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, and October.
The best time of year to visit the Dolomites is mid/late June, early July, and September.
A few more helpful guides:
- Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
- Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer
- Best Hotels in the Dolomites
Best Time to Hike in the 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.
Scenically, May can still be 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 some plateaus, valley trails and low-elevation trails (below 1500 meters).
To get an idea of what the current conditions are in the Dolomites, check out a few of these webcams:
- Val Gardena Webcams / Seceda Webcam
- Alpe di Siusi Webcams
- Alta Badia Webcams
- Cortina d’Ampezzo Webcams
- San Martino di Castrozza Webcams
- Sesto/Sexten Webcams
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. We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals in Italy.
Because we’ve received so many questions about spring in the Dolomites, we wrote a quick guide about what to see and do in the Dolomites in May.
Mountain Huts Open in May
With very few exceptions, mountain huts and alpine pasture huts are closed.
Some huts around Val di Funes, Alpe di Siusi, and Prato Piazza open up in mid/late May.
Rifugio Alpe di Tires / Tierser Alpl | This modern refuge is located between the Sciliar/Schlern Group and the Catinaccio/Rosengarten Group. There are many possible ascent routes, including Compaccio, Alpe di Siusi to Alpe di Tires and Rifugio Bolzano to Rifugio Alpe di Tires. This hut opens up on May 26, 2023. More info: tierseralpl.com.
Malga Geisler / Geisler Alm | This happily-situated alpine pasture hut is located along the Adolf Adolf Munkel Trail in Val di Funes. The Alm opens up on May 25, 2023 (closed on Mondays). More info: geisleralm.com.
Rifugio Vallandro / Dürrensteinhütte | This rifugio is located atop the Prato Piazza Plateau in the Brais/Prags Dolomites near Lago di Braies. Typically, Rifugio Vallandro opens up during the day starting in mid-May. They do not accommodate overnight guests until mid-June. More info: vallandro.it.
Rifugio Sasso Piatto / Plattkofelhütte | This refuge is located at the foot of Sasso Piatto (Plattkofel in German) on the Sassolungo Circuit Trail. You can approach this hut from Passo Sella, or Alpe di Siusi. Rifugio Sasso Piatto opens up on May 25, 2023. More info: plattkofel.com.
Rifugio Fondovalle / Talschlusshütte | This Dolomites hut is located at the head of Val Fiscalina (Fischleintal in German), a side valley of Sexten Valley, in the Sexten Dolomites. Usually, this hut opens its doors in mid-May. More info: talschlusshuette.com.
Where to Go in the Dolomites in May
We know many of you are planning May trips to the Dolomites, because that’s the only time you can go. Here’s what we recommend:
Base yourself in the village of Ortisei in Val Gardena.
From Ortisei, you can visit Val di Funes. You can walk the low-elevation Santa Maddalena Panorama Trail and possibly the Adolf Munkel Trail.
You can also visit Alpe di Siusi. If the Ortisei-Alpe di Siusi cableway isn’t running (it usually starts operating between mid-late May), you can drive all the way up to Compaccio/Compatsch on Alpe di Siusi. Park at the paid P2 car park at Compaccio and then walk the Hans and Paula Steger Trail.
If you want to visit Seceda before the Seceda cableways are running, you can hike to Seceda from the Praplan/Cristauta Parking Lot above Santa Cristina. Follow this Monte Pic and Seceda trail guide. I would confirm with the local tourist office if this trail is feasible and safe before setting off.
You can also head to Alta Pusteria/Pustertal valley and visit Lago di Braies and Val Fiscalina. It may also be possible to drive up to Prato Piazza and hike up to the panoramic Monte Specie/Strudelkopf.
Tip for Visiting the Dolomites in May
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.
- Val Gardena: [email protected]
- Alta Badia: [email protected]
- Cortina d’Ampezzo: [email protected]
- Sesto/Sexten: [email protected]
Dolomites in 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. Microspikes like CAMP USA Inc Chainsen Pro and hiking poles like Unisex Black Diamond Hiking Poles are essential for navigating snow fields in the mountains. We recommend the
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:
Rifugio Firenze / Regensburger Hütte / Utia de Ncisles | Rifugio Firenze is located in Puez-Odle Nature Park and it’s easily accessible from the Seceda and Col Raiser cableway mountain stations. The Seceda Circuit Trail, Col dala Pieres summit hike, and Piz Duleda summit hike all lead to Rifugio Firenze. This huts opens on June 1, 2023. More info: rifugiofirenze.com.
Rifugio Bolzano / Schlernhaus | This refuge stands on the Sciliar plateau at 2457 meters above sea level. A spectacular circuit trail leads from Alpe di Siusi to Rifugio Bolzano. This Dolomites refuge opens on June 3, 2023. More info: schlernhaus.it.
Mountain refuges at higher elevations typically open up in late June, around the third week. Hut opening times will vary depending on snow and ice conditions. For example:
Rifugio Locatelli / Dreizinnenhütte | This hut is located to the north of the famous Three Peaks of the Sexten Dolomites at 2450 meters above sea level. You can hike Rifugio Locatelli from Rifugio Auronzo, accessible by toll road, along Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit Trail. You can also hike up the this hut from Val Campo di Dentro via the Torre dei Scarperi Circuit Trail, or from Val Fiscalina. The Dreizinnenhütte opens up on June 24, 2023. More info: dreizinnenhuette.com.
Rifugio Puez / Puez Hütte | The Puez hut is located in Puez-Odle Nature Park at 2475 meters. You can hike to this refuge from Vallunga Valley and Val de Chedul, Passo Gardena (e.g. Sass da Ciampac hike), or from La Villa (e.g. Gherdenacia Plateau hike). The Puez hut opens on June 20, 2023. More info: rifugiopuez.com.
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 end of May, or early June. The gondolas and cable cars around Alta Badia start operating mid-June.
And, the cableways around San Martino di Castrozza and Cortina d’Ampezzo typically start operating at the end of June.
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
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.
Driving Restrictions in Alta Pusteria
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 on prags.bz.
There are also similar restrictions for accessing other destinations in Alta Pusteria, including Val Fiscalina, Prato Piazza, and Val Campo di Dentro (read: Torre dei Scarperi hike).
Dolomites 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, we recommend starting your hikes as early as possible (sunrise – 8 am) and hiking lesser-known trails.
Hotel rates skyrocket in August across the Dolomites. Additionally, many hotels require a minimum stay of anywhere between 3 and 7 nights. To secure reasonably-priced accommodations, book as soon as possible.
Where to Hike in August: Lesser Known Dolomites Hiking Trails
Val di Funes | Tullen Summit and Rifugio Genova Circuit
Alta Pusteria | Lago di Braies to Hochalpenkopf Summit, the Gaisl High Trail, and the Torre dei Scarperi Circuit Hike
Val Gardena | Monte Pic, Col dala Pieres, Piz Duleda, and the Val de Chedul – Vallunga Hike
Cortina d’Ampezzo | Tofana di Rozes Circuit
Alta Badia | Capanna Alpina – Rifugio Fanes – La Villa and Gherdenacia Plateau to Rifugio Puez
San Martino di Castrozza | Rifugio Mulaz Circuit
Dolomites in 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
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.
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:
You need a rental car to get around. Use the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals.
Trails can be frosty/icy, especially in the morning. Exercise extra caution.
Bring microspikes like these CAMP USA Inc Chainsen Pro
Must-do hike in October: Croda da Lago Circuit
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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Dolomites Trip Planning Essentials
Use our Dolomites Travel Guide to plan an unforgettable trip to Northern Italy.
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.
The easiest way to travel between hiking destinations in the Italian Dolomites is with your own car. Check out our Dolomites itineraries for trip inspiration:
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.
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 three 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
- Best Val Gardena Hotels: best accommodations in Ortisei, Santa Cristina, and Selva
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
What to See & Do
During your trip to the Dolomites, you can go via ferrata climbing, culinary hiking, hut to hut hiking, cycling, paragliding, and so much more. We’ve highlighted our favorite experiences in Best Things to Do in the Dolomites.
Wherever you decide to stay, you’ll be surrounded by glorious mountain scenery and incredible natural landmarks.
In Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites, we’ve outlined the most iconic attractions as well as lesser-known destinations across the Dolomites, including Lago di Braies, Prato Piazza, and Val Fiscalina.
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. For day hiking, check out Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites. For trekking, take a look at our guide to Hut to Hut Hiking in the Dolomites and Alta Via 1.
For region-specific hiking trails, check out:
- Best Hikes in Val Gardena
- Best Hikes in Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Best Hikes in Alta Badia
- Best Hikes in the Sexten Dolomites
Recommended Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone Guide: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites
This is amazing, thank you so much for such a detailed post on when to visit the Dolomites! I've been following your work for a while, love your photos and passion for hiking!
I've been planning my first euro trip with the Dolomites taking center stage. Please let me know if I could connect over email with you to clear some queries. Thanks again!
You're very welcome. Yes, please email us!
Such amazing and useful information. I just decided to switch my hiking vacation from end-May to September after reading this. I travel from India so need to plan very carefully as I dont get many free days to change plans depending on the weather. Thank you for sharing all this!
You're very welcome! Have an unforgettable trip to the Dolomites in September.
Hi thanks for the very fruitful info. I initially planned to travel from Thailand to visit Dolomites for some hiking in Oct but due to visa condition, now we need to postpone our trip to late Oct-early Nov like 30 Oct-3 Nov. Is everything closed in Nov including hiking trail, cable car service? or Is it because of the weather that is not recommended for visit. Your suggestion is very much appreciated as we can adjust our plan accordingly.
Hiking trails are always open, but snow/ice may make some trails difficult/impossible to hike. Most cableways will be closed, with the exception of Some cable cars around Ortisei (operating until November 2).
November is a risky time to visit because of the weather, but the very beginning of the month may still be lovely (it's just hard to know in advance).
We are planning to start a 5 day hike hut to hut on June 22nd. Starting at Lago do Braies staying at Rifugio Sennes, Fanes, Laguozia, Averau and Staulanza. I am now worried about the Snow at that time of year.
Will we need crampons?. If some of the passes are impassable will we be able to go down to the road and then get back up via chairlift etc in some places? Is this likely to happen or all depends on the kid of winter they have?
It's likely that there will be some snow at higher elevations. You can monitor webcams as your trip approaches, to see if crampons are necessary. It's impossible to predict the snow conditions in June - it varies each year. There are ways to bypass some higher trails and also some chairlifts/gondolas along the way (around Lagazuoi/Cinque Torri).
Your article has been very helpful for me to think through our plans to hike Hut to Hut with Backroads in July. We have an option of starting July 9 or July 2 starting.. Maybe not very different, but I'd welcome your perspective. The further into July we go there, the hotter and more crowded any other pre- or post-side trips are likely to be, so that has been a consideration. Thanks in advance! Karen
That's great to hear. I would choose the date that makes the most sense for your schedule. The 5 day difference will not have a huge impact on your trip.
Have fun hiking in the Dolomites!