Hiking Italy's Northern Alps

Destination: Northern Alps, Italy

| Activities: Hiking and Culture

Italy's northern Alps, also known as the Dolomites, are unique among mountain ranges. Composed largely of highly erodable dolomitic limestone, the area is known for its many sheer rock walls, fantastic spires, and rugged massifs, as well as picturesque villages, excellent hiking trails, and rolling green meadows. It is also quite multicultural: much of it was part of Austria's South Tirol prior to World War I and this history is reflected in the culture and cuisine. On this hiking trip we will hike from one valley to another, allowing us to explore both the area surrounding Cortina d'Ampezzo and Alta Badia with their distinct cultures, as our luggage is transported by van. Maximum group size: 12


  • Hiking through a diverse landscape of dramatic spires, rugged massifs, and towering walls
  • Experiencing the culture and cuisine of the Italian Cortina Dolomites and Alta Badia (formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, where Ladin and German as well as Italian are spoken).
  • Learning more about World War I in a visceral way
  • Wandering though small villages and chic ski towns

Departures and Prices

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  • A UIAGM-certified mountain guide and an Adventures in Good Company guide
  • Seven nights lodging
  • All breakfasts and dinners from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 8
  • All ground transportation in Italy, including public and private bus, including transfer to and from the Venice airport on the first and last days
  • Luggage transfer
What's not included: Travel to and from Italy, lunches, guide gratuities, alcoholic beverages, and travel insurance. For some lunches we'll buy picnic food and other times we'll stop at local rifugios.

Trip Info

This trip is an excellent choice for women in very good physical condition with some prior hiking experience. We have rated this trip a 5 as we will hike 5 to 8 hours a day with significant elevation gain and loss on several days, including 2 days where we will be carrying what we need for the night. You should be free of significant knee problems and fear of heights or exposure. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be engaged in aerobic conditioning for at least 40-50 minutes 4-5 times a week. Additional endurance exercise (e.g. going for a 2 hour hike once a week) and/or strength training is usually required.Rating: 1 2 3 4 [5].

On this hiking trip, we hike some of the premiere hiking trails in Italy's Northern Alps. Most days will be day hikes, carrying only a daypack and returning to the same hotel at night. We also have a 2-day traverse in the Fanes-Sennes-Braie National Park, where we carry what we need for our stay at a mountain hotel one night. We will also learn about World War I history, sample the unique cuisine with its Austrian/Tyrolean influences, explore the towns we stay in, and sip cappuccino.

We will stay 3 nights each in Cortina and Corvara in comfortable B&Bs in twin rooms with ensuite bathrooms. We will spend one night in a mountain hut. Like all mountain huts, we will be sleeping in twin-bedded rooms with bathrooms in the hallway.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Our trip starts about 1:30 p.m. in the Venice airport (VCE) where we will meet to catch the bus for the 2- hour trip to Cortina D'Ampezzo and the start of the trip. After getting settled in at our hotel, we’ll meet for introductions and a trip orientation before going out for our Welcome Dinner. Cortina, home of the 1956 Winter Olympics, is best known as a chic ski town. However, it is still quite lively in the summer, with lots of shops, restaurants, and an active nightlife. Overnight Cortina. (D)
Our hiking trip starts with one of the iconic sites and hikes of the Dolomites: the Tre Cime di Laveredo ("three peaks of Lavaredo") circuit hike. These three jagged limestone spires are one of the most recognizable sights here and the hiking is classic Dolomites: alpine meadows, scree, rocky paths, and outstanding views. After transferring to the Auronzo Rifugio, our loop hike starts with a relatively flat path and then an easy climb up to Forcella Col di Mezzo, with sweeping views over the Cadini, Sorapiss, and Marmarole ranges. We'll then climb more steeply up a rocky outcrop where Rifugio Locatelli is perched. Both the timing and the views make this the perfect place to stop to enjoy lunch. Our route then continues with a steep zig zag up to Forcella Pian de Cengia, a saddle with breathtaking views of the entire Tre Scarperi range. From here our path continues through an area full of World War I history, including old tracks, trenches, roads, and barricades with more sweeping views over the Cadini, Sorapiss and Marmarole range, before returning to Rifugio Auronzo. Hiking: 8.5 miles, 2150-foot ascent, about 6 hours. Overnight Cortina. (B, D)
Leaving behind the glitz of Cortina, today we carry what we need for a night as we set off for Fanes-Sennes-Braies National Park. Starting near Fiames (a short transfer from Cortina), we follow the Fanes River steadily up through a beautiful valley, surrounded by striking peaks and WWI history, to the Altiplano Fanes. This is a very popular backcountry skiing area and wintertime ski trails transform into great hiking trails. Our destination is Rifugio Fanes (6,758 feet), a mountain hotel that has been serving up good food and lively conversation for over 100 years, and a welcoming place to end our day. Hiking: 7.5 miles, 2800-foot ascent, about 5 hours. Overnight Rifugio Fanes. (B, D)
We continue our journey over to the Val Badia today. Located in the South Tyrol, this area was part of Austria before World War I, and the mix of Italian and Austrian culture manifests itself in the food, architecture, and language. While Italian is the predominant language in Cortina, here Ladino, which comes from the Romansh language, is also common. Many trail signs are written in Ladino, German, and Italian, emphasizing the truly rich multicultural nature of this area. Leaving the Rifugio, we'll spend the morning hiking across the Altopiano di Fanes with its glorious views of the western Dolomites, including Marmolada, the highest peak in the region (11,024'). Our path this morning is relatively flat, before dropping to Capanna Alpina. We'll stop here for lunch before transferring to the mountain town of San Cassiano. From here we can take advantage of the lift system up to Piz Sorega and then hike on a wide ridge trail with views in all directions. We'll walk across the wide-open plain to the other side, and then hike another hour down to the town of Corvara, our base for the next two days of hiking. There are several options today to make the day shorter; this itinerary is 11 miles (before lunch is 6 miles, after lunch, mileage will depend on the option you choose). Hiking: 1,400-foot ascent, 4,000-foot descent, about 7 hours. Overnight Corvara (B, D)
We spend today hiking in the Sella Massif, a fortress-shaped mountain group best known for Piz Boe, its highest peak. We'll gain initial elevation without any effort as we transfer to Passo Pordoi to begin our hike along the southern face of the massif. Our trail initially switchbacks up to Forcella Pordoi, and from there we start the rolling traverse on a rocky path across the southern face. There are, as always, spectacular views of the surrounding mountains: Civetta, Marmolada and the Sassolungo mountains. We'll reach the Rifugio Franz Kostner in time for tea or a late lunch. Your choice about how to get back to Corvara will depend on how your legs are feeling: a chairlift and a gondola offer options for shortening the steep downhill hike. Hiking: about 4.5 miles, 1,750-foot ascent, about 5 hours. Overnight Corvara (B, D)
Today we hike in one of the other Val Badia massifs: Parco Naturale Puez-Odle. Starting at Passo Gardena, we climb up and over two scenic passes before crossing a broad valley. After a picnic lunch along the trail, our hike continues across the Gherdenacia Plateau to a spectacular view before descending steeply to Sponata, where the chairlift saves our knees from the final descent into La Villa. Hiking: about 7.5 miles, 2100-foot ascent, 2500-foot descent, about 7 hours. Overnight Corvara (B, D)
Returning today to the Cortina side of the Dolomites, we'll take time to learn a bit more WWI history, visiting a small museum and then exploring the Lagazuoi galleries and tunnels. These are the most famous, well-reconstructed and interesting of the WWI bunker ruins and tunnels, leftover from the Italian and Austrian armies' bitter contest. Transferring to Passo Falzarego, we'll visit a museum with lots of artifacts from the war. We'll then walk over to the cable car station. The cable car ascends sharply with fantastic views the whole way, ending at the top where we can visit the reconstructed bunkers and have a snack at Lagazuoi Rifugio. We can take a peek into the reconstructed tunnels, just enough to get a sense of how challenging it was to live in and guard them. (Note: Depending on opening time for the museum, we may visit Laguzoi first) We'll then take the cable car back to Passo Falzarego and return to Cortina for the night. We'll end our hiking trip with a final farewell dinner, celebrating the miles we've hiked, the history we've learned, the great food we've eaten, and the camaraderie we've shared. Hiking: about 1 hour. Overnight Cortina (B, D)
We will arrange an early morning shuttle to the Venice airport, in time for flights at or after 11 a.m. However, if you want to try one of the experiences for which the Dolomites are known, a via ferrata, then plan on staying another day. On a via ferrata, every step is safeguarded as you progress, always clipped into a sturdy cable using climbing harnesses, slings, and steel carabiners. You experience what rock climbers or mountain goats feel as you make your way up a mountain that you would never want to go up without some protection! We'll send you information about how to book this experience in the Pre-Departure information, 4 months before departure.


(21 reviews)
4.6 Food
4.4 Lodging
4.4 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Most Recent

Sheila C.
6 years ago

other participants, local guide, unbelievable scenery

Michelle M.
6 years ago

Gillian M.
6 years ago

Staying in the Refugio was one of the highlights - it was wonderful to be up high in the mountains with relatively few people around. Also the hikes were all exceptional.

Kristi R.
6 years ago

Accommodations were great. Our guides were exceptional. Everyone in our group got along very well. The hiking was fabulous! I thought that AGC did a great job of staging our hikes for the best group experience. And our guides did a wonderful job of adjusting the hikes, depending on weather and circumstances. I loved hearing all of the information and insights that Karin had to offer about the history and culture of the Ladin area and the geology of the Dolomite region.

Maureen G.
6 years ago

We were lucky to have a really good group of women who got along well. It's hard to pick a highlight to the trip since every day had spectacular scenery. Our accommodations were very good, particularly in Corvara. The family run hotel was extremely friendly and attentive with beautiful rooms. The restaurants all provided us with delicious and large meals. Our local guide, Karin, was absolutely delightful. She taught us so much of the local culture and history. She was very attentive, easy to get along with and had a great sense of humor. With her as our local guide, the food, the scenery and the lodgings there is nothing but good things to say about the trip.

Ellen W.
6 years ago

This was a wonderful trip! Italy and the dolomites are gorgeous as I had been told before I went and it absolutely lived up to my expectations. The group was a nice mix of women seem to get along quite well. The guides were excellent and all in all it was a spectacular trip. It is definitely on my list of top trips

Erica L.
6 years ago

The variety of views were amazing and the hut experience was really cool.

Aggie A.
6 years ago

Anne, as usual, was a superb guide, as were the local guides! They all exhibited unending patience, good humor, and professionalism at all times.

Nathalie D.
6 years ago

Loved it all!! The mountains were spectacular and the trails were comfortably challenging. The food and accommodations were also awesome!

Deborah H.
6 years ago

Highlights were the women...plain and simple! I enjoyed the diverse backgrounds and expertise levels each woman brought to the mix.

Sharon H.
6 years ago

The beauty of the Dolomites, the quaint villages and the great guides all lived up to or surpassed my expectations.

Joann S.
6 years ago

the selections of hikes, guide Karin

Marie R.
6 years ago

Guides were excellent, accommodations great - and how do you beat the Dolomites

Christine C.
7 years ago

I missed 2 days of hiking with the group because I was told I would not be allowed to hike with them on those days. And I was completely on my own for those 2 days. Very uncomfortable for me emotionally and it certainly had an impact on the group as a number of them talked to me about it later on.

7 years ago

From the beginning, the guides did not establish that the group was a team. They allowed some "alpha" members to set the tone, pace, and broke apart to group.

Lisa O.
7 years ago

The hikes were spectacular.

Susan G.
7 years ago

The beauty of the alps, food and company. I would have to say that the hotel in Cortina while was convenient in town, the noise nightly was not pleasant and the beds were not that comfortable.

Ann C.
7 years ago

This trip was a challenge for me. While i was sufficiently fit, the combination of terrain and length of hikes/days was beyond what i had experienced in my mountain hiking in the past. It was EXACTLY what i was looking for - a perfect challenge. They say you should regularly do things that scare you and i had a few of those moments - but they were exhilarating.

Mary D.
7 years ago

the highlight was walking around the massif. that was really exciting. and walking down the crevice on the day after the overnight in the hut. it felt like meditation to me. the views are amazing. i love those mountains. We had great weather. Luck us.

Anne S.
7 years ago

Scenery, hikes, and fantastic local guide.

Helen R.
7 years ago

Highlights: Hikes (awesome). Loved the diversity of the hikes. Loved the views of the villages and mountains. It was all so very breathtaking. This is one of the best trips I have ever experienced.

  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be buffets at the hotels where you're staying. Dinner is in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Lunches are not included; some days you'll buy picnic food and other days you may eat at rifugios.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.