There are so many great day hikes in the Dolomites that it can be hard to decide which to spend your time on. Here are my top day hikes, ranging from easy strolls to nail-biting scrambles, along with everything you need to know to tackle them yourself.
The crisp mountain air of the Dolomites is the perfect counterpoint to the warmth of the late autumn sun.
Larches glow vivid orange against the clear blue skies.
Every face I see on the trail reflects my own smile back at me. This late in the season, ice crunches under our boots on the highest mountain passes, punctuation to the laughter drifting on the breeze.
From challenging ascents to gently undulating valley trails and everything in between, there’s a hike for everyone here. The landscape is an absolute wonder, with soaring peaks and deep valleys stretching off in every direction.
Best of all, you can break up your hikes with a stop at a rifugio or restaurant. It’s basically mountain hiking for insatiable foodies. So my idea of hiking heaven.
Whether you visit at the start of the season, when the wildflowers create a carpet of colour, or wait for the burnished golds and reds of autumn, nature’s sure to put on a show.
This is one of my favourite parts of the world for hiking, and I’m willing to bet that it’ll become one of yours too.
This post contains everything you need to know to enjoy the best day hikes in the Dolomites, along with insider tips for where to eat, drink and stay.
BEST DAY HIKES IN THE DOLOMITES
1 | Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Drei Zinnen
2 | Croda da Lago Circuit
3 | Seceda Loop
4 | Adolf Munkel Trail / Sentiero delle Odle
5 | Lago di Sorapis / Sorapissee Loop
6 | Torri del Vajolet / Vajolet Towers Hike
7 | Puez-Odle Altopiano Hike
8 | Lago di Braies / Pragser Wildsee
9 | Sassolungo Hike / Langkofel
10 | Cinque Torri Hike
- 10 of the Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Drei Zinnen
- The Croda da Lago / Lake Federa Hike
- The Seceda Circular Hike
- The Adolf Munkel Loop / Sentiero delle Odle
- The Lago di Sorapis / Sorapissee Loop
- The Torri del Vajolet / Vajolet Towers Hike
- The Puez-Odle Altopiano Hike
- Lago di Braies / Pragser Wildsee
- The Sassolungo Hike / Langkofel
- The Cinque Torri Hike
- Map of the 10 best day hikes in the Dolomites
- Best time to go hiking in the Dolomites
- Best Places to Stay for Hiking in the Dolomites
- What to bring to hike safely in the Dolomites
- Top Practical Tips for hiking in the Dolomites
- How to get to the Dolomites
- Planning A Trip To the Dolomites?
- FOLLOW & SHARE
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.
10 of the Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Drei Zinnen
Trailhead | Rifugio Auronzo
Distance | 10km
Time | 3.5h
Elevation | +/- 400m
Difficulty | Easy – Moderate
This loop is a classic Dolomites hike for excellent reasons. There are jagged limestone peaks, cute mountain huts, lush alpine valleys and the sparkling lakes the region is known for. Added to that are some of the most spectacular mountain views anywhere in the Alps. This is one of the best introductions to hiking in the region.
Outline of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hike
At Rifugio Locatelli, take path 102 and then turn left onto path 105 almost immediately, heading down a steep descent. Remain on path 105 as you ascend to Forcella la Col di Mezzo, passing Malga Langalm before turning left and heading back to Rifugio Auronzo.
How to Get to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Trailhead
Parking for the trailhead at Rifugio Auronzo requires payment for a toll road which includes car parking. The road is open from 7 am to 7 pm in summer, with reduced hours of 8 am to 6 pm in spring and autumn (from mid-October). In 2023 the charge is €30 for cars/campervans and €45 for motorhomes for the day (24h). It is possible for campervans to stay extra days for an additional €25 fee/day.
It’s a 40-minute drive from either Cortina d’Ampezzo or Dobbiaco to reach the car park.
You can also reach the trailhead using the 444 bus from Dobbiacio, which takes 45 minutes and runs from late June to October 3rd. From mid-July to mid-September, tickets must be booked here in advance.
You’ll need to hike an additional 4km from a parking area along the toll road from Misurina if you want to avoid paying. It’s an additional 7 km with a significant ascent to hike from Misurina itself.
TIP | Combine your hike at Tre Cime with the short hike to the Cadini di Misurina viewpoint to complete an awesome day of walking.
Facilites on the Tre Cime di Lavardedo Loop
This is one hike where you don’t need to worry about coming fully stocked. You can be confident travelling light in the summer with no less than five rifugi along the route providing food, drink and toilets.
Outside of the season, the rifugi are closed, but there are paid (squat) toilets for €1 at Rifugio Auronzo.
The Croda da Lago / Lake Federa Hike
TRAILHEAD | Ponte Ru Curto
DISTANCE | 14 km return
TIME | 5-6 hours
ELEVATION | +/-800m
DIFFICULTY | Moderate
The highlight of this hike is undoubtedly the stunning Lake Federa, surrounded by mountains and larch trees with beautiful Rifugio Croda Da Lago perched on the shore. This hike is an absolute must in late October when the stunning autumn colours are reflected in the lake’s still waters.
Outline of the Croda da Lago Hike
Park at Ponte Ru Curto and follow path 437, signposted to Lago di Federa. You’ll reach a fork where you should continue along the 437 uphill to the left. There’s a series of switchbacks that will take you up to the incredible viewpoint at Val Negra.
Once you’ve soaked in the views, head through the gate and along the meadow to the lake. I wholeheartedly recommend spending the night at Rifugio Croda da Lago, but for these purposes, you can either turn around and retrace your steps if you’re short on time or energy or continue on the loop.
Follow the path from the rifugio up to Forcella Ambrizola, then head to the right and up another pass. From here, it’s a tricky scramble down loose scree along path 437. Eventually, you’ll reach the valley and reach the fork where you turned left earlier in the day. Turn left here and head back to the car park.
How to get to the Croda da Lago Hike
The trail begins at Ponte Ru Curto, where there’s parking along the side of the road. In peak season, you’ll want to get here early to secure a spot since space is limited. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Cortina d’Ampezzo.
From mid-June to mid-September, you can take the 30/4 Dolomiti bus from Cortina or Pescul to the trailhead at stop Pian del Pantan.
Facilities on the Croda da Lago Hike
There are no facilities along the trail other than at Rifugio Croda da Lago, where you’ll find public toilets as well as a great restaurant. I’d definitely plan an overnight stay here if you’re keen to experience a traditional rifugio, as it’s open until early November.
The Seceda Circular Hike
Trailhead | Ortisei-Furnes-Seceda cable car (Ortisei) or Col Raiser cable car (Santa Cristina)
Distance | 12km
Time | 4h
Elevation | +/- 450m
Difficulty | Easy – Moderate
This is another beautiful Dolomites hike that can easily be converted from a loop into a one-way hike if you’d like a shorter or slightly less challenging option.
TIP | To make this an easier hike, take one cable car up from Ortisei and the other down into Santa Cristina before taking the bus back to Ortisei to complete your journey. Bus routes are the 350 Bolzano-Val Gardena (year-round) or 352 Express Ortisei-Selva Val Gardena (summer only)
Outline of the Seceda Circular Hike
Your exact route will vary depending on whether you start from Ortisei or Santa Cristina. Starting from Ortisei gives you the fastest access to the best views, but you’ll have to deal with a steady ascent at the end of your hike.
Starting and ending at the Col Raiser cable car means the largest elevation gain during the first third of your hike, but then it’s a steady downhill to the finish.
From Ortisei, take the Ortisei-Furnes-Seceda cable car to the top, a ride of about 15 minutes. Take path 1 to the Seceda summit cross, where you’ll find a lookout point and the best views. Next, follow the path downhill past the Troier Hut and on, to the Rifugio Firenze/Regensburger Hut. Here, you’ll take path 2 and then path 5 to reach the Col Raiser cable car.
From Col Raiser, head towards Rifugio Fermeda and from here, it will be a fairly steady uphill climb past Baita Daniel Hut, Baita Sofie and Restaurant Seceda back to the top of the Ortisei-Furnes-Seceda cable car.
READ THIS | A Complete Guide to Hiking Seceda
How to get to the Seceda Trailhead
THE ORTISEI-FURNES-SECEDA CABLE CAR
To get to Seceda from Ortisei, you’ll need to take a gondola to Furnes and then change to a cable car for the trip to Seceda. The entire trip takes about 15 minutes.
From Santa Cristina
THE COL RAISER CABLE CAR
Facilities on the Seceda Hike
During the summer season, there are multiple rifugi and restaurants to choose from. I recommend eating at the Troier Hütte with its splendid views of the Sassolungo mountains. If you want to stay overnight, then Rifugio Firenze / Regensburgerhütte has a great location and excellent food.
The Adolf Munkel Loop / Sentiero delle Odle
TRAILHEAD | Zanser Alm car park
DISTANCE | 9 km
TIME | 3 hours
ELEVATION | +/- 370m
DIFFICULTY | Easy
This is possibly my favourite day hike in the entire Dolomites region. Winding through pretty woodland and then along the foot of the imposing Peuz Odle mountains, the scenery is stunning. Add to that one of the best restaurants in the area; this is truly a hike not to be missed.
Outline of the Adolf Munkel Trail
This circular hike starts from path 6 at the parking area of Zanser Alm in Val di Funes/Vilnöss Valley. The parking area is large but fills up, even in the autumn, so arrive early. Follow path 6 along the wide gravel road and then uphill until you reach a bridge. Turn right onto Adolf Munkel Weg, trail 35, towards Geisler Alm.
Keep going until you reach trail 36 towards Gschnagenhardtalm pasture, with a cute mountain hut. Follow this until you reach Geisler Alm, which is a great place to stop for lunch or a snack.
Once you’ve decided you’re ready to get going, follow the 36 towards Dussler Alm. From there, simply go back to the car park.
How to get to the Adolf Munkel Trail
Parking is available at Zanser Alm for €6 for the day. There’s plenty of space here, but the parking area does fill up from 8 am in the summer, so I recommend a fairly early arrival in peak season. Alternatively, you can drive to Santa Maddalena and catch a shuttle bus during the summer season.
Bus 330 or 330-S run from Bressanone / Brixen train station to Santa Maddalena, from where you can catch the shuttle to the parking area at Zanser Alm in summer. Outside the summer season, you’ll need to walk from the final stop to the trail.
Facilities on the Adolf Munkel Trail
There are multiple restaurants open during the summer months, but the Geisler Alm / Malga Geisler is my pick of the bunch. The food is great, the staff delightful, and the location second to none. They remain open much later in the season than any of the other huts in the area, not shutting until November and opening in mid-May (they also open in the winter season).
The Lago di Sorapis / Sorapissee Loop
TRAILHEAD | Passo Tre Croci car park
DISTANCE | 13.5 km
TIME | 5 – 6 hours
ELEVATION | +/- 700m
DIFFICULTY | Moderate – Hard
This is a moderately challenging hike, requiring several scrambles with ladders, ropes and cables for assistance. Be aware that the milky-blue lake is at its best early in the season due to being full of snowmelt. The water levels are considerably lower by late summer, but it’s still a beautiful spot to visit. In the autumn, the lake freezes over completely.
No matter how many photos you see of people on rocks in this lake, it’s prohibited to enter the water here. That doesn’t just mean no swimming, but no wading to get to a rock in order to pose for your shot. The unique milky-blue of the water is due to suspended sediment in the lake, and entering the water destroys it. So now you know.
Outline of the Lago di Sorapis Loop Hike
From the car park, you’ll simply follow path 215 to the lake, a journey of a little over an hour. You’ll see the pretty stone building of Rifugio Alfonso Vandelli when you’re about 10 minutes from the lake. Depending on the time of year, I recommend stopping for a drink on the rifugio’s deck, where there are amazing views of Tre Cime.
Head to the lake and get your fill of the beautiful water. You can wander around the lake itself, a trip of about an hour. Once you’ve had enough here, backtrack along path 215 until you reach path 216, where you’ll turn left. This is where the tougher part of the hike begins. If you’re not up for it, simply head back to the carpark along path 215.
The uphill is constant and will take you about an hour. The path becomes steep and a bit more tricky as you reach the summit, where there’s a bit of a scramble. I really recommend stopping for a break at the cairn where, on a clear day, you’ll have amazing mountain views in all directions. It really is worth the climb.
From here, you’ll head down into Forcella Marcoira, back up the other side, and then enter a steep downhill section. The path here is almost impossible to see, and it’s a bit of a difficult scramble down. Hiking poles would be a great help.
When you reach path 213, turn right in order to head back to the Passo Tre Croci car park.
READ THIS | A Complete Guide to the Lago di Sorapis Hike
How to get to the Lago di Sorapis Hike
The Passo Tre Croci car park is an easy 15 minute drive from Cortina d’Ampezzo. Parking is free and readily available, with multiple parking areas. I suggest you arrive early since this hike is becoming increasingly popular. Parking is also available at the side of the road directly by the trailhead, but this will be full early in summer.
Take the 30/31 Passo Falzarego-Cortina-Tre Cime bus to the Passo Tre Croci stop. From here, it’s a quick 5 minutes walk to the trailhead. Check the timetable here.
Facilities on the Lago di Sorapis Hike
The only hut is Rifugio Alfonso Vandelli, located a few minutes from the lake. The rifugio is only open for three months, from June 20th to September 20th, so plan accordingly. Outside of these months, there are no facilities, not even toilets.
The Torri del Vajolet / Vajolet Towers Hike
TRAILHEAD | Malga Frommer Alm
DISTANCE | 8 km return
TIME | 5 hours
ELEVATION | +/- 650m
DIFFICULTY | Moderate – Hard
At the heart of the Catinaccio / Rosengarten massif lies this impressive cluster of 6 summits. The Torri del Vajolet / Vajolet Towers are popular with rock climbers but a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of places like Tre Cime di Lavaredo. With some of the best-located rifugi in the Dolomites, this is a day hike that you may well want to turn into an overnight!
Outline of the Vajolet Towers Hike
Park at Malga Frommer Alm and take the chairlift König Laurin up to Rifugio Fronza / Rosengartenhütte. From here, you’ll follow path 550 uphill. At the fork, take the right-hand trail towards Passo delle Coronelle. There’s a steep uphill section requiring some scrambling before you reach the wooden steps up to the pass. From here, you follow path 541 down gravel scree to Rifugio Vajolet, a great lunchtime stop.
The most challenging part of the hike is the 400m ascent up path 542 (steel cables included) to Rifugio Alberto Primero / Gartlhütte, which has one of the best locations in the Dolomites and is a great overnight stop. From here, it’s well worth taking an additional 20-30 minutes to head up to Rifugio Passo Santner, which provides the best views in the area.
From here, simply retrace your steps back to the Malga Frommer Alm. Alternatively, if you’re taking public transport in the region, you can head for Rifugio Gardeccia and follow path 540 to Rifugio Ciampedie and down to Vigo di Fassa.
Getting to the Vajolet Towers Hike
Park at Malga Frommer Alm and take the König Laurin chairlift up to Rifugio Fronza. The lift costs €22 return – the ticket is valid for seven days, and the return leg can be done on the Ciampedie cable car.
If you want to tackle this hike from the east, then park in Vigo di Fassa and take the Vigo-Ciampedie cable car to Rifugio Cimapedie. The cable car costs €25 return.
Facilities on the Vajolet Towers Hike
The cable car stations have toilets and cafes as well as parking available. On the hike itself, there are multiple rifugios, including Rifugio Vajolet, Rifugio Alberto and Santnerpasshütte, all of which are great options for an overnight stay or lunch.
The Puez-Odle Altopiano Hike
TRAILHEAD | Dantercepies Cable Car Station
DISTANCE | 16 km
TIME | 6-7 hours
ELEVATION | 500m ascent, 1100m descent
DIFFICULTY | Moderate
This is often cited as the best hike in the Dolomites. It’s chock-full of the amazing mountain views the region is famous for, along with endless alpine meadows full of flowers in summer. You can’t beat it for sheer diversity, but it is a difficult hike and will take you all day if you’re stopping for photos and refreshments.
Outline of the Puez-Odle Altopiano Hike
You’ll first need to get to Selva di Val Gardena / Wolkenstein and take the Dantercepies cable car. From the top Dantercepies cable car station, it’s an easy 15-minute walk along path 12A to Rifugio Jimmy / Jimmihütte. Beyond the hut, you’ll take path 2 up Forcella Cier, and it’s a tough climb with sections of rough scree underfoot. From here, it’s a solid hike to Rifugio Puez / Puez Hütte, and you’ll definitely want to stop for food when you get here!
From Rifugio Puez, it looks like you’re about to take a nosedive into the valley, but path 14 is actually easier than it looks. A series of switchbacks takes you downhill with minimal scrambling, before a walk through a beautiful alpine pasture back to Selva.
Getting to the Puez-Odle Altopiano Hike
Park in Selva di Val Gardena and take the Dantercepies cable car to the top – the price of parking from 8:30am to 6:30pm is included in your cable car ticket, €16 one way.
Route 350 runs regularly between Bolano and Selva di Val Gardena. Check times here.
Facilities on the Puez-Odle Altopiano Hike
There are loads of restaurants and hotels in Selva itself. Alternatively, you can eat or stay at Rifugio Jimmy or Rifugio Puez on the hike. They’re open until early October, but be sure to check websites for more exact hours and to book in peak season.
Lago di Braies / Pragser Wildsee
Trailhead | Hotel Lago di Braies
Distance | 3.5km
Time | 1.5h
Elevation | +/-50m
Difficulty | Easy
Lago di Braies is probably better known as “that lake with the boats on Instagram”. In many ways, a victim of its own Insta-success, you’re really unlikely to get this place to yourself no matter how early you get up. And I do recommend that you get there early. Like, before sunrise early.
TIP | According to the South Tyrol tourism board, swimming here isn’t allowed. Your best bet if you really want a dip is to check with the staff at the Hotel di Braies.
Technically, this is a bit of a cheat since it’s a half-day at best, but you can easily extend your hike here or add some additional activities.
Outline of the Lago di Braies Hike
The easiest hike here is a simple wander around the lake. Taking in a couple of shingle beaches and a few short paths through the woods, it’s impossible to get lost here. Don’t miss the cute little chapel on the edge of the lake and other things to do in the Lago di Braies area.
READ THIS | The best things to do in Lago di Braies
Getting to Lago di Braies
There are three car parks at the lake, but they do fill up early. You should plan to be here before 7 am in peak season to be sure of a spot. Parking before 7 am will see you paying €2 for 3h, but campers must pay €11/day or €20/24h. P3 requires an additional 2-minute walk but is actually free.
If you’re taking public transport, the 442 bus runs to Lago di Braies from Dobbiaco via Vallabass (Niederdorf) train station during the summer (mid-June to mid-Sept).
Facilities on the Lago di Braies Hike
You’ll find toilets at the main car park, and the Hotel Lago di Braies has a restaurant and bar overlooking the lake. The food here isn’t amazing, and there are better options nearby, such as the Gasthof Huber, which I totally recommend. There are picnic benches near the chapel and scattered around the lake so you can bring your own food and still enjoy the views.
If you want to access the boathouse before it opens, then you’ll need to pay a €150 fee to get those shots you’ve seen on the ‘gram. Otherwise, you can get onto the dock during opening hours of the boathouse; May/June and September to November 10 am – 5 pm, July/August 8:30 am – 6:30 pm.
The Sassolungo Hike / Langkofel
TRAILHEAD | Passo Sella car park
DISTANCE | 17.6 km
TIME | 6 hours
ELEVATION | +/- 1000m
DIFFICULTY | Moderate – Hard
With amazing views of multiple ranges, including the jagged peaks of Seceda, this circuit takes in some of the most spectacular views in the Dolomites. You can wander through the surreal ‘City of Stone’, a maze of boulders that fell from the peak of Mt Sassolungo some 20,000 years ago, as well as gaze up at Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Dolomites.
Outline of the Sassolungo Hike
From Passo Sella, take path 557 (Frederich August Weg) towards Rifugio Frederich August up an initial steep ascent. It’s about 2 hours from here along a fairly flat route past Rifugio Sandro Pertini to Rifugio Sasso Piatto. At the rifugio, head downhill for a short distance on path 9 before turning right onto path 527.
You can take a short detour uphill to Rifugio Vicenza up path 525 or simply continue until you reach path 526 which takes you past Rifugio Comici and through the City of Stone before taking you back to Passo Sella.
TIP | You can significantly shorten this hike by taking the cable car from Passo Sella to Rifugio Toni Demetz and walking down to Rifugio Vicenza before joining path 526.
Getting to the Sassolungo Hike
The Passo Sella car park is a 20-minute drive from Selva or 40 minutes from Ortisei. The car park costs €3 for the first 3 hours and then €1.50/h for the next 6 hours. It fills up quickly, so be sure to arrive early.
The 471 bus runs from Ortisei and Selva in Val Gardena over Passo Sella (stopping at the car park) and then onto Canazei. It runs around every 20 to 30 minutes in the summer months only.
READ THIS | A Complete Guide to Alpe di Siusi
Facilities on the Sassolungo Hike
There are multiple rifugi on this hike, including the popular restaurant at Rifugio Comici. Rifugio Friedrich August has the most incredible views, but for surreal scenery, it’s hard to beat Rifugio Vicenza, perched between the spires of barren rock.
The Cinque Torri Hike
TRAILHEAD | Rifugio Col Gallina
DISTANCE | 10km return
TIME | 3 hours
ELEVATION | +/-550m
DIFFICULTY | Easy – Moderate
The five towers of this rock formation seem to erupt from the ground of a plateau, making for a breathtaking sight. Add to that one of the most picturesque settings in the Dolomites and an open-air World War I museum, and this makes for a fun day of hiking. Once you’ve finished at the historic site, there are a huge number of trails to explore, so you can really choose your own adventure.
Outline of the Cinque Torri Hike
There are a multitude of areas to start this hike, but I tackled it from the parking area at Rifugio Col Gallina along path 440, as recommended by Marta in her guide to hiking in Cinque Torri.
This is a lovely path that meanders alongside a little stream before heading gently uphill to Rifugio Scoiatolli, which you’ll see from a fair distance away. Once you reach the rifugio, you can’t miss the path to the towers, where you’ll find the restored tunnels and open-air museum.
Following the 2km Cinque Torri loop will take you from Rifugio Scoiatolli through some of the tunnels, around the rock towers and past Rifugio Cinque Torri back to your starting point. This is an easy route that will take you a little over an hour.
From here, follow path 439 uphill to Rifugio Averau which has spectacular views in all directions. An additional half an hour and 170m of elevation along path 438 will take you up to Rifugio Nuvolau which has one of the most impressive (and improbable) locations of them all!
TIP | If you’re here in early summer then take the 45 minutes detour to beautiful Lago Limides on your way up the mountain, but by late summer it will have entirely dried out and isn’t worth the extra walk.
Getting to the Cinque Torri Hike
Park at Rifugio Col Gallina, around 20 minutes of driving from Cortina along the SR48 road. There’s ample space for parking on the opposite side of the road also at the small Da Strobel restaurant. You could also park at the bottom of the Cinque Torri chairlift at Baita Bai de Dones and take path 424/425 up, but this is a less enjoyable hike in my opinion
Route 30/31 from Cortina goes to the Cinque Torri stop throughout the summer season.
Facilites on the Cinque Torri Hike
You’ll find restaurants and toilets at the rifugios on the hike, as well as at the base of the chairlifts. As with almost everywhere else in the region, these close outside of the summer and winter seasons, so check the opening times if you’re planning to use their facilities.
Map of the 10 best day hikes in the Dolomites
The map below shows the trailheads for each of these hikes, in addition to the closest parking area for each of them. Some trailheads will have several parking options, and if you’re prepared to walk a little further you may find free parking nearby.
To save this map to your own account, just click on the little star next to the title.
Best time to go hiking in the Dolomites
In my opinion, the best time to hike in the Dolomites is September since the weather tends to be more settled, the midsummer crowds have largely died down, and most of the rifugios are still open.
Early July is also a good option since most of the trails will be open, as will the rifugi, and the wildflowers will be in bloom. It is possible that some snow might linger on the higher trails, making them impassable.
The main hiking season in the Dolomites runs from late June through September, so this is when you can expect to find almost everything open.
There’s one hike that is an exception, and that’s the Croda da Lago hike to Lake Federa, which should absolutely be done in late October for the beautiful autumn colour.
Avoid August if you possibly can since this is the busiest month, and the trails are packed.
Can you hike in the Dolomites out of season?
My first trip to the Dolomites was done in mid-late October, and it’s absolutely possible to do many hikes here if the weather cooperates. I was lucky enough to experience perfect blue sky days for almost three weeks. It is, however, entirely possible that snow will arrive early and spoil your fun.
Many of the cable cars and rifugi have already closed by this time, so you have to hike to some of the trailheads that would otherwise be accessible by lift, and facilities are significantly limited.
May is also an option, but again, many rifugi are closed, lifts are not yet running, and snow may persist on the upper trails.
In short, hiking the Dolomites in the offseason is a bit more of a challenge but entirely possible. And you’ll get many of the trails to yourself, which is an incredible experience.
Best Places to Stay for Hiking in the Dolomites
Whilst it’s entirely possible to move almost every night of your stay, that doesn’t make for the most relaxing holiday. Instead, you might want to pick two or three base areas and explore from there, depending on how much time you have available.
Note that prices are based on a July occupancy and will vary throughout the year.
BOOKING YOUR TRIP | If you book your trip via my links I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps keep me on the road. Thanks for your support – Cat.
Cortina d’Ampezzo and Dobbiaco / Toblach
Cortina and nearby Dobbiaco, located up in the northeast of the Dolomites, are a great option for hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lago di Braies, Croda da Lago, Lago di Sorapis and Cinque Torri. Dobbiaco is the better option for public transport links, but Cortina is more centrally located.
Natura Boutique Chalet Wellness SPA | With an onsite spa, beautiful light and modern rooms and an amazing breakfast, this lovely hotel in the woods is hard to beat. Private parking is available onsite. Check availability and book here.
Camina Suite & Spa | This family-run hotel is within easy walking distance to the town centre and has amazing spa facilities. The breakfast is wonderful and the views amazing. Check availability and book here.
Faloria Mountain Spa Resort | This hotel has incredible views and an absolutely phenomenal spa and is situated a little outside the town. They provide a free shuttle to the centre of Cortina so this is a good option if you don’t want to worry about parking. Check availability and book here.
B&B Hotel Passo Tre Croci Cortina | Great value for money with both breakfast and dinner included, modern rooms and free onsite parking, this is one of the best options in the area. Check availability and book here.
HOSTELS & BUDGET ACCOMMODATION
Gasthof Huber | For the price and location you really can’t get much better than this. There’s a great buffet breakfast and the restaurant is wonderful. Rooms are basic but clean and comfortable, and I would absolutely stay here again. Check availability and book here.
Camping Toblacher See | Right on the shores of the lake, this campsite has wonderful modern facilities and is a fantastic option if you’re in a van or camping. The sites are flat and all located a stone’s throw from the lake. The onsite restaurant serves great food and pizza. If you want to splash out you can also check out their Skyview Chalets.
In the heart of hiking territory with easy access to Seceda, the Puez Odle Altopiano, Sassolungo and the Adolf Mukel trail, this is a fantastic option for a base. If you’re planning a couple of locations then combining this area with Cortina/Dobbiaco will allow you easy access to the very best that the Dolomites has to offer.
The main towns are Ortisei / St Ulirch, Selva / Wolkenstien and Santa Cristina.
Hotel Gardena Grödnerhof | Right in the heart of the town with panoramic views and an amazing spa, this is one of the best hotels in the area. The breakfast gets a special mention! Check availability and book here.
Giardin Boutique Hotel B&B | With a bus stop right outside the door making all the hikes easy to access, this family-run hotel is a wonderful option. Food at the restaurant is fabulous and the rooms are light and bright. Check availability and book here.
Chalet Hotel Hartmann | I’m not going to lie, the fact that this hotel is adults only is a massive draw for me. Add to that a spectacular breakfast, wellness centre, amazing views and free parking and I’m pretty much in heaven. Check availability and book here.
HOSTELS & BUDGET ACCOMMODATION
Villa Insam | Rooms here are small but comfortable and the location is beautiful. It’s located a little outside the town so better for those with their own wheels. Check availability and book here.
Camping Colfosco | Whilst this isn’t technically in Val Gardena, it’s the closest true budget option for the area. Not only do they have a campsite, but also small bungalows available for those on a tight budget. From €20/night. Check availability here.
What to bring to hike safely in the Dolomites
1 | There are some challenging up and downhill sections so you should wear hiking boots for ankle support. I wear (and love) the Salomon Women’s X Ultra 3. Hiking poles are great for the mountains and I recommend these Black Diamonds. You can easily strap them to your daypack or backpack when not in use.
2 | Speaking of daypacks, you’ll definitely want to take one with you since you’ll need to carry some layers, water and snacks in addition to your camera gear! I use either my F-stop Gear Lotus which is a really great camera backpack, or the Osprey Tempest. The 34L size is perfect for the day and it’s designed specifically for women. For something larger, the 46L Kyte is great and if you’re just after something small, the 24L Sirrus is wonderful.
READ THIS | My Hiking Gear Guide
3 | Mountain hiking means unpredictable weather. Even if there’s not a cloud in the sky you should prepare for all eventualities and bring layers. You’re also hiking at altitude and it will be colder at the summit than at the villages. I always have merino base layers with me, both top and leggings and I love Icebreaker. I usually wear a merino T-shirt or long sleeve shirt with hiking pants and bring a fleece, beanie and lightweight down jacket too. It’s all very light and packs down remarkably small.
4 | Sun protection is vital. Any hiking in the mountains in summer also requires bringing sunscreen (I love Raw Elements and you can use code 9LIVES for a 10% discount), sunglasses and a hat. Nobody wants that UV damage in their lives.
5 | Waterproof outer layers are also a really good idea in the mountains. Even if it doesn’t actually rain, these peaks are high enough that clouds can cover them quickly and you’ll get very damp very fast. I have this waterproof shell jacket and these trousers and they’ve saved me from a soaking more than once.
6 | Although most of you will use online maps such as google or maps.me, there’s nothing like an old school paper map. Tabacco Maps are arguably the best topographic maps in the Dolomites. They are scaled 1:25000 and cover the whole north-eastern part of Italy. You can buy the maps here. If you’re relying on your mobile phone then bring a charging cable and powerbank and make sure you’ve downloaded everything before you leave wifi behind.
7 | Water and snacks are a must, even if you’re planning on having a meal at one of the mountain rifugios or huts. For water, I use a combination of Hydroflask and Steripen if I’m worried about water purity. I love these snack bars in addition to nuts and dried fruit.
8 | A headtorch is always in my daypack no matter what and, in fact, I’m usually carrying 2 because that’s how I roll. If there’s any danger that you’ll be hiking before the sun comes up or goes down then this is essential.
9 | Any hike has the potential for the unexpected, and a GPS emergency alert could be the thing that saves your life. The Garmin in reach mini is a great option.
10 | You’re definitely going to want to bring a camera to capture the amazing views up here, but it’s up to you whether that takes the form of your phone or your main camera. I’m that person who hauls all my gear plus a tripod up the mountain, but you might be more restrained! If you only want to bring a single lens then I’d recommend a 24-70mm for this hike.
READ THIS | What’s in My Camera Bag
Top Practical Tips for hiking in the Dolomites
Consider how many cable cars you’re going to take and work out if a pass will be cheaper. Discounts and passes are often available at accommodation in the region so be sure to ask.
Depending on the time of year, many rifugios and cable cars may not be open so make sure you check before you set off. Always carry enough water and snacks to keep you going, just in case.
Make sure you’ve worked out your route ahead of time and have a map with you. Tabacco maps are the best for Dolomites hiking.
Always check the weather before you set off as it has the potential to get very dangerous up in the mountains if you’re caught unawares. I use and recommend Yr and they also have an app.
How to get to the Dolomites
The Dolomites are located in northeastern Italy, but there’s no “Dolomites” airport or station. There are, however, plenty of good options for reaching the area from various nearby hubs. The Dolomites is not a huge area, but the roads are winding and you’ll need to take it slow.
If you’re flying, Venice Marco Polo is likely to be the easiest option logistically if you’re hiring a car since you won’t have to worry about crossing borders. For many parts of the Dolomites, however, the closest option is often Innsbruck.
Obviously, I bring my wheels and my accommodation with me and would totally recommend a campervan as a great option for exploring this part of the world. If, however, that’s not for you, then here are all the ways to get to the Dolomites.
DISTANCE TO THE DOLOMITES FROM MAJOR AIRPORT HUBS
ITALY | Venice Marco Polo
150km | 2h
ITALY | Milan Malpensa
360km | 3h 40min
ITALY | Verona
195km | 2h 10min
GERMANY | Munich
370km | 4h
AUSTRIA | Innsbruck
175km | 2h 30min
Undoubtedly the easiest way to get from the airport to the Dolomites is by hiring a car. Since the Dolomites is technically an autonomous region in Italy, there’s less hassle if you hire a car in Italy as you don’t have to worry about crossing borders.
I recommend renting a car in Bolzano if you’re getting to the Dolomites by train. If you’re flying then it makes more sense to collect from the nearest airport. Check out Discover Cars for the best car deals and Insurance4carhire to cover excess insurance.
Honestly, with the number of train changes and cost, this is unlikely to be a convenient way to get to your destination, especially since you’ll have to take another means of transport from Bolzano. If this is something you want to investigate, I recommend using Omio to check your options.
Planning A Trip To the Dolomites?
With world-class hiking in summer, incredible skiing in winter, and a perfect blend of Italian and Austrian culture, the Dolomites is one of my favourite European destinations. Here are more posts to help you plan your own trip to this wonderful part of the Alps.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO | A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE DOLOMITES
DOLOMITES DAY HIKES | A COMPLETE GUIDE TO HIKING SECEDA
DOLOMITES DAY HIKES | A COMPLETE GUIDE TO HIKING TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO
DOLOMITES DAY HIKES | CRODA DA LAGO, THE BEST AUTUMN HIKE IN THE DOLOMITES
DOLOMITES DAY HIKES | HIKING TO LAGO DI SORAPIS, THE TURQUOISE LAKE OF THE DOLOMITES
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.