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The Grand Traverse: Across the Alps and the Dolomites

The Grand Traverse: Trek across the Alps and the Dolomites


Take an epic journey on foot, starting from the Bavarian Alps near Munich and the famed Neuschwanstein Castle, taking in the massifs of Ammergau and Zugspitze (Bavaria, Germany), Wetterstein (Garmisch, Germany), Karwendel (Tyrol, Austria), Venediger (Hohe Tauern, Austria), finishing your walk in the foot of the spectacular Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Italian Dolomites before having an unforgettable last overnight in Venice.

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Day 1: Arrival Hohenschwangau | 3 h

Arrival in Füssen, which is about 130 km (2 hours by train) from Munich, then bus to Hohenschwangau. Check-in at the hotel at the foot of the castles. Optional visit of the Neuschwanstein Castle and walk to the lakes Schwansee and Alpsee and Hohenschwangau. If you are not in a hurry or if you arrive in the evening: you can choose to stay one more night in Hohenschwangau, which allows you to visit the castles, Füssen, and to walk (or even swim) around the lakes. In this case, you can also visit the Kristall Therme in Schwangau: a beautiful spa with many thermal water pools, saunas, hammam. Relax with an incredible view of the Bavarian mountains. Alternatively, we recommend planning an extra day to visit Munich, the beautiful capital of Bavaria. Depending on your arrival time, you may create your own programme. Some ideas if you arrive early:

  • – Take the time to visit the pretty medieval city of Füssen
  • – Visit Hohenschwangau Castle (be careful, to get the group price, you have to start with a visit to Hohenschwangau, then visit Neuschwanstein Castle on the same day)
  • Walking for the day: 3 hours ↑160m ↓160m (optional)
  • Accommodation in a welcoming 2-star hotel in Hohenschwangau; breakfast included (free choice of restaurants for dinner)

Day 2: Hohenschwangau – Kenzenhütte | 7 h

Passing the Marienbrücke, you walk up to the Bleckenau hut. An extraordinary walk awaits you and with a bit of luck, you might see dozens of chamois in the incredible landscapes. The wild Ammergau massif will leave you speechless with its incredible ridgelines and limestone needles standing tall in abundant greenery.

  • Walking for the day: 7 hours ↑1120 m ↓685 m, luggage transfer included
  • Accommodation in Kenzenhütte Hut or in in a hostel in Halblech, breakfast and dinner included

Day 3: Kenzenhütte – Ettal | 4-6 h

Ascent to the Lösertaljoch (1682 m) then to the Scheinbergjoch (1764 m, optional, depending on the weather), where many chamois frolic in the grass. From this pass, you have a stunning view over the whole Linderhof valley to Ettal. Descend through the heart of the Ammergau to the castle of Linderhof, a small Versailles with the Moorish pavilion and the cave of Louis II. Transfer to the village of Ettal, and its superb Benedictine monastery.

  • Walking for the day: 6 hours (4 to 5h if you skip the ascent to Scheinbergjoch) ↑500 m ↓850 m, luggage transfer included
  • Accommodation in a comfortable 3-star hotel with a sauna, located close to the monastery, breakfast included (free choice of restaurants for dinner)

Day 4: Ettal – Garmisch – Mittenwald | 5 h

You will leave Ettal by bus and get off in Garmisch-Partenkirchen an Olympic city which lies at the bottom of Germany’s highest mountain: the Zugspitze (2950 m). Then start hiking through the Partnach Gorges, and you will reach the Wettersteinwand close to Elmau with its majestic grey cliffs and the pretty village of Mittenwald. Lake Ferchensee and Lautersee are also just around the corner.

  • Walking for the day: 5 hours ↑400 m ↓200 m, luggage transfer included
  • Accommodation in a traditional 3-star hotel in the centre of the village, breakfast included (free choice of restaurants for dinner)

Day 5: Mittenwald – Refuge Solsteinhaus | 5-6 h

Take the train to Scharnitz (10 min) which lies at the foot of the Karwendel Mountains (Tyrol), another mountain range on the border which is also a National Park. You will then hike up through the Giessenbach Vallez and reach the Eppizirl Alpage (1459 m), then crossing by the Eppzirlscharte (2072 m) descent to the Solsteinhaus. Alternative route: via the Scharnitz Alpage and the Gleitschklamm gorges. No luggage transfer included on this day, your main luggage will be transferred directly from Mittenwald to Innsbruck.

  • Walking for the day: 5-6 hours ↑1100 m ↓360 m
  • Accommodation in Solstienhaus refuge, breakfast and dinner included

Day 6: Refuge Solsteinhaus – Innsbruck | 3-4 h

Descent to Hochrzirl in the Inn valley where you will take the train to Innsbruck (25 min). You have enough time to visit the old town, which is particularly charming: do not miss the Helbling House, Goldenes Dachl, the St. James Cathedral, the superb museums such as the Hofkirche with the cenotaph of Maximilian I, not to mention the possibility of having a coffee and a slice of Apfelstrudel on a sunny terrace.

  • Walking for the day: 3-4 hours ↓940 m, your main luggage will join you at the end of the day
  • Accommodation in a 3-star hotel in Innsbruck, breakfast included (free choice of restaurants for dinner)

Day 7: Krimml – Refuge Krimmler Tauernhaus | 4 h

Transfer in the morning by train to the spectacular Krimml Waterfalls, which are among the highest (400 m) in the Alps. The train also passes by Zell am See. This train ride takes up most of the morning, but it is an incredible trip through breath-taking landscapes and comes as a well-deserved rest after five days of walking. You start walking and approach the Alpine massif that separates Austrian from Italian Tyrol. Hike up along the waterfalls in the spectacular KrimmIer Achental valley to the Krimmltauernhaus refuge. No luggage transfer included on this day, your main luggage will be transferred directly from Innsbruck to Bruneck.

  • Walking for the day: 4 hours 600 m ↓50 m
  • Accommodation in Krimmltauernhaus refuge, breakfast and dinner included (optional upgrade to a 3-star spa hotel)

Day 8: Krimmltauernhaus – Prettau/Bruneck | 4 h

Passage to Italy via the Krimmlertauern pass (or Birnlücke pass) right in the Austrian Alps’ heart and in between the Zillertal and the Großer Venediger. Although the pass is quite narrow, it is one of the easiest passages to cross the Alps. You walk along the Venediger mountain range passing by the Krimmler, Prettau and Lahner glaciers (Kees). The views of the Großer Geiger (3360m), the Gammsspitzl (2888m) and the Venediger (3667m) will take your breath away. You will follow part of the Laiutitzerweg to discover South Tyrol (Italy) and then descent to Prettau. Bus to the Ahrntal Valley to Bruneck or the Wengen Valley.

  • Walking for the day: 7 hours 1120 m ↓1090 m, your main luggage will join you at the end of the day
  • Accommodation in a welcoming hotel in Bruneck, breakfast included (free choice of restaurants for dinner)

Day 9: Bruneck – San Vigilio – Lago di Braies | 7 h

Bus to the trailhead. Today’s hike will start at the Lago del Cretta at 1268m in the south of San Vigilio. The path winds between high cliffs forming the Ciastlins valley and following the path you will get to the Cacagnares pass, at 2296 m. Then an enjoyable descent through the Val de Cacagnares, the Val de dal Lercs and the green valley leading to the famous Lac de Braies.

  • Walking for the day: 7 hours 1050 m ↓800 m, luggage transfer included
  • Accommodation in a lakeshore hotel (standard room), breakfast and dinner included

Day 10: Lago di Braies – Prato Piazza | 5-6 h

From Lago di Braies, you hike up towards the Croda del Becco pass, cross through alpine pastures before going around the Croda Rossa and joining the alpine pastures of Prato Piazza. The hut stands facing the blood-red Croda Rossa which creates a stunning contrast with the green pastures of this magnificent high plateau. No luggage transfer included on this day, your main luggage will be transferred directly from Lago di Braies to Auronzo.

  • Walking for the day: 5-6 hours 940 m ↓350 m
  • Accommodation in hut Pratto Piazza, breakfast included (free choice of restaurants for dinner); optional upgrade to a 3-star hotel with a pool and spa facilities

Day 11: Prato Piazza – Les Tre Cime | 5-6 h

Today a great hike through the Tre Cime de Lavaredo awaits you! You will be passing the Strudelsattel (2200 m) before going down towards the Valle di Landro at 1406 m. You will go up the Rienza valley towards the Tre Cime and then through the Rin Bianco valley in order to reach the end of the hike at the Lake Antorno refuge (1866 m) or the Auronzo refuge (2320 m).

  • Walking for the day: 5-6 hours 670 m ↓820 m, your main luggage will join you at the end of the day
  • Accommodation in Auronzo Hut (breakfast and dinner included); optional upgrade to a 3-star hotel on the shore of Lake Antorno

Day 12: Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circular Walk | 5-6 h

Probably the highlight of the tour; a mythical stretch in the middle of mountain needles, towers and peaks. Crossing to the Lavaredo pass, underneath the Tre Cime. Skirt Mt Paterno and Croda Passaporto, crossing near the lakes of Cengia and the Pian pass of Cengia in the heart of the dolomitic peaks. Afterwards return to Antorno (or Auronzo) refuge by passing by the northern faces of the Tre Cime, underneath the Zinnenkopf and over the Medo Pass.

  • Walking for the day: 5-6 hours 570m ↓750m (optional longer route 6-7 hours ↓750m ↓750m)
  • Accommodation in Auronzo Hut (breakfast and dinner included); optional upgrade to a 3-star hotel on the shore of Lake Antorno

Day 13: Tre Cime – Cortina d’Ampezzo – Venice

Bus to Cortina d’Ampezzo, where you will take another bus at 11:30 am to Venice. Arrival in the early afternoon in the heart of Venice. Check-In at the hotel in the city centre. You then have the afternoon and the evening for sightseeing. You carry your luggage with you when using public transport.

  • Accommodation in a welcoming 2-star hotel in Venice, breakfast included (optional upgrade to a 3/4-star hotel)

Day 14: Departure or Onward Travel

Extra nights Venice or departure after breakfast.

What to Expect


Accommodation is in a mix of comfortable huts (in double rooms or in small dormitories) and 2 and 3-star hotels and guesthouses (in a double room, with a private bathroom or shared on the floor). It is possible to upgrade the accommodation on days 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13. Eleven out of 13 overnights are possible in a single room (Hohenschwangau Ettal, Mittenwald, Innsbruck, Krimmler Tauhernaus, Brüneck, Lac de Braies, Prato Piazza, Lac d’Antorno, Venice).

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.


  • Half-board on Days (breakfast and dinner): 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12
  • Bed and breakfast on Days: 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 13

Breakfast is always included. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Dinner, when not included, is available either from the restaurant in your accommodation or restaurants in the village near your hotel.

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for experienced mountain walkers and requires a good level of fitness. You can expect from 3 to 6/7 hours of walking and/or 750 to 1250 m of positive altitude difference and 750 to 1500 m of negative altitude difference during the day. On some days there are shorter alternatives available. There are a few technical demanding passages, alternating paths and trails, and snow at the beginning of the season. Some trails may have handrails as support (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime.

When to go

This trip is available to start every day from late June until early September.

The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking.

The climate in the region is continental, cold and temperate. Depending on location and altitude, temperatures vary, but, in the June-September period, the daily averages are 15 – 25°C. Spring and autumn are cooler with occasional rain. Expect the weather to change rapidly during the day.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice on Germany, Austria and Italy.

Our recommended arrival airport for this holiday is Munich (MUC), and the departure airport is Venice (VCE). From Munich by train to Füssen (about 2 hours) and bus to Hohenschwangau (10 minutes). Visit the Deutsche Bahn website for up-to-date timetables and fares, or check the Omio planner below. Venice Airport is easily reachable by train or bus from Venice.

Click to view travel options

By plane

By train or bus



  • 13 nights with breakfast as listed above
  • 7 dinners with the Standard Package (6 dinners with the Upgraded Package)
  • Luggage transfers as listed above (on Days 5, 7 and 10 your main luggage will be directly transferred from previous to next accommodation and you will have to carry your necessities for the overnight)
  • Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative


  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Bus/train rides
  • Lunches, 6 dinners (7 with the Upgraded Package), drinks and snacks
  • Luggage transfer on Days 5, 7 and 10 (your main luggage is transported from the previous to the next accommodation)
  • You are responsible for transporting your luggage on the bus and train on Day 13
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and attractions’ entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Where individual members of a group require a single room, a supplement is applicable – available in hotels and guesthouses (11 nights), not in the mountain cabins (2 nights)
  • This holiday is NOT available for solo travellers
  • Luggage transfers opt-out is possible and you can reduce the cost of your holiday if you prefer not to use our luggage transfer service
  • Extra nights in Munich, Venice, or along the route
  • Hotel upgrade package (subject to availability): Day 7 in a comfortable hotel at the Krimmler Tauernhaus (half board) with spa; Day 10 in a 3* hotel in Prato Piazza (half board), with pool and spa; Days 11 and 12 in a hotel at Lake Antorno (half board); Day 13 in Venice in a 3*  hotel (breakfast only)