My Epic Adventure Along Alta Via 4 In The Italian Dolomites

Sometime in 2018, after my first season in the Italian Dolomites, I came up with the idea that I am going to hike all 6 of the official Alta Vias.  In the summer of 2019, after a year of meticulous planning, my plan finally came to fruition.

If I was to pick my favorite one by far, it would definitely be the Alta Via 4 and this guide will bring you a little closer to what I have experienced along the way and help you plan your own adventure! 

The Comprehensive Guide to Alta Via 4 in the Italian Dolomites

Alta Via 4 Extension Via Ferrata Merlone 8

Alta Via 4  – An  Overview

Alta Via 4 is a 92-kilometer (57 miles) long route in the Italian Dolomites stretching between the towns of San Candido in the North and Pozzale in the South. It can be completed in between 5 and 7 days.

There are a few via ferratas along the route which cannot be bypassed. It means you will need to pack essential equipment such as a helmet, harness, and a special via ferrata lanyard. More on that later. 

What are the best months to hike Alta Via 4?

The route is accessible from the third week of June until late September. That’s when the mountain passes are mostly clear of snow and the mountain huts are open to tourist traffic. 

How to pack for Alta Via 4?

The general rule for any hut-to-hut treks in the Dolomites is to go as light as possible. Thanks to the well-equipped huts there is no need to carry tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, or even food! 

Since Alta Via 4 includes some via ferrata crossings you will need to pack dedicated via ferrata gear amongst other things. 

For your convenience, I have written a comprehensive packing list, including links to my favorite gear and a downloadable checklist!

Where does Alta Via 4 start?

AV4 starts near the Alte Säge restaurant along the road connecting two towns: San Candido (Inninchen) and Sesto (Sexten) in the northern Dolomites. San Candido can be reached via trains from Venice or Milan airports. The closest international airport however is in Innsbruck in Austria. It’s only 2,5 hours away by train. 

I recommend staying in San Candido the night before you set off on Alta Via 4 to be as close as possible to the trailhead.

Where does Alta Via 4 end?

The tiny town of Pozzale close to Pieve di Cadore marks the end of the route. The latter also has trains going to major city hubs in Italy, or local buses if you wish to visit other great little towns in the Dolomites to do some more hiking. 

There are over a hundred rental properties in San Candido so I am sure you will find something suiting your budget! By the way, I would really appreciate if you use the link above when booking your stay and help me make a small commission at no cost to you! 

Alta Via 4 – an interactive map of the route

I created the map below to give you an overview of Alta Via 4. I marked all mountain huts as well as day routes and extensions. Click on the button in the top left corner of the map to see the different layers and names of the places. 

Whilst pretty accurate this map should not be used when navigating through the mountains! For that, you will require a proper topography map.

For crossing Alta Via 4 you need to purchase the TABACCO MAPS numbers: 010, 03, and  016. You can either buy them online or in any sports, souvenir, or cigarette shop in the local towns. Even some Rifugios sell them! 

Alta Via 4: day-by-day breakdown

Day 1: San Candido to Rifugio Locatelli

  • Distance: 14.2 km / 9 miles
  • Walking time: 4h 30min
  • Elevation gain: 1220 m / 4000 feet
  • Elevation loss: 120 m / 394 feet
  • Path numbers: 105

The hike starts from the Alte Säge restaurant. The location also serves as a bus stop for local public transport connecting the towns of San Candido and Sesto. 

Because there are some possible extensions to your first day on Alta Via 4 I always favor starting early and catching the first bus so you can squeeze in via ferrata in the afternoon. 

The first part of the hike leading to Rifugio Tre Scarperi leads mostly through the forest and rises 370 meters over 6 kilometers (ca 1200 feet over 3.7 miles). Not very challenging or in other words a great warm-up!

The hut can be reached in around 90 minutes. Unless you start the hike in the late afternoon the Tre Scarperi refuge is too close to the trailhead to justify an overnight stay there. What it is good for is picking up some lunch and eating it on the terrace with a great view into Campo di Dentro valley and Mount Mattina (Morgenkopf) straight ahead. 

After lunch continue your journey onward to Rifugio Locatelli. As soon as you reach the foot of Mount Mattina the path splits and starts going up for the next couple of hours until you reach your first hut – rifugio Locatelli. 

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Night 1: Rifugio Locatelli

Rifugio Locatelli is one of the busiest huts in the Dolomites so showing up without a reservation is out of the question! When I was planning my Alta Via challenge I booked the huts a few months in advance. Whilst this is not always necessary, booking ahead is definitely a smart thing to do.

At the end of this post, you will find a table with all huts along this route along with their contact info and other useful information. 

Extension day 1: Via ferrata Torre di Toblin

Alta Via 4 Extension Ferrata Torre Di Toblin 4

It’s the first day so you probably are still full of energy and a 4.5-hour trek to the Locatelli hut might not be enough! I’ve got some good news for you. There are two great via ferratas starting near the hut: Innerkofler and Torre di Toblin

Torre di Toblin is definitely my pick and I’ve done it twice so far. It was actually my first iron path ever and almost a year later I introduced my friend who was accompanying me on Alta Via 4 to the World of Italian via ferratas by taking her on the exact same route.

You can check into your room, leave most of your stuff and head out again, this time with a much lighter load. Via ferrata Torre di Toblin can be done in around 2 hours and it will be a great warm-up for the other via ferrata routes you will be tackling in the next few days.

Day 2: Rifugio Locatelli to Rifugio Fonda Savio

  • Distance: 12.5 km / 7.8 miles
  • Walking time: 4h 30min
  • Elevation gain: 685 m / 2250 feet
  • Elevation loss: 722 m / 2370 feet
  • Path numbers: 105, 117

Pray for good weather because today you will have some of the best views of the whole trek! The route continues on path no. 105 and circumnavigates to rifugio Auronzo.

We took a longer break here and stuffed our faces with freshly baked croissants and a cappuccino. It was early in the morning so a cappuccino was still allowed according to the Italian culture! 

From Rifugio Auronzo the route follows path no. 117. Half an hour after leaving the hut you will come across the Insta-famous viewpoint overlooking the Cadini di Misurina range (see the 4th photo above).  

Shortly after the path will turn into a via ferrata called Sentiero Bonacossa. It follows a series of ledges and ladders and it’s a beginner-level Ferrata however I still recommend putting your gear on. 

4.5 hours after leaving Rifugio Locatelli (not counting the breaks) you should reach Rifugio Fonda Savio. 

Night 2: Rifugio Fonda Savio

Rifugio Fonda Savio is one of the most photogenic mountain huts in the Italian Dolomites. I have stayed here 3 times already and I love its atmosphere as well as the friendly staff!

My only recommendation is to avoid booking a place in their attic. It’s dark, has a very low ceiling and the mattresses have seen better days.  

Extension day 2: Via ferrata Merlone

I hope you still have some energy left in you because you should not miss the chance to tackle the Via Ferrata Merlone

It’s a 3-hour round trip from Rifugio Fonda Savio to the top of Cima Cadin, the culmination of the via ferrata.

It encompasses 3 hours filled with exhilarating scrambling along countless ladders and jaw-dropping vistas toward the southern face of Tre Cime. Plus it overlooks much of the route you followed earlier in the day. 

Alta Via 4 Extension Via Ferrata Merlone 4

Day 3: Rifugio Fonda Savio to Rifugio Vandelli

  • Distance: 20.25 km / 12.6 miles
  • Walking time: 6h
  • Elevation gain: 965 m / 3166 feet
  • Elevation loss: 1371 m / 4500 feet
  • Path numbers: 117, 120, 217
Alta Via 4 Day 3 1

The day starts by continuing on path no. 117  on via ferrata Sentiero Bonacossa. The first part of the day takes you over two passes: Forcella Diavolo and Forcella di Misurina. There are some easy cable-protected sections when coming up and down from those passes so it’s smart to gear up. 

Approximately two hours after leaving Rifugio Fonda Savio you will reach Rifugio Col de Varda. There is a chairlift that runs from the hut down to Lake Misurina, for that reason, the area is quite busy. 

You will now face two options. You can either take the chairlift down and from Misurina catch the bus to Passo Tre Croci where the route continues on path no. 215 all the way to rifugio Vandelli. 

This is the famous trail leading to Lake Sorapiss. Considering you will get to it later in the day you can expect it to be really crowded. 

Personally, I feel like taking a chairlift and then a bus was cheating so I opted for an alternative, an albeit longer route which didn’t involve help from any mode of transport other than my legs.

This option is also a lot quieter. Isn’t peacefulness what we are after when deciding to follow a backcountry route?  

From rifugio Col de Varda you can take path no. 120 following the signs for rifugio Citta Di Carpi. 

By the way, this is a great refuge to stay at if you would like to break this day up or if you did the via ferrata Merlone extension early on day 3 rather than in the afternoon of day 2. 

Before reaching Rifugio Citta di Carpi, path 120 breaks away and drops down into the valley towards Rifugio Cristallo (out of operation). 

Cross the road and follow path no. 217 which will take you all the way to Rifugio Vandelli. The last 90 minutes is a pretty steep ascent so make sure to take a good break beforehand. 

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Lake Sorapiss

Night 3: Rifugio Vandelli

Rifugio Vandelli is run by a local Italian family. I have stayed there twice before and made friends with their lovely dog called Nutella!

The location of the refuge is one of a kind. It’s only a 5-minute walk to the shoreline of the beautiful Lake Sorapiss, one of the iconic locations of the Dolomites! 

Day 4: Rifugio Vandelli to Rifugio San Marco

  • Distance 19.6 km / 12.2 miles
  • Walking time 7h 30min
  • Elevation gain: 1185 m / 3890 feet
  • Elevation loss: 1310 m / 4300 feet
  • Path numbers: 243, 226
Alta Via 4 Day 4 6

Today is a true wilderness experience! Day 4 is undoubtedly the toughest on the whole route. There are two via ferratas to tackle both being part of the larger Giro del Sorapiss (Sorapiss circuit). 

Having done the circuit the previous year I knew what we were up against. It’s a good idea to start early.

I convinced my friend to get breakfast to go and leave with the first light. We also stocked up on some chocolate at Rifugio Vandelli to have something to snack on along the way. Pack extra water too as you won’t get a chance to fill up your bottle along the way. 

Leaving early turned out to be the perfect decision. We reached our next refuge 8 hours later just before a big storm. Others weren’t so lucky and arrived soaked to the bone. 

The first part of the day is along via ferrata Alfonso Vandelli. This is the toughest ferrata along the route and it climbs very steeply along the western face of Croda del Fogo. The second ferrata – Sentiero Carlo Minazzio is mostly a hike along ledges with occasional cable protection.

Do not fear either of them. If you were able to complete the ferratas on the previous days you won’t have trouble with these ones either. The only thing I would worry about is sticking to the route.

Although it is marked pretty well I was occasionally second-guessing myself. Don’t hike this part of Alta Via 4 without a map or GPS.

For the majority of the day, you will be following path no. 243, before it breaks off onto path no. 226. 

Alta Via 4 Day 4 6 2

Night 4: Rifugio San Marco

Rifugio San Marco is an old family-run refuge with fantastic views over Mount Pelmo. They served the best coffee and cakes along the whole route. Although after hiking for 8 hours my judgment could have been a bit impaired.

There is a lovely outdoor area with a shower. The water is heated with solar energy so if you are one of the first people to arrive you might even get lucky and have a warm shower! 

Day 5: Rifugio San Marco to Rifugio Antelao

  • Distance: 17.5 km / 10.9 miles
  • Walking Time: 6h
  • Elevation gain: 1230 m / 4035 feet
  • Elevation loss: 1260 m / 4134 feet
  • Path numbers: 227, 250
Alta Via 4 Day 5 1

Today you will be hiking and scrambling on the slopes of Mount Antelao – the second-highest mountain in the Dolomites! Albeit slightly easier than the previous, this day is still quite demanding. 

The day starts with a gentle hike up to the Forcella Picolla (Picolla saddle) then drops to Rifugio Galassi. The hut is only 45 minutes away from Rifugio San Marco and makes for a great overnight alternative if the latter is booked out. 

From Rifugio Galassi the route climbs steeply then turns into a via ferrata which leads to Forcella del Ghiacciaio. Similarly to the previous day, there aren’t many other people hiking on this route so you are up for some great backcountry experience! 

From Forcella del Ghiacciaio the path drops down to the Antelao valley before climbing up again to Forcella Piria. From here it’s smooth sailing to the last hut on Alta Via 4 – rifugio Antelao. 

Night 5: Rifugio Antelao

Rifugio Antelao was the only hut that didn’t make a lasting impression on me apart from one fact. When we stayed there they were very short on running water and we weren’t able to flush the toilets after peeing. 

I know it’s a strange thing to remember, but considering how scarce the water can be in the Dolomites this wasn’t actually anything out of the ordinary! 

Day 6: Rifugio Antelao to Pozzale

  • Distance 8 km / 5 miles
  • Walking time: 2h
  • Elevation loss: 730 m / 2395 feet
  • Path number: 250
Alta Via 4 Day 6 1 1

The last day is an easy 2 hour downhill hike to the village of Pozzale along path no. 250. For the most part, you will be walking through the forest along an old military road.

There are a few viewpoints along the way looking over Pieve di Cadore. Once you reach Pozzale you can jump on a local bus to Pieve di Cadore. From here you can either catch a train to Venice or take a local bus to Cortina D’Ampezzo where you can continue exploring the Dolomites. 

A list of all mountain huts along Alta Via 4

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If you are planning to hike Alta Via 4 this list of all mountain huts along the route will come in really handy. 

If this will be your first time staying in an Italian refuge make sure to check out my other article about everything you need to know before staying in a mountain hut in the Dolomites. It includes information about alpine club memberships, how to make reservations, the meaning of ‘half-board’, and much more. 

Mountain hutE-mailDistance From The Last HutPhone NumberCAI MemberShowersCredit/Debit cards accepted
Tre Scarperi info@drei-schuster-huette.com6km/3.7mi +39 0474 96 66 10 Yes 3 Euro / 5 minutes Yes
Locatelli dreizinnenhuette@rolmail.net8.2km/5.1mi +39 0474 97 20 02 Yes 8 Euro / 5minutes No 
Auronzo info@rifugioauronzo.it5.1km/3.2mi +39 0435 39 002 Yes N/AYes
Fonda Savio florian.poernbacher@rolmail.net7.4km/4.6mi +39 0435 39 036 Yes  No showersNo
Citta Di Carpi rifugio@caicarpi.it / rifugiocarpi@libero.it8.8km/5.5mi (2km off the track) +39 0435 39 139 Yes 8 Euro / 5 Minutes No
Vandelli rifugiovandelli@libero.it20.25km/12.6mi (from Fonda Savio)15.5km/9.6mi from Citta di Carpi +39 0435 39 015 Yes 6 Euro/5 minutes No
San Marco info@rifugiosanmarco.com19.6km/12.2mi +39 0436 94 44 Yes Outdoor shower (3 Euro) Yes 
Galassi info@rifugiogalassi.it3.7km/2.3mi +39 340 121 43 00 Yes5 Euro / 5 MinutesYes
Antelao liviozanardo2410@gmail.com13.8km/8.6mi+39 2119 68 41 Yes 5 Euro / 5 minutes Yes 

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Osprey 30+ Liter Backpack

30-40 liter backpack should be more than enough to pack everything you need for a hut-to-hut trip in the Dolomites with plenty of room for water and snacks. If you can’t fit in, it means you are overpacking. I am a huge fan of Osprey backpacks and currently own the Eja 38 litre. Osprey has plenty of options in this storage volume range to choose from.

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Sleeping Bag Liner

Sleeping bag liners are required for hut stays. Duvets and blankets aren’t washed after each guest who stays at the hut. Liners ensure that you don’t come in direct contact with the sheets and subsequently, it is more hygienic. Some huts rent or sell them, but it’s better to bring your own.

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Patagonia Insulated Jacket

Even in the middle of the summer season evenings can be quite cold. If you don’t plan on venturing out of the hut in the evenings, you can skip this layer. I personally always bring one with me as I like to take sunset photos outside.

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Merino Wool T-Shirts

Having a couple of Merino Wool T-shirts which you can alternate and then wash at the hut each day will be more than enough to keep body odors at bay. I am personally a big fan of the Icebreaker brand, however these days plenty of other brands have Merino products in their inventory.

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Merino Wool Socks

I always carry 2 pairs of socks in my backpack and one on me during multiday backpacking trails. Merino wool fibers and their unique properties are resistant to odors. Merino wool socks also prevent getting blisters as opposed to cotton socks.

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Peak Design Camera Clip

A must-have for any mountain photography enthusiast who is tired of carrying a camera around their neck. The peak design capture clip allows you to attach your camera to a backpack strap. That way you don’t have to take your backpack off and take your camera out every time you want to take a photo. You will always have it handy.

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Marta
Marta

Hi! I am the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.com. I come from Poland, but I've been living, travelling and working around the globe since I turned 18. A few years ago, during one of my trips to Scotland, I bought my first DSLR and my adventure with photography began. When I am not stuck to my computer editing photos, you can find me hiking somewhere in the mountains.

179 Comments

  1. Hello! I really loved your post. My friend and I are going to do AV4 this July and I was wondering if there’s any way to add the Antelao summit to the route. It would be a pitty to skip it while we’re so near during the trip. Thank you!

    • Hi Silvia. Thanks for visiting. Yes, you can add Antelao Summit. Instead of staying at rifugio San Marco you can stay a couple of nights in Rifugio Galassi instead. After the first night you do the summit of Antelao and return to Rifugio Galassi for the second night before continuing the trail. That means you will extend the whole AV4 by one night. I have not been to the summit of Antelao but I know that it is not an easy hike.

  2. Hi Marta! I’m inspired by this amazing blog post to consider trying Alta Via 4. I would like however to ask about your opinion on whether this is a child-friendly Alta Via (for a kid 140 cm tall and weighing 26.3 kg, will be 10 years old and with lots of training hiking). I’m not concerned about his confidence or courage so this is purely a mechanical question. Would his height and effective reach prevent him from doing the Alta Via 4? Particularly the unavoidable via Ferratas en route Giro del Sorapiss. Is there a minimum required age for doing it? Thank you for your answer!

    • Hi Kimberly, thanks for visiting. For the most part it would be, however after Rifugio Vandelli the via ferratas become significantly harder. I did have to haul up my friend at some point who is 170cm to help her reach a ledge. It was just one spot though. I didn’t meet any small kids on AV4, but I did meet a couple of families with children who were about 10 on a Dolomiti Brenta Traverse which is even harder than AV4. Generally kids are a lot more agile than adults, but I am afraid I cannot give you a straight answer, only share with you my observations.

  3. Hi Marta,
    We would like to do this next August 2024 however on the website for Rifugio Locatelli it is already showing as fully booked. Is this correct?! Also if this is the case are there any alternative places we can stay instead?

    • Hi Lucy. Sorry to hear about that. If that’s what they post on their site than it must be. Locatelli is unfortunately notoriously difficult to book. Now for your alternatives you can stay the first night in Tre Scarperi (your first day will be super easy with only 6 km) then the second night in either rif. Lavaredo or Auronz.

      Alternatively you can start the whole trek in Val Fiscalina in hike on the first day to rifugio Zsigmondy or Pian Di Cengia and then the second day hike to Rifugio Fonda Savio. You start in a different valley but the trek reconnect with Alta Via 4 at Rifugio Locatelli.

      Study the maps on my hikes to understand what I am talking about. I hope that helps.

  4. Hi Marta, nice meeting you. I think I wrote a similar message yesterday, but I can’t find it anymore.

    I am trying to navigate between the different treks in the Dolomites. It’s really hard to pick one. I can’t decide which trek I want to do. I believe you said that the Alta Via 4 was your favorite one. Why was it your favorite one ? If you had to recommend only one trek to someone in the Dolomites, would it be this one ?

    I am an experience multi-day hiker who’s not scare of heights. I am looking for the best views and most scenic route.

    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Alex. Thanks for visiting. The comments need to be approved first before they appear, so your last comment wasn’t lost, it was just waiting in line:) I deleted it now to avoid having them double.
      Now to your question. All treks are amazing in their own way. Also beauty is very subjective. Some people prefer more rugged landscapes, others prefer to hike through meadows and along lakes. All treks are unique in their own way, and all have fantastic views. It is easy to start overthinking about which one to choose. Alta Via 4 was my favourite because it gives access to many amazing via ferratas. The problem with that route is that it involves a stay at Rifugio Locatelli which is notoriously difficult for getting a reservation at It is a challenging route though, which does require prior via ferrata experience. Depending on how much time you have I would recommend that you look at Alta Via 2 (Particularly the second part). And if you have a lot of via ferrata experience then the new one I posted Monte Popera Circuit is fantastic (but quite challenging).

      • Hi Marta. Thank you so much for your answer. I think I will have enough time to do Alta Via 2 + a challenging Via Ferrata for 4-5 days. Alta Via 4 or the Brenta Traverse interest me.

        You’ve mentionned twice that challenging route require prior via ferrata experience. How much does it really matter ? Facts are, I don’t have a lot of Via Ferrata experience.

        How does experience really play a role in challenging Via Ferrata ? I’m in good physical shape with a lot of experience in treking, I don’t have a head for heights and a bit of experience in scrambling. Isn’t it enough ? I don’t want to sound overconfident, I’m just trying to figure if I can do these challenging route despite my lack of experience.

        Thank you so much for your time !

        • I presume you wanted to say that you do have a head for heights? Cause if you don’t then a via ferrata is not a place for you. If heights aren’t a problem then all you need is a via ferrata equipment, a knowledge how to use it properly (youtube is a good place to start) and of course confidence in steep and rocky terrain. Via ferrata isn’t climbing, it’s scrambling with the help of ladders, metal cables, stemples etc.

          • Exactly, sorry for my typo, ” I do have a head for heights”. Thank you so much for your precious advices and recommendations.

  5. Is it possible to end you hut stays at Rifugio San Marco and hike out from there to somewhere a bus could be located to return to the start of the journey? If you are doing other traveling around Europe and have luggage that you don’t take on the hut to hut adventure, do you have a suggestion of where to store it ? ( Also at the beginning)

    • Hi Holly. Yes, as I mentioned in my previous comment you can exit from San Marco down to the town of San Vito Di Cadore. From there catch a local bus to Cortina.
      There is a luggage storage in Cortina where you can leave the bag for the duration of the trip.

      Cortina is well connected with other towns and you can catch a bus from cortina to the start of the hike too. I hope that helps!

  6. Marta,
    What a great resource for planning a hut to hut trip to the Dolomites. I doing some early planning for September 2024 for myself and 3 girlfriends. We are all experienced hikers and the AV4 sounds incredible! I am not sure we will have 5 full days. If we only had 4 days, is there a way to get the best parts of AV4 and hike out at a different location? This is our first trip to Europe and we want to see some of the most incredible sites? Above you indicated you offer planning services? What exactly do you help with? Thank you so much for all your helpful information!

    • Hi Holly. Thanks for visiting. If you only have 4 days then look into my Tre Cime Traverse which overlaps with Alta Via 4. I think it would be perfect for you.

      Alternatively you can walk out to San vito di Cadore after staying the night in Rifugio San Marco.

      As for planning services, it works as consulting so any questions you may have (like the ones you asked). Best ways to getting to trailheads, what to pack and any questions that will arise during your planing. However, I do not help with bookings huts or transport etc.

  7. Dear Marta,

    My wife and I have just walked and climbed the Alta Via 4 following your recommendation and had such a fantastic time.

    Just a quick message to say – thank you so so much for this comprehensive guide. It really is excellent and accurate and we are so grateful for all your time and energy putting this together!

    Tim & Hettie x

    • Hi Tim & Hettie. I am stoked to hear you had an amazing time. I am currently in Cortina myself after finishing another multiday trek in the Dolomites which I will be publishing soon. I hope you come back here one day to tackle another one!

  8. hi Marta
    i wanted to thank you one more time for all the information you have complied and shared with us all on the subject of the incredible Dolomites. I just returned from a wonderful ten day mission on which i hiked 160km including AV4. while i am quite well versed in packing for and moving through alpine terrain, i found your information on distances, descriptions and hut information so valuable. if interested, feel free to check out my photos which i will slowly be posting on the gram @kingkrautjh .
    have a wonderful fall/winter and thanks again
    jeremy

  9. Hi Marta, I followed your guide and hiked the AV4 this past month. Thank you for all the information. I am finding it very difficult to get information on the AV3-6. I met people on the trail that were hiking the AV5 so I have a good feel for that now. It seems like there’s a lot of cross over for AV3,AV4 & AV5. I cant find any information about AV6. Have you done it and what are your thoughts? I have hiked the AV1 and AV2. I loved the AV4 but my problem with it was that a lot of the huts that I stayed at were easily accessible by day hikers. That was my only criticism for the hike. The second half of AV1 and AV2 were so remote which I personally enjoyed more, but Day 4 (Vandelli to San Marco) was by far the best day and one of my favorite days on any of the hikes I’ve done in Italy. All the side Via Ferrata’s certainly made the trip a memorable one. I wonder if AV6 is more remote? It certainly looks like it. I cant find any information at all anywhere about it. Perhaps you can point me in the right direction? Thanks so much again for all of your write ups, I find them very engaging and helpful. -Mike

    • Hey Mike. Thanks for your feedback. Yes the first part of AV4 is quite busy especially around Locatelli. As for your question I have done parts of AV3 and AV5 but not the whole thing and yes AV3 overlaps with Av4 and AV4 overlaps with AV5. As for AV6 it is more remote but you also don’t have access to huts everyday. I would recommend that you look at my Dolomiti Brenta Traverse. It’s an awesome one and a great alternative to the central Dolomites. Otherwise if you are looking for some trails that aren’t so busy try Austria, Switzerland or Ecrins and Mercantour NP in France. There is an outline of AV6 in the Cicerone guide for AV1 and AV2.

  10. Hi Marta,
    Great website. Thank you. We leave next week for Alta Via 4 and on day one we will reach rifugio Auronzo since Locatelli was full. We would like to do Torre di Toblin on our way up and it seems from map 10 you can do this prior to reaching Rifiguio Locatelli. Do I have that correct or is that we would be going against the traffic pattern and have trouble?
    Thank you kindly!
    Annie

  11. hello again marta. i am getting super excited about my dolomites adventure and until them have lots more hikes planned in my local mountains.
    one quick question that is probably answered somewhere on your detailed site already….
    regarding plug adapters (to charge devices from NA), do you happen to know if most of the rifugios have two prong or three prong outlets. i have read that both exist in italy and want to make sure i have compatibility.
    hope you are well

    • Hey Jeremy. I am stoked to hear you are excited, as you should be. Here is the ting. Two prong plugs fit into three prong outlets, but not the other way around. The huts usually have two prongs. Just make sure that whatever you bring, that the prongs aren’t on a flat surfaces, because the plug sockets aren’t like in the US, where the plugs are flat and have whole in them. In Europe most plug sockets have a hole in them (it’s hard to explain, but maybe google one) Nowadays most things can be charged via USB-C cable though, so maybe just getting a USB-C adapter would be the best.

  12. Hi Marta,

    Just wanted to let you know this is the most comprehensible and thorough guide to the AV4 I found online, so thanks a lot for that! I’m definitely checking your website to find my next trip as well!
    Last year we did (part of) the AV2 and became big fans of eating in the huts at noon instead of dragging food around 😀 We’re doing the AV4 route the same way as you did. Am I correct that with the exception of day 4 and 5 (to San Marco and Antelao) you’ll find a hut +/- halfway on your hike?
    Last question: we’re travelling from Pieve di Cadore to Innsbruck the day after to catch the train home the next day. We’ve got a couple of hours to spend in between. Something (shorter hike, lake,…) you would recommend to do or visit on our way (Pieve di Cadore – Cortina d’Ampezzo – Toblach – Innsbruck)?
    Thanks a lot and safe future travels!

    Jasper

    • Hey Jasper! Thanks so much for your compliment about my guide. I am stoked to hear you will be following it. Yes you are correct about the lunches. I actually made it to San Marco and Antelao around 2PM and just had lunch and dinner in the same hut. You can also order a packed lunch to go from the previous hut. Some people don’t stay in Antelao at all because it is only a 2-hour walk down to the valley so some just push through.
      As for your other questions I presume you will be first travelling by bus from Pieve di Cadore through Cortina then onwards to Toblach. In that case you can stop near Lago Dobiacco and do a walk around the lake which takes around 1 hour. You could also go up the Nordkette in Innsbruck (I live near Innsbruck actually). I hope that helps.

  13. Hey, Marta!

    Thank you so much for all the recommendations and thorough descriptions of routes, places to stay and things one should take into account when hiking! I am planning to do the Alta Via IV hike at the beginning of September, mostly inspired by your travel guide! 🙂
    There’s just one question I can’t seem to find the answer to yet – How do you manage drinking water on a multi-day hut-to-hut hiking trip? I mean, how much do you take in the bag with you in the morning? Are there any refill options along the way (minus the huts)? Should I bring a water filtering gear, or are tablets completely enough?

      • Hey Marta!

        Thanks so much for the reply! That clears things up a bit! So, would you say that it’s really quite sufficient to refill water in huts only to make it through all stages of the hike?

        • No worries. I can’t tell you how much water is enough for you. For me 3 litres with some rehydrations tablets is just enough to finish the hike for the day and then I still usually drink another litre in the afternoon/evening in the hut. I drink a lot though and am sometimes in wonder how little some of my friends drink when we are out on a hike. The great thing is huts sell all kinds of beverages from beer, wine to apperitifs. Soft drinks and juices too. It’s quite luxury to be honest.

          • Ok, thanks for the info! I guess the main worry for me is to figure out whether to take more water (=more weight) and rely on Riffugios, or take less water + filtering gear (=less weight) and be on the lookout for some streams/water sources on the way. Riffugios do seem to be quite luxurious. 🙂 I am quite used to hiking in Tatra Mountains, but I’ve always stayed down in the valley for nights even on multi-day hikes up till now, so that’s a bit different weight-management involved.

            Thanks once again and all the best to you! 🙂

            R.

          • No worries and thanks so much for buying me coffee :). Me drinking as much as I do I never carried more than 3 litres and never carried any filtering system. Finding streams on AV4 isn’t straight forward either. The only stretch where you might need more water than usual is between rifugio Vandelli and San Marco (if you drink as much as I do) but you can just purchase an extra water bottle from the hut then. During the first 3 days there is a lot more huts along the way where you can top up your water and stop for early lunch. I’d say go as light as possible. It’s more enjoyable that way.

    • Hi Marta, your presumption of returning through Cortina is correct 🙂 I will check out your tips, thank you so much!

      Kind regards,

      Jasper

  14. Hi Marta,
    A very helpful blog. Due to the heavy pre-bookings getting a reso in the huts for this year appears quite difficult. And I’ve seen your response to the comment re: camping so I understand the limited options. My question is more regarding the via ferratas and whether you think having a heavier/bigger backpack would be problematic. I’ve been doing vias for the last year or so, so I’m definitely not a beginner, but wouldn’t consider myself an expert.
    Thanks,
    Hannah

    • Hi Hannah. Thanks for stopping by. I don’t know what do you mean by a heavier backpack. This is a very subjective thing. For some heavy means 10 pounds for others 30. I generally recommend to hike as light as possible. I have a whole packing list for hut to hut hikes which explains that you should be able to pack into a 30 litre backpack. I have seen people hiking with full 65 litre backpacks on AV4 and they managed, but going lighter would be a lot more enjoyable. The huts provide everything. On another note maybe give the second part of Alta Via 2 a go. The second part if less crowded than the first part or the AV4.

  15. Hey Marta,

    First of all, thanks for your detailed and well explained itinerary and travel experience. It helps a lot for planning our trip.
    Do you somehow know how to reach Rifugio Antelao? I’m trying to contact them for a few months and got no answer.

  16. Hi Marta ! thanks for this details route ! it seems quite difficult to get a lot of info on the dolomiti trek… we plan to come hiking in the dolomit with 3friends of mine and we are good hiker. However we don’t have any via ferratas equipment, do you think there is a way of bypassing the hard via ferrata’s you discribed on the AV4 ? I mean, some of them seems on the side as a plus, but some seems mandatory to reach the end of AV4. do you think that without equipment something is feasible OR is there any possibility doing from San candido to Refugio Vandelli to see great views and then going back to the car and heading to different AV for the next days ?
    thanks a lot for all your work ! I know how long it is to give feedback and full report as you do so please accept the big thanks ! 🙂

    • Hi Romain. Thanks for stopping by. First of all I do provide feedback in the hopes that you in return will support my site by using the affiliate links or support my site button on my blogs. 🙂 As for your question. To do Alta Via 4 you NEED a via ferrata equipment. Whilst some days can be done without it, most can’t. The only day that doesn’t require equipment is between the start and rifugio Auronzo. But on Day 2 and onwards until the last day you will need the equipment. I would recommend that you look into Alta Via 1 which doesn’t require VF equipment. Maybe you will still be able to reserve some huts on the second half of Alta Via 1, although I will be honest. If you are going this summer season a lot of the huts are already booked out. If you need help designing an itinerary I provide trip planning advice services. Check them out .

  17. Hi Marta, I’ve got my hut reservations for September and we will be staying in San Candido before we start. Can we rent our Via Ferrata equipment in San Candido or should we find someplace before we arrive? Thank you so much for such a fabulous blog. You’ve given me much more confidence in my planning!

    • Hi Jill. There are some places that hire gear in San Candido and Sesto. Look for places called nollegio (rental) and contact them directly to be sure that they have them on offer. You an definitely rent some in Cortina.

  18. Hi, do you have any more detailed information on whether bivouac/camping overnight is permitted or not in the Dolomites? I’ve read various sources saying traditional “camping” (over 48 hours) is not allowed but setting up a tent near sunset and packing up near sunrise is fine. I would definitely prefer the huts but some are full at the moment and I’d like a backup plan in case there are no cancellations.

    Refugio Vandelli noted “It’s not possible to camp outside or near the hutte because it’s not allowed and there’re the guards who come and control if people camp”. Not sure if it would be an issue if it was further away from the huts?

    • Hi Susan. Thanks for visiting. Camping and Bivouacking in National and Nature Parks is prohibited. Outside of these areas you could set up at sunset and pack up at sunrise or make use of the little Bivouac huts which are dotted around the Dolomites. There is the Bivacco Comici which you can stay at overnight if Vandelli is booked. You can read about it in my Giro (Circuit) Del Sorapiss guide which overlaps with Alta Via 4. However that would need some adjusting of the previous days and changing the huts a bit. I personally saw campers being removed from Lake Sorapiss area by the wardens of the Vandelli hut and to be honest, finding a hidden spot there would be difficult. There are a lot of signs around lake Sorapiss prohibiting camping.

      • Thanks!
        I was able to book Rifugio Lavaredo as the alternative to Rifguio Locatelli so now all I am missing is Rifguio Vandelli. I have a couple of questions.

        Regarding Rifugio Lavaredo instead of Rifugio Locatelli:
        a) On Gaia, I’m seeing that Rifugio Lavaredo is about 2.5km with minimal elevation gains/losses from Rifugio Locatelli. Am I correct in budgeting an extra 30-45 minutes to reach Rifugio Lavaredo? I’m trying to catch the first bus of the day to the trailhead which arrives at 9:30 AM so I’m thinking that it should still be enough time to do the Torre di Toblin Via Ferrata extension and make it to Rifugio Lavaredo in time for dinner.
        b) From Rifugio Lavaredo, it looks like it would be easier to continue on the same path south-west of the rifugio (the south side of Cima Piccola) to Rifugio Auronzo before continuing on to Rifugio Fonda Savio instead of going back to Locatelli (around the north side and west of Cima Piccola). Would there be any significant views missed by going this way?

        For Rifugio Vandelli, alternatives:
        1) The people at Rifugio Vandelli recommended the Passo Tre Coci B&B but it makes the next day 7km longer to reach Rifugio Vandelli from the B&B
        2) For Bivacco Comici, it’s about 4km with a Via Ferrata past Rifugio Vandelli and from your Giro Del Sorapiss, it would take another 3-4 hours. Do you think this is doable on Day 3 from Rifugio Fonda Savio? I believe taking the gondola down at Misurina and taking the bus would save about 4km in distance but not sure if it saves any time. This option would require me bringing my sleeping pad and bag for just the one night in the bivvy shelter though my bag&pad only weights an extra 2.5lbs so not very significant considering this hike allows me to pack a lot less food than my normal backpacking trips. & this would reduce the distance the next day.

        I’m leaning towards option 2 since I can still try to WhatsApp Rifugio Vandelli once in awhile to look for cancellations. You mentioned that it would be best to switch up the Rifugios to make Bivacco Comici more doable. Is Option #2 a bit optimistic from Rifugio Fonda Savio? Should I be staying at Rifugio Col De Varda instead and making Day 2 extra long?

        Thanks!

        • Hi Susan. Congrats on securing reservations.
          As for your questions:
          a) Yes it will take around 30-45 minutes to reach Lavaredo. If you are fast you can squeeze in Torre Di Toblin before continuing, however depending when you will do your hike you have to bear in mind that afternoon storms are extremely common in the Dolomites until around mid-August so it will really depend on the weather more than anything.
          b) Yes, you can reach the Auronzo hut faster that way (a lot faster) and no you won’t miss out a lot on the views.
          I guess since you said that you managed to book Vandelli than I don’t need to answer the rest of the questions? I hope you will have a wonderful time and please consider supporting my site! thanks

          • Hi Marta,
            Thanks for the info on Lavaredo!
            I ended up booking the night before the trail in Sesto instead so I can start earlier than 9:30.

            I am still missing Rigufio Vandelli so I would still appreciate the answers to the questions regarding it 😅

            Also, what would the best way to support your site be?

          • Hi Susan. I am glad I could help. I would go for the B&B at Passo Tre Croci to avoid carrying extra stuff and then keep trying for cancellations at Vandelli.

  19. Hi Marta,

    is water potable at the rifugios? Should we be carrying filtration during our hike to refill from streams etc.?

    Amazing blog!
    Matt

  20. Hi Marta,

    We just found out we have a reservation for Locatelli! (For other people that say they never heard back, I recommend you check out your SPAM folder. That’s where I found my reply from them after I had given up). So my question is: It turns out it will work better for us to do the Alta Via 4 in the reverse way of your description (Leaving the car at San Candido, taking a bus and starting at Pozzale, and going south to north). Do you have any words of wisdom on doing the trek the opposite way? In particular, I’m wondering about the San Marco to Vandelli section, where we would be doing what you call the toughest ferrata at the end of the day, and downhill.

    Thanks for the wonderful website, we already booked our car using one of your links…

    • Hi Jorge. Yey for the reservation at Locatelli and thanks for the tip. Hopefully other people are checking their spam folders too. As for your question it will be easier to get from San Marco to Vandelli by via ferrata Berti (part of Giro del Sorapiss). I would not want to down climb via ferrata Vandelli at the end of the day. Antelao to San Marco also will be a tricky day as you will have to down climb a via ferrata. If I were you I would reconsider going North to South after all.

      • If we’re going to do the AV4, we have to do it south to north because of time restrictions, since the only Locatelli reservation we could get would be at the end of the trip. Unless by some miracle we find an opening on a different day. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes south to north. We are both experienced hikers with rock climbing experience.

  21. Hi Marta!
    First of all : thank you so much for this write up of the Alta Via 4. My girlfriend and I are hiking the AV4 in 7 days at the end of July and your website helped a great deal with our planning. Our itinerary looks like this :
    day 1 : San Candido – Locatelli
    day 2: Fonda Savio
    day 3: Citta di Carpi
    day 4: Vandelli
    day 5: San Marco
    day 6: Antelao – Pieve di Cadore

    All rifugios are booked except for Fonda Savio and San Marco. Our questions at this point : can we rely on the fact that cancellations do happen (we are on a waiting list at Fonda Savio) and just hope for the best? I would think rifugios keep some spots available each night in case of emergency? Do you know of an alternative place to stay in this area? As an alternative for San Marco we are looking at Scotter Palatini which is a rifugio nearby. Have you been there or do you have another suggestion?

    Cheers!
    Laurien

    • Hi Laurien. Thanks for stopping by. You will love AV4 I am sure! Best alternative to San Marco is rifugio Galassi which is further 3.5 km from San Marco. You could take a rest in San Marco and just tackle the last 3 km after the rest. As for Fondia Savio that’s a tricky one to find an alternative for. What you could do is a shorter day 2 and stay in rifugio Auronzo then regain strenght and walk from Auronzo to Citta di Carpi. In the meantime you can still contact Fonda Savio the day before leaving on AV4 to see if any cancellations happened. but I would recommend having a plan B.

  22. Hi Marta,
    My family and I are planning for AV4 in August. We have booked all rifugios. I’m wondering about parking. Would you recommend leaving our car near the beginning or end of our trip? We are staying at Fondovalle near Sesto the first night and then in a hotel in Pieve di Cadore at the end. I think I’d prefer to park in Pieve di Cadore somewhere and then bus/taxi to the start, but I’m not sure what is best. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • Hi Joel I always recommend parking at the end of the trek because you have the relocation out of the way on the first day. Since you are staying in rifugio Fondovalle on day one (that’s what I understood) you can then hike to Locatelli via Zsigmundy and Pian Di Ciengia on day 2. Fondovalle refuge is only 30 minutes walk from the bus stop near Hotel Dolomitenhof so you have plenty of time on day one for the bus relocation from Pieve di Cadore.

  23. Hi Marta, My daughter and I are planning our hike this summer and I have requested reservations, received confirmation and paid deposits for all but Rifugio Locatelli who have not replied (about a month out now.) When I checked availability, they had it. Is it possible they will not reply if we didn’t get the reservation?
    We arrive in Innsbruck 1 July, planned to take early train/bus to S. Candido and hike to Locatelli on the 2nd (but no reply). We have confirmation at R. Fondo Savio for the 3rd, Citta di Carpi for the 4th, r. Vandelli for the 5th and San Marco for the 6th and 7th. We are trying to come up with alternatives to the start if Locatelli doesn’t get back to us.
    Is it reasonable to hike from Rifugio Tre Scarperi to Rifugio Fondo Savio in a day (we could get to S Candido and hike to Tre Scarperi on the 2nd)? Alternatively, we could get to Dobbiaco by train on the 2nd and take a bus to Auronzo and hike the Tre Cime loop backwards and then on to Fondo Savio or just go directly from Auronzo to Fondo Savio on the 3rd.. Just trying to figure out what is reasonable. Thoughts? And thank you for your fantastic website!

    • Hi Jennifer. Did you send them the request via their official website form? They do state on the site that they are flooder with e-mail and it might take a while to get a response. The availability system that they have is also very basic and probably changes on daily basis. It seems however that the whole July is already booked out.
      What you might do is call them the day before and check in they had any cancellations but that’s risky. Another alternative is rifugio Lavaredo or Pian Di Ciengia.
      Otherwise you can do an alternative start and start the trip in the Fiscalina valley hike up to rifugio Zsigmundy or Pian Di Ciengia on the first day then to Fonda Savio the second day just like in this article
      I wouldn’t recommend hiking from Tre Scarperi all the way to Fonda Savio in a day. I hope that helps!

  24. Hello Marta! Your blog has been immensely helpful for us to try planning our Alta Via 4 hike in the Dolomites, thank you. I am trying to work out our route, taking into account the Rifugio availabilities (quite tricky!) and was wondering if you could take a look at the itinerary and advise us on whether it’s suitable or not:

    Fly to a nearby airport (preferably Innsbruck but subjet to flight prices) and take the train to San Candido
    (do we have to book train tickets in advance?)
    1. Spend the night in San Candido
    2. Hike from San Candido to Rifugio Tre Scarperi
    (as it’s quite a short hike, are there any via ferratas we could do close by?)
    3. Hike from Tre Scarperi to Rifugio Auronzo and possibly do via ferratas around there.
    4. Hike from Rifugio Auronzo to Rifugio Di Carpi (again, possibly due via ferratas on that day as well)
    5. Hike from Di Carpi to Rifugio San Marco
    6. Hike from San Marco to Rifugio Antelao
    7. Hike from Antelao back down to the bus stop, and travel back to an airport (in the same day possibly to avoid paying for another night)

    I was also considering leaving from the other start point (Hotel Dolomitenhof), stay at Zsigmundy and continue to Rifugio Auronzo but am concerned that getting to the start point is more complicated by public transport. What do you think?

    Thank you so much and sorry for all the questions!
    Charlotte

    • Hi Charlotte. Thanks for stopping by. I presume you are hiking from Tre Scarperi to Auronzo because Locatelli is fully booked? Rifugio Auronzo to Citta Di Carpi will be quiet a day and the same goes from Citta Di Carpi to San Marco. That would be a really long day actually.
      I would book the train to San Candido in advance if you are travelling on a weekend. You can also fly to Munich and travel down by train. Flights will probably be cheaper.
      I would recommend doing the alternate start via rifugio Zsigmundy. Getting to the trailhead is a piece of cake. You can read about the buses on my post about the Croda Fiscalina circuit which starts with the hike to rifugio Zsigmundy. If you need help with planing I started offering consultation services. You can check it out here. I hope that helps!

  25. Hey Marta! Thank you for all this wonderful information! We are planning a trip at the beginning of July. I did have two questions I was hoping you’d be able to help with:

    1. Did you use separate climbing shoes for the via ferrata’s or should trail runners/hiking boots be sufficient?
    2. Do you have to make reservations at all the rifugio’s or just Locatelli? I emailed them a few weeks ago and still haven’t heard anything, wondering if I should continue waiting to plan the rest (other option is to start in the late afternoon and stay at Rifugio Tre Scarperi). Let me know if you have any suggestions!

    Thanks so much,
    Ashley

    • Hi Ashley. Thanks for visiting. From the reports of my other readers I have been told that Locatelli is already booked out for the whole summer, but you might still be lucky and get last minute spot when cancellation happens. The same goes for Vandelli I am afraid. It is not uncommon to wait for replies for weeks at a time. It happened to me too, as frustrating as it is.
      As for the shoes. No, I just had one pair of high-ankle hiking boots with me on all trails. In the huts, I wore the slippers provided in the huts, because you can’t wear boots inside. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      • Thanks so much Marta! Turns out I heard back from both of them so we are all set 🙂 Appreciate the information on the shoes. We are going to book our car through your link to give you a little kickback for all the super helpful info!

        • Hi Ashley! That is amazing! Consider yourself very lucky then to have booked at this time of the year. Thanks so much for willingness to support me. It would make me very happy! Happy hiking.

          • Thanks again Marta. I did have one additional question please – what is parking like at the start of the AV4? Will we be able to leave our car there while we hike?

  26. Hi Marta, Thank you for the great writeup. I was planning to do AV4 in much the way you described in September. From your writeup I would also like to do Via Ferrata Innerkofler. Is it possible on day 2 to go from Riguio Locatelli to Rifuio Fonda Savio via Via Ferrata Innerkofler in one day? I am wondering if I have to book Refugio Auronzo if I go this way. Thank you, Scott

    • Hi Scott. Thanks for visiting. You absolutely can, but instead of walking from Locatelli to Auronzo via Col De Mezzo saddle, you will do via ferrata Innerkofler from Locatelli to Lavaredo Saddle then from there continue to rifugio Lavaredo, Auronzo and then Fonda Savio. Have you got the maps already?

      I hope that helps!

  27. Hi Marta,

    I love the guide and am currently booking the refugios and planning the trip for August. I was wondering if you had any recommendations of guidebooks for the alta via 4? I have found in the past they are nice to have in conjunction with maps.

    Best,
    Jacck

    • Hi Jack. Thanks for visiting. The Cicerone guide for AV1+AV2 has an outline for AV4, for there is less information there than you find it here. As for reservations I am afraid Locatelli is already booked out for the season (many of my readers have been letting me know) so fingers crossed you secure a spot, that someone canceled. Good luck!

  28. Hi Marta, thank you for such a detailed guide!! My two friends and I are planning to hike the AV4 this summer in late July. We have all the rifugios booked for a planned 6-night journey except Locatelli never got back to me and is now showing full on their website on our preferred date, 27/7. Do you think it is doable to go from the trailhead to Auronzo on the first day? Looks to be about 12 mi, I am more concerned for what the elevation gain is. We are fit hikers from Colorado who have a little via ferrata experience. Thank you!

    • Hi Katie. thanks for visiting my site. Locatelli is notoriously difficult to get reservations at. To answer your question, yes it definitely is doable to walk that distance in a day. The easier route from Locatelli to Auronzo would be to hike across Forcella Lavaredo passing rifugio Lavaredo, rather then over Forcella Col del Mezzo. You can also try and book the night at rifugio Lavaredo.

      You can also do an alternative start to Alta Via 4 and hike the first day through Val Fiscalina across the Croda Fiscalina circuit then stay the first night in Rifugio Zsigmundu or Pian di Cengia then on the second day continue hiking to rifugio Fonda Savio. To be honest this is even a more scenic hike then starting in Val Campo Di Dentro.

      I hope that helps!

  29. Hi Marta – what a fantastic website – so useful! I and my son are planning to walk Alta Via 4 in July 2023. Staying in Locatelli on 3 and 4 July, Savio on 5 and 6 July, Vandelli on 7 July, San Marco on 8 July. Then either San Marco or Galassi on 9 July and Antelao on 10 July.

    My son is an experienced climber and I am an experienced walker (much older – 62 years old) – but neither of us have done VFs. Do you think this itinerary makes sense? What is best to do on the spare days on 4 and 6 July (extra walks)? I’d like to stay in Vandelli another night but it is full – is there another refuge near enough to do that? lastly, is it worth going to Galassi, or should we just stay in San Marco for 2 nights (8-9)? Thanks so much for your help!

    • Hi David. Thanks for visiting. Your itinerary does make sense and I presume you are taking it easy hence you have booked a couple of nights in each refuge? I did Alta Via 1 which is 150km long with my 60-year-old dad and he proved that age is just a number and had no trouble keeping up with me so if you train before don’t worry, you can easily do it too.
      As for via ferrata experience, it’s good that you are staying in Locatelli for a couple of nights. That way on July 4th you can do via ferrata Torre Di Toblin or Innerkofler, the two I suggest in the post or even venture out a bit and do a full-day excursion around Croda Dei Toni along via ferrata Severino Casara. Innerkofler is the easiest so a good way to start and practice using the gear. T I have not done the VF Severino Casara yet, but I have it planned for September too 🙂
      When you stay in Fonda Savio you can do via ferrata Merlone and just really take your time and enjoy it (I also mention it in the post and link to my separate blog post about it). If you stay in rifugio San Marco for 2 nights you can try and summit Mount Antelao on July 9th. Again I haven’t done it myself but I recommend checking out the video by Bruno Pisani on youtube about summiting Monte Antelao. There is a lot of footage about the difficulty of the trail on it. San Marco and Galassi are only 40 minutes walk from one another. I really like the San Marco hut. It felt very homely local. I only stopped in Galassi for a coffee so can’t say much about it. It’s quite a big refuge. If you did decided on summiting Monte Antelao then staying in Galassi will put you a bit closer to the summit so I would go for that one. Let me know if I can help any further.

      • Thanks for this great information, Marta! We have now decided this route:
        5/7 Tre Scarperi
        6/7 Locatelli
        7-8/7 Savio
        9/7 Carpi
        10/7 Vandelli
        11/7 San Marco
        12/7 Antelao

        At Savio, what is best to do with our extra day?
        I might try an extra night at Vandelli (is that worth it?)
        After Antelao, we would like to do one day hike – perhaps stay in Cortina or another refuge. Could we do a challenging walk and incorporate one night at Nuvolau, which looks amazing? Or do Cross da lago and stay in Palmieri or Cortina? What do you think? After that we go to Venice, so need a bus there after.

        • Sorry to add more questions!! I mentioned Rifugio Nuvolau as a base for 1-2 nights, after Antelao. I am now wondering also about Rifugio Lagazuoi, and Rifugio Averau. I’d be happy to stay for 1-2 nights there, after Antelau. Any advice on the best options please?

          • Hi David. When At Fonda Savio do Via ferrata Merlone. It’s one of my favorites in the Dolomites. I am not sure if you have reservations for Locatelli, Savio, or Vandelli yet but some of my readers have already told me that some of those huts are already booked out for the season.
            If you had two nights at Vandelli you can do an extra hike towards Croda Marcora and back down the same way (the opposite direction of Giro del Sorapiss). You can make it as long or as short as you’d like.
            Nuvolau lies on Alta Via 1 route, the same as Averau and Lagazuoi and it’s the busiest Alta Via. I would be surprised if they still have spaces. You Can hike from Passo Falzarego to PAsso Giau in a day. But I do prefer Croda Da LAgo Circuit to be honest.

      • Hi Marta – I am staying in Averau on 14 July, and want to stay in Venice the last night of the holiday. How would you recommend getting to Venice from there? Many thanks, David

  30. Hello Marta!
    Thank you for this amazing post. We will take your advice and fly into Innsbruck then catch a train to San Candido. After our trek, how do we get back to San Candido to collect out luggage?

    Ideally, we would like to go to Venice after the trek but we have luggage that will be stored in San Candido (I hope this is possible). Please advise.

    • Hi Teo. Thanks for stopping by. There are buses from Pieve di Cadore to Cortina and then Cortina to Dobiacco & San Candido. You will have to switch 2-3 times but it is definitely doable to travel back. Venice in the summer? I do not recommend 😀

  31. hola Marta
    thanks for the cool write up on AV4. I live in the northern Rockies where i cruise around in the mountains quite a bit. this is the year i am finally planning on adventuring in the Dolomites and at times find it harder locating good information. i had been leaning towards AV1 bc it is long and classic but i think after reading your post i think AV4 appeals more as it sounds like i will find less people and lots of epic views. it is not uncommon for me to knock out 40km day hikes with lots of elevation gain here at home and while i have no experience on via ferrata i still feel like this is the hike for me to hit this fall. any good maps you highly recommend? i may have missed that above?? one main question i have is: if you were to spend two nights at one hut with plans to do some day hikes on the “extra day” which hut would you choose?
    hope your new year has started off well
    cheers

    • Hi Jeremy. Thanks for stopping by. good for you for doing 40kms a day, I never could. Sounds like torture to me haha. Given all the clipping and unclipping on a via ferrata it definitely slows one down, but the ferrata sections are short, the rest is hiking/scrambling. Yes, I do say at the beginning of the post what map numbers are needed. I bring paper maps with me as I don’t like to rely on electronics when hiking. I am also a sucker and collector of paper maps 🙂 Here is an excerpt “For crossing Alta Via 4 you need to purchase the TABACCO MAPS number: 010, 03, and 016 either online or in any sports, souvenir, or cigarette shop in the local towns. Even some rifugios sell them”. As for your question. I would actually recommend for you to start AV4 with Via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini to rifugio Carducci, then the next day do the via ferrata zwolfer around Croda Dei Toni and stay at Locatelli. I have the description of Strada Degli Alpini in the via ferrata category, just in reverse. Once at Locatelli you can do via ferrata Torre Di Toblin and Innerkofler then continue as per usual.
      You can also stay a couple of nights in rifugio Vandelli and hike around there before continuting to San Marco. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions.

      • thanks so much Marta
        i saw that map info right after i messaged you… pardon the unnecessary question and thanks for your patient and informative reply.
        i read about strada degli alpini and it sounds radical! still looking for the zwolfer info but i’ll find it. not quite sure what you mean about “just in reverse” but i’ll figure that out too.
        it kind of looks like a pain in the butt to get from venice to san candido and that the only option is via a 12 hour-ish train adventure. i’ll do some more delving into this but if you have any good advice of thoughts i’d love to hear. i plan on contacting refugio’s this week in hopes of starting to get the ball rolling on a hike plan.
        have a great week

        • Hi Jeremy! All good. Lots of information in the post.
          To clarify things for you I am describing via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini in my post as a day trip, which first involves hiking from hotel Dolomitenhof across Val Fisalina to Zsigmundy hut then further to via ferrata Strada degli Alpini then rifugios Rudi and Prati di Croda Rossa before it descends and ends in hotel Dolomitenhof. It’s a circular route that goes counterclockwise. Since you will be doing a traverse you will have to go clockwise instead. So hotel Dolomitenhof up to rifugio Rudi then follow the paths to via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini. Rifugio Zsigmundy and Carducci are around 1 hour from each other, but strategically it is better to place yourself in rifugio Carducci to be able to do the second via ferrata the next day. That ferrata is called Severino Casara and you can find description for it on the rifugio Carducci’s website. It goes around Zwolferkofel (Croda dei Toni) so that’s its second (unofficial) name. I haven’t done it myself yet but I will be returning in September as I still have lots of via ferratas on my list. After via ferrata Severino Casara you can stay in rifugio Pian Di Cengia or Locatelli and continue as per post.
          Have you got your flights yet? if not flying to Innsbruck and taking a train will be much easier and faster. If you did then I recommend booking a shuttle from Venice to Cortina then taking a local bus to Dobiacco and then Sesto. It will probably be a half day travel but it’s totally manageable. You can start late in the afternoon and stay the first night in rifugio Rudi. I really recommend that you get the Tabacco no. 10 map as it will greatly help you with visualising the route. Let me now if it’s clear now.

          • Thanks again for taking the time to chime in with this information. I very much appreciate it and think it is all making sense now… I did order the Tabacco #10 map today and am excited for it to arrive in a week or so as I agree it will help me visualize the route much better.
            Below is what I am presently thinking regarding huts and if you don’t mind providing any final feedback you may have I would be grateful. My nights would look like this:
            1. Sesto or nearby
            2. via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini to Carducci
            3. via ferrata Severino Casara to Locatelli
            4. Fonda Savio
            5&6. Vandelli
            7. San Marco
            8. Antelao
            9. Finish at Pozzale and ideally make it to Venice by the end of the day

            As previously mentioned, this would be done in mid September.
            Cheers

          • Hi Jeremy. The plan sounds good. I also had a thought that you could stay a couple of nights in rifugio San Marco (Or even better Galassi which is around 30-40 mins from san Marco) and summit Mount Antelao on an extra day. It’s the second-highest peak of the Dolomites and whilst it is not an easy hike, if you are experienced you might be able to do it. Go on Youtube and search for Bruno Pisani Mount Antelao. He has a great video of his overnight experience on the summit. Obviously, he dragged a lot of gear with him, which slowed him down. I am thinking about going up there in September. Vandelli is a difficult refuge to make a booking, hence the second suggestion. Other than that your plan looks great. My friend and I hiked from Antelao in 2 hours down to Pozzale. She took the train back to Venice to catch her afternoon flight on the same day so you should be able to do it no problem.

          • howdy marta
            now that i have two of the tabacco maps and all but one of my nights reserved i am back with much excitement and a couple more questions…
            1. it is easier to envision the path to carducci via Strada Degli Alpini now that i have the map. i will not have a car and am wondering if you would sleep the night before in sesto? or maybe in/near moos moso (to start with the gondola up to ref rudi? or perhaps really splash out and try and stay at dolomitenhof? ideally i do not want to spend a ton of cash but want to set myself up as nicely as possible to start off day one as i will not have a vehicle.
            2. it looks like the route you had suggested earlier would be something to the effect of rudi>100>124>101>103>carducci? does that sound realistic? also, any issues with traveling the via ferrata in that direction as i know you have said some are typically done as a “one way” only kind of thing?
            3. on my second day between carducci and locatelli i am looking at something like 107>104>101. curious if you have done the via ferrata south of refugio pian di cengia and if so do you have info on your site? i could not find a name for it on my map
            4. while i have not purchased a plane ticket, it just seems easier and a little cheaper to fly rt in venice. i know you outlined a travel plan from venice and unless that it totally horrible i think i would just deal with a long day of travel unless you really suggest otherwise.
            as always, thanks so much for sharing your past experience in the area. i will totally buy you a drink or meal if i happen to meet you in the fall.

          • Hi Jeremy. Yey, I am glad to hear it. I would probably just book the first night in rifugio Rudi tbh. You have a very early start on Strada Degli Alpini then.
            2. rudi>100>124>101>103>carducci – That’s exactly right! And no you can travel VF Strada Degli Alpini in both directions. It’s not a busy route and plenty of options to pass.
            Day two looks good too. The VF south of Pian di ciengia, I am guessing you are referring to VF Innerkofler. I did it from Rifugio Locatelli to Rifugio Lavaredo. What you could do is hike first from Pian Di Ciengia to Locatelli, then leave most of your stuff at Locatelli and do one of the two ferratas: Torre Di Toblin or Innerkofler
            As for your last question. Since you are starting in the North I would recommend that you fly to Innsbruck instead and then catch a train from Innsbruck to San Candido and then a bus to Moos then a chairlift up to Rudi. I hope that helps! As for buying me a meal, you can always support my site by using the affiliate links to book hotels, etc or simply by using the green support me button in the bottom left corner. 🙂 Let me know if you have more questions!

  32. Hi Marta,
    This is a very nice read and the photos are stunning. You are a very talented writer and photographer. Thank you. I was planning my trip for next summer to do AV2 however when I read your other guides, I am getting more interested in doing both AV4 and Brenta. Is this something you would recommend? I have about 3 weeks next summer to do some trekking. I wanted to hike the Dolomites but with some challenging via ferrata. What would be the logistics? Which one would you recommend me tackle first and is the transportations from one trek to another easily accessible? This would be my first time reserving the huts. I did GR20 in Corsica, however, we didn’t reserve any hut in advance as we will just showed up with our tent and paid for bivouac. How long before should I contact the refugios to book if I want to go next July? Originally, I was thinking of camping, however, I know camping is prohibited in the Italian Dolomites and I want to respect that.
    Thank you very much again for your guides.

    • Hi Ha Phan, Thanks for stopping by and for your awesome feedback. Thank you for respecting the camping prohibition in the Dolomites. You sound like a very responsible traveller.

      Whilst AV2 is awesome, AV4 is definitely more exciting in terms of via ferratas etc. Brenta is my absolute favourite one because of all the fun via ferrata sections along the way. I definitely recommend bookings the huts in advance. I booked all mine between February and April by emailing the huts. Some of them required deposits. Brenta is a lot quieter and I actually only booked the huts in Brenta a day or two in advance. I did go there towards the end of the season though. Some huts were already really quiet.

      On AV4 both Locatelli and Vandelli can be challenging huts to book because they are next to two very popular attractions in the Dolomites. First one is Tre Cime and the second is Lake Sorapiss.

      As for AV4 I would also recommend an alternative start through Val Fiscalina instead doing the via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini and spending the first night in rifugio Zsigmundy or Pian Di Ciengia. This will be an added challenge and you will have absolutely amazing views along the way.

      As for the public transport it definitely won’t be straightforward and it will probably require a few changes between trains and buses but most definitely doable.

      AV4 is probably better to start with as it will be easier and you will get a chance to start with some beginner via ferratas before moving onto more challenging ones. Brenta includes ferrata after ferrata and though fun it is a challenge.

      If you choose to fly to Milan then starting with Brenta will be easier as it will be closer.

      Let me know if you have any more questions! Happy hiking

      • Hi Marta, Thank you for your detailed response. Just some follow up questions: would you happen to know if I would get a discount for accommodations if I have a membership from Canadian Alpine club? Also, would you mind sharing the gpx file for AV4 and Brenta. Thank you.

        • Hi Ha Phan. I am afraid I don’t know for sure if the discount will work. I did travel with an Austrian friend once in New Zealand who used her Austrian Alpine Club card and received a discount for a hut stay in New Zealand. Normally it’s a worldwide reciprocate thing, but at the same time, I couldn’t guarantee you that. You can always. try.

          • Hi Ha Phan. Unfortunately, I stopped sharing it due to privacy issues, but if you have any questions I will be happy to help. If it makes you feel any better, the trails in the Dolomites are always very well-marked and easy to follow.

  33. Hi Marta –
    Firstly, I LOVE your guide. It is so comprehensive.

    Do you have a downloadable version of the trekking map that can be uploaded into one of the apps (eg AllTrails)?

    Thank you

    • Hi Bechar. Thanks, I appreciate it. I give tips on which maps to get within the post. As for the downloadable trekking map I am afraid I don’t have it. I don’t share my data with All trails as they do not link back to my site or give any recognition to the author.

  34. Hello,

    Thank you very much for your detailed guide! I will be doing this in September. But I have a small question. Your day 4 is 19.6KM but I am doing mine in Garmin Basecamp and from Vandeli to Refugio Galessi it’s 13.8KM following the same route. Via Feratta Vandeli and then 243 > 226 and finally 227 to the Hut. Why do you have so many km?

    Thanks

    • Hi Joao. I am sharing what my GPS device (from Garmin) measured when I hiked the distance myself. I often noticed that the distances which I found online or in guidebooks were shorter than what my GPS counted. Garmin shares on their website that there is a 5% error margin, but 13.8km and 19.6 km is indeed a big difference. Especially since my 19.5 is to San marco which is closer than Galassi.I would say focus mostly on walking time. This is a tough day and the longest one. Via Ferrata Vandelli will take around 2.5 hours on its own.

  35. Hello Marta!
    I really enjoy your blogs. They are so informative. Thank you so much!
    We are leaning towards Alta Via 4. Although I am a bit worried about Day 4, with the tough via Ferattas during a thunderstorm. Is there an alternate route than the 2 via ferratas during Day 4, just in case it becomes impassable due to a thunderstorm?
    Also on Day 5, you mentioned it is also challenging, which we don’t mind. However, if we decide we’re too tired to complete the trek from Rifugio Galassi to Rifugio Antelao, would we be missing out a lot on the views? Or is this part of Alta Via 4 okay to be missed?
    Another question I have is, did you ever feel unsafe from the via ferattas in Alta Via 4?
    Thank you so much!!
    Cherry

    • Hi Cherry. Thanks for your fantastic feedback. I am so glad to hear you are enjoying my page. Now for the questions. Thunderstorms occur at certain times of the year. I am not sure for when do you plan your trip, but if you go in September, the thunderstorms are gone by then. Yes, you can bypass day 4 but I reckon day 4 is actually the highlight of AV4. What you can do it to walk back out to Passo Tre Croci then take the bus to Cortina then San Vito di Cadore from where you can hike up (or use a chairlift to shorten the hike) to rifugio San Marco.
      Day 5 is fantastic too, but safety above all else. If you will be too tired to hike or the weather doesn’t play out then it is always ok to miss out on the part of the trek, no matter which part it is. As for your last question. No, I never felt unsafe, but I always put the gear on and before i did my first traverse I did quite a lot dayily via ferrata outings. The most important thing is to know how to use the gear. To go slowly and to follow certain rules, like for instance never to clip to the same cable section with another person, or always clip and unclip carabiners one at a time. Helmet is an absolute must. You would not believe how many other hikers without helmets I have seen on via ferratas.

  36. Hi Marta,

    First of all, thank you so much for this guide! It’s by far the most comprehensive and detailed I’ve found on the AV4. I’m hoping to doing the AV4 with a friend at the end of August/beginning of September, and was wondering if you could help me with a few concerns:

    1. Via Ferratas: I do sports climbing so am not very concerned about the via ferratas myself, but my friend doesn’t. I showed her the video you linked to in your Beginners Guide to Via Ferratas (https://inafarawayland.com/beginners-guide-to-via-ferrata-climbing-in-the-italian-dolomites/) and she was really excited by it, so I think she has the right mindset 🙂 However, do you think that there are any stretches that are very technically difficult or require high levels of stamina? In particular, I’m wondering about the via ferrata on day 5, you didn’t mention its name or much about its difficulty level. (“From rifugio Galassi the route climbs steeply then turns into a via ferrata which leads to Forcella del Ghiacciaio.”)

    2. Long days: days 4 (Rifugio Vandelli to Rifugio San Marco) and 5 (Rifugio San Marco to Rifugio Antelao) are quite long and have significant elevation gain and loss. We were hoping to break them up so as not to be under pressure and stray into the late afternoon. I couldn’t seem to figure out a way to do that (day 4 has bivouac Comici but we were hoping to avoid carrying sleeping bags, and for day 5 there seems to be no clear way of splitting it since Galassi is quite close to San Marco) and was wondering if you know of any. If not, do you have any idea how long it would take a person in average shape to do these days? You wrote they took you approximately 6 and 7.5 hours respectively, but I’m assuming you’re incredibly fit so we’d probably take longer.

    Another thing I was wondering is if there’s anywhere with a comprehensive list of all the huts along the route (that would probably answer my question about breaking up the days).

    Again, thanks a million for the guide and looking forward to your response!

    Neta

    • Hi Neta. Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you found my AV4 guide to be useful! Now to your questions:

      1) I did the AV4 with a friend of mine who has never done any proper hikes nor did she do a via Ferrata before. She had a very good mindset and adventurous spirit. We did the via ferrata Torre di Toblin and then the via ferrata Merlone extensions to practice and see if she will be able to do via ferrata Vandelli and via Ferrata Antelao on days 4 and 5. She did fantastic on both so we kept going. The nice thing about practising on extensions is the possibility of going slower and more lightweight. We left all the gear at the hut, where we were currently staying and head out for the afternoon with just the via ferrata kit, snacks and extra layers. I would also recommend that you actually stay the first night at rifugio Tre Scarperi so you have less distance on day 2 to Locatelli which in turn will give you more time to practice on Torre Di Toblin or via ferrata Innerkofler. Via ferrata Vandelli is the most challenging along the route, but nothing technical.

      2) Sorry the only option is Bivacco Comici and there is no other option to split day 5. The time estimates I give on my site are usually longer than what it takes me to complete the routes, but I am not as fast as you might think. I take a lot of photos along the route. What is important to mention is that the times I give are walking times, not a total time. The total time is always dependent on a person and how many breaks they take etc etc. So for example when I hiked from rifugio Vandelli to rifugio San Marco my total walking time was around 6 hours, but elapsed time was 9 hours, because of all the breaks we did along the way. We left at 5am and made it to San Marco at 2pm (as far as I remember) and we just missed the afternoon storm which soeaked the hikers behind us. I am personally terrified of being cought in a storm in the mountains. They are very common in the Dolomites in the afternoons during the summer season, that’s why I always leave early to be safe in a refuge before the storm hits.

      Yes the list I made give you all the huts along the route 🙂

      Let me know if I can help you any further!

      Happy planning!

      • Thanks for the quick and detailed reply!
        I think we’ll go for the bivouac and plan to start day 5 really early. Do you know if we need to reserve the bivouac? Do you think there’s a chance that it will be full? What happens in that case?
        Thanks again,
        Neta

  37. Hi there! This website is AMAZING! A couple questions. We emailed Rifugio Vandelli and they are full on the night we’re hoping to stay. What would you advise? It doesn’t look like there’s another hut option so we’re uncertain of how to proceed. Can a hut turn you away if you show up?
    Thanks for the info! This has truly helped us plan!

    • Hi Sidney. Thanks for stopping by. It’s a tricky one because unless you carry a sleeping bag and food to stay in the Bivacoo Comici (A tiny bivouack hut after via ferrata Vandelli) or stay at a hotel on Passo Tre Croci, making the trek to rifugio San Marco the next day excruciatingly long, you don’t really have an option. As for the hut turning you away, I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that they do have quite a bit of no-shows. When I did the AV4 myself at the start of July in 2019 which was the high season, the hut was very empty because of all the no-shows. I say keep trying to get a reservation with them. Maybe a cancellation will pop up. If not you can trek to Passo Tre Croci, take the bus to Cortina and skip the 4th day of the trek then rejoin it at rifugio San Marco.

  38. Hi Marta!
    Thank you so much for the comprehensive review of the hike. We have a group of 8 heading for AV4 this July doing the same itinerary as you have done!
    Can you guide on the electricity for charging devices in the Huts?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Ted. There is electricity in all the huts. I would suggest that you head over to my post about everything to expect when staying in a mountain hut in the Italian Dolomites for the first time. You will find a link to it within this article, or just use the search in the top right corner of my site. Let me know if I can help further!

  39. Hi Marta,
    Just want to thank you for all the information about Alta via 4. Just completed it and it was a great adventure all the way. I was blessed with perfect weather and views were insane. I only did one part differently as you, went for Berti ferrata instead Vandelli. It was amazing 5 days and memories for the rest of life. Thank you for sharing. Kasia

      • I got converted😉 by crazy group of German hikers, claiming that it is better for me to go via difficult feratta with the group than alone via medium feratta 😀I couldn’t argue with that. I don’t regret, it was very long day with few ‘Alex Honnold moments’,😂fun, sun but satisfaction was high.

  40. Hello, I will be doing the Alta Via 4 in the beginning of August and I have been able to secure reservations for all the huts except for the first day. Rifugio Locatelli never responded and both Auronzo and Lavaredo say they are full. Do you have any other recommendations as to where I can stay? Because as of now I have no where to stay on the first night.

    Thank you

    • Hi Maxwell. Thanks for your email. You could either stay in Rifugio Tre Scarperi in the Campi di Dentro valley, which will make your day 1 very easy, but day 2 will be more challenging, or you can start from Val Fiscalina and hike on the first day either to rifugio Comici or preferably Pian Di Ciengia and on day two From there to rifugio Fonda Savio. You van read about this approach in my guide to Tre Cime Traverse in the hut-to-hut category. Let me know if that helps!

      • Ok thank you. Both Tre Scarperi and Pian di Ciengia are also booked so I will try Comici and hopefully they have space. If I stay at Comici will I have time to Via Ferrata Torre Di Toblin?

        • Damn! It’s crazy. I would still try closer to the date as cancellations do come up. You can do Torre Di Toblin as an extension when hiking from Comici to Fonda Savio. A seasoned hiker/via ferrata adventurer can smash the Torre Di Toblin route in 90 minutes. It doesn’t really make sense to hike from Comici to Locatelli to just do Torre Di Tobling then hike back. This would make the first day unnecessary long.
          However, I do recommend that instead of doing Torre Do Toblin you can reach rifugio Comici via via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini (You will find the description for it on my site) The views along this route are spectacular, it’s a great via ferrata for beginners and a lot less people on it than Torre Di Toblin!

  41. Hi Marta, This is an extremely helpful write up and guide. Thank you!! I have not been able to find much information on AV3 & AV4, so again thank you!. I am wondering if you could suggest an itinerary for 4 days? if that is not possible than 5 days? I solo hiked the AV1 in 4.5 days and the AV2 in 7 days so I don’t mind hiking all day to get to the destination hut. The problem with the AV4 is that i don’t know where the “trouble” spots are or the difficult sections where I will need to give myself some leeway. Thanks so much!!!

    • Hi Mike. Thanks for stopping by. If you want to do the AV4 in 4 days then I would suggest the following hut. Day 1 – Fonda Savio, Day 2, Vandelli, Day 3 San Marco, Day 4 hike all the way to Pieve Di Cadore. Vandelli to San Marco and San Marco to Antelao huts are the difficult parts so I would just leave them as they are on my site. I hope that helps! Have fun and stay safe!

  42. Hi Marta,
    Thank you for this very detailed guide! I was wondering if you followed a guidebook for this hike or just the TabaccoMapp? I only see books for AV1 and AV2. I’m also used to using Gaia GPS in lieu of a paper map but they don’t have detailed maps of Italy (has the main trails but no Via Ferratas routes or smaller trails). Was the trail fairly easy to follow? Is there another digital map you’d recommend?

    Also, I have only 8 full days in Italy so completing the entire AV4 is appealing. But the AV2 seems a bit more varied in terrain and also has more detailed guides. Would you recommend doing the entire AV4 (and with this I could probably squeeze a bit of time in Venice too) or part of AV2? Is the AV2 more crowded and difficult to book huts or is that not the case since the AV4 encompasses Tre Crime?

    How does AV4 vs AV2 compare?

    I have a decent amount of backpacking experience within Canada & the US so I’m not too worried about physical fitness and I love heights and would prefer more Via Ferratas (as long as they don’t require a guide).

    Thanks!

    • Hi Susan. I do own the Cicerone guidebook for AV1 and AV2 and it was handy, however, I did find many discrepancies with the distances given in the book. But I do recommend purchasing it all in all if you want to have something with you.
      As long as you know the trail numbers for each day and pay attention to painted marks on the rocks etc, the paths are very easy to follow. I am not a big fan of digital maps to be honest, I just use the paper maps most of the time, or sometimes maps on my watch (Garmin fenix 6Spro)
      AV4 is awesome and more adventurous than AV2. If you are after doing some via ferratas, AV4 is great for that. Yes, the Tre Cime area is busy, but you leave it pretty quickly on AV4. I would recommend going in September, it does get a lot quieter in the Dolomites then.
      I thought the terrain on AV4 is the most varied out of all Alta Vias I have done. I have a beginner’s guide to via ferratas in the Italian Dolomites which you should check out as it might answer some of your questions. Let me know if that helps!

  43. Hi Marta,
    many thanks for the really comprehensive and helpful descriptions on your webpage!
    With a few friends I’m looking into Via Alto 4 for this summer. Unfortunately, we have only 5 days in total to spend. We have more than 15 years mountaineering experience in the Alps, Patagonia, Northern Europe, and the Rockies. Everyone is in very good shape. To do the entire route, I could see us following your description but essentially do days 2, 3, 4 in two days only, going from Rifugio Locatelli to Citta di Carpi and on the next day from there to Rifugio San Marco. Do you think that this is a somewhat reasonable split (I realize that both days would be challenging)? Do you see a different option? E.g. by following your itinerary entirely but descent on day 5 somehow? Many thanks for your perspective!
    Ciao
    Tilo

    • Hi Tilo. If you have 5 days only, the best way to shorten this trip is to connect day 5 with 6. Day 6 is only a 2 hour downhill walk back to the town. That will give you 5 days in total. Locatelli to Citta Di Carpi and Cita Di Carpi to San Marco are very ambitious. Particularly the latter.

  44. Hi Marta,

    Thank you for the amazing overview.

    We planned almost everything for our Alta via 4 in July but rifuggio Vandelli is fully booked.
    Do you know an alternative? Hike down to a village or? We sleep in cita de carpi the night before so we don’t know if the distance is doable from that hut to a village down below?

    Ciao, Max!

    • Hi Maxime. If you are staying in Citta Di Carpi the night before then does it mean you are actually hiking the AV4 from South to North? A few alternatives to Locatelli are 1) rifugio Auronzo 2) rifugio Lavaredo 3) rifugio Pian Di Ciengia. If you stay in Lavaredo then instead of hiking clockwise around Tre Cime you will need to follow the route anticlockwise, meaning once you reach rifugio Auronzo, you need to follow the signs for Lavaredo going anti-clockwise around Tre Cime. As for Pian Di Ciengia it’s one hour further from Locatelli. If you stay in this hut you can exit AV4 through Val Fiscalina rather than Val Campo Di Dentro. To make it even more exciting you could spend the last day doing via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini (you can find a guide for it on my website). All this information applies if indeed you are hiking South to North?

      • Hi Marta,

        We are hiking him the same way you are doing. Starting from the parking lot going to Auronzo, Citta di Carpi to B&B passo tre cime up to San Marco and sleeping at Antelao the last night.

        Does this make sense?

        All the best!
        Max

        • Hi Maxime. Sorry for the late reply. I was off-grid for the past week. Yes, it makes sense, but you definitely have some long days ahead of you. Auronzo to Citta Di Carpi will be fun but challenging. As for B&B passo Tre Cime, do you mean passo Tre Croci? I have never heard of Passo Tre Cime 🙂 If indeed you are staying at Passo Tre Croci then make sure you leave really early because this is the most challenging day and you will have extra 2 hours on top of it. If I were you I would still try and get the reservation at Rifugio Vandelli. Cancellations do come up in these huts, and there are often no-shows. This will put you in a much better location to reach San Marco than from Passo Tre Croci. I hope that helps!

  45. Hi again Marta!

    Just wondering if you bought or hired your via ferrata equipment?
    If hired, could you recommend anywhere where I could hire near the start of the hike?

    Thank you so much! 🙂

    Kind regards,
    Dom

    • Hi Dom. I have my own gear as I have now done over 50 via ferratas in the Dolomites. Do consider buying your own as the whole set costs around 200 Euros, whereas a full day rental ca. 25. So for 6 days you will already spend 150 Euros. Cortina is a place where they rent via ferrata gear but I also recommend that you look for noleggio shops online.

  46. Hi! I’ll be doing Alta Via 4 later this summer! We’re flying into Venice from the US and are doing this as part of a longer trip. We’re trying to save a little money by not renting a car but, we will also be coming over with more clothes we don’t plan to hike with. Did you per chance find a place or lockers near the hike where you could leave baggage? Adding a car rental just to have a place to keep clothes seems like overkill.

    • Hi Abby. Thanks for stopping by. I would recommend that you stay the first night in a hotel near the end of the trek and leave your things in the hotel storage. Most hotels offer this kind of service but to be sure just reach out to them first. For example, stay in Pieve di Cadore the first night which is nicely connected by train, then leave your stuff at a hotel on the morning you start the hike. Bus to the beginning of the hike. Pick up your things at the end of the hike. I hope that helps!

      • Hi Marta!
        This guide to AV4 has been SO helpful. We are completing this hike hopefully at the beginning of September. We, like Abby, are trying to do this mostly via public transportation- we are thinking of flying into Munich or Venice- do you think one has better public transportation to these places? Also, it looks like you suggest to stay in Pieve de Cadore the night before the trek, and then you would take the bus to the trailhead which would be in San Candido area, and then when you were done- you would be back at your original hotel in Pieve de Cadore? Does that seem doable to you with public transportation? Will you be able to walk from bus to trailheads/into town? Or would we need to get some sort of car/driver to pick us up?
        Thanks so much for the help!
        Meagan

        • Hi Meagan. Thanks for visiting and your lovely feedback. It’s better to fly to Munich and travel to Val Pusteria by public transport if you don’t plan on leaving any luggage anywhere. If you do have luggage that you want to store then fly to Venice take the shuttle to Cortina and stay the first night there. Leave your luggage in Cortina (there is a luggage storage) and take the bus to the trailhead which is in San Candido. There will be a couple of changes but it is doable. The journey takes approx. 90 mins. Once you finish AV4 in Pieve di Cadore you can take a bus back to Cortina to grab your luggage. No need to get any taxis.

          • Thanks so much, Marta for this info. I think we will do the Venice route, as we will have extra luggage. Just one clarification- when you say Cortina, are you referring to Cortina d’Ampezzo?
            Also- we are trying to figure out if it’s worth staying at Rifugio Antelao the last night or just hiking all the way out from Rifugio San Marco? Were you personally really thankful to stay at that rifugio and rest up before hiking out or do you think it’s worth just pushing and hiking the extra 2 hours out?
            Thank you!

          • Hi Meagen yes Cortina = Cortina D’Ampezzo 🙂 As for your second question if you are fit enough then you can definitely skip the night in Antelao. It’s up to you and your own abilities.

          • Thanks for this follow up answer. That all makes sense- I know it’s all so based on someone’s own experience and comfort!
            The one rifugio we are waiting to hear from is Locatelli – sounds like they are responding to requests mid-February. We are trying to get a back up plan in case we can’t get it and are considering doing rifugio Zsigmundy.
            If we were to go that route- stay at rifugio Zsigmundy and then go to Fonda Savio on the second night- would you still recommend staying at Cortina and storing our luggage there before/after trip? Is it possible to take a bus from Cortina to the Fiscalina valley?
            Thanks for your advice, you’re the best

          • Hi Meagan. It is smart to have backup if Locatelli turns out to be booked out. As for getting to Val Fiscalina from Cortina yes you can do it. Use the sued tirol mobil app to check for schedules (google maps works too).

  47. Hello, I am going to the Dolomites in August, and I will be doing the Alta Via 4. However it has been over a month at this point and I still have not heard back from either Rifugio Locatelli or Fonda Savio. What would you suggest I do? Should I maybe take a chance and just walk up to the huts and see if they have space available, or should I try to book a nearby rifugio.

    Thank You

    • Hi Maxwell! Thanks for visiting. Have you emailed them or sent them a request via their website? Locatelli has now info on their website that they are not able to respond to emails because they get over 10000 emails in the season and now ask people to send requests. Here is the link https://www.dreizinnenhuette.com/antonio-locatelli-hut.php
      as for Fondia Savio I would recommend calling. They have a winter phone number on their website. That’s usually a phone number for making reservations off season. Let me know if that helps! Fingers crossed.

  48. Hey Marta, I’ve followed your blog here for a few years, I’m based in Canada but first found it when we were looking up some beta on NZ. Now we are off to Italy and it’s pretty funny that you;ve done the Alta Via’s that we’re scoping out. Wondering your thoughts – we’re doing the Alta Via 4 at the end of september, unfortunately, it seems that Vandelli hut is only open for lunch that late in the season. I’ve scoped out a few different options and it seems that there is a hotel on SR48 (Hotel Ristorante Cristallo) or a BNB in Passo tre croci. Thoughts? I’m thinking the hotel would be best since it is directly on the Alta Via route and both the day before and day after are decent size.

    Thanks,
    Will

    • Hi Will! Thanks so much for your feedback and welcome back to my blog! To be fair most of the huts along AV4 are already shut at the end of September, not just Vandelli. Have you checked the other ones? They usually stay open until the third week of September so if you still can change your plans and move your trip a bit or rethink AV4 and maybe do the Rosengarten Traverse instead. In Rosengarten Nature Park the huts stay open even until mid-October! If you stay in either of the accommodations that you are talking about you will be adding another 2 hours to an already long and demanding day. I hope that helps!

      • Thanks Marta, Believe it or not, I’ve secured all the huts except Vandelli, I’ve gotten a reply from another one Rif Marco that there’s a bivy hut near Vandelli so the route is now complete. Will just have to stock up on food for a day and sleep in a rat shack – I’ve stayed in worse ;). Really stoked. Thanks for the alternative suggestion.

        • That’s right Bivacco Comici. You can read about it in my post here https://inafarawayland.com/via-ferrata-giro-del-sorapiss/ It will still be a very long day for you, adding via ferrata Vandelli. Consider going a bit further the previous day and instead of stopping at rifugio Fonda Savio, try Rifugio Col de Varda. That way your days will be split up a bit more evenly. Bivacco Comici is very basic so you will need a sleeping bag, extra water and food. I am glad your trip is gonna work out!

  49. Hi Marta,
    Thanks for the fantastic write up and amazing pictures! I’m trying to decide which Alta via to do this year and since you’ve done them all I thought I’d ask! You mentioned you liked this one the most, I was mainly wondering which one you thought had the best views overall and which was the most ‘wild’ and least trafficked? Thanks very much! I am relatively experienced so the difficulty is not too concerning, but I do enjoy via ferrata so this one looks really exciting.
    Best regards,
    Jason

    • Hi Jason. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, Alta Via 4 was my favourite. It wasn’t overly long, the via ferratas exciting and it offers great days in solitude, particularly once you pass rifugio Vandelli. Since you said you have lots of experience then also check out my Dolomiti Brenta Traverse itinerary. It goes over 5 days and includes 8 different via ferratas! A great challenge and very different to all the Alta Vias!

  50. Hi Marta (again!!)

    I’m now planning this hike but have realised I’m terrible with directions and noted for one section of it you strongly suggest having a Map/GPS. Just wondering what navigation/GPS map you would suggest (if any!) so I can pre-load the maps before departure.

    Thank you once again for your help 🙂

    Dom

    • Hi Domo. Please send me an email directly through my contact page and I will send you my GPX data for this trip done with my Garmin GPS. I also say in the text what number paper maps are required for this trip.

  51. Hi and thanks for the ton of information 👏🏻☺️
    I’m planing to hike the no 4 and then directly on the no 5 “the other way”
    My question is about the Ferrata? Are they like one way streets or can you go both ways ?

    THANKS 🏔

    • Hi Mads. Thanks for stopping by. I had the same plan as you, but after hiking AV1, 2 and 4 back to back I was too exhausted to continue 🙂 It really depends on a Ferrata, but I would say most of them should be done one way. Most of the time you climb the Ferrata and descend on a path. Climbing down on a Ferrata is not advisable and can cause traffic jams and danger to others. However, if you will be finishing AV5 with Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini then this one is totally doable both ways.

        • Hi Mads. No sorry I don’t. I have seen plenty of people downclimbing on ferratas. Just the general route is that a ferrata is for climbing down and on descent you use hiking paths.

      • Hi Marta! Thanks for all of your info. I’m in the beginning stages of planning a hut to hut hike in the dolomites for this summer (end of June) and am trying to decide on a route! I’m planning to set aside 8 days for the hike.

        I’m looking for a route that is mostly along mountain peaks/summits with opportunities for via ferrata! I’ve never done via ferrata but would love to try and have no problem with bringing the necessary equipment. I’ve been debating between Alta via 2 and 4 for some time now. My heart wants to see tre cime, but I’m not sure I would be properly prepared for Alta via 4 as my first over-seas multi day hike? There are so many forums discouraging travellers from attempting it, would you agree that it’s significantly more difficult/ too difficult for a Canadians first dolomite hike?

        I also thought of combining Alta via 1 and 4 to see the best of both, I worry it wouldn’t quite be the mountain adventure I was hoping for and might have a few too many other tourists, which is what led me to look in to Alta via 2. Although the route of Alta Via 2 looks to be one Id be comfortable with, I would have to miss out on seeing tre cime since it isn’t close to the route – unless I did a separate day trip of course, but I’m not sure Id have enough time to squeeze it in to my itinerary.

        I’d love to hear your thoughts on the different routes and any advice you have for me!

        • Hi Jade. Thanks for stopping by and your lovely comment. Whether you can or cannot do Alta VIa 4 is entirely up to you and your skill and comfort level. I did AV4 with a friend of mine, who has never done a via ferrata nor a multiday hike through the mountains in her life and she did just fine. Of course I was there to guide her, but she carried herself from start to finish without complaining once. Backpacking in the Dolomites (and European Alps in general) is a completely different experience to backpacking in Canada. You can carry very little gear with you because everything is provided in the huts, which makes everything a lot easier. The great thing about AV4 is that you can tackle your first two via ferratas (Torre Di Toblin and Innerkofler) as extensions to the route, which will give you great practice for what’s to come later along the route on days 3,4 and 5. As for Tre Cime, whilst it is very unique and beautiful you also have to be prepared that it is very touristy. To the point that it’s a bit of a sh*t show, with hundreds (if not thousands) of tourists hiking it every single day. If you have done scrambling before and you have a good head for heights then AV4 is definitely doable, but again you are the one who knows yourself best. AV2 is amazing too and trust me, you will be blown away by the views. You can hike half of it then travel by public transport to Cortina and further with a bus to see the Tre Cime. Let me know if that helps and if you have more questions!

          • Thanks for the Info Marta! Im looking a little more in to AV2 and I think that might be a more promising route for me. So far my rough plan is to start at Cortina d’Ampezzo and head from there to do a day hike/via ferrata (or two) around Tre Cime. The next day I will take the bus from Cortina to Val Gardena, where I plan to start the AV2 from. Im planning for 6-7 days of hiking, ending at San Martino Castrozza where I will do a few via ferratas along the way. I’m finding the most difficult part to be figuring out the routes and Rifugios along the way for the hike. I’ve been using various itineraries as a guide to help plan but I’m finding most people keep itinerary details a secret and charge money for access unfortunately. Hopefully I can get something attainable worked out!

          • Thank you! Do you know if there is a bus line that directly connects the two? From what I’ve seen you have to take the long way around to dobiacco, Bolzano, and then passo Gardena. I was hoping the Cortina Express would have a bus line but the summer schedules aren’t yet available!

          • Hi Jade. I just had a look at the Sued Tirol Mobil and it says you would have to travel through Dobiacco and Bruneck (not Bolzano) but to be fair Passo Gardena is a part of a ski resort and it’s closed during the wintertime. I would check closer to the date in summer as I do see that Cortina Express operates between Cortina and Corvara (i would check Cortina – Corvara then Corvara – Passo Gardena). Even though the public transport around the Dolomites is very good getting information on it is somewhat frustrating but my advice would be to wait closer to the date when the actual schedules come up.

  52. Hi Marta,
    Thank you so much for all the info! This is really comprehensive and helpful. You got me in full planning mode 😀
    Best, Emmie

    • Hi Emmie! Thanks so much for the feedback! Let me know if you have any questions! I am working on reuploading the maps as I recently migrated my site and not everything is up to speed yet!

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