What you need to do Hut to hut hiking in the Dolomites with a pleasantly light pack for your eco adventure.
This is my minimalist travel guide for the Alta Via 1 trail, including your kids. I designed this after hiking the AV1 with my 11 year old daughter first and then the following year guiding a group of friends and family ages 11- 60 from 4 countries.
It includes what you need to walk on the best multi day hiking trail in Europe with breathtaking views and some intermittently changing weather.
The Alta Via 1 can only be hiked through hut to hut hiking and that means you actually don't need to carry very much, which really let's you experiece the magic of the mountains without having to rough it.
My hope is that this guide will help you be able to pack your things in 15 minutes into a backpack, feel safe and prepared, and know you have what you need to enjoy the magic Nature, wildlife, scenery and FOOD of the Dolomites!
No heavy backpack.
No dehydrated food.
No sleeping on the ground.
Walk through world famous Cinqui Torri and over emerald Alpine Meadows.
The Alta Via 1 multi day hiking tour in the Italian Dolomites located near Venice will be an experience of a lifetime you can share with family. World war 1 history, via ferratas, and world class food.
How This Guide is Organized
▶️Pressed for time? Download our free Alta Via 1 Hiking Guide and Itinerary
Off the Beaten Path: Alta Via 1
You’ve been dreaming of travelling to Europe with your family and want to get off the beaten path and explore equal parts culture and adventure.
Stillness from a Hike
The stillness and splendor of the Dolomite mountains of northern Italy exemplify a quiet place filled with rocky spires, green meadows and the occasional sound of cowbells tinkling on the necks of alpine cows nibbling on wild grasses at high altitude.
You’ll be proud of your kids ages 11 and up for completing the 5 day Alta Via 1 “Northern Half of the AV1 trail by hiking hut to hut with family trip.
There's purpose built into each day.
What is Hut-to-Hut Hiking?
Hut to hut hiking is the gem of European hiking and eating experiences.
Wild camping is often illegal
Therefore luxury and rustic mountain huts litter the Alps, Pyrennes and Dolomites spaced apart so you can walk with just your pack from one hut to the next on multi day journeys.
You'll hike “hut to hut” avoiding the monotony of having to hike out and back each night to the same lodging. Check out this post if you want to learn more about the best rifugios in the Dolomites.
Due to the huts providing the beds, linens, food and water it’s not necessary to carry very much when you do choose to do a hut to hut hike. You'll carry a small pack will containing just a change of clothes and enough water for the day.
Rifugios in the Dolomites
The Dolomites UNESCO world heritage site is filled with views that take your breath away around every bend. Cozy mountain huts (hütten in German or rifugios in Italian) built directly on the trail serve warm 3 course Italian dinners and provide delicious local wines each night.
We love the local Lagrein, but most huts have a full bar and freshly made whipped cream for your hot cocoas.
Some even offer saunas on the deck - my favorite! It really helps the recovery after a gorgeous but challenging hike.
AV1 Trail Guide
Here's a Trail Guide of the Alta Via 1 Northern Half if you've started your planning.
The Dolomites in summer equal paradise in more ways than just hiking. This Cortina d'Ampezzo guide shows some other things to do near the Alta Via 1.
But a Heavy Pack May Make You (or your kids) Want to Turn Back.
While hut to hut hiking, you’ll carry your clothing and water in your backpack each day on the Alta Via 1 Dolomites trail.
You’ll be able to traverse north to south on the same trails WW1 soldiers, refugees, and alpinsts throughout the centuries have used to cross these amazing mountains and avoid carrying tents, cooking equipment, and survival gear by staying in the high elevation huts.
It’s really an excellent beginning multi day long distance hut to hut hike for beginners in the Alps. We love that it’s especially tasty each night at the incredible huts.
No Special Equipment for Alta Via 1 Dolomiti
So whether you’re smiling in the 72 degree sun or warming up your hands during a chilly summer rain storm, a summer hike on the Alta Via 1 (AV1) doesn’t require special equipment and is not especially technical.
There are options to make it more adventurous, taxing and gritty-- but the main route is considered level 1 or 2 out of 3 and great for family hiking.
Especially families that love good food served at each Hütte or Rifugio.
Best Time for Alta Via 1 Hut to Hut Hiking : Mid June - Mid September
The best part of the Dolomites hiking season runs mid-June through mid-September where there is little to no snow left near the trail and rain storms pass quickly.
Dolomites in July is Prime
The secret many pro backpackers know, but us normal working stiffs might not be aware of is the ability to quickly wash quick dry shirts/pants at the huts each night. You’ll arrive at the mountaintop hut and see people’s cleaned shirts drying on a line next to the hut or strung over railings.
That way we only need to bring one set of “hiking clothes” and one set of “dinner” clothes and almost everyone wears the same set each day. Pro tip: don’t try to wash your undies or socks, they won't get dry in time.
Dolomites in August can be Crowded
August is Italian/French/German vacation time, so you'll be fighting some crowds of scouts, family reunions keeping you awake and more.
July has the best weather for families that need to do this trek during school break. Early June is chilly and September is great, but not really easy with kids in school.
If you aren't going with kids or homeschool, September would likely be the best.
Getting to the Alta Via 1 From Venice by Car or Bus
Cortina d'Ampezzo is a natural starting point for the Alta Via 1 Hiking Trail and you'll likely want to stay there the night before you begin and the night after you finish the AV1.
Where to Stay in Cortina d'Ampezzo
Cristallo : a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa. 5-star luxury hotel in the Dolomites, get treated like a movie star with unparalleled wellness amenities, views, nightly live piano and tasty food. We stayed here AFTER the hike to really soak in the luxury wellness as a treat.
Hotel Alaska. We liked staying here because it's right in the heart of the town, it's comfortable and has gorgeous views.