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2. Alta Via 2

group of hikers backpacking through the Dolomites
Alta Via 2 features arguably the best hiking in the area. Linking the two largest mountain groups of the Dolomites, it keeps surprising you with new arresting landscapes.

Leg-burning thrills and heart-stopping views

For experienced hikers who prefer their panoramas with a side of adrenaline, the vertigo-inducing thrills of Alta Via 2 are just what the doctor ordered. Starting in South Tyrol’s Bressanone and ending in Belluno’s medieval town of Feltre, this difficult journey crosses three provinces and eight mountain groups.

Significantly more challenging than its sister trek (covered above), Alta Via 2 features a number of technical sections full of steep, narrow paths on exposed rock, scrambles, washouts, and via ferratas. Although the latter does not necessarily require special gear, I suggest you do bring it for safety reasons. As the Dolomites are prone to sudden thunderstorms, especially in the summer, you’ll also have to face muddy and slippery slopes.

Dolomite hiking trails and delicious food—the perfect recipe

With the caveats out of the way, I can say that this trail offers some of the best hiking in the Dolomites and might be my favorite of all the high routes. It has the right amount of beauty and challenge to make two weeks of walking in the mountains seem like a great idea. 

Highlights include the towering spires of the Puez-Odle National Park, the sprawling Gardena Pass at the foot of the Sella group (with Piz Boè as the highest point), Marmolada rising sharply from the pristine water of Lake Fedaia, and the serene stretch of Alpine meadows from Forcella Rossa to Passo San Pellegrino, where you can meet friendly horses grazing in peace.

Along the way, you get to enjoy the region’s signature dishes, such as casunziei (stuffed half-moon-shaped pasta), canederli (bread dumplings with spinach or speck), various game meat and vegetarian dishes. And then there are the finger-licking Austrian desserts: Linzer torte, Kaiserschmarrn, Sachertorte, strudel… This is in equal measure a culinary trip!

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