Dolomites “Light” Hiking Tour Write a review
Dolomites “Light”: We have designed an easier version of our Dolomites hike to allow more people to enjoy the spectacular alpine scenery of one of Italy’s most scenically dramatic regions. If you have done our Tuscany Hike, Cinque Terre Hike, or Amalfi Hike, then you can do this toned-down version of our classic Dolomites tour. Yes, we have reduced the difficulty and length of the hikes, not the breathtaking views. We still take you on awesome hikes that get you above the tree-line and into the stunningly beautiful environment of the Dolomite mountains.
Trip design: this version of our Dolomites tour is designed to run simultaneously and in parallel with our regular version. This way, people can sign up for the easier version but still do a more challenging hike later in the week if there are other hikers who are doing the other route. It also means that couples can travel together, but not always hike together if one is, shall we say, not feeling as spry as the other. Often the two groups will meet together for lunch as both groups will often be hiking in the same area, but on different routes.
Dolomites “Light” Hiking Tour Includes
Dolomites “Light” Hiking Tour itinerary Request full itinerary
Meet the trip leader at 1pm at Venice Airport for a convenient private transfer into the mountains. A 2.5-hour transfer takes you to our first night’s hotel in San Candido-Innichen, Italy. You will have some time to explore the village and admire its beautiful wooden farmhouses adorned with geraniums and the odd smurf gnome! There is no accounting for taste, even in Italy. \Joking aside, it is a gorgeous alpine village with the stunning Baranci chain of mountains providing a dramatic backdrop. We will get together for a drink and an intro talk from the guides before dinner in the cozy "stuba" dining room. Overnight Post Hotel or Sporthotel Tyrol (or similar) in San Candido/Innichen. Hotel and dinner included.
At 08:30 we have a 15-minute van transfer to the start of the hike into the beautiful secluded valley of Campo di Dentro. After 90 minutes we have a rest stop at the Tre Scarpieri rifugio, before continuing a climb up to towards the towering peaks of the Baranci chain. YOu have the option of climbing little Baranci for spectacular views across to the Tre Cime which punctuate the horizon with their three spires of rock. We then have a gradual downhill that eventually brings us to rifugio Baranci where we have lunch. Afterwards, you have the choice of hiking down to the village, taking a chair lift down, or the “Fun Bob” which descends a special concrete track like a summertime Bobsled, but much slower but still good fun. You’ll have time to explore the quaint village or enjoy the hotel spa before meeting for dinner in the hotel dining room. The Hike: 13 kms/8 mi, with optional 3.2 kms/2 mil extension. Total elevation gain 830 m/2,656 ft, Total elevation loss 895 m/ 2,864 ft, Total duration 4 hours, 5 hours with optional extension. Overnight: San Candido. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Today we transfer up to the high alpine meadow of Pratopiazza, which lies at 2,000 m (6,500 ft.). It’s surrounded by the Croda Rossa, Tofana, and Monte Cristallo Mountain ranges, and in June it is covered in a carpet of delicate wildflowers. A short ascent takes you to the Rifugio Vallandro, where you can enjoy a mid-morning cappuccino and strudel break. Then check out an Austrian fort from the First World War that affords commanding views over the former Imperial border between Hapsburg Austria and Italy. Loop back to the Rifugio Croda Rosa then descend through an open larch wood, along a sparkling mountain stream to the historic Hotel Bruckele, where we have lunch. Shuttle bank to the hotel where you can rest up in the hotel spa. The Hike: This day has different options, the easiest is 6 mi (10 kms) with 160 ft (50m) elev. gain and 1,760 ft (550m) elev. Duration 3 to 3.5 hours. The long option adds 2.5 mi (4 km), 480ft (150 m) elev. gain and 500 ft (160 m) elev. loss and duration 1.5 hours. Overnight: San Candido. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Start the day with a very early van transfer 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 spiked 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). Stop for lunch at a rifugio that offers magnificent views of the surrounding landscape, then continue back to the Auronzo rifugio past rock-faces honeycombed with look-outs dating from WWI. The Hike: 6.5 mil (11 km) and elev. gain/loss 1,200 ft (382 m) loop walk. Duration 3 to 3.5 hours Overnight: San Candido. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Leave the Sud Tyrol region this morning and enter the Veneto region 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 your view. You will see why Cortina is considered to be the most perfectly situated town in the Italian Alps. Todaym however, we trade mountains and meadows for canyons and waterfalls. On this spectacular new hike only recently opened, we zigzag upriver through wild rhododendron forests and pause at thunderous waterfalls – you can go right up to them and even in back of one. This is one of the most thrilling hikes you’ll ever take. You have free time this afternoon to explore lovely Cortina, perhaps visit the ethnographic museum detailing the region’s history and traditions, and certainly relax in one of the outdoor cafés. Dinner tonight in a stylish restaurant on Cortina’s main pedestrian street.The Hike: 8 mi (13km) eleva. gain/loss 1,300 ft (300 m) Duration 4 hours. Overnight: Cortina. Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included.
We transfer to Passo Falzarego and hike up to rifugio Averau for a coffee break. Depending on the weather we will either go up to the Rifugio Nuvolau – which means “rifugio in the clouds” in local dialect. As the name suggests, it offers spectacular views if the weather is clear. We then descent to hike amongst the “Cinque Torri” (five towers), whose jagged spires are often full of intrepid rock-climbers. This is also an open-air museum which displays the WWI positions and fortifications which the Italians occupied during their two-year struggle against the Austrians who were perched opposite them above the strategic Falzarego pass on the Lagazuoi ridge line. Lunch can be had at rifugio Scoiatolli which serves up superb regional cuisine. We take a chair lift back down in the afternoon and are transferred by van back to Cortina. You have free time this afternoon to explore lovely Cortina, perhaps visit the ethnographic museum detailing the region’s history and traditions, and certainly relax in one of the outdoor cafés. Tonight is a “free night” so you can dine anywhere you like. Your guides have lots of suggestions, and you may want to have a very special culinary experience and dine at one of Cortina’s two Michelin starred restaurants. The Hike: Distance 8.5 kms/5.3 mi Elevations gain 598 m/1,918 ft. Elevation loss 432 m/1,382 ft. Duration 3.5 hours. Overnight: Cortina. Hotel and breakfast included. Dinner not included.
A breathtaking gondola ride whisks us up to 2100m to Mount Faloria. Take in the stunning panorama before stating our hike which descends into the valley through beautiful larch forests. We eventually reach verdant fields where brown eyed cows happly graze their pastures. We stop for lunch at Rifugio Mietres, a classic all wood chalet with a stunning view over the valley and superb food. Afterwards, we continue our walk descending by foot into Cortina. The Hike: 10.9 kms/6.8 miles or 3.5 h mostly downhill with a total descent of 2,700feet. Hard packed dirt and rocky trails and some asphalt back in town. A final delicious dinner together to celebrate the week’s adventures. Overnight: Cortina. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We leave at 8:45 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 one group 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 are spectacular. This itinerary allows you to enjoy the magnificence of the mountain terrain in a more relaxed manner than our more rigorous itinerary. The use of chair-lifts and funiculars allows us to avoid the worst of the uphills and downhills; still, we are definitely in the mountains and often in rugged terrain. The paths are good but require good footing. We will be walking between 2.5 and 4 hours a day, which means between 10 - 14 kms (6 - 8.5 mi.).
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 Plus:
In general: This is a Moderate tour for fit hikers who will find the hikes a satisfying workout, while less-fit hikers will find them challenging but do-able and have a great sense of achievement at the end of the week.
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 standard 3-rated tours.
Actual hiking time: Between 3-5 hours per day, mostly in the morning but also in the afternoon.
Distances: Usually 8 - 12 kms (5 - 7 mi) per day. Max distance 16 kms (9 mi).
Surfaces: Trails are a mix of compact earth or dirt track, gravel roads, and rocky, uneven wooded trails. You will also encounter centuries' old stone stairways and rocky steps.
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. Max distance 16 kms (10 mi.), and the elevation gain is between 200 - 400 m (650 - 1,300 ft). Note: this is an "easier" version of our Dolomites hiking trip, but you will still be in an alpine environment with some sustained climbs, just not as long and steep as our classic tour. The elevation gain and loss are less dramatic than in 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+ rated tour. Our most common comment about the Cinque Terre Hike and other tours rated 3+ 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 and have good balance. 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, followed by the Cinque Terre, 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: We pick you up from Venice Airport at 1 pm on Day 1. A 2.5 hour private transfer takes you and your luggage to San Candido.
Air: The most convenient airport to the trip is Venice. 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: Venice is well connected by highspeed rail lines to all principal cities in Italy. 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.
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.
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip.
I can't say enough about Custom Walks and our two guides, Francesca and Melissa! Professional, welcoming and very knowledgeable...did I mention fun too? We were on the Dolomite Light Trip. The transportation from and to the Venice airport and between towns was comfortable and well orchestrated. Our hotels in San Candido and Cortina were superb. The meals were arranged with thought of culture, location, and cuisine (also helpful with food sensitivities and allergies). The hikes were diverse, amazing, and well guided. The guides were knowledgeable, attendant to all, and beyond helpful. We had a slight emergency with one of the hikers and the guides had our back all the way with emergency care, translation and support. We hope to plan another hiking trip with them in the future. Custom Walks is highly recommended!
This trip was epic in its beauty, people, and organization. Francesca and Melissa (guides) created a fantastic trip for us to experience the Dolomites beauty. Their attention to detail and unexpected events gave us complete confidence they “could handle anything”! Thank you for the wonderful memories!
This was our first trip with CustomWalks and it exceeded our expectations. The accommodations, itinerary and guides were excellent. And who could forget the food. It was great with a variety of selections. Stephanie, our guide, provided us with great guide hikes, explaining the history of each of our daily hikes, some located in post-WW I trails locations. Yes we were met with some unplanned rain, but only once did we change our plans and cut our day short. We highly recommend this tour.
This was our 3rd CW tour, all have been outstanding with each offering something \special\. On this tour, the special was a dinner at a tiny restaurant above S. Candido. In fact of the top 10 meals I can remember having, 5 have been with Custom Walks. The itinerary was excellent, the hiking destinations were spectacular and even though we had rain on some days the scenery became even more dramatic. Custom Walks has my unqualified recommendation.
I was wowed my the scenery and appreciated the choice each day of the more vigorous traditional (which we did some days) and the lighter variation. Having two excellent guides made these choices possible, and this was terrific. I highly recommend this hiking adventure, and the towns in which we stayed were great to explore on off hours. Thanks.
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A wonderful hiking experience in a truly amazing part of the world! And the food was great, too. Melissa and Francesca were delightful, experienced, and helpful guides. This was my second Customwalks tour - the small group size and attention to detail really makes these tours special.
by Anne B
A great all around trip. Plenty enough exercise in order to rationalize the overeating of the delicious meals.. As always the guides “make the trip” and we had double winners Melissa and Francesca.
by Michael L