For those who enjoy spectacular natural settings, visiting the Dolomites is the ultimate bucket-list destination for a holiday in Italy. Located at a 3-hour drive from Venice, this mountain range in northern Italy is a haven for outdoor adventures and can be visited all year round.
However, it’s not all about dramatic landscapes and mountain sports; the Dolomites are also known for being a World War I historical site. The battles between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian army were the origin of iron routes or via ferratas, a series of paths equipped with cables, ladders and suspension bridges, that allowed soldiers to navigate the mountains.
Nowadays, many of these protected climbing routes were repaired (and many new ones were built), turning via ferratas into one of the most superb experiences you can have in the Dolomites. More similar to rock climbing than to hiking, via ferratas allow travelers with no technical skills to reach high altitudes.
“This via ferrata experience seemed pretty amazing to me! I think you can’t miss that if you go to the Dolomites”, says Chana.
She and her husband recently took a 1-day via ferrata trip with local IFMGA-certified guide Etienne.
“The whole activity was enjoyable: the Dolomites are spectacularly beautiful, the history was amazing…you know, the kind of thing that you read about but you never get to see it, it was incredible! And the physical challenge was good, too”, Chana says.
Being there with a mountain guide was definitely a highlight for them: “Etienne was such a great guide! My husband and I can be a little bit afraid of heights, but he made us feel safe the whole time. (…) Etienne helped me do what I didn’t think I could”.
Hiring a mountain guide is highly recommended if you are planning to climb a via ferrata in the Dolomites. A guide can pick the right route for you according to your skills, provide you with all the necessary equipment and walk you through the basics of via ferrata climbing.
Almost anyone can join a via ferrata trip, even children older than 10 years old; you just need to be in good physical shape… and take a good pair of hiking shoes!
"We consider ourselves moderately active (we regularly go hiking, but we are definitely not rock climbers), and this beginner experience was perfect for our first time!", says Lindsey, from Texas (US). She and her husband also went on a 1-day via ferrata trip with Etienne.
"My favorite part of the trip was getting to the top of the mountain. I had a feeling of accomplishment", Lindsey says.
They climbed via ferrata Sass de Stria, a great route for beginners, located at a very short distance from Cortina d'Ampezzo, one of the most popular mountain towns in the Dolomites. Another great option to get started is the Via ferrata piccolo Cir and grande Cir, close to Val Gardena.
For Lindsey and her husband, learning about history really added to the experience: "Etienne was great! We were really impressed by how much history he knew about World War I, and the trenches and tunnels; every question we asked, he had the answer".
Hiring a mountain guide can turn an ordinary trip into a unique adventure. Not only you can benefit from their expertise and feel safe throughout the trip, but you can also share time with a local, learn about history, culture, and nature, and connect with the place you're visiting in a different way.
Looking for something really special to do in the Dolomites? Don't miss our guide to the best via ferratas in the Dolomites and start planning your next adventure with a certified mountain guide!