The Dolomites are a spectacular and massive mountain range in Northern Italy, famed for their vertical spires, burning sunsets, scenic Rifugios, serpentine roads, and charming alpine pastures.

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.

You may also want to check out our round-up of Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites. And if you need help figuring out where to base yourself, read Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer.

If you have any questions about what to do in the Dolomites, connect with us on Instagram, and send us a DM, or leave us a comment.

Best Things to Do in the Dolomites

  1. Experience Enrosadira
  2. Climb a Via Ferrata Route 
  3. Hike Hut to Hut 
  4. Stay in a Rifugio 
  5. Savor Traditional Italian, Tirolean, and Ladin Cuisine
  6. Eat Lunch in a Traditional Malga 
  7. Stay in a Wellness Hotel in South Tyrol 
  8. Walk around Colossal Dolomites Peaks 
  9. Photograph the Iconic Dolomites Lakes
  10. Go on a Dolomites Road Trip

This post links to products and services we love, which we may make a small commission from, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our blog!! – Sabrina and Kati

1. Experience Enrosadira

Enrosadira, Pale di San Martino, Dolomites
Pale di San Martino

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. 

The best time to see Enrosadira is in September and October when the skies are clear and the weather is generally stable. However, you can witness the phenomenon any time of year. 

Our Favorite Sunset Spots 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. From the Pic summit, you’ll have panoramic views of the Odle/Geiser Group, Sella Group, Sassolungo/Langkofel, Catinaccio/Rosengarten Mountains, and more. 
  • Val di Funes is the valley stretching from Valle Isarco/Eisacktal Valley to the Odle/Geisler mountain range.  We recommend watching the sunset along the Santa Maddalena Panorama Trail.
  • 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.
  • Monte Specie/Strudelkofp summit in the Braies/Prags Dolomites, easily accessible from Prato Piazza plateau.

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 Sella 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 Fanes fire up like a ship on fire.
  • Naturhotel Leitlhof in San Candido, Alta Pusteria (Three Peaks Region). Wonderful sunrise and sunset views of the Sesto/Sexten Peaks from the dining room, outdoor terrace, outdoor pool, and bedroom balconies.

Our Favorite Sunrise Spots in the Dolomites

  • Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm in South Tyrol is a largest high-altitude 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. The best hotel to stay in for sunrise as well as sunset is Sporthotel Sonne.
  • Val Fiscalina/Fischleintal is a side valley of Sesto/Sexten Valley in the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites. We recommend going on a sunrise walk between Bad Moos and Hotel Dolomitenhof.
  • 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 Federa is a mountain lake beneath the eastern wall of Croda da Lago in the Ampezzo Dolomites, southwest of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
  • Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee in Valle di Braies/Pragser Tal valley in Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park.

2. Climb a Via Ferrata Route

Santner Via Ferrata, Rosengarten Catinaccio Dolomites
Santner Via Ferrata

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) the Santner Via Ferrata to the Vajolet Towers. We hiked that route on Stage 1 of our 3-Day Rosengarten Dolomites Trek.

With the exception of “very easy” via ferrata routes, it’s necessary to have a via ferrata set, which includes:

There are over 200 via ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites. We recommend using guidebooks to learn more about specific routes:

3. Hike Hut to Hut across the Dolomites

La Rocheta, Alta Via 1 Hiking Trail, Dolomites
Alta Via 1

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:

  • 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.
  • Rifugios are open from late June until late September. We recommend hiking hut-to-hut in July or September. August is dreadfully busy in the Dolomites. 
  • Communicate your diet restrictions to the Rifugios in advance. 

Hut to Hut Hiking Routes in the Dolomites 

Alta Via 1 hut to hut route, Italian Dolomites
Alta Via 1

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. You can 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:

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 around the Sexten Dolomites and the Rosengarten Dolomites:

Learn More: Hut to Hut Hiking in the Dolomites

4. Stay the Night in a Rifugio

Büllelejochhütte (Rifugio Pian di Cengia), Trekking Tre Cime di Lavaredo - Hut to Hut

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

Tierser Alpl / Rifugio Alpe di Tires

Büllelejochhütte / Rifugio Pian di Cengia

  • Location: Parco Naturale Tre Cime / Naturpark Drei Zinnen / Three Peaks Nature Park
  • Region: 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

Fanes Hütte / Rifugio Fanes

  • Location: Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park / Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park
  • Region: 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 stately 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, Tirolean, and Ladin Cuisine

Lunch at Plattkofelhütte / Rifugio Sasso Piatto, Dolomites
Plattkofelhütte / Rifugio Sasso Piatto

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, Tirolean (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? 

Hotel Restaurants 

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/Seiser Alm in 2:30-3:00 hours. 

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. Eat Lunch in a Malga

Malga Venegiota, Val Venegia, Pale di San Martino Dolomites
Malga Venegiota, Val Venegia

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

  1. Malga Canali in Val Canali, Pale di San Martino. 
  2. Malga Venegiota di Tonadico in Val Venegia, Pale di San Martino. Learn More: Val Venegia and Rifugio Mulaz Hike.
  3. Gschnagenhardt Alm in Val di Funes/Vilnöss, Puez-Odle Nature Park. You can hike to this Alm via the Adolf Munkel Trail
  4. Malga Brogles in Val di Funes/Vilnöss. You can hike here from the Resciesa plateau. Learn More: Resciesa to Seceda Hike

7. Stay in a Wellness Hotel in South Tyrol

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. 

If you’re a self-proclaimed bon vivant and relish a bit of luxury, check out these very special accommodations. 

  1. Bad Moos Dolomites Spa Resort in Sesto/Sexten
  2. Naturhotel Leitlhof in San Candido/Innichen, Puster Valley
  3. Alpina Dolomites on Alpe di Siusi
  4. Hotel Cristallo in La Villa, Alta Badia
  5. Hotel Kolfuschgerhof in Colfosco, Alta Badia
  6. Hotel Fanes in San Cassiano, Alta Badia
  7. Rosa Alpina Hotel & Spa in San Cassiano, Alta Badia
  8. Hotel Col Alto in Corvara, Alta Badia
  9. Forestis Dolomites in Bressanone/Brixen
  10. Dorfhotel Beludei in Santa Cristina, Val Gardena 

Read Next: Our Favorite Hotels in the Dolomites 

8. Walk around Colossal Dolomites Mountains

Armentara Meadows, Alta Badia, Dolomites
Armentara Meadows

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 easy walks in the Dolomites we highly recommend. Though I’d classify these hikes as easy, they still involve some elevation gain/loss. Also, you’re still hiking at a high elevation, so you may be short of breath. Take your time and drink lots of water. 

  1. Armentara Meadows
  2. Adolf Munkel Trail
  3. Seceda to Regensburger Hütte 
  4. Baita Segantini and Monte Castellaz 
  5. Alpe di Siusi to Monte Pana 
  6. Passo Giau to Monte Mondeval
  7. Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit Trail

Moderate Hikes in the Dolomites

  1. Tofana di Rozes Circuit Trail
  2. Croda da Lago Circuit Trail
  3. Sass de Putia Circuit Trail
  4. Pala di San Martino Circuit Trail: Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Pradidali
  5. Rifugio Genova Circuit Hike 

Read Next: Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites

9. Photograph the Iconic Lakes of the Dolomites 

Lago di Coldai, Civetta, Italian Dolomites
Lago di Coldai

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, Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee and Lago di Sorapis are extremely busy. It’s best to visit these popular Dolomites lakes off-season. 

Stunning Dolomites Lakes You Can Drive to

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. Go on a Dolomites Road Trip 

You can visit the Dolomites without a car. However, renting a car will give you added flexibility. With a rental car, you don’t have to plan your hikes around transit or stay in the most central locations. 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 between the valleys. Mountain passes are typically hiking trailheads as well. So, build in time to fully appreciate the beauty each pass has to offer. 

Favorite Dolomites Mountain Passes

Sass de Putia Circuit, Hiking in the Dolomites
Passo delle Erbe

Passo Gardena (2136 m)

Grödnerjoch in German, Ju de Frara or Jëuf de Frea in Ladin

This is the mountain pass between Val Badia and Val Gardena in South Tyrol. From here, you can hike to Cima Pisciadu in the Sella Group. You can also climb to the summit of Gran Cir.

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 is located high above Val Badia and Val di Funes. At the pass, you’ll find the upscale mountain refuge Ütia de Börz (one of our favorite places to stay in South Tyrol). The pass faces the mighty two-headed Sass de Putia/Peitlerkofel mountain. If you make it to Passo delle Erbe, definitely hike the circuit trail around Sass de Putia

Dolomites Road Trip Route Options 

Passo Gardena, Dolomites Road Trip
Passo Gardena

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 2-3 nights in each Dolomites destination. Read Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer for a breakdown of these suggested places to stay. Here are a few ideas:

7 Day Dolomites Road Trip 

10 Day Dolomites Road Trip

12 Day Dolomites Road Trip 

  • 3 Nights in San Martino di Castrozza, Trentino
  • 3 Nights in Val Gardena, South Tyrol
  • 2 Nights in Val di Funes, South Tyrol 
  • 3 Nights in Sesto/Sexten, South Tyrol 

2 Week Dolomites Road Trip

  • 3 Nights in San Martino di Castrozza, Trentino
  • 2 Nights in Val d’Ega, South Tyrol 
  • 3 Nights in Val Gardena, South Tyrol
  • 2 Nights in Alta Badia, South Tyrol
  • 3 Nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Belluno 

If you’re planning on taking a road trip in October, check out the itinerary in our guide to visiting the Dolomites in October

You can also check out our 7 day Dolomites road trip itinerary with an integrated 3-day hut-to-hut hike. 

Dolomites Hut to Hut Hike versus Dolomites Road Trip

Hiking in the Pale di San Martino, Italian Dolomites
Pale di San Martino

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.

Pin it! 

And while you’re there, connect with us on Pinterest!

If you thought this post was helpful, follow us on Instagram @moonhoneytravelers

More Hikes in the Dolomites:

Plan your trip to the Dolomites: