Hike through the Dolomites’ enchanting, remote landscapes on these 10 classic long-distance hikes.
The asymmetric limestone spires of the Dolomites tower over deep, green valleys speckled with tiny, traditional towns. In the most isolated areas of Italy’s northeastern corner, old customs seem to be carved as deep into communities as the fossilized marine life encased in the surrounding flinty rock. Local menus showcase hearty mountain dishes such as game meats, polenta, the “bread of the Dolomites," and the dumpling based Tris di Canederli. However, the natural landscapes completely outshine anything produced by humans’ handiwork in this part of the world.
The Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the entire area pops with an unreal palette of colours. Vibrant turquoise lakes, rose-tinted rock, and electric violet Primula Minima flowers are a few standouts. Reliably-blue sunny skies also amplify all of the different elements of the area's natural beauty.
Considering everything listed above, it's no wonder that the Dolomites is a name on every mountain lover's lips. Hikers are especially spoilt in this part of the Southern Limestone Alps, as there are hundreds of different routes accessible for most of the year.
The biggest and most famous hiking network is the Alta Via Dolomiti (with the close proximity to Austria, you will also often hear it referred to as the “Dolomiten Höhenweg” in German). It consists of 10 long-distance hikes lacing the Dolomites. Each trail traverses a section from the northern corners close to the Austrian border all the way across the rugged topography to the southern tips of the Dolomites mountain range.
The trails are all of medium to high altitude, lasting somewhere between 6 and 22 days, with remote settlements and “Refugi” (mountain huts) marking the end of each day. This guidebook sketches out all 10 routes of the Alta via Dolomiti, so you can get an idea of which route is right for you. For the classic tour, try Alta Via Dolomiti 1. If you would prefer a quieter, more strenuous trail draped in myth and legend, go for Alta Via Dolomiti 2.