Lago di Braies, Dolomites, Italy

15+ Best Things to Do in the Dolomites – What to Do in the Dolomites in Summer 2024

May 16, 2024

Discover the beauty of the Dolomites, a summer paradise with endless outdoor activities. Check out our guide to find the best things to do in the Dolomites, along with essential travel tips for an unforgettable trip.

The Dolomites are a stunning mountain area in northern Italy, a paradise of natural beauty and outdoor activities. No matter which part of the Dolomites you visit, it’s full of wonderful things to do, making it the perfect place for outdoor activity lovers.

We have previously written many articles about the Dolomites, detailing the best sights, the best hotels, and creating itineraries for visiting the Dolomites. This time, we are listing the best activities and things to do in the Dolomites.

The Dolomites are also a popular winter destination with many ski areas, but we are focusing on the summer season, which offers a much wider range of activities.

So here is a comprehensive guide to the best things to do in the Dolomites in summer, but first, let’s look at some basic things to know.

FAQ: What to know when planning a trip to the Dolomites

So, let’s start with some basic questions that might come up when planning a trip to the Dolomites.

How to get to the Dolomites

If you travel from further away, the nearest airports to the Dolomites are in Innsbruck, Venice, and a bit farther away in Milan.

However, the Dolomites can be reached almost exclusively by car. So whether you’re traveling with your own car or renting a car, for example, in Milan, Venice, or Innsbruck, we suggest traveling by car. Public transportation in the Dolomites is very limited, and you’ll have to miss out on many places if you don’t have a car.

How to get around the Dolomites

The best way to get around the Dolomites is by car. Whether you have your own car or decide to rent one, this is the best option. Public transportation is quite limited in the area.

Without a car, getting around the Dolomites isn’t easy. You’ll have to rely on local buses, which take much longer to get from one place to another.

Best time to visit the Dolomites

The Dolomites are home to popular ski resorts, but we would focus on summer travel instead, when you can explore more places.

Therefore, we think the best time to visit the Dolomites is during the summer months, especially July and August. This is when the weather is warmest and suitable for outdoor activities. The downside is that the summer peak season is expensive and crowded.

If you want lower prices and smaller crowds, you might consider traveling in September or early October.

How long is the ideal Dolomites road trip

Our suggested Dolomites itineraries cover a span of 3 days, giving you the opportunity to explore only a part of the region.

Due to the huge area of the Dolomites, it’s recommended to plan for at least a week, ideally 10–14 days, to fully experience its highlights.

Are the Dolomites expensive?

Yes, unfortunately, in recent years, the Dolomites have become extremely expensive, especially accommodations. Therefore, it’s worth considering accommodation booking carefully.

Where to stay in the Dolomites

If you want to check out the best accommodations in the Dolomites, we recommend our dedicated post on this topic.

Generally speaking, it’s best to stay close to your destinations because transportation in the Dolomites is very slow, and travel times are long. So, look for hotels as close as possible to the places you’ve planned to visit.

To mention a few of the best places to stay in the Dolomites:

List of the best things to do in the Dolomites in summer

As mentioned, the Dolomites are packed with exciting activities in the summer, offering something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you seek tranquil relaxation or crave thrilling sports, you’ll find plenty of options in the Dolomites, all set amidst one of Europe’s most stunning mountain environments.

Boat on Lago di Braies

Lago di Braies is a popular destination not only for its outstanding beauty but also because it’s the only lake in the Dolomites where you can go boating.

Boat rentals at Lago di Braies have become extremely popular, thanks to social media, and are now considered one of the main activities in the Dolomites. It’s no wonder, as the brown rowboats offer a picturesque view with the green lake and rugged mountains.

Boat rentals are available at the lakeside boathouse on-site. They’re open from morning until evening, but for the best photos, it’s recommended to arrive during the first or last hours. Due to high demand, there might be waiting times, and prices are accordingly high. However, we think it’s an experience you shouldn’t miss.

Hike around Tre Cime

Hiking around Tre Cime di Lavaredo provides an opportunity to explore one of the Dolomites’ most iconic landmarks.

We think this area has some of the best hikes in the Dolomites. It offers hiking options suitable for all levels, whether you’re a complete beginner with sneakers or an experienced hiker or rock climber.

Most trails offer panoramic views of the peaks and valleys of the Sexten Dolomites. Along the way, you’ll see mountains such as Tre Cime, Monte Paterno, and interesting spots like Grotta delle Tre Cime (cave) or Laghi dei Piani (lakes).

Planning a day hike in the area is a good idea, as exploring this region is one of the best things you can do in the Dolomites.

Visit the Cadini di Misurina viewpoint

For one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Dolomites, consider hiking to the Cadini di Misurina viewpoint. From this elevated vantage point, you’ll enjoy breathtaking vistas of the rugged, rocky mountains and the deep gorge below.

The viewpoint is accessible via a short hike starting from Rifugio Auronzo, spanning just over 2 km. While the hike is theoretically simple, it can pose challenges at times, especially in terms of weather conditions (such as fog). However, if you arrive in good weather and prepared, you’ll be rewarded with unparalleled scenery and photo opportunities.

Camping at Lago di Dobbiaco

If you’re looking for camping or rustic accommodation, camping at Lago di Dobbiaco is a great option. Located near the picturesque lake surrounded by wooded hills, you’ll find Camping Toblacher See. The campground provides basic comfort and a tranquil atmosphere at an affordable price.

Near the campground, there’s a restaurant, and you’ll also find pedal boat rental directly by the lake. If you’re tenting or have a camper, consider Camping Toblacher See.

Sample the delights of South Tyrolean cuisine

Indulge in the specialties of South Tyrolean cuisine during your visit to the Dolomites. This unique culinary experience blends Italian and Austrian, mostly Tyrolean influences, offering a variety of dishes.

Here you can find dishes such as Käsespätzle with spinach, goulash, Knödel (dumplings), Tiroler Gröstl, and Apfelstrudel. Taste these delicious dishes at local restaurants and mountain huts, where you can enjoy them against the stunning backdrop of the Dolomites.

Hike to Lago di Sorapis

If you’re traveling to the Dolomites, don’t miss the unforgettable hike to Lago di Sorapis to discover one of the Dolomites’ best spots.

This stunning turquoise lake is nestled among the mountains, deep in the forests, far from everything.

The hike to Lago di Sorapis is approximately 14 km round trip, leading through lush forests and along steep cliffs. Although the hike is not easy, once you reach the lake, you’ll see it was worth it, as you’ll be able to witness one of Europe’s most beautiful lakes. It’s worth taking a break at the hut by the lake and exploring the surroundings as much as possible, as it offers truly stunning views from several points.

Drive on Passo Giau

Experience the thrill of driving on Passo Giau, one of the most picturesque mountain passes in the Dolomites. This winding road offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and valleys, making it a must-visit destination for road trips and motorcycle enthusiasts alike.

Driving through the hairpin turns and steep ascents is exhilarating, while the scenery is simply breathtaking. Along the way, stop at picturesque viewpoints, such as Ra Gusela, which is remarkably photogenic. You’ll find the best photo spots on both sides of the road near Parcheggio Passo Giau.

Visit Cinque Torri

Explore the impressive rock formations of Cinque Torri and uncover the world of natural beauty and adventures. Located in the heart of the Dolomites, Cinque Torri is famous for its unique geological features and rich history.

A cable car takes you up to Cinque Torri, so it’s essential to consider its strict opening hours when planning your Dolomites itinerary. Drive through Passo Falzarego to the parking lot named Seggiovia Cinque Torri on Google Maps, where the cable car starts. Cinque Torri is a unique rock formation in the Dolomites. You can also find World War I bunkers and trenches, which offer an interesting experience in today’s peaceful mountain environment.

Near Cinque Torri is Lago di Limides, a small lake accessible via another cable car and hiking trail. If you have time, it’s worth making a short visit.

Explore hiking trails near Passo Gardena

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Dolomites by exploring hiking trails near Passo Gardena. Wander through alpine meadows, near towering rocky peaks, and discover breathtaking landscapes.

This picturesque area offers a variety of trails suitable for hikers of all abilities, from easy walks to challenging hikes. You can take the Frara cable car to get closer to the interesting peaks of the Pizes de Cir mountain range, enjoying amazing views.

One of our favorite places to visit here is the hiking trail near Rifugio Frara, which offers the best views of the area. The hike here doesn’t take much time if you’re just visiting for the views, but it’s worth spending an hour exploring the area.

Take the cable car up to Seceda

Seceda, located in the western part of the Dolomites, is not only one of the most popular attractions in the Dolomites due to its unique formations but also offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. This place is a must-visit when traveling to the Dolomites.

You can reach the upper parts of the mountain range via hiking trails or by cable car. Several cable cars go to Seceda from Val Gardena, but we recommend the cable cars starting from Ortisei. The journey can be a bit stressful as the second cable car ascends a steep cliff, but the view from the top is worth it.

At Seceda, you can hike, relax, or dine in a mountain hut, all while enjoying the views of numerous other peaks and valleys of the Dolomites.

Explore the old town of Ortisei

Discover Ortisei’s old town charm during your visit to Val Gardena.

Take a stroll through streets lined with traditional buildings, local crafts and clothing shops, and cozy cafés. Admire the South Tyrolean architecture and immerse yourself in the picturesque landscape of the town.

If you’re interested, visit the Museum Gherdëina, the local historical museum.

Additionally, check out the Chiesa san Ulrico church and take a walk around Antoniusplatz St. Ulrich Zentrum.

Relax in a local restaurant, café, or bar, and taste the delicious local dishes and wines.

Cycle on the Alpe di Siusi

Experience the beauty of Alpe di Siusi by cycling through its breathtaking hills.

Some parts of the plateau are car-free (except for hotel guests), allowing for relative tranquility for walking or biking.

Cycle through lush meadows, forests, and scenic wooden houses along the roads of Alpe di Siusi.

Whether you bring your own bike or rent one, explore this stunning alpine plateau while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding peaks of the Dolomites, such as Sassolungo and Sassopiatto.

Hike to the Rifugio Odle/Geisler Alm

The Rifugio Odle, also known as Geisler Alm, is one of the most popular spots in Val di Funes, gaining attention on social media in recent years. You might have seen photos of the thick wooden benches next to the hut on the hillside, where you can lie down and admire the zigzagging peaks in the distance. The hut is the Geisler Alm, and the viewpoint is called Geislerkino (Kino means cinema in German).

A moderate hike leads to Geisler Alm from the Parcheggio Malga Zannes parking lot. The trail is about 4 km one way with a 400-meter elevation gain, so be prepared for the ascent. Once you reach the hut, take a break, have something delicious to eat, and enjoy the view from the benches.

Enjoy the panoramic views of Santa Magdalena

Santa Magdalena is a small village in Val di Funes, worth visiting if you spend more time in the Dolomites.

The village is famous for its two spectacular churches: the Chiesetta di San Giovanni in Ranui (St. John’s Church) and the Chiesa di Santa Maddalena. Both churches are known for their views. The first church is easily accessible by car, but the second one should not be reached by car; you have to walk about 1.5 km in the village. For the most amazing view, head towards the location marked “Best view of St. Magdalena” on Google Maps.

So, admire the breathtaking panoramas of Santa Magdalena and marvel at the beauty of the surrounding Dolomites.

Relax in a wellness hotel

Relax and rejuvenate in a wellness hotel in the Dolomites. Pamper yourself with luxurious spa treatments, soothing massages, and invigorating wellness activities. Immerse yourself in tranquility with the stunning mountain panorama in the background and indulge in the experience of relaxation.

Some of the best wellness hotels include the Bad Moos – Dolomites Spa Resort, the Alpin Garden Luxury Maison & SPA, and the Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti.

Visit Lago di Carezza

Discover the enchanting beauty of Lago di Carezza during your visit to the Dolomites. This picturesque alpine lake is a short drive from Ortisei and Bozen, known for its stunning colorful waters, sometimes blue, sometimes emerald green, and the Latemar mountain range in the background. Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and admire the towering peaks reflected in the crystal-clear water.

We especially recommend visiting around sunset, when you can witness the phenomenon known as alpenglow, when the peaks appear in reddish-pink hues illuminated by the sun’s rays.

Hiking at Lago di Fedaia and Marmolada

Hike around Lago di Fedaia lake and the nearby Marmolada mountain range, where you’ll also find stunning landscapes. Lago di Fedaia is a reservoir, and Marmolada is home to the highest peak in the Dolomites, Punta Penia. The area is somewhat less known among foreign tourists.

We believe the best hiking trail in this area is on the north side of the lake, where you can ascend steep paths on the hillside, offering magnificent views of the lake and Marmolada. Along the way, you may even encounter a flock of sheep, making the experience even more unique.

While it’s possible to take a cable car up to Marmolada and visit the glacier, we recommend this option less due to an avalanche a few years ago.

So, these were the 15+ best things to do in the Dolomites. We aimed to offer activities for every age group, budget, and interest. So, we hope you found activities or places on our list that you can include in the itinerary for your next trip in the Dolomites.

A vacation spent in the Dolomites is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience. The stunning landscapes, fresh mountain air, and diverse range of activities offer many opportunities for active relaxation and physical and mental rejuvenation.

Therefore, don’t hesitate to visit the Dolomites in summer. Explore its best places, try out the best activities… you won’t be bored in the Dolomites!

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