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Dolomites Grand Traverse, Italian Alps Hiking

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  • Location: Italy
  • Duration: 7 nights/8 days
  • Departing from: Venice airport at 1 pm on day 1.
  • Tour finishes: Venice airport, 11:00 am on day 8
  • Departures 2022: June 26 (SOLD OUT), July 3 (SOLD OUT),17 (SOLD OUT), Sept 2 (Friday start), Sept 9 (Friday start), Sept 13 (Tuesday start)
  • Price 2022: Euro €3,350 per person based on double occupancy and minimum 3 people.Single supplement €200. One guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people. Two guides accompany departures of 9 or more people. We previously provided this tour to REI Adventures who sold it at $4,699 USD. They no longer do any international tours and we can now offer the tour directly to you, so you save over $700 USD per person.
  • Departures 2023: June 25, July 2,16, Aug 27, Sept 3, Sept 10
  • Price 2023: Euro €3,500 per person based on double occupancy and minimum 3 people. Single supplement €220. One guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people. Two guides accompany departures of 9 or more people.

Italy’s Dolomites spill over with grandeur. With all trails above tree line, our 8 day adventure in the Dolomites is nothing short of breathtaking. Magnificent views abound at every turn of the trail; alpine lakes, massive rock towers and green valleys below provide an awe-inspiring spectacle every day. During the First World War the Dolomites were the front line between Austria and Italy. We hike past abandoned bunkers and fortifications which adds a fascinating if haunting historical element to the tour. We stay in the quaint villages of San Candido and Cortina for two nights each in four star hotels while for three nights we stay in mountain “rifugi”, the cozy and comfortable fully catered alpine huts for which the Dolomites are famous. Staying high up in the mountains allows you to really experience the drama and beauty of this breathtaking region. Finally, thanks to a unique blend of Austrian and Italian flavors, every meal is truly delicious. Our Dolomites Grand Traverse is a journey through some of the most incredible areas of the Italian Alps.

Dolomites Grand Traverse Hiking Tour Includes:

Accommodation: 7 nights accommodation ( 2 nights in San Candido at a four-star, 3 nights in comfortable rifugi [mountain huts, fully catered, extensive wine lists, hot showers, and at least one of the three nights in private rooms for people in double occupancy, the other two nights you may have to share a room with other people ], 2 nights at a four-star hotel in Cortina.)
Meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 picnic lunch, and 6 dinners.
Transfers: Pick up from Venice airport and transfer to San Candido, return private transfer to Auronzo rifugio on day 2, private transfer to the trail head on day 3, private transfer from the end of the hike to the Cortina hotel on Day 6, return private transfer from Cortina to Passo Giau on Day 7, final private transfer from Cortina to Venice airport or Mestre train station.
Luggage: Bags are transferred from Venice on day one to the San Candido hotel. Your bags are also transfered to the first and second rifugio so you do not have to carry anything other than your day pack. However, we are unable to transfer your bags to the third rifugio. Your luggage will be transfered to the Cortina hotel and you will need to carry with you what you need for one night in the rifugio. It is very easy. At the end of day 6 your luggage will be waiting for you in your hotel room in Cortina. Your luggage is then transfered with you on the final day to Venice airport or Mestre train station.
Active days: 6 days of guided hiking
Guides: At least 1 bilingual Customwalks guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people; 2 guides accompany departures of 9 or more people
Max group size: Tours are capped at 14 people

Note: Rooms in the huts are based on a first come, first served basis. If you book early, and you are a couple there is a good chance we will be able to reserve double rooms for you, however it may be necessary to have three or four people maximum in a room. Toilets and showers are in the hallway (it's a great way to meet people!).

Dolomites Grand Traverse, Italian Alps Hiking itinerary Request full itinerary

Day 1: Meet your tour leader in Venice, Italy, and transfer to San Candido.

Your guide will meet you 1 pm at the Venice Airport for a transfer to our hotel in San Candido-Innichen. We are now in the Upper Pusteria Valley of the southern Tyrol, which was part of the Austrian Empire until 1918. You’ll have some time after check-in to explore the town’s Romanesque and Baroque churches, or relax at a café in the main square and admire the view of the Baranci mountains in the near distance. Intro drink is followed by dinner in the wood paneled hotel dining room. Overnight San Candido. Lodging and dinner included. Transfer time 2.5 hours.

Day 2: Hike around the spectacular massif of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

A short transfer takes us to the Auronzo Rifugio for the start of our hike around the soaring massif of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, or “Three Peaks.” Hike beneath the vertical rock face as the colors change with the passing clouds and sunbreaks. The highest peak (Cima Grande) rises to 9,836 ft. (2,998 m). Stop for lunch at a traditional mountain hut, itself at 7,300 ft (2,225 m), which offers magnificent views of the mountains beyond. Hearty local dishes include barley soup, plus a wide array of regional cheeses and cold cuts, followed of course by a piece of fresh apple strudel. We continue our hike back to Auronzo, passing bunkers that date from the disastrous battles of the First World War. Transfer time 45 minutes; The Hike: 9.6 mi (15.5 km) or ~5.5 hrs; Terrain: hard-packed dirt and rocky trails, some scree; Elev. gain: 2,940 ft (896 m) and loss: 1,870 ft (570 m) (please note that these are estimates and they can change depending on conditions). Overnight San Candido. Lodging, breakfast and dinner included. 

Day 3: From Lake Braies, hike to our cozy rifugio in Sennes.

Today we begin our “grand traverse” through the mountains and have the first of three nights in a cozy mountain hut (rifugio in Italian). Your luggage is transferred for you to the rifugio so you only need to carry a daypack with you on the hikes. After breakfast, a short transfer takes you to the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Natural Park, where the emerald waters of Lake Braies are surrounded by dramatic peaks on three sides. Begin your hike up past dwarf pine trees and eventually arrive at a high saddle, which offers views down over the crystalline waters of Lake Braies and ahead to the vast expanse of exposed, lunar-like slabs of rock that lie between the Croda del Becco and Croda Rossa peaks. After a while we can make out a small building in the distance, the Rifugio Biella, which will welcome us for a hot lunch. You may want to try canederli (dumplings made from bread, cheese, and spinach cooked in a butter and sage sauce) and of course more strudel and a shot of espresso afterwards! From there we continue hiking until we reach our rifugio, which sits on a high meadow that is often filled with a herd of friendly cows. Relax on the sunny terrace before a hot shower followed by dinner.  Transfer time 30 mins; The Hike: 8.5 mi (13.7 km) or ~ 5-6 hrs; Terrain: hard packed dirt and rocky trails, some scree; Elev gain 3,450 ft (1,052 m) and loss 210 ft (64 m). Lodging, breakfast and dinner included.

Day 4: Karst landscape of the Fanes Plateau

Start gradually this morning on a gentle trail through a meadow before heading downhill to Rigugio Pederu for a coffee and strudel break. After our break, head out again on a trail that makes its way up through pine forest and clearings to the Forcella de Medesc and the Fanes Plateau, a karst limestone expanse criss crossed with babbling brooks. Lunch at Fanes and them a 15 minute walk to rifugio Laverella where we spend the night at  6,725 ft/2,050 m. Today is a relatively short hike, but you can add some extra miles with an optional 2-3 hour hike Passo di Sant'Antonio, for gorgeous views towards the Monte Antelau or you may prefer to chill out on the sunny terrace in a comfortable deck chair or even enjoy the wood fired sauna. Get together again this evening in the wood-paneled dining room for a hearty meal featuring a mix of Austrian, Ladin, and Italian cuisine. Try the “cajinci,”or “Schlutzkrapfen" in German, a local dish that’s a kind of ravioli with ricotta and spinach. The Hike: 6.5 mi (10.5 km) or ~ 3.5 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt with one long, steep descent; Elevation gain 2,300 ft (700 m) and loss 1,475 ft (450 m). Optional hike: 5 mi (8 km) or 2-3 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt and rocky trails, some scree; Elevation gain 1,300 ft (400 m) and loss 1,300 ft (400 m). Lodging, breakfast and dinner included.

Day 5: Hike to Rifugio Lagazuoi—one of the highest huts in the Dolomites.

This morning we pack our daypack with what we need for one overnight. Our luggage will be transported to Cortina where we will arrive tomorrow afternoon. We have a gentle start this morning. After a short initial climb we enjoy a beautiful two-hour soft descent into a wide valley surrounded by high peaks. We take an amazing trail that climbs steeply out of the valley, hugging the broad flanks of Monte Cavallo, before threading its way through spires of rock before plunging back down to rejoin the principal trail to Lagazuoi. The descent features a truly impressive series of switchbacks down to Lagacio Lake where we will take a break for a picnic lunch. Following lunch we have our epic climb to Rifugio Laqazuoi, which sits perched on a ledge overlooking the strategic Passo Falzarego. A starkly beautiful mountain landscape is made more dramatic by the visible remnants of the terrible struggle that occurred here between 1915 and 1917. Twisted bits of barb wire, trenches and bunkers line our route up to Lagazuoi, which at 2,752 meters (9,029') is one of the highest huts in the Italian Dolomites. Our efforts are rewarded by a truly awesome 360° view of the surrounding mountains and distant green valleys. Lagazuoi also offers an excellent culinary experience. We dine a la carte and there is also a truly excellent wine list to choose from. The Hike: 8.5 mi (13.7 km) or 5-6 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt and rocky trails, some scree, with a steep downhill and one short stretch with some exposure; Elev gain 3,500 ft (1,067 m) and loss 1,230 ft (375 m). In case of bad weather, we have another route which takes us to the Rifugio Scontoni, a fairy tale mountain hut that has the best strudel in the Dolomites! Lodging, breakfast, lunch and dinner included. Note: In case of challenging weather, we have an alternative route which features Rifugio Scontoni, a fairytale mountain hut that serves up the best strudel in the Dolomites! Lodging, breakfast, picnic lunch and dinner included.

Day 6: Hike past World War I remnants, finishing in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Sunrise from Lagazuoi’s vantage point overlooking a huge expanse of mountains is an unforgettable experience. After breakfast our trail takes us to Cortina along the flank of the massive Tofanes. Huge views abound across the Falzarego pass onto Cinque Torri (Five Towers) on the far side of the valley. The trail winds past remnants of the World War I battles. We first pass dugouts and bunkers of the Austrian front lines then to the  eerie remains of Italian trenches and fortifications. We hike all the way to Cortina, or almost. We cheat on the last segment by taking a knee-saving chair lift down Italy’s world famous alpine resort town and host of the 2026 Winter Olympics. There is free time this afternoon to explore this charming town and its shopping, regional museum, open-air cafes and galleries, and enjoy a delicious gelato or a cold frothy beer in the piazza. Our historic four star hotel dates back to the end of the 19th century and is centrally located. Tonight is a free night dinner. The Hike: 5.5 mi (8.8 km) or ~ 3.5 – 4.5 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails Elev gain 1,900 ft (580 m) and loss 3,780 ft (1,152 m). Overnight Cortina. Hotel and breakfast included.

Day 7: Hike past jagged peaks and an enchanting alpine lake.

Our final hike has all the classic elements: spectacular views, a shimmering alpine lake, and towering rock formations. We transfer to Passo Giao to start our hike at 2,236 m (7,336 ft). The trail traverses a high alpine meadow with views onto distant Marmolada glacier and the spectacular Monte Pelmo. We drop down to Rifugio Croda da Lago for a one last superb lunch overlooking the sapphire waters of Lake Federa and the reflections of the surrounding peaks. The trail drops down through pine and larch forests to our pick up point for our return to Cortina. Dinner in one of Cortina’s best restaurants to celebrate a week of awesome hiking, lots of laughs, and new friends. The Hike: 12 kms/8 miles;  4.5 hours (3h morning and 1h30mins afternoon); Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails; Elevation gain: 2497ft/761m; Elevation loss: 4239ft/1292m  Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.

*SPECIAL OPTION: For the adventurers among you, today you can opt to try the Via Ferrata or "Iron Way" (weather permitting). If you choose this option you skip the regular hike and join a local Alpine guide to summit Punta Fiames (this requires an extra fee at your expense). The Via Ferrata is a network of iron ladders and cables that allow hikers to ascend vertical or exposed trails without the need to rock-climb.Transfer time: 50 mins; The Hike: 8.7 mi (14 km) or 5-6 hours; Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails; Elev gain 3,225 ft (983 m) and loss 850 ft (260 m). Optional Via Ferrata: 5 hours; Transfer 20 minutes.

Day 8: Cortina to Venice Airport

Our adventure ends with a private two-hour van transfer to the Venice Airport. We plan to arrive by 11am in time for flights departing at 1pm. Transfer to Venice airport and breakfast included. Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.

Bag transfers and Backpacks

Backpacks: On this tour you will be carrying more in your backpacks than on other tours because: a) we are in the mountains so you need to carry more layers and be ready for any weather conditions; b) you may need to carry more water since it may not be readily available; and c) you will have to carry 1 change of clothing and your toothbrush for the 1 overnight in the a rifugio. We do organize a bag transfer to Rifugio No. 1, and and again to and from Rifugio No. 2. Here is how it looks day by day.
a.    Day 1: You and your bags are picked up from Venice airport and transferred to San Candido.
b.    Day 2: First hike is a loop Hike. you just carry what you need for the day.
c.    Day 3: Hike to Rifugio No. 1, you just carry what you need for the day. A small duffel bag with your overnight requirements will be transported by 4X4 to the rifugio No. 1. Your main luggage will be transferred to the final hotel in Cortina.
d.    Day 4: Hike to Rifugio No. 2, you just carry what you need for the day. A small duffel bag with your overnight requirements will be transported by 4X4 from rifugio 1 to rifugio No. 2.
e.    Day 5: Hike to Rifugio No. 3, you carry what you need for 1 overnight. The small duffel bag with your other stuff is transported from rifugio No. 2. To the hotel in Cortina where you will be reunited with all your luggage on Day 6.
f.    Day 6: Hike from Rifugio No. 3 to Cortina. You will carry in your backpack whatever you required for the 1 night in Rifugio No.. 3. Overnight tonight in a Hotel in Cortina where you will be reunited with your main luggage, and the small duffel bag that was transported from Rifugio No. 2.
g.    Day 7 Hike. loop Hike. you just carry what you need for the day.

Activity Level 4 = Rewarding: 
In general: This is a Rewarding tour for fit hikers who will find them a satisfying and challenging workout; they are not appropriate for unfit hikers.
Terrain: Rolling and often steep terrain with frequent challenging ascents and descents, often over rugged and uneven terrain
Actual walking time: between 4 - 6 hours per day, mostly in the morning but also in the afternoon
Distances: Usually 10 - 15 km (6 - 9 mi). Max distance is 18 km (11 mi).
Surfaces: Trails are a mix of compact earth or dirt track, gravel roads, and rocky, uneven trails. You will also encounter ancient stone stairways and rocky steps. You may also find somewhat overgrown sections. 
Footing: Good to tricky. You must pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes or boots with thick soles with good treads are required. Sport sandals, running shoes and tennis shoes are not adequate.
Specifics: This tour has some sustained climbs of two to three hours so you just put it in low gear and enjoy the exertion and wonderful views.
Hiking Poles: Highly recommended and your guides will mutter to themselves when they see you did not bring any poles. If you don’t bring your poles and ask your guide to use his or hers, they will refuse because they need them!   
Compared to the Cinque Terre: More difficult than the Cinque Terre mostly because the distances are longer and because you will be carrying a slightly heavier back-pack. If you enjoyed the hikes on the Cinque Terre and want to hike more, then these 4-rated “Rewarding” tours are perfect for you. 
Other: These tours are not appropriate for first-time hikers. People with hip and knee issues might find that they aggravate your pre-existing injuries. Hikers need to be fit and able to hike for five hours a day. You should also be used to negotiating rocky, uneven terrain.
Rewarding Tours: Dolomites "Classic" Hike, Tuscany Mountains, Dolomites Grand Traverse

5/5
RatingRatingRatingRatingRating  
5 out of 5
Ratings based on 11 Verified Reviews



Average ratings
5.0
Guides
5.0
Quality of itinerary
5.0
Food quality & variety
5.0
Value for money
5.0
Right amount of activity
5.0
Overall satisfaction

Reviews
5
by Nora T.
Posted Jul 23, 2022

We recently returned from the Dolomites Grand Traverse tour. This was our first tour with Customwalks but it certainly will not be our last. The Dolomites is a magical place, with outstanding vistas around every corner. Every detail was expertly planned, and we couldn't have asked for better or more professional guides - Brett (Customwalks owner), Marco, and Rachele - to spend the week with. Everything about this trip exceeded our expectations - the hikes, the lodgings, the food, the wine, the history briefings about the area, the friendly cows, the mini Italian language lessons, and our wonderful fellow hikers. We have done many multi-day long distance hiking tours, and the terrain on this tour was some of the most challenging we've experienced. But knowing there was a cold beer, plenty of pasta, and a hot shower at the end of every trail was perfect motivation! If you're looking for a beautiful and challenging week of hiking, this is the tour for you. Train hard and do it!

5
by Wayne T
Posted Jul 23, 2022

Our Dolomites Grand Traverse was one of the best trips my wife and I ever have taken. Everything was planned exceptionally well. Our guides Brett (the owner), Marco and Rachele were fantastic, from encouraging us when the hiking got difficult and at times tricky to explaining the rock formations and flowers. The itinerary, accommodations, and food and wine were excellent. The hiking and scenery were spectacular. I recommend that anyone considering this trip train hard. This was our first trip with Customwalks, and it will not be our last!

5
by Confidential Client (from June 2022 Tour)
Posted Jul 22, 2022

Simply fantastic. My experience involved the Customwalks owner, Brett, and Marco the guide. Let me just simplify this review and echo what I told Brett at the time we departed - this felt like the trip of a lifetime for me. And to be clear, obviously the location in Italy was a big factor, but also a big factor was the Customwalks aspects. They made it just top notch, and I can only give this tour my highest recommendation. Professional, personable, knowledgeable, and well organized.

5
by Drew G
Posted Jul 13, 2022

The Dolomites trip was spectacular on many levels and our guides were knowledgeable and very accommodating. And as usual, everything -- all the routes, stops, food and lodgings -- went off without a hitch. (This was our third CustomWalks trip and we're already talking about the next one!)

5
by Tina Reilly
Posted Jul 12, 2022

This trip is one of the best travel experiences I've ever had. Like all Customwalks tours, it was impeccably organized, with everything running like clockwork. Brett, the company owner, solved a couple significant challenges (not of his own making) without interrupting our experience in any way. He's a total pro. Meanwhile, the scenery was spectacular, the food and wine excellent and the company warm an entertaining. Our guide, Marco (and Rachele, in training) were knowledgable, entertaining, and always so accommodating. They wanted our experience to be perfect, We ate amazing food, drank delicious wine and slept comfortably in the most extraordinary surroundings. If you're a hiker, DO THIS TRIP. You will thank yourself.

5
by Jane Frates
Posted Sep 21, 2021

I have never been anywhere as beautiful as the Italian Alps. I felt like I was looking at a painting everywhere I looked! Just stunning!! The entire trip was coordinated perfectly by Customwalks and our Guide Marco was superb. Being from Italy he was so knowledgeable of the history of the area and I especially enjoyed walking across the same ground and seeing all the bunkers where the Italian army fought during WWI. My birthday happened to be during the trip and Marco made reservations at a great seafood restaurant in Cortina to celebrate. Marco went above and beyond my expectations to make this trip special. The Refugios were all wonderful and all the food they served was fantastic. Oh the Pasta!! Our tour only had my friend and I and Customwalks still did the tour where most companies would not have done it with only 2 people. I want to go to New Zealand and Customwalks will be the tour company I use.

5
by Anonymous
Posted May 17, 2021

I did the grand traverse of the Dolomites July 15-20th, 2018 and it was amazing. Exceeded all my expectations!!! Dennis, Marco, and Francesca were absolutely wonderful and catered to everyone's wishes! I will do another trip just because of how great of guides they were!

5
by TMGardiner
Posted May 05, 2021

From snow to rain to sun, an unforgettable adventure. Guided right, and fed well. Wine and views to remember, with great comrades!

5
by SeaJan
Posted Mar 31, 2021

Bellissimo I went on this trip in September 2019 and it met and exceeded my expectations. The level of difficulty was accurately described as 3-4 and the terrain and vistas are just spectacular. Our guides, Dennis and Melissa, were engaging and experienced and I would recommend them to any traveler. They did a great job of adjusting the hikes to the weather and conditions. The rifugios were charming, food was plentiful and accommodations were comfortable.

5
by GeoJulie
Posted Mar 31, 2021

You need to take this trip! I went on this trip in July 2019. It was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! The views were spectacular, the rifugios were charming, and the guides were knowledgeable, skilled, and truly delightful. The difficulty level was accurately described, and for me it was challenging enough to justify all the fabulous food and wine every evening. I could have never organized this on my own, even if I had wanted to, which is one of the reasons organized trips are so worthwhile.



If you have any questions or specific requests about any of our tours, we’re here to help. You can fill in the form below, send us an email, or call us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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We recently returned from the Dolomites Grand Traverse tour. This was our first tour with Customwalks but it certainly will not be our last. The Dolomites is a magical place, with outstanding vistas around every corner. Every detail was expertly planned, and we couldn't have asked for better or more professional guides - Brett (Customwalks owner), Marco, and Rachele - to spend the week with. Everything about this trip exceeded our expectations - the hikes, the lodgings, the food, the wine, the history briefings about the area, the friendly cows, the mini Italian language lessons, and our wonderful fellow hikers. We have done many multi-day long distance hiking tours, and the terrain on this tour was some of the most challenging we've experienced. But knowing there was a cold beer, plenty of pasta, and a hot shower at the end of every trail was perfect motivation! If you're looking for a beautiful and challenging week of hiking, this is the tour for you. Train hard and do it!
by Nora T.


Our Dolomites Grand Traverse was one of the best trips my wife and I ever have taken. Everything was planned exceptionally well. Our guides Brett (the owner), Marco and Rachele were fantastic, from encouraging us when the hiking got difficult and at times tricky to explaining the rock formations and flowers. The itinerary, accommodations, and food and wine were excellent. The hiking and scenery were spectacular. I recommend that anyone considering this trip train hard. This was our first trip with Customwalks, and it will not be our last!
by Wayne T


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