10 Hikes in Friuli Venezia Giulia
10 hikes for your first time in Friuli Venezia Giulia
And so you have decided to spend your holidays in Friuli Venezia Giulia!
First of all, benvignût in Friûl! If you like hiking and you are wondering what to do in Friuli, you are in the right place. In this article, you will find 10 hikes in Friuli Venezia Giulia designed, selected, and tested for you by the Friulians who follow my Instagram page.
I warn you, when you arrive for the first time in Friuli Venezia Giulia your first impression may be strange. While you are here you will often hear the phrase “small compendium of the universe” and in fact, you will really find a little bit of everything. I love the mountains and therefore I concentrated on the hikes you can do in Friuli Venezia Giulia, but also to the south and at the seaside you will find many trips for your holidays.
Before starting, know that the hikes below are not ranked in order of importance (except the first one). For convenience I also do a small recap of the difficulty scale of the excursions:
E = Easy
M = Moderate
S = Strenuous
VS = Very Strenuous
I believe that the hike to the Pal Piccolo should be mandatory in your “what to do in Friuli” list.
Pal Piccolo was the scene of many clashes between the Italian and Austrian armies during the First World War. It was the scene of grueling trench fights and the heroic deeds of the Carnic carriers, the women who helped the soldiers survive on the front by climbing the mountains and bringing the troops food and guns.
Today the peak of Pal Piccolo is an open-air museum jointly preserved by Italians and Austrians. There you can walk among the trenches and imagine the asphyxiating everyday life of war. You can also greet the many Austrians who visit Pal Piccolo with a warm Guten Tag and think about how lucky we are to be able to feel both Europeans and part of the same community.
The starting point is from the Passo di Monte Croce Carnico. And to further underline our luck, you can choose whether to go up from the Italian side to the south, CAI trail 401, or from the Austrian side to the north. If you do this walk in the summer, I recommend that you make a loop, go up from Austria and come down on the Italian side. This way you can make the climb with a little less heat.
If you want more details on the hike, read here. And if you really don’t want to walk, still mark the Pal Piccolo on the list of things to do in Friuli. In Timau, the small town before the border, you will find a nice museum dedicated to the Great War.
2. Laghi di Fusine
If you are looking for information on what to do in Friuli Venezia Giulia, it is likely that the Fusine Lakes will be immediately mentioned to you. And for a good reason.
Why visit the Fusine Lakes? Because they are beautiful. It may seem like a trivial answer but it is the truth. No matter how many times a person may visit Fusine, the ecstatic reaction will be the same every time.
In the area there are several hikes you can do including:
- Tour of the lower lake of Fusine
- Tour of the upper lake of Fusine and Alpe del Lago
- Tour of both lakes
- Ascent to the Zacchi Refuge (and beyond)
Given the beauty of the place, it’s likely you’ll find it crowded especially in autumn when the area becomes the best destination for foliage.
I consider the Fusine lakes to be the hike in Friuli that most of all made me fall in love with the mountains. I talked about it here.
You think of Montasio, you think of Friuli. Montasio is the most famous and representative cheese of Friuli Venezia Giulia but also a locality in our region. The perfect destination for incredible hikes in summer and winter.
The Montasio Plateau in the summer
It would be a mistake not to include the Montasio Plateau in your summer hikes in Friuli Venezia Giulia.
From Sella Nevea you can reach the plain by car and leave it in the comfortable and large parking lot. Be aware that, especially on weekends, the plateau is quite crowded.
Once you have found a place for your car, in the area, there are many hikes with various levels of difficulty.
If you want to chill
Just walk on the plateau and stop at one of the huts to buy cheese. Malga Montasio is the most known and the one where, in addition to the buy local products, you can also eat.
By slightly increasing the difficulty, in about 30/40 minutes you can climb up to the Rifugio Brazzà. Here you can eat one of the best frico in the whole region.
If you're already into mountain hiking
You can climb up to Cima di Terrarossa (Difficulty EE, about 850 meters altitude difference from the parking lot). For many Friulians, it is “the first peak” because it requires good training (and absence of vertigo) but less than other peaks. I recommend you to always evaluate your actual skills and if you are not sure about staying or going, please stay and enjoy the frico al Brazza.
Those who are truly experienced and practical in via ferratas can venture up to the Jôf di Montasio or the Vuerich bivouac (both difficulty Very streneous).
The Montasio Plateau in winter
If you want to visit the Montasio Plateau in winter, the trip lengthens a bit. Arm yourself with snowshoes or skis and set off from Sella Nevea. The easy road that leads to the car park in summer is closed so the plateau must necessarily be reached on foot.
There are two ways to do this:
- The most direct route follows exactly the same route previously described on the summer paved road (350 D +)
- Next to the old ski slope, you will find the start of a nice loop that leads first to Malga Credegnul and then to the Montasio plateau. You can use the summer road to return to Sella Nevea.
Keep in mind that all the mountain huts are closed in winter except Rifugio Brazzà which occasionally opens. I recommend you check out their Facebook page.
Summer or winter, the landscape of your hike will be a splendid view of Mount Canin.
Personally, when a colleague from my company’s US branch visited us in the summer of 2021, I brought him right here.
4. Lago Volaia
Like the Pal Piccolo, Lake Volaia is also located on the border with Austria. Actually, the lake itself is located in Austria. Nonetheless, it was one of the most mentioned locations on my Instagram profile and if you visit it, it will be easy for you to see why.
The starting point is from the Tolazzi Refuge in Collina di Forni Avoltri. The walk to Lake Volaia is quite simple and can be done either on the forest road or on the CAI 144 path in about two hours.
The landscape is barren and a little melancholy but two shelters await you:
- The Lambertenghi-Romanin in Italy, which is currently closed for renovation
- The Wolayerseehütte in Austria which has a panoramic lake terrace that is nothing short of spectacular.
The hike to Lake Volaia is an excellent idea for your first hikes in Friuli Venezia Giulia both for beginners and for more experienced mountaineers.
If you're not an expert
If you'rean expert
Know that two of the most famous strenuous trails in Friuli Venezia Giulia start from here:
- The ferrata that goes up the north side of Monte Coglians
- The Spinotti Trail that will take you to Rifugio Marinelli, from which you can then descend to the Tolazzi Refuge, the starting point of the hike.
Lake Volaia is the scene of the first exchange of the famous Tre Rifugi Relay Race held every year towards the end of August. In this heroic challenge, the athletes (three per team) compete to complete the loop trail that connects the three huts in the area (Tolazzi, Lamberthenghi Romanin and Marinelli) as quickly as possible.
The fastest runners finish the whole trail in about 1h15 (it took me almost 4, but that’s another story).
If you decide to do the Spinotti Trail, it is a good idea to plan the hike after the Staffetta Tre Rifugi to be sure that the path is well-trodden in case of snow residue.
5. Monte Matajur
If so far we have talked about the border with Austria, we cannot forget the other neighboring country: Slovenia. To prove that the borders are only imaginary, there is no better mountain than Matajur.
Matajur is the hill overlooking Cividale del Friuli. The top, which houses the church of Christ the Redeemer, is completely grassy and has a characteristic “rounded” pyramid shape visible from almost the entire Friuli plain.
The climb to Mount Matajur is one of the most popular hikes in Friuli because with a very fast and easy climb you can enjoy a 360 ° view of the surrounding mountains, the plain, and, on clear days, the sea.
Mount Matajur is excellent for the whole year making the given differences between summer and winter.
Mount Matajur in the Summer
There are several points from which you can start the hike to Mount Matajur.
In summer, the most convenient solution is to leave the car at the Pelizzo Refuge (Savogna).
From here there are two options both valid:
- The direct route that goes up the meadow just behind the refuge is about 1.5 km long
- The indirect way that the mountain goes up from the side and is about 3.5 km long
Mount Matajur in Winter
In winter, the starting point varies depending on the snowfall and the if the road was cleaned or not. If the winter is not very snowy you can park in any case at the Pelizzo.
If, on the other hand, the snow is abundant, you must stop first, in the hamlet of Montemaggiore, and continue on foot on the CAI trails 751 and 749.
Although in no case the hike is technically difficult, in winter you have to be careful because the risk of finding ice sheets along the way is high.
Given the ease of the trail, the speed of ascent, and the 360 ° panorama completely devoid of trees, Mount Matajur is perfect for watching the sunrise or sunset.
6. Campanile di Val Montanaia
In Friuli Venezia Giulia there are many bell towers, but two are more famous than others.
One is the Bell Tower of Mortegliano, one of the tallest buildings in Italy (113 m) and the pride of the lower Friuli area.
The other, the one that interests us, is the “Bell Tower” of Val Montanaia. Personally, I have never been there. The description below and the fantastic photo above are courtesy of Stefano.
From Maniago continue towards Barcis and then Cimolais, then take the Val Cimoliana road to the Pordenone Refuge.
- In summer, you pay the toll to access the road
- The first 13 km of the route can be done by car but they are bumpy, so pay attention to fords and stretches with gravel.
From the Pordenone Refuge, follow the CAI trail 353 which climbs up the forest behind the hut with a few curves. Out of the woods, continue climbing the stony bottom of the Val Montanaia.
The climb extends for 2.5 km and includes a positive difference in height of 800m.
The view of the Val Montanaia bell tower and the Perugini bivouac (2060 m) repays any effort.
If you're an expert hiker
If you are an expert hiker you can also choose to enjoy this wonderful amphitheater from another perspective, continuing beyond the bivouac and climbing (not without difficulty) the gravel path that leads to Forcella Montanaia (2333 m). The view is truly priceless.
The return is made with the same route as the outward journey.
The more trained can do the Friulian Dolomites ring route, a multi-day trek that touches the Huts Flaiban-Paccherini, Giaf, Padua, and Pordenone, crossing the wonderful and wild valleys of the Friulian Dolomites at high altitude.
7. Rifugio Giaf
Rifugio Giaf was not included in the list of hikes in Friuli suggested by the Instagram community but I decided to add it anyway because it is the other access point to the Friulian Dolomites.
The walk that leads to the Giaf Refuge is really simple and within everyone’s reach. I myself started doing it on my legs when I was just three years old (there is evidence).
The hut can be reached both with the CAI trail 346 and with the forest road but the difference in distance between the two options is minimal. For this reason, the refuge is very popular in the summer.
For those who want and have the ability to walk more, Rifugio Giaf is an excellent starting point for other hikes in the Friulian Dolomites including:
- Casera Val Binon
- The Bianchi Ring Rout
- Forcella Scodovacca
As said, very expert hikers who want to have a multi-day experience, the Rifugio Giaf is one of the stop-overs of the ring route of the Friulian Dolomites.
The hut can also be reached in winter with some extra attention. I talked about it better here.
8. Val Alba and Val Aupa
The Alba and Aupa valleys have not been mentioned among the best hikes to do in Friuli Venezia Giulia but I think they must be included because … they are wild, isolated, and not very crowded.
The two valleys, which connect Moggio Udinese to Pontebba, act as a buffer between Carnia and Tarvisiano and are often skipped.
In reality, this area offers some of the best walks in Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Below you will list some of them:
- Stavoli di Moggio (Difficulty: Easy)
- Moggessa di Qua and Moggessa di Là (Difficulty Moderate)
- Grauzaria Refuge (Difficulty Moderate)
- Bivouac Bianchi (Difficulty Moderate +)
This area is for you if you like places without too many frills and unspoiled nature. Personally, I am always happy when we organize something around Moggio.
There are many villages that can only be reached on foot, that were abandoned between the end of the Second World War and the 1976 earthquake. It fascinates me and at the same time makes me nostalgic to see how these areas, once fairly populated, are now a bastion of wild nature.
9. Val Resia
The Resia Valley is much more than a valley in Friuli Venezia Giulia. It is a world apart whose language and traditions are completely different from the rest of the region.
The trails are many but there are two that I recommend. Starting from Stolvizza:
- Ta lipa pot (The beautiful path in the local language). It is a very easy circular route, therefore also suitable for children. About 10 km long, it has a positive difference in height of about 150 meters. In the summer the path is very popular.
- Pusti gost (on the trail of the past) is a beautiful circular path that will take you to a plateau with huts. Here, too, there are about ten kilometers but the positive difference in height is 700 meters. Only suitable for older children.
Like Val Alba and Val Aupa, in my opinion, Val Resia could also please you as a location for your hikes in Friuli Venezia Giulia if you love secluded places where nature can thrive.
10. Val Rosandra
This series of walks in Friuli Venezia Giulia ends with Val Rosandra. The last position is due to the fact that, unfortunately, I have not yet had the pleasure of hiking in Val Rosandra.
Despite this, I have frequented Trieste enough to be able to tell you why it is worth finding some itineraries in the area.
The phrase “small compendium of the universe” is particularly clear in the Trieste area. Because Trieste is on the sea, but behind it, beyond the cliffs, there are kilometers and kilometers of karst hills.
Val Rosandra is the point of contact between the Alpine territory and the sea. The valley develops around the course of the homonymous river and is characterized by vast wooded and mild areas that alternate with dry and cold scree. Then when you reach a hill or a panoramic point, you will find the sea just a few steps away from you.
Val Rosandra is also considered the gateway to the Bora.
I hope you enjoyed this roundup of hikes in Friuli Venezia Giulia to be planned for your first time in our region. Remember to go and see the details of the individual hike.
If you come from Friuli Venezia Giulia and have other suggestions or have tried one of the walks, feel free to leave a comment below. It might be useful to other users.