Trust me, the Dolomites don’t end at Lago di Braies! There is so much more to photograph here, which doesn’t include hustling for a spot to set your tripod up and breaking onto the wooden jetty before the boat house even opens (and I thought I had seen it all).
14 Breathtaking Photography Locations in the Italian Dolomites
If you’re into photography, the Dolomites should be very high on your priority list, but what you should also prioritize is doing proper research before you venture out into this mountain range.
I have spent over 7 months in the area in 2018 and 2019 researching for my independent guide to the Italian Dolomites and this article is a small part of the series on where to photograph in the Dolomites.
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1. Baita G. Segantini
To call this a lake is a bit of an overstatement. However, small doesn’t mean insignificant! In fact, this tiny pond provides, at least in my eyes, the best mountain reflections in the Dolomites!
The spot takes its name from the little Malga (a backcountry restaurant) nestled right near the shoreline and located only a 30-minute walk from Passo Rolle, near the town of San Martino di Castrozza. It’s one of the highlights of the hike to Passo Mulaz, but can be enjoyed on its own.
There is also a dirt road that you can drive on, ending right at the restaurant, but I wouldn’t count on it. It’s often closed to tourist traffic and local authorities discourage from using it, rightly so. Do nature (and yourself) a favor and just walk.
2. Lago Di Braies
If there is one place you can skip in the Dolomites without feeling guilty, it’s this one. Although Lago di Braies is undeniably beautiful, the crowds it attracts take away from its glory.
The tip I always give to my readers to show up early in order to avoid crowds doesn’t apply here. Regardless of whether it’s 6 a.m. or 2 p.m., you can always expect a lot of people at the jetty, many of whom don’t respect the surroundings.
The shoreline is pretty eroded and there is a lot of trash lying around. The facilities are lacking and the greedy car park attendants don’t even try to be nice to visitors, because they know that the business will keep on rolling regardless.
The 8-kilometer road leading to the lake is often so stuffed with traffic, often by 10 AM the cars are being turned around. I hope the local authorities will introduce some improvements in the future. Maybe allow only shuttle buses to go to the lake to ease the traffic, but for now, the buses are stuck in queues like everybody else.
Lago di Braies has certainly fallen victim to over-tourism. The only time I have found a little bit of peace and quiet is when I strayed away from the crowds and decided to hike around the lake in the early morning hours.
The choice is ultimately yours whether you decide to visit it or not, but I wanted to shed some light on the problem because I wasn’t aware of it before I visited the lake myself.
3. Alpe Di Siusi
Rolling meadows, scarcely erected huts, and a dramatic mountain range as the backdrop, Alpe Di Siusi is the definition of the Italian Dolomites.
After a few failed attempts to capture a good enough photo to do this place justice, I finally succeeded during one cold and snowy autumn morning.
Getting there requires quite some planning. There is a paved mountain road from Siusi (Seis am Schlern) to Compaccio (Compatsch), but it is closed to traffic between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for the guests using hotel facilities in the area.
You can travel there in the early morning then stay for the whole day and drive down after 5 pm. If you are caught driving on it without a valid hotel reservation you are risking a hefty fine (over 100 Euros) and I have met people, who had to pay it.
There is a paid parking area in Compaccio, where you can park your car and hike further toward Adler Lodge (it takes around 1 hour one way). Don’t try to drive further! If you do, you will be breaking the law. There are clear signs prohibiting further traffic from Compaccio, but I have met tourists who blindly ignored it and were also fined.
There are also two gondolas you can use to reach Alpe Di Siusi: St Ulrich Seiser Alm from the town of Ortisei or Seiser Alm from Siusi (Seis am Schlern), but they both open at 9 am, which means you won’t get there for sunrise if that’s your objective.
The mountain you see as the backdrop is Sassolungo and you can scramble to one of its peaks along the via ferrata Oskar Schuster.
4. Tre Cime
If I close my eyes and imagine paradise, Tre Cime National Park comes pretty close. The iconic three peaks are not to be missed when planning a trip to the Dolomites.
The best way to explore the area is by hiking the Tre Cime circuit. It will take you via Forcella Lavaredo (photo above) and Rifugio Locatelli, where you can plan an overnight stay.
5. Lago di Carezza
When traveling around the Dolomites you will often notice that each place has two names: a German and an Italian. This backdates to World War I and the conflict between Italy and Austrio-Hungarian Empire costing many lives.
Today Lago di Carezza in the South Tyrol region is also known as Karersee and the mountain range you can see reflecting on its surface is called Latemar.
The access to Lago Carezza couldn’t be easier. There is an ample parking lot on the other side of the road and like with many spots, the easier the access the more people you can expect.
The whole lake is fenced off with signs (in English, German, and Italian) placed every few meters warning about fines for trespassing. Sadly it doesn’t seem to work on many people, particularly Instagrammers. If you want to see beautiful places like this one, preserved for future generations, please don’t be afraid to speak up when you see someone ignoring the signs.
6. Cinque Torri
Over the years this unique mountain feature has become rock climbers’ favorite. Recently though, it’s photographers who can often be seen hanging around until late hours to capture the last light hitting the peaks of Cinque Torri.
This easy-to-get-to-spot offers endless composition possibilities. There is plenty of paths you can use to explore the area and I covered the details in this article.
7. Seceda Ridgeline
I have spent a significant amount of time in the Puez Odle National Park and I can assure you that Seceda viewpoint is just one of the many amazing spots you can photograph here. Although there is no denying that this is the most famous spot in this area of the Dolomites.
The nearest town, where you can catch the Col Raiser gondola to jumpstart your hike to the ridgeline, is called Santa Cristina di Val Gardena. From the top of the gondola station, it’s an hour uphill hike along a very well-maintained path or a short ride on the Fermeda chairlift.
If you want to get there for the sunrise I recommend that you stay overnight in the nearby Rifugio Firenze or Rifugio Fermeda.
8. Cadini Di Misurina
Arguably the most dramatic range in the Dolomites, Cima Cadin has recently seen a surge of fame thanks to Instagram. Yet I feel this is another spot that is quickly falling victim to its own beauty with the Insta-famous viewpoint quickly becoming eroded.
There are three great spots, from where you can admire the dramatic spires of this range:
- Near Rifugio Auronzo – an easy-to-reach hut accessible via private (and expensive) mountain road.
- From Forcella Lavaredo along the circuit around the Tre Cime.
- Around 30 minutes into the hike connecting Rifugio Auronzo with Rifugio Fonda Savio (pictured above) along path nr 117
Cima Cadin can also be summited along the via ferrata Merlone, one of my favorite ferratas in the Dolomites.
9. Lago Limides
This tiny lake is often overlooked by visitors, overshadowed by bigger contenders on this list. The lake is also not there the whole year around. To get the shot you need to plan your visit before it dries out at the end of the season, usually around September.
I have visited it twice, the second time in October with a plan to capture the autumn foliage, but to my surprise, the lake was gone!
What can you see reflecting on its surface? Mount Lagazuoi, with its famous rifugio perched right on the top, and the Tofane Di Rozes, home to another famous via ferrata – Giovanni Lipella.
Lago Limides can be reached within half an hour from Rifugio Col Galina, around 1 kilometer away from Falzarego mountain pass along a well-marked path.
10. Lago Antorno
A small lake in close vicinity of the much larger Lago Misurina, Lago Antorno offers reflections of the western face of the Tre Cime.
Although you can’t see all three of the peaks, the surroundings more than makeup for it with a picturesque little bridge and many daisies and other wildflowers adorning its banks during the summer.
11. Lago Federa
This is an absolute must-do in autumn. The perfect time for visiting Lago Federa is in the second half of October when all the surrounding larch trees turn golden.
The nearby rifugio Palmieri is the only hut that stays open as late as the start of November to accommodate the guests flocking to the lake to see this spectacle.
You can reach the lake along the Croda Da Lago Circuit, one of my personal favorite day hikes in the Italian Dolomites.
12. Passo Giau
There is no shortage of mountain passes in the Dolomites. I have driven through and photographed so many, I have dedicated a separate post to them.
But to me, one stands out above the rest and that’s Passo Giau. It connects the towns of Cortina d’Ampezzo with Selva Di Cadore. Both are ca. 30-minute drive from the pass.
Passo Giau is not exactly a secret either. In fact, it’s a mandatory stop for many photography tours operating in the Dolomites. I don’t know of any though, which include the experience of summiting Ra Gusela – the signature peak visible from Passo Giau.
I had the pleasure of catching the sunrise on its top and believe me, it’s worth the early morning wake-up call!
13. Val Di Funes
This list wouldn’t be complete without the iconic Val di Funes and its two churches. Type ‘Dolomites’ into Google image search and this spot will appear the most. At least it does for me, but who will ever be able to understand Google algorithms right?
The San Giovanni church which you can see in the photo above is photographed more often, simply because it’s easier to find. There is a small parking area at the end of the road in the town of Santa Magdalena.
The access to church is limited, but there is a small platform built for visitors, offering a great opportunity to snap the iconic photo.
Because shuffling for a spot is not my cup of tea, I have decided to venture a bit further away for a more elevated angle.
The backdrop of San Giovanni church is none other than Seceda Ridgeline, mentioned in the post previously with its highest peaks: Furchetta and Sass Rigais, the latter accessible through a via ferrata of the same name.
The other church – Santa Maddalena (photo below) is a bit further away. The best way to reach it is to leave the car parked in town and walk the road past the church, then down along the path visible in the photograph and again uphill for an elevated view. It’s a private road and car traffic is prohibited for tourists.
14. Vajolet Towers
This is the most difficult spot to reach on this list and it will require some planning ahead, especially if you want to capture it at sunrise or sunset.
There are a few ways to reach the Vajolet Towers located in the Rosengarten Nature Park. In my guide, you can find a description of a couple of them. The first is through via ferrata Passo Santner and the second is along a challenging day hike.
Whichever one you go for, you can plan an overnight stay in the nearby Rifugio Alberto Primero, located only 5 minutes walk away from the pass where the above photograph was taken.
Staying at the hut will make things a lot easier. After all, route searching in the dark is never a good idea.
Have you got any questions about any of the spots or need help with planning your trip to the Dolomites? Post them in the comments below and make sure to check out my Italian Dolomites Guide.