Looking for the best towns to stay in the Dolomites? I visited recently on a 4-day trip to the Dolomites and this is where to stay in the Dolomites!
In This Article: Table of Contents
The Best Towns to Stay in the Dolomites
The Dolomites in northeastern Italy encompass some of the most jaw-dropping mountain scenery in Europe. Rugged pinnacles, sheer cliff faces, verdant meadows, and crystal clear alpine lakes make this region a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With countless charming villages scattered throughout the Dolomites, deciding where to stay can be overwhelming. After several trips exploring the area, I’ve narrowed it down to the top towns for lodging based on their proximity to attractions and facilities.
Choosing Where to Stay in the Dolomites: Overview & Takeaways
With so many charming mountain villages scattered throughout the Dolomites, deciding where to base yourself can be difficult. Keep these tips in mind when planning where to stay:
If you only have 1-2 days in the region, pick a central location like Cortina d’Ampezzo or Alta Badia. You’ll be able to see a good variety of scenery without spending all your time driving. Focus on must-see sights and activities accessible from your home base.
With 3 or more days, you should split your stay between the eastern and western Dolomites. The windy mountain roads make driving time-consuming. Switching lodging mid-way through your trip allows you to minimize time in the car. The eastern Dolomites are home to Cortina, Tre Cime, Braies Lake while the west has Val Gardena, Sella Pass and Alpe di Siusi.
Carefully look at which hikes and attractions you want to see, then choose accommodations in those areas. While it may require packing/unpacking multiple times, waking up already in the region you plan to explore that day is invaluable.
Review the map to get a sense of how the iconic sights are distributed between the eastern and western Dolomites. This will help you determine the optimal regions to stay based on your must-see list.
No matter if you choose one base or multiple, be sure to book lodging well in advance. The most quaint mountain villages book up quickly, especially during peak summer and winter travel times.
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Key Factors When Choosing Where to Stay in Dolomites
The optimal place to stay in the Dolomites depends on:
dolomites season during your visit:
If your traveling in winter for skiing, Val Gardena is ideal with slopeside accommodations.
For summer hiking and sightseeing, both Cortina and Val Gardena are perfectly situated. Duration of stay and interests will determine ideal lodging locations.
When visiting during shoulder seasons, research what attractions and activities are open. Some are only accessible certain times of year.
Your modes of transportation in the dolomites
Carefully consider your must-see list when choosing lodging area(s). Staying right in the regions you’ll explore allows for more time enjoying sights rather than driving.
Renting a car provides maximum flexibility for exploring winding Dolomites roads. Research public transportation options if not driving.
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Avoid peak summer and winter seasons to save money on accommodations in Dolomites. Comparing prices of lodging and inclusions (like breakfast, parking etc) can also help find deals.
Where To Stay in The dolomites: my recommendations
Cortina d’Ampezzo – overall best place to stay in Dolomites
Without a doubt, Cortina d’Ampezzo is the most popular and centrally located hub for visitors in the Dolomites. Stay here if you are splitting your time (which i would recommend to be efficient with driving) and have 1-3 days.
Surrounded by postcard-worthy peaks, this medieval village has plenty of hotels, shops, restaurants and modern conveniences you’d expect in a top ski resort town. In summer, Cortina provides easy access to some of the most spectacular areas including:
- – Tre Cime di Lavaredo – The iconic triple-peaked mountain visible from many spots
- – Lago di Sorapis – Jaw-dropping blue lake below towering cliffs
- – Lago di Braies – Bright teal lake reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest
- – Lago di Misurina – Sparkling lake with the Tre Cime as a backdrop
- – Cinque Torri – Dramatic limestone pinnacles with excellent hiking
- – Tofana – Impressive sawtooth mountain looming over Cortina
- – Cristallo Group – craggy peaks popular for climbing and via ferrata
- – Marmolada Glacier – The highest mountain in the Dolomites, accessed by cable car
With so many attractions nearby, I’d highly recommend staying right in central Cortina within walking distance of shops and restaurants.
Since you’ll spend most of your time out exploring, picking a place to stay isn’t top of mind unless you’re looking for a luxury getaway.
How to get to Cortina d’Ampezzo
Cortina is located on the eastern side of the Dolomites, about a 2-hour drive from Venice. The Venice Marco Polo Airport is the closest major airport, making Cortina easily accessible for those flying into Venice.
Other nearby major airports include Milan (3.5 hours away), Bergamo (4 hours away), Innsbruck (4.5 hours away), and Munich (5 hours away). While these airports are farther, they may have more affordable flights from your home city.
Convenient express buses run frequently between Venice Airport and Cortina, making it possible to visit without a rental car. In town, buses provide service to nearby trails and sights in summer.
However, to explore the Dolomites’ winding roads at your own pace, renting a car is ideal. Car rental rates in Italy are generally affordable, especially if booked early. Just be aware that parking in small mountain villages can be scarce.
How Far in Advance should you book your hotel reservations in dolomites?
I recommend booking 5 + months in advance as these hotels and chalets are small and book up quickly!
Reserve your stay at booking.com for the best prices and hassle free cancelations.
Check Hotel Rates
On a budget, Hotel Alaska Cortina is a nice mid-range hotel with modern mountain view rooms.
For ultimate luxury, Hotel De Len is a 5-star property with lavish rooms, Michelin-star dining, and an incredible spa.
Best Place to stay in Dolomites
Ortisei / Val Gardena
On the opposite side of the Sella massif is the idyllic Val Gardena valley, home to the picturesque villages of Ortisei, Santa Cristina, and Selva. Of the three, Ortisei makes the best home base with more facilities, frequent bus connections, and proximity to top sights. The charming pedestrian streets of Ortisei are lined with shops, restaurants and hotels. Nearby attractions include:
- – Seceda Plateau – Sweeping panoramas of the iconic Geisler/Odle peaks
- – Sella Pass – Dramatic high mountain pass with trails traversing in all directions
- – Alpe di Siusi – Largest high alpine meadow in Europe, perfect for long walks
- – Puez-Odle Nature Park – Jaw-dropping jagged peaks and verdant pastures
- – Sassolungo – The emblematic “Langkofel” peak visible from town
- – Santa Maddalena church – Quaint church in a dramatically forested valley
For lodging in Ortisei, I recommend the cozy family-run Hotel Steiner located right in town.
On a luxury budget, Adler Spa Resort is a scenic 5-star property with an extensive wellness area and gourmet dining.
Here is a rewritten version of the section on getting to Val Gardena and transportation options:
How To get to Val Gardena
The nearest airport to Val Gardena is Bolzano Airport, less than a 1 hour drive away. However, Bolzano is quite small with limited flight options.
A better option is Innsbruck Airport in Austria, under 2 hours from Val Gardena. Innsbruck offers more connections, especially on budget European airlines.
Other major airports within 3.5-4 hours drive include Milan, Bergamo and Munich. Though farther away, these airports may have cheaper flights.
While there is public bus service between Val Gardena and Bolzano, having your own rental car is ideal for flexibility. The winding Dolomites roads make for slow travel by bus. Car rental rates in the region are reasonable, especially booking in advance.
Some visitors also hire private transfers from airports, though this is a pricy option used mostly by winter skiers.
By splitting your time between Cortina and Ortisei, you’ll be centrally located to experience the best of the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites without spending all day driving. Just be sure to book accommodations well in advance during the busy summer and winter seasons. Have an epic adventure in these breathtaking Italian mountains!
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