One of the questions I get asked a lot in the comments underneath my articles about the Dolomites is which town should I choose as my base when coming here on holiday?
I wish there was a straight answer to that. The Dolomites are dotted with little villages, each one surrounded by seemingly endless trails and via ferratas for keen outdoor enthusiasts.
Thankfully after spending two hiking seasons in this corner of Italy I have made my top picks for this region.
In this post I give you detailed synopses about some of my favourite towns and links to separate articles from my Italian Dolomites Guide.
I hope my recommendations will help you decide where to stay when planning your holiday in the Dolomites. If you would like to support my work please use the affiliate links in the text when booking your stay (even if booking different hotels than the ones I recommend). It won’t cost you anything and I will receive a small commission for each booking! Thanks!
My Top Picks For Best Places To Stay In The Italian Dolomites
1. Cortina D’Ampezzo
Cortina D’Ampezzo is undoubtedly the most famous of all the small mountain towns in the Dolomites and due to its popularity, it’s also one of the busiest and most expensive. I’ve spent a lot of time exploring Cortina and its surroundings.
The high street boasts high end fashion stores and fancy restaurants so if you want to intersperse your mountain holiday with some shopping then Cortina is the place to do it.
The popularity of Cortina is definitely justified. There’s so much to do around the town, it’s difficult not to recommend it to most people coming to the Dolomites. Hint, accommodation around here books out quickly, unless you are coming with a campervan or a tent, make sure you’re an early bird to avoid disappointment.
Personal tip: The best pizza in town is a small father-and-son take-away only place “Ai Due Forni Fi Aldo” opposite Cinema Teatro Eden. I used to buy a whole pizza and sit on one the benches on the main street eating it making all passerby’s jealous. And for the best hot chocolate or ice cream head over to the Rizatti Shop!
Hiking around Cortina D’Ampezzo
Croda Da Lago
The Croda Da Lago Circuit is my favourite hike near Cortina. It comes to life in October in particular when the larches turn the trail into a golden paradise. The highlight of the trail is a beautiful high alpine lake called Lago Federa. A great alternative to the much busier Lake Sorapiss trail!
If you’re a keen historian or just find The Great War interesting then the hike around Cinque Torri is for you. It’s not difficult and offers a great chance to see these 5 monoliths from all angles all whilst exploring WW1 bunkers and trenches.
This is the classic hike around Cortina. The route to Lago Sorapiss includes forests, cliffs, cables, stairs and one huge mountain reflection at the end. As mentioned previously, it’s a busy hike but with all the different sections, it’s continually refreshing.
Via Ferratas Around Cortina D’Ampezzo
Probably the most famous via ferrata in the entire Dolomites, via ferrata Ivano Dibona rose to popularity after featuring in Cliffhanger movie starring Sylvester Stallone. Since 2016 the gondola going to the start of the route closed significantly lowering the traffic. Nowadays this route gets hardly any footfall giving it, at least in my eyes, even more appeal.
Giro Del Sorapiss
If you’re up for a challenging couple of days in the mountains then the Giro Del Sorapiss combines 3 individual via ferratas that, as the name suggests, circumnavigate Mount Sorapiss. It’s not for the fainthearted and includes roughly 12 to 16 hours of hiking and climbing including the approach.
When I first read about via ferrata Monte Averau, I thought a climb that short can’t go anywhere special. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This short and easy via ferrata gave me some of the most outstanding views I’ve had during my 7 month stint in the Dolomites.
Because of the amount of different iron paths available, I have recently put together a separate article with the best via ferratas around Cortina D’Ampezzo for all level of adventurers.
Mountain Huts Around Cortina D’Ampezzo
The chair lift up to rifugio Pomedes is one reason that puts this hut amongst my favourites around Cortina. The main reason though is the view. Sitting on the terrace, sipping a beer, watching the tumultuous afternoon clouds build up over Croda Da Lago or watching climbers going up and down Ra Bujela is a real treat.
This private hut (pictured above) is accessible by the Lagazuoi Tunnels, a feast of adventure and WW1 history. It’s also accessible by cable car but what sets this hut apart is the cuisine. It’s some of the best hut food I’ve ever had. The view isn’t bad either 😉
One of the oldest refuges in the Dolomites, this precariously placed hut is a grand feat of engineering. To appreciate its position, look at the hut from the top of nearby mountain Ra Gusela.
Hotel Recommendations in Cortina D’Ampezzo
2. Corvara in Badia
Corvara is kind of like Cortina’s little sister. Both are only about 20km apart as the crow flies (36km driving). The pass separating them is Passo Falzarego, one of the most scenic passes in the Dolomites.
However Corvara has another famous pass up its sleeve – Passo Gardena, where you can find several great via ferratas. This is also one of the passes where Alta Via 2 runs, a two week long traverse across the Dolomites.
The town itself is much quieter than Cortina and has more of a local feel. There are more independent shops, smaller side streets for exploring and it is completely surrounded by ski lifts if you’re coming in the winter.
FYI: Best pizza in town is the Bar Pizzeria Villa Caterina
Via Ferratas in Corvara
Gran Cir is one of the easiest via ferratas in the Dolomites making it a great introduction into the World of scrambling. It’s short, impossible to get lost on and very rewarding. The views of the ant sized cars down on Passo Gardena make you appreciate how quickly you gain elevation on this route.
Tougher than Gran Cir, Brigata Tridentina has a Smith/Fletcher rating of 3B, it’s a 4-5 hour return but could be broken up by an overnight stay in Rifugio Pisciadu, or extended by climbing to the summit of Mount Piscadiu.
Sentiero Attrezzato Sassongher
If you scroll back up to the panoramic shot of Corvara you will notice that the town lies directly at the foot of a beautiful peak. The peak is called Sassongher and as mean as it looks, its other side (not visible in the photograph) is accessible via a beginner iron path of the same name.
I go more into detail about this route in my article about the best beginner via ferratas in the Dolomites.
Hotel recommendations in Corvara
3. Sesto and San Candido
These two towns, separated by a 5-minute drive, are located in the northern region of the Dolomites. Their allure is mainly due to the proximity to the northern border of the Tre Cime Nature Park.
That being said, the towns themselves have no defining features over other small towns in the Dolomites apart from providing a break from the comparatively chaotic Cortina.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t worth staying in. On the contrary! They offer a quieter, more idyllic setting to appreciate the splendour of the mountains.
Outdoor activities near Sesto and San candido
The closest you can drive to the northern tip of the Tre Cime Nature Park is down Val Fiscalina. This valley is the gateway to the via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini mentioned below but also numerous hikes leading to mountain huts including rifugio Zsigmondy-Comici, Pian di Cengia and rifugio Carducci.
The hike through the Fiscalina Valley is one of my personal favourite day hikes in the Italian Dolomites and without hesitation, I would place it in the top 3!
Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini
A great beginner via ferrata that starts in Val Fiscalina is the Strada Degli Alpini. It’s a technically simple but very long ferrata.
I recommend splitting it up over 2 days to maximise your time spent at a higher elevation and at the same time allowing yourself to experience the mountain hut culture of Italy by staying in either rifugio Zsigmondy – Comici or Pian di Cengia.
The Croda Rossa Summit
The route to Croda Rossa is only one of a few via ferratas on my initial list that I didn’t manage to complete during my two hiking/climbing seasons in 2018 and 2019 in the Dolomites. It’s best accessed from the Rudi Hut and the summit views of the nearby Croda Dei Toni are supposed to be unparalleled. If you do it, let me know in the comments below!!!
Lago di Braies
Sesto or San Candido are both great places to stay if you want to check out the instafamous Lago di Braies. Personally, I am not a huge fan of busy places. I normally head to the mountains to find solitude. However, there is no denying that Lago di Braies is beautiful and with a little bit of proper planning you too can enjoy it without crazy crowds.
Also known as Pico Di Vallandro, this mountain is located within the boundaries of the Fannes-Senne-Braies National Park. The Durrenstein summit is a great hike for those seeking something more than a walk around the lake.
Hotel recommendations in Sesto and San Candido
If you plan on seriously exploring Tre Cime then this place gets you a closer start. I am not even sure if Misurina can be considered an actual town. Apart from a few hotels, restaurants and tourist shops there is nothing else here. The whole town just shuts down during the shoulder seasons.
Lago (from Italian: lake) Misurina is undoubtedly the most defining feature of this place. This tiny town offers the best access to the southern tip and a few classic hikes of the Tre Cime National Park.
TIP: There’s only a few hotels here, which book out even faster than Cortina, so book well in advance. Misurina is only 30 minutes drive away from Cortina, so if you don’t find accommodation in Misurina you can still visit this area by staying in Cortina.
Outdoor activities near Misurina
One of the best photography spots in the Italian Dolomites, Lago d’Antorno is only around a 5 minute drive away from Misurina. If you’re having a rest day then just meandering around the lake or sitting in the cafe with a coffee, watching the world go by, is really relaxing.
Via Ferrata Merlone
Imagine a ladder. Now imagine lots of ladders. Now imagine lots of ladders mounted to the side of a mountain. You are now imagining via ferrata Merlone. This route, starting from Rifugio Fonda Savio, offers the opportunity for a good workout and culminates in spectacular views from the summit of Cima Cadin.
Tre Cime Nature Park Highlights
As well as Merlone there are other via ferratas in the Tre Cime Nature Park including Torre di Toblin and Innerkofler which are fun and exciting in their own way. For those of you who like to keep your feet on the ground, there’s also the world-famous hiking loop of Tre Cime, one of the most sought after day hikes in the Dolomites.
Hotel recommendations in Misurina
Suisi is a rather large town in the Dolomites and hasn’t seen too much of a tourist invasion compared to other spots. The main reason people come to stay here is the access to the Alpe di Suisi Altiplano – Europe’s highest alpine meadow.
For closer access to the altiplano, Compatsch is better situated but offers almost no amenities or shops. The town of Siusi is quaint and has a very local feel to it. It also lies in the german speaking part of the Dolomites.
Suisi also makes a great place to start an adventure into the Rosengarten Nature Park to the South.
Outdoor activities in Siusi
Alpi di Suisi
The meadows, the main attraction of the town, are a short 20 minute drive away. The road however is closed to public traffic during certain hours. With a little planning ahead though you shouldn’t have any problems to visit.
FYI: Make yourself aware of the road restrictions to Alpi di Siusi. They are in this article. I have met several groups who have been fined €100+ for breaking the rules.
The Seiser Alm Gondola
The Seis/Seiser Alm gondola negates the need to drive to Alpi di Suisi. It drops you off in the heart of Compatsch where you can walk into the meadows at your leisure.
San Valentino Church
The San Valentino Church (pictured above) stands high above Siusi and makes for an incredible photo opportunity. It is framed under the peaks of Massiccio dello Sciliar Schlern.
Hotel recommendations in Siusi
6. San Martino di Castrozza and Fiera Di Primiero
These two small towns located in the Trentino region of Italy offer unrivalled access to the Pale di San Martino range. This mountain group has some of the most incredible spires and monoliths I’ve seen in the Dolomites and receives only a small percentage of footfall compared to Tre Cime.
Whilst San Martino Di Castrozza is a typical ski town, Fiera Di Primiero has definitely a more local feel to it. It also has some of the best ice cream parlours I have come across when living in Italy.
Both towns are around 20 minutes apart from each other and both offer great access to day hikes and via ferratas within the Pale di San Martino range.
Outdoor activities near San Martino di castrozza and Fiera di Primiero
Passo Rolle – Baita G Segantini
One of the most scenic passes in the Italian Dolomites, Passo Rolle lies just north of San Martino di Castrozza. By hiking only 45 minutes from the pass you can reach the idyllic Baita G Segantini – a small mountain hut built next to a pond with the best reflections of Cimon della Pala within the beautiful sawtooth range (pictured above).
Hiking in the Pale di San Martino Range
From a day hike to Passo del Mulaz to the challenging seven days Palaronda trek circumnavigating the whole Pale di San Martino range, there is something for everyone.
I have crossed the range twice, the first time doing a 3 day loop starting and ending on Passo Rolle and the second time whilst backpacking along with the Alta Via 2.
If you’re after a more relaxing way to see the mountains, the two-tier Col Verde-Rosetta cable car located in San Martino will whisk you up thousands of metres into the peripheries of the range in just a few short minutes.
From the upper station, you can take a quick stroll to rifugio Rosetta or hike to the nearby peak of Cima Rosetta from where you will get a beautiful view into the heart of the range. This is probably one of the easiest summits you can bag in the Dolomites.
Via ferrata Bolver Lugli
One of my personal favourite iron paths in the Dolomites thanks to the combination of fun climbing and the dramatic views over the monoliths typical for this range. I have a separate article dedicated to via ferrata Bolver Lugli so make sure to check it out!
One of my most recent hikes in the Dolomites. Monte Castellaz is a great half day hike with killer views over Cima della Palla and Val Venegia.
Hotel recommendations in San Martino di Castrozza and Fiera di Primiero
7. Canazei and Campitello di Fassa
If I was lucky enough to be able to afford a place in the Dolomites, I would buy one in either of these two towns in Val di Fassa. Doesn’t that already say something?
The stark contrast between hotel balconies covered in multicoloured pansies below monumentally large mountains makes this my favourite valley.
Both towns are very close to Passo Pordoi, Passo Fedaia and Passo Sella, where a myriad of hiking trails and ferratas start. The passes give access to Sassopiatto and Sassolungo, Piz Boè to the North, the entire Rosengarten group to the West and Marmolada, the Queen of the Dolomites, to the South East.
They are also big enough to have real supermarkets with ample choice of products and of course countless pizza parlours, gelaterias and cafes!
Outdoor activities around Val di Fassa
Apart from being a driver’s paradise, Passo Sella is also great for hikers and climbers. Two excellent via ferratas start from the pass: The advanced via ferrata Mesules and intermediate via ferrata Oskar Schuster.
Passo Pordoi & the summit of Piz Boè
Passo Pordoi connects Val di Fassa with Arabba – another famous ski town around here. Directly at the pass, you can take advantage of the Sass Pordoi cable car which will take you to an altitude of over 2900 meters. From here it’s only 1-1.5 hour hike to the summit of Piz Boè. At 3152 meters it’s the highest peak in the Sella group!
The Rosengarten Nature Park
I have a soft spot in my heart for the Rosengarten Nature Park. I spent a great week adventuring there with my friends. There’s a lot to see and do there including via ferrata Passo Santner and via ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano or the fantastic hike to Vajolet towers!
Marmolada and the museum of the Great War
Whilst personally I am not a big fan of museums, this one is something else. The Great War museum is located at Punta Serauta – one of the summits of Marmolada – the highest mountain in the Dolomites and there is a cable car going directly to it.
Make sure to also ride the second cable car from Punta Serauta to Punta Rocca and spend some time on the terrace with 360-degree view of the Dolomites!
The bottom of the cable car is in Malga Ciapella only 30-minute drive away from Canazei.
Hotel recommendations in Val di Fassa
8. Madonna di Campiglio
The town I’m recommending that is furthest West (by a long way) is Madonna di Campligio. Comparatively to other towns on this list, Madonna di Campiglio and the nearby Adamello Brenta Nature Park are not as popular amongst international travellers, at least outside of the ski season months.
The Adamello Brenta Nature Park is otherworldly and I spent some time exploring it during my 5 days long Dolomiti Brenta Traverse.
The shot above was taken at one of the backcountry huts I stayed at and it best represents the views you can expect. It’s a fun traverse that includes many via ferratas, minor glacier crossings and cosy evenings in the huts.
Madonna Di Campiglio is a great and slightly off the beaten path destination and I recommend it to anyone who wants to see the Dolomites beyond the famous but slightly overcrowded locations.
Hotel recommendations in Madonna di Campiglio
9. Ortisei in Val Gardena
Ortisei is a ‘big’ town with a decent-sized supermarket and amenities. It has a very German feel to it. There’s a river which runs through its centre and it has lots of quaint side streets perfect for exploring.
The Gardena Valley is connected with the previously mentioned Fassa Valley via the Sella Pass where you can get amongst the towers of Sassopiatto and Sassolungo on the Oskar Schuster Via Ferrata or to the moonscape on top of the Sella Massif on the Via Ferrata Mesules.
FYI: If you need a break after a good stint hiking then there’s a public swimming pool with a sauna and steam room in Ortisei.
Outdoor activities in Val Gardena
Photograph – Suisi and Seceda
Ortisei is a great place to base yourself if you are a photographer. On one side of the valley, there’s the St Ulrich Seisler Alm gondola which whisks you up to Alpi di Suisi, the high alpine meadow described earlier.
On the other side, the Col Raiser gondola transports you to the Puez-Ödle Nature Park where you can hike through the Puez Odle altiplano and see the instafamous Seceda Ridgeline.
I already talked about Passo Gardena earlier in my description of another town – Corvara. It’s worth mentioning that this pass connects Corvara with Ortisei meaning if you want to check out the highlights of Passo Gardena you can also easily do that whilst staying in Ortisei.
Via Ferrata Sass Rigais
Sass Rigais is the highest peak of the Seceda Ridgeline and here’s some great news: you can scramble to its top! Via Ferrata Sass Rigais is a beginner route with a decent approach and descent but certainly worth putting onto your itinerary.
Hotel recommendations in Ortisei
Without a doubt, Alleghe has the most dramatic backdrop of all towns on this list. Not only is it located on the shore of a beautiful turquoise lake but also has great access to Monte Civetta which I personally call the meanest looking mountain in all of the Dolomites.
Its North face raises a whopping 2000 meters above the town efficiently blocking a lot of the sunlight in the Winter. Luckily this isn’t an issue in the summer season when the days are long and leave plenty of room for exploring.
Outdoor activities in Alleghe
Via Ferrata Degli Alleghesi
If you’ve got some via ferrata experience consider doing the via ferrata Degli Alleghesi to the summit of Mount Civetta. That’s right, you can submit that mean-looking mountain! Lake Alleghe is visible from the summit and it looks like a tiny pond! I guess that’s what 2000m of elevation gain does.
Hike to lake Coldai
Another one of my favourite Dolomiti day treks. This 3-4 hour round trip hike takes you to a beautiful high alpine lake at the foot of Mount Civetta. The located nearby Coldai hut is a great place to grab lunch so you can go as light as possible and enjoy your day!
Hotel recommendations in Alleghe
As you can see the choices are plentiful, all you have to do is take your pick! I know it’s not easy but here is what I recommend.
If your time is limited, first pick the activities, hikes, climbs or photography spots you want to visit, work out where they are on a map then find the most central location. I am also working on a few itineraries that may help you with your planning.
Personally, if I were coming for less than three days I wouldn’t bother trying to explore more than one town. The hassle of checking in/checking out will waste your precious time so instead, focus on one place.
It’s hard to make a bad decision when visiting here but if you do have any questions please pop them in the comments below. I answer all comments personally!
Hi Marta, Your blog is SO helpful! Thank you! What do you think of San Cassiano as a base for 3-4 days? Many thanks!!
Hi there, beautiful website. Your hiking adventures are just amazing. Thank you for sharing! I am planning a trip with my family, kids ages 9, 13, and 15. The first week of July. Feeling a little overwhelmed with all of the information out there. I am trying to plan a well-balanced trip where kids will enjoy hiking and other fun activities like biking and maybe a small taste of via Ferrata. I am thinking of staying three nights at Cortina D’Ampezzo, and 2 nights at Ortisei. Do you think these two towns are good for families? and are we well located in these towns to do some of the hikes that you recommend? We will also have a car since we will be driving down from Munich. Any recommendations for fun activities for teens would be very much appreciated. 🙂
I hope you are well!
Hi Perla. Thanks for visiting and for your Ko-Fi support. Much appreciated. Cortina and Ortisei are great towns but they are also the busiests towns in the Dolomites. If you don’t mind that you will love it. Cortina has access to a lot of Via ferratas of different levels. I think a fun and short one is VF Ra Bujela which you should check out. Whilst I do not mountain bike (yet) there are plenty of biking trails in the Dolomites that you can undertake. You can go paragliding in Corvara. I think Lagazuoi tunnels hike is always fun for the kids. Another great and beginner via Ferrata is Averau with amazing views. I also think you would enjoy via ferrata Innerkofler in Tre Cime. It also has some tunnels and amazing views from the top of Monte Paterno. As for Ortisei in Val Gardena check out this site. You will have plenty of bike fun there. Lots of via ferratas there too, including Sass Rigais or Gran Cir. I have linked to all my recommendations. I hope that helps and points you in the right direction. Do let me know if you have more questions!
Hello Marta, thank you for sharing; such a great article! We are wanting to visit the Dolomites for 10 days in late May / Early June. Is it advisable to pre-book accommodation or is it easy to find accommodation “on the fly” or as you go? Thanking you in advance! Natalie
Hi Natalie. Thanks for stopping by. You should be ok with winging it, as it is still a low season, but at the same time the longer you are with the fewer options you will have and the more expensive it can be.
Thanks so much for this article, truly great read
We are planning on visiting in May which would be between Summer and Winter
Is there still plenty on, lifts operating, restaurants and hotels open in May ?
Thanks in advance
Hi Tim. Thanks for visiting. I am afraid in May none of the lifts operate in the area and all the backcountry huts are still closed. The earliest ones open in the Rosengarten area but not until usually late May. Whilst some hotels and restaurants do close for the mid-season (usually small local ones), others remain open year-round, so when it comes down to restaurants and accommodation you won’t have trouble booking that. Any high-elevation hiking will be rather out of the question, but it is possible to hike in the Dolomites in May. I visited the Dolomites for the first time last year in the spring from the beginning of May for a week and I did hike a few trails. I will soon put a spring itinerary for the Dolomites. Let me know if you have more questions.
Hi. Your website is amazing and super informative so thank you so much! It is overwhelming though, to plan a trip to the Dolomites as there is so much info everywhere!! I would like to stay in rifugios for one to two nights, do at least one medium level via ferrata and stay in at least one other town besides Cortina. Do you have any good suggestions for the following itineraries:
– Stay in hotel in Cortina and do day trips AND at least one night in a rifugio (options for double rooms). Then go to another town, possibly Corvara, Canazie, or whatever other super picturesque village you recommend, and do day trips from there but also add one night in a great rifugio that has rooms for 2 instead of only dorm style. A via ferrata in this area would be great too.
I am having trouble organizing all the info to plan a logical itinerary where I will have access to all those above things. Seems like there are a lot of options, but picking ones that make sense is proving difficult because I am piecing together info from so many websites. I am MORE THAN HAPPY to support you with a donation as your website has been super helpful. Thank you so much.
Hi Jodi! Thanks for stopping by and I can understand you are feeling overwhelmed. Could you answer a couple of questions? Will you have a car? How many days are you going to be in the Dolomites? I do have lots of ideas but would be helpful to know the answers first then I can give you some pointers!
Hi Marta, you are an amazing writer and so kind to provide so much personal advice to everyone here! I wonder if I might weigh in with my question… We are meeting some friends for a birthday celebration in Tuscany in July. We live in Austin, Texas, USA, where it is very hot in the summer, so we thought we might come early and head up to the Dolomites (or even Swiss alps) where it will be cooler. As fascinated as I am by Italian architecture and history, what I’m really craving is an escape from people and a deep submersion in nature. We only have 6/20-6/24, but I’m happy picking one quiet village town and staying there the whole time. We can do trains/public transport or rent a car. We have a friend in Bologna we’d like to see so that will likely be our launch point on 6/20, if not Venice.
Hi Stephanie, Thanks for your post above and sharing your experience.
Hi Marta, I am reposting as we had to change where we stay. Almost all of them preferred to stay at 1 place.
We will be staying in La Villa for 3 nights. We have cars.
Sep 29th, 2022 – Reach La Villa around 2:00 pm – Drive from Milan
Sep 29th – Val Gardena pass drive, Visit Jimmy’s hut. Relax and walk around La Villa.
Sep 30th – Seceda (Cable car) in the morning. Val Di Funes (Adolf Munkel Trail) in the late afternoon
Oct 1st – Armentara Meadows (Santa Croce) hike in the morning. Take a cable car to Pralongia and e-Bike there or take a cable car and a hike to Piz Boe.
Oct 2nd – Tri Ceme hike from Rifugio Auronzo and depart to Venice from the Auronzo parking lot
Do you have any suggestions looking at the itinerary above?
Do you recommend taking a cable car and a hike to Piz Boe or Pralongia or another place in Alta Badia?
Anything you strongly feel that we should replace with something else that is more beautiful or gives better experience.
Thanks for your help.
Hi Naveen. Your itinerary looks good and La Villa will put you somewhat in the middle of those 3. I see you are aiming at the highlights: Seceda and Tre Cime. They are busy areas even in the shoulder season.
The only thing I would have changed is driving up Passo Gardena on the 29th. You will be driving through it on the 30th anyways. Both ways quite possibly! Instead, I would have maybe driven up Passo Falzarego and taken the gondola up to rifugio Lagazuoi on the 29th. Or drive to Corvara and take the Piz Boe gondola and explore the area up there. Corvara is an amazing little town. Have lots of fun and your trip and let me know if I can help further!
Hi! Thanks for taking the time to write and publish this info, it’s been so helpful to us as we plan our trip! We’re a Canadian couple arriving September 1 for 10 days after (literally) years of planning but it looks like rain & thunderstorms for the first 2 weeks of the month. Would you know of a reliable weather app for the area that’s better than the general ones? And have you got some recommendations for those of us who were hoping to do most of the dayhikes on your list if it’s raining with thunderstorms? We are pretty outdoorsy but I draw the line at thunderstorms… I’ve read that the cable cars won’t run in storms either, which has me concerned as we have reservations for huts only accessible by long hikes or cable car!
Hi Stephanie. Thanks for your great feedback. For the past year I have mostly been using a weather app called YR. It’s not 100% accurate but it’s better than the generic phone app.
As for thunderstorms. I have said it many many times in my articles. The best luck for hiking is always in the morning, by midday most peaks are covered in clouds and the storms arrive in the afternoon. This is such a common weather pattern in the Dolomites that most of my time when I was there I didn’t even bother checking the weather because I knew what’s coming. That’s why I religiously repeat that hiking in the Dolomites during summer season should be done in the morning. I often left at 6AM so that by midday I was done and back in the safety of my van or in a mountain hut. Please don’t stress about the weather too much and don’t check for two weeks in advance! It’s pointless. You will be very unlucky if it rains the whole day, but I believe that you will have beautiful mornings and cloudy/stormy or rainy afternoons. I am surprised there are still storms in forecast tbh. Usually the season for storms is June/July and mid August but the weather has been shifting. Once again. Don’t stress too much. I am sure you will have plenty of opportunities to hike! Just remember to go early. And I just checked YR and it doesn’t forecast storms, just some rain, but most morning in the next few days looks fine.
Thanks Marta, I’ve downloaded it and it’s good to hear there’s a somewhat predictable pattern most of the time. Let’s hope it does as you said. Though we have had rotten luck in Italy on previous trips – in 2019 we went to Puglia for a biking trip and to the Amalfi coast during late May for what was “usually” warm and sunny days but turned out to be unseasonably rainy, cold and cloudy for 2 weeks. So honestly it would not surprise me if we did get rain the whole time. I’m guessing from the lack of other suggestions that there is not much by way of notable indoor activities?
Sorry to hear that! I will keep my fingers crossed, but the good thing is the weather changes quickly in the mountains so at least some parts of the days will be good. tbh with you, I think the weather pattern in the Dolomites is the most predictable I have ever found myself in. As for indoor activities, there are some museums and gondolas which you can visit or take and of course spa places, but other than that nothing else comes to my mind. Sorry, I can’t help further. Let me know how it goes!
I thought I would follow up on this now that we just returned in case it is helpful for anyone else. We were in the Dolomites from Sept 1 – 10. I would describe the weather we had as “dramatic” and “unpredictable”. 5 out of 10 days it was overcast and rainy most of the day. Sometimes there was a bit of clear sky in the morning or evening but a lot of time there was a mix of low & high cloud throughout the day with some sunny breaks. We never experienced a day of full sun, but it was also fine for photography as having some shade and shadow really enhances the drama. We used the weather site 3Bmeteo.com which we found to have the most accurate predictions and hour-by-hour forecast for each local place. We also checked live webcams on top of mountains because some days there was a cloud inversion and we could take a cable car above the clouds to see some sunny peaks. We had to hike through heavy rain and thunder for about 4 hours one day which was pretty miserable even if you have rain gear. Finally, Rifugio Scoiattoli is in the best location for photographing Cinque Torri, but it definitely has bedbugs even in private rooms which was what we stayed in.
Hi Stephanie! Yikes, bed bugs! I have stayed in so many huts in the Dolomites and never had those (did experience them in some hostels along my travels though). I can imagine the issue arose probably during the pandemic when guests had to bring their own sleeping bags. Bed bugs spread quickly then. Hopefully, it’s just a one-off thing. As for the weather, I am glad you made the most of it. I am currently in Tirol, Austria and today is a beautiful bluebird day but the first two days it was a mix of sun, clouds and rain. Cloud inversions are my favourite and I have never seen as many of them as I did in the Dolomites. All in all sorry to hear you didn’t have as much sun as you might have wished for, but I truly hope you still have had an amazing time!
This article was amazing! By reading it we could rule out some spots (Cortina and lake braide eg) but still so many places and so little time. So I wonder if you can give us some advice.
Me and my boyfriend is taking the car to Italy (we will enter from Austria). In the car we also have tent etc, and because we are out in last minute so we assume it might be camping for our part. We are mostly interested in hiking, Canoeing (if it’s calm waters!) And just beautiful spots. But maybe the most important is less crowded town and not only tourists. And ice cream and pizza of course!
Do you have any suggestions where to have our base or do a hike? 🙂
Hi Julia. Thanks for stopping by and your lovely. Try Selva di Cadore. It is very quiet there in comparison to Cortina. Once there I highly recommend the hike to Col De La Puina or if you travel over Passo Staulanza to rifugio Palafavera you can hike up to lake Coldai and further up to Cima Coldai for great views of Monte Civetta. The lakes in the Dolomites are quite small for canoeing and most being inaccessible by car, aren’t good. There is a beautiful lake directly in Auronzo (also a town) and it has great colours. You should be able to canoe there. Staying at mountain passes is also a choice. For example, you could go to Passo Sella and do the Sassolungo circuit. No towns there, only a few hotels built scarcely. Passo Tre Croci has great access to Lake Sorapiss hike (although that is a busy one so a very early start is a must). I hope this gives you some ideas 🙂 Have fun!
You can please consider this option as well when you respond to my previous question.
Will it be better if I base in Santa Christina (Monte Pana Dolomitis Hotel. Is this a good one with excellent views?) on Sep 29th and 30th and may be stay at Val Pusteria area on Oct 1st to cover the Caldini Musurina view point hike, Tri Ceme, and Lake Braies.
Thanks a lot for putring together multiple blogs with excellent information.
We are a group of family and friends along with kids ages 9-15 traveling to Dolomites. We will be there from Sep 29th (Traveling from Milan at 10:30 am by car) till Oct 2nd late evening (Traveling to Venice not to see it but have to catch an early morning flight on Oct 3rd).
We like few things but consideing the time available, I was wondering if you can help in finalizing what to see/skip. Appreciate your help.
Things we like:
1. Caldina Misurina View Point hike and Tri Ceme. Hike from Auronzo parking lot.
See the Dreizinnenhütte – Rifugio and/or Lavaredo hut
2. Seceda – Take a cable car and hike to the Seceda view point, Rifuge Firenze, and may be back to Santa Christina if time permits
3. Alpe di Suisi
4. Santa Maddalena – Visit the 2 churches and walk around. No time for the Adolf Munkel trail
5. Sassolungo – Single chair lift to the top and a short hike there
6. Lake Braies early in the morning around 6:30/7:00 am
7. Rent a bike in the village for a few hours
8. Drive around the Passo Gaiu, Gardena, Sella
9. Val Fiscalina hike around that area for may be 3 hours or so.
These are our interests but obviously can’t do everything.
Since we have a car, we dont mind staying in the middle may be Corvara or La Villa and drive about 1 hour – 1:15 mins each side
rather than picking 3 different bases. Alternatively, 2 days at 1 place and 1 day at other place is also an option if it is better.
Can you please provide your recommendations on
1) Very scenic mountain towns to stay – 1 base or 2 bases?
2) Which amongst the above 9 would you recommend us to see/do with the time we have?
Thanks for your help.
Hi Naveen, Thankk for stopping by. Given the short time frame, the fact that you are travelling in a big group and the windy roads in the Dolomites you really have to be honest with yourself and realize that you can’t see much. From your interests, I suggest that you stay for a couple of nights in Val Gardena. Yes, that hotel in Santa Christina will definitely be nice. When staying here you can tick off: Seceda, Alpi Di Siusi and the Santa Maddalena village (even if you don’t have time for Adolf Munkel trail you can still do the shorter Panorama trail around the village). I also couldn’t recommend enough the walk through Vallunga. It’s very easy, family-friendly and super beautiful without the Seceda crowds.
You can then head out and stay somewhere around Monguelfo or San Candido in Val Pusteria and on that day see Lago di Braies or Cadini di Misurina or do the hike to Zsigmundy hut across Val Fiscalina. I know the Cadini di Misurina viewpoint became such an instagram hype etc, but I would highly suggest that you go to Val Fiscalina instead. Not only you will spend less time driving (from Val Pusteria to rifugio Auronzo it will take at least one hour to drive, whereas from San Candido to Hotel Dolomitenhof – the start of Val Fiscalina hike it will only be 15 mins), but you will also have a lot less people there. I personally think Cadini di Misurina viewpoint is totally overhyped at the moment and destroyed by instagrammers. Close to San Candido you also have the beautiful Lake Dobiacco. You can walk around it. It takes around 1 hour, it’s mostly flat and the views are stunning. Not too far from Lake Dobiacco is also Lago di Landro. Anyways I hope that helps! I would really appreciate if you use the links to hotels when booking anything. If you have any questions do let me know!
Hey Marta, great blog!
We travel from France, via the north of Italy, to Slovenia.
Do you have any advice for some villages in the mountains of parco Val Grande, delle Orobie Bergamasche, Adamello-Brenta and/or Stelvio?Your blog is focused on a specific part (Dolomites) of the north of Italy.
We love to hike but we travel with a baby so we have to skip some mountain peaks..
(In addition, we skip Lake Maggiore, Lugano and Coma because of the crowds and it can be very hot there.)
Hopefully you can help us a little bit, thanks!
Hi Emiel! Thanks for stopping by. No, unfortunately, I don’t. I have done a 5-day Dolomiti Brenta Traverse which you can find on my site under the hut-to-hut category, but this one is a traverse with 8 via ferratas along the way. Lake Molveno and Lake Tovel are beautiful places worth checking out. Rovereto is a really nice town if you like history and wineries. I also found places like Fiera Di i Primero or San Martino di Castrozza to be a lot quieter. I hope that helps a bit.
Thanks for the very informative article. I will be coming to the Dolomites the first week of September, for about 5-7 days. I am thinking of making my base in either Ortisei or Cortina D’Ampezzo. Do you have any experience or knowledge of the AirBnb/VRBO market in the area? I would love to shop local butchers, green grocers and bakeries and prepare meals myself for about half the time.
Also, do you which, if any, photo locations allow drones? Is it worth bringing a drone?
Hi Steve. Thanks for stopping by. I am personally hugely against airbnb and its policies, so I am afraid I won’t be able to help. The accommodation in the area for the locals is already very scarce and difficult to obtain and airbnb makes it that much harder. There are plenty of hotels and self-contained apartments for rent in places like booking for example so you could try there. Since both are ski resorts, self-contained apartments are actually easy to come by. As for the question of drones, head over to the FAQ section on the Italian Dolomites guide page and look for question 17. I go there in detail and also linked to a website where drone flying rules are explained. Let me know if you have more questions!
I have read so many articles about the Dolomites and you have a knack for providing information. We will be arriving in mid-September – 1st night in Milan – 2 nights Lake Como then 4 nights in the Dolomites – then one night in Venice – then back to the states. Was going to take a train from Lake Como to Bozen and rent a car – looking at staying at the Hotel La Perla per your recommendation – do you suggest 2/3 nights there and 1/2 nights at Casa Vacanze Villa Elena? Then on to Venice where we will drop off the rental car. Thank you for this article – it is filled with wonderful information.
Hi Cheryl! Thanks for stopping by and for your great feedback!. 3 nights in Corvara would be great. I absolutely love it there and was actually just there again a couple of weeks ago. There is a lot to do around there if you plan on hiking, and you could try out some fantastic via ferratas too! Alleghe is stunning. 1 night there would be enough unless once again you are planning to hike there too. Let me know if you have any more questions!
Hi Marta, how are you?
Thank you again for so much wonderful information and the time you take to help us here!
I wonder if you can have a look at my schedule below and see if you think there are too many things (and drives) listed, or have any additional suggestion? I am not sure where to stay after the Secceda Ridgeline hike, since I find straying for just one night at a place a bit tiring.
The main plan is to mix easy hikes with more demanding ones, plus doing 4 days of the Via 1 (the refuges are already booked).
09 – Milan airport (arrive 11am) – Santa Madalena – (Adolf Munkel trail)
10 – Santa Madalena – (Lago di Braies easy Hike)
11 – Santa Madalena – Ortisey (Secceda Ridgeline)
12 – Free day – Passo Gardena – Drive to Cortina
13 – Cortina – Refugio Sennes
14 – Sennes – Lavarela
15 – Lavarela – Lagazou
16 – Lagazou – Cortina
17 – Cortina (relax – drive to passo Giau)
18 – Cortina – (Croda di Lago or Lake Sorapis)
19 – Cortina – Milan (leave 20:25) – Portugal
Hi Ana. Thanks for stopping by and your lovely comment. I think your itinerary looks good but by looking at it I would just recommend one thing and that is to skip Lago di Braies. Whilst it is a beautiful lake the tourist crowds are overwhelming. Since you will be in the area of Val Gardena instead of driving for 2 hours one way and back to see the lake which in the afternoon might be extremely crowded and you might not even get a parking spot I would recommend that instead you take the gondola from Val Gardena up to Alpi di Siusi and have a walk around there.
You could also check out Passo Delle Erbe close to Santa Maddalena and hike from there to rifugio Genova or to one of the summits of Sass De Putia (one is just a hike, the other a via ferrata)
It’s closer and you will see a small fraction of people. I know everyone wants to see the top 3 things: Lago di Braies, Seceda and Tre Cime but please don’t fixate on the lake. I hope that helps a bit. Let me know if I can help any further!
Thank you so much Marta!
I will skip Lago di Braies then. It will be a good excuse to come back.
But in this case, do you think we shoud go straight to Ordisey (and hike the Secceda and the Alpe di Sisu) and skip Sta Madalena?
I think heading to Ortisei or Santa Cristina and basing yourself for the first 3 days so you can check out Seceda, Alpi Di Siusi and from there do a day trip to Santa Maddalena (it’s only 40 min drive from Ortisei) will be smarter. Santa Maddalena is really tiny whereas in Val Gardena you have a lot more accommodation options as well as great access to lifts. I’d still go for the Adolf Munkel trail or the Panorama trail but you can do it as a day trip.
I was thinking the same.
Thank you so much! You’ve really helped planning my trip.
All the best to you.
I am glad I could help! I hope you have an amazing time in the Dolomites! Let me know how it goes!
Hi Marta – I will be passing through the Dolmites 14/06/22 – 17/06/22. I am tentatively looking at 2 nights in Cortina and 1 in Ortesi before catching a train from Bolzano to Munich. I am wondering if the towns mentioned here will be up and running for the summer season by then, as well as if most of the hikes mentioned are typically snow free by mid June.
Thank you for the great content!
Hi Ross, Thanks for stopping by. Some lifts in Ortisei, particularly Col Raiser or Furnes-Seceda already open at the end of May this year so you will be fine for Ortisei. Hikes around Cortina should be doable too, for example, I once hiked to Lake Sorapiss in mid-June and it was totally fine. I am actually currently in Cortina and there is still loads of snow in some places, but southern slopes below 2000 meters are already fine to hike. I hope that helps!
Exhaustive article…..Need @ least 3-4 readings to grasp the amount of info…Moreover very unfamiliar names of places & landscapes….Needs an Italian/English dictionary to comprehend the connection…Very helpful advise…Sure will be useful on our upcoming visit in July 2022.
Hi Rajesh. Thanks for stopping by and for your feedback. Yes, the Italian names might be difficult to remember, but I am afraid they don’t have English translations. I hope you have read it a few times now and got a better grasp, but do let me know if you have any questions. I hope you will have a wonderful visit in July!
Many thanks for this info & beautiful photos – we are an Australian family hoping to spend a snowy Christmas in the Dolomites… we’re wanting a picturesque town with maybe a day or 2 (beginner!) skiing. Where would you recommend?
Thanks for stopping by on my site. There are so many ski resorts in Italy you will be spoilt for choices.
Val Badia (Corvara) is a very popular resort with lots of possibilities, including great access to the famous Sella Ronda ski trip.
Cortina D’Ampezzo never disappoints, and also offers access to many beginner routes.
Moena is a great place to go to and a bit under the radar for international tourists.
If you want a bit bigger town then Bressanone would be something to consider with great access to ski lifts.
I hope that helps a bit. If you have any more questions please do let me know!
Thank you for the information you shared on your blog! We are planning a trip to the Dolomites in September..Hoping 8 days is enough…
Hi Caroline. Your comment was posted twice, so I deleted the second one (comments need to be approved first before they appear here). 8 days is a good amount of time and September is a wonderful month to visit the Dolomites. Let me know if you have any questions!
Thank you for a wonderful write up which will be helpful in planning our Dolomites trip !
Appreciate all the info your shared with us.
Cheers from California, USA
Hi Caroline! Thanks for stopping by and your lovely feedback! Do let me know if I can help out in any way with your planning!
Wonderful article. Thank you.
Thanks for stopping by!