Escape to the Mountains! 7 Best Hut to Hut Treks In The Italian Dolomites

If you really want to experience the Dolomites the best way to do it is to plan a hut-to-hut trip! With the amazing hut network, it would be a sin not to take advantage of it.

This is an article that was over 2 years in the making and today I am including my top picks for hut-to-hut trips in the Dolomites all of which I completed myself!  

1. Alta Via 1

Hiker on a mountain top with beautiful layers of mountainous landscape in the background. Alta Via 1
Alta Via 1 – the classic backpacking route in the Dolomites

Roughly 140 kilometers long Alta Via 1 is the classic route of the Dolomites and also the easiest one. With that said it’s not a walk in the park! The total elevation gain on this route (not including the extensions) is 7200 meters. That’s more than 23.5 thousand feet! 

Alta Via 1 can be completed anywhere between 7-12 days, but I’d say 10 is the optimal amount of time if you want to properly enjoy the landscapes. It starts at the famous Lago di Braies and ends near the city of Belluno both well connected with public transport. 

I have hiked Alta Via 1 with my dad at the start of the summer season of 2019 and because of it, it will always have a special place in my heart.

I sometimes take my job for granted and seeing my dad being in awe of the views with every step he took reminded me of how lucky I am! Visit my Alta Via 1 guides (Part 1 and Part 2) if you are planning to hike this traverse. 

Fact: There are 6 official Alta Via routes in the Italian Dolomites dating back to World War I. The routes were established for the soldiers to move along the frontlines.

2. Rosengarten Traverse

Hiker in the Rosengarten Nature Park in the Italian Dolomites
Me on the second day of the Rosengarten traverse approaching Passo Principe

This was the first multiday hut-to-hut trip that I undertook in the Dolomites and I was instantly hooked! 

Rosengarten Traverse follows the route across the Schlern-Rosengarten Nature Park, a lesser-known (at least on an international scale) part of the Italian Dolomites.

The route includes a series of beginner and intermediate via ferratas and passes by the beautiful Vajolet Towers

I have a soft spot for this route because it involves an overnight stay in one of my favorite mountain huts – Rifugio Passo Principe built on one of the passes along this traverse. 

It’s also one of the shortest backpacking trips on this list requiring only 3-4 days to complete. A perfect choice for anyone who would like to experience hut-to-hut hiking without sacrificing their whole holiday for it. 

3. Alta Via 2

Hiker on the Alta Via 2 crossing the Pale di San Martino Range - the classic backpacking route in the Italian Dolomites
Me on day 12 of the Alta Via 2 crossing the Pale di San Martino Range

This is the longest route on the list and takes between 10-16 days to complete. Alta Via 2 totals almost 200 kilometers and gains over 10500 meters.

Don’t worry though, it’s also possible to just walk a part of it! I have met plenty of people on Alta Via 2 who first walk only half of it only to return a year or two later to hike the second part. 

Starting near the city of Bressanone (Brixen) in the North Alta Via 2 crosses Puez Odle Nature Park and the moon-like landscapes of the Sella group.  It also passes by the slopes of Marmolada – Dolomite’s highest peak and crosses the rugged Pale di San Martino range. 

What I loved about this route is that it gets progressively quieter. During the last 4 days of the trek, I hardly saw any other people, and the huts were very quiet even though it was the middle of the summer season when I hiked it. 

4. Pale Di San Martino Traverse

The stretch between rifugio Rosetta and rifugio Pradidali on the Pale di San Martino Traverse
The stretch between rifugio Rosetta and rifugio Pradidali on the Pale di San Martino Traverse

Pale di San Martino is one of the ranges crossed on the Alta Via 2 but if you are short on time you can just choose this 3-4 day traverse instead. 

This slightly modified route starts near Passo Rolle – one of the most scenic mountain passes in the Italian Dolomites and traverses through the heart of the group. There are a few beginners via ferratas and summit extensions you can do along this crossing. 

Pale di San Martino lies in the beautiful Trentino region of Italy and it isn’t exactly an obvious choice for overseas travelers, but that’s what makes it great in my eyes! A truly off-the-beaten-path experience. 

5. Alta Via  4

Via ferrata Vandelli - part of the Alta Via 4
Via ferrata Vandelli – part of the Alta Via 4

This is my favorite Alta Via out of the ones I’ve done. Even though it is the shortest it’s definitely the most challenging! 

There is a via ferrata to be tackled on all but the first and last day of the Alta Via 4 but you won’t forget those views for the rest of your life! 

This 6-day traverse begins near San Candido in the North and finishes ca. 100 kilometers later in the little town of Pozzale in the Southern Part of the Dolomites.

6. Tre Cime National Park Traverse

Hiking towards Buellejochhuette with Croda Dei Toni in the background - Tre Cime National Park Traverse
Hiking towards Buellejochhuette with Croda Dei Toni in the background

Tre Cime National Park is the most famous park in the Dolomites. Most tourists flocking this way focus on the Tre Cime loop day hike. However beautiful this hike is, it is also extremely busy.

Those who dug for information a bit deeper might have heard of the via ferratas Innerkofler or Torre di Toblin. Two classics via ferrata routes within the park, both starting at the picture-perfect rifugio Locatelli. 

If you want to experience Tre Cime NP away from the crowds but still see a lot of its highlights (including the ones I mentioned above) consider this 4 day backpacking trip starting with the hike through Val Fiscalina – one of the most impressive valleys in the Dolomites and ending with via ferrata Merlone.   

7. Dolomiti Brenta Circuit

The last day of the Dolomiti Brenta Circuit - Via ferrata Bocchette Alte
The last day of the Dolomiti Brenta Circuit – Via ferrata Bocchette Alte

A winter ski trip to this region brought an idea to my head to return in the summer season with a self-planned multiday route exploring this range. 

The Adamello Brenta Dolomites just like the Pale di San Martino group lie in the Trentino region of Northern Italy. This was by far the most exciting traverse I have done. With 8 via ferratas spread across 5 days, there was definitely enough adrenaline to keep us going. 

And the views! With the barren-moon-like landscapes, a few small glacier crossings, and many hours spent on ledges traversing underneath 3000 meter high peaks, the Dolomiti Brenta circuit is hard to compete with! 

What’s the best time of the year for backpacking in the Dolomites?

As with most mountain ranges around the World, the hiking season is very short and the Italian Dolomites are no exception. If you were planning to do any of these trips during your spring break then I can tell you now that the only thing you can plan for is a ski trip! 

The official hiking season lasts from the third week of June until the end of September, that’s also when the mountain huts stay open. The snow often remains on the northern slopes well into July, sometimes it doesn’t disappear completely. 

If you are looking for late-season hiking, some huts in the Rosengarten group tend to stay open until mid-October, but snowfall isn’t uncommon at this time of the year.

If you have never stayed in an Italian mountain hut before, here is everything you need to know before you book your first night.  

Have you done any of these trips? Do you have any questions? Make sure to post them in the comments below! I answer all of them personally. Make sure to check out my Italian Dolomites Guide for stress-free trip planning to this corner of the World. 

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.

23 Comments

  1. Hi Marta,
    Thank you for such a beautiful and informative website. I am looking to plan a hut-to-hut trip for my family this summer. I was wondering if you are aware of any 4-5 day trips in the Dolomites that do not include a via ferrata? My son is 9 years old and I don’t think we are quite ready for that yet. We have done a trek through the Swiss Alps and live in the US West where we spend many nights backpacking as a family, so we are experienced hikers. However, the via ferratas are completely another game.

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts and feedback.
    Kindly,
    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa. Thanks for stopping by! I would recommend that you look into AV1 as there is no via ferratas along the way (unless you want to do them as extensions) You can do a section of AV1. In the second part of my AV1 guide I have early entry/escape route possibilities on AV1. No need to walk the whole trek. Let me know if that helps and if you have more questions!

  2. Hi there, I’m hoping to do a trek in June! We’ll be in Italy for a wedding and are free for a hike between June 5 and 10. Are there any hikes that would be do-able that early without sacrificing views? We are from Colorado so no strangers to snow but want to make sure huts and/or public transportation would be open at that time.

    Thanks for your help! Your posts are so helpful!

    • Hey Haley! Thanks for stopping by. I am afraid most of the huts are still closed at this point in the season. They start to reopen in Mid June, and by the third week most of them are open. You might have more luck around places like Lake Garda, where the elevation is lower and the snow melts a lot sooner, but I am not too familiar with this area. I also know that the huts in the Rosengarten group (the Alpe Di Tires hut in particular) opens already at the end of May, so you could stay one night in there and do day hikes or via ferratas (weather depending). I am afraid though that a hut to hut trek is not possible to do at this time of the year.

  3. Can you do the Rosengarten Traverse without doing the via ferratas, or just doing one or two of them, and still stay in all the huts?

    • Hi Jennifer. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, it is, and You can probably just do it, with only 1 overnight stay at rifugio Passo Principe, because you will be cutting out a lot out of the itinerary. Go directly to my Rosengarten Traverse article and check the section “What to do if you have a group of climbers and non-climbers” at the end of the article. I highly recommend that you purchase a map of the Rosengarten before. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  4. Good day!!

    We are looking to do a 2 day hut to hut hike. I am not sure if those are possible? The itch the get back out and hike has taken over, but because I am just recovering from an ACL reconstruction and recent spine surgery both in the last year, don’t want to push a 3-4 day trip quite yet. Any advice?

    • Hi Morgan. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, it’s absolutely possible. For example, you can do the first 3 days of Alta Via 1. Or day 3-6. Please browse through my Alta Via 1 article, especially the second part, where at the end of it you can find early entry and escape routes from Alta Via 1. It’s absolutely possible to just do parts of it. Rosengarten trek is another good one and you can skip all the via Ferrata parts. In doing that you will save lots of time and can easily hike it with a 1-2 night stay. I hope that helps. let me know if I can help any further. I wish you a speedy recovery!

  5. Hi Marta, big fan of your blog. Me and my friends are planning a trip based on one of your itineraries for mid-June but we’re split between doing the middle section of the Alta Via 2 (Passo Gardena to Mis including Tridenta, Trincee, Bolver Lugli ferratas) or the Brenta National Park loop. We like that the loop has a ferrata everyday but realise the scenery will probably be more varied day-to-day on the Alta Via 2. We’re young and fit so we want whichever one is the most exhilarating and has more exposure on the ferratas. What would you recommend?

    • Hi Cal. Thanks for stopping by, I see you posted your comment multiple times so I deleted the other two. They have to be approved first before they show up on the site. Sorry for the inconvenience. If you are after more varied scenery then the section of AV2 will definitely hit the nail for you. You can also add via ferrata Eterna Brigata Cadore which leads to Punta Serauta, one of the peaks on Marmolada. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s very high on my list. Another one is via Ferrata Piazzetta which leads to the summit of Piz Boe but starts on Passo Pordoi. It will mean backtracking a bit, but it’s an advanced ferrata that will add a lot of excitement to your route. With via Ferrata Bolver Lugli you will have to skip on staying at rifugio Mulaz and instead head from Passo San pellegrino to San Martino Di Castrozza to start the ferrata there the next day. Brenta Loop is amazing if you are after more solitude, but the landscapes are very moon-like. As for the challenge, I think both will provide enough of a challenge! Let me know if that helps and if you have more questions!

  6. Hello Marta,

    We would love your advice about a good route to hike over 5/6 days. We’ve not done via ferrata before, but we are climbers and so feel we could learn it before heading to the Dolomites. We’re keen to experience a couple of the more traditional/ smaller rifugios, and it would be great to be on a route that wasn’t super touristy. However, we also want to be safe and not bite off more than we can chew!

    Is there anything you’d recommend?

    PS we will be getting to the start of the hike by public transport.

    Thanks
    Charanpreet

    • Hi Charanpreet! Thanks for stopping by. I really recommend Alta Via 4 or Dolomiti Brenta Traverse. They will be perfect for you since you are already climbers and both will tick off the boxes for you. The first half of AV4 is more touristy and goes through some highlights of the Dolomites, but the second half becomes really quiet. Brenta Traverse is absolutely amazing, my favourite for sure and whilst it is the hardest one on the list I am sure you will be able to tackle it, especially since you already climb. I hope that helps!

      • Thanks so much for the advice Marta! Do you think we would be ok with the challenge of those routes, even without experience of via ferrata?

        Brenta Traverse does look amazing – but also quite barren and almost moon-like! Part of me wonders if Alta Via 4 would have more varied landscape, including alpine sections? Essentially, it would be amazing to have a mixture of that high-altitude feeling, greenery and mountain lakes. The more variety the better! Does that sound like Alta Via 4 would fit the bill do you think?

        And final question (sorry to be a pain!) – do you think it’d be possible to skip the final hut on the Alta via 4 to make the journey 5 days rather than 6?

        Thanks so much for your invaluable knowledge!

        • Hi Charanpeet. If you are climbers then for sure, but as you can probably imagine I cannot give you a straight answer because I simply have never met you, have no idea what your skills are and if you know how to use the via ferrata lanyard etc. I can only put things into perspective for you. I have done AV4 with a friend of mine who has never done a via ferrata in her life, but I just showed her how to use the gear and how to stay safe, we practiced on the first day and after that she was doing great. I was taught the same way by my then partner.

          As for the Brenta Traverse, yes the landscape is quite rugged and different, but I loved the challenge and the interesting ferratas, however if you would like a mix then AV4 is definitely a better fit!

          Yes, you can skip the last hut and just do the last 7 km adding to the last day. I even talk about it in the text ;). People I have met on AV4 did that. It will be a long day, but after taking a break at rifugio Antelao it’s an easy 7km walk down to the village.

          Let me know if I can help further!

  7. Hello,
    Love the information on this page. I have a family of 6 and we would love to do a 3/4 nights in hut hike.
    Do you know if all huts are already booked for this summer. Around July 10th would be our timeframe. We do not need hotels for before and after just looking to do the hikes.

    Thanks,
    Angela

    • Hi Angela! Thanks for stopping by. There is no way for me to know if the huts are booked out or not. I am sorry. If you go to individual posts about the multiday hikes, in each of them you will get info about what huts to stay at and how to book them. Please message the huts directly to check for availability. You might want to aim for the second half of AV1 or a part of AV2 that doesn’t involve any via ferratas, for example from Passo Fedaia to Passo Valez. It’s quieter in these stages than in the first half of AV1 Let me know if I can help further!

  8. Hi Marta, thanks for your information. This is the best website on the dolomites I can find. We love the idea of staying in a combination of refuges and hotels. How hard is it to navigate yourself?

    Also what route would you recommend to do this over 7 or 8 days? We are planning on July 2023.

    Thank you

    Debbie

    Debbie

    • Hi Debbie! Thanks for stopping by. Alta Via 1 has the most options and probably the most luxurious huts along the route plus no via ferratas along the route. If you book early enough you can secure private rooms in most of the huts and they will feel like staying in a hotel. You could also use the escape routes and get back to towns for a night or two along the route. For example after day 3 and staying in rifugio Lagazuoi you could take the gondola down to Passo Falzarego and then catch a bus to Cortina to stay in a hotel for the night before rejoining the route. You could do this along the route. After staying for the night at rifugio Citta di Fiume you hike to the gondola which takes you to Alleghe where you can stay the night. Plenty of options. All of them are listed at the end of the second part of my AV1 guide. Let me know if that helps and if you have more questions.

  9. Hi Marta!
    Thank you so much for your very informative blogs, such an awesome help!
    Me and husband want to do a hut to hut trip. Which Alta Via would you say offers diverse and beautiful views equals to challenge ratio? We are intermediate-advanced hikers. We have done our fair share of rock scrambling, but no via ferrata experience.
    Thank you!!
    Cherry

    • Hi Cherry. Thanks for stopping by. I reckon Alta Via 2 is awesome, especially if you don’t have VF experience. The via ferratas along AV2 are beginner level and it’s a great way to practice. AV4 is my favourite Alta Via but definitely the toughest one. Views-wise, both are absolutely amazing and diverse.

  10. Hi Marta. Thank you so much for creating such a valuable source of information to inspire so many people.
    My wife and I are planning an adventure and wanted to ask if you always need to book huts in advance? We are considering the Brenta and Rosengarten areas in July/August 2023. The weather can be a problem, so wondered if it might be best to keep adaptable and possibly book each hut the day before to avoid being committedto bad weather days and loosing deposits or payments. What do you do as a rule? Are we likely to find alternatives if one is fully booked? Are they definitely going to get fully booked if we don’t commit?
    Thanks very much.

    • Hi Phill.

      Thanks for visiting. If you were going in September I would have said you can book on day to day basis, but in July and especially August when a lot of Europe is on holiday including, what seems like every single Italian too, I would say book ahead. You might be lucky and be able to book day to day basis, especially in Brenta as it is quieter there, but I can’t guarantee that for you. I can’t say it’s definite. I know that tourism in the Dolomites exploded after the pandemic (as it has everywhere else). As for bad weather days. Generally, the weather pattern in the Dolomites is the same throughout the summer. Early mornings until midday is amazing, then afternoon you can expect storms, that’s why I always repeat to my readers that they should always leave right after breakfast and plan to be at the next hut by lunchtime. All-day hiking until the late afternoon isn’t advisable. Let me know if I can help you any further.

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