While it’s impossible to see all of the Dolomites on a single trip, it is possible to experience the best that this region has to offer.
In this guide to the best things to do in the Dolomites, we’re outlining what to do in the Dolomites when you want to plan a trip you’ll never forget.
From savoring the local cuisine and staying in wellness hotels to hut to hut hiking and via ferrata climbing, the Dolomites offers adventure, relaxation, and the best mountain vistas on this planet.
You may also want to check out our round-up of Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites.
For guidance on where to stay in this vast region in the Italian Alps, read Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer.
10 Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
Dolomites Travel Tips
- Where are the Dolomites: The Dolomites are located in Northern Italy and span across the provinces of South Tyrol, Trentino, Belluno, Udine, and Pordenone.
- When to Visit the Dolomites: Summer (June – September), Fall (October), and Winter (late December – March)
- Languages Spoken in the Dolomites: Ladin, German, and Italian
- Where to Stay in the Dolomites: Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Val di Funes, Cortina d’Ampezzo, San Martino di Castrozza, and Alta Pusteria
- Closest Airports to the Dolomites: Bolzano Airport in Bolzano (Bozen) and Marco Polo International Airport in Venice
- Top Places to Visit in the Dolomites: Lake Braies, Alpe di Siusi Plateau, Seceda, and Tre Cime di Lavaredo
- Dolomites Road Trips: 5 Day Dolomites Itinerary, 7 Day Dolomites Itinerary, and 10-14 Day Dolomites Itinerary
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How to use this map | Click directly on the map markers to find out more information about specific destinations, hiking trails, lakes, mountain huts, peaks, accommodations, and more. Each color signifies a different Dolomites region.
- Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park and Val d’Ega: yellow
- Alpe di Siusi and Castelrotto: grey
- Val Gardena: coral red
- Val di Funes and Bressanone: maroon
- Alta Badia: orange
- Cortina d’Ampezzo: green
- Alta Pusteria: blue
- San Martino di Castrozza: purple
- Val di Fassa: wine red
1. Go on a Dolomites Road Trip
With a car, you don’t have to plan your hikes around transit, or stay in the most central locations. Furthermore, you can visit the Dolomites during shoulder-seasons (early June, late September, October).
If you love photographing sunrise and sunset, then a car is also highly recommended.
A highlight of any Dolomites road trip is driving over the high mountain passes, which link various valleys throughout the Dolomites.
Mountain passes also function as hiking trailheads. So, build in time to fully appreciate the beauty that each pass has to offer.
Dolomites Mountain Passes
The first time we drove through the Dolomites, we briefly stopped at the various mountain passes to see the views. I remember seeing trail signs and hikers at every pass and wondering desperately where they were all going.
Luckily, you don’t have to wonder. Below, we’ve summarized what you can do from each mountain pass.
Passo Gardena (2136 m)
Grödnerjoch in German, Ju de Frara or Jëuf de Frea in Ladin
This is the mountain pass that connects Val Badia with Val Gardena in South Tyrol.
Passo Rolle (1989 m)
Passo Rolle connects the Fiemme and Primiero valleys, high above San Martino di Castrozza, Trentino.
From Passo Rolle, you can hike to Baita Segantini, an alpine pasture hut with magical views of the northern face of Pale di San Martino. You can also continue the hike all the way to Val Venegia.
Passo delle Erbe (2006 m)
Würzjoch in German, Ju de Börz in Ladin
Passo delle Erbe faces the mighty two-headed Sass de Putia/Peitlerkofel mountain. The circuit trail around Sass de Putia is a wonderful moderate hike. It’s also possible to hike to the summit of Sass de Putia. The final stretch to the summit is secured with cables.
Passo di Giau (2236 m)
Jou de Giau in Ladin
Passo Giau is located in the province of Belluno between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Selva di Cadore. It delivers a striking view of Ra Gusela in the Averau-Nuvolau Group.
Passo Falzarego (2105 m)
Falzaregopass in German, Jou de Fauzare in Ladin
Falzarego Pass is high mountain pass in Belluno which connects the Ampezzo Valley with Val Badia.
The main attraction is the Lagazuoi Cable Car, which links the pass to Rifugio Lagazuoi and the start of the Lagazuoi Tunnels protected path.
Passo Sella (2218 m)
Sellajoch in German
Sella Pass connects Val Gardena in South Tyrol with Val di Fassa in Trentino. It’s set between the massive Sella Group and the Sassolungo/Langkofel Group.
Hikers venture here to start the circuit trail around Sassolungo.
From Passo Sella, you can ride the 2-person gondola to Rifugio Toni Demetz Hütte (2685 m) located on the Forcella del Sassolungo/Langkofelscharte saddle. From here, you can hike down to Rifugio Vicenza/Langkofelhütte. Keen via ferrata climbers can tackle the Oskar Schuster Klettersteig to the summit of Sasso Piatto/Plattkofel
Passo Pordoi (2239 m)
Passo Pordoi is located between the Sella Group and the Marmolada Group. The pass connects Canazei in Val di Fassa with Arabba in Livinallongo del Col di Lana.
Like Passo Sella, Passo Pordoi lies on the Great Dolomites Road. We recommend stopping here to hike the historic Viel del Pan hiking trail to Rifugio Viel dal Pan.
Dolomites Road Trip Routes: 5 Days – 2 Weeks
During our first trip to the Dolomites, we stayed no more than one night in each location. It was way too rushed. We highly recommend spending a minimum of 2-4 nights in each Dolomites destination.
Read Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer for an overview of the best bases in the Dolomites.
5 Day Dolomites Road Trip
With 4 nights in the Dolomites, we recommend splitting your time between Val Gardena and Cortina d’Ampezzo. Our 5 day Dolomites itinerary links together our favorite places in the Dolomites, including Seceda, Alpe di Siusi, Vallunga Valley, Passo Gardena, Armentara Meadows, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Cadini di Misurina mountains, Lago di Braies, and Prato Piazza.
7 Day Dolomites Road Trip
If you’re planning a 7 day/6 night trip to the Dolomites, we recommend choosing two bases and splitting your time evenly. For example.
In our 7 day Dolomites road trip, we integrated a short hut-to-hut hike.
10 Day Dolomites Road Trip
With 9 nights/10 days, choose three bases.
In our 10-14 day Dolomites itinerary, we recommend:
- 3 Nights in Val Gardena
- 2 Nights in San Martino di Castrozza
- 4 Nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo or Alta Pusteria
12 Day Dolomites Road Trip
If you want to plan a 12 day Dolomites road trip, you could divide your time between 3-4 villages in the Dolomites.
- 3 Nights in Val Gardena
- 2 Nights in San Martino di Castrozza
- 4 Nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo or Alta Pusteria
- 2 Nights in Alta Badia
2 Week Dolomites Road Trip
With 13 nights/14 days, we recommend this grand tour of the Dolomites, all summarized in our 10-14 day Dolomites itinerary:
- 3 Nights in Val Gardena
- 2 Nights in San Martino di Castrozza
- 4 Nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo or Alta Pusteria
- 2 Nights in Alta Badia
- 2 Nights in Val di Funes
Dolomites Car Rental
If you’re flying to the Dolomites, it’s best to rent a car directly from the airport. We’ve also rented cars from Bolzano/Bozen when traveling to the Dolomites by train.
We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. 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.
Tip: If you can only drive automatic transmission cars, as opposed to manual transmission cars (stick shift), book your car rental as early as possible.
2. Climb a Via Ferrata Route
A via ferrata (“iron path”) is a protected climbing route. These routes are secured with fixed cables, pegs, rungs, and ladders, allowing climbers to safely ascend and descend tricky passages. Climbing Via Ferratas (vie ferrate) is a popular pastime in the Italian Dolomites and an exciting alternative to hiking.
We love via ferratas because these routes engage your whole body. You’ll be using your hands and arms, just as much as your legs and feet, to traverse mountain faces.
While climbing via ferratas is a recreational activity today, the origins of these routes are far more somber. In the First World War, the Dolomites were a war zone. For years, the Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops battled against each other in these mountains. Both sides strived to gain control of mountain summits to establish site observation posts and field guns.
Permanent lines and ladders were affixed to rock faces to help troops move quickly and safely at high altitudes. Thus began the tradition of via ferrata climbing as we know it.
Via Ferrata routes vary in difficulty. Using the Schall grading scale, via ferratas are classified by letter:
- A: Easy
- B: Moderately Difficult
- C: Difficult
- D: Very Difficult
- F: Extremely Difficult
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. We hiked the latter route on Stage 1 of our 3-Day Rosengarten Dolomites Trek.
For an intermediate via ferrata (Grade B/C), check out the Oskar Schuster klettersteig.
There are over 200 via ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites. We recommend using guidebooks to learn more about specific routes:
- Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 1: 75 routes-North, Central and East Ranges
- Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 2: Southern Dolomites, Brenta and Lake Garda
In addition to via ferrata routes, there are also a number of Sentiero Attrezzato trails. These “equipped paths” are secured with steel cables and other aids, but are usually less technical than a via ferrata.
Via Ferrata Equipment
With the exception of “very easy” via ferrata routes, it’s necessary to have a via ferrata set, which includes a helmet, climbing harness, and via ferrata lanyard. In addition, climbing gloves like these Black Diamond Crag Half-Finger Gloves are very helpful with grip.
- Women’s Climbing Helmet: Women’s Black Diamond Equipment Half Dome Helmet
- Men’s Climbing Helmet: Men’s Black Diamond Equipment Half Dome Climbing Helmet
- Women’s Climbing Harness: Petzl CORAX LT Women’s Harness
- Women’s Climbing Harness: Black Diamond Women’s Momentum Harness
- Men’s Climbing Harness: Black Diamond Mens Momentum Rock Climbing Harness
- Men’s Climbing Harness: PETZL Corax Climbing Harness
Via Ferrata Lanyard with Carabiners
- Unisex Lanyard with Carabiners: PETZL Scorpio Vertigo via ferrata Lanyard
- Unisex Lanyard with Carabiners: Salewa Ergo Core, Unisex Adult
3. Hike Hut to Hut across the Dolomites
Hiking hut to hut in the Dolomites has the potential to ruin you for hiking anywhere else. It’s sinfully luxurious. After a day of hiking, you can take a shower (in most huts), drink a glass of wine, and eat a multi-course meal. From espresso to mountaintop saunas, Rifugios in the Dolomites will delight and astonish you.
Here are some tips for planning a hut-to-hut hiking trip in the Dolomites:
1. Make reservations for mountain huts (Rifugios) 3 – 6 months in advance. Depending on the popularity of the route, you may need to pay a deposit to secure your reservation. All huts must be booked individually.
2. Rifugios are open from late June until late September. We recommend hiking hut-to-hut in July or September.
3. Communicate your diet restrictions to the Rifugios in advance.
Hut to Hut Hiking Routes in the Dolomites
The most popular hut-to-hut hiking routes in the Dolomites are the alte vie high routes. The easiest and the most popular alta via route is the Alta Via 1, which starts in Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee and ends in La Pissa, near Belluno.
Learn more about this trail in our Alta Via 1 Trekking Guide.
If you’re interested in hiking the AV1 trail, but you don’t want to handle the logistics of booking huts, check out Alpenventures UNGUIDED Alta Via 1 self-guided hiking tours:
- AV1-13 Alta Via 1 Self Guided – AV1 route divided into 13 stages (slow-paced)
- AV1-10 Alta Via 1 Self Guided – AV1 route divided into 10 stages (moderately-paced)
- AV1-7 Alta Via 1 Self Guided – AV1 route divided into 7 stages (fast-paced)
- AV1-4 Alta Via 4 Self Guided – The Northern AV1 route from Lake Braies to the Cinque Torri Region, divided into 4 stages.
- VF4 Alta Via 1 with Via Ferratas – AV1 route divided into 11 stages with integrated via ferratas.
They also offer an exciting self-guided hut hike, which links Seceda to Tre Cime di Lavaredo: Best of the Dolomites Trek 9-day Standard.
You can follow an established route, or create your own hut-to-hut hiking itinerary, which is what we did when we wanted to hike a few days in the Sexten Dolomites, Tre Cime di Lavaredo 3 Day Trek, and the Rosengarten Dolomites, Rosengarten Dolomites 3 Day Trek.
Learn More: Hut to Hut Hiking in the Dolomites
4. Stay the Night in a Rifugio
If hiking hut-to-hut seems a bit too long, or outside of your comfort zone, you can still overnight in a Rifugio (Hütte in German-speaking South Tyrol), without going on a lengthy multi-day hiking trip.
The first mountain hut Kati and I ever stayed in was Tierser Alpl in the Rosengarten Dolomites. We did a simple 2-day hike, out-and-back. Staying one night in a Rifugio was an excellent introduction to overnight hiking and gave us the confidence to pursue longer hut-to-hut treks in the future.
Wonderful Dolomites Rifugios to Stay in
Rifugio Alpe di Tires / Tierser Alpl
Location | Sciliar – Catinaccio Natural Park / Naturpark Schlern – Rosengarten, South Tyrol
Why Stay Here | Delicious South Tyrolean food, alpine modern design, and exquisite management.
Learn More | Hiking to Tierserl Alpl Schutzhaus in the Rosengarten Dolomites (direct route) or the scenic Compaccio – Rifugio Bolzano – Tierser Alpl route.
Rifugio Pian di Cengia / Büllelejochhütte
Location | Parco Naturale Tre Cime / Naturpark Drei Zinnen / Three Peaks Nature Park, South Tyrol
Why Stay Here | Büllelejochhütte is the smallest and highest mountain hut in the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites. This memorable mountain hut enchants you with its cozy, intimate interior, friendly staff, and delicious half-board menu.
How to Get Here | You can hike here from Val Fiscalina/Fischleintal in Sesto/Sexten via Rifugio Comici (4 hours). You can also hike here from Rifugio Auronzo, accessible by car/bus, in 3 hours.
Learn More | Tre Cime di Lavaredo 3-Day Trek
Rifugio Fanes / Fanes Hütte
Location | Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park / Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park, South Tyrol
Why Stay Here | Fanes Hütte is a stately mountain hut that pampers guests with its food, extensive wine list, beautiful bedrooms, and hot showers. Well-seasoned hut-to-hut hikers may think this hut is too much like a hotel.
How to Get Here | This luxurious mountain hut is located along the Alta Via 1 Route, but you can also here from Capanna Alpina, in San Cassiano in Alta Badia.
Learn More | Rifugio Fanes Day Hike
5. Savor Traditional Italian, Tyrolean, and Ladin Cuisine
Like other destinations in the Alps, the outdoors and gastronomy are intrinsically linked. Hiking (or skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, walking, etc…) without dining in a mountainside hut would be like going to a baseball stadium and not eating a hot dog and garlic fries. It would be unthinkable.
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, Tyrolean (Austrian), and Ladin cuisine.
What to Eat in the Dolomites
Brettljause. A snack board with Speck (dried ham), sausage, cheese, bread, and butter.
Knödel. 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). 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. Natural Yogurt with cranberries.
Polenta. Boiled cornmeal. Polenta is commonly served with mushrooms, meaty stews, sausages, and fried cheese.
Where to Eat in the Dolomites
For traditional cooking, we recommend eating in mountain huts and alpine pasture huts. For fine dining and innovative cooking, we recommend eating in 4-star/5-star hotels. Did you know that the Dolomites boasts the highest concentration of Michelin-starred chefs in Italy?
Restaurant St. Hubertus is a 3 star Michelin restaurant in Rosa Alpina Hotel & Spa in San Cassiano, Alta Badia
Dorfhotel Beludei is a boutique hotel in Santa Cristina, Val Gardena. You have to stay here to eat here. Chef de cuisine Dominic Pernstich concocts the most visionary meals inspired by the Ladin and Italian culinary traditions. Read our Dorfhotel Beludei hotel review.
Locanda degli Artisti Art Hotel is a boutique hotel in Canazei, Val di Fassa, with an on-site restaurant. This friendly and atmospheric art-themed hotel serves innovative Ladin cuisine. Read our Locanda degli Artisti Art Hotel Review.
Mountain Huts (Rifugio, Hütte, Schutzhaus)
Ütia de Börz is a mountain refuge/guesthouse at Passo delle Erbe, Alta Badia, specializing in Ladin and South Tyrolean Food. We stayed here three nights and were blown away by their half-board menu. Book your stay at Ütia de Börz.
Rifugio Alpe di Tires/Tierser Alpl Hütte is a South Tyrolean mountain hut between the Sciliar/Schlern Group and the Rosengarten/Catinaccio Group. The food is outstanding. You can hike here from Alpe di Siusi in 2:30-3:00 hours. However, we suggest venturing to this lovely refuge via Rifugio Bolzano and the Sciliar plateau.
Alpine Pasture Huts (Alm, Baita, Malga, Ütia)
Ütia de Göma is situated on the Sass de Putia circuit trail. Their “Polenta mit geschmolzenem Käse, Pilzen und Bratwurst” (Polenta with melted cheese, mushrooms, and sausage) was bursting with flavor.
More recommendations below.
6. Experience Enrosadira
Enrosadira comes from the Ladin term “rosadüra,” which means turning pink. This term refers to the natural phenomenon that occurs at sunrise and sunset when the peaks of the Dolomites light up in fiery shades of peach, rose, crimson, and violet.
Geologists assert that the magnesium-rich calcium carbonate minerals, found in dolomite rock, are responsible for this spectacular alpenglow.
Where to Watch the Sunset in the Dolomites
Baita Segantini is a lakeside mountain hut facing the Pale di San Martino peaks in Trentino. You can hike to this hut from Passo Rolle in 45 minutes.
Monte Pic is the mountain above Santa Cristina and Ortisei in Val Gardena, South Tyrol. The Monte Pic summit affords panoramic views of the Odle/Geiser Group, Sella Group, Sassolungo/Langkofel, and Catinaccio/Rosengarten Mountains.
The Cadini di Misurina Viewpoint is located along the Sentiero Bonacossa Trail in the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites. From this epic lookout, you can see both the Northern Cadini di Misurina mountains and the south wall of Tre Cime di Lavaredo light up in fiery tones of orange and crimson.
Hotels with Epic Sunset Views
Hotel Rodella. When we stayed at Hotel Rodella, above Selva in Val Gardena, we didn’t have to hike anywhere in order to experience the Sella Group suffused in hues of rose and salmon.
Hotel Ciasa Soleil in La Villa, Alta Badia. From the dining room and the outdoor hot tub, you can see the Fanes Group fire up like a ship on fire.
Naturhotel Leitlhof in San Candido, Alta Pusteria (Three Peaks Region). There are heart-expanding sunrise and sunset views of the Sesto/Sexten Peaks from the dining room, outdoor terrace, outdoor pool, and bedroom balconies. Read our Naturhotel Leitlhof hotel review.
Where to Watch the Sunrise in the Dolomites
Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm is a largest alpine pasture in Europe. At sunrise, the Sciliar/Schlern massif lights up in shades of coral and red, while the Sassolungo/Langkofel group transforms into a violet silhouette. Given the location and driving restrictions on Alpe di Siusi, it’s best to stay directly on the plateau at Sporthotel Sonne. Follow this Alpe di Siusi Meadows Circuit Trail.
Gran Cir is a summit in the Cir Group in Puez-Odle Nature Park. It takes about 1:30 hours to hike to the peak from Passo Gardena, the mountain pass connecting Val Gardena and Val Badia.
Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee in Valle di Braies/Pragser Tal valley in Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park.
7. Eat Lunch in a Malga
A Malga is a mountain hut, located on an alpine pasture. Depending on what region you’re in, a Malga may also be called a “Schwaige” or an “Alm” (German-speaking South Tyrol).
Unlike a Rifugio (mountain shelter), Malgas usually don’t offer overnight lodging. However, if you visit during pasture season (usually late June until mid-September), you can savor fresh dairy (yogurt, cheese, and sour milk) and warm food during the day. These alpine pasture huts usually prepare their food using homemade products and local ingredients.
In the summer months, alpine pastures are home to grazing cows, sheep, and goats. While these animals aren’t dangerous, it’s important to keep a safe distance from them, and refrain from petting, feeding, or otherwise disturbing them. Read more about alpine transhumance in Visiting the Alps in Summer.
Many hiking routes pass through alpine pastures, so you can enjoy a homemade meal during your hike.
Our Favorite Malga Alpine Huts in the Dolomites
Gostner Schwaige and Rauchhütte on Alpe di Siusi. You can visit both huts along the Hans and Paula Steger Trail starting in Compaccio/Compatsch.
Malga Canali in Val Canali, Pale di San Martino. We wrote about visiting this Malga in our guide to San Martino di Castrozza.
Malga Venegiota di Tonadico in Val Venegia, Pale di San Martino. We ate in this Malga after hiking the Val Venegia and Rifugio Mulaz Hike.
Malga Brogles in Val di Funes. You can hike here from various trailheads in Val di Funes as well as the Resciesa plateau. We visited this Malga when we hiked this Resciesa to Seceda trail, starting in Ortisei, Val Gardena.
8. Hike around Colossal Dolomites Mountains
You don’t have to summit peaks, or ascend 1000+ meters to experience the best vistas of the Dolomites. Some of the very best views are accessible by easy walking paths across rolling meadows and mountain plateaus.
Because the Dolomites is a popular ski region, the ski infrastructure makes hiking even easier. Many cableways and gondolas operate in summer, delivering you to mountaintops and plateaus, thus cutting out lengthy ascents and descents.
Easy Walks in the Dolomites
Here are some excellent easy walks in the Dolomites. These hikes are not technical, but they still involve some elevation gain/loss.
Many of these trails are located at high elevations, so you may be short of breath. Take your time and drink plenty of water.
- Armentara Meadows in Alta Badia
- Adolf Munkel Trail in Val di Funes
- Santa Maddalena Panorama Trail in Val di Funes
- Seceda to Regensburger Hütte in Val Gardena
- Baita Segantini and Monte Castellaz near San Martino di Castrozza
- Alpe di Siusi Meadows Circuit Trail in Alpe di Siusi
- Alpe di Siusi to Monte Pana in Alpe di Siusi
- Hans and Paula Steger Trail in Alpe di Siusi
- Passo Giau to Monte Mondeval near Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit Trail near Alta Pusteria and Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Monte Specie Summit Hike starting at Prato Piazza in Alta Pusteria
Moderate Hikes in the Dolomites
These Dolomites hiking trails involve more significant elevation gain and loss. They also require sure-footedness and comfort navigating uneven limestone-dolomite terrain (karst, scree, loose rocks).
- Tofana di Rozes Circuit Trail near Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Croda da Lago Circuit Trail near Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Sass de Putia Circuit Trail near Val di Funes and Alta Badia
- Rifugio Genova Circuit Hike in Val di Funes
- Sass da Ciampac Summit Hike in Alta Badia
- Hochalpenkopf Peak Hike starting at Lake Braies, Alta Pusteria
- Tullen Peak Hike in Val di Funes
- Monte Pic in Val Gardena
- Gaisl High Trail in Alta Pusteria
- Sassolungo Circuit Trail between Val Gardena and Val di Fassa
- Vallunga Valley and Val de Chedul in Val Gardena
- Cinque Torri and Rifugio Nuvolau in Cortina d’Ampezzo
Difficult Hikes in the Dolomites
These challenging Dolomites hikes are technically demanding. Many of these trails involve some scrambling and hiking along secured passages. Hikers should be confident hiking in crumbling terrain and along airy ledges.
- Torre dei Scarperi Hike in Alta Pusteria
- Rifugio Stevia and Col dala Pieres Day Hike in Val Gardena
- Resciesa to Seceda in Val Gardena
- Sentiero Bonacossa Trail near Alta Pusteria and Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Pala di San Martino Circuit Trail: Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Pradidali near San Martino di Castrozza
- Cima della Vezzana Summit Hike near San Martino di Castrozza
- Val Venegia to Rifugio Mulaz Circuit Hike in San Martino di Castrozza
- Lake Pisciadù Day Hike in Alta Badia
- Piz Duleda in Val Gardena
Read Next: Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
9. Photograph the Iconic Lakes of the Dolomites
Undoubtedly, the most popular destinations in the Dolomites are the mountain lakes.
With the growing popularity of the region, many of these lakes are getting too crowded. In particular, Lake Braies, Lake Carezza, and Lake Sorapis are extremely busy.
It’s best to visit these popular Dolomites lakes off-season.
Stunning Dolomites Lakes You Can Drive to
Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee in German) in Braies/Prags Valley, South Tyrol. Though Lago di Braies is a destination in and of itself, you can extend your visit by hiking from Lago di Braies to Hochalpenkopf. This secret hike affords incredible views of the Braies Dolomites.
Lago di Misurina in the Cadore region, Belluno, Veneto.
Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See in German) in Alta Pusteria, South Tyrol.
Lago di Carezza (Karersee) in Val d’Ega/Eggental, South Tyrol. Lake Carezza is a small mountain lake in South Tyrol, which affords jaw-dropping views of the Latemar mountain group. Because it’s located on the side of the road, it feels like a busy bus stop. You can walk around the whole lake, but don’t expect to be alone.
Beautiful Dolomites Lakes You Can Hike to
Lago di Coldai is located at the foot of Mount Civetta near Rifugio Coldai in Belluno, Veneto.
Lago di Sorapis is located in the Sorapiss mountain group in Belluno, Veneto.
Lago Federa is located beneath the eastern wall of Croda da Lago in the Ampezzo Dolomites, near Cortina d’Ampezzo, Belluno, Veneto. We recommend hiking to Lake Federa along the Croda da Lago Circuit Trail.
Lago delle Baste is a tiny lake (more like a pond) atop the Mondeval Plateau. Though it’s really small, it serves as a pretty foreground for Monte Pelmo and Lastoni di Formin.
10. Stay in a Wellness Hotel
The Dolomites is a region for outdoor adventures as much as it is a destination for epicureans.
In South Tyrol (Südtirol, Alto Adige), you’ll find a high concentration of extraordinary 4-star, 4-star-superior, and 5-star hotels, that impress guests with their gourmet multi-course meals, spa and wellness facilities, and overall design and comfort.
Many hotels have a minimum stay requirement of 3 to 7 days, especially in high season.
At a minimum, many Dolomites hotels have a steam sauna, a Finnish sauna, and a relaxation room. Wellness hotels will often comprise 4-5 saunas, a whirlpool, 1-2 pools, and several relaxation rooms. Bathing slippers, robes, and a spa bag are almost always provided.
Additionally, many of these hotels offer alpine spa treatments.
Why on earth would you want to spend time in a spa in the Dolomites?
The simple answer is the weather. Like everywhere else in the European Alps, the weather isn’t consistently stable. There will always be a rainy day, or a few. If you come to the Dolomites and you experience several days of rain (we certainly have), it can feel disappointing. However, if you stay in a wellness hotel, those sad rainy days become rejuvenating spa days.
If you’re a self-proclaimed bon vivant and relish a bit of luxury, check out these very special accommodations.
Alta Pusteria Wellness Hotels
Alta Pusteria (Hochpustertal in German) is the Dolomites region which surrounds Upper Puster Valley in South Tyrol. It also comprises the side valleys of Braies/Prags, Sesto/Sexten, and Val Fiscalina/Fischleintal.
Hotel Monika – MY WELLBEING HOTEL DOLOMITES is a modern 5-star hotel in Sesto with life-affirming views of the Sesto Dolomites. The hotel spa dazzles with its sky infinity outdoor pool, indoor pool, five saunas, and relaxation zones. You can schedule massages and other treatments as well. Book half board to savor the full experience.
Bad Moos Dolomites Spa Resort is a 4-star superior hotel, located at the entrance to Val Fiscalina/Fischleintal. Boasting a 2500 m2 wellness area and its own sulphur source, this Sexten wellness hotel offers guests the greatest gift of all: relaxation. The extensive sauna complex lures you in with its cavernous, candlelit sulphur grotto, cold sulphur plunge pool (6.1°C), Kneipp trail, and multiple saunas.
Naturhotel Leitlhof is a 4-star-superior, climate-neutral wellness hotel in San Candido. Situated at a slight elevation and bordered by forest, idyllic Naturhotel Leitlhof overlooks the village and the gorgeous Sexten mountains including Haunold/Rocca dei Baranci and Dreischusterspitze/Cima di Tre Scarperi. Sunsets and sunrises are glorious here. The 2000 m² wellness facilities and outdoor pool are stellar. And, the cuisine is second to none. This is one of the very best hotels in the Dolomites. Read our Naturhotel Leitlhof Hotel Review.
Alpe di Siusi, Castelrotto, and Siusi Wellness Hotels
Alpe di Siusi is the largest alpine pasture in Europe, located high above Val Gardena. The villages of Siusi allo Sciliar (Seis am Schlern) and Castelrotto (Kastelruth in German, Ciastel in Ladin) are located on a plateau beneath Alpe di Siusi and above Valle Isarco/Eisacktal valley.
Alpina Dolomites is a modern 5-star hotel located on Alpe di Siusi, designed with the philosophy: ‘Nature, our origin, is also a basic need, like the air we breathe.” Taking in the full sweep of the Sassolungo/Langkofel and Sciliar/Schlern mountains from its divine location, Alpina Dolomites boasts panoramic mountain views, a contemporary wellness area, and gourmet restaurant. The hotel design is inspired by nature and stitches together a neutral color palette with raw materials. The wellness area comprises a panoramic indoor-outdoor swimming pool, classic Finnish sauna, herbal sauna, saline steam bath, fitness room, and spa.
Paradiso Pure Living Vegetarian Hotel occupies a uniquely central location on Alpe di Siusi, ideal for hiking and skiing. Come here for the excellent, high-quality vegetarian cuisine (breakfast and dinner included in the rate) and idyllic setting. The hotel’s wellness area encompasses a zerobody floating experience, an indoor salt-water swimming pool, outdoor salt-water whirlpool, infrared sauna, Finnish sauna, steam bath, hay sauna, tea bar and relaxation area.
Sporthotel Sonne is the best place to stay on Alpe di Siusi if you’re eager to experience dreamy sunrises and burning sunsets. In addition to its perfect location, it’s a first-rate modern hotel with a striking wellness area (Sassolungo-facing infinity pool, saunas, relaxation rooms) and an innovative kitchen (breakfast, afternoon cakes, and 5-course dinner are included in the rate).
Sensoria Dolomites (formerly Ritterhof Hotel) is a newly renovated, all-inclusive hotel in Siusi, close to the Alpe di Siusi cableway. With its divinely-crafted interiors and harmonious architecture, Sensoria aims to create a place that nourishes the soul.
Alta Badia Wellness Hotels
Alta Badia encompasses the South Tyrolean villages of Colfosco, Corvara, San Cassiano, La Villa, Badia, and La Val.
Badia Hill impresses with its contemporary, drool-worthy design and satisfies with its facilities, restaurant, and bar. This brand new hotel commands unimaginable views of Sasso Santa Croce from its gorgeous spa and infinity pool. Book this hotel if it’s available!! Read our Badia Hill Hotel Review.
Hotel Kolfuschgerhof is a 4-star hotel in Colfosco. This stand-out accommodation excels on every level, from its excellent wellness facilities and superb Dolomites views to its fine dining, featuring local and Italian cuisine. The hotel’s design is a winning combination of Tyrolean chalet-style and alpine-modern. Expect extraordinary service and the best spa views of your life.
Hotel Cristallo – Wellness Mountain Living enjoys an idyllic setting between La Villa and Corvara. This 4-star-superior hotel pampers guests with its heavenly wellness facilities, high-quality half board offering, and stylish rooms.
San Vigilio Wellness Hotels
San Vigilio/St. Vigil is a mountain village in Val di Marebbe/Val de Mareo, which is a side valley of Val Badia. The upper part of Val Badia is branded Alta Badia (holiday region/ski area), whereas the lower part of Val Badia forms part of the Plan de Corones/Kronplatz holiday region.
San Vigilio/St. Vigil serves as the gateway to Val di Tamersc (Valle di Rudo in Italian, Rautal in German), which leads into the heart of Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park.
Excelsior Dolomites Life Resort is a 4-star-superior, family-run hotel in San Vigilio. With its generous 3/4 board offering (breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner are included in the room rate), family-friendly as well as adults-only spa, and the most picturesque infinity pool in the Dolomites, this luxury hotel is a great option for a summer, autumn, or winter holiday in the Italian Alps. Read our Excelsior Dolomites Life Resort Hotel Review.
Val Gardena Wellness Hotels
Val Gardena encompasses the villages of Ortisei, Santa Cristina, and Selva di Val Gardena.
Hotel Niblea sits proudly above Ortisei in its own beautiful oasis. Here you can experience a slice of heaven in the hotel’s new wellness area (panoramic sauna, steam bath, infinity pool), which overlooks Val Gardena. Stay here for the gourmet regional food (book half board!), the unparalleled hospitality, the gorgeous facilities, and the comfort.
Hotel Granbaita Dolomites is an ode to alpine elegance. This 5-star luxury hotel in Selva pampers guests with its lavish rooms, extensive spa area (7 saunas, indoor-outdoor pool, fitness room, spa), and decadent tasting menus. Book half board.
Hotel Gardena Grödnerhof is a 5-star hotel in the heart of Ortisei, home to the Michelin star Ann Stuben gourmet restaurant. This wellness hotel offers unparalleled spa facilities, flawless service, guided hikes and mountain bike tours, and a weekly fitness program. Guests are treated to a welcome cocktail, generous breakfast buffet, and afternoon cakes and snacks.
Learn More: Best Val Gardena Hotels
Bressanone Luxury Hotels
Forestis Dolomites is an adults-only hotel near Bressanone/Brixen. This striking retreat overlooking the Geisler Peaks redefines the meaning of a 5-star hotel. Stay here for the alpine modern aesthetics, spa, slow food restaurant, and utter peace and relaxation. This hotel is not only one of the best hotels in Italy, it is one of the best hotels in the world.
My Arbor – Plose Wellness Hotel is a 5-star hotel high above Bressanone/Brixen. Cloaked in woodland, this treehouse-like property offers an exceptional modern spa, superb cuisine (book half board), and spacious rooms. Read our My Arbor Hotel Review.
Dolomites Hut to Hut Hike versus Dolomites Road Trip
We’ve received a lot of emails from readers who are debating between a hut-to-hut hike and a road trip.
I really sympathize with you, because both are great ways to experience the Dolomites.
To help you decide, answer the following questions.
When are you planning your trip to the Dolomites?
The hut to hut hiking season begins in late June and ends in late September. If you’re planning on visiting the Dolomites in late September, or in October, most mountain huts will be closed.
If you’re visiting the Dolomites off-season, we highly recommend renting a car.
Are you comfortable sleeping in dormitory-style accommodation?
Some rifugios have private rooms available, but many only offer dormitory-style lodgings.
If you’re a light sleeper, some nights can be quite difficult.
Kati and I sometimes have pretty rough nights in rifugios (because of snoring/noise), but we somehow manage.
Have you always wanted to go on a backpacking hiking trip, but you were intimidated by the gear needed?
If you love to hike, and love the idea of multi-day hiking, but it’s always felt intimidating, then you might want to go on a hut-to-hut hike in the Dolomites.
You don’t need to pack heavy camping gear or food (just water and a few snacks). You also don’t have to worry about bears, or mosquitoes.
Without the burden of a heavy pack, you can fully enjoy the experience of walking long distances.
Here’s our hut-to-to-hut hiking packing list.
Do you love the simplicity of multi-day hiking?
When you hike hut to hut, you know exactly where you’re headed everyday. You don’t have to make daily decisions about where to go, where to hike, or where to eat.
We love the simplicity of hut to hut hiking. Even when it’s physically demanding, it’s relaxing. There’s no constant debate about where to go next.
Do you love watching the sunrise and sunset?
When you’re on a hut to hut hike, watching the sunrise and sunset is effortless. You just have to walk outside the Rifugio.
Do you love wellness hotels and spas?
The Dolomites have an unbelievably high concentration of wellness hotels. If you think travel should be full of beautiful sights as much as pampering experiences, then opt for a road trip and stay in some of the best Dolomites Hotels.
Dolomites Trip Planning Essentials
When to Visit the Dolomites
Winter Season. For skiing and winter activities, the best time to visit is between mid/late December and March.
Summer and Fall Seasons. The best time to road trip and hike in the Dolomites is between mid-June and mid-September. If the weather is stable, the hiking season can easily continue until late October.
How to Get to the Dolomites
Read How to Get to the Dolomites to find out how to travel to the Dolomites from the closest airports, train stations, and bus terminals.
If you’re traveling without a car, also check out How to Visit the Dolomites Without a Car.
Best Places to Stay
Figuring out where to stay in the Dolomites is probably the biggest hurdle to planning a trip to the Dolomites. We’ve created several guides to help you decide where to stay:
- Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer: best villages and towns in South Tyrol, Trentino and Belluno
- Best Hotels in the Dolomites: best boutique and luxury hotels in the Dolomites
- Dolomites Accommodation Guide: farm stays, mountain huts, wellness hotels, aparthotels
- Val Gardena Hotels: best accommodations in Ortisei, Santa Cristina, and Selva di Val Gardena
We suggest choosing 2-4 bases for your Dolomites trip and spending 2-4 nights in each base.
- Base 1: Val Gardena
- Base 2: Val di Funes
- Base 3: Alta Badia
- Base 4: Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Base 5: Alta Pusteria
- Base 6: San Martino di Castrozza
Dolomites Packing List
- Day Pack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Reusable Water Bottle: Ion Leakproof 32 oz Water Bottle
Outdoor Photography Gear
- Camera Body: Sony Alpha a6400
- Mid-range Zoom Lens: Tamron 17-70mm 2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
- Wide angle Zoom Lens: Sony – E 10-18mm F4 OSS Wide-angle Zoom Lens
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip
Dolomites Hiking Guides
Hiking in the Dolomites is our passion. Year after year, we love discovering new trails and expanding our knowledge of the area. We’ve summarized our favorite hikes here: 40+ Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites.
For region-specific hiking trails, check out:
- Best Hikes in Val Gardena
- Best Hikes in Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Best Hikes in Alta Badia
- Sexten Dolomites Hiking Guide
- Puez-Odle Nature Park
Recommended Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone Guide: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites
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