The month of December ushers in the winter season in the Dolomites of Northern Italy.
If you visit the Dolomites in December, you can partake in advent festivities including Christmas Markets and Krampus Runs. For a jubilant winter holiday, we recommend concentrating your time in South Tyrol.
The Dolomites ski season usually commences in early December. But, like anywhere in the Alps, snowfall is unpredictable early in the season. If there’s sufficient snowfall, you can enjoy skiing across the Dolomites Superski network, the largest ski area in the world.
In this guide to visiting the Dolomites in early winter, we’ve outlined where to visit Advent Markets, Krampus Runs, and more.
Dolomites in December: Christmas Markets, Krampus Runs, and Winter Adventures
- Christmas Markets: San Candido, Dobbiaco, Brunico, Bressanone, Chiusa, Castelrotto, Bolzano
- Krampus Runs: Sesto, Dobbiaco, and Castelrotto (every 2 years)
- Ski Season Opening: November 25, 2023 – December 7, 2023
- Where to Stay in the Dolomites in December: Alta Pusteria, or Val Gardena
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Dolomites in December Map
How to Use this Map | Click on icons to display further information about each destination and/or accommodation. Red trees signify Christmas Markets. Dark blue skiers signify ski areas in the Dolomites. Yellow stars signify Krampus Runs. And, black beds signify hotels and accommodations.
Christmas Markets in the Dolomites and South Tyrol
Most Christmas Markets in South Tyrol are open between late November and late December, or early January. Many of these markets are only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, especially in early December.
On December 24th (Christmas Eve), most markets have reduced hours. And, on December 25th (Christmas Day), all markets are closed. On December 26th (Second Christmas Day) and January 1st (New Year’s Day), markets may also have reduced hours.
San Candido / Innichen Christmas Market
San Candido (Innichen in German) is a charming town in Alta Pusteria (Hochpustertal), South Tyrol. It’s located at the foot of the Northern Sexten Dolomites in the 3 Zinnen Dolomites Ski Resort. It’s very close to the Austrian border.
Starting in late November, the town hosts an annual Christmas Market with 15 timber huts that sell local handicrafts and culinary specialities.
Dates | November 24, 2023 – January 6, 2024. From late November until mid December, the market is only open Fridays through Sundays. Starting on December 15th, the market is open daily until January 6th. The market is closed on December 25th.
Opening Times | 10:30 am – 7 pm
Location | Pedestrian town center of San Candido
Dobbiaco / Toblach Christmas Market (aka Drei Zinnen Christmas Market)
Dobbiaco (Toblach in German) is a town in Upper Val Pusteria, 5 km west of San Candido. Like San Candido, it lies within the 3 Zinnen Dolomites resort.
Dobbiaco hosts a gastronomic Christmas Market with 10 huts selling mulled wine, Strauben (funnel cake), and Gerstensuppe (barley soup).
Dates | November 24, 2023 – January 7, 2024. See exact dates.
Opening Times | Fridays (4 pm – 9 pm), Saturdays and Sundays (11 am – 9 pm)
Location | St John the Baptist Church Square
Brunico / Bruneck Christmas Market
Brunico (Bruneck in German) is the largest town in Puster Valley, South Tyrol, and located in the Plan de Corones/Kronplatz ski region (like San Vigilio/St. Vigil).
Each year, Bruneck hosts an annual Christmas Market with 35 wooden huts selling ornaments, wooden toys, ceramics, mulled wine, pastries, and local dishes.
The market is set up on the Graben (Via Bastioni) and in the Oberstadt (Ragen di Sopra).
Dates | November 24, 2023 to January 6, 2024
Opening Times | Monday–Sunday and Holidays: 10am–7pm | December 24: 10am–2pm December 25: closed | December 31: 10am–7pm | January 1: 10am–7pm
Location | Graben and Oberstadt
Bressanone / Brixen Christmas Market
The South Tyrolean town of Brixen (Bressanone in Italian) is located in Eisack Valley, just north of the Dolomites. There are direct trains that link Bolzano/Bozen, Brunico/Bruneck, and Innsbruck to Brixen.
From late November until early January, you can visit the famous Brixen Christmas Market, located at the Cathedral Square. The market is open daily.
The Brixen Christmas Market is made up of traditional wooden stalls, which sell primarily South Tyrolean products as well as mulled wines, Knödel (dumplings), and Krapfen (donut-like pastries).
Additionally, Brixen hosts a light and music show. In 2023-2024, the “COLORS – A Homage to Peace” light show will be produced by French light artists Spectaculaires. The 20-minute light show is located in the Hofburg Brixen. Two performances take place each evening at 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm. There’s an additional performance at 7:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The entrance fee is 10-12 EUR for adults.
Dates | November 24, 2023 – January 6, 2024
Opening Times | 11 am – 7 pm (Monday – Thursday) and 10 am – 7 pm (Friday – Sunday + Holidays). The food booths stay open longer (until 8:30 pm) than the trade booths.
Location | Cathedral Square (Domplatz)
Chiusa / Klausen Christmas Market (aka Klausner Gassladvent)
Chiusa (Klausen in German) is a town in Isarco/Eisack Valley, south of Brixen. The Klausner Gassladvent is located in the Old Town of Klausen.
This special market takes place during the four weekends of Advent. On Sundays, the night watchman lights hundreds of candles in the Old Town.
Dates | November 24, 2023 – December 24, 2023. Fridays – Sundays only.
Opening Times | 10 am – 7 pm. December 24th: 10 am – 12 pm
Location | Klausen Altstadt (Old Town)
Where to Stay in Klausen | Walther von der Vogelweide (midrange)
Ortisei / St. Ulrich Christmas Market
Ortisei (St. Ulrich) is the largest town in Val Gardena (Gröden), one of the most popular destinations in the Dolomites. Ortisei is located within the Ski resort Val Gardena / Alpe di Siusi.
During the Advent season, Ortisei hosts a Christmas Village in its charming pedestrian center. Huts sell regional products and culinary delicacies.
Dates | December 1, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Opening Times | see opening times
Location | Ortisei Pedestrian Area
Selva / Wolkenstein Christmas Market (Mountain Christmas)
Selva (Wolkenstein) is a village in Val Gardena famous for its ski-in ski-out hotels. It’s located in the heart of the Dolomites, at the base of the Sella Group. Selva is one of the gateways to the Sellaronda ski carousel.
The Selva Christmas Market (Nadel da Mont) features 9 wooden huts and 13 wooden gondolas.
Dates | December 7 -10, 2023, December 15 – December 17, 2023, and December 22 – January 6, 2024
Opening Times | 3 pm – 7 pm
Location | Nives Square
Ski-to-door Hotels in Selva | Garni Hotel Bel Vert (B&B), Mountain Design Hotel Eden Selva (midrange-luxury), Hotel Freina (midrange-luxury), Savoy Dolomites Luxury & Spa Hotel (luxury), and Hotel Alpenroyal – The Leading Hotels of the World (luxury)
Castelrotto Mountain Christmas / Kastelruther Bergweihnacht
Castelrotto (Kastelruth) is a town in South Tyrol, situated at the foot of the Alpe di Siusi plateau.
This charming town in the Dolomites hosts a mountain Christmas market with local handicrafts, mulled wine, gingerbread, and other local specialities.
In December, there’s also a St. Nicholas parade, a Krampus Run (every 2 years), and a Kastelruther Spatzen Christmas concert.
Dates | December 2, 2023 – December 26, 2023. Fridays-Sundays only. See exact dates.
Opening Times | 10 am – 7 pm
Location | Historic town center of Castelrotto
More Winter Markets in the Dolomites and South Tyrol
Krampus Runs in the Dolomites
A krampus is a horned, demonic figure in Alpine folklore. Though the krampus figure likely predates Christianity, the tradition is now tied to the Advent season.
Historically, the purpose of the Krampus was to scare and punish bad-behaved children. The Krampus served as the foil character of Saint Nicholas, who rewarded well-behaved children.
The Krampus tradition lives on in mountain towns in the Eastern Alps in the form of Krampuslauf (krampus run, or krampus parade) events. In such processions, people (mostly young men) dress up in extravagant furry costumes and don Krampus masks.
They parade through towns with clamoring bells and chains with the objective of scaring spectators. Krampus participants also wield smoke and fire as well to create a hellish atmosphere.
Krampus Runs are not for everyone and they can be very frightening for children. Usually there’s a barrier between the Krampus and the spectators, but it can still be unnerving.
In the Dolomites, there are a few notable Krampus runs that take place in early December.
Dobbiaco / Toblach Krampus Parade
The oldest Krampuslauf in South Tyrol takes place in Toblach in Upper Puster Valley (Alta Pusteria).
Six hundred krampus, hailing from South Tyrol, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, march from St. Johannesstrasse to the village center. Donning heavy fur costumes and carved masks, the Krampus put on a scary show.
There is a Krampus-free-zone for those that want to safely observe the procession, without being personally disturbed.
Date | December 8, 2023
Time | 6 pm – 9 pm
Sesto / Sexten Krampus Run
Around 36 groups (600 total Krampus) participate in the Krampus & Perchten Run in Sexten. The parade starts at 6 pm.
Date | December 9, 2023
Time | 6 pm
Location | Sexten/Moos
Castelrotto / Kastelruth Krampus Run
The Krampus parade from the bus station through the village center to the Dolomitenstrasse and back.
The run is followed by a Krampus Party, where there’s a heated tent with a DJ.
Date | December 9, 2023
Time | 5 pm
Location | Castelrotto Village Center
Skiing in the Dolomites in December
The Dolomites Superski is a network of 12 ski resorts across the Dolomites. It’s the largest ski area in the world with 1200 km of slopes and 450 lifts.
When skiing in the Dolomites, you can purchase ski passes for single resorts, or a Dolomites Superski pass, which covers all 12 ski areas.
Dolomites Ski Areas:
- Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Plan de Corones/Kronplatz
- Alta Badia
- Val Gardena/Gröden – Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm
- Val di Fassa – Carezza
- 3 Peaks (3 Zinnen)
- Val di Fiemme – Obereggen
- San Martino di Castrozza – Passo Rolle
- Gitschberg Jochtal – Brixen
- Alpe Luisa – San Pellegrino
The ski season in the Dolomites commences in December and continues until end of March, or early April.
Depending on the snowfall, December can be a great month to ski, or too early in the season. Weather patterns have not been consistent in the last few years, so it’s impossible to predict what the snow conditions will be.
Opening Times | dolomitisuperski.com
Webcam | Dolomites ski area webcams
Where to Stay in the Dolomites in December
If you want to combine atmospheric Christmas markets and advent festivities with outdoor adventuring, we recommend staying in Alta Pusteria (San Candido, Dobbiaco, or Sesto), or Val Gardena (Ortisei, Santa Christina, or Selva di Val Gardena).
Alta Pusteria (Upper Puster Valley)
The Upper Puster Valley is the gateway to the Braies/Prags and Sesto/Sexten Dolomites. It’s located within the 3 Zinnen Dolomites ski resort.
Those interested in snowshoeing, can tackle snowshoe hikes to Croda Rossa, Innerfeldtal/Val Campo di Dentro, Monte Elmo, and Drei Zinnen/Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
If there’s sufficient snow, you can also go cross country-skiing in Val Fiscalina/Fischleintal Valley.
Winter hikers also have plenty of options, including hikes to Malga Nemes, Fondo Valle Hut, Sesto to San Candido, Klammbach Alp, Innerfeld Valley, and more.
San Candido Accommodations
Adults-Only Luxury | Post Hotel – Tradition & Lifestyle Adults Only is located in the center of San Candido, close to the pedestrian zone. This chic boutique hotel offers a spa, rooftop terrace, and on-site restaurant and bar. Half board is available.
Apartments | Residence Kugler offers new, fully-equipped apartments in San Candido.
Luxury | ATTO Suites & Cuisine is a new luxury aparthotel in San Candido, furnished with the highest quality local materials. These gorgeous, minimalist apartments teeter stylistically between Alpine and Nordic. An excellent breakfast is included (with gluten-free options). Other included services: parking, shuttle service to the Leitlhof spa, and bicycle storage room.
Luxury | Naturhotel Leitlhof is a 4-star-superior hotel in San Candido with a large wellness area, a delicious and generous half board offering, and gorgeous views overlooking the Sexten Dolomites. Read our Naturhotel Leitlhof Hotel Review for more info.
Budget | B&B Grüne Laterne – Lanterna Verde is a traditional, alpine guesthouse in Sesto with an on-site restaurant.
Midrange | Hotel Schoenblick is a lovely 3-star hotel in Sesto with sparkling clean rooms and apartments facing the Sesto Sundial. Breakfast is included and half board is optional. 3 nights minimum stay requirement in high season.
Midrange | Hotel Royal is a 3-star-superior hotel with alpine-modern rooms and apartments. Stay here for the hospitality, dreamy mountain views, and fantastic breakfast buffet.
Luxury | Hotel Alpenblick is an exceptional hotel with a standout gourmet kitchen, committed to sustainability. Ingredients are sourced regionally and from their very own Alpenblick farm. Breakfast, a 5-course dinner, and an afternoon snack (3 pm – 5 pm) are included in the room rate. Beyond the culinary appeal, Hotel Alpenblick is a super friendly and welcoming accommodation with a spa and pool. 5 nights minimum stay requirement.
5-star Luxury | Hotel Monika – MY WELLBEING HOTEL DOLOMITES enjoys a splendid setting on the edge of a meadow with views of the Sexten 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.
Val Gardena stretches between Eisack Valley and Passo Gardena and Passo Sella. It’s located within the Val Gardena – Alpe di Siusi Ski Area.
In addition to downhill skiing, visitors can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking, and tobogganing in Val Gardena.
The village of Selva is the most popular base for skiing, given its proximity to the Sellaronda ski carousel.
During your winter stay in Val Gardena, we suggest visiting the Christmas Markets in nearby Castelrotto (Kastelruth), Chiusa (Klausen), Bolzano (Bozen), and Bressanone (Brixen).
Read our Val Gardena Hotel Guide for a summary of the best hotels and accommodations in Ortisei, Selva, and Santa Cristina.
Midrange | Hotel Grones is a top-rated, family-run hotel, which excels in its friendly atmosphere, excellent local and Mediterranean cuisine, traditional, yet lovely rooms. The hotel spa area comprises a swimming pool, hot tub, Finnish sauna, bio sauna, and steam bath.
Luxury | 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 (3 – 5 pm).
Luxury | Adler Spa Resort Dolomiti is a stunning property surrounded by private grounds, advantageously located in the pedestrian zone of Ortisei. This 5-star hotel offers outstanding service, first-rate spa complex, beautiful rooms, and an on-site restaurant (half board available). 3-7 nights minimum stay.
Midrange | Pra Palmer The Green B&B is a 3-star ski-to-door hotel with raving reviews in Ortisei. 3-4 nights minimum stay.
Luxury | Alpenhotel Rainell is a ski-to-door hotel in Ortisei with direct access to the Alpe di Siusi gondola. Standing above the village, this 4-star hotel enjoys panoramic views of Seceda and Val Gardena. Guests have access to a spa area and outdoor heated pool. 3-5 night minimum stay.
Midrange | Garni Hotel Bel Vert is a ski-to-door B&B in Selva, located on the Biancavieve Slope, outside the town center. Rooms are beautiful and spacious. There’s even a small spa. 3 nights minimum stay.
Midrange-Luxury | Mountain Design Hotel Eden Selva is an alpine hotel with a sleek, contemporary design in Selva, located on the Sella Ronda slopes. Half board available. Guests love the attentive staff, location, and spotless rooms with natural wood. 4 nights minimum stay.
Midrange-Luxury | Hotel Freina is a ski-to-door hotel in Selva, located on the Ciampinoi ski slopes (Sella Ronda ski area). This family-run hotel is adored for their warm customer service, excellent organic breakfast, and outstanding on-site restaurant, serving vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Guests have access to a spa with multiple saunas (Finnish, steam, salinair, and infrared), hot tub, and waterbeds. Free garage parking.
Luxury | Savoy Dolomites Luxury & Spa Hotel is a lovely Tyrolean-style hotel in Selva with an on-site restaurant (half board available), bar, and wellness area. The hotel’s ski room is directly connected to the ski slopes via an elevator.
Luxury | Hotel Alpenroyal – The Leading Hotels of the World is a 5-star, ski-to-door resort in Selva di Val Gardena with an on-site ski rental shop. Half board available.
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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.
The easiest way to travel between hiking destinations in the Italian Dolomites is with your own car. Check out our 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 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
Excellent Hotels in the Dolomites:
- Badia Hill in Badia, Alta Badia
- Hotel de Len in Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Camina Suite & Spa in Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Locanda degli Artisti Art Hotel in Canazei, Val di Fassa
- Dorfhotel Beludei in Santa Cristina, Val Gardena
- Naturhotel Leitlhof in San Candido, Alta Pusteria
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 Alpe di Siusi, Val di Funes, Lago di Braies, Lago di Sorapis, Lago Federa, Cadini di Misurina, and Baita Segantini.
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 25+ 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
- Sexten Dolomites Hiking Guide
Recommended Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone Guide: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites