Alpe di Siusi / Seiser Alm, Dolomites, Italy

Dolomites Guide: Travel Tips for Visiting the Dolomites

November 26, 2023

The Dolomites (Italian: Dolomiti) are a mountain group in the Alps. It is located in northern Italy. The largest part of the Dolomites is located in the regions of Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Its traditional boundaries are the Adige in the west and the Piave river valley in the east. In the north, it is separated from the Tauern by the Puster Valley, which straddles the Italian-Austrian border, and in the south by the Sugana Valley, which separates it from the Pre-Alps, which form a transition to the Lombard-Veneto plain. The Dolomites have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009.

The Dolomites are the most spectacular mountain group in Europe. A unique destination in Europe, the perfect place to relax in nature. A paradise for skiers in winter and for hikers in summer, with endless skiing and hiking opportunities.

Who should visit the Dolomites?

If you like to spend time in nature, photographing landscapes, hiking in the mountains, going to extreme places, then the Dolomites are the perfect destination for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a born climber with expensive equipment and perfect fitness. The hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and mountain lifts of the Dolomites are equipped to provide a suitable destination for almost anyone. An enjoyable place to visit for families, seniors and young couples alike.

How to get around the Dolomites?

We only recommend using a car to travel in the Dolomites. As the Dolomites are a rural destination, it is difficult to get from one point to another by public transport. There is a bus network in some places, for example to Tre Cime or Alpe di Siusi, but the whole Dolomites are difficult to get around without a car. We’re not saying it’s easy to get over the passes, but there’s no other way. Driving in the mountains takes some practice, but it can be learned quickly. You often have to dodge cyclists, routes are sometimes closed and the Italian traffic morale doesn’t make it easier. But the views and the atmosphere make up for it!

If you don’t want to drive, then guided tours may be another option, where tour operators will arrange your transport by bus.

When is the best time to visit the Dolomites?

Two periods are particularly popular in the Dolomites. The first is winter, from around December to March, when the ski slopes are crowded with tourists. The Dolomites are beautiful during this time too, but our favorite is the other main season, the summer. The period from June to October is the hiking season, when the weather in the Dolomites is suitable for hiking.

Because the Dolomites are a relatively wet and cool place, we prefer the middle of summer within the summer season. In July and August you can enjoy mountain views and fresh alpine air with pleasant daytime temperatures of 18-25°C and more sunshine.

In the two off seasons, spring and autumn, although there are far fewer tourists, the weather makes hiking and photography difficult. So, despite the crowds and high prices, we recommend the high season because of the weather.

Skiing in the Dolomites in winter

The winter sports season starts in December and ends at the end of March. The plateaus and meadows with their wide, undulating slopes are ideal skiing areas, making the Dolomites a centre for winter sports.

The largest winter ski resorts in the Dolomites are Cortina d’Ampezzo, Alpe di Siusi/Val Gardena and Alta Badia, but there are also a number of smaller but stunning ski resorts.

The companies that operate the slopes and ski lifts are part of a regional association called Dolomiti Superski. You can read more about the Dolomiti Superski ticket system on their website by clicking here. The advantage of the pass is that you can buy your cable car ticket in advance for one or more days, which allows you unlimited use of the lifts in the Dolomites, in one area or in the whole area, depending on the ticket.

Tickets are also available in summer, although we think that fewer lifts are needed in summer, so advance tickets are really useful in winter when skiing.

In winter, ski hire is available in all resorts, more details of which can be found on the Dolomiti Superski website.

Hiking in the Dolomites in summer

The period from June to around October is the summer hiking season in the Dolomites. Especially July and August are popular because of the sunny weather.

Summer is the perfect time for nature lovers. It is the time of year when the Dolomites are full of colorful flowers in the alpine pastures, the mountain hiking trails are easy to follow and all the must-see places are easily accessible.

During these months, the Dolomites are visited by rock climbers, as the steep cliffs and mountain gorges offer the most varied hikes. The vertically steep walls of many valleys are barely climbable or the ascent is extremely dangerous. There are, however, wild cliffs which, thanks to good hiking trails, are easily accessible from the other side by “via ferrata” with ladders, stairs, bridges and cables.

The most popular summer destinations will be listed separately, as there are a huge number of hiking destinations available in the Dolomites in summer. Most summer hiking trails lead to a special mountain peak, such as the Tre Cime, the Cinque Torri or the Seceda, or to a mountain lake of exceptional beauty, such as Lago di Sorapis. Moreover, some mountain passes are also well-known, such as Passo Giau, Passo Gardena or Passo dello Stelvio. These passes are a popular summer place for drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists with the endless hairpin bends and scenic landscapes.

Where to stay in the Dolomites?

It’s a good idea to plan where to stay in the Dolomites well in advance, based on your itinerary. In the Dolomites, the routes can be quite slow, so where you book your accommodation is an important factor in your itinerary. If the attractions on your bucket list are too far apart, it may be worth moving from one hotel to another.

The most ideal places to book accommodation are around Brunico/Bruneck, Dobbiaco/Toblach or Cortina d’Ampezzo, as well as Ortisei/Alpe di Siusi.

Our recommended platform for booking hotels is, where you will find most of the accommodation available in the Dolomites.

Moreover, as we have stayed in several places in the Dolomites, we can recommend some good hotels.

So here are the best hotels we suggest in the Dolomites, listed by location.

Brunico/Bruneck: Hotel Rudolf or Hotel Gasthof Jochele (near Bruneck)

Dobbiaco/Toblach: Hotel Rosengarten or Hotel Laurin

Ortisei: Boutique Hotel Planlim or Alpenhotel Rainell

Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm: Sporthotel Floralpina

Trodena/ Truden: Aparthotel Sonnhof

Or if you want to find accommodation in the Dolomites using a map, you will find the right place below.

What equipment is needed to go to the Dolomites?

Our starting point is the summer season. This depends very much on the type of trip you are taking. If you just want to visit a few lakes along the way, take some photos, or try a few restaurants, then a comfortable pair of closed shoes will be enough.

If you are going on a hike of several kilometres anywhere in the Dolomites, it is advisable to bring hiking boots.

If you plan to take photos during your hike in the Dolomites, which is quite common, it’s a good idea to choose colorful, more striking clothing and shoes. A good option is the color red, which stands out among the typical colors in the Dolomites. If you are looking for hiking boots that include red, we recommend a more specific article on this topic that will help you choose the best hiking boots with red laces.

For steep mountain trails, also be prepared with trekking poles. And if you plan on rock climbing, you will need even more equipment.

The weather is also a strong factor affecting clothing. Generally, a comfortable pair of hiking trousers and a long-sleeved top are appropriate. In colder weather, you’ll also need a hiking jacket.

In the mountains in summer the sun can be very strong, so be prepared with sunscreen in summer. Unbelievably, you can get sunburned in the Dolomites at 15°C!

In the Dolomites, however, rainy weather is more frequent. So if you’re going far from your car, always be prepared with a raincoat and waterproof shoes. The weather report is pretty reliable, but there have been occasions when we have been caught in the rain before the weather report said.

A backpack is essential equipment for a hiker. In the Dolomites, always have an extra layer of clothing, a raincoat, some food and drink in your backpack. If you are taking medication, take some of that with you too. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have some painkillers, band-aids and other quick solutions in case something happens.

Infrastructure in the Dolomites

The infrastructure in the Dolomites is the same as in other parts of the Alps, for example in Austria or Switzerland. Basically well managed, but there can be some disruptions. As there are mainly small villages in the Dolomites, some services are more difficult to access than in a big city. E.g. there are enough hotels and restaurants to provide basic needs. However, we find the number of shops small. Outside Bolzano and Brunico, there are no major shops or shopping centres.

GPS signal and mobile coverage are available almost everywhere, rarely not. But e.g. a petrol station, a doctor, a car mechanic, a specialized shop are difficult to reach. So with special needs you have to be prepared in advance.

The road network is difficult to judge. The pavement is good, but some of the mountain roads are narrow, which makes traffic difficult. Especially as buses and trucks are allowed on the narrow roads.

The mountain lifts are available quite often in the Dolomites. They make it easier to get to attractions such as the Seceda or the Alpe di Siusi.

Parking is also plentiful in the Dolomites, although in some places it is a good idea to arrive early in the high season because spaces fill up quickly.

If you want to stay overnight in the mountains during a longer hike, there are a few refuges nearby at almost every famous spot.

One more thing: Public safety is very good in the Dolomites, the best in Italy. You don’t have to worry about pickpockets or your car being broken into. You can also leave your bike somewhere, it won’t be stolen.

Costs in the Dolomites

Unfortunately, the Dolomites are an expensive destination. Although this is true for any part of the Alps. Five-star hotels are only available to the privileged (many hundreds of euros per night), and four-star hotels are often very expensive. There are several small guesthouses, they are more affordable. The style of the accommodation is very different from other parts of Italy, more like Austrian buildings.

Restaurants are also more expensive than in other parts of Italy, about 30-50% more expensive than other areas of Italy. The advantage of local restaurants, however, is that they offer not only Italian dishes, but also local, South Tyrolean specialities.

The only toll we know about is the mountain road to Tre Cime, which is quite expensive, around €30 per car per day. Besides, there are no tolls (except on the highways leading to the Dolomites).

The mountain lifts are also quite expensive, with a return trip to an attraction by lift costing between €15-30 per person.

However, parking is rarely charged, which is an advantage.

Language in the Dolomites

Those familiar with the area and its history may know that the Dolomites are located in South Tyrol, which was annexed from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy to Italy during the First World War. As the German-speaking population has maintained its strong identity, German is still spoken in most parts of the Dolomites. German-speaking towns and places of interest have both Italian and German names.

In the southern Dolomites, however, the only language spoken is Italian.

As a tourist, you can communicate in English, though it can be difficult in some places.

Wildlife in the Dolomites

The Dolomites are rich in wildlife, as there are so many unspoilt areas. The most dangerous animal you can encounter in the Dolomites is the bear. Fortunately, bear encounters are not common, with one case every few years. If you stay close to people, it is almost impossible to be attacked by a bear.

The other dangerous animal is the snake. Vipers are known in the Dolomites, so you should be careful where you step. Again, we recommend that you do not stray from the marked hiking trails.

Apart from them, the Dolomites are home mainly to tame animals. There are many deer and roe deer in the Dolomites, and a few lucky ones may be able to photograph a zerget or mouflon.

Also popular in the Alps are the marmots, which sometimes come to humans in search of food (e.g. carrots). In addition, the Dolomites are home to many species of birds, amphibians and insects. The only insect that can be annoying in summer is the numerous common drone flies, but they do not sting.

Other practical tips for organising your trip to the Dolomites

  1. Always take into account that driving in the Dolomites can be very slow. The average speed Google Maps calculates for cars is about 30-40 km/h.
  2. The sun seems to set faster in the mountains than on flat land. Always adjust to the time of sunset and return to safety by then.
  3. Always take the safe route and be prepared. Plan your hike well. Don’t have to call an ambulance because you’re lost. Ambulance helicopters are very expensive.
  4. Hikers often greet each other as they pass each other. Don’t be surprised if strangers say hello to you when they meet you on the trail.
  5. Stay either near the sights or in the larger cities. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. If you are near, you don’t have to drive much. If you stay in the cities, you can enjoy better infrastructure.
  6. Even though accommodation is expensive and Instagram is full of pictures of tents in the Dolomites. Still, don’t plan on camping outdoors, either in a tent or a camper van (except on the camping site). Wild camping is banned throughout Italy and often locals check that there are no wild campers in car parks.
  7. If you travel to the Dolomites in winter, take a snow chain and know how to use it. You may need it.

Now that we’ve covered much of what there is to know about the Dolomites in general, let’s look at the main attractions of the Dolomites.

From roughly east to west, we list the most popular places in the Dolomites.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

The Tre Cime (Three Peaks) is an iconic mountain group in the Dolomites, a distinctive mountain range of three prominent peaks in the Sesto Dolomites. Around Tre Cime, there are a huge number of hiking trails with breathtaking views. To explore the whole area you would need several days, there is so much to see.

The road to the Tre Cime is toll road. There are many parking places and several guest houses (Rifugio in Italian). Definitely a good hiking area with many attractions and good infrastructure.

Be aware that the road uphill is sometimes closed by the police due to overcrowding. In such cases, return later, the situation usually clears up by the afternoon.

Lago di Sorapis

Lake Sorapiss is a huge favorite of visitors to the Dolomites. It is quite difficult to reach, an approximately 8 km long hiking trail leads up to the lake, which can be very steep and of poor quality in some hiking sections. However, the tour of 16-17 km is absolutely worth it, because the view is really like what you can see in the pictures.

Lago di Sorapis is best accessible from the SR48 road via the 215 hiking trail. This is the route with the smallest elevation gain, but believe us, it’s challenging enough for most people. However, the scenery makes up for it.

Lago di Braies

Lago di Braies is the most famous lake in the Dolomites. It is also without doubt one of the most amazing.

Parking is available near the lake, which is paid and fills up quickly. At the lake there is a small chalet where you can rent wooden boats and go boating on the lake.

You can walk completely around Lago di Braies, which is about 3 km long. The best view is nevertheless near the car park, in the area around the iconic chalet.

Passo Giau

Passo Giau is a long pass in the middle of the Dolomites. It is famous for one of the mountains with a unique shape, called Ra Gusela. Passo Giau is a great favorite of motorcyclists and cyclists. The Ra Gusela area offers views of the surrounding mountains such as Seceda and Sassolungo.

Cinque Torri

The Cinque Torri (English: Five Towers) is a group of rock towers in the Dolomites, on the plateau between Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Falzarego Pass. The Cinque Torri is a popular hiking destination for both hikers and climbers. Not far from the cliffs are memorials from the First World War. You can also walk up to the Cinque Torri on a small path or take a cable car.

Marmolada and Lago di Fedaia

The Marmolada mountain group includes the highest peak of the Dolomites, called Punta Penia. It was the scene of heavy mountain fighting during the First World War. In the 21st century it is a popular hiking and winter sports centre. In winter, the longest downhill ski run in the Dolomites is here. The Marmolada area is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.

Next to the Marmolada is the artificial lake called Lago di Fedaia, created by a dam. The bright blue waters of the lake are fed by meltwater from the Marmolada glacier.

Marmolada had a severe avalanche in the summer of 2022, so we do not recommend going up it. The mountain opposite is much more worth hiking up and the views are excellent.


Seceda is a mountain in the Puez-Odle Nature Park. It gained its popularity with its special forms. You can reach it from Ortisei by mountain cable cars, and you can take photos in this wonderful place with a relatively short walk. Of course, for those who like mountain hiking, Seceda can be reached on foot from Val Gardena. Seceda is another place in the Dolomites to arrive early, as it is a very popular destination.

Alpe di Siusi

The Alpe di Siusi is a plateau and Europe’s largest high alpine meadow. It is a major tourist attraction, especially for skiing and hiking, in the Dolomites in the South Tyrol region of Italy. From almost any point on the Alpe di Siusi you will find magnificent views of the Sassolungo and Sassopiatto mountains.

Because access by car is limited, it is recommended to book accommodation in the Alpe di Siusi area. If you don’t have accommodation in the area, we recommend the mountain cable car from Ortisei.

Lago di Carezza

The Lago di Carezza is a less busy area in the Dolomites, but we think it is one of the most beautiful. It is a little further away from the other famous attractions in the Dolomites. Nevertheless, it is well worth the trip.

The stunning green-blue-yellow colored water of the lake reflects the Latemar mountain range behind it. The water level and its color are constantly changing throughout the year. In summer, there are also beautiful pink flowers on the shores of the lake, which make the area even more wonderful.

Of course, there are endless other attractions in the Dolomites, which we present in our other articles. If you are interested, if you want to explore the Dolomites in more detail, read our other articles. We have also written several articles about Italy and other destinations in the Alps, if you are curious, check them out. Since we visit the Dolomites regularly every year, we can only promise that our articles on the Dolomites will continue.

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