Great Dolomites Traverse - Gardena to Cortina (Inn-to-inn combo hiking tour)
Length: 11 days, 10 nights
Hike Rating: Moderate-Strenuous
Nothing prepares you for the otherworldly beauty of the Dolomites, whose sheer pink and yellow limestone pinnacles tower like monuments over quaint villages, flowery meadows, wooded valleys, and sun-soaked trails. Italian, Austrian, and ancient Ladin cultures intermingle peacefully in the small, scattered villages in this mountainous corner of Italy. The Dolomites also boast a surprising variety of beautiful wildflowers in the grassy meadows below the mountains. This inn-to-inn tour starts with a circuit the Val Gardena, our favorite corner of the Dolomites, before venturing east through the Badia valley to the soaring rock towers that surround Cortina d'Ampezzo. You're also welcome to join us for either half of the tour. Dolomites West covers the first 5 nights from Selva to Ortisei, while Dolomites East includes the last 6 nights from Ortisei to Cortina.
Our tour begins in Bolzano, a beautiful small city filled with plazas and museums, including the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology, where you can see Ötzi, the 5300 year old ice man found in a nearby glacier. We'll meet in Bolzano and then take a 1 hour drive to Selva. Selva is a small, sunny village at the upper end of the Gardena valley, with miles of hiking trails radiating in every direction. We'll start our tour with a loop around the Gardena valley, visiting a couple high huts along the way, before heading east through the hidden Funes valley, past the mighty Sella mountain, on the the historic mountaintop Lagazuoi, and finally to Cortina d'Ampezzo. We'll have 4 nights in high huts and mountain inns (note, there are no single rooms at the huts), and 6 nights in comfortable and casual 3-star hotels with great food. You won't want to leave!
Our typical day starts with a delicious buffet breakfast at our hotel - a feast of freshly baked bread and pastries, local meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, eggs, coffee and freshly squeezed juice - which gives us the energy needed for the task ahead. Soon we'll be out on the trail, where you'll get to choose between an easier or more strenuous hike for the day. Each morning, you'll be handed a lunch to carry, and at a mid-point along the way we'll choose a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy our picnic. We get a lot of compliments on our imaginative lunches - making them something to look forward to as well!
For our hikes, there are many route options, and a lot of flexibility most days, and we should finish each day around 4 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax, perhaps settle into the pool, or just gaze upon the outside panorama from your room balcony. After that, we'll enjoy dinner together at our hotel's fabulous restaurants. These are multi-course feasts, often featuring delicious local Austrian and Italian specialties. We will leave one dinner in Ortisei free, giving you a chance to explore on your own.
Day 1 Arrive in Italy and transfer by train to Bolzano, your gateway to the Dolomites. Bolzano is a pleasant city with large squares, outdoor markets, and a captivating natural history museum (home of the famous Ötzi iceman). From here, you'll take private taxi transfer to Selva, surrounded by stunning scenery at the upper end of the Gardena valley. We'll enjoy a wonderful welcome dinner and settle in to our comfortable and friendly 3-star hotel for the night. (Hotel Krone)
See our Dolomites photo gallery
Dates don't work? Check out our self-guided Dolomites Val Gardena Traverse, which can be modified to mirror this itinerary, or ask about a private guided departure for your family or group.
Dolomites Traverse, West and East
Dolomites West: July 4-9
Length: 6 days, 5 nights
Hike Rating: Moderate-Strenuous,
Dolomites East: July 8-14
For those without the time to devote to the full Dolomites Traverse tour, you are welcome to join us for half the tour. Our Dolomites West starts in Selva, and crosses the Gardena valley on the way to Ortisei. Dolomites East picks up in Ortisei, and heads east from there to Cortina d'Ampezzo. Both stand alone as a beautiful tour in their own right, with plenty of great hiking, wonderful views, and a great mix of village hotels and high, remote inns.
For info on our hiking tours of the Dolomites and Italy,
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