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Dolomites Travel Guide, Northern Italy

The Dolomites are a massive mountain range in the Italian Alps in northeastern Italy, stretching across the regions of Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, and Friuli Venezia Giulia. In 2009, these mountains were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering a total area of 141,903 hectares. 

The Italian Dolomites are without a question one of the most dramatic alpine destinations in the world. Whether you’re out driving, cycling, skiing, or hiking, you’ll be captivated by the sheer cliffs, vertical walls, craggy pinnacles, karst plateaus, idyllic valleys, and alpine pastures that define the unique landscape of the Dolomiti. 

Here, mountain peaks slash the sky and light up in fiery shades of crimson and violet (Enrosadira). Below the soaring pinnacles, cattle graze on undulating alpine pastures, dotted with huts. This dazzling contrast between rocky mountains and silky meadows is what makes the Dolomites so cinematic. 

For the active traveler, this corner of Italy is heaven on earth. In summer, you can go via ferrata climbing, hut to hut hiking, mountain biking, and paragliding. In winter, you can ski in the largest ski resort in the world, Dolomiti Superski. 

What makes the Dolomites the most premier alpine destination in Europe is the quality of the accommodation and the cuisine (especially in South Tyrol). 

In this Dolomites Travel Guide, you’ll learn about where to go, where to stay, what to see and do, and so much more. 

Pale di San Martino, Italian Dolomites

Where Are the Dolomites

The Dolomites are located in Northern Italy, close to the border of Austria. The various Dolomites mountain groups span across the provinces of South Tyrol, Trentino, Belluno, Udine, and Pordenone. 

The range is bounded by Puster Valley in the North, Isarco Valley in the northwest, Piave Valley in the east and southwest, the Brenta Valley in the southwest, and the Adige Valley in the west.

Dolomites Map

The most popular resorts and holiday areas are concentrated in the provinces of South Tyrol, Trentino, and Belluno.

On the map below, we’ve plotted all the must-see attractions across the Dolomites.

In Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites, we’ve summarized all our favorite destinations.

Marmolada, Dolomites

What Are the Dolomites

The Dolomites are a mountain range in the Italian Alps, which form part of the Southern Limestone Alps (like Slovenia’s Julian Alps and Kamnik-Savinja Alps and Austria’s Gailtal Alps and Carnic Alps). 

The range encompasses many staggering peaks, 18 of which rise over 3000 meters. The highest mountain in the Dolomites is the Marmolada (3342 meters). 

The rocks of the Dolomites were formed over 230 million years ago, when the whole area was covered in a shallow tropical sea. Over time, deposits of coral and sea creatures progressively built up on the seafloor. About 65 million years ago, climatic tectonic events led to the creation of the alpine chain. 

These light-colored Dolomite rocks are composed of the mineral calcium magnesium carbonate as well as true limestone. 

Calcium magnesium carbonate was first identified by the French mineralogist Déodat de Dolomieu in the 18th century. In his honor, the mineral and the rock was renamed Dolomite.

Thus, the Pale Mountains are now chiefly referred to as the Dolomites.

October in the Dolomites

Best Time to Visit the Dolomites

Best Time for Hiking in the Dolomites

The best time to hike in the Dolomites is from the end of June until the end of September. 

That’s when most trails are free of snow. It’s also when mountain huts are open and seasonal buses and cableways are operating. Many hikes in the Dolomites begin or end with an aerial cableway (chairlift, gondola, etc…).

Read Best Time to Visit the Dolomites for Hiking for an overview of what it’s like to visit in May, June, July, August, September, October, and November.

June in the Dolomites

The Dolomites summer season kicks off in June.

Rifugios at lower elevations start opening up in early June, while those situated at higher elevations open their doors in mid-late June.

Thunderstorms are fairly common throughout the month, though they usually develop in the afternoons. Wildflowers blossom mid June through July.

In early June, we recommend visiting Val Gardena, Val di Funes, and Alta Pusteria. In late June, we recommend visiting Cortina d’Ampezzo and San Martino di Castrozza.

July in the Dolomites

July is a gorgeous month in the Dolomites. Flowers are blooming absolutely everywhere. Everything is open: hotels, restaurants, huts, and cableways. Like June, thunderstorms are common in July.

August in the Dolomites

August is a very busy month in the Dolomites. Italians are on vacation, roads are congested, and trails are crowded. Weather is generally excellent with the occasional thunderstorm.

September in the Dolomites

September is a wonderful month to hike in the Dolomites. It’s still busy, but not as packed as August. With the exception of a rogue snow storm, the weather is very stable throughout the month.

Mountain huts are open, cable cars are running, and busses are frequent.

Learn More: Hiking in the Dolomites in September

October in the Dolomites

October is also a promising month to travel to the Dolomites, especially for fall colors. If you decide to travel to the Dolomites in October, we recommend renting a car.

Many mountain huts will already be closed for the season, though not all. And, many chairlifts and gondolas will also be closed (by end of September). So, October promises quiet trails, beautiful colors, but with less convenience.

Learn More: Hiking in the Dolomites in October

Best Time for Skiing in the Dolomites

If your aim is to ski, the Dolomites winter season begins in mid-December and ends in early April. If you’re planning an international ski trip to the Dolomites, we recommend visiting between January and March. 

Read Dolomites in December to find out what to see and do during the Advent season.

When You Shouldn’t Travel to the Dolomites

Early Spring. Traveling to the Dolomites in May is hit or miss since the weather is unpredictable. It can still snow, but it’s not “ski season.” Because the region’s many cableways aren’t in operation, hiking is limited.

Also, many hotels and restaurants are closed, making it difficult to find places to eat and places to stay. Due to the number of inquiries received, we’ve outlined what to see and do in the Dolomites in May.

Late Fall. While early Fall is often a spectacular time to visit the Dolomites, you should avoid visiting the Dolomites in November. The hiking season is over and the skiing season has yet to begin.

Trails do not officially open or close in the Dolomites. However, there’s more likelihood of snow and ice on the trails in November.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Drei Zinnen mountains, Dolomites

What Languages Are Spoken in the Dolomites

The Dolomites are located in 5 different provinces within 3 regions in Northeastern Italy. One province, South Tyrol (Südtirol in German, Alto Adige in Italian), was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to World War I.

German continues to be the primary language spoken in this region. When traveling and hiking through South Tyrol, every street, advertisement, natural area, mountain hut, etc… is written in both German and Italian. Generally, South Tyroleans are culturally Tyrolean (Austrian) rather than Italian. 

Another language that you may encounter is Ladin, a romance language spoken in the provinces of South Tyrol, Trentino, and Belluno, by the Ladin people.

Around Val Gardena, Val Badia, Val di Fassa, and Ampezzo Valley, you may see signage and names (e.g. towns, mountain huts) in three languages: Ladin, German, and Italian. 

While English speakers tend to use Italian names, it’s important to be familiar with the German and Ladin names as well.

Here are a few examples:

  • Alpe di Siusi (Italian), Seiser Alm (German), and Mont Sëuc (Ladin)
  • Ortisei (Italian), St. Ulrich (German), and Urtijëi (Ladin)
  • Sassolungo (Italian), Langkofel (German), and Saslonch (Ladin)
Sella Group, Dolomites, South Tyrol, Italy

Best Places to Stay in the Dolomites

The Dolomites stretch across three Italian regions. It can be very difficult to grasp just how large this range is and figure out where to stay.

After many independent trips to the Dolomites, we’ve narrowed down the best places to stay:

Cortina d’Ampezzo is a prominent mountain town in Ampezzo Valley in Belluno. Cortina is the best base for hiking to Lake Sorapis, Lake Federa and the Croda da Lago Chain, Tofana di Rozes, the Cristallo Group, the Mondeval Plateau and Lago delle Baste, Cinque Torri and Rifugio Nuvolau, and the Sexten Dolomites (Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Cadini di Misurina). 

Val Gardena is that valley that stretches from Gardena Pass and Sella Pass to Valle Isarco in South Tyrol. This is the best place to stay in the Dolomites if you’re traveling without a car. The top attractions in Val Gardena are Seceda, Alpe di Siusi, the Sassolungo Group, Resciesa Plateau, Vallunga Valley and Val de Chedul, and the Sella Group.

Alta Badia is wedged between the Puez-Odle Nature Park and Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park in South Tyrol. Alta Badia boasts a high concentration of Michelin star restaurants and wellness hotels. If you’re looking for a luxurious holiday in the Dolomites, start your trip here. 

Alta Pusteria is the Dolomites region surrounding Upper Puster Valley in South Tyrol. This is the gateway to the Northern Sexten Dolomites (Val Fiscalina, Val Campo di Dentro, and Tre Cime di Lavaredo) and the Northern Braies Dolomites (Lago di Braies and Prato Piazza).

San Martino di Castrozza is an alpine resort town in Primiero valley in Trentino. This is the best base for hiking in Pale di San Martino, the largest (and possibly the most magnificent) Dolomites mountain group.

Val di Funes is the valley that runs from Valle Isarco to the base of the Odle/Geisler Group. This is one of the most picturesque destinations in the Dolomites. Though most people only visit for a few hours, it’s totally worth staying several nights here to hike the Adolf Munkel Trail, Tullen Peak, Rifugio Genova, and Sass de Putia.

Alpe di Siusi is the largest mountain pasture in Europe and a vast plateau which stretches between the Sassolungo Group and the Sciliar Group, high above Val Gardena. Alpe di Siusi is an unforgettable place to stay when you want to be surrounded by romantic scenery far away from the madding crowds (at least in the early morning and evening). Stay here for unhurried exploration and special occasions (honeymoons, anniversaries, etc…). 

Val d’ Ega is the valley between the Catinaccio/Rosengarten Group and Latemar Massif. Stay here if you want to visit Lake Carezza and hike to the Vajolet Towers.

For skiing, we recommend staying in Val Gardena, Alta Badia, or Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Learn More: Best Places to Stay in the Dolomites

Dolomites Itinerary Planning

We suggest choosing 2-4 bases and spending 2-4 nights in each base.

It’s better to stay in less places for longer periods of time, because many accommodations in the Dolomites have a minimum stay requirement of anywhere from 2 to 7 days. Additionally, there is so much to do from each base.

For example, if you have 5 days in the Dolomites, you can spend 2 nights in Val Gardena and 2 nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Learn more in our 5 day Dolomites itinerary.

If you have 7 days in the Dolomites, you could spend 3 nights in Val Gardena and 3 nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Check out our 7 day Dolomites road trip for inspiration.

If you have 10 days in the Dolomites, you could spend 3 nights in Val Gardena, 2 nights in San Martino di Castrozza, and 4 nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Plan your Dolomites trip with our 10-14 Day Dolomites Itinerary

Naturhotel Leitlhof, San Candido, Val Pusteria, Dolomites

Dolomites Accommodations

farm stays, hotels, mountain huts

There are many ways to experience the Dolomites. For those that want to experience the culture of the valleys and the towns, we recommend staying in farm stays.

For those seeking a luxurious getaway, look no further than the region’s 5-star spa hotels.

And for hikers who want to traverse long distances, we recommend sleeping in mountain huts (Rifugi, Hütten). Read our Dolomites accommodation guide to find the perfect place to stay.

Roter Hahn Farm Stays

Roter Hahn (Red Rooster) is a trademark given to farmhouses in South Tyrol that provide quality holiday accommodations. There are 1,600 Roter Hahn farms in the region. The goal of Roter Hahn is to put people in touch with the rural world of South Tyrol. Another objective is to help farmers establish another occupation and stream of income.

We stayed in three Roter Hahn Farms and had outstanding experiences each time. The hosts were hospitable, the rooms were clean, and overall the prices were very reasonable.

To look for farm stays, use the Roter Hahn website. There’s a form, next to each farmhouse page, that lets you reach out and request a reservation. If the farmhouse has availability for the date(s) given, they’ll reach out to you via email.

Luxury Wellness Hotels

If farm stays sound too rustic, and you’re in the mood for a real treat, check out some of these superb wellness hotels:

Read Next: Best Hotels in the Dolomites

Boutique Hotels

For an intimate hotel experience, we recommend staying in one of these excellent Dolomites boutique hotels:


A Rifugio is a high-elevation mountain hut, accessible by foot.

One of the best things about hiking in the Dolomites is that you can go on a multi-day hike, overnighting in Rifugi (Hütten) along the way. These mountain refuges are located directly on hiking trails and enable you to spend the night deep in the mountains, without having to carry camping gear.

Whether you want to break up a longer trek, or simply wake up in the Dolomites, sleeping in a charming Rifugio/Hütte is a rewarding experience. The Dolomites have a vast network of rifugios, which allow you to hike from one hut to another. It’s important to make reservations in advance. Here are some hut to hut itineraries for inspiration:

Good to Know: the plural of Rifugio in Italian is Rifugi, but English speakers commonly say Rifugios. In German-speaking South Tyrol, a Rifugio is called a Hütte.  

Learn More: Hut to Hut Hiking in the Dolomites

Via Ferrata, Dolomites

How to Get to the Dolomites

Closest Airports to the Dolomites

Getting to the Italian Dolomites usually requires a multi-leg journey.

The closest airport to the Dolomites is the Bolzano Airport in South Tyrol, which is recently back in operation. The Bolzano Airport is serviced by the SkyAlps fleet, which offers nonstop flights to small and medium-sized cities in Europe including Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Copenhagen, Billund, and Antwerp.

Bolzano is located on the edge of the Dolomites. It’s only a 45 minute drive from Bolzano Airport to Ortisei in Val Gardena.

More airports near the Dolomites:

  • Treviso Airport, Italy
  • Marco Polo International Airport, Venice, Italy
  • Valerio Catullo Airport (aka Verona Villafranca Airport), Verona, Italy
  • Malpensa Airport, Milan, Italy
  • Munich International Airport, Germany
  • Innsbruck Airport, Austria

Traveling to the Dolomites with a Car

International travelers typically fly to the Venice Airport, pick up their rental car, and drive to the Dolomites.

Depending on where you land, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 5 hours to reach the Dolomites by car. Here’s how long it takes to drive from the following airports to Ortisei and Cortina d’Ampezzo, two central destination in the Dolomites.

Bolzano Airport, Italy | 1 hour to Ortisei, 2:15 hours Cortina d’Ampezzo

Marco Polo International Airport, Venice, Italy | 3:20 hours to Ortisei, 2 hours to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Treviso Airport, Treviso, Italy | 3 hours to Ortisei, 1:50 hours to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Valerio Catullo Airport, Verona, Italy | 2:15 hours to Ortisei, 3 hours to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Malpensa Airport, Milan, Italy | 4:30 hours to Ortisei, 5 hours to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Innsbruck Airport, Austria | 1:30 hours to Ortisei, 2:40 hours to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Munich International Airport, Germany | 4 hours to Ortisei, 5 hours to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Renting a Car

If you’re flying to Italy, it’s best to rent a car directly at the airport.

We recommend using the car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals in Northern Italy. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.

Check car rental rates here.

Traveling to the Dolomites without a Car

We’ve traveled to the Dolomites with and without a car. A car affords more flexibility, but you can definitely travel to the Dolomites without a car. Learn about when to visit, where to stay, and how to craft an itinerary in How to Visit the Dolomites without a Car.

Read How to Get to the Dolomites to find out how to get to the Dolomites by transit from the closest airports, train stations, and bus terminals.

If you’re flying to the Venice Airport, take the Cortina Express, or FlixBus from the airport to Cortina d’Ampezzo. You can rely on Dolomitibuses to get around the Dolomites (high season only).

If you’re traveling to the Dolomites from nearby cities (Verona, Florence, Bologna, Milan), or neighboring countries, you can take a train to Bolzano (Bozen), or San Candido (Innichen). From Bolzano, there are direct buses to Val d’Ega and Val Gardena. Use these sites to help plan your trip:

Dolomiti Bus –  transit schedules for the province of Belluno, Veneto Region

Sü – journey planner and timetables for transit in South Tyrol, Alto Adige

Cadini di Misurina, Dolomites, Italy

What to See and Do in the Dolomites

Below, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite destinations and things to do in the Dolomites. For a complete guide to what to do in the Dolomites, read Unforgettable Things to Do in the Dolomites.

Rifugio Auronzo, Cadini di Misurina, Sesto Dolomites, Italy

Stay in a Rifugio

One of the best things about hiking in the Dolomites is that you can sleep in a mountain refuge (Hütte, Rifugio).

Sleeping in a mountain hut, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, is a wonderful experience in and of itself. However, it’s also very practical, if you want to break up a longer trek like this 3 Day Rosengarten Trek or the Alta Via 1.

We love the atmosphere of Rifugi in the Dolomites. People play cards, read books, examine trail maps, and drink Schnaps. And because you’re seated with other hikers at dinner, you get to connect with new people and share your experiences.

Another benefit of staying in a hut is seeing how the colors of the mountains change with the time of day. When we arrived at Rifugio Alpe di Tires/Tierser Alpl in the late afternoon, the mountains looked purple. In the morning, they looked yellow.

Read Next: Hut to Hut Hiking in the Dolomites

Oskar Schuster Via Ferrata, Dolomites

Climb a Via Ferrata

A via ferrata (“iron way”) is a mountain route that is protected by a series of rungs, pegs, ladders, and cables. 

Hikers can securely tackle exposed and vertical passages, by grasping and clipping into cables (using a via ferrata lanyard and climbing harness). 

Though a thrilling activity today, via ferrata climbing was borne out of necessity during the First World War. Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops battled against each other in the Dolomites mountains. Permanent lines and ladders were affixed to rock faces to help troops move quickly and safely at high elevations. 

Via ferrata routes are graded on a scale from 1 – 6 (easy – challenging), using the Smith/Fletcher dual grading system, or on a scale from A – F (easy to extremely difficult), using the Schall grading scale. 

A good beginner’s via ferrata is the Gran Cir summit in Puez-Odle Nature Park (accessible from Passo Gardena) and the Santner Via Ferrata to the Vajolet Towers, which we hiked on stage 1 of our 3-Day Rosengarten Dolomites Trek

An excellent intermediate (Grade B/C) via ferrata is Oskar Schuster, which leads to the summit of Sasso Piatto.

There are over 200 via ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites. Consult this guidebook to find out where these routes are: Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 1.

In addition to via ferrata routes, there are also a number of Sentiero Attrezzato. These “equipped paths” are secured with steel cables and other aids, but are usually less technical than a via ferrata and often do not require a full via ferrata kit. The Sentiero Bonacossa across the Cadini di Misurina range and the ascent route to Piz Duleda in Puez-Odle Nature Park are great examples of secured hiking trails.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit Trail, Dolomites

Hike the Loop Trail around Tre Cime di Lavaredo

This day hike upstages all others. The views are mind-blowing. You might even think that you don’t deserve them, after barely breaking a sweat on the trail. Well, you deserve them. And, we hope you go.

In a nutshell, the hike circumnavigates the iconic Three Peaks (Drei Zinnen in German, Tre Cime di Lavaredo in Italian) in the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites. It takes about 4 hours to do the whole loop, which is 9.7 km in length.

The most impressive view of the peaks is from Rifugio Locatelli/Dreizinnenhütte, which is a mountain hut facing the north side of Tre Cime di Lavaredo. It’s also a great place to have lunch. 

To start this hike, you’ll need to drive, or take the bus to Rifugio Auronzo in Belluno via the Auronzo – Tre Cime di Lavaredo toll road.

Insider Tip: After completing the circuit, hike 30 minutes to the famous Cadini di Misurina viewpoint.

Alternatively, you can hike to Tre Cime di Lavaredo from Val Fiscalina/Fischleintal in South Tyrol. Or, you can ascend to the Three Peaks via Val Campo di Dentro along the Torre dei Scarperi hike.

If you want to combine the Val Fiscalina ascent with the circuit trail, check out our 3-day Tre Cime di Lavaredo hut-to-hut route.

Badia Hill terrace, Alta Badia, Dolomites

Discover the Meaning of Wellness in Alta Badia

Nestled between the Puez Mountains, Fanes Group, Sella Group, Mount Sassongher, and the Cir peaks, Alta Badia is one of the best destinations in the Dolomites. This charming region in South Tyrol delights with its idyllic scenery, numerous hiking trails, and stellar hotels.

When it comes to wellness and spa hotels, Alta Badia is the reigning queen of the Dolomites. These hotels pamper guests with their extensive wellness and sauna facilities, gourmet half-board menus, alpine-chic design, and scenic locations.

Seceda Hike, Dolomites, Northern Italy

Marvel at the Seceda Ridgeline and Hike around Val Gardena

Val Gardena (Grödnertal in German) is a valley in South Tyrol that encompasses the towns Ortisei (St. Ulrich), Santa Cristina (St. Christina), and Selva di Val Gardena (Wolkenstein). From these towns, you can hop on an aerial cableway to various plateaus and summits in the Val Gardena Dolomites.

One of the most thrilling focal points in the region is the Seceda summit in Puez-Odle Nature Park. From the Seceda ridgeline, the jagged Odle/Geisler peaks look like a Swiss Army Knife, eternally stabbing the sky.

The fastest ascent route to Seceda is via the Ortisei-Furnes-Seceda cableways. From the mountain station, it’s a mere 10-minute hike to the Seceda summit viewpoint.

We highly recommend following the ridge trail to the Forcella Pana/Panascharte gap, and then continuing to the Pieralongia mountain pasture and ultimately to Rifugio Firenze/Regensburgerhütte. This circuit hike is 8.9 km and takes 3:30 hours to complete. We wrote about this hike in detail in our Seceda hiking guide.

More Seceda Ascent Routes | Resciesa to Seceda (difficult) and Cristauta/Praplan Parking Lot to Seceda (moderately difficult)

Learn More: Best Hiking Trails in Val Gardena

Lago di Braies, Dolomites, Italy

Visit Lago di Braies: The Pearl of the Dolomites

Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee in German) is an alpine lake in Braies Valley (Valle di Braies in Italian, Pragser Tal in German), a side valley of Upper Puster Valley (Alta Pusteria, Hochpustertal) in South Tyrol.

Braies Lake lies at the foot of the north face of Croda del Becco (Seekofel in German, Sass dla Porta in Ladin), a towering massif (2,810m), which creates the jaw-dropping, picture-perfect backdrop of Lago di Braies. There’s a reason it’s called the Peal of the Dolomites. And like any declared “pearls,” Lago di Braies is not a secret.

You won’t be alone when visiting Lake Braies…not at 5 am and not at 5 pm. Everyone wants to visit this iconic sight. However, very few people who visit, know that you can hike from the lake to Hochalpensee (2254 m), Hochalpenkopf (2542 m), Croda delle Becco/Seekofel (2810 m), and Herrnstein (2447 m).

In recent years, there are new regulations regarding lake access during the high season (July 10 – September 10). Learn more about these regulations in our Lake Braies guide.

Insider Tip | After visiting Lago di Braies, head up to the Prato Piazza plateau and walk to the Monte Specie (Strudelkopf in German) summit for a striking view of Tre Cime di Lavaredo. You can also hike the exciting Gaisl High Trail from Prato Piazza to Ponticello

Geisleralm, Adolf Munkel Trail, Dolomites, Italy

Hike at the Foot of the Odle/Geisler Peaks

The sawtooth Odle/Geisler Group is one of the most striking mountain groups in the Dolomites. There are so many ways to experience these memorable mountains.

From Val di Funes, you can hike along the foot of the Odle Peaks along the Adolf Munkel Trail. This path delivers sensational views of these pinnacles and ties together some of the region’s most scenic alpine pasture huts, including Malga Casnago/Gschnagenhardt Alm,and Geisler Alm.

Perhaps the most popular photo motif is that of Santa Maddalena backed by the Odle spires in Val di Funes. You can follow the Santa Maddalena Panorama Trail to get to the viewpoint.

Another option is to hike to summit of Tullen in the Odle d’Eores/Aferer Geisler Group. This is still a secret.

Adventurous hikers may want to tackle the Col dala Pieres summit hike, starting in Val Gardena, for another striking vantage point of the Odle Peaks.

Forcella Pian di Cengia to Rifugio Pian di Cengia Hiking Trail, Sesto Dolomites

Discover World War I Trails and Tunnels

During World War I, the front between Austria-Hungary and Italy ran through the Dolomites. A bitter mountain war was waged between the opposing sides from 1915 to 1917.

Both armies built tunnels, trails, and trenches to secure the border and protect themselves. The reason why there is such a great network of trails today is due to the efforts of these WWI soldiers.

During the course of the war, the greatest threat to both armies was the extreme weather. In December 1916, avalanches buried 10,000 Italian and Austrian troops in just two days.

Though it’s impossible to imagine how a war could be fought in such unforgiving terrain, there is plenty of evidence pointing to this region’s inglorious past.

To see trenches, tunnels, trails, and other relics from the war, hike to the open-air museum at Cinque Torri, the Lagazuoi Tunnels, Monte Piana, and theTofana di Rozes Circuit Trail.

Pale di San Martino in September, Dolomites

Explore the Pale di San Martino Mountains

The largest and perhaps the most beautiful mountain group in the Dolomites is often overlooked.

Pale di San Martino, or simply the Pala Group, is located in Trentino and Belluno, between Primiero, Vallde del Biois, and Agordino.

We recommend staying in the resort of San Martino di Castrozza in Trentino. From here, you can venture up to the Altopiano delle Pale di San Martino and circuit Pala di San Martino or even summit Cima della Vezzana.

For the most glorious sunset and alpenglow display, head to Passo Rollo and walk up to Baita Segantini.

Venture to Val Venegia for a lovely walk or a thrilling hike to Rifugio Mulaz.

Lago di Sorapis, Dolomites Travel, Italy

Hike to Lago di Sorapis

Lago di Sorapis is a glacial lake in the Sorapiss Group in the Ampezzo Dolomites

Set in a natural natural amphitheater and ringed by forest and rock, Lago di Sorapis bewitches with its milky-blue hue and rugged mountain backdrop. You might think you’re looking at an enchantress’ pool filled with a magic potion.

Lake Sorapis is only accessible by foot. Starting at Passo Tre Croci mountain pass, which is about halfway between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Lake Misurina, it only takes 2 hours to reach the lake. Follow trail 215 in the direction of Rifugio Vandelli.

Experienced hikers should consider the return route to Passo Tre Croci via Forcella Marcuoira saddle.

Lago di Sorapis is a very popular and crowded trail. If you’re seeking quieter trails around Cortina d’Ampezzo, consider these hikes instead: Croda da Lago Circuit Trail, Tofana di Rozes Circui Trail, and Passo Giau to Mondeval.

Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites, Italy

Go on a Culinary Hike across Alpe di Siusi

Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm in German, Mont Sëuc in Ladin) is the largest high-alpine pasture in Europe, covering a surface area of 56 square kilometers.

This high-altitude plateau is located in South Tyrol, high above Val Gardena, Castelrotto, and Siusi.

This is a great destination for easy walking coupled with excellent food and wine.

If you follow the Hans and Paula Steger Trail from Compaccio/Compatsch to Saltria, you can detour to the gourmet Gostner Schwaige and Rauchhütte alpine pasture huts.

Ambitious hikers can tackle the Rifugio Bolzano to Rifugio Alpe di Tires circuit hike starting in Compaccio. The Tierser Alpl refuge is one of the very best places to eat South Tyrolean cuisine.

Best Alpe di Siusi hike: Alpe di Siusi Meadows Circuit Trail

Sass de Putia Sunrise, Passo delle Erbe, Dolomites

Drive across the Dolomites Mountain Passes

As you travel between different valleys in the Dolomites, you will drive over a series of mountain passes. 

These mountain passes are destinations in their own right. Many passes are home to cableway valley stations, restaurants, shops, car parks, and huts.

Mountain passes also serve as important trailheads. 

From Passo delle Erbe, you can hike the circuit trail around Sass de Putia.

From Passo Gardena, you can hike to Gran Cir, Sass da Ciampac, and Cima Pisciadu

From Passo Giau, you can hike to the Mondeval plateau, Lago delle Baste, and even Lago Federa

From Passo Valparola, you can hike the Kaiserjäger protected route to Lagazuoi. 

From Passo Sella, you can embark on the circuit trail around Sassolungo and the Via Ferrata Oskar Schuster.

From Passo Pordoi, we recommend hiking the Viel del Pan and Alta Via Della Cresta circuit trail.

Vajolet Towers Rosengarten Dolomites

What to Eat and Drink in the Dolomites

Italian Custom: Coperto

Coperto means cover charge. It’s the fee you pay to sit at a table in a restaurant. Generally, the fee is somewhere between 1 EUR and 5 EUR. This may, or may not be advertised on the menu.

What to Eat in the Dolomites

Contrary to what most believe, the food in the Dolomites isn’t homogenous. As you explore the many regions of the Dolomites, you’ll encounter Italian, Tirolean (Austrian), and Ladin cuisine. 

Brettljause is a snack board with speck (dried ham), sausage, cheese, bread, and butter.

Knödel are large breadcrumb dumplings made with either Speck (ham), Käse (cheese), or Spinat (spinach). Knödel is often served in a soup, or as a side dish. You can also order the Knödel-Trilogie (Tris di Canederli in Italian), which is three dumplings (ham, spinach, cheese), garnished with butter and parmesan.

Schlutzkrapfen (Mezzelune in Italian) is half-moon-shaped stuffed pasta, similar to ravioli. Traditionally, Schlutzkrapfen is filled with curd cheese and spinach. Our favorite type is stuffed with Eierschwammerl (chanterelle mushrooms). 

Südtiroler Naturjoghurt mit Preiselbeeren is natural yogurt with cranberries. 

Polenta is boiled cornmeal. Polenta is commonly served with mushrooms, meaty stews, sausages, and fried cheese. 

Casunziei Ampezzani is beetroot ravioli served with poppy seed butter. This is a specialty of the Ampezzo valley region. We recommend eating this dish at El Brite de Larieto near Cortina d’Ampezzo.

What to Drink in the Dolomites

White Wine. South Tyrol is a major wine producer. And, 60% of their total harvest is white wine. They make excellent Gewürztraminer, Weissburgunder, and Chardonnays. 

Schnaps. “Ein Schnapserl in Ehren kann niemand verwehren!”  Translation: “No One can refuse a cherished schnaps.” This toast perfectly captures the culture of South Tyrol. After dinner, many people opt for a Schnapps, as opposed to espresso, as a digestif. 

Puez-Odle Nature Park, Dolomites

Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails, Sabrina and Kati