• Descrizione
  • Più
The Dolomites
Plants and flowers
Getting there
Local transport
When to go
Food and drink
What to take
Waymarking and maps
Dos and don’ts
Using this guide
Dolomiti Friulane
Walk 1 Anello delle Dolomiti Friulane
Walk 2 Along the Marmarole
Dolomiti di Sesto
Walk 3 Vallon Popera
Walk 4 Tre Cime tour
Walk 5 Tre Scarperi tour
Walk 6 Croda Rossa tour
Walk 7 Sasso della Croce–Cunturines
Cortina Dolomites
Walk 8 Tofane–Lagazuoi
Walk 9 Nuvolau–Cinque Torri
Walk 10 Croda da Lago–Pelmo
Walk 11 Civetta tour
Dolomiti Bellunesi
Walk 12 Cime de Zita traverse
Walk 13 Alpi Feltrine
Pale di San Martino
Walk 14 Palarondatrek
Walk 15 Over the Pale di San Martino
Walk 16 Behind the Marmolada
Walk 17 Sella traverse
Walk 18 Around the Puez–Odle Altopiano
Walk 19 Odle di Eores
Walk 20 Sassopiatto–Sassolungo tour
Sciliar and Catinaccio
Walk 21 Sciliar–Antermoia traverse
Walk 22 Catinaccio loop
Walk 23 Latemar traverse
Dolomiti di Brenta
Walk 24 Western Brenta
Walk 25 Eastern Brenta

This guidebook describes 25 hut-to-hut treks in the Dolomites of northern Italy, covering 15 regions including Cortina, Sella, Sesto, Marmolada and Latemar. Ranging from 11.3km to 40.8km and from two to four days, the graded routes are suitable for walkers with a reasonable level of fitness and experience of mountain terrain, and some feature exposed sections which demand a good head for heights. They take advantage of the region's network of mountain refuges and efficient public transport system, with the majority of routes accessible by public bus. 

Detailed route description is presented alongside mapping and stunning colour photography and the guide also suggests alternative access and exit routes, and options for linking routes to create a longer trek. There is plenty of helpful advice to help make the most of a trip as well as background information on the region's geology, plants and wildlife and local cuisine. 

The Dolomites – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – are characterised by striking volcanic and sedimentary rock formations. Walking is an ideal way to discover this breathtaking landscape of angular peaks, towering pinnacles and jagged ridges, and the carefully chosen routes in this guide will exhilarate, challenge and inspire.

  • Activities
  • Seasons
    Mid-June to late September, when the majority of the refuges are open. Peak Italian holiday time is August, especially around 15th August.
  • Centres
    Main centres for the Dolomites include Cortina, Belluno, Selva di Cadore, Arabba, La Villa, Selva, Bressanone, Dobbiaco, Canazei.
  • Difficulty
    Moderate and challenging routes, including some mountain traverses involving scrambles and exposure.
  • Must See
    Spotting your first chamois, marmot or Ibex. The majestic Marmolada and Pelmo, the towering Civetta, and the Cinque Torre (now only four of them!).
Waymarking and maps

The Dolomites boast an extensive network of interconnecting footpaths, marked and numbered at regular intervals with painted stripes of red and white on prominent rocks, trees or signposts. On bare terrain such as stony plateaus, in the absence of permanent landmarks, stones are often heaped into cairns to mark a route; known as ometti (little men) in Italian, they are reminiscent of the prayer stones of the Himalayas. Never continue for more than 15 minutes at most without checking for waymarking, as you may be off course. Faint paths across scree slopes and alongside mountain streams are often erased during the spring melt, so expect to hunt around a little.

Signposts on the Pale di San Martino plateau (Walks 14 and 15)

The maps provided in this guide are intended as a general aid, and are no substitute for detailed commercial maps such as those produced by Tabacco, Kompass and other publishers. Tabacco puts out a clear 1:25,000 scale series: Carta topografica per escursionisti, on sale throughout the Dolomites as well as at leading bookstores and outdoor suppliers overseas. Smartphone users can download an app from www.tabaccomapp.it and purchase the maps in digital formats for reasonable prices. Relevant sheet numbers are given in the information box for each walk throughout this guide.

The Tabacco maps show the easiest routes as an unbroken red line and moderate paths with a broken red line. A dotted line indicates some difficulty, such as a particularly steep stretch or an exposed passage along a ledge, but it can also indicate paths with poor waymarking, such as those crossing mobile scree slopes. Routes indicated with crosses are aided, and may have a length of cable fixed to a rock face to make a short exposed section safer. However, more often than not they are vie ferrate, aided mountaineering routes. Exposed at length, they are for experienced climbers equipped with a helmet, special harness and karabiners.

A comprehensive road map for the Dolomites is the 1:200,000 scale Trentino Alto Adige published by TCI, the Italian Touring Club.

Sign for Rifugio Flaiban-Pacherini (Walk 1)

Languages and place names

The Dolomite valleys are inhabited by speakers from three main language groups: German, Italian and Ladin. In the Südtirol (accounting for the north-western Dolomites), the majority (80 per cent) speak German as their mother tongue. This region belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, when it was transferred to the fledgling nation of Italy after World War I. During the fascist period in the 1920 and 30s, Italian nomenclature was zealously applied to everything, with the resulting names more often than not worlds away from the original – the Südtirol, for example, was renamed Alto Adige, a reference to the northern reaches of the Adige river. Nowadays it is a bilingual autonomous region, and place names appear in both Italian and German on signs from offices to streets and mountains.

In the adjoining regions – the Trentino to the south and the Veneto in the south-east – Italian dominates. Just to complicate matters further, the ancient Ladin language, a hangover from pre-Roman times, is still the mother tongue of many inhabitants of the central Dolomite valleys of Badia, Gardena and Fassa, with additional pockets around Cortina and across Friuli.

Consequently, place-naming across the Dolomites is by no means standardised! For the purposes of this guide – and to avoid weighing the text down – names of mountains, places and refuges are given in Italian, flanked by the German or Ladin version where they differ dramatically. One to watch out for is Rifugio (or Hütte), recently transformed into Ladin Ücia.

Walkers will inevitably encounter discrepancies between the names used in route descriptions in this book and on commercial maps, as cartographers and local authorities are tending to reintroduce dialect names and remove longer established versions, on maps and signposts alike – not always a helpful practice.