Hiking 101: Planning a Dolomites Hut to Hut Hiking Trip

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Planning a hut to hut hiking trip in the Dolomites can be difficult and confusing, especially if you want to bring your kids. But there’s also benefits, like saving money by not hiring a travel agent (adventure tours are crazy expensive) and learning more about the culture through your research.

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Hiking 101: Planning a Dolomites Hut to Hut Hiking Trip

It also means YOU are in charge of where you go, how you get there, where you stay, and what you’ll be doing.

For some people, it can be quite overwhelming if you don’t know where to start when it comes to hut travel planning. That’s where we come in.

We have years of experience in trip planning and we are here to make it easier on you! Don’t make the mistakes I did, learn from my mistakes taking my family to the Dolomites each summer.

Let’s get planning!

Ways To Book a Hut to Hut Hiking Trip

Best for Beginners
Guided Group Tour : 4 Days

Guided Group Tour : 4 Days

  • small groups (<10)
  • physical therapist guide
  • flying dress photoshoot (optional)
  • via ferrata (optional)
  • all transfers/breakfast/dinner/accommodations included
  • airport transfer included
  • stay in the insanely beautiful Rifugio Bonatti and other huts at high elevation
Click Here to Read More

What we liked:  Designed for busy people that want to experience the highlights of the Dolomites without having to take 2 weeks of their precious vacation time.  Everything is done-for-you and you can show up and relax in the most stunning mountains. 

Note: The standard price includes shared rooms in the huts.  Lunch and drinks not included.

  • All transfers included
  • Best price for a guided trip
  • Local Chamonix Guides
  • At the mercy of group pace
  • Not the full circuit
Classic Bucketlist Hike
Alta Via 1 10 Days

Alta Via 1 10 Days

  • [Self-Guided] - You're on your own once you start
  • Must book in Oct to Jan of year prior to hike
  • Fully done for you route
  • Service finds and books your huts
  • Maps provided on app
Click Here to Read More

What we liked: The logistics of the Alta Via 1 and other hut to hut hikes can be very daunting, especially if you don't speak Italian or German

Note: Lesser known trails are often easier to book.  

  • Ease of route
  • No finding or dealing with huts
  • Tapping into expertise
  • No waiting for slow hikers
  • No feeling rushed if you're slower
  • Less control of dates
  • No guide on the trail
  • Unknown - you didn't "plan"
Best on a Budget
DIY: Book Your Own Huts

DIY: Book Your Own Huts

  • Cheapest Option
  • Most Freedom
  • Take side excursions as you like
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What we liked: The challenge of it.  It's so fun to route plan, find trails and the huts you want.  Often it's not the expense saved, but the learning of the trail while planning that is satisfying. 

Note: Be prepared to spend some time with spreadsheets and wait weeks for replies from hut owners. 

BONUS:  Click on the link to watch my 10 part video series on HOW to book a hut to hut trip.  It's a Dolomites hut trip but it's basically the same process for TMB. 

  • Cheapest option
  • Most freedom
  • Learn the Trail by planning
  • Time suck
  • You must be organized
  • Map skills are essential

1. Decide where you’ll go! Starting at the iconic Lago di Braies is a family favorite.

This might seem obvious, but it can be the hardest part of the trip planning process. There are many questions to ask yourself to narrow down the best location to hike hut to hut. Lago di Braies is a personal favorite trailhead.

Fortunately, we’ve personally hiked with kids and written in a blog post our favorite comfortable route that you can read to get started. Check out our Guide to the Northern Half of the Alta Via 1 to decide where to go hut to hut hiking in Europe.

2. Plan out a rough itinerary.

When will you go? How many days will you hike? Do you want to go to avoid peak times? Then, you’re able to sit down and map out the best route. Just know mid-June through mid-September is the available time to go in these gorgeous mountains.

3. Plan out how you’ll get from place to place.

Once you’ve planned out which trails you will hit, you can begin to plan the travel from place to place. This is where a bit of research starts to come into play quite a bit. What’s the best route? A train? A plane? Renting a car? What’s the cheapest? Is there a famous route that may be a bit more expensive and take a bit longer but will give you the experience of a lifetime? You have options here and by planning for yourself you can look at all the options and decide which is best for YOU.

4. Book the transportation.

One of the best parts of Europe is the amazing transit system. So after you’ve done your research above and made some decisions, you can book your transportation to the trailhead.. Whether it’s a plane ticket, a train, your own car, rental car or bus. Now you are committed.

dolomites hiking hut to hut

5. Find + book accommodations.

This is probably the most difficult part as the hut systems at high elevations are not part of any booking.com systems or airbnb. Fortunately, the huts are incredibly reasonable from 40-80 per night depending on the food plan you choose. It really is affordable and unique. It just depends on your personal preference.

6. Figure out the logistical things.

This is the fine details, and many times can be saved until just before the trip. This could include questions such as: Will you need a visa? Do you need any immunizations? Should you purchase travel insurance?

Are there any particular attractions or places you want to see while you’re there? Should you buy tickets in advance?

7. Figure out what you want to do in each place!

That’s what we are here for! Make this step SUPER EASY!! Just download our Cortina d’Ampezzo travel guides for the Dolomites and you’ve got everything you need for an amazing outdoor experience in your location.

8. Get packing, lightly!

A heavy pack will make you want to turn back on these hut to hut trips as you’ll carry your bag with you each day. Minimalist is the way to go, check out our packing list to keep your bag light and enjoy your hike. *Note: make sure you look at the baggage allowance for every flight/mode of transport you’ll be taking during your travels.*

9. Final steps…

These are usually done right before leaving and can include: vaccine QR codes, doctor appointments, printing documents, sorting out your phone plan, or writing down contact info for the places you’ll be staying. Don’t forget to get someone to watch the dog, too!

10. GO Hiking in the Dolomites!

Between the UNESCO sites, turquoise lakes, rocky spires and tranquil trails winding through some of the most breathtaking natural scenery, you’ll never forget a slow, sustainable hiking trip here.

If hut to hut hiking seems a bit too much, you can homebase at one of the glorious lower land huts and do some awesome day hikes. I’d recommend renting a car and planning 1-2 hikes per day.

lago di braies

Recommended Books and Guidebooks for Exploring Hut to Hut Hiking and Dayhikes in the Dolomites & More

Headed to the Dolomites in Italy? Alta Via 1 Cicerone Guidebook for Hiking Hut to Hut in the Dolomites is my absolute favorite.

For shorter day hikes this Cicerone Guidebook is amazing.

For road trip advice, DK Eyewitness Back Roads Northern and Central Italy (Travel Guide) offers great road plans.

Immerse into your senses with:
📚 Top hiking books & movies
🎧 Inspiring hiking podcasts
Video ➡️ Best waterfalls in Europe
and the best Nature quotes, Mountain Quotes & Dolomites Quotes to inspire wonder.

Other great long distance hikes in Europe:

Rhine Castles Trail near Frankfurt Germany. 210 km and 13 Stages

Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.

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