The Italian Dolomites form part of the Southern Limestone Alps in the Eastern European Alps. Like neighboring alpine regions, the Dolomites have two distinct seasons: summer and winter. Contrary to what’s often stated online, the Dolomites is not a year-round destination. November and May should always be avoided. 

The summer hiking season runs roughly from mid/late June until mid/late September, when mountain huts are open and high-altitude trails are mostly clear of snow. With the absence of heavy snow, the hiking season can easily continue until late October. 

The winter skiing season runs from mid-December until early April. 

We’ve personally visited the Dolomites in May, June, July, August, September (twice), and October (twice). 

The best time of year to visit the Dolomites is mid/late June, early July, and September. 

A few more helpful guides:

Best Time to Hike in the Dolomites

Alpe di Siusi in July, Dolomites
  • Best months for day hiking: mid-late June, early-mid July, September, October*
  • Best months for hut-to-hut hiking: July, August, early-mid September 
  • Best month for outdoor photography: September and October 
  • Best months for via ferrata climbing: September and potentially October*
  • Best months for traveling without a car: July, August, September 
  • Best months for a road trip: mid-June – October* (avoid August)

*Depending on snow and weather conditions.

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May in the Dolomites

Across the European Alps, May is an awkward month between the winter and summer seasons. There’s not enough snow for skiing and there’s too much snow for hiking. 

With very few exceptions, mountain huts and alpine pasture huts are closed. Here are the exceptions we could find:

Additionally, most hotels and restaurants are closed. 

Scenically, May is still wintery. Snow melt leaves brown tones in its wake. There are no vibrant springtime colors or blooming flowers. That comes later (mid-June). 

If you visit the Dolomites in May, your hiking will be limited to valley trails and low-elevation trails (below 1500 meters). 

For the record, we discourage May travel to the Dolomites, but if you’re determined to visit, aim for the very end of the month. And, visit with a car. 

Shortly before you arrive, reach out to the local tourist offices for trail conditions and suggestions. If you contact the tourist offices too far in advance, they won’t be able to help you, because conditions change. 

To get an idea of what the current conditions are in the Dolomites, check out a few of these webcams:

Dolomites in June 

Tre Cime di Lavaredo in June, Dolomites
Tre Cime di Lavaredo in mid June

June marks the beginning of the summer season. It’s a great time to visit the Dolomites for casual day hiking, cycling, and road tripping. June is outside of the main tourist season, so it feels more relaxed and less congested, though by no means empty. 

It’s a great time of year to visit popular destinations, which are far too crowded in July and August, like Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lago di Sorapis, Lago di Braies, Val di Funes, Prato Piazza.

Mid-June is the start of the Dolomites hiking season. Hiking trail accessibility depends on the length of the winter and the elevation of the trail.

If it was a relatively short winter, then hiking trails are open and in good condition early in the month. If it was a long winter, then some high-elevation trails and passes are inaccessible due to the amount of snow. Additionally, some trails may be closed due to fallen trees. We visited the Dolomites after a very long winter. We had to ditch a lot of our original plans, because of the snow. But, we were able to pivot quite easily and hike in other places.

In the beginning of June, there will likely be snow on north-facing slopes, above 1800 meters. Crampons and hiking poles are essential for navigating snow fields in the mountains. 

Santa Maddalena, Val di Funes, Panorama Trail, Dolomites
Val di Funes in late June

Mountain huts (Rifugio, Hütte) and alpine pasture huts (Alm, Baita, Malga) at lower elevations start opening up for the season at the beginning of the month. Here are a few huts to check out in early June:

Also check out the list of huts open in mid-late May, which we outlined above.

Mountain refuges at higher elevations typically don’t open up until late in the month, around the third week. Hut opening times will vary depending on snow and ice conditions. 

June is a very scenic time to visit the Dolomites. Starting in mid-June, wildflowers carpet the forest floors, meadows, and alpine pastures. High plateaus like Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm and Prato Piazza are especially colorful. 

Cableways (gondolas, funiculars, chairlifts, aerial cable cars) start operating in June as well. The cableways around Val Gardena usually start operating at the start of month, while those around Alta Badia start operating mid-month, and the cableways around San Martino di Castrozza start operating at the end of the month. 

Thunderstorms are quite common throughout the month. They usually develop in the mid-late afternoon. It’s best to start hikes as early as possible to avoid them altogether. 

Dolomites in July

Alpe di Siusi, Seiser Alm, Italy
Alpe di Siusi in July

July is high-season in the Dolomites. Everything is open and operating: huts, cableways, hotels, restaurants, seasonal buses, etc.. 

There is a noticeable uptick in visitors. The roads are noticeably more congested with car and cycling traffic. The Maratona dles Dolomites, an annual single-day road bicycle race, takes place in early July.

All mountain huts are open in July. This is a fantastic month for hut to hut hiking in the Dolomites

Hiking trail conditions are excellent. There still may be some lingering snow on north-facing slopes, cirques, and passes that don’t get a lot of light during the day. 

Like June, afternoon thunderstorms are still common throughout the month.

Good to Know:

  • Between July 10th – September 10th, driving access to Lago di Braies is restricted during peak hours (9:30 am – 4 pm). Visit early, or pre-book parking/transit. Up-to-date info is posted here.

Dolomites in August

Fermeda peaks, Val Gardena, Dolomites
Seceda in August

The Dolomites are overrun in August. Italians are on vacation all-month and trails are teeming with families with terrible hiking etiquette. 

The good news is that weather is generally excellent with only the occasional thunderstorm.

If you’re visiting in August:

  • Start your hikes early (7 am)
  • Hike lesser-known hiking trails* 
  • Skip the road trip and plan a hut-to-hut hike

*Lesser Known Dolomites Hiking Trails 

Dolomites in September

Enrosadira, Pale di San Martino, Dolomites
Baita Segantini Hike in early September

September is the best month to visit the Dolomites. It’s still busy at the start of the month, but not nearly as packed as August. Seasonal buses and cableways are operating most of the month. 

September is a great month for sunrise and sunset photography. Skies are generally clear and the weather is generally stable. 

But… There’s usually a snowstorm at some point in September. The snow typically melts quite fast (2-3 days). But, if it snows, it’s best to avoid all high-elevation trails. Kati and I learned this the hard way. 

Most mountain huts stay open until the third week of September. So, if you’re planning a hut-to-hut hike, aim for the first half of the month. 

Mid-September marks the end of the alpine pasture season. There are some cattle drives (Almabtriebe) that take place across the Dolomites. 

Tip: Visit San Martino di Castrozza and hike in the Pala Group from early-mid September.

Learn More: Hiking in the Dolomites in September

Dolomites in October

Lago Federa in October, Dolomites
Lago Federa in late October

October is firmly off-season. October promises quiet trails and beautiful colors, but far less convenience. 

Most cableways are closed, with the exception of a few in Val Gardena. Many hotels and restaurants are already closed for the season. You’ll see chiuso/chiusa (“closed”) signs absolutely everywhere. 

A handful of mountain huts stay open in October, weather permitting. We’ve outlined which huts stay open in our Dolomites in October guide. 

October is a risky month, because it’s impossible to predict the weather. It might be the most glorious Indian Summer, or an abrupt start to winter. We’ve experienced both. 

Fall colors peak from October 18th to 30th. If the weather is stable in late October, it will be the best trip of your life. 

Lake Sorapis in late October, Dolomites
Lago di Sorapis in late October

Keep in mind, mountain lake water levels are very low in Autumn. By the end of October, there might be no water in some small lakes and other high-elevation lakes might be frozen.

Good to Know:

Learn More: Hiking in the Dolomites in October 

Dolomites in November 

Like May, November is an awkward month between the summer and winter seasons. 

Everything is shut down.

Avoid visiting the Dolomites in November.

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Plan your trip to the Dolomites:

Where to Stay in the Dolomites:

Villages and Towns in the Dolomites:

Top Places to Visit in the Dolomites: