The Via Venezia Alpina is an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. From Scharnitz, a Tyrolean village on Austria’s border with Bavaria, you hike across the entire chain of the Alps to the Gulf of Venice, covering almost 500 kilometres (310 miles) in three weeks. From the highest peak in the Karwendel mountains, you follow a long ridge in the Tux Alps which brings you into the fantastic South Tyrolean Dolomites mountains. This adventure takes you to some of the most impressive mountains in the region as you hike through the Sella Group, passing Civetta mountain, Mamolata, the highest mountain of the Dolomites, and Schiara peak.
After you climb over the main ridge of the Alps, it’s quite clear that the Via Venezia Alpina is a demanding long-distance hike. You need to be technically experienced to take on the steep and rocky mountain paths. A head for heights and surefootedness is a must. This route is a physical challenge. Whilst many other long-distance hikes allow you to walk just a few kilometres per day, the Via Venezia Alpina challenges you with many long days with a fair amount of distance. This way you can spend as much time as possible up in the high mountains without having to descend back to the valley every day. A few stages may seem frighteningly long at first glance, but you usually have the possibility to shorten them by taking a bus or mountain train. If you want to take the adventure up a notch, you can add some exciting via ferratas to the route in the Dolomites, such as in the Sella or Skiara groups.
What also distinguishes this long-distance hike from others of its kind is that it is not marked throughout. However, all stages follow the well-developed network of trails in the Alps and so the waypoints are always well marked. You spend most of the nights in huts high up in the mountains. It is important to reserve your sleeping places beforehand, as there is often no alternative. Due to the altitude of the trails, the hike is suitable in the summer season. When you arrive at the sea, you can jump straight in thanks to the warm temperatures.
You should always pack some snacks in your backpack for refreshments on the way. On some stages, you’ll also find a place to stop en route for a bite to eat. From time to time, you also pass a village where you can stock up on provisions. The route starts directly from the train station in Scharnitz, making it convenient to reach by train. You can also easily return home from the finish line in Venice by train or long-distance bus.
With this stage your crossing of the Alps begins, which leads you to the Italian Adriatic Sea. This first day is mainly used to gain altitude. On mostly leisurely paths you penetrate further and further into the mountains to the Karwendelhaus, where you spend your first evening on the Via Venezia Alpina with a wonderful view.The starting point is right at the Scharnitz train station, which is on the train route between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Innsbruck. And on such a long long-distance hike like this, it only makes sense to travel by public transport. Scharnitz is located directly at the foot of the mountains, which greet you with a beautiful path up into the valley of the Karwendelbach. Here you meet a driveway that takes you directly up to the Karwendelhaus. It only gets a bit steeper towards the end, making this the perfect day for warm hiking.
The second stage is a special day, because today you will climb the highest mountain of the Karwendel. That is why it demands a lot of altitude from you both on the ascent and on the descent. From the Karwendelhaus you hike south, in the determining direction of the entire Via Venezia Alpina. Right at the beginning it is a crisp uphill through the steep hose cirque.Where you reach the mountain ridge, you can now make the detour to the left to the 2,749 meter high Birkkarspitze - the summit cross is already very close. The last meters up are challenging, but well secured. A fantastic all-round view awaits you at the top. Then there is the long descent, at the end of which you go uphill again to your stage destination, the Hallerangerhaus. Alternatively, you can stay the night on the Hallerangeralm nearby.
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On the third stage, you are about to descend into the Tyrolean Inn Valley, so there is a lot going on for your thighs and knees again. You cross the mountain range that separates you from it via the Lafatscherjoch, from which you have another beautiful view over the Karwendel. On your long descent through the Halltal you will pass historic mansions that are reminiscent of the time of salt mining.The beautiful escape route leads you out of the valley to Hall in Tirol. On the way you pass the former monastery of St. Magdalena, where you can stop at the inn today. If you don't want to spend the night in the valley, you can climb to the Glungezer hut, the destination of stage 4, on this day. You can do this by taking the hiking bus from Hall to the valley station of the Glungezerbahn and then having the mountain railway help you with the ascent.
2,000 vertical meters in one day and not a single one downhill? The look at the altitude information on this tour may make you swallow at first. But don't worry: you can use two tools. A hiking bus runs from Hall to Tulfes. From there a mountain railway floats up to the Tulfeinalm. So you can get help with the ascent as you like.You can walk from Hall up to Tulfes via a mixture of roads and paths. Afterwards, broad paths through the area of the mountain railways take you up to the Tulfeinalm. From there up to Tulfeinjöchl and then over a rocky ridge up to the Glungezerhütte, which in its stone desert high above the green Inn valley looks like in another world.
Stage 5 is followed by summit after summit. No sooner have you got off one than the next. This ridge hike through the Tux Alps becomes a special highlight of the Via Venezia Alpina. And since you climbed so far the day before, you don't even have to climb that many meters. With easy scrambling and sections with rope insurance, it will be really exciting today. So the weather should be accordingly good. If necessary, there are also alternative routes to the stage destination.It starts over the Glungezer and the Gamslahner Spitze to the Kreuzspitze. Then you climb the Rosenjoch, the highest elevation of the stage. After you have thoroughly enjoyed the view here, it goes slowly downhill - only short climbs are waiting for you to the other peaks. This is followed by the Grünbergspitze and the Grafmartspitze. Behind the next saddle you can decide whether you want to make a detour to the Naviser Sonnenspitze. In the further course you bypass the Mölser Sonnenspitze to the south - another optional summit. Then it is not far to the idyllic Lizumer Hut, whose warm meals and soft beds are just right after so many peaks.
Stage 6 on the Via Venezia Alpina is no walk in the park either, as it continues to explore the remote mountain landscape of the Tux Alps. Once again you turn south first thing in the morning and always climb up the side of a mountain stream to the saddle under the vulture. Here you can make a detour to the second highest peak in the Tux Alps, which bears the name of this mighty bird. It is worth taking a close look at your path, because in the Lizumer Mountains the rock is interspersed with quartz crystals.This is followed by a sometimes quite steep descent through the rocks back down to green meadows. Then it goes up again to the saddle below the Gamskarspitze. And again a descent follows: many hairpin bends bring you down to the picturesque Weitental with its waterfalls, the course of which you - how could it be otherwise - follow uphill again, where the Tuxerjochhaus, your stage destination, is waiting.
On this stage you get very close to the Hintertux Glacier. To do this, you first hike a little downhill, and then cross over to the Spannagelhaus. Here you can visit a marble show cave, if you are in time and a guided tour is taking place. Then you climb up to the left of the glacier through the rocky landscape to the Friesenbergscharte. Good visibility is important so that you can find your way between the stones.From the saddle you can enjoy the first view of the peaks on the other side of the Zillertal. Then you have an adventurous descent ahead of you: especially steep and secured with steel cables, it goes straight down through the wall. This will bring you closer to your destination, the Friesenberghaus with the lake of the same name.
This stage on the Via Venezia Alpina is particularly scenic, as it leads high above the turquoise shining Schlegeis reservoir. Behind it rise the glaciated Zillertal mountains. Your destination is the Pfitscherjoch, where you leave Austria behind and continue hiking through South Tyrol the next day.You climb a short distance from the Friesenberghaus to the west, and then walk quite relaxed on a high path that leads slightly downhill to the Olpererhütte. You can enjoy the fantastic view over the valley. Shortly before the hut, another highlight is waiting for you: Here a short suspension bridge brings you over a stream with dry feet.From the Olpererhütte it is steeper down to the bank of the Schlegeis reservoir. Then you follow the Zamserbach through its valley up to the Pfitscherjoch, where you will find the hut of the same name behind the border with Italy.
Stage 9 is pretty bumpy again - it's best to go to bed early, because getting up early is also a good idea. First you descend from the yoke into the Pfitscher valley. To do this, you use a pass trail that was used by smugglers between Austria and Italy. On the other side of the valley you then climb back up to the Gliederscharte; sometimes it gets really steep. Take a reasonable break at the top, because there is still a long descent into the Pfunderer valley.Passing the beautiful Grindlbergsee you quickly lose altitude. Where it is slowly getting greener again, the Obere Engbergalm is just the right place for a snack. Then you follow the course of the Weitenbergbach between the narrow walls of a gorge down to Dun. From there, a road takes you down to Pfunders, which awaits tired hikers with several overnight accommodations.
This stage is again very long. But you can shorten it by taking the bus from Pfunders to Niedervintl. You can often hike out of the valley away from the main road, but there are more beautiful sections on the Via Venezia Alpina.In Niedervintl you have reached 750 meters and thus suddenly quite deep after the last few days. So quickly up again: You climb over a wooded north slope to a free mountain ridge high above the Lüsner Valley. No sooner have you stepped out between the trees than you walk straight on on an almost flat surface to the Kreuzwiesenhütte, your destination for the night.
A lot of ups and downs await you on this day. The wonderful views of the impressive Dolomites contribute to the motivation. From the Kreuzwiesenalm you hike to the mountain ridge in the east. On this you go south to the saddle behind the Glittner Joch, from which you descend to the Lüsener Joch. There you cross the slopes to the south, where you will soon pass the Maurerberghütte, which is ideal for a break.Here you already have an incredibly beautiful view of the Peitlerkofel, which also accompanies you on your way to the Würzjoch, where you can also stop. Now you get closer and closer to the famous rock giant and bypass it on the right side. It always goes uphill to the Peitlerscharte. From here it gets more comfortable again and the last two kilometers to the Schlüterhütte don't ask too much of you after this exhausting day.
You can only enjoy this stage: some of the most beautiful panoramas of the South Tyrolean Dolomites await you. From the Schlüterhütte you climb over a ridge and then hike slightly downhill into the heart of the Puez-Geisler Nature Park. The imposing rock walls come closer and closer and you will hardly come out of the amazement. It gets more and more rocky around you and you climb up to the Nives-Scharte. This is provided with ropes and steps, but not exposed.Then it goes downhill again and on more leisurely paths to the Puezhütte, which is ideally located for a stop. Because from here you don't have too much exhausting ahead of you. With little up and down, you hike to the Crespeina Joch and further downhill to the famous Gardena Pass. For the night you can choose between an inn and a hotel.
On stage 13 it is now mainly uphill again and through the middle of the Sella group. From the Gardena Pass you climb straight up to the rocks in the south. Here you cross a little more to the left, and then climb very steeply in the next channel to the Pisciadù hut. This section is provided with ropes and steps and is therefore technically not very difficult. The famous Pisciadù via ferrata runs a little further east - an alternative, but only with via ferrata equipment.Then you hike past Lake Pisciadù even further up. Always through the barren and highly impressive landscape, it is comparatively not that far to your stage destination, the Boèhütte. There is still time and strength left to climb a three-thousand-meter peak, right? The steep ascent to Piz Boè begins right behind the shelter. So it's so close that you can hardly skip it. Ascent and descent are already included in this planned tour. So you can easily make it back downstairs by dinner.
On this day you say goodbye to the Sella in order to approach the next famous mountain group: the Marmolada. In the morning the hike begins quite flat over a plateau to the Rifugio Forcella Pordoi. From here you descend steeply through the southern slopes to the Pordoi Pass. If you want to save yourself that, you can also hike from the Rifugio up to the Sass Pordoi and take the cable car down from there.From the Pordoijoch you then hike less than 200 meters up to the next mountain range. There follows a real pleasure section: On a high path you hike almost flat again along the southern slopes and enjoy the view of the Marmolada and the blue shining Lago di Fedaia, which is the destination of this stage. A rifugio is waiting for you right on its bank.
Stage 15 is very long and not stingy with vertical meters. Depending on your form of the day and your preferences, you can shorten this route with a bus or mountain train ride. Right in front of the Rifugio Marmolada, for example, you can get on the bus and let it take you to Alleghe. The almost 20 kilometers to get there you usually hike through the same valley as the bus goes. Except for the steep rock faces of the Serrai di Sottoguda gorge - and you can even see them out of the window - you won't miss much with the bus.The village of Alleghe, which is a bit bigger than anything you've seen recently, is a good place to stock up on supplies. Perhaps you will treat yourself to an ice cream, because then the demanding day's ascent is waiting: an altitude of 1,500 meters is still up to the Rifugio Tissi. A mountain railway also runs from Alleghe, which can take a few off your hands. At the end of the day, an impressive view of the Civetta awaits you.
This stage takes you through the spectacular Civetta. Most of the time you will stay in the green areas below the white rock peaks. The long descent into the rear Val Corpassa takes about the first half of the route. From there it goes steeply in several steps up to Forcella del Camp.The last section of stage 16 is then a little more leisurely: On a high path you hike along the southern slopes below the Cresta delle Masenade. It usually goes downhill with a moderate gradient to Passo Duran, where there are two options for overnight stays. The Rifugio Carestiato, an alternative overnight option, is about two and a half kilometers from the stage destination.
Today the ski group welcomes you to the Belluno Dolomites National Park. So the level of the last few days will be maintained and you can look forward to more phenomenal prospects. At the beginning you walk between trees and meadows. Then you come closer to the white rocks again, but stay in the scenic border area for a while. It is always a bit uphill.After about three thirds of the stage you can make a detour to the Rifugio Sommariva and take a break there. Then it becomes steep again and you penetrate into the rocky areas of the Schiara group. At the end of the day, there is a steep descent to the Rifugio Pian de Fontana.
With one last fantastic day in the Belluno Dolomites you say goodbye to the high alpine peaks. Your destination for today is Belluno. Only a mountain range separates this city from the Piave plain, where it becomes really flat. Again, the route and descent are very long today, but you can cover about a third of the way at the end to Belluno by bus.From the Rifugio Pian de Fontana you hike to the other side of the valley and climb two more peaks. Then you hike down to the Vescova valley, where the picturesque Rifugio Bianchet is located. Through the narrow valley you come down to a driveway, which you follow to the south. Here you can also get on a bus that will take you to the center of Belluno.Tip for the adventurous: If you want to climb Monte Schiara as the last alpine highlight, you should be an experienced via ferrata climber and have the appropriate equipment with you. In this case you might plan an extra night in the Rifugio 7 ° Alpini.
When you look at the tour information, you might be thinking: How can it get more strenuous after crossing the Alpine ridge? This way is actually not that far, because the first twelve kilometers from Belluno to the village of Nevegal are intended as a bus ride. Once there, you can then decide whether you want to go on foot or take the train to the ridge.The most beautiful section of the day is the Kammweg, which now follows: From here you have great views of the Alps in the north and also of the sea, which you see here for the first time. So the big goal cannot be far. At the top of the ridge you will pass the Rifugio Col Visentin - so you would also have the option of splitting this stage into two. If you don't stay overnight, the long descent into the valley to Revine begins here.
For the Via Venezia Alpina a stage by bus and train is actually planned, namely by bus to Ponte della Priula and then by train to San Donà di Piave.If you want to walk everything, you can follow the dream path - crossing the Alps from Munich to Venice - or this tour. Hiking this route takes another three days. You can find more about the dream path here: komoot.de/collection/480. Stages 25 to 27 cover this route from Revine to San Donà di Piave.
After so many stages through the Alps, the view of the elevation profile of stage 21 may make you smile a little. The level of the Piave requires almost no vertical meters from you. For this it is now very relaxed along between fields and small canals. So if yesterday it was maybe a glass of Prosecco more, you don't need to feel guilty.Your destination is Jesolo. Yes, exactly Jesolo, which is already right on the sea. And so you can already make plans for this evening: Either you hop into the lagoon of Venice or you hike a little further to the beach of Lido di Jesolo and treat yourself to a swim in the sea.
Today the motto is: Finale - and that's even Italian! You can just enjoy this day. You hike west on leisurely paths, always between the lagoon of Venice and the Adriatic Sea. You could also walk along the beach almost the whole way. But that would be a pain in the ass.And you don't even have to walk the last part of the way yourself. Because the boat taxi takes you across the water - almost directly to St. Mark's Square. Only one thing is missing: a lot of pizza and pasta to replenish the lost reserves and maybe a glass of wine with it. Salute on your completed Alpine crossing to the Adriatic!