Dolomites “Family” Hiking Tour Write a review
Family Adventure in the Italian Dolomites. We have taken our regular Dolomites trip and made it kid-friendly, with activities to keep both adults and children active and entertained. Families can join the trip knowing that other children will be present. We have found that the kids bond quickly and have a wonderful time together, whether hiking during the day or playing cards in the evening. Besides the exhilarating hiking, our family trip features a bike ride to Austria and return trip by train, swimming pools, water slides, a summertime Funbob bobsled and the Adrenaline adventure park in Cortina where the kids can try their skills on zip-lines, tree-swings and a variety of exciting rope courses.
Preview – The Italian Dolomites are truly a hiker’s paradise. Thousands of trails wind their way between the fantastic pinnacles of these jagged mountains, which magically turn from pale gray to gold and pink at dusk. We set our tour in the South Tyrol, unquestionably the finest hiking in the Italian Alps. Our hikes are in the Braies National Park and the Ampezzo Dolomites. Most of our hiking trails are above the tree line, providing us with magnificent views of the Dolomite’s elegant limestone spires and massive rock towers. As a special treat for those who are keen for a little adventure, we offer the opportunity (weather permitting) for an optional hike along a stretch of the famous Via Ferrata. Literally translated as “the Iron Way,” the Via Ferrata runs throughout the Dolomites, incorporating a system of iron ladders to assist hikers on steep mountainous terrain. The trails were originally built and used by WWI soldiers fighting in this region. Our local alpine guide provides you with the necessary helmets and harnesses to safely negotiate this exhilarating way to access spectacular mountain terrain (optional hike, supplemental fee required).
We spend the first four nights in the village of San Candido before moving to Cortina for three nights. San Candido is located in the Val di Pusteria, part of the Southern Tyrol. Until 1918, this region was part of the Austrian Tyrol and its people are largely of Germanic descent; many still speak the Latin-based Ladin language. Their local cuisine is a sublime marriage of flavors from Austria and Italy. Our last three nights are spent in Cortina. The village lies in a sunny basin at the junction of the Bigontina and Boite valleys. Host of the 1956 Winter Olympics, Cortina village is equal parts rustic beauty and chic Italian style. We spend our evenings in the comfort of small hotels nestled among the surrounding peaks. Cozy wood-paneled bedrooms and big fluffy duvets make for a great end to the day.
The trip ends with a bus transfer to the train station and/or the Venice airport for connections to other destinations. Or you may choose to spend a few days in amazing Venice and explore the canals and narrow twisted streets of this unique city.
Dolomites Hike Family Tour Includes
Dolomites “Family” Hiking Tour itinerary Request full itinerary
Independent arrival to San Candido/Innichen. Daily rail connections are available from Milan, Venice, Munich and Innsbruck. Since the region is bilingual, the villages and towns have both an Italian and Austrian name. Depending on when you get in, you will have some time to explore the village and admire its beautiful wooden farmhouses. The group will meet tomorrow morning. Since many people arrive directly from overseas and are tired, we have made tonight a “free night” dinner to allow you to rest up for the trip.
The village of San Candido offers lots of parks and playground areas, beautiful bike trails (paved and unpaved) and bikes to rent; an outdoor water slide and summertime bobsled. Overnight in San Candido/Innichen. Hotel included. Dinner not included.
Meet your guides and fellow hikers at breakfast. We then take a bus and a chair-lift up to the Prati di Croda Rossa (2,000 m/6,000 ft.) for our first hike. We stop for lunch at a mountain rifugio and then walk back down and catch a bus back to our hotel. San Candido/Innichen is located in the beautiful Upper Pusteria Valley, surrounded by thick fir-woods and crowned by the jagged peaks of the Baranci chain. You’ll have time to explore the town before meeting up again for dinner together. Overnight San Candido. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Today we take a leisurely bike ride along the bike path from San Candido to Lienz, Austria. The 44 km (26 mile) bike ride is quite easy and is recommended for families with small children. This unique bike trail cuts through a valley surrounded by breathtaking mountains on either side. The one-way ride takes about 2 ½ – 3 hours, but if you are tired, there are six train stations along the route where you can load yourself and the bike and return back to San Candido. So, there is no pressure to complete the ride! Once in Lienz, we’ll park our bikes at the train station and visit the quaint Austrian village of Lienz. Lunch and free time to explore the town and its fascinating castle. If time permits, kids might opt to take an exciting ride on San Candido’s “Funbob,” a summertime version of the bobsled. Overnight in San Candido/Innichen. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We start the day with a short van transfer up to the rifugio at Auronzo. Our hike takes us around the spectacular massif of the “Tre Cime di Lavaredo.” The “Three Peaks” are some of the most dramatic mountains in the Dolomites due to their extraordinary spike shape, alignment and subtle color changes that occur throughout the day. The Cima Grande (Big Peak) is the highest (3,000 m / 9,836 ft), followed by Cima Ovest (Western Peak) and Cima Piccola (Small Peak). We stop for lunch at a rifugio that offers magnificent views of the surrounding landscape, then continue down through alpine meadows to the valley below. Or, go adventurous and try the famous Via Ferrata. Translated as the “Iron Way”, the Via Ferrata runs throughout the Dolomites, incorporating a system of iron ladders to assist hikers on steep mountainous terrain (optional hike, supplemental fee required). Overnight San Candido. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We leave the Sud Tyrol region this morning and hike towards the Veneto and its alpine gem, Cortina d’Ampezzo. As we draw closer to the wide valley where the town lies, the surrounding peaks of Monte Cristallo, Monte Pelmo, Croda da Lago, and the Tofanes fill our view. You will see why Cortina is considered to be the most perfectly situated town in the Italian Alps. Today we hike from Cimabanche to Ra Stua, where we stop for another delicious lunch. Afterwards you can choose to go directly to Cortina by van transfer, or do an optional afternoon walk from Ra Stua. Overnight Cortina in a centrally located four star hotel. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We begin our day with a short transfer to Passo Tre Croci where we pick up the trail to Lake Sorapis. The walk starts off nice, easy and flat, through a forested area with great views of the impressive Monte Cristallo. As we begin to climb, you will start to see the Tre Cime in the distance. We traverse the mountain, taking in the breathtaking views all around and descend to the lovely turquoise Lake Sorapis. We’ll have the opportunity to try a delicious lunch of “canederli” (bread dumplings) before heading back down through the alpine forest to our hotel. Trip members may also choose instead to spend a less vigorous day today exploring lovely Cortina and its environs. There’s plenty of opportunity for shopping, strolling and perhaps just relaxing in an open-air café and enjoying the spectacular setting of this wonderful resort. For children and parents interested in the afternoon activity, your guides will accompany you on a short walk to the Cortina Parco Avventura / Adventure Park (Adrenalin Center) where guests can choose from three different rope courses and test their skills at zip-lines, tree climbing, bridge and net crossings. Other fun options at the park include a possible taxi-bob ride (bobsled run with a certified pilot). This evening you are free to dine wherever you like in Cortina. Hotel and breakfast included. Dinner not included.
Depending on the weather, we will either take you up to the Rifugio Nuvolau, which in the local dialect means the ‘rifugio in the clouds.’ If it is a clear day this route offers wonderful hiking and stupendous views. Otherwise, we will hike amongst the “Cinque Torri” (five towers) whose towering spires dwarf all around. Return to Cortina where you will have free time to explore Cortina village (or return to the Parco Avventura!). A special farewell dinner will cap the week’s family adventures. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We leave at 9:00 by van for a 2-hour transfer to the Venice airport. From there you can take a bus or water taxi into town or to the train station for onward travel. If you're flying out of Venice, don't book anything leaving before 1 or 2 p.m. to be sure. Earlier transfers can be arranged, at your expense. Breakfast and transfer included.
Please note: Some details of the itinerary may change according to the departure date of your tour. Whenever we run a tour we make new discoveries. Sometimes they are good discoveries, like a wonderful new trattoria, and sometimes they are bad, like a trail has been washed away. The result is that we sometimes change our itinerary to improve it by adding new wonderful elements to the tour or by removing something that does not work anymore. Rest assured, our goal is to always provide you with the best possible experience. We will advise you of any changes to the original itinerary prior to departure.
The hikes in the Dolomites that we have designed for this tour are easier than our regular hikes but the terrain is quite rugged. Everyone in the family needs previous hiking experience. Many of the days present the option of taking a cable-car of funicular up or down various stretches, allowing for an easier hike. We have designed the trip so that there is always some free time in the late afternoon so you can relax, read, or explore the towns where we stay. Breakfast is included every day, and dinners reflect the excellent traditional food of the region. Daily distance between 6 and 14 kms.
Visit the Dolomites: great site about the area, see especially the section on culture, traditions, food, etc.
Val Pusteria: general site with weather forecast, photos, etc.
The Via Ferrata: very informative Wikipedia site on these unique trails
World War I in the Dolomites: a short history of some of the battle sites we encounter during our hikes
Cortina d’Ampezzo: very interesting site relating the history of Cortina and the area, going back to Neolithic times and stone-age human remains!
Speak Ladin? a short introduction to this ancient language, a remnant of the Roman occupation of 2,000 years ago
Activity Level 3 out of 5= Moderate:
In general: This is a Moderate tour for fit hikers who will find them a satisfying workout and challenging but do-able for not-so-fit hikers who invariably feel a great sense of achievement at the end of the tour!
Terrain: Rolling to hilly terrain with frequent steep ascents and descents. The "+" indicates that they also involve more rugged, rocky, or steep terrain than the 3 rated tours.
Actual hiking time: between 2-5 hours per day, mostly in the morning but also in the afternoon.
Distances: Usually between 8 and 12 kms/5 and 7 miles. Max distance is 16 kms/9 miles.
Surfaces: Trails consisting of compact earth, gravelly earth, and sometimes dirt-gravel roads and frequently on rocky and uneven trails. Ancient stone staircases and trails with stone steps are often present.
Footing: Good, but you have to pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes with thick soles with good treads are required. Sport sandals, running shoes and tennis shoes are not adequate.
Specifics: Rolling but rocky terrain. Daily activity 4-5 hours, most of which is before lunch but some is in the afternoon. Max distance 14 kms. Note: This tour has fewer hikes and more “fun” activities for the kids, but the actual hikes are fairly challenging, although less long than on our on our Classic tour.
Hiking Poles: Highly recommended but not required, and if you habitually use hiking pole you will regret it if you don’t have them.
Compared to the Cinque Terre: The Cinque Terre is the perfect example of a 3+ tour. Our most common comment about these trips is “More challenging than I expected but I am glad I did it”.
Other: This tour is appropriate for “sporty and fit” first-time hikers who enjoy walking, have good balance, and are coordinated. People with hip and knee issues might find a 3+ tour challenging because of the terrain and the duration of the hikes.
Moderate Plus Tours: Amalfi is the easiest of this group, then Dolomites Lite, then Cinque Terre, followed by Sardinia, Northern Greece Meteora & Zagori, and Andalusia.
As a point of reference, what is a 1 out 5 Activity rating? A 1 out of 5 rated tour is a tour without any hiking. Walks would be in towns, cities, and villages, and the countryside walks would be on paved, or gravel/dirt roads, and occasionally on some packed earth trails. Elevation gain and loss would be negligible.
As a point of reference, what is a 5 out 5 Activity rating? A 5 out of 5 rated tour is a tour that would be physically challenging and technically difficult even for very fit and experienced hikers. The hikes would have steep ascents and descents on narrow, exposed trails with challenging footing, such as on scree fields, or through rock falls and boulders. Distances would be up to 25 km/16 miles per day and feature ascents of over 1,000 m/3,200 feet in a day. A 5 out of 5 tour would also mean that you would be carrying a heavier-than-normal pack. None of our tours are rated 5 out 5. Our most challenging tours are 4.5 out of 5, and they are the Dolomites Alta Via (because of some exposed trail that requires some technical expertise) and our Republic of Georgia tour which has some long hikes with over 1,000 meters of elevation gain.
Getting There: the trip starts with your arrival in San Candido/Innichen at our pre-booked hotel. San Candido is well connected by rail and bus with the rest of Italy.
Air: The most convenient airport to the trip is Venice. Innsbruck (Austria) is much closer to the start of the trip, but Venice is closer to the end. Other airports in Northern Italy include Verona or Milan (Linate or Malpensa). For a complete list of Itlian airports and a selection of low-cost airlines, see our "Transport Info" page.
Rail: All trains to San Candido from within Italy pass through Verona and then the town of Fortezza. Journey time from Innsbruck to San Candido is around 3 hours, while Venice is 5-6 hours, Verona 4 hours, and Milan is 5-6 hours. See the Trenitalia website (in English) at this link. For alternative high-speed rail travel, see the Italo website. For complete information on using the Italian train system, see our blog post. See the Austrian rail system website here if you are coming in from Innsbruck.
Bus: there is a convenient direct bus from Venice (from the “Mestre” train station, or directly from the airport) that takes about 4 hours, including a 50-min. stop/change in Cortina. It only runs on the weekends. See the website (in English) for the Cortina Express.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends with a private van transfer to the Venice airport, arriving around 11:00 a.m. From there you can get a bus or water taxi into town or to the train station. See our "Transport Info" page for more information on transportation alternatives at the Venice airport.
Private Transfers: we can also arrange for a car or van to make your transfer easier; please contact us for details.
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip. Please e-mail us with any specific travel questions.
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