Skip to content
Home » Traveling through the Dolomite Alps: Travel Guide

Traveling through the Dolomite Alps: Travel Guide

It’s in Italy, but everyone here speaks German and there’s a lot of Austrian culture

The Dolomite Alps in Italy are a part of the Southern Alps, characterized by a unique type of rock – a light mineral called dolomite. Thanks to this, the mountains appear white, as if covered in snow, and they acquire a pinkish hue in the rays of the rising or setting sun. The Dolomites can be called some of the most beautiful mountains in the world – they are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll want to take pictures at every step.

Millions of years ago, these majestic mountains were at the bottom of the ocean – they consist of fossilized algae and coral reefs. When the water level of the ancient Tethys Ocean dropped, these peaks emerged. Therefore, geologists and lucky travelers still find shells and fossils during their hikes.

A large part of our route passes through the South Tyrol region (Südtirol). Just a hundred years ago, this area belonged to Austria. Only after World War I did South Tyrol come under Italian control. The Austrian influence is still very noticeable — in architecture, cuisine, all signs are duplicated in German and the locals prefer to speak in German.

In this guide, we will tell you about the most beautiful places in the Dolomites that you must visit, how much time to plan for it, how to get there, the best time of day for light for photos, where and which tickets to buy, and many other useful things. There will also be a lot of photos — they will tell you why to go to the Dolomites better than the 30 thousand characters of our text. The main treasure of the Dolomites is nature. So, the article will not be about castles, churches, and museums, of which there are also plenty here, but about the main attraction — the mountains.

When to go

The Dolomites have a high season twice a year: in winter, from December to March — a time for skiers and snowboarders. And in summer: from mid-July to the end of August — during the traditional vacation months for Europeans, hundreds of thousands of hikers flock to the mountains. During this time, housing prices skyrocket, and it won’t be easy to take a photo without a dozen people in the frame.

Therefore, it’s better to go in the low season — in spring or autumn. During these seasons, there are almost no tourists, prices for hotels and food are lower, and the weather still allows for trekking. The spring season is May and June, when the snow melts, the lakes are at their fullest, and the meadows are covered with a bright carpet of flowers. The best time is the second half of June and early July. The autumn season is September and especially October, when nature is transformed by the incredible colors of the golden autumn.

The best time to travel to the Dolomites is spring or autumn. During these seasons, there are almost no tourists, prices for hotels and food are lower, and the weather still allows for trekking
The best time to travel to the Dolomites is spring or autumn. During these seasons, there are almost no tourists, prices for hotels and food are lower, and the weather still allows for trekking

The only downside to traveling in the low season is unpredictable weather. While in the summer you can count on bright sun every day, in autumn and spring you may not be so lucky. The main problem is not even rain, but low clouds that cover all views of the mountains. Although we were lucky, and throughout the week in mid-October in the Dolomites, we only experienced rain and low cloudiness once. Also, in the low season, public transport is less accessible. Buses run much less frequently, some lifts stop working in September. But in the most interesting places we will tell about, the lifts are open until November.

Perhaps, the only seasons when it’s not worth going to the Dolomites are November and April. During these months, there is too little snow in the mountains for skiing, but too much for hiking.

The months from December to March in the Dolomites are for skiers and snowboarders
The months from December to March in the Dolomites are for skiers and snowboarders

Ideal Route for 5-6 days

The Dolomites can be divided into two regions, and accordingly, the trip can be split into two parts with two bases, from where radial exits can be made. In the end, a circular route is formed — starting in Verona, travelling to the Trentino-Alto Adige region (this region is also called Trentino – South Tyrol). Afterwards, moving to the Veneto region and ending the journey in Venice. Or vice versa. Five days are enough to see the most famous attractions.

Five days in the Dolomites are enough to travel around the most famous attractions
Five days in the Dolomites are enough to travel around the most famous attractions

Day 1. Ascend to the summit of Seceda and a small trek at the top. Then descend back to the commune of Ortisei and walk around the town.

Day 2. In the morning — a walk through the Alpe di Siusi valley. After lunch — a trip to Lake Carezza. On the way back from the lake, we go through the Sella and Gardena passes with many photo stops.

Day 3. Trekking to the mountain refuge Rifugio delle Odle with incredible views. Afterwards, we try to return to the village of Santa Magdalena before dark to catch the church of San Giovanni Ranui in the sunset rays, and meet the sunset at the observation point overlooking the Odle peak.

Day 4. For us, this was a relax-day, which we spent on a calm transition to the Veneto region, making many stops along the way — in the picturesque village of Alleghe and at the Passo Giau pass. After several days of hiking, such a day is necessary. You can find some hotel with a pool, spa and beautiful views, and relax there.

Day 5. Trekking to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo during the day, and afterwards — a trip to Lake Braies with stops at other lakes along the way.

Reserve Day. When planning the route, especially in the low season, it’s essential to leave oneself a spare day. Let it be on reserve in case of fog, rain, strong wind, or cloudiness. In our case, having such a day turned out to be a lifesaver. On the very first day, due to bad weather, we couldn’t see much, so we repeated the trip to Lake Carezza and Sella Pass once more. And if we didn’t have this day in reserve, we would have had to sacrifice something.

What else to see. Among the famous trekking routes, there are still hikes to Lake Sorapis, famous for its bright blue water (not recommended in the late autumn as the lake shallows), trekking to Cinque Torri (Five Towers), hiking to Torri del Vajolet (Vajolet Towers), the village of Chiusa, and the Santa Barbara chapel. If there’s strength, time, and money, spending two weeks in the Dolomites will not be boring.

The best time for trekking to Lake Sorapis is from June to September, during this time the lake is full, and the water has a bright turquoise color
The best time for trekking to Lake Sorapis is from June to September, during this time the lake is full, and the water has a bright turquoise color

Day 1. Seceda Mountain: cable car ride, light trekking, and lunch with a view of the valley

Seceda peak (2,519 meters) is one of the most famous and picturesque views in the Dolomites. A cable car leads to the summit from the commune of Ortisei. A round-trip ticket costs 38 euros, a one-way ticket costs 27.5 euros. It is the most expensive lift in the Dolomites, but the views from Seceda are worth it. In the low season, you don’t need to buy tickets in advance — there will be no queues at the box office, and you can avoid adhering to a strict schedule, planning your time based on the weather on any particular day. In the high season, on the other hand, it is better to buy tickets in advance to avoid wasting time in line at the box offices.

Seceda peak (2,519 meters) — one of the most famous and picturesque views in the Dolomites
Seceda peak (2,519 meters) — one of the most famous and picturesque views in the Dolomites

The cable car operates from 8:30 to 16:30, and the ride takes 25 minutes. For the first 15 minutes, you ride in a small cabin for four to six people. After that, everyone transfers to a larger cabin for 50 people — it only has standing room, and the ride takes just five minutes.

The cable car to Seceda peak operates from 8:30 to 16:30, with the ascent taking 25 minutes. On the way up, a magnificent view of the valley unfolds
The cable car to Seceda peak operates from 8:30 to 16:30, with the ascent taking 25 minutes. On the way up, a magnificent view of the valley unfolds

Trekking to one of the most Instagram-worthy viewpoints takes only 10-15 minutes. In the fall, there are few people here, but there might be many clouds that can obstruct the full panorama. It’s easiest to check the weather at the top through a webcam on the cable car website. From the viewpoint, many trails of varying length and difficulty branch out. We chose a simple and short route — walked to a hiker’s shelter — a restaurant, and then returned back to the lift, but via a different path. It turned out to be a circular route that took a few hours.

From the viewpoint, many trails of varying length and difficulty branch out. We chose a simple and short route — walked to a hiker's shelter — a restaurant, and then returned back to the lift, but via a different path
From the viewpoint, many trails of varying length and difficulty branch out. We chose a simple and short route — walked to a hiker’s shelter — a restaurant, and then returned back to the lift, but via a different path

Baita Troier Hütte Restaurant — was our main discovery during the trip. Dining with a view of the valley surrounded by mountains is an incredible experience. The appetite builds up easily and quickly during the hike, so we had lunch even at an unusual for us 12 o’clock in the noon. If you are traveling in the low season, it’s worth checking in advance whether the restaurant is open, and if not — take a snack with you. By the way, this restaurant is noticeably cheaper than those located closer to the lift. Lunch for two with one hearty dish and a drink each, as well as tea, coffee, and strudel for dessert cost around 35-40 euros.

The restaurant Baita Troier Hütte was our main discovery during the trip. Dining with a view of the valley surrounded by mountains is an incredible experience
The restaurant Baita Troier Hütte was our main discovery during the trip. Dining with a view of the valley surrounded by mountains is an incredible experience

One of the entertainments on Seceda is paragliding with an instructor. This will cost from 90 to 170 euros. Advance booking can be done on the websites of operating companies – Gardenafly or Fly 2.

You can leave your car in the underground parking near the lift, which costs about nine euros per day. Finding free parking in Ortisei will not be easy, but they exist. You can go up to Seceda by cable car and descend on foot (about three hours). This won’t save a lot of money, but it’s a good option for those who didn’t get enough trekking at the top.

You can go up to Seceda by cable car and descend on foot (about three hours). This won't save a lot of money, but it's a good option for those who didn't get enough trekking at the top
You can go up to Seceda by cable car and descend on foot (about three hours). This won’t save a lot of money, but it’s a good option for those who didn’t get enough trekking at the top

On Seceda, along with a small hike, lunch, and numerous stops for photographs, we spent about five hours. If you don’t take that many photos, it can be faster. Once down, you can digest the impressions in Ortisei. Here, there are restaurants, cafes, shops, and spa hotels – everything needed to relax after trekking.

Having descended from Seceda, you can digest the impressions in the municipality of Ortisei - here there are restaurants, cafes, shops, and spa hotels
Having descended from Seceda, you can digest the impressions in the municipality of Ortisei – here there are restaurants, cafes, shops, and spa hotels

Day 2: Alpe di Siusi Valley and Carezza Lake

In one day, it is quite possible to see both of these interesting places even in the fall when it gets dark early. But for this, it is necessary to plan the time correctly, especially in the Alpe di Siusi Valley.

Alpe di Siusi Valley (in Italian) or Seiser Alm (in German) is located at an altitude of 1700 meters. It is the largest high-altitude plateau in Europe, with an area of 52 km². The valley is surrounded by majestic mountain ranges on all sides – here you can see the peak of Seceda, the Langkofel massif, Sella, Odle, and Marmolada mountains.

The valley is quite large and is ideal for light hiking – smooth paths with almost no height difference with breathtaking views on all sides. Here you can walk, photograph magnificent views at every step, have a picnic on the perfectly green grass, breathe the purest air, sunbathe in the sunshine and enjoy the amazing tranquility of nature. You can also rent bicycles and ride around the entire valley.

The Alpe di Siusi valley is quite large and is ideal for light hiking - smooth trails with almost no elevation difference, with breathtaking views from all sides
The Alpe di Siusi valley is quite large and is ideal for light hiking – smooth trails with almost no elevation difference, with breathtaking views from all sides

How to get there

There are several ways to reach the valley – by car, bus, or cable cars, which are located on two different sides.

Cable car: The cable cars start operating at eight or nine in the morning, depending on the season, and finish at 17-18 hours. This means that the most beautiful moments in the valley – dawn and sunset – you will not see. However, the valley is beautiful in itself at any time, and if the best light for photos is not crucial for you, then the cable cars are the easiest way to get to Alpe di Siusi.

There are cable cars in the towns of Siusi and Ortisei, from which you get to the town of Compatsch, located in the Alpe di Siusi valley. A round trip ticket from Siusi costs 20 euros, and from Ortisei – 24.9 euros. Current prices and schedules can be found on the websites: cable car in Ortisei, cable car in Siusi.

Cable cars start operating at eight or nine in the morning, depending on the season, and finish at 17-18 hours. This means that the most beautiful moments in the valley - dawn and sunset - you will not see
Cable cars start operating at eight or nine in the morning, depending on the season, and finish at 17-18 hours. This means that the most beautiful moments in the valley – dawn and sunset – you will not see

Car: Alpe di Siusi is a protected area, and car access here is limited. You can only drive to the Compatsch parking lot before nine in the morning or after 5 pm. The cost of parking is 20 euros. However, if you arrive before seven or eight in the morning, you can park for free—no one asks for a parking ticket when you exit, and before seven/eight in the morning, attendants aren’t present, so it’s simply impossible to pay for parking. By the way, in the summer of 2022, the cost of parking was ten euros —meaning the price doubled in just a few months! In the Dolomites, this is normal—while reading reviews, we noticed that each season, the cost of entry tickets and parking noticeably increases.

Beyond the parking lot, you can only move on foot or, for instance, in traditional carriages of the local residents. After a walk in the valley, you can drive down at any time; you don’t have to wait until 5 pm.

From the Compatsch parking lot, you can only move on foot or, for example, in traditional carriages of the local residents
From the Compatsch parking lot, you can only move on foot or, for example, in traditional carriages of the local residents

Accommodation at a hotel: Booking a hotel in the valley for a night is a wonderful way to leisurely stroll around in the morning or evening when the cable cars have stopped operating. However, it’s important to remember that if you are driving to the hotel, you can only approach or leave before 9 am or after 5 pm, having obtained a special permit from the hotel in advance.

Bus: The Dolomites are convenient in that you can reach almost any point by scheduled bus. The major downside is that you will have to adapt to the timetable and spend much more time on the road. To be sure that there will be enough buses, it’s better to go during the high season (and be prepared for high season prices). Buses to Alpe di Siusi start from Bolzano.

The Alpe di Siusi valley is the largest high-altitude plateau in Europe, covering an area of 52 km²
The Alpe di Siusi valley is the largest high-altitude plateau in Europe, covering an area of 52 km²

Carezza Lake

The journey to the lake from the Alpe di Siusi valley takes just over an hour. Naturally, on the way, you’ll want to stop and photograph the surrounding views more than once, so take that into account as well.

Lake Carezza is known for its emerald-colored water, in which the towering Latemar mountains reflecting above the lake. The water body itself is quite small, and you can walk around it entirely in 20-30 minutes. Scientists explain the unique color of the water by various minerals it contains. However, in the autumn, Lake Carezza, like many other lakes in the Dolomites, tends to recede. It is fullest in the spring when it is filled with melted mountain waters.

The best time for photographing the lake is at dawn or dusk. Sometimes, with low cloud cover, the mountains are not visible – be sure to check the weather forecast beforehand. We had to return to the lake another day to see the mountains and their reflection.

Sometimes, with low cloud cover, the mountains are not visible - be sure to check the weather forecast beforehand. We had to return to the lake another day to see the mountains and their reflection
Sometimes, with low cloud cover, the mountains are not visible – be sure to check the weather forecast beforehand. We had to return to the lake another day to see the mountains and their reflection

Near the lake, there is a parking lot — the cost is two euros per hour. Additionally, there is a café, a souvenir shop, and toilets. If you drive a bit further, you can find places where you can leave your car for free, but it will take about ten minutes to walk to the lake.

Road through the Sella and Gardena Passes

On the way back towards Ortisei, we took a different route — through the Sella and Gardena passes. This road is exactly the case when you realize why having a car in the Dolomites is essential. Having the ability to travel at your own pace, stopping at the most beautiful places for photos — is priceless. The journey without stops takes about 50 minutes, but we took about three hours because we stopped to take photos, it seems, every kilometer.

The drive through the Sella and Gardena passes takes about 50 minutes, but we took around three hours because we stopped to take photos, it seems, every kilometer
The drive through the Sella and Gardena passes takes about 50 minutes, but we took around three hours because we stopped to take photos, it seems, every kilometer

Day 3: Funes Valley and hike to the Odle panorama

This day will be spent entirely in the Funes Valley (Val di Funes).

Trek to the Odle mountain hut

The day begins with a trek to the Odle refuge (Geisleralm). “Rifugio” translates from Italian as “refuge” – these are small houses where travelers can rest and dine at a café after a mountain hike. Usually, there are places for a picnic and outdoor tables to snack with your own food. Outdoor furniture remains, even when the rifugio is closed off-season. Some also function as hotels, accommodating guests overnight.

"Rifugio" translates from Italian as "refuge" - these are small houses where travelers can rest and dine at a café after a mountain hike
“Rifugio” translates from Italian as “refuge” – these are small houses where travelers can rest and dine at a café after a mountain hike

At the beginning of the route, there is a parking lot costing eight euros. There’s also a trick here – arrive earlier than the caretaker does for work.

The length of the route is ten kilometers with an elevation gain of almost 400 meters. If you go leisurely, with stops for photos and lunch with an incredible view at the rifugio Odle-Geisleralm, where they prepare traditional Austrian dishes, the journey will take four to five hours.

The length of the route is ten kilometers with an elevation gain of almost 400 meters. If you go leisurely, with stops for photos and lunch with an incredible view at the rifugio Odle-Geisleralm, the journey will take four to five hours
The length of the route is ten kilometers with an elevation gain of almost 400 meters. If you go leisurely, with stops for photos and lunch with an incredible view at the rifugio Odle-Geisleralm, the journey will take four to five hours

Along the way, you need to follow the signs – first, it will be route 36, then 105. The trek goes along comfortable forest trails, with signposts at every turn, and you constantly see other tourists around. It’s simply impossible to get lost. The route is uncomplicated and accessible to almost everyone – we met retirees, and families with small children. It’s not possible to go through with a stroller, but it’s quite doable with an ergonomic backpack. Be sure to bring water and snacks.

The trek to rifugio Odle-Geisleralm goes along comfortable forest trails, with signposts at every turn, and you constantly see other tourists around
The trek to rifugio Odle-Geisleralm goes along comfortable forest trails, with signposts at every turn, and you constantly see other tourists around

Chapel of San Giovanni Ranui and Church of Santa Magdalena

We get into the car and head back down to the valley. We have two great spots with extraordinary views on our way.

First, we stop to photograph the famous Chapel of San Giovanni Ranui. Thousands of tourists come to the valley just for this sight – a small white chapel, built amidst coniferous forests and mountains. Parking at this place is paid, costing two euros per hour. In 2022, a fence was put up around the chapel to keep tourists at bay, and access to the site became paid – four euros. However, right behind the fence, there’s a photo spot set up where you can take pictures. Additionally, you can climb the neighboring hill and shoot the church from there. From the hill, there’s also a beautiful view of the neighboring village.

The famous San Giovanni Ranui chapel, built in the valley surrounded by coniferous forests and mountains, draws thousands of tourists to the valley just for this view
The famous San Giovanni Ranui chapel, built in the valley surrounded by coniferous forests and mountains, draws thousands of tourists to the valley just for this view

If you still have energy, park in the village of Santa Magdalena and walk uphill for about 20 minutes to the famous viewing platform to enjoy an incredible sunset with a view of another church — Santa Magdalena.

Sunset is the best time to enjoy the incredible landscapes and the view of the Santa Magdalena church
Sunset is the best time to enjoy the incredible landscapes and the view of the Santa Magdalena church

Day 4. Village and Lake Alleghe, Giau Pass

The drive from the village of Laion, where we stayed, to the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo takes two hours, and with a detour to Lake Alleghe — three. However, we took the whole day for it, stopping at practically every viewing platform and leisurely strolling around the surroundings. If desired, one can spend much less time on the transfer and dedicate the second half of the day to another trek or, conversely, relax in a spa hotel.

The surroundings of Laion are very beautiful, and the red autumn leaves, combined with the bright green grass, give them a special charm. By the way, in mid-October, the trees are still bearing fruit, and one can find bushes with huge sweet raspberries and trees laden with juicy green apples or yellow pears.The surroundings of Laion are very beautiful, and the red autumn leaves, combined with the bright green grass, give them a special charm.

The surroundings of Laion are very beautiful, and the red autumn leaves, combined with the bright green grass, give them a special charm
The surroundings of Laion are very beautiful, and the red autumn leaves, combined with the bright green grass, give them a special charm

The way to the village of Alleghe again goes through the Gardena Pass. Lake Alleghe with the eponymous village on the shore is very picturesque. However, the village turned out to be completely deserted — not one of the numerous restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops was open. But all the parking lots were empty and free. During the season, however, everything should be open. A half-hour walk is enough for a stroll around the village. Overall, if it deviates significantly from the route, it’s okay to skip this place.

The route to the village of Alleghe once again goes through the Gardena pass. Lake Alleghe, with the homonymous village on its shore, is quite picturesque
The route to the village of Alleghe once again goes through the Gardena pass. Lake Alleghe, with the homonymous village on its shore, is quite picturesque

The last stage of our trip that day was the Giau pass. It was already late, windy, and dark due to the clouds, so we didn’t stay there long. But during the day and in good weather, one can spend a few hours there—walking around and capturing cool shots from the pass.

During the day and in good weather at the Giau pass, one can spend a few hours—walking around and capturing cool shots
During the day and in good weather at the Giau pass, one can spend a few hours—walking around and capturing cool shots

Day 5. Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Lake Braies

Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks of Lavaredo) are peaks with heights ranging from 2700 to 2999 meters. By the way, the name does not quite correspond to reality, as there are more distinct peaks depending on the perspective. It is one of the most famous landmarks in the Dolomites. The hike around them is not challenging, but it will take four to five hours.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks of Lavaredo) are peaks with heights ranging from 2700 to 2999 meters. The hike around them is not challenging, but it will take four to five hours
Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks of Lavaredo) are peaks with heights ranging from 2700 to 2999 meters. The hike around them is not challenging, but it will take four to five hours

How to get to the starting point and when it’s best to go

You can get to the Rifugio Auronzo — the starting point of the route — by bus (only during the season from late June to early October) or car. At the end of October – early November, the road to Tre Cime is closed due to snow until May (and sometimes even until June), so it will be impossible to go up by car.

Reaching Rifugio Auronzo — the starting point of the route — is possible by bus or car, but only during the season from late June to early October, later the road is closed due to snow
Reaching Rifugio Auronzo — the starting point of the route — is possible by bus or car, but only during the season from late June to early October, later the road is closed due to snow

At the top, there is a large parking lot, but during the season it fills up very quickly — it’s better to be there by eight in the morning to ensure a spot. In October, however, there are many available spots; we arrived at ten and parked without any issues. To avoid crowds and get beautiful photographs, it’s better to arrive here at dawn. The road leading to the parking lot is toll – 30 euros per car.

Of course, it’s possible to go up for free — on foot from Lake Antorno, but this will add six kilometers to the journey with an elevation gain of 500 meters and will take two to three hours. So, there might not be enough energy left for the main hike. And don’t forget about the return journey.

Trekking around Tre Cime di Lavaredo

The circular route is 10.5 kilometers with an elevation gain from 2000 to 2400 meters. If physical fitness doesn’t allow to complete the entire trek, one can reach Rifugio Locatelli and then return the same way. Then the elevation change will be only about 50 meters.

The circular route around Tre Cime di Lavaredo covers 10.5 kilometers. If physical fitness does not allow for completing the entire trek, one can reach Rifugio Locatelli and then return the same way
The circular route around Tre Cime di Lavaredo covers 10.5 kilometers. If physical fitness does not allow for completing the entire trek, one can reach Rifugio Locatelli and then return the same way

On the route, you’ll encounter several refugios (mountain huts) where you can not only rest and have a snack, but also spend the night. It’s advisable to book them in advance for overnight stays. The refugios are open only during the season. By the second week of October, all refugios were already closed until the following summer. Therefore, during the off-season, it’s necessary to bring along water and some food.

Near Rifugio Locatelli, there are caves from which a picturesque view of the Three Peaks opens up. To take a photograph, sitting in the entrance of the cave with a view of the mountains, one needs to climb a steep slope to a narrow ledge in the rock, from where the entrance to the three caves is revealed. Not everyone knows about them and not all dare to climb there over the crumbling gravel, as it is indeed dangerous.

If you look closely, you can spot dozens of similar little caves. The most accessible ones are now used as unofficial public toilets, and those farther away serve as unofficial camping sites. During World War I, the front line between Italy and Austro-Hungary passed through here and heavy battles took place. These photogenic little caves were actually bunkers and shelters for soldiers and artillery. Looking at this grandeur and beauty, it’s hard to imagine that people climbed here not to enjoy the silence and tranquility of the mountains, but to shoot and kill. The Dolomites are part of Italy, but most people still speak German.

Near the refugio (mountain refuge) Locatelli, there are caves from which a picturesque view opens up to the Tre Cime (Three Peaks)
Near the refugio (mountain refuge) Locatelli, there are caves from which a picturesque view opens up to the Tre Cime (Three Peaks)

The way back is perhaps the most challenging part of the route. Initially, the trail sharply descends, and then one has to gain the lost altitude for a long time. Moreover, the path becomes narrower, less convenient, and for part of the way, you walk next to a precipice. This stage will take about two hours. Therefore, those who are not confident in their strength should better return the same way. Nonetheless, the views along the way are just as beautiful.

Lakes Antorno, Misurina, Landro, and Braies

The ideal continuation of the route on this day would be a trip to the lakes. You can enjoy their wonderful views without any toll on your legs—there won’t be any more altitude changes and long hikes; you can leisurely stroll along the shore, take cool photos, and move on. There are parking lots near each lake, and they are free (except for Braies).

The nearest lake to the Tre Cime (Three Peaks) is Antorno. You will pass by it in any case. The lighting changes at different times of the day, and the lake looks different
The nearest lake to the Tre Cime (Three Peaks) is Antorno. You will pass by it in any case. The lighting changes at different times of the day, and the lake looks different

Antorno is the nearest lake to the Tre Cime. You will pass by it in any case. Misurina is a two-minute drive from Antorno. During the season, buses depart from here to the Tre Cime Lavaredo. On the way to Lake Braies, there will be another beautiful lake—Landro. It also deserves a short stop and a stroll along the shore.

On the way to Lake Braies, there will be another beautiful lake—Landro. It also deserves a short stop and a stroll along the shore
On the way to Lake Braies, there will be another beautiful lake—Landro. It also deserves a short stop and a stroll along the shore

Braies is the largest lake in the Dolomites and the most famous. In my opinion, its fame is exaggerated—the views of other lakes are no less beautiful. There are several parking lots operating near Lake Braies. The closest to the lake is P4, located right on the shore, just three minutes walk away. The cost is ten euros per day; there is no hourly payment, and the price increases every season. Entry is controlled by a barrier, and there are booths for card payment.

If you walk a bit further, you can park your car at the next parking lot—P3—seven minutes walk from the lake. Its cost is eight euros, but there is no barrier there, and early in the morning and after 17:00 during the low season, there are no attendants in the parking lot—so you can park for free. Despite the costliness, during the season, the parking lots fill up very quickly during the day, so it’s better to reserve your spot on the website.

A definite plus of a trip to Braies during the off-season is not only saving on parking but also the absence of tourists—there were about a dozen people with us at the lake. During the season, thousands of tourists flock to the lake every day. It’s also advisable not to plan a trip to the lake on weekends—crowds will be there at any time of the year.

Braies is the largest lake in the Dolomites and the most famous, but its fame is exaggerated—the views of other lakes are no less beautiful
Braies is the largest lake in the Dolomites and the most famous, but its fame is exaggerated—the views of other lakes are no less beautiful

Food

The Dolomites are conveniently located in a border region, meaning you can taste both Italian and Austrian cuisine here. Pizza, pasta, lasagna, risotto – all of this can be found in any restaurant. However, it cannot be said that they will always be outstanding here, after all, this is not Rome or Naples. From Austrian or Tyrolean cuisine, you can try schnitzel, sausages, goulash, venison dishes. And of course, the best local dessert is apple strudel. You can confidently order it in any cafe; it will be tasty everywhere. Juices are also popular here, both typical ones, like apple, and quite rare berry ones – raspberry, sea buckthorn, cherry, and my favorite – blackcurrant.

It’s worth noting that lunchtime here is quite early—usually around 12–13 hours (noon to 1 PM). By two o’clock, many restaurants close, and if you arrive at 13:30, even in the most touristy places, you may be told that lunch service is over. However, this rule does not apply to mountain refuges, and they are usually open all day, until 17–18 hours (5 to 6 PM).

The Dolomites are conveniently located in a border region, meaning you can taste both Italian and Austrian cuisine here. Pizza, pasta, lasagna, risotto - all of this can be found in any restaurant
The Dolomites are conveniently located in a border region, meaning you can taste both Italian and Austrian cuisine here. Pizza, pasta, lasagna, risotto – all of this can be found in any restaurant

In Italy, there’s a service charge known as “coperto,” which ranges from 0.5 to three euros per person and is automatically included in the bill, so don’t be surprised by the extra line item.

In the small town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, with a population of five thousand, there are two restaurants with one Michelin star each, and five more that are mentioned in their guide. And in San Cassiano, 30 kilometers away, there is the St. Hubertus restaurant with three stars. You could arrange a small gastronomy tour for yourself, the main thing is to book tables in advance. However, even without Michelin stars, restaurants in the Dolomites are very expensive. On average, a lunch for two with one dish, dessert, and coffee in the most ordinary restaurant will cost 30–60 euros.

Chocolate mille-feuille, Saturnia peaches, and stracciatella ice cream at the St. Hubertus restaurant with three Michelin stars. Photo: St. Hubertus
Chocolate mille-feuille, Saturnia peaches, and stracciatella ice cream at the St. Hubertus restaurant with three Michelin stars. Photo: St. Hubertus

Where to Stay

Trentino-Alto Adige. In this region, we stayed in the village of Laion. It proved to be an excellent base for radial trips—20 to 45 minutes to most interesting places from the first three days of our itinerary. Another good base is the commune of Ortisei—you can go up to Seceda or Alpe di Siusi from there, and it’s quite close to the Sella and Gardena passes. Alternatives could be the communes of Castelrotto and Chiusa. All of these are small settlements, with about five thousand residents and absolutely nothing to do in the evenings. However, thanks to their location, they make an excellent base for radial excursions to hiking trails. And they are simply beautiful—all communes are located in valleys surrounded by mountains.

Ortisei is the most interesting of all the listed places, but accommodation here is more expensive. There are many restaurants, a spa, shops, and historical architecture. Building facades are decorated with frescoes—very unusual. There are several 17-18th-century churches preserved, which look especially picturesque against the mountain backdrop. If you want to have an interesting time in the evening and don’t mind driving a little longer every day, it’s worth staying in the region’s capital—Bolzano. Buses also run from there to any points of the route, if you are not driving.

Ortisei is the most interesting of all the listed places, but the accommodation here is also more expensive. There are many restaurants, a spa, shops, and historical architecture. Photo: Heather Cowper / Flikr.com
Ortisei is the most interesting of all the listed places, but the accommodation here is also more expensive. There are many restaurants, a spa, shops, and historical architecture. Photo: Heather Cowper / Flikr.com

Veneto. The best base here is the small town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. From here, within 15-50 minutes, you can reach Lake Braies, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lake Sorapis, Giau Pass, and other attractions of the region. By the way, Cortina hosted stages of the Winter Olympic Games in 1956 and will host the next Olympics in 2026. Additionally, several scenes from the 1981 James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only” were shot here. The town itself can be explored in half an hour, and there isn’t much to do. You can admire the paintings in the parish church from the mid-18th century and visit one of the three museums—paleontological, ethnographic, and contemporary art.

In Veneto, the best base is the small town of Cortina d'Ampezzo. From here, within 15-50 minutes, you can reach Lake Braies, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lake Sorapis, Giau Pass, and other attractions of the region. Photo: Dennis Jarvis / Flikr.comIn Veneto, the best base is the small town of Cortina d'Ampezzo. From here, within 15-50 minutes, you can reach Lake Braies, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lake Sorapis, Giau Pass, and other attractions of the region. Photo: Dennis Jarvis / Flikr.com
In Veneto, the best base is the small town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. From here, within 15-50 minutes, you can reach Lake Braies, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lake Sorapis, Giau Pass, and other attractions of the region. Photo: Dennis Jarvis / Flikr.com

In the Dolomites, accommodation is quite expensive. It’s almost impossible to find lodging for less than 90-100 euros per night during the low season or 170 euros during the high season. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a commune of five thousand people with infrastructure or a village of 200 inhabitants.

For those who enjoy tent camping, it’s important to remember that in the Dolomites, as in most European countries, tents can only be set up in designated areas. If it happens that you didn’t reach the campsite or refuge in time, and night falls while you’re on the trail, you can only set up your tent after dark and must take it down at the first light of dawn. It’s strictly forbidden to start a fire. Violations carry fines starting from 500 euros.

Campsites in the Dolomites are also quite expensive, and most have a minimum stay requirement— a week. Renting a spot for a tent for this week could cost between 50 to 250 euros, and by February, most spots for the summer are already reserved. You can look for and reserve a campsite, for instance, on one of the websites: campingdirect.com or eurocampings.co.uk.

Mountain refuges or “rifugios” are excellent for overnight stays during multi-day treks, however, it’s recommended to book a spot in advance, three to five months before the anticipated trekking date. You can see a complete list of refuges at rifugios.net, where contact information is also available.

Mountain refuges or "rifugios" are excellent for overnight stays during multi-day treks, however, it's recommended to book a spot in advance, three to five months before the anticipated trekking date
Mountain refuges or “rifugios” are excellent for overnight stays during multi-day treks, however, it’s recommended to book a spot in advance, three to five months before the anticipated trekking date

Tips

Parking. If you are driving, it’s essential to look for a hotel or apartment with parking. Public parking spots are scarce, expensive (from two euros per hour), and always occupied. To park for free at the start of any trail, you need to arrive very early, before seven in the morning, or conversely, after five in the evening.

Language. In the Trentino-Alto Adige region, German is predominantly spoken. Italian is also common but less so. There won’t be a problem with English, but knowing a few words in German will surely elicit a smile and endear you to the locals.

Weather. Mountain weather is entirely unpredictable, especially during spring and autumn. Moreover, the forecast can change daily, and it’s crucial to check the weather for each specific valley by entering the name of the nearest village – it might be sunny in one valley while raining in another at the same time. A rigid schedule can be a hindrance; it’s important to maintain as much flexibility as possible when planning your route.

Weather in the mountains is completely unpredictable, especially during spring and autumn. Moreover, the forecast can change daily, and it's crucial to check the weather for each specific valley by entering the name of the nearest village
Weather in the mountains is completely unpredictable, especially during spring and autumn. Moreover, the forecast can change daily, and it’s crucial to check the weather for each specific valley by entering the name of the nearest village

It’s better to check the weather on specialized websites like Meteo Consult, YR, or Meteoblue. If a week before the trip the website shows rain, don’t get upset — the weather could still change quite significantly by the time you arrive.

In October, the weather changes quickly: early in the morning it can be zero or slightly below, and it will be uncomfortable without a warm jacket. But by noon, the sun can get quite intense, and the temperature can rise to 15-20 degrees Celsius, and if there is no wind, you can comfortably walk around in a T-shirt. The temperature difference between the valley and the top can be up to five-eight degrees.

Routes: All trekking routes are clearly marked, with signposts installed on all trails showing route numbers and the distance to the desired location. Nevertheless, for even more convenience, special apps can be downloaded. For example, we used the Wikiloc website and app, where you can select any trek and check whether you’ve deviated from the route along the way.

Hiking Boots: Good boots are a must—they are the foundation of safety in the mountains. They prevent accidental slips or twists of the foot, sharp stones on the path are not felt, and overall, feet tire less.

All trekking routes in the Dolomites are clearly marked, with signposts installed on all trails showing route numbers and the distance to the desired location
All trekking routes in the Dolomites are clearly marked, with signposts installed on all trails showing route numbers and the distance to the desired location
    • Text: Antonina Orlova
    • Photo: Taison Cisz, Polina Kneys
Click to rate this post!
[Total: 7 Average: 4.9]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *