The Dolomites is a range of mountains in northeast Italy with 18 peaks to the summit and a beautiful alpine landscape to complement it all. A rich diversity of alpine flora thrives in this environment that is made of sheers cliffs, vertical walls, narrow and long valleys, mountain passes, pinnacles, steeples and glaciers. It is the perfect blend of adventure, history and a relaxing atmosphere. The Dolomites is paradise on earth for nature lovers from all around the world and has been named a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site. For those visiting this magical region in Italy, here are the top things to do in the Dolomites to help you plan your upcoming trip. You can also check out this hiking guide to help you plan the perfect hiking holiday in North Italy.
Val di Funes
Val di Funes is a very tranquil valley with the Odle Mountains as its backdrop and should be on your list of things to do in the Dolomites. You can witness this mesmerizing valley of South Tyrol with a panoramic view of the Dolomites. The essence of Val di Funes is in the rocky peaks that surround it, the scent of nature, the forests, the paths, and the rural landscape.
In German, this place is called Villnöss and has a view that is one of a kind. You can hike the trails through the rolling hills and admire the beauty of this valley. Various sporting activities take place at the foot of the Odle depending on the season. You can also visit the St. Johann Church. The beauty of this place is so enchanting that it is a canvas for any photographer or an artist.
If you follow the road SP163 up above and beyond the towns, you will find some of the most spectacular views of the valley. Val di Funes should definitely be on your list of things to do in the Dolomites if you’re a mountain lover. You can simply stay in one spot and absorb the beauty of this place, and it will, for sure, be a fulfilling experience in itself.
The Via Ferrata Routes
The Via Ferrata, also known as the iron paths, is a very unusual Dolomite attraction and one of the best things to do in the Dolomites. It was originally built in the early 20th century during World War I. Restoration and additions have been made to the place over the years, making it one of the most genuine climbing adventures. It is perfectly safe for even the most inexperienced climbers and can be the place to enjoy the stunning view of the Dolomites.
The route is equipped with cables made of steel, fixed anchors and ladders that help in traversing the mountainous terrain and climb steep peaks. Many suspended bridges are also erected to help people cross the gaps in the ridges of the hills. The artificial equipment makes it almost impossible for one to fall off and makes the experience that much safer. There are certain Via Ferrata sets available that help in hiking and climbing and includes various equipment necessary for the adventure. If you seek thrill and want a genuine mountain climbing experience, then Via Ferrata should definitely be on your list of best things to do in the Dolomites.
Seiser Alm (Alpe di Siusi)
Seiser Alm is the largest mountain plateau in Europe and is filled with fields of wildflowers during the summers and thick, shimmering snow during the winters. This mesmerizing 2000m high alpine pasture is a UNESCO world heritage site. The views around the valley will take your breath away, and you can also see various mountain ranges like Sciliar and Gruppo del Sella. It is not just the plateau that is mesmerizing but beyond the plateau are a magnificent series of mountain peaks like the flat-topped Sasso Piatto and the rugged and steep cliffs of Sassolungo.
Alpe di Siusi can cater to all your adventurous needs be it any season of the year, making it the perfect dolomite attraction. In the winters there are all sorts of snow sports that you can try. Skiing is one of the most popular activity among tourists. Various ski lifts can take you to the peak of ski slopes in the surrounding mountains from the cable car station. In summers you can enjoy walking through green pastures and colourful wildflowers and also hike and bike on trails. You can take the cable car to the starting of the adventurous hiking/biking trails at the top of Alpe di Siusi. You will find numerous huts around the mountain where you can eat and drink. If you are an adventure junkie, this is the place for you.
The village of Ortisei is connected to Alpe di Siusi through modern cable railway. You should start at Compatsch as it points you in the right direction while exploring this large area. It is a no driving zone from 9 AM to 5 PM, and hence the only way to move around is either by buses or cable cars.
Lago di Braies
Lago di Braies is the largest lake in the Dolomites and is definitely one of the best places to visit in the Dolomites. You can enjoy the green and turquoise waters of the lake during the summers, while the lake freezes over in the winter. The beauty of the lake is so indescribable that not even pictures can do justice to its divinity.
You can hike around the lake and take in the natural beauty of the mountains and forests. This hike hardly takes around 1.5 to 2 hours and gives you a 360° panoramic view. The lake is known for a moody and magical sunrise that can be witnessed from its banks, making it a popular spot. After the sunrise, you admire the unique row boat formations that complement the misty and picturesque mountains. You can enjoy row boating in the lake only during summers. The German name of the lake is Pragser Wildsee. It is one of the most beautiful and stunning dolomite attractions and must make it to your list of things to do in the Dolomites.
The Tre Cime di Lavaredo
The Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the three peaks are the display of the natural beauty of the Dolomite attractions. It can be experienced through one of the most popular and iconic hiking trails in the dolomites. The peaks stand tall and majestic with spectacular landscapes of wildflowers and hike trails to compliment it. On this hike, you will witness some of the best views of the Dolomites.
These massive and distinct peaks are well known and offer a lot for people to explore and admire. You can hike on a trail that loops around the mountain range, the path is stony yet easy to traverse and is well marked for the ease of the hikers. The full loop is around 10 km, and it can take you almost 4 hours to complete the hike. Also, as per your convenience, you can turn back wherever you want. Hiking the full loop of 10 km can be tedious, but the experience and the view of the peaks and surroundings will make it absolutely worth your while. This experience should definitely be on your list of dolomite attractions.
Lago di Carezza (Karersee)
Lago di Carezza is a small stunning alpine lake with crystal clear waters that reflect the colourful nature around it, set with the panoramic background of the Latemar mountains. This lake is also known as a rainbow lake because of how beautifully it reflects its colourful surroundings. This natural beauty is called Karersee in German and is one of the most beautiful dolomite attractions.
According to a local legend, a lovesick sorcerer smashed a rainbow into the lake in a fit of anger, and that is what gives the lake its colours. Nobody is allowed to go into the lake, but you can stroll around it and admire its beauty from all sides and angles. The surroundings of the lake are flat, and so it will hardly take you around 20 minutes to take a full round. This is one of the easier and more accessible hikes in the Dolomites, and you should definitely hike this trail.
You can visit the lake and the hiking trail free of cost and breath in the freshness of nature. The paid parking lot charges a Euro for an hour and is pretty accessible and safe.
Seceda 2500m, Val Gardena
One of the best things to do in the dolomites is to visit Seceda in the Val Gardena region. The mountain stands at 2500m above sea level, and that’s where it gets its name, Seceda 2500m. What makes Seceda unique is that it is shaped like a sharp sword with jagged edges on one side and is contrasted by green pastures on the other. The rock is hidden in the clouds or fog most of the time, but when the clouds part, you can witness the rock in all its glory. This is a sight to behold and is one of the best places to visit in the dolomites.
Your experience will start with a gondola ride halfway up the mountain followed by a ride in the cable car. You will reach the top of the mountain shooting through clouds on your cable car ride. You can hike different trails that will take you through valleys full of wildflowers. Some of the amenities include alpine huts where you can dine and drink, and you can explore different areas of the mountain on chair lifts. Seceda can be reached through the town of St. Ulrich, a beautiful town that you can explore and visit along with the mountain. You surely won’t regret spending a whole day around Seceda 2500m.
The gondola ride begins at 9:00 AM, which will cost you 32 euros for a round trip. The parking next to the gondola ride charges 8 euro/day and 1.5 euro/an hour.
Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See)
Among the many tranquil lakes in the Dolomites is Lago di Dobbiaco, a bright turquoise lake which is the perfect place for you to spend your day with nature and relax. This lake, located on the way to Tre Cime de Lavaredo, is a natural jewel that can be a delight for you in every season.
You can enjoy the serenity of the Toblacher See by taking a 3 km nature walk and hiking around the lake. You can find a great place to set up camp and sleep in the heart of nature. There are observation decks around the lake from which during fall and spring, you can spot several different kinds of rare birds. This makes the lake a bird watcher’s paradise. To enjoy the lake more intimately you can rent a rowboat or paddleboat and tread the waters.
Lago di Landro (Durrensee)
Lago di Landro is a lake that you will come across while driving to Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The lake is on the main road, and it will catch your eye with its turquoise water.
There is not much to do around here, but the lake itself is a compelling reason for you to stop and just admire its scenic beauty. You will know you are approaching the lake when you see a row of parked cars along the main road. Finding Lago di Landro should not be a task for you. The lake is called Dürrensee in German, and while you are there, you can try some authentic German food at Restaurant Dürrensee with a great view of the lake. The best part about this place is that you won’t even have to get out of your car to enjoy the breathtaking view of Lago di Landro.
Passo Sella is a mountain pass between the Trentino and South Tyrol provinces in Italy which is amidst a plateau shaped mountain range. Sitting at the height of 2244 m above sea level forms a quadrangle around the Sella group along with Pordoi Pass, Gardena Pass, and Campolongo Pass. If you are planning a biking adventure, you should certainly consider the mountains of Dolomites and pass through Sella.
Sella works as a link between Val Gardena and the Canazei villages. Along with Sella, a group of other passes form a linked ski trail called Sella Ronda. During the summers, this pass is popular among the bikers who seek adventurous trails around the dolomites. At the top of the pass you will find various ancient huts dating back to as early as the 1900s. Passo Sella Dolomiti is the only hotel at the altitude of 2000 meters; it is a luxury resort with a spectacular view of the mountains.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of Italy’s much-loved mountain destinations with a mix of natural beauty and local charm. The landscape is a view of magnificent natural beauty which adorns it with the name “Pearl of the Dolomites”. This town in the heart of the Southern Alps has retained its elitist character with its thousand-year-old history.
This province of Belluno is named a UNESCO World Natural Heritage area which still possesses an elusive charm, glamour, has elegant shops, hotels and restaurants and also hosts great events. Cortina is culturally rich in tradition and ancient knowledge, and it balances both cultural and natural sides really well. One of the natural beauties that you can admire is the famous Cinque Torri. In summers, the town attracts hiker and bikers, and in winters the place is a snow sporting paradise. This was also the venue for the 1956 winter Olympics and has hosted several skiing tournaments. This place is a gem, and you should not miss it during your upcoming vacation to the Dolomites.
Lago di Sorapis
Lago di Sorapis is one of the lesser-known spots in the vastness of the Dolomites. One of the most breathtaking sights of the region is the emerald hue of the lake water that is complemented by the rugged cliffs and the clusters of auburn trees. You’ll be mesmerized by the colourful reflections of the surroundings in the lake.
The best time to visit this beauty is during spring and summer when the lake is at its fullest. The beauty of the lake also lies in the hiking trail that leads up to it which is long and adventurous but worth your while. At the end of this trail, you’ll come face to face to with the breathtaking beauty of the lake. All the fatigue from the hike that you will experience will vanish in seconds when you witness the beauty of the lake.
The hike is a round trip of approximately 11 km which can take you around 2 to 3 hours each way.
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