20+ Epic Things to Do in the Dolomites in 2023 for Foodie Adventurers

A church in the Dolomites backlit by the sunset with autumn trees in the foreground. Best things to do in the Dolomites.
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Italy’s breathtaking Dolomites have it all – challenging hikes, serene strolls, gourmet dining and thrilling paragliding adventures. If you’re looking for unforgettable experiences with a local focus, this guide to the best things to do in the Dolomites is for you.

Ready to turn the Dolomites mountains into your personal playground?

Trick question.

Of course you are – that’s why you’re here. You’re an intrepid traveller who loves good food and drink, a little bit of luxe and authentic local experiences. But you’re also not afraid of putting in the effort to get to the top of a mountain.

From taming my fear of heights on winding mountain paths to delving into this region’s unique culture, divine local dishes and world-class wines, I find something new to love every time I visit. I’ve even got a complete guide to visiting the Dolomites for first-timers!

If you think the Dolomites aren’t for you because they’re only about hiking, please reconsider! There are a ton of diverse experiences waiting for you here (although if you are after heart-pumping hikes, I’ve got those covered!).

This post lists things I’ve loved doing in the Dolomites, both popular favourites and some off-the-beaten-path wonders. Sure, it’s all according to me, but presumably, that’s why you’re here!

We’re going to cover everything from adrenaline-pumping outdoor adventures to serene lakeside strolls, unforgettable culinary experiences, and much more.

So, whether you’re a seasoned explorer or this is your first encounter with the great outdoors, there’s a Dolomites adventure with your name on it.

This is my guide to the best things to do in the Dolomites, broken down by time of year to make it even easier for you!

A white church with mountain peaks in the foreground and background - stopping at random villages is on of my favourite things to do in the Dolomites for views like these
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Currency: Euro €

Language: Italian

Money: Cards accepted almost everywhere but have cash on hand for tips and small purchases

Visit in: late summer, autumn or winter

Transport: public transport is great during high season but a car is better at other times

Best for: Outdoor adventurers, foodies, wine lovers, history fans!

Table Of Contents
  5. Final Thoughts: The Best Things to do in The Dolomites
  6. Planning A Trip To Europe?


The features in this post were hand-selected by a picky diva (that’s me) and some of them are affiliate links. If you buy via these, I may earn a commission on some of these awesome recommendations at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your wonderful support – Cat.

My love story with the Dolomites goes way back. I’ve travelled this spectacular region extensively, both solo in my van and with hiking and photography groups. I credit a lot of personal growth to the time I spent up here in the mountains, and I can’t wait to share my favourite things to do in the Dolomites with you.

So, get ready to enter a world of towering peaks, lush valleys, and mouth-watering flavours because I’m here to guide you on an unforgettable journey through Italy’s crown jewel – the UNESCO world heritage site of the Dolomites.


Hiking in the Dolomites

The Dolomites are 100% where I fell in love with hiking as a journey rather than a means of getting to a destination. No post of mine about the best things to do in the Dolomites would be complete without mentioning the epic hiking trails dotted across the mountains.

I don’t think there’s a better way to experience the heart-stopping beauty of the Dolomites than by lacing up your boots and hitting the trails.

The small stone mountain hut or Rifugio Lavaredo with a hiking path leading to it and sharp mountain peaks in the background on the Tre Cime hike, one of my favourite things to do in the Dolomites
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A woman in an orange puffa jacket stands looking out over orange autumn foliage with a mountain peak in the distance
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That said, I totally understand that some of you would rather “take a walk in the car” (my mum™), with best hikes absolutely the last thing you’d put on any “best of” list. Please reconsider!

You don’t even need a ton of experience to enjoy hiking in the Dolomites because there are some great easy trails perfect for hiking haters.

Yes, I’m making that a thing.

READ THIS | If you’re new to the world of hiking, you might want to check out my Beginner’s Guide to Hiking (coming soon) so that you can gain a bit of confidence before your big Dolomites adventure.

views across the mondeval valley, covered in orange grass, to monte pelmo mountain peak in the distance on the croda da lago hike
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Even complete hiking novices will be able to tackle the first part of Tre Cime di Lavaredo or get to the Seceda ridgeline viewpoint in summer (thank you cable cars!), so don’t let inexperience put you off what is, in my opinion, the #1 best thing to do in the Dolomites.

Here are my favourite Dolomites hikes to get you started:

Hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Capturing the Cadini di Misurina – Easy to Moderate

This is the Dolomites Hike for a reason. Tre Cime di Lavaredo has it all – World War I tunnels (a history lesson! on a hike!), picture-perfect chapels for a cheeky selfie, lakes that glitter like diamonds, and, of course, quaint rifugi (translation: mountain huts) where you can kick back with a glass of wine.

Let’s be honest, after all that walking, you’ve earned it.

The Rifugio Locatelli / Drei Zinnen Hutte nestled in the mountain peaks on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hiking loop
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While the Tre Cime peaks themselves are undoubtedly stars of the show, there’s a little spot nearby that’s even more jaw-dropping. The Cadini di Misurina. This is your chance to get all Ansel Adams and snap the hell out of these jagged mountain peaks!

The Epic Adventure of the Seceda Ridgeline – Easy to Moderate

For more heart-stopping, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring views, I think the Seceda Ridgeline is unmissable. The best part? During the summer months, a cable car will do most of the uphill work for you.

If you’re really lucky, you might get to see clouds rolling up over the ridge from below.

a foggy morning at seceda
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Once you’re up there, it’s all about choosing your own adventure. You can embark on a 5km round trip offering stunning vistas or opt for a more extensive 13km hike that delves deeper into the region’s beauty.

READ THIS | For more info, check out my guide, Hiking Seceda in the Italian Dolomites. Trust me; you’ll feel like you’ve walked right into a postcard.

Find your Chill at Lago di Federa – Moderate

So look, I had approximately zero chill when I visited Lago di Federa in autumn. It’s an absolute dream for photographers if the conditions are right at that time of year, and I pretty much lost my mind at the golden autumn foliage.

Lago di Federa’s secret weapon is Rifugio Croda da Lago, complete with sauna, sitting beside the secluded mountain lake. Sunrise, in particular, offers a tranquillity that’s hard to match. Even when I shared my sunrises with about 100 photographers, you could have heard a pin drop.

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lago di federer on the croda da lago hike, rifugio g palmieri reflecting in the lake
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The Croda da Lago trail itself, nestled amidst towering peaks and emerald forests, is a love letter to nature. 11/10 recommended but, beginners beware, there’s a fair amount of uphill.

Brave the trail to Lago di Sorapis – Moderate to Hard

Hidden deep within the mountains lies the turquoise treasure of Lago di Sorapis. The hike isn’t for the faint-hearted, with narrow pathways, sheer cliffside and short areas where you’ll need to haul yourself up some sketchy trail. But, oh man, is it worth it.

The contrast of the turquoise waters of Lake Sorapis against the stark silver of the Dolomite peaks is nothing short of mesmerizing. This is the kind of spot that Dolomite dreams are made of.

a frozen lago di sorapis in autumn
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You can also check out my post, the Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites, for more great hikes to do.

Tabacco Maps are the best to plan your Dolomites hiking adventures. Print copies can be hard to find, so the Tabacco App is the next best thing to the feel of a map in your hand!

If you love to have a complete overview of the region, then Gillian Price’s Dolomites Guidebooks are the absolute best for planning your hikes in advance.

Shorter Walks in the Dolomites is great for day hikes and Walking in the Dolomites is the one for multi-day adventures. I’ve used them extensively to plan my own hiking in the Dolomites.


Tackle a Via Ferrata in the Dolomites

When it comes to stepping out of your comfort zone, the vie ferrate (yep, getting fancy with the Italian plurals there) of the Dolomites are more like a flying leap. If you’d rather stay grounded than dangle off the side of a cliff, you’re in for a wild ride.

If you’re new to the term, think of a via ferrata as a ‘helping hand’ up the mountains. They’re laced with steel cables, steps, ladders, rungs, and anchor points drilled into the rock. You clip onto a cable, which, thank goodness, drastically reduces your chances of a base jump sans parachute.

See? Helpful.

A woman in via ferrata gear walking along a narrow mountain ledge tackling one of the best things to do in the Dolomites
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Soldiers installed these so-called “iron paths” during World War I to help them navigate the treacherous terrain. These days, they’re more like a mountain VIP pass, taking hikers through otherwise inaccessible sections without needing Spider-Man skills.

If you’re looking to pop your via ferrata cherry, here are a couple of great options for beginners:

Via Ferrata Gran Cir

Gran Cir is just the ticket for beginners itching for a bit of adrenaline-pumping action. It was the first via ferrata I tackled in the Dolomites, and it’s definitely the easiest, giving you a taste of all the thrilling aspects of a via ferrata without making you go, “I’ve made a huge mistake!”.

I’d describe it as more of a hearty mountain stroll, with a few fun scrambling sections thrown in for good measure.

Reach the summit cross of Gran Cir, and you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring vistas of the Sella Massif, Sassolungo and the immediately recognisable Odle/Geisler Peaks in the distance. This is a popular option for sunrise, and you can read all about what to expect in this guide to the Via Ferrata Gran Cir.

Via Ferrata Col dei Bos

Situated near the Falzarego Pass, this via ferrata is packed with variety and incredible panoramic views. The ascent combines hiking and climbing where you clamber up some vertical rock walls and navigate around a few ledges, with plenty of steel cables and iron rungs to lend a hand.

There’s a great outline of what to expect in this post from Marta at “In A Faraway Land”

Hikers entering the via ferrata in the world war 2 tunnels above the Tre Cime di Lavaredo
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Hikers on the via ferrata of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo
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Via Ferrata Innerkofler/De Luca

Right by the Tre Cime, this via ferrata is a bit of a celebrity in the region, boasting historical significance and a healthy dose of thrill. As you navigate along this rock-hewn path, you’ll come across remnants of the Great War, including old military emplacements and tunnels. It’s a hike, a climb, and a history lesson all rolled into one!

If you’re keen to explore more, check out another of Marta’s posts on some of the best via ferrata for beginners.

Before you rush off to become the next mountain goat, remember the three golden rules of tackling a via ferrata: make sure you’ve got appropriate insurance, invest in some great via ferrata gear, and go with an experienced buddy or guide.

One last thing: if heights make your legs wobble more than jelly, I feel you. But don’t let that stop you!

I once had a breakdown in a church spire because the height freaked me out – my mum had to literally talk me down (sorry, Mum!). So if the mere thought of dangling from a mountainside makes your stomach do somersaults (and not in a good way), trust me when I tell you that the feeling of overcoming your fears is simply unbeatable.

If you’re a bit more of a daredevil than I am, there’s also great rock climbing in the Dolomites.


Lakeside Strolls at Lago di Braies

Lago di Braies, or Pragser Wildsee, is your opportunity to live out your romantic, rowboat-in-an-alpine-lake fantasies. It’s genuinely stunning, but please be prepared for the fact that it will be busy. If crowds make you want to run screaming in the opposite direction, go elsewhere!

READ THIS | If you want some ideas of how to get away from the crowds at Lago di Braies

Much as I love a challenging hike or gravity-defying via ferrata, there’s something undeniably special about a leisurely lakeside stroll. Lago di Braies is easy to get to, will take about an hour to meander around, and is dotted with little spots perfect for a taking a seat and enjoying the views.

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It’s one of the Dolomites’ brightest jewels and ambling alongside its shimmering turquoise waters, encased in an amphitheatre of craggy peaks and emerald (or golden, if you know what’s good for you!) forests, is sublime.

Whether you’re an adventure junkie, a hopeless romantic, or a peace-seeking soul, a walk around Lake Braies is one of the best things to do in the Dolomites. It’s a gentle reminder of how beautiful this world can be when we take the time to slow down and savour it.


Stay in a Rifugio

Here’s the thing, my luxury-loving friends, every so often, it’s worth stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something a little different. I’m talking about rifugi, those quaint mountain huts tucked away in the Dolomites, offering you an experience like no other. A stay at one is right at the top of my list when it comes to best things to do in the Dolomites.

Owned and run by local families, these mountain huts are usually open for the hiking and skiing seasons. The accommodation is super cosy, if a tad on the rustic side (you’ll need to bring your sleeping bag liner) but the experience is unparalleled, even if you’re usually the one for five-star stays. Trust me on this one!

Hikers sitting outside Rifugio Lavaredo on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hiking loop
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You’ll be treated to simple, hearty, home-cooked meals that somehow taste even better after a long day on the mountain. Pair that with some top-notch local wines, and you’re in for an absolute treat. And then there are the locations. Right in the heart of nature, there’s everything from lakes to mountaintop perches!

There are quite a few rifugi in the Dolomites that have earned a reputation for their amazing locations. Croda da Lago will forever be a favourite, simply because of it’s gorgeous location right by Lago di Federa.

Rifugio Fanes is another gem, nestled in the Fanes-Sennes-Braies nature park, and offering stunning views of the Fanes range.

Also check out Rifugio Lagazuoi, perched high up on the mountain, where you might as well just become one with the eagles. Just please don’t jump out of your nest…

Some of the Rifugi are open during the ski season too, but more often just for meals.


Cycling in the Dolomites

The wind in your hair, the sun on your skin, and the Dolomites unfolding before you in all their majestic glory. Cycling in the Dolomites allows you to really immerse yourself in your surroundings.

If you’re picturing hectic uphills, thinking there’s absolutely no way you could ever haul your ass up these mountains, I’ve got one word for you – e-bikes! Or maybe that’s two words?

cyclists on a wide gravel path weaving through gentle undulations on the meadows of alpe di siusi which is one of the most fun things to do in the Dolomites
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Anyway, seasoned cyclists will definitely count cycling as one of the best things to do in the Dolomites, but even rank beginners or eager novices like me will find bike trails in the Dolomites that offer an unforgettable ride. Here are a couple to get you started:

Cortina d’Ampezzo to Dobbiaco

Pick up a bike at Snow Service 1 and head across the road to the Old Railway Path which is a beautiful 30 kilometre cycle to Dobbiaco. You’ll pass the viewpoint for Tre Cime, beautiful Lago di Landro and Lago di Dobbiaco (a great place to stop for a pizza!). The uphill is fairly gentle, but if you’re worried then you can hire an e-bike for the day.

Pusteria Valley | Pusterbike Cycle Path

This Pusteria Valley Bike Path is a dream and can be split into two sections – Fortezza to Brunico (40 kilometres) and Brunico to San Candido (34 kilometres). You can take local trains or bike shuttles from the end of each section to your starting point. The track follows the course of the Rienza river, taking in uninterrupted views of breathtaking mountain landscapes dotted with picturesque towns. It’s mostly downhill or flat, and an easy, enjoyable ride for beginners.

Val Gardena to Alpe di Siusi

Venture from Val Gardena to Alpe di Siusi for a delightful 35 kilometre loop around the largest high-altitude Alpine meadow in Europe. With a mix of forested areas and open, panoramic landscapes, it’s a ride that you won’t forget anytime soon. You’ll tackle 650 metres of ascent immediately after leaving Ortisei, but it’s (mostly) all downhill from there and totally worth it.

If you’re up for a bit of a challenge then the Alta Badia region is the place to go. They’ve got the Sella Ronda route and the famous Giro d’Italia. No way I’m doing either of those, but maybe I’ll check out their electric mountain bikes next time I’m there!

After all, the views are to die for, but there’s no need to feel like you’re going to die trying to get up the hill!


Horse Riding at Alpe di Siusi

In the summer months, check out Unterlanzin Riding Stables, where you can explore the lush mountainsides of the Dolomites on horseback!

They offer an all-day ride to the beautiful Alpe di Siusi, but if you’re worried that your ass may not cope with that much time in the saddle, shorter rides are available too. No judgement here.

two gorgeous horses stand on a mountain pasture with a mountain peak visible in the distance
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Buckle Up on the Great Dolomites Road

Turn up your favourite playlist and get ready for the drive dreams are made of.

If you’re the type who gets a thrill from winding mountain roads with spectacular views so stunning they’d make a mountain goat jealous, you’re in for a treat. The Great Dolomites Road is, well… great. And let me tell you, the Dolomites know how to do a scenic drive.

Starting from Bolzano and ending in Cortina d’Ampezzo, this roughly 110km journey weaves through the heart of the Dolomites. It’s a road trip that’s just as much about the journey as the destination.

A woman sitting on top of a dark green van with chopped logs in the background
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a woman with an orange top and red leggings sitting on top of a van with mountains in the background
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If you’re the kind of person who stops every 15 minutes to take in the views (guilty!), you’ll want to set aside a couple of days for this road trip. As you drive along the ribbon-like roads, you’ll come across sheer cliffs, deep valleys, and peaks that look like they’ve been sprinkled with icing sugar.

And yes, your jaw will spend most of its time in your lap. This is the Dolomites after all!

Here are the highlights:

Bolzano – Start Your Adventure

Your road trip starts in the bustling town of Bolzano. Home to Ötzi the Iceman, a vibrant food scene, and some top-notch wine tasting, Bolzano is the kind of place you’ll want to explore. It’s also a great location for hiring a car in the Dolomites, so is the perfect place to begin.

Lake Carezza – A Picture-Perfect Pit Stop

Not far from Bolzano is Lago di Carezza/Karersee. This emerald jewel is nestled amongst the forest and the mountains, making it a postcard-perfect pit stop.

PHOTO TIP | Head to Lago di Carezza for sunrise or sunset for the best chance of grabbing that Instagram-worthy shot that’ll make your followers swoon!

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Passo Pordoi and Sass Pordoi – The Mountain Top Experience

Next, head to Passo Pordoi where you’ll tackle 28 hairpin bends! In summer and winter, you can take the cable car up to Sass Pordoi where, at an altitude of 2,950m, you might even have your head in the clouds!

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Rifugio Maria while you’re up here (yes, I am indeed on a one-woman mission to get you to all the rifugi in the region!), and take the opportunity to experience the Top Wine 2950 Symposium if you’re here in autumn.

Since drinking and driving definitely don’t mix, consider an overnight stay at the charming Hotel Col di Lana at Passo Pordoi before getting back on the road.

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Cortina d’Ampezzo – The Chic Mountain Retreat

The drive ends in Cortina d’Ampezzo, an alpine town that’s as chic as a ski resort can get. With upscale shops, exquisite restaurants, and high-end hotels (the Hotel de Len is a particular favourite), it’s the perfect place to rest your weary bones after all that driving.

So, with your camera at the ready, your snacks packed, and your adventurous spirit raring to go, it’s time to hit the road. Just remember to keep your eyes on the road and save the sightseeing for the pit stops!

READ THIS | If you’re looking for a Perfect Dolomites Road Trip Itinerary


Photographing the Dolomites

If you’re like me and can’t resist the opportunity to take landscape photos that look like they’re straight out of a National Geographic magazine, then you’re going to love the Dolomites. It’s like these mountains were put here just for us shutterbugs to snap away at.

When it comes to photography in the Dolomites, a few locations are absolute must-sees.

Lago di Braies – The Instagram Star

First up, Lago di Braies, otherwise known as Pragser Wildsee. It’s one of the most Instagrammable locations in the Dolomites. With emerald waters surrounded by forested mountains and that infamous boathouse, it’s no wonder.

wooden boats sit on a turquoise lake with a wooden boathouse in the foreground and mountains in the distance
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If you’re feeling flush and want something a bit more unique, you can rent the cute La Palafitta boathouse to get it all to yourself in the morning. The best light for photography here is at sunrise – so be prepared to wake up early!

INSIDER TIP | You’re not going to get the lake to yourself unless you come at night, so make the most of your time here by enjoying a full day of fun around Lago di Braies.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Cadini di Misurina – Majestic Mountains

Tre Cime di Lavaredo are a trio of towering mountain peaks that create an epic backdrop for any shot. The best light here is just before sunset. You know, when the peaks start blushing with alpenglow and everything gets really dramatic. It’s a sight to see.

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I suggest hiking Tre Cime during the day before heading to the stunning Cadini di Misurina viewpoint for sunset. You have to take the Auronzo toll road to get up here, so I recommend staying overnight at Rifugio Auronzo to make the most of sunset and sunrise. The road isn’t open before sunrise, so you’d have to hike up for it otherwise!

Seceda – That Top of the World Shot

Then, there’s Seceda. The ridgeline views from here are literally next level, offering a panorama that will leave you (and your followers) speechless. Sunrise is the time to catch this view in all its glory.

Alpe di Siusi – What Alpine Dreams Are Made Of

Last but not least, we have Alpe di Siusi, also known as Seiser Alm. Europe’s largest high-altitude meadow is fringed by rugged Dolomite peaks, creating images that are positively drool-worthy. Whether it’s summer wildflowers, autumn hues, or the elusive foggy shot, it’s a photogenic spot year-round, especially during golden hour.

sunrise at alpe di siusi
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READ THIS | If you’re wondering what I use to capture these epic shots, check out my favourite camera gear at What’s in My Camera Bag

A word of caution for drone enthusiasts: Italy has strict regulations around flying drones in national parks and other protected areas. Always make sure you’re abiding by the rules and respecting the natural beauty of the place. Basically, just don’t be a dick.


Paragliding in the Dolomites

I used to be pretty scared of heights. I can’t claim acrophobia, because I think you’ve got to be worse that I was for that, but I was definitely at the nauseous, shaking legs, “am I about to throw myself off this cliff” portion of the trip.

So, I know what I’m talking about when I say there’s something incredibly liberating about facing your fears head on. I honestly never expected paragliding to make it onto my list of the best things to do in the Dolomites!

Carmen Huter was the one who recommended Gardenafly, as a local and woman-run business, and they were absolute champs.

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To someone whose knees buckle at the thought of anything higher than a ladder, the team was reassuring, patient, and incredibly skilled. These guys know what they’re doing, and they made me feel safe and sound every step (or should I say, every flight) of the way.

And you know what? Once you’re up there, it’s nothing short of magical. The adrenaline suddenly replaced by an indescribable sense of tranquillity. You’re soaring over the Dolomites, and it’s just you, the quiet, the endless sky, and the pilot behind you with a GoPro (ha, you didn’t think you’d get away without those candid shots, did you?).

Paragliding in the Dolomites turned out to be one of my favourite experiences – the kind that makes you laugh and cheer and feel invincible. So here’s my advice to you: even if it sounds a bit terrifying, give it a shot. You never know; you might find a part of you that you didn’t know existed.


Camping Under the Stars in the Dolomites

Does the thought of waking up to crisp mountain air and unrivalled views of nature’s grandeur sound appealing? Well, then camping in the Dolomites might just be your jam.

It’s the perfect way to immerse yourself in the heart of these majestic mountains. Think sunrise coffee with panoramic views that definitely beat your normal morning commute. Or maybe it’s the appeal of a sundowner G&T with front-row tickets to the greatest sunset show on Earth that’ll sell it to you!

Campervans are a brilliant option here, especially since a road trip is one of the best ways to explore the vastness of the Dolomites. Before you get going, don’t forget to check out my detailed post on camping essentials (coming soon) to ensure you’re fully equipped for your Dolomites adventure.

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Imagine ending your day of hiking by kicking back in front of your tent or van; just you, the vibrant sky, and that Alpenglow on towering Dolomite peaks. Once the sun goes down, that same sky will turn into a shimmering cloak of stars – sounds magical, right? It’s even better in person!

All that being said, it’s important to note that wild camping isn’t allowed in the Dolomites.But fear not! There are heaps of excellent fixed campsites to choose from, offering everything from essential facilities to some exciting extras.

Here are some of my favourite campsites in the Dolomites that I think you’ll love too:

Camping Sass Dlacia | This campsite is tucked away in the woods of San Cassiano in Alta Badia, near the Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park. There’s a huge selection of accommodations, from pitches to rooms, Üties (translation: tiny mountain huts) and even cute little A-frame cabins, new in 2023. It’s close to nature trails and hiking in the summer, ski slopes in the winter, and even has onsite wellness facilities. Camping’s sounding pretty good right now, I bet! Check availability and book here

Camping Olympia | Situated in the beautiful Val di Fiemme, this campsite boasts an onsite restaurant, a pool during the summer months, a Finnish sauna and spa, as well as an adventure park nearby. They also offer guided hikes that you can book at their reception area. Check availability and book here.

Camping Toblacher See | Another of my favourites, with great onsite facilities virtually on the lake. The pizza here is amazing after a day of hiking, and the campervan sites are sunny and large. Best of all, though, are the Skyview Chalets where you can watch the night skies in a touch of luxury. Check availability and book here.

One last thing – we’re guests in Mother Nature’s home, so follow the Leave No Trace principles and keep the Dolomites as stunning as they’ve always been.


Indulge at a Luxurious Spa in the Dolomites

Although most adventure-packed days don’t come with a restorative unwinding session at the end, the Dolomites is one place that makes sure it’s always an option! If there’s one thing I love as much as a thrilling trail, it’s a rejuvenating spa, sauna or (top of the indulgent list) massage!

Imagine sinking into a warm spa, muscles relaxing as the heat seeps in, a glass of Prosecco in hand (optional, but recommended), and an alpine panorama as your backdrop. Sounds tempting? Welcome to the wellness side of the Dolomites, where scenic tranquillity pairs perfectly with luxury wellness experiences.

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For those of you searching for that perfect wellness retreat, look no further than the minimalist luxury of Hotel Kolfuschgerhof, nestled into the mountainside below Gran Cir. It’s my personal favourite in the region, with its infinity pool, divine sauna and fabulous massage therapists! The food is also incredible.

Other amazing options in the region include the Hotel Rosa Eco Alpine Spa Resort (currently closed for refurbishment but keep checking back!) and the Adler Spa Resort Dolomiti. The former, in San Cassiano, is a haven of tranquillity with an infinity pool and mountain view, while the latter’s posh amenities in Ortisei are a little slice of heaven on earth for spa lovers. With top-notch wellness facilities, these properties turn unwinding into an actual art form.

READ THIS | A comprehensive guide to the Best Luxury, Boutique and Spa Hotels in the Dolomites (coming soon)


South Tyrol Wine Tasting

I wouldn’t be me if wine didn’t make it onto the list of the best things to do in the Dolomites! So hold on to your wine glasses, because it’s time to take a ride along the South Tyrolean Wine Road!

Right in the heart of Italy’s northernmost wine-growing region, this 100+ kilometre route invites wine enthusiasts (or complete beginners, we don’t discriminate round here) to explore the diversity of South Tyrolean wines. Grab a bike and a Winepass and get ready to enjoy!

This region actually produces some of Italy’s most esteemed wines, each telling a story of the unique terroir. From the robust Lagrein, a native red variety grown in the region for centuries, to the light, aromatic Gewürztraminer (yes, that’s a grape and not a sneeze), South Tyrol offers a fascinating range of wines.

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And why wine tasting here rather than elsewhere? Well, if you’re planning to explore Tuscany as well (and I highly recommend that you do!), South Tyrol provides a distinct contrast. Its cooler climate and alpine influences result in wines with a different character than those from Tuscany’s sun-drenched vineyards.

If you’re new to the wine world (I know not everyone grew up in a house full of wine, like me), don’t be intimidated. Everyone has to start somewhere, and South Tyrol’s friendly people, historic wine culture and scrumptious wine make it a great place to begin.


Feast on Michelin Starred Delights in Cortina

Cortina d’Ampezzo – a town that’s as fancy as it sounds. As the so-called “Queen of the Dolomites,” she has a lot to offer: local cuisine, fancy boutiques, and stunning architecture.

What I’m here for though is the food. Despite its small size, Cortina is a culinary heavyweight, merging age-old Dolomite traditions with a dash of modernity. And they’ve got the Michelin-starred restaurants to prove it.

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TIP | If you’re visiting in peak season (summer hiking and winter ski seasons) you’re going to need to book popular restaurants well in advance. Think months, rather than days.

There’s no better place to start than SanBrite, a gastronomic gem with a firm emphasis on local and sustainably sourced food. From the moment the wait-staff sweep in with creamy butter and crumbly bread, a meal here offers a symphony of local flavours, innovatively presented to enhance your dining experience. The tasting menu with paired wine is always the one for me!

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Next up, Tivoli Restaurant, where traditional Italian dishes are deconstructed and reconstructed in the most delightful ways. It’s not just about eating; it’s about witnessing food as an art form. From the traditional ‘canederli’ (bread dumplings) to the exquisite ‘risotto al tartufo’ (truffle risotto), Tivoli is a dance between traditional and modern culinary arts.

And I’d be utterly remiss not to talk about dessert! For all you sweet-toothed adventurers, Pasticceria Alverà is the uncontested master of pastries in Cortina. The apple ‘strudel’, with its flaky pastry and well-spiced filling, is a must-try.

There are dozens of other wonderful places to eat and drink in Cortina, so don’t despair if you can’t get a reservation at the restaurants above.


Take A Food Tour in Bolzano

I adore taking a food tour with a local – it’s probably one of my favourite ways to kick off any visit to a new region or city. And the Dolomites is no exception.

Take Claudia’s Bolzano Street Food Tour to explore local food and drink with a local who is incredibly knowledgeable about the food and history of the area. You’ll get to see some hidden gems, like local taverns that you’d never go to otherwise, and even get recommendations for other places to eat and drink.

Claudia’s tour is really more of a celebration of Dolomites culture, food, and heritage. Who knew learning could taste so good?


Get Nerdy at the Messner Mountain Museum… and More!

Alright, all you culture nerds (and yes, I say that with love as I am one), we’re switching gears a bit and delving into the fascinating world of mountain museums in the Dolomites. Kicking things off with the Messner Mountain Museum Corones, aka the MMMC.

Dreamt up by the famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner, this museum is a deep dive into man’s relationship with the mountains where you can stimulate your intellect after a day of stimulating your muscles (see what I did there?). The architecture of the building alone is worth a visit. You should also check out the MMM Dolomites, on Monte Rite, an art museum inside a renovated fort.

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But that’s just the beginning! There’s a whole host of other museums that are sure to pique your interest. For instance, the Ladin Cultural Museum is a hidden gem that tells the tale of the Ladin people, the oldest ethnic group in the Dolomites. It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in local culture and history.

Meanwhile, the Lumen Museum is a haven for photography enthusiasts. This stunning museum, located at the summit of Plan de Corones, showcases the evolution of mountain photography over the ages. There are both permanent and temporary exhibits to enjoy.

Then there’s the Open Air WW1 Museum at Cinque Torri, former World War I fortifications that have been converted into an exhibition space. This museum provides a unique window into the area’s tumultuous past, all while you’re surrounded by the very mountains where these historic events unfolded.

Last but not least, the South Tyrol Archeological Museum, home to the famed Otzi the Iceman. It’s not in the mountains, but in nearby Bolzano. However, this is where you’ll learn about the life of this 5,300-year-old mummy discovered in the mountains near the Austrian border.

Whether you’re a history buff, a culture vulture, or just someone looking to mix things up during your Dolomites adventure, these museums offer something for everyone. After all, who says a mountain adventure can’t include a bit of brain workout too?


Learn a Language in the Dolomites

Alrighty, if you’re all about living the local life (or if, like me, you just have a soft spot for the sound of Italian), possibly the best thing to do in the Dolomites is learn Italian!

You’ll find the Edelweiss Language and Cultural Centre in Cortina d’Ampezzo at the heart of the Dolomites. With private classes available, even for just an afternoon, what better way to learn your per favore and grazie mille?! Prego.

I’ve not yet managed to find classes in the Dolomites for German or the local Ladin language, so if you’ve got the inside scoop, let me know!


Wildlife Spotting in the Dolomites

With a host of different habitats, the Dolomites are home to an astonishing variety of species, from the playful marmot to the majestic red deer. An early morning or twilight stroll around any of the Naturparks in the regions (Fanes-Sennes-Prags or Puez-Odle nature park being a couple of the best) may reward you with unforgettable sightings.

In winter, you’ll need to have sharp eyes to spot the hares in their snow-white coats, with just the black tips of their ears revealing their location. You might also come across the fluffy white ptarmigan at higher altitudes.

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Spring brings some frisky mating behaviours as well as the return of the marmots, who’ve spent the winter hibernating. Autumn is the best time to spot deer battling it out for dominance on the mountainsides.

Although the temptation (if you’re anything like me) is to squeal in excitement, try to keep the screaming internalised when you come across wildlife. And please don’t approach any wild animals because, well, they’re wild, right? You’re going to come off second-best. Even in a fight with a marmot.


Visit Beautiful Churches

The Churches of San Valentino in Castelrotto or San Giovanni in Ranui and Santa Maddalena in Val di Funes add an ancient charm to the surrounding landscapes. Each piece of architecture tells a unique story about the region’s history and culture, and they’re located in spots with such stunning views you can understand why people felt these places were close to heaven.

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There are dozens of churches scattered throughout the picturesque villages of the Dolomites, and honestly, you’ll be hard-pushed to find one that isn’t photogenic as all out. San Giovanni is the undisputed Instagram star, but actually the hardest place to get a good photo. You’ve been warned!


Check Out Local Markets

God, I miss a proper European market. In Australia, it’s actually pretty bloody hard to find a decent local market (except in Hobart, which feels more like a British town than anything else), so take full advantage of any farmers market you come across.

You never know when you might deeply regret not sampling those chestnuts, that parmesan or the olive oil that evokes summer nights under the stars. And life is far too short for regrets.

San Candido has a great Christmas market, but there’s also an extensive list of farmer’s markets for you to check out. Don’t miss the chance to try some Speck, a local smoked ham, or to bring home a bottle of locally brewed Birra Dolomiti.


Attend Local Festivals and Events

I’m really sad that I’ve not yet managed to make it to any of these, but here are the top three on my hit list (and don’t worry, I’ll update you once I finally get to them!):

Experience the Dolomites in full swing during the I Suoni delle Dolomiti music festival, where you can actually do things like listen to a live cello quartet while watching the sun rise over one of the mountain passes. Like, what?! How can this be a real thing??

I adore that their manifesto is that the festival is a gift from the natural world, free and open to everyone who wants to take part.

Usher in chestnut season the right way at a Törggelen celebration. It’s basically an autumn festival complete with chestnuts, local food and wine. The most famous in the region is Gassltörggelen in Chiusa/Klausen, usually in the middle of September.

Last but by no means least, Wine Cellar Night, where wineries of the South Tyrol Wine Road stay open until midnight, providing a shuttle service so that nobody needs to be the designated driver. Genius.


The Dolomites by Night

Night owls, this one’s for you. You haven’t truly seen the Dolomites until you’ve seen them under the night sky. Suddenly, the mountains glow with ethereal light, the stars burst into life, and everything seems… more. More majestic, more tranquil, more magical.

For a real taste of Dolomites’ nightlife, check out the nighttime snowshoeing tours offered by Dolomiti SkiRock. With the star-studded sky overhead and the crunch of snow underfoot, it’s an adventure straight out of a fairytale.

Alternatively, visit the Mountain Planetarium (currently undergoing refurbishment) or Cortina Observatory to get up close and personal with the cosmos.

If you’re a photographer, the possibilities for astrophotography in the mountains are almost endless. Just book yourself a night in a rifugio and keep your fingers crossed for clear skies!



Skiing in Val Gardena

The thrill of that first run down a perfectly groomed piste under a clear, blue sky is feeling that never gets old. So strap on those skis and let Val Gardena’s snowy slopes make you feel like an Olympic champ. And if you’re a first-timer, don’t sweat it because there’s a bunny slope waiting for you too.

Val Gardena is the kind of place that makes you understand why people say skiing is more than a sport, it’s a way of life. And these aren’t just any slopes – they’re part of the Dolomiti Superski area, one of the largest ski circuits in the world.

There’s something for everyone here. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just finding your feet, Val Gardena has a range of slopes to suit all abilities. There’s the famous Sellaronda 40 kilometre ski circuit, an insanely beautiful panoramic route around the Sella massif or, if that doesn’t take your fancy, how about the longest ski slope in South Tyrol?!

Best of all, after a long day on the slopes, you’ve earned the right to indulge in all the rich, carbohydratey South Tyrolean cuisine you can fit in at one of the many mountain huts scattered across the area. I think we all know why I ski….

Although Val Gardena is my pick of the bunch (and given the number of awards it sports, a lot of other experts’ too), there are a heap of luxurious ski resorts in the Dolomites that are also part of the superski area. You’re literally spoiled for choice.


Snowshoeing Adventures in the Dolomites

Let’s face it, not everyone loves hurling themselves down a mountain on a pair of sticks. If that’s you, fear not. I’ve found the perfect winter alternative: snowshoeing.

Who knew something as simple as strapping tennis rackets to your feet could create such magic?

With routes fit for beginners and veterans alike, every step uncovers a winter wonderland of snow-draped peaks and crystalline forests.

If I had to pick one path for you? It would be a guided tour around the majestic Tre Cime di Lavaredo, where you’ll lose yourself in the tranquil hush of nature. Other than the possible swearing and laughter as you try to get the hang of walking with giant feet!


What is the best time of year to visit the Dolomites?

Late summer and early autumn (fall), so August to early October. The hiking trails and rifugi are still open, crowds are less, and the larch trees are starting to turn gold. Of course, if you want to ski then you’ll need to come during the season from January to March. Summer (June-July) is beautiful, but busy.

How do I get to the Dolomites from major Italian cities like Rome or Venice?

From Venice, you can hire a car and just drive. From Rome, take the train and then pick up a car from Bolzano. You can get around using public transport, especially in the summer, but it does take a little more planning. Most accommodation provides free passes for local public transport which means you can leave your car at the hotel when you explore.

How long should I spend in the Dolomites?

I recommend at least 5 days, but I spent 3 weeks on my first visit and still had to go back for more. I’ve got at least 3 months’ worth of hiking trails to do, and I’m not even counting the ski weeks in this!

Where’s the best place to stay in the Dolomites?

Base yourself in a couple of towns to make it easier to do hikes in the respective areas. I suggest Cortina d’Ampezzo for exploring the northeastern Dolomites and either Ortisei or Selva di Val Gardena for the western part. It’s well worth splashing out on a stay in the meadows of Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm too. And, obviously, spend a night in a rifugio if you possibly can!

Final Thoughts: The Best Things to do in The Dolomites

Hopefully, you’ve now got some great ideas of the best things to do in the Dolomites for when you visit. Let me know if you’ve got any questions, advice or other recommendations for fellow readers. I hope that you have the most amazing time in the Dolomites and would love it if you’d Pin this post and share it if you’ve found it helpful.

Have an amazing time in the Dolomites!

Planning A Trip To Europe?

Check out these essential guides, travel tips, and more to help you plan your trip:

ITALY | Plan a perfect first trip to Italy with my Top Tips for Travelers to Italy and Italy Travel Guide

PLANNING A TRIP TO THE DOLOMITES | Here’s what you need to read if you’re visiting the Dolomites for the first time, want to know the best things to do in the Dolomites or want to rent a car in Bolzano

DOLOMITES DAY HIKES | My favourite day hikes in the Dolomites and complete guides for hiking Lago di Sorapis, Croda da Lago, Seceda, Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Cadini di Misurina

DOLOMITES PLACES | My favourite places to visit in the Dolomites like Lago di Braies, Alpe di Siusi and Val di Funes

CENTRAL EUROPE | Follow my Budapest, Prague and Vienna Itinerary for a great visit

AUSTRIA | Plan a perfect trip the capital with my 3 day Vienna Itinerary

HUNGARY | Plan a wonderful 4 days in Budapest with my step-by-step itinerary

CZECH REPUBLIC | 4 days in Prague is enough to get a great taste of this stunning city

TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t go anywhere without it! I use and recommend Safety Wing.

THOUGHTFUL TRAVEL | No matter where you go, always be aware of the fact that travel impacts the place and people that live there. Being a thoughtful traveller is more critical than ever. Here are my top tips to make your trip a mindful one.

PHOTOGRAPHY | Love my photos and want to know how to take better shots on your own trips? Then my photography guide is for you. Here’s all the photography gear I use too. Want to buy one of my images? Head to the Print Store.

ESSENTIAL GEAR | You’ll find my travel essentials here, and a complete guide to all my hiking gear here.


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