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23 best things to do in Dolomites

Dolomites, Italy

by Coco Tran On September 8, 2023

things to do in dolomites

In this Dolomites travel guide, I’ll recommend 23 best things to do in Dolomites including, activities, Dolomites must sees, where to stay, how to get around, and the ideal time to visit to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this incredible mountain range!

Nestled in northeastern Italy, the Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage site known for their breathtaking jagged peaks, lush green valleys, and charming mountain villages in South Tyrol region. The area has a unique blend of Italian and Austrian/German culture and cuisine due to its history of control by both countries.


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As someone who visited the Dolomites in May, I can attest to their beauty and highly recommend them as a travel destination.

An Introduction to the Dolomites italy

The Dolomites, also known as the “Pale Mountains,” are located in the Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto regions of Italy.

They form part of the Southern Limestone Alps and extend across 5 provinces: Belluno, Bolzano/Bozen, Pordenone, Trento, and Udine. The range covers an area of over 1,400 square miles and contains 18 majestic peaks above 9,800 ft in elevation. 

map of dolomites map

The Dolomites were formed due to geological activity which pushed ancient coral reefs upward, creating the lighter grey jagged peaks which contrast beautifully with the greener slopes and valleys. The mountains take their name from the mineral dolomite which is abundant here.

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The Dolomites have a rich history, being part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of World War I. Today, the local culture reflects this mixed Germanic and Italian heritage.

The Dolomites’ stunning beauty and strategic location made them the scene of intense fighting during World War I between Austrian and Italian troops, where countless lives were lost. Thankfully today they are a peaceful place for relaxation, adventure, and connecting with nature.

The Best Things To do in the Dolomites

Where to Go in the Dolomites & Top Attractions in the Dolomites  & best places in dolomites 

The Dolomites cover a large region but here are some of the most breathtaking areas and must-visit attractions:

1. Visit the majestic Alpe di Siusi Region

 This expansive alpine meadow with far-reaching vistas is absolutely stunning. Take the cable car from the village of Siusi and hike through fields of wildflowers with towering peaks in the distance. It’s Europe’s largest high-altitude Alpine meadow stretches between the Sassolungo and Sciliar massifs.

things to do in the dolomites

Blooming with wildflowers in summer, cable cars whisk you up to begin hikes through the rolling green hills dotted with grazing sheep and cows headed to mountain dairies. The jagged Schlern plateau looms above charming villages like Compatsch, Saltria and Castelrotto.

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2. See The Amazing Tre Cime di Lavaredo

The global symbol of the Dolomites, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks) are perhaps the region’s most iconic landscape. Three towering, saw-toothed limestone pinnacles poke the sky, flanked by the smaller Cime (peaks) of Lavaredo. The area has excellent hiking trails including the moderate Tre Cime Loop, a 10 km path with spectacular views.

3. Drive through the beautiful region of Val Gardena 

This lush valley cradled between the Sella and Sassolungo massifs delivers quintessential Dolomites scenery. Quaint villages like Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva di Val Gardena make great bases for hiking and skiing. Don’t miss scenic mountain drives on Passo Sella and Passo Gardena. 

4. See the cute town of Cortina d’Ampezzo

The chic ski resort town has great shopping and restaurants. Ride the cable car up to get stunning views from Lagazuoi or Tofana di Mezzo. 

5. See the beautiful lake Lago di Carezza (Karessa)

One of the most beautiful aqua lakes that is very easily accesible from your car. You should defiitaely ad d this stopp on your dolomites raod trip. Snap a few photos and be on your way, 

6. Visit the beautiful Val di Funes  Region

This wildly beautiful side valley near Bressanone has lush meadows and storybook villages overlooked by the Odle peaks. Historic Santa Maddalena church is considered one of the region’s most beautiful. Excellent hiking trails abound, from family-friendly to more advanced multi-day routes

You’ll also see the beautiful church of St John in this area. 

what to do in dolomites

7. See The most beautiful lake in Dolomites: Braies Lake (Lago di Braies or Pragser Wildsee)

 The most beautiful lake in northern Italy. Awe-inspiring mountain panoramas reflected in the emerald waters of Lake Braies make it one of the most scenic spots. The town of San Vigilio di Marebbe is a great base. Rent. boat and enjoy the spectacular sites.

Note: When I went the boats were not in season yet and the water levels were extremely low as Italy is currently going through a drought and May the snowpack hasn’t melted yet go later in May or early June to fully experience this beauty!

lago di braise italy dolomites

8. Visit Marmolada, the Dramatic peaks of the Dolomites

Rising to 3,343 meters, Marmolada is the highest peak in the Dolomites, earning it the nickname the “Queen of the Dolomites.” Take a series of cable cars to zip up the mighty mountain’s flank, disembarking at the Punta Rocca station at 3,265 meters.

As you step out into the brisk mountain air at Punta Rocca, your eyes are immediately drawn to the dramatic views encircling you. Known as the ‘balcony of the Dolomites’, this vantage point provides jaw-dropping 360 degree panoramas of the saw-toothed limestone spires and cliffs of the surrounding Dolomites peaks.

9. Soak in the Epic Panorama from Seceda Peak 

With its sheer cliffs plunging dramatically to the valley below, Seceda provides one of the most gasp-inducing Dolomites viewpoints. And the best part is, you can take a cable car up most of the way, avoiding a brutal uphill hike.

From the small village of Santa Cristina, the Seceda cableway whisks you up to the Costabella station at 2,238 meters. Step out and the colossal walls of the Odle peaks already command your attention across the valley. But it’s just a preview of what’s to come. 

From Costabella station, follow the gravel path as it climbs steadily through the trees and rocky outcrops. The 10-minute walk leads to a saddle on the ridge with an observation platform. As you catch your breath, one of the most phenomenal panoramas in the Dolomites unfolds before your eyes.

saceda dolomites italy

Jaw-dropping 360 degree vistas surround you from your vantage at 2,500 meters. Below, the lush Val Gardena spreads out like a living map. To the east, the iconic three pinnacles of the Sella massif capture your eye, while the imposing Sassolungo and Sassopiatto peaks loom closer. 

Everywhere you look, sheer gray cliffs, walls, needles and towers create an amphitheater of stone. On especially clear days, you can even spot Grossglockner, Austria’s tallest peak, in the distance. 

After drinking in Seceda’s breathtaking perspective to your heart’s content, hike back to the cable car or continue around the loop path descending through alpine scenery to return to Santa Cristina, stopping for photo breaks whenever the spirit moves you. With its remarkable reward-to-effort ratio, taking the Seceda cableway up followed by a short walk to the saddle viewpoint should be on every Dolomites itinerary.

10. Revel in Epic Mountain Views at Rifugio Scoiattoli and Cinque Torri

If you want to admire the majesty of the Dolomites without a long, strenuous hike, head to Rifugio Scoiattoli. This mountain hut perched at 2,225 meters puts you directly in front of the instantly recognizable Cinque Torri – five jagged limestone towers soaring skyward.

After a short ride up the Averau cable car from the village of Cortina d’Ampezzo, a pleasant 20-minute walk on a gravel path leads you to the rifugio. Stop frequently to admire the sensational views of Tofana and Cristallo peaks framing the route.

As the Rifugio Scoiattoli comes into sight, pause to take in the quintessential Dolomites scene unfolding before you.

The rustic alpine hut with its slanted stone roof sits on a rocky perch, while the five stone spires of Cinque Torri command your gaze, their grey walls streaked with white scars where rock has split and fallen. The tallest tower soars 70 meters, though the North Tower is the most iconic and most frequently photographed.

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Grab an outdoor table on the sunny terrace of Rifugio Scoiattoli and order a well-deserved beer, coffee or strudel while feasting your eyes on this incredible perspective of one of the most beloved rock climbs and landmarks in the Dolomites. Watch climbers scaling the sheer cliffs using ropes and iron grips holds bolted into the vertical walls while you relax.

To get to Rifugio Scoiattoli, ride the chairlift from Baita Bai de Dones, which is on SR48, to the rifugio. 

When you’ve gotten your fill of the mesmerizing views of Cinque Torri, take the short but rewarding hiking path from the rifugio towards Lago d’Ajal. This alpine lake glistening beneath the Lagazuoi and Tofana di Rozes peaks completes the postcard panorama.

No matter which direction you look, the revelatory vistas remind you why the Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and on every traveller’s bucket list. After your unforgettable taste of the Dolomites’ majesty, a ride down the cableway returns you to Cortina to continue your adventures.

11. See the Alpine Dairy Farms and Taste incredible Cheese in the dolomites

Sample delicious local cheeses like schgagfkäse at an alpine dairy farm or malga. The Senales valley has many traditional working farms. 

12. Visit Lake Misurina

 This beautiful crystal clear lake has a scenic walking path around it with the Tre Cime di Lavaredo peaks in the background. 

Drive through Popular mountain passes:

Here is an expanded section on driving through popular Dolomites mountain passes and visiting UNESCO sites:

13. Drive Through Classic Dolomites Mountain Passes

One of the great joys of a Dolomites road trip is cruising through the region’s iconic high mountain passes. As you wind your way up impossibly twisty roads into the clouds, each switchback reveals new perspectives on the epic limestone cliffs and spires. Here are some top passes for your Dolomites driving adventure:

Passo Gardena 

This ultra-scenic pass connects Val Badia and Val Gardena, twisting past the Sella Towers. Stop at the top to hike and photograph wildflowers with the mountains all around. 

Passo Sella

 Four steep switchbacks climb to the 2,240 meter Sella Pass, delivering views of the towering Sella range and Sassolungo in every direction.

Passo Giau

 Buttresses, pinnacles, and limestone walls flank this breathtaking 2,236 meter pass between Cortina and Selva di Cadore with stops to explore old WWI fortresses. 

Passo Fedaia

 The road to Fedaia Pass winds past sheer cliffs and waterfalls in a rugged canyon leading to Marmolada Glacier.

Passo Pordoi

 Vistas of the massive Sella range surround you as you climb this 2,239 meter pass between Arabba and Canazei in the heart of the Dolomites.

Passo delle Erbe

 A hidden gem surrounded by wooded slopes. Stop at the top for sweeping views from Sassolungo to Civetta and the Marmolada Glacier.

14. Admire the Peaks of the Dolomites’ UNESCO Sites

In 2009, the most spectacular sections of the Dolomites were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you explore, keep an eye out for the famous formations of these protected landscapes:

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 This massive plateau looming over charming towns like Seis am Schlern is etched with hiking trails and WW1 artifacts. 


 Jagged needles, towers, and sheer walls decorate these iconic massifs best seen from Val di Funes and Val Gardena on foot or by cable car.


 The imposing peaks around Braies Lake harbor this park, perfect for hiking, biking and admiring the unique geology and ecosystems. 

Things To do in the Dolomites

With rugged peaks, lush valleys, and vast alpine meadows, the Dolomites are a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Some top activities include:

15. Hiking In The Dolomites

 Endless hiking trails ranging from easy walks to challenging mountain ascents. Don’t miss iconic routes like around Tre Cime or to summits like Seceda. Stop at a rifugio for a meal with a view. 

With thousands of kilometers of trails stretching across alpine valleys and over high mountain passes, hiking is undoubtedly the number one activity here. Refugio-to-refugio multi-day treks, high altitude challenges, and family-friendly walks allow you to admire the UNESCO peaks and enjoy alpine flora and fauna. Mid-June to early September offers the best weather and snow-free trails

16. Experience World-Class Skiing in the Dolomites

 World-class skiing and snowboarding at resorts like Cortina, Val Gardena, and Val di Fassa, especially from December to March. 

When winter coats the saw-toothed Dolomites peaks in snow, the region transforms into a skier and snowboarder’s paradise. Gorgeous ski resorts ranged across South Tyrol, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Veneto offer incredible terrain for all abilities. Here are some top spots to hit the slopes:

Alta Badia 130 km of pistes slice through evergreen forests with the jagged Dolomites towering above. Ski six villages on one lift pass and unwind at the end of the day in luxurious mountain huts.

Val Gardena – This dramatic valley serves up 175 km of impeccably groomed runs and state-of-the-art lifts connecting Selva, Santa Cristina and Ortisei. Freeriders can accessed off-piste powder via helicopter or lift.

Cortina d’Ampezzo – Surrounded by the iconic Tofane peaks, sophisticated Cortina offers 140 km of varied pistes, top hotels, and legendary apres-ski. Host of the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Alpe di Siusi – Family-friendly Alpe di Siusi’s gently-sloped 60 km of runs are perfect for beginners and intermediates seeking beautiful mountain scenery.

3 Zinnen Dolomites – At the foot of Tre Cime di Lavaredo, 60 km of pistes cater to all levels on nine interconnected lifts across Misurina and Auronzo di Cadore.

From sun-drenched terraces and long groomed cruisers perfect for beginners to knee-deep powder stashes and challenging couloirs for experts, the Dolomites ski areas offer world-class terrain guaranteed to thrill any alpine skiing or snowboarding enthusiast.

17. Rock Climbing in Dolomites

 The sheer vertical walls of the Dolomites make them a rock climbing mecca with hundreds of thrilling routes. 

18. Mountain Biking in Dolomites

 Ride down mountain paths and trails taking in the stunning scenery. Bike parks at Alpe di Siusi and Cortina are popular spots.

Here is an expanded section on cycling in the Dolomites:

19. Ride High in the Dolomites Cycling Paradise 

With its steep alpine climbs, thrilling descents, and breathtaking scenery, the Dolomites are a road cycling heaven. Hundreds of switchbacks carry you up passes like Giau, Pordoi and Gardena for leg-burning climbing challenges with sweet downhill rewards.

One classic ride is the Sella Ronda, a 55 km loop encircling the iconic Sella range. Ride clockwise from Canazei over 4 mountain passes – Campolongo, Pordoi, Sella, and Gardena. Or take on just a segment for a shorter but still scenic workout. 

For cycling events, pro racers and amateurs alike flock to the Dolomites in May for stages of the Giro D’Italia – Italy’s version of the Tour de France. Cheer on competitors as they battle their way up passes like the Tre Cime di Lavaredo or the Monte Zoncolan.

Mountain bikers also have endless options on the hills and singletrack above towns like Cortina, Livinallongo, Val Gardena and Arabba-Marmolada. Take advantage of chairlifts to quickly get uphill and ride back down through pristine forests and meadows.

With its combination of epic climbs, thrilling downhill routes, chairlift-assisted rides and competitions like the Giro, the Dolomites deliver an unbeatable alpine cycling experience. Whether you’re a pro cyclist or just seeking the personal challenge of conquering the mountains by bike, the Dolomites serve up the perfect summertime cycling getaway.

20. Road Cycling Dolomites

 Cyclists flock to the Dolomites in summer to ride the high mountain passes like the Sella Ring, Campolongo Pass, and Giau Pass.

21. Wildlife Viewing in Dolomites

While the mountains and cliffs grab your eye, the valleys teem with life. Deer, chamois, marmots, foxes, weasels and over 100 bird species including eagles, vultures and ptarmigan inhabit the region. Late spring brings vibrant alpine wildflowers. With eyes peeled you may spot elusive wildlife like mountain goats, reindeer and snow hares.

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22. Via Ferrata In Dolomites

 Scale vertical rock faces on fixed routes aided by cables, steps, ladders and bridges. An unforgettable alpine adventure! Some excellent via ferrata include Ivano Dibona and Friedrich August.

23. Experience Paragliding/Hang Gliding in Dolomites

 Soar high above the valleys and peaks taking in aerial views of the Dolomites. Popular take-off points include Monte Piana and Col Rodella. 

When to Visit the Dolomites & Best Time To visit Dolomites

The best time to visit the Dolomites is from late spring to early autumn when the temperatures are mild, mountain paths are clear of snow, and wildflowers bloom across the alpine meadows.Mid July through mid-September when the weather is ideal for hiking and sightseeing. June and October are good shoulder season options. The region essentially shuts down mid-October through April.

I visited in May which was a perfect time with pleasant weather, fewer crowds than in peak summer, and vibrant greenery and wildflowers at lower elevations. Higher trails still had patches of snow but were accessible. 

Summer from June to August brings warm weather but also more tourists especially in August. September and October are beautiful months with fall foliage. Winter is also popular for skiing but some tourist facilities are closed. Some hiking trails may still be covered in snow in early spring. Whenever you visit, be prepared for changing mountain weather.

How To get to the dolomites

 Here is a more detailed guide on how to get to the Dolomites from major transportation hubs:

By Airplane:
There are no major airports directly in the Dolomites region. The nearest options are:

  •   Venice Marco Polo Airport (2.5 hrs drive)
  •   Verona Villafranca Airport (2.5 hrs)  
  •   Innsbruck Airport, Austria (2 hrs)
  •   Treviso Airport (2 hrs)
  •   Bologna Airport (3 hrs)
  • Other major international airports within 4-6 hrs driving include Zurich, Milan Malpensa, and Munich.

 Suggested plan: Fly into one of these airports, then either rent a car and drive to the Dolomites or take a train/bus to Bolzano to start your trip.

What I did, I rented a car in Milan and went to Lake Como for 3 days before we drove to the Dolomites.

Dolomites By Train:

  • If you’re coming from northern Europe, get off at Bolzano station, which is a main transport hub. 
  •  Frequent trains connect Bolzano to cities across Italy, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Useful connections include Venice, Verona, Munich, Innsbruck and Zurich.
  • Timetables are available on Rail Europe and Deutsche Bahn sites. Trenitalia operates trains within Italy.
  •  In South Tyrol, regular regional trains and buses connect Bolzano with destinations across the Dolomites. 

Dolomites By Bus: 

  •  Long distance Flixbus services connect to Bolzano from major Italian cities plus cities in Germany, Austria, Croatia and beyond. This can be a budget way to reach the region.
  • Regional bus lines including SAD connect towns within the Dolomites. Useful for getting around once there.

Driving in Dolomites
– Renting a car provides maximum flexibility for exploring the Dolomites. Pick up your rental at whichever nearby airport or city you fly into. 

I picked up my rental car in Milan and spent 2 days in Lake Como before heading to the Dolomites

– Driving times will vary depending on your starting point. Count on 2.5-5 hrs driving from the nearest major airports.

The train or bus to Bolzano is the most convenient option for getting to the Dolomites without a car. Otherwise, fly to a nearby airport and rent a car for the drive into the mountains.

How Long to stay in the Italian dolomites? How many days is enough for Dolomites?

Here is my advice on how long to spend in the Dolomites:

  • No matter how long you go for, it will never feel like enough time in this incredible region! I spent a quick 3 days and was able to see the highlights but it as very fast paced. Remmeber that the weather is unprodictable, so we got a lot of fog and couldn’t see the mountains in the back. So keep this in mind!
  • It depends on your objectives – just sightseeing vs hiking vs a bit of both.
  • Realistically 3-5 days is enough to see the main highlights if you stay busy and drive a lot between spots.
  • However, to properly enjoy the area, 7-10 days is recommended. This allows time for some great day hikes along with seeing the top attractions.
  • If you want to do multi-day hut-to-hut hiking and really immerse yourself in the mountains, 10+ days would be ideal.
  • For a more relaxed experience focused on scenery and photography, 5 days could work.
  • It’s a big region with winding roads so choosing 2-3 base towns for multiple nights saves driving time and lets you fully experience each area.

Where to Stay in The Dolomites

MY Recommended home bases include Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Dobbiaco, and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

You’ll find a range of accommodation options in the Dolomites including:

Mountain huts/ lodges (called “rifugi”)

Rustic lodges high in the mountains, ideal for multiday hiking/climbing trips. It’s not a hotel it’s more of a hut meant for hikers.

Dolomites Hotels

 Larger towns have a variety of hotels from budget to upscale luxury. I stayed at several chalets close to Apine de suisi and Lago di Brais to make the driving less long. Check out hotels here.


 Self-catering options perfect for families and longer stays. I stayed in a lovely modern chalet in Val Gardena through Airbnb. 

Camping in Dolomites:

 For a budget outdoor experience, camp at spots like Camping Toblacher See.

Agriturismo farms in Dolomites

 Get closer to nature by staying at a traditional farmhouse through Italy’s agriturismo network. 

How to Get Around in The Dolomites

The Dolomites are definitely worth the effort to visit. Although it’s not the easiest place to get to, there are a few options available for your transport. If you opt for a Dolmites road trip as I did, it’s a beautiful way to see this majestic place.

Although public transport is available, it can be inconvenient and require much more planning to incorporate into your dolomites itinerary. So here are all the ways you can get around in the Dolomites:

Getting around by rental car allows maximum flexibility but public transportation by bus, train, and cable car is also very good. Recommended home bases include Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Dobbiaco, and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Reserve your Rental car

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Public transportation in the Dolomites during summer months is available with buses, trains and lifts/cable cars connecting villages and trailheads during the peak summer times from June.

Regional buses run regular routes between towns like Cortina, Canazei, Bolzano, and Belluno. Useful for sightseeing.

Trains on the Val Pusteria/Pustertal Line go from Fortezza to Lienz in Austria via Brunico and San Candido with stops at Dobbiaco/Toblach and Valdaora for the Dolomites.

Lifts/cable cars provide access from villages up into mountains. They can be pricey but are the best option to reach trailheads. Be aware they are only open starting from June. I missed the chance to go since I went in May and the lifts were closed. 

I’d recommend having a car to explore small towns and remote areas. Dolomite roads are winding but beautiful drives.

Best Hikes in The Dolomites

Top day hikes include: Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop, Seceda ridgeline, Lago di Sorapis, and the trails in Fanes National Park. Overnight hut-to-hut hiking is also popular.

Travel Tips for Visiting the Dolomites

Here are some top tips for an amazing trip:

  • Avoid peak summer crowds by visiting in May/June or September/early October.
  • Stay central in lively mountain villages to access activities easily. I loved Selva Val Gardena.
  • Hike early before crowds arrive and storms roll in after noon. Start by 8 am.
  • Pack layers and waterproof gear – weather can change quickly in the mountains.
  • Fill up water bottles for free at clean mountain springs. Saves money and plastic waste. 
  • Book popular cable cars like Tre Cime ahead online to skip long lines. 
  • Stop for traditional meals at rifugios after hiking – you’ve earned the indulgence! 
  • Check trail conditions and bring alpine gear for higher elevation hikes.

The Dolomites offer endless beauty and adventure. With its charming villages, epic landscapes, and boundless activities, this magnificent region deserves a spot on any traveler’s bucket list. I hope this guide provides helpful tips to make the most of your visit to these breathtaking Italian Alps. Let me know if you have any other questions! Buon viaggio!

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