

The starting point is the beautiful mountain lake Pragser Wildsee. In the first part of this hut to hut tour, you have a wonderfully beautiful view of this mountain lake. This tour through Parco Naturale Fanes-Sennes has numerous highlights, literally.

The highest point is Rifugio Lagazuoi at 2,752 meters. Continuing, you hike over and along alpine meadows with steep grey cliffs on both sides. The journey will make you climb and descend a lot. There are a total of 15 refugios (mountain huts) available, although you may have to stay in a bivouac at times. The signposting is good, so you will not get lost easily. The route runs from Cortina d'Ampezzo along Agordino and Belluno. This hut to hut tour in the Dolomites is perfect for beginners.

Bring enough clothing, including a windproof and waterproof jacket. A sleeping bag liner is also handy for overnight stays in mountain huts. Do check the availability of sleeping places in advance. This route is popular as it is not too difficult. As a result, refugios can sometimes be full. For those who like more challenges, there are Via Ferratas. These prepared paths let you climb the peaks of various mountains.  

Check out the website of the Alta Via 1

Garda Trek Top Loop (92.2 km)

  • Level: Experienced mountain hikers
  • Number of days: 7
  • Best time: early June to mid-October
  • Altitude meters: 8,300
  • Start and end point: Riva del Garda - Cable car to Malcesine

The Garda Trek Top Look is the toughest of the three routes of the well-known Garda Trek. The Top Loop is a popular hiking trail, particularly because of the lovely views of Lake Garda, where the scenery changes with every metre. On the other side, you see the surrounding peaks of the Dolomites. This trek takes you past small farms, alpine meadows, tiny medieval villages, forests and even vineyards. It is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the Dolomites.

The various mountain huts where you will stay have the necessary facilities; the atmosphere is relaxed, personal and local. The menu includes many regional dishes, which taste great after a day of brisk walking. Along the way, you will encounter a limited number of restaurants for a cup of coffee, for example. So bring enough food and drink with you. The route is not very technical, you won't come across any ladders or steel cables.

A section of the Top Loop is part of the Sentiero della Pace (Path of Peace). This five hundred kilometre route network connects the most important places from the First World War. Along the way, you will see plenty of remnants from that war, as this was the old border area between Austria and Italy.

More information on the website of the Garda Trek Top Loop

Alta Badia High Route (76 km)

  • Level: Experienced mountain hikers
  • Number of days: 5 to 7
  • Best time: mid-June to end of September
  • Altitude difference: 5,600
  • Starting and ending point: Pragser Wildsee - La Pissa

The Alta Badia Höhenweg is located in the autonomous province of South Tyrol and is very popular. You walk from mountain hut to mountain hut, particularly through the impressive Sella massif. The refuges have beautiful names like Valparola Hütte, Lavarella Hütte, Puez Hütte, Pisciadú Hütte and Franz Kostner Hütte. This trek takes you through both the Puez-Geisler Nature Park and the Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park.

You can arrange the trek yourself, where it is smart to arrange the overnight stays in advance. It can also be done through various tour operators who then arrange everything for you. This includes booking the mountain huts, the (majority of) meals and the route descriptions. 

More information on the website of the Alta Badia Höhenweg

A group of chamois in the mountains.

Palaronda Trek (25.5 km)

  • Level: Mountain hikers with some experience
  • Number of days: 4
  • Best time: from beginning of June to end of September
  • Altitude change: 3,000
  • Start and end point: San Martino di Castrozza – San Martino di Castrozza

The official name is Pale di San Martino, but everyone affectionately calls it the Palaronda Trek. This hut to hut tour takes you along well-marked hiking trails. In a few places, you have to climb along rocky walls using iron ropes. These Via Ferrata's are not difficult, but some experience can be handy.

You usually walk around 4 to 5 hours, where you don't have to climb up or down too much. One day you have to walk about seven hours, but even then it's not too strenuous. The starting point is San Martino di Castrozza, a well-known winter sports village. You don't take the cable car, but walk up via the 701 Route.

The three mountain huts are located above 2,500 meters. They are atmospheric and well appointed. Rifugio Rosetta is very popular with many hikers because of its location and ambiance. You can make an extra trek to the top of the Fradusta mountain at 2,939 meters. It is a round trip, the end point is the same as the starting point. In summary, this is the trek for people who already have enough experience, but still want a challenge.

More information on the website of the Palaronda Trek

Dolomiti Brenta Trek (96 km)

  • Level: Experienced mountain walkers
  • Number of days: 5 (for experts) - 11 (if you want lower routes)
  • Best time: early June to late September
  • Altitude meters: 7,300
  • Start and end point: Lago di Tovel – Lago di Tovel

The Brenta Dolomites are among the most beautiful in the region. The starting point is the strikingly green mountain lake Lago di Tovel. This is the habitat of the brown bear, although the animal rarely shows itself. They mainly avoid humans and hear you before you see them. 

The 5-day route is only suitable for very experienced mountain walkers. This is because you will encounter various tough Via Ferratas and even possibly a snow field. You will stay in alpine huts, but also in bivouac huts and farms on the alp. This way, you will also experience farm life. Just make sure you arrange your trip in time.

The so-called 11-day Dolomiti Brenta Country Trek is easier to do, although you will need many more days. You mainly walk through the lower parts, which many people describe as very beautiful. Walking in the Dolomites doesn't get much better than this.

More information on the website of the Dolomiti Brenta Trek

Sometimes you come across a Via Ferrata during your trekking.

Travelling Alone or in a Group?

You can usually do these hut-to-hut trekkings on your own. Although the signage is sometimes not optimal. Make sure you always have the route on your phone. And that you are not dependent on the internet. Also, let always someone know what you are doing, and where you are.

You can either go out on your own or with a group, depending on your preference. Going with a group is often sociable, but the pace is determined by the group. However, you can sometimes go faster or slower and then meet the group again at the mountain hut.

I think both have something to offer, but personally, I prefer to walk by myself or with a friend. After all, that's the ultimate freedom, right? 

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