Welcome to the Brenta Dolomites, the Dolomiti di Brenta, also known as the Western Dolomites! If you’re looking for rugged, epic and extreme hiking in Italy adventures far from cities and main roads, this is it. These mountains boast some of the best hikes in the Dolomites with rustic mountain huts, serene lakes, glorious meadows and breathtaking limestone peaks.
The Brenta Mountain Group (the Westernmost Dolomiti Mountain group!) is an entire UNESCO Dolomite site. And it’s all in Trentino Italy! There are 8 peaks above 3000 metres here. If you’re seeking a purely Italian mountains experience with challenging routes and a bunch of adventure activities, this 4 day itinerary is perfect for you.
I traversed through Trento, Andalo, Paganella, Molveno and Madonna di Campiglio before reaching the high-altitude Brenta Dolomites. I loved it all!
Read on to discover the route I took and to start planning your own hiking adventure.
In a hurry? Here’s answers to your questions about hikes in the Dolomites Italy.
The Dolomites are located in northeastern Italy.
It’s a sedimentary carbonate rock.
Mid June to late September.
The Brenta Dolomites in Trentino Italy is where it’s at!
In wooden huts called Rifugios. They’re listed in this article!
Read on for all the info you need!
Why not start your Trentino adventures in the stunning Medieval and Renaissance historic centre of Trento? It’s one of Italy’s wealthiest cities. It has the best gelato (yum), plenty of alleyways to get lost in, gorgeous piazzas, its very own castle and a Gothic cathedral!
It’s also small enough to feel very local and not overwhelming for a solo female traveller like myself. Before you start diving into serious adventures up in those mountains, take some chill out time here first. It’s worth it.
If you’re looking for fun and varied activities to keep you entertained in Trento, I recommend the following…
Here are the top 3 options for budget, midrange and luxury travellers.
From Trento, head up and up through the mountains to the charming little town of Andalo. With only 1000 inhabitants you’d think much wouldn’t be happening. Yet, Andalo is where all the magic begins. Situated in between the Paganella and Brenta Dolomites, Andalo is an adventure playground with plenty of Summer and Winter adventure activities to seize. Dolomites skiing is popular here too!
It’s time to get high up into the mountains! It is here, at the bottom of Andalo Doss Pela Gondola, that you can meet a guide to take you up onto the Paganella mountains. I ventured forth with Claudio from Activity Trentino.
On the itinerary today is some hair-raising via ferrata in the Dolomites at Ferrata della Aquille. It is known in English as the Eagles’ Via Ferrata.
Hop on the cable car to the top of Paganella and you’ll immediately be welcomed by the Dolomite mountains! From here you can see Cima Molveno, Torre di Brenta and the mama, Cima Brenta (to name honestly just a few). You’ll be amazed at what stands before you. And this is just the beginning of your amazing journey!
For all you daredevils out there, the Ferrata della Aquille is an exhilarating fixed rope course on the side of the mountains that you can take by yourself (if you’re an expert and have the equipment). We chose to go with our expert alpine guide Claudio and rented all of the gear from him.
The ‘Via Ferrata’ here, meaning ‘iron way’ in Italian, has plenty of ladders, cables and wooden walkways to enjoy. As we scrambled over the rocks and made our way to the starting point, we were pumped to get on it and cling to its sides!
Our GoPros were strapped on. We were ready! Alas, Claudio wasn’t sure about the weather and the incoming fog, and declared it a ‘no go’. Noooo!
To say we were gutted is an understatement. Fingers crossed you will have better weather than us. Let me know in the comments what it’s really like when you make it here to the Italian Dolomites.
‘Well, there’s always food and wine!’ declared Claudio, and food and wine there is indeed in Trentino. We returned to the top of the cable car 2100m high, where Rifugio La Roda stands. Let the feast begin!
This is the no.1 restaurant in Andalo. After walking out of here most likely 2 pounds heavier, I can vouch for that! And you must try the wine from their family vineyard. It is delizioso!
After gawping at the amazing view outside again, we snuck in and promptly tucked in.
Dishes include deer meat, raw beef with nuts and yoghurt, numerous amazing cheeses with mustard. Things can quickly get interesting when they start mixing sweet and savoury together. I tried blueberries orzotto with juniper essence and cheese foam, ravioli with cheese and pears and polenta cream with cheese fondue and truffles!
The polenta with grilled cheese, cheese fondue and mushrooms is divine. The stew of venison and deer with polenta and mushrooms is an excellent choice too. Good news for those of you with dietary needs: Rifugio La Roda has veggie, vegan and gluten free options. Expect to pay between 9 and 15 euros per dish.
I’ve been testing out the Osprey Kyte 36 over my last couple of hiking trips and I love it. It’s built to withstand the hardiest and toughest outdoor ventures, whilst being totally adjustable to fit your gorgeous womanly body.
With easy access on the top, sides and bottom I have easy access to whatever I need . There’s plenty of room on the sides for my water bottle and hiking poles and a nifty large front pocket where you can shove stuff in too.
From Rifugio La Roda, head towards Rifugio Albi de Mez to walk it all off! The views are absolutely gorgeous and me and my friends (and Claudio of course) had lots of fun venturing up and down and through the mountain landscape. The sun finally came out. We sobered up. Before we knew it, we were back at the cable car and Rifugio La Roda to head back down to Andalo.
You can get from Trento to Andalo by bus, taxi or your own hire car.
The bus is the cheapest option at €2 and it takes around 1.5 hours. Hop on the B611 or B621 from the Trento-Autostaz.
A taxi from Trento to Andalo is the quickest transport option. It should take around 40 minutes. However it is also the most expensive at around €50 – €65 one-way.
Instead, you could choose to hire a car. Petrol will only set you back €5 – €8.
Next stop: Molveno for the next two nights!
Directly at the bottom of the Dolomiti di Brenta, Molveno is where all the hikers go – which means an adventurer like you is definitely in the right place! Tourists tend to flock to Lake Garda in this part of Italy, but Molveno’s lake is a real treat that I’m excited to tell you about.
You’ll be enjoying crystal clear, tranquil waters with plenty of adventure activities awaiting you tomorrow (paragliding and mountain biking)! I spent my evening on the shore soaking up the soothing vibes of the village lake. Behind me the mountains were waiting for me.
Me and my friends stayed at Hotel Europa in Molveno. It was the loveliest! With my own balcony and epic views of Molveno Lake from my room, I found this the perfect place to unwind in the evening.
Here are my other recommendations according to your budget and taste.
You can get from Andalo to Molveno Lake by bus, taxi, your own car hire or by walking!
A bus from Andalo to Molveno only takes 15 minutes and costs €2. Watch out though: from what I can see, buses only come around every 2 hours. Check bus times here.
A taxi only takes 4 minutes and costs from €10 – €12. You can call Taxi Trento on +39 0461 930002.
Why not hire a car to enjoy your adventure at your own leisure? It should only take around 6 minutes to get from Andalo to Molveno.
As if experiencing Molveno Lake on the ground isn’t enough, how about jumping off a mountain and viewing it from above too?! Somehow, I persuaded myself to do just that.
I’ve never paraglided before in my life, so what you’re about to read is a genuine first-timers account of events. Eck!
With their offices directly right on the edge of Molveno Lake, I Fly Tandem Experience operate their awesomeness just out of a tiny wooden hut. Yet inside, are two of the coolest dudes I’ve ever met! Paragliding is their life. The enthusiasm and love they radiate for paragliding just oozes out of their pores. Nicola Donini is a former World Champion and two time European champion. Stefano Sottroi (my pilot!) is the former Italian National Instructor. We were all in safe hands indeed!
As we made our way up to the top of the mountain via the cable cars, I naturally felt a little nervous. Yet as we ran towards the edge and soared off into the sky, the feeling of zen that overcame me was ace. The whole world opened up to me there and then and with the Dolomiti di Brenta behind me and Lake Moreno below; this beats flying in a plane any day! If only I could travel like this from A to B on the regular eh?
I do have to say though that as the flight went on, I started to feel a tad nauseous. I’m prone to motion sickness and didn’t even consider the possibility of it before take-off. Take your meds if you’re a similar sensitive flower like me!
Grab some lunch in the village centre before heading up the mountain to Paganella Mountain Biking Experience. Today was definitely a day of new experiences for me. Up until this point in my travels, I hadn’t tried mountain biking before either!
After working out how to even get a mountain bike in a gondola (vertical is definitely the answer), I gazed down from the gondola and eyed up the bikers below me. Twisting, turning and hurtling down with no inhibitions, I initially imagined myself being just like them. Free. Fierce. Fast!
Turns out that going ‘fast’ on a mountain bike (I’m not sure I was even going fast at the end of it all) is quite the thrill and trickier than it looks. For all you pro-bikers out there, you may find the Bear Epic Trail that I was on a doddle. However whatever your level, this stunning route switches up its surroundings and terrain continuously.
If you want to put yourself to the test physically and mentally, this is awesome! The instructors handled a beginner like me beautifully. They shared top notch tips that transformed my baby biker anxieties into sheer determination and confidence. My favourite mantra for this entire experience; ‘It’s OK girl – you’re on a two wheel Jeep’.
Today is the day to really get stuck into the Brenta Dolomites hiking! What you are going to experience across the next 2 days whilst you hike Dolomites mountains will blow your woolly socks off.
Wake up early. Grab some breakfast. It’s time to head to Madonna di Campiglio first with a top elevation of 2600m.
Madonna di Campiglio is hands down the number 1 ski resort to go skiing in the Dolomites in Italy. If you are here in Winter, enjoy! During Summer however, it is fantastic for hiking. With 450km of mountain paths to be traversed in the Brenta Dolomites, Madonna di Campiglio is the Italian village to depart and arrive from.
You can get from Molveno to Madonna di Campiglio by bus, taxi, your own hire car or by hiking through the mountains.
The buses from Molveno to Madonna di Campiglio take between 3.5 – 4.5 hours. You will have to travel on more than one bus to get here. The trip should cost between €2 – €7.
By taxi, the trip is much quicker! Taxis from Molveno to Madonna di Campiglio take around 1 hour 45 minutes. This is going to be the most expensive option.
Why not hire your own car instead?
If you want to extend this itinerary, you can also hike from Molveno to Madonna di Campiglio via Malga Spora. The hike takes around 7 hours.
My friends and I made our way by car to Madonna di Campiglio. It was here that we promptly met up with our mountain guide Nicola from Mountain Friends. With sun-kissed long hair, tanned skin, and calves clearly chiselled by the Brenta Dolomites themselves, Nicola proved to be a total legend.
Our original planned route for today was from here in Madonna di Campiglio to Discarica Maroni, Sentiero della Forra, Malga Brenta Bassa, Malga Brenta Alta and Rifugio Brentei.
However due to weather conditions (some so severe that paths had been destroyed months before by a storm), our plan for today changed to getting to Rifugio Spinale, Rifugio Casinei, Rifugio Tuckett and then back to the Casinei for dinner and sleep! Heads up: the weather in the Dolomites Italy can change fast. Prepare and pack accordingly!
Hiking time: 1 hour
Your hike begins with a gentle ascent to Malga Vallesinella Alta (pasture place). We managed to take a sneak peak of the beginning of the Cascate Alta trail to get our waterfall fix first. Fingers crossed when you come to explore here, the path encompassing all three waterfalls of the Cascate di Vallesinella will be ready and waiting for you.
Once we hit the meadow it was a gloriously sunny, lush green and secluded spot to whip out our sandwiches and take our first break.
Hiking time: 1 hour
Deep within the Campiglio Dolomiti, I hope you take the time to stumble upon this true gem in the woods run by the Serafini family. If you’re looking for an Italian mama to feed you and make you feel extra special, the wife (and clearly the lady who says what goes) will ensure you have an unforgettable stay.
Open from mid-June to early October, the Rifugio Casinei is a hotel, farm and all-round haven that welcomes locals and tourists alike. We stopped here for lunch and left our belongings before embarking up to Rifugio Tuckett. You’ll be coming back down here later to sleep the night!
This place truly feels like home and you will be treated like a member of their own family. Seriously…take me back!
Hiking time: 1 hr 30 minutes in the snow
After lunch, it’s time to hike up to the sky-high Rifugio Tuckett within the heart of the Brenta Dolomites. We sensed the views were going to be out of this world but did not fully fathom their impact until we arrived.
We ascended through knee-deep snow up and up. Then panicked for a couple of seconds when we heard thunder! Yet we kept going and whoa…once we emerged upon our goal for today, Italy officially pulled it out of the bag!
Just take a look at these beasts! They’re giving the mountains of Pakistan a run for their money.
At 2272m, you’ll feel a little closer to the Heavens once you reach what must be the best ‘garden’ a wooden hut has ever had. Look out of Rifugio Tuckett’s windows, and you’ll be gawping at Punta Massari and Cima Brenta towering above you.
Today you’ll be hiking to Rifugio ai Brentei via the Valle del Fridolin. There is plenty of opportunity for adventures along the way. Planned and unplanned! Make sure to take a packed lunch lovingly provided by the Serafini family before you go.
Hiking time: 2 hours with snow obstacles included
This rugged and dramatic path you will take can be narrow in places with a serious drop, so if you’re afraid of heights, this may not be the hiking challenge for you. Regardless, the views yet again will make your jaw drop. Nothing else!
At one point after venturing through a solid icy tunnel, we came out the other end to this particular view!
Although the sun was shining bright throughout the day, we still had to carve our way through heavy snow in parts. Having such an expert guide like Nicola ensured we didn’t stray from the paths. I’ve done a lot of hiking in my time – but having a local with you never fails. They know the mountains like the back of their hand. In situations like this; that’s life-saving.
Soon enough, you will reach Rifugio ai Brentei at 2175m! It’s a lovely spot and was the home of Bruno Detassis: an awesome local mountaineer who opened hundreds of climbing routes and hiking trails around here. It’s location could not be sweeter. It’s directly opposite the Crozzon di Brenta, and of course you can see Cima Tosa and Cima Margherita too!
Make sure to visit the chapel nearby too which commemorates the people who have passed away in these mountains.
The Rifugio ai Brentei is an atmospheric place to sleep if you wish to do so!
From Rifugio ai Brentei you will continue to head down through charming calming meadows and thriving forests alongside gushing streams and waterfalls. The fauna here is amongst the richest in the Alps too! Bear, chamois and alpine ibex inhabit these lands alongside the Golden Eagle and Wood Grouse.
The flora will have you checking on the settings on your camera too. Are the blues and greens you’re seeing really this vibrant? They sure are!
Yes, it certainly is on the luxury end of the accommodation scale. But oh my…is this one of the best hotels in the Dolomites! The family-run Hotel Chalet de Sogno is the only five star hotel in Madonna di Campiglio. If you’re looking for the utmost comfort and pampering, there is no better way to end your 4 day Dolomiti di Brenta adventure itinerary.
Constructed from the finest natural materials which include wood, wool, lime and local stone, every room has its own unique style and feel. The staff goes above and beyond every time you need their help or are receiving service.
The spa downstairs is also such a treat! There’s a hot tub, pool, sauna, steam room, treatment rooms and plenty of space down there to enjoy it all. I hopped right in here as soon as I arrived so I was spruced up and ready for dinner in their top-notch restaurant.
This dinner was wonderfully spectacular. I wish I had the skills of a food blogger to do all of the wizardry that was in front of me justice! Essentially, I ate everything that was given and my tummy knows it’s some of the best food it’s ever eaten. Try the black truffle ravioli and the Dolomiti desert! You won’t regret it.
This was the perfect end to an amazing 4 day break in the Brenta Dolomites. Be a true adventurer and go west deep into the Italian Dolomites trekking. The true magic of the mountains awaits you here.
Here are the top 3 options for budget, midrange and luxury travellers.
The nearest airport to Andalo and Trentino is Verona where you can get a bus to both of these starting points.
You can also arrive from the airports in Venice, Brescia, Treviso, Trieste, Parma, Milan Linate, Innsbruck, Bolzano, Bologna or Bergamo.
I recommend hiring your own car from these airports for your adventure.
The Brenta Dolomites contain some of the best hikes in the Dolomites. Make the most of your Summer and head to Trentino Italy for the adventure of your life!
Do you want to hike in the Dolomites? Have you hiked in other parts of the Dolomites before?
Comment below and check out more Europe destinations here.
This trip was gifted by Visit Trentino but as always, opinions remain my own = honest and straight to the point.