Alps / Dolomites / Italy
The best hikes in the Dolomites
Self-Guided Hut to Hut / Lodge Treks in the Dolomites
Any Departure June – October!
- Super-scenic Dolomites hiking trails along the Dolomites’ High Routes
- Fully catered huts, most w/ showers, some with private rooms
- Lots of WWI History along the hikes
- Excellent Italian & Tyrolian cuisine!
- Excellent support with GPS tracks and old style topographic maps
- Personalized driver for airport / train station pick ups and rides to trail heads
- September is THE Octoberfest in Munich!
Dolomites! Our favorite part of the Alps with unparalleled scenery that contrasts stunning rock towers with lovely meadows and mountain forests. The most pervasive aspect of the Dolomites for hikers are the omnipresent views. Most of the time we travel well above tree line along plateaus and ridge lines without the need for extensive up and down. If so, chances are for the presence of gondolas or chair lifts not too far.
Like in most of our Alps programs, we will take advantage of the incredible network of alpine huts and mountain lodges high in the mountains and charming, family-run bed & breakfasts in the villages. The home-cooked Italian and Tyrolian food and wines are only one reason, why some of our clients keep coming back to the Dolomites!
For the self-guided trip, you can take advantage of our 30 years of experience in the region and we will take care of all pre-trip organization and transport logistics once you’re in Italy. If you are interested in doing some of the famous via ferrata trails, please refer to one of our guided via ferrata treks in the Dolomites and elsewhere in the Alps.
All our trips are custom itineraries. A detailed daily trip description with trail numbers, horizontal and vertical distances as well as “Plan B” options in case of bad weather or adverse mountain conditions, need for a longer or shorter days etc. will be mailed out upon booking. We also provide you with a GPS track of the itinerary that can be downloaded to your smart phone to make sure you know where you are at any given time relative to a modern topographic map.
While we gladly set you up for any hiking itinerary you may have in mind, we recommend on of the following itineraries for maximizing scenery, high level of hut and mountain lodge lodging and non-technical travel along well marked trails:
- Dolomites High Route #1 (Alta Via Uno / Dolomiten Hoehenweg #1) from Pragser Wildsee to Belluno in 5 – 8 days north to south along the spine of the Dolomites on exclusively non-technical trails. Most popular are the first 3 – 5 days that sample the most exciting terrain of this legendary traverse!
- “Best around Cortina” Hut Trek samples the best high level trails along the Dolomites High Route #1 through the Sennes, Fanes and Averau / Nuvolau Range for 4 days, then a mid-trip break in Cortina followed by a traverse of the Sexten / Sesto Dolomites including the famous “Drei Zinnen / Tre Cime”.
- Dolomites High Route #2 (Alta Via Due / Dolomiten Hoehenweg #2) from Brixen to Feltre in 5 to 8 days north to south through the Puez, Sella, Marmolada and Pala ranges of the Dolomites. Only a short bus ride necessary to avoid a bit of glacier travel and via ferrata between the Fedaja Pass and the Rifugio Contrin. Awesome itinerary similar to the High Route #1 but a whole lot less busy!
- “Dolomites Diogonal” in 5 – 8 days from Sexten to the Karer Pass / Passo Carezza on an itinerary that samples the highlights of what the Dolomites have to offer berween Sexten – Cortina – Covarara and Bozen / Bolzano traversing the Sexten / Sesto Dolomites, Fanes, Settsass, Salla, Langkofel / Sasso Lungo, Rosengarten / Catanaccio.
Detail and Logistics
Prices for our self-guided Dolomites Hut Trek are based on groups of two participants. For groups of 3 we offer a 5% discount, groups of 4: 10% discount, groups of 5: 15% discount, groups of 6: 20% discount, groups of 7: 25% discount, groups of 8: 28% discount.
Meeting Point / Closest Airport
The base town for this trek is Cortina, which is most easily reached from Venice Airport.
Transport options: There is a daily bus operating between Venice Airport and Cortina for 25 Euros per person (2 hours). This bus operates daily with 2- 4 departures depending on the weekday and time of year. Please see our Trip Info link on the left side of this page or FAQ tab for more information on the public bus service – Cortina Express.
Alternatively we can arrange for a private shuttle that takes about 1.5 hrs at 200-350 Euros depending on group size (1-8 passengers) and departure in Venice.
Climate, Weather, Temperatures:
The Dolomites, being on the “sunny side of the Alps” are usually blessed with lasting high pressure systems in September. However, there is also a chance to see some snow, if a storm hits. Hence, day time temperatures can range from -5C (23F) to 25C (77F).
Services Included in the Total Price
Detailed day-to-day trip itinerary with walking times, trail numbers and “Plan B options” in case of fatigue or adverse weather or should you desire a longer day, 4 nights hut lodging in dormitory and multi-bed rooms, 4 half board meals (three courses) in the huts and mountain lodges, three nights lodging with breakfast in a 3 star B&B in Cortina, all transfers to and from the trailheads with our private taxi, assistance with arranging transport to Cortina as well as assistance with any pre and post trip arrangements.
Air fares, lunches, drinks, supplementary charges for single room in hotels and B&Bs, 3 dinners in Cortina, transport to and from Cortina, and airport shuttles can be arranged at an additional charge.
Can I Do It?
Non-technical trail hike, which requires up to 7 hrs, up to 10km (6 miles), maximum of 1000 m (3280 ft) vertical distance of hiking on some of the days. The trails are for most part well marked and can be found on the topographic maps of the region. You should be physically fit and an experienced mountain hiker to be able to deal with adverse weather conditions. You should be able to navigate in fog and bad visibility with a map and a compass (or GPS). Rain, snow or icing can make the trails treacherous or cover up trail markers, which can turn your hike into a challenging mountaineering adventure any day. If in doubt if you have the skills and experience required, please discuss it with us – or you may be better off joining one of our guided hut treks.
Our Self-Guided Dolomite Trek can be customized to any duration of your preference. We can also put together a custom itinerary for you in the Dolomites that only includes private room lodging in huts and lodges and we gladly put together other self-guided itineraries in other ranges of the Dolomites than the Cortina area.
What are the Huts like? Double Rooms? Showers? Food Choices?
The standard of the huts in the Dolomites differ hugely. While some of the huts that we are using for this trek are rather like mountain lodges that offer double or 4 bed rooms and shared showers (Lavarella, Lagazuoi, Drei Zinnen) others have only cold running water and bunk bed sleeping in rooms with up to 10 fellow sleepers (Fonda Savio, Buellelejoch). Upon request and early enough booking, we can set up your trek with double room lodging in the huts / mountain lodges only.
The food is always delicious and plentiful with several choices. Special diets can usually be accommodated.
How do I get to Cortina?
There is a daily bus operating between Venice Airport and Cortina for 25 Euros per person (2 hours). This bus operates Friday-Sunday end of June until mid-July and then daily mid-July until September. Cortina Express Bus operates from either Venice Mestre Train station or 15 minutes later from Venice Marco Polo Airport 3 times a day and takes you in about 2 hrs all the way to Cortina and back. To book your spot on the bus please use their website: Cortina Express Bus
If you are having issues with making your reservation, please email us and we can provide you with a step-by-step guide to booking this transfer. Some of our clients have been unsuccessful at making an advanced reservation; however we have never seen any clients missing their preferred transfer time if they haven’t reserved a seat online.
Private taxi: 200-350E depending on numbers in the group (1-8 passengers)(1.5 hours).
We will gladly put potential clients in touch with previous participants of each trip in order for interested guests to get more personalized references and their questions answered from a more objective point of view than what our office could provide.
References of prior guests
“”We had an awesome trip!! But how could anyone not in the Dolomites??! Haha. 1) The trip organization was great. You provided more than enough details and made us feel very comfortable going into the trip. The communication from you guys was 👌. I’d say you went above and beyond and we so very much appreciate it. Leading up to the trip and especially during it. I know Jörg was in Croatia yet he still gladly worked on short notice to help us change around plans to fit our desires and we ended up having the most amazing trip! You all were so nice to work with. 2) the itinerary was very thorough. We loved just having the knowledge of all the different paths we could take, shortcuts or longcuts and being able to refer to it at any time. 3) The lodging was awesome. I went into it knowing we wanted to experience the rifugio hut to hut trekking but not ever having even camped before was unsure of exactly what to expect. I looooved the Büellelejoch hut, maybe the best sunrise from the peak behind the hut we’ve ever experienced! Our favorite hut was definitely Averau though (we upgraded to the private room w a balcony). The food quantity at the huts was impressive. No one is going to go hungry that’s for sure. I’m a vegetarian so i really just ate a lot of pasta and Clif bars lol (which was good) but the guys found the meats to be very good. 4) we’d 11/10 recommend OnTop to our friends and we’d use you guys again for sure! And now we know what we like in terms of huts.” Alissa S. and Chris C., NV, USA
“We had a great time on our hike. Thank you. The weather was fantastic (aside for a little rain on day 3). Thank you for all the arrangements. It made our trip hasslefree, which is what we were looking for. We are happy to leave a positive review somewhere if that would be helpful. ” Jonas H., Atlanta, USA
“- Itinerary was great, amazing scenery and generally well balanced. The first day was a little short for our liking.
– Maps were clear and easy to follow, however written instructions were less clear but with a map alongside them they made sense.
– We’d definitely be interested in booking another trip next year. ” Jack G., UK
“Communication and organisation was great. One thing I would say is I used the app Komoot and found it very helpful. As much as I like looking over maps etc, having the route plugged into the app each day made it really easy to see how we were travelling, how far to the next stop etc etc. You could potentially recommend that app (or a similar one as I’m sure there’s a few out there) and also potentially just send the routes direct to the guests via the app? Great Itinerary. And great options too. we did the short walk on the first day but otherwise stuck with the main itinerary. We went to Pragser Wildsee on the way to Cortina as we didn’t want to miss it. It may be worth recommending that to guests that don’t plan on doing the long 1st day. Fodara Vedla was the highlight. We loved it there. Great place for our first night. The family there were particularly delightful. Col Gallina probably lacked the atmosphere of some of the others and the food there definitely wasn’t as good but we had a comfy bed and an amazingly good shower. 10/10. ” Craig B., Australia
“Our Dolomites adventure was fantastic! Everything worked out perfectly (including, luckily, the tight flight and bus transfers to Cortina). Organization and logistics were accurate and detailed. We felt very informed about the itinerary, lodging and food were great, and we have already recommended OnTop to a friend. Thanks for everything!” Joshua K., MA, USA
“We just want to send a quick update on our trip. We had a wonderful time trekking in the mountains. The huts and ruins were big highlights! And the weather was even perfect….it rained only once we were checked into our huts and cleared by morning to give us postcard views. Thank you for all the details and descriptions of the route(s)…they were right-on. If you want me to write a review for your use I’ll be happy to do that once we are back home next month.” Susan S., CO, USA
“Yes, we had a lovely trip to the Dolomites! The hikes were really nice and we enjoyed staying in the huts, especially Fodara Vedla and Averau, which were our favorites. The itinerary of the second day was a bit short, but we went to a mountain top close to Fodara Vedla before going to the next hut. The mountain is called Sasso Della Para and we recommend going there! The hike up there was nice and not too hard (the path to the east, ca 3 hours) and the view was beautiful! 10/10! We will definitely recommend On Top to our friends!” Astri M., Oslo, Norway
“Trip was very well organized. Appreciated all the extra information about the Rifugios, owners, history, etc. Itinerary was fantastic. It fit perfect for our group. My only suggestion would be to have a condensed version by day of just the high traverse, Alta Via 1. Leave the “bail out” versions for bad weather separate. When you are hiking on a trail and trying to make quick decisions, you just want to know the main route and the Trail Number you are supposed to be on. All the extra information and alternate routes are superfluous for route finding until such time you can relax and read them.
The lodging and food was excellent. I ate way better on the trip for breakfast and dinner than I normally do. I liked the fact that they had a reserved table for us and we could use that to play cards and drink before dinner. The only piece of information that I was unaware was the fact that some Rifugios do not have potable water and you have to buy water at 3.5e /1.5L. Lagazuoi and Palmieri (Croda de Lago) did not have tap water to drink. The hike to Lagazuoi was a bit challenging and everyone needed to hydrate fully. It made it tight in planning for a budget. We tried to then count on drinking water at the Averau hut, but as it turns out you have to buy water there as well.
I rate this trip a 10! It was the best trip ever! ” Ed F. & Family, OR, USA
“We did have a great Europe trip! Our favorite part, for both of us, was the OnTop self-guided hikes in the Dolomites. It was absolutely spectacular! It was laid out in just the right sequence, starting off fairly easily, and then getting a bit more challenging as we went along…
then providing a little respite in Cortina before doing another amazing circuit of the Tre Cime de Lavarado. Jorg’s directions were very good providing bailout options for really bad weather or fatigue etc… and extra side trips for a bit of extra adventure if that suited our fancy. We did most of the recommended route, but passed on a couple of side trips, and took the short route on the last day. I will provide much more detail in a revised version of Jorg’s hiking instructions, with photos, and map snippets, and some info regarding our impressions of the various trails.” Steve Ford, WA, USA
MULTIDAY HUT TREK (No ferratas)
1. Technical Equipment
• Sturdy, waterproof leather trekking / hiking boots
• Backpack (35-45 liters)
Some have built-in rain covers (Deuter backpacks).
Rain covers can also be bought separately.
Otherwise bring a big plastic (garbage) bag as an inside liner for your backpack.
• Collapsible trekking poles ( One pole is recommended)
We suggest using the ‘layer system’: Light technical clothing that doesn’t take much space in your backpack and dries quickly if sweaty or wet.
Layers can be put on and taken off fast if weather conditions change during the day.
• Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore Tex or similar)
• Wind and waterproof over pants with side zippers (Gore Tex or similar)
• Hiking or Mountaineering pants (Schoeller or tightly woven cotton fabric recommended!)
• Light-weight hiking shorts
• Fleece or heavy jacket
• Medium weight fleece sweater
• Long underwear or running tights (e.g. Capilene or polypro)
• Undershirt – preferably long sleeves (e.g. Capilene or polypro)
• Warm socks for mountaineering / hiking boots (wool/synthetic outers)
• Warm hat, covering your ears
• Pair of warm gloves (warm finger gloves sufficient)
• Gaiters (light weight and short, when traveling early or late season)
• Sun hat
• Bandana (optional)
3. Hut lodging (if included in the program)
• Very light youth hostel sleeping bag or thin sleeping bag liner for the huts for sanitary reasons (lightest is silk, weighing less than ½ pound). Wool covers or duvets are provided by the huts
• Light hut slippers (optional). Some huts provide a limited selection of slippers.
• Very Small towel
• Alpine Club card (if you happen to be a member)
• Ear plugs (optional but very useful)
4. Other Items
• Rain cover for backpack (unless already built into backpack) Otherwise bring a big plastic (garbage) bag as an inside liner for your backpack or pack everything that needs to stay dry in plastic zip-lock bags.
• Spare underwear, socks
• Clothing and shoes for hotels / B&B in the evening
• Sun glasses (with good UV protection)
• Sun screen and lip protection
• Water bottle, preferably insulated, minimum volume: 1 liter or Camelback
• Light head lamp or torch (for bathroom visits at night)
• Blister kit (optional)
• Snacks (candy bars, dried fruit, sandwiches, nuts, etc.)
• Personal items (prescription medicine, extra contact lenses and maintenance equipment, extra pair of prescription glasses, etc.)
• Pocket knife or Leatherman (optional)
• (Health) insurance documents
• Zip-lock bag for wallet and other documents to keep them dry (recommended)
• Camera, batteries (optional)
• Compass, maps and GPS optional
Transport Options/Closest Airport:
Our Cortina Dolomites Via Ferrata Hut Trek begins from Cortina d’Ampezzo and is most easily reached from Venice Airport.
Public Transport: Most popular is the Cortina Express Bus which leaves at a variety of times daily in high season from Mid-June until Mid-Sept and then fewer services in in the shoulder season starting mid September.
Departures are either from Venice Mestre Train station or 15 minutes later from Venice Marco Polo Airport and takes you about 2 hrs to Cortina.
We suggest arriving into Venice Marco Polo Airport before 2.00pm to catch the 3.15pm.
If you spend the night in Venice before heading to Cortina, you can take a boat to get to Piazzale Roma. From there you need to hop on a bus for about 20 min to get to the main train station in Mestre, which is where the Cortina Express Bus starts.
Click Here for Cortina Express 2018 schedule: If you are having issues with making your reservation, please email us and we can provide you with a step-by-step guide to booking this transfer.
Click Here to make an online Cortina Express Bus Reservation
Please note: Cortina Express buses can only be booked if their online schedule has been released for your dates. These schedules are sometimes released only weeks prior to their new seasons schedule. Eg: late May for June schedule, so keep checking back on their website!
If you are having issues with making your reservation, please email us and we can provide you with a step-by-step guide to booking this transfer.
Another bus company option: ATVO bus
If you arrive from different locations (Munich, Bozen / Bolzano) or if the Cortina Express Bus schedule does not work for you, we gladly assist you with arranging your public transport by other means.
Private Shuttle: Alternatively we can arrange for a private shuttle from Venice Marco Polo Airport or Piazzale Roma with our preferred taxi that takes about 1.5 hrs at 280-380 Euros depending on group size (1-8 passengers). We can gladly assist you in any transport arrangements or post trip lodging reservations.
Train Travel: This option is a bit cumbersome because you have to make your way to the main train station in Venice, take the train to Calalzo (switch trains) and then get on a bus in Calalzo, which takes you to Cortina.
If you plan to travel by train to another European destination before or after your Cortina trip, then we suggest you travel by train to/from Venice Mestre train station by Italian Rail Services, and the Cortina Express Bus for transport to/from Cortina.
Travel to Cortina from the north (Munich to Cortina = about 6 hrs)
Munich is easily twice as long with public transport, all depending how the connections work but basically you take a city train (S-Bahn) from Munich Airport to Munich Main Station (HBF = Hauptbahnhof) or East Station (Ostbahnhof) where you find almost hourly connections to Italy. Via Innsbruck / Austria and the Brenner Pass to Franzensfeste / Fortezza. Switch trains to Toblach / Dobbiaco, where a connecting Bus to Cortina is usually already waiting in front of the train station. The train ride from Munich usually takes 5 – 6 hrs, the bus ride to Cortina in the end about 40 min. This all sounds pretty complicated but it works pretty well! For detailed itineraries we find the web site of the Deutsche Bahn / German Rail works the best for cross border connections.
Self Guided – Dolomites Hut-to-Hut Trekking
- Difficulty depending on itinerary chosen
- Marked, non-technical hiking trails
- Light multi-day packs
Self Guided – Dolomites Hut Trekking
Any duration but two days minimum!
June through Early October
Self Guided -Dolomites Hut Trekking:
Prices depend on group size and trip duration:
Example for 6 days hiking, 7 days lodging & meals,
price / person based on group size of two,
For shorter or longer trip durations, please ask for a pro-rated quote, discounts for groups > 2.
Single room supplement:
US $75, CA $90
€ 60, £ 54
High season surcharge:
US $137, CA $165
€ 110, £ 100
Includes: detailed day to day itinerary and maps, 5 nights huts and mountain lodges in small room units and private rooms whenever possible, 5 dinners & breakfasts, 2 nights hotel with breakfast, private taxi transport to trail heads.
Extras: Lunches, drinks, dinners when lodging in the valley, airport shuttles.