A Perfect Dolomites Itinerary for Any Length of Stay

two small mountain huts with the peaks of the sassolungo massif in the background visited on a Dolomites itinerary
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Quaint villages tucked away in picturesque valleys, winding mountain roads and hundreds of hiking trails, the Dolomites might come close to my perfect destination. Covering everything from hikes to photography spots, where to eat and drink and accommodation options, this is the ultimate Dolomites itinerary for your road trip.


I love the Dolomites and bloody love a great road trip, so you can bet your ass that I’ve taken the opportunity to combine the two to create the ultimate Dolomites road trip itinerary!

For me, the Dolomites is perfect because one minute you’re white-knuckling it around yet another hairpin bend, and the next minute your cheeks are aching from the ridiculous smile on your face as you drink in yet another phenomenal view.

Pull over, dust off the hiking boots, and within moments you’re heading off on trails where jagged mountain peaks soar skywards and crystal-clear lakes double the impact of the already impressive scenery.

I hope I’m managing to make it sound as mindblowing as it is. I’ve been to a lot of places, but the Dolomites are always there in the back of my mind as somewhere that needs another visit.

I’ve made several road trips through the Dolomites myself. My favourite Dolomites itinerary was the three weeks I spent there in autumn in my van. I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to have that amount of time to spend in the area, so this is a sort of “build your own” Dolomites itinerary.

Whether you’re a hiker, a road-tripper, a foodie, a wine-lover, a solo traveller or heading off on a family holiday, the Dolomites has something for you. This itinerary for the Dolomites has a little bit of everything, and you can cater it to your own tastes very easily.

This Dolomites itinerary gives you single or two-day itinerary options that you can string together to make an overall itinerary for a road trip in the Dolomites that’s perfect for you. At the end of the post, I’ve put together some itineraries of different lengths that you can refer to for inspiration.

So let’s get going with planning your trip to the Dolomites!

Two small wooden mountain huts sit in a sundrenched meadow with green and gold trees behind them in one of the locations visited on my Dolomites itinerary
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DOLOMITES ESSENTIALS

Currency: Euro €

Language: Italian

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

Visit in: Summer, autumn or winter

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

Best for: Hikers, foodies, wine lovers and history fans!

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.

How to use this guide to create your own Dolomites itinerary

First of all, work out what your “non-negotiables” are if you have any. I know that a lot of you will have that one thing you simply must see while you’re here, whereas others might just be happy to piece together something that takes them from A to B.

If you have those non-negtiables, make a list, find them in my single day itineraries and then join them together in a route that makes sense to you. You might find that I’ve already done that for you in the sample itineraries towards the end of the post.

Next, work out how you’re getting to the Dolomites since that will determine where you start your Dolomites itinerary.

The itineraries in this post are intended for visits in summer and early autumn. Outside of these times of year, you’ll have to make some modifications. I’ve noted where significant changes to the itinerary need to be made.

The jagged mountain peaks of Tre Cime with the small Rifugio Auronzo nestled beneath and a hiking path running along the base
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Tre Cime di Lavaredo is one of my favourite spots on a Dolomites itinerary

Getting to the Dolomites and where to start this Dolomites itinerary

The Dolomites are the mountains of Northeastern Italy, but there’s no specific airport or train station for the region. Instead, there are several cities that you might end up using as the start and end points for your visit to the Dolomites.

For most people, it makes sense to create a circular Dolomites itinerary so that you don’t have to worry about one-way fees for rental cars. It is, however, entirely possible to create an itinerary starting in one city and ending in another without missing out.

#1 TOP PICK

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BEST ITALY CAR RENTAL COMPANY: DISCOVER CARS

For booking your Italy car rental online, I recommend and use Discover Cars. They search both world-renowned international companies and local operators, so you’ll get the best deal!

Starting your Dolomites itinerary in Bolzano

Bolzano is the main city of South Tyrol, the main region of the Dolomites. If you’re taking a train from elsewhere in Europe or Italy, this is a great place to collect a rental car for the region.

I recommend and use Discover Cars to book my rental in advance, and I also have an entire post to help you master renting a car in Bolzano.

You’ll be starting your Dolomites itinerary in the Western Dolomites if you begin in Bolzano.

Starting your Dolomites itinerary in Venice

Venice is a great option for flights if you’re planning to visit the Dolomites. If you rent a car in Venice, you’re only 2 hours or so from the start of your Dolomites adventure!

You’ll be starting your Dolomites itinerary in the Eastern Dolomites if you land in Venice.

Starting your Dolomites itinerary in Innsbruck

Although it might seem rather strange to a lot of non-Europeans, starting your Dolomites trip in the Austrian city of Innsbruck is actually really easy. You can rent a car in Innsbruck, drive over the border to Italy without even stopping, and be in the heart of the Dolomites in under 2 hours.

Innsbruck is actually the closest airport to the Dolomites, and you’ll be starting your trip in the Western Dolomites. Val di Funes is only an hour and a half drive from Innsbruck.

PRO TRAVEL TIP | If you fly in and out of Innsbruck, you can visit the stunning Olpererhütte on your way to or from the Dolomites.

Starting your Dolomites itinerary in Milan

Milan is another really popular entry point into Italy, and opting to rent a car in Milan and then driving to the Dolomites will also mean you start in the Western Dolomites.

It will, however, take you about 4 hours to get to the Dolomites if you start in Milan.

Best Things to Do in the Dolomites

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Dolomites may only have got their status in 2009, but they’ve been wowing visitors since long before then. From vertiginous mountain passes to turquoise alpine lakes, lush green valleys and the largest Alpine meadow in Europe, there’s honestly something for everyone.

And I haven’t even gotten started on the divine food and drink of the region!

A couple holding hands in front of a jagged grey mountain, with their dog sitting between them and staring up at the man
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A couple at Cadini di Misurina which you can do on your Dolomites itinerary on the same day as Tre Cime
The Chiesetta San Bernardo under a bright blue sky on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop
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One of my favourite spots at Tre Cime

When I started creating my Dolomites itinerary, I did what I always do. I made a list of all the things I wanted to do and places I wanted to visit in the Dolomites and then worked out the most logical route between them all.

I have a full post on the best things to do in the Dolomites, but this is a brief outline of what I think the best things are in each area.

Eastern Dolomites

Arriving or departing Venice

The main town of the eastern area of the Dolomites is Cortina d’Ampezzo. It’s a lovely place to spend a couple of days, especially for foodies visiting the Dolomites! There are several Michelin-starred restaurants here, and plenty of others well up to the same high standards.

These are the main things to see and do in the eastern part of the Dolomites:

  1. Tre Crime di Lavaredo – the most popular Dolomites hike with easy options.
  2. Cadini di Misurina – the Instagram mountain classic.
  3. Lago di Sorapis – the turquoise stunner, but a tricky hike to get there.
  4. Lago di Braies – that lake with the boats! Busy but beautiful.
  5. Lago di Dobbiaco – a beautiful lake with an easy walking loop.
  6. Lago di Federa and the Croda da Lago loop – stunning in autumn but a moderately difficult hike.
  7. Cinque Torri – easy access and interesting history with beautiful rifugi.
  8. Lagazuoi tunnels – significant WWI site with easy cable car access or difficult hike.
  9. Passo Giau – the snake road with stunning views.
A woman in an orange puffa jacket stands on an outcrop of rock looking out over bright orange larch trees and mountains in the distance on the Croda da Lago hike, one of my favourites to put on a Dolomites itinerary
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The spectacular views along the Croda da Lago hike which is one of my favourites in the Dolomites

Western Dolomites

Arriving or departing Innsbruck, Bolzano, Verona & Milan

Most people will base themselves in Val Gardena for a visit to the western side of the Dolomites. Three villages form the focus of the valley, with Ortisei and Selva di Val Gardena being popular places to stay.

Here’s what you can easily access from Val Gardena:

  1. Seceda – cable car access or wonderful day hiking to the iconic ridgeline.
  2. Val di Funes – idyllic countryside and my favourite mountain restaurant!
  3. Alpe di Siusi – Europe’s highest alpine pasture stunning at sunrise.
  4. Sassolungo – a full day hiking around the base of magnificent mountains.
  5. Vajolet Towers – challenging hiking with incredible views.
  6. Lago di Carezza – another stunning alpine lake.
  7. Passo Sella – another iconic driving or cycling route through the mountains.
  8. South Tyrol Wine Road – technically outside the western Dolomites, but well worth a visit!
A mountain hut with a stone lower floor and wooden upper floor sitting behind a wooden fence with mountains and forests in the background
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A cute mountain hut on the Adolf Munkel path in Val di Funes

Central Dolomites

Arriving or departing Innsbruck & Bolzano

Alta Badia is the main hub of the central Dolomites. There’s a big focus on wellness in this area, with luxury hotels and spas dotted around the region. All of the experiences in Alta Badia can easily be accessed from the eastern or western parts of the Dolomites too, as the region is small.

Here are some other things to consider near Alta Badia:

  1. Summitting Gran Cir – amazing at sunrise, but this is technically a via ferrata.
  2. Puetz-Odle Altapiano – gorgeous hike that’s long but mostly downhill
  3. Passo Pordoi & Sass Pordoi – a fun mountain pass and cable car for 360° Dolomites views
  4. Piz Boè – moderate hike for incredible views starting at Sass Pordoi
  5. Passo Gardena – stunning drive linking Alta Badia with Val Gardena
  6. Marmolada – cable car access to the highest peaks of the Dolomites

Day by day Dolomites Itinerary Ideas

Here are some suggested daily itineraries for each region. If you’ve only got a couple of days in the Dolomites, then you should stick to either the east or the west, basing yourself in either Cortina d’Ampezzo or Val Gardena.

With five days or more, split your time between the regions with a couple of nights in each and consider an overnight stay in Alta Badia to link them together.

Arrival Day Dolomites Itineraries

If you’re taking the train to Bolzano then your first day in the Dolomites can be a full day.

For everyone else, even if your flight arrives first thing in the morning, you’re really only going to have a half day in the Dolomites by the time you’ve collected your rental car and driven there. Here are a couple of half-day itineraries for your arrival day in the Dolomites.

Half-day in the Eastern Dolomites Itinerary

The drive from Venice to Cortina d’Ampezzo will take you a little over 2 hours. I recommend having lunch in Cortina, dropping your bags at your accommodation and then having a leisurely afternoon.

If you’d like to stretch your legs, I suggest driving the Falzarego Pass to the Lagazuoi cable car, taking it up to Rifugio Lagazuoi and hiking down through the incredible WWI Lagazuoi tunnels.

If the weather is clear and you’d rather take the opportunity for a slightly easier afternoon with incredible views, take Passo Giau to Rifugio Fedare. From here, hop on the cable car up to Rifugio Averau, where you can then wander down to explore the Cinque Torri area.

A mountain hut perched on the top of a sheer mountain drop with stunning mountains in the distance
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Rifugio Nuvolau is such a great addition to your Dolomites itinerary – look at the views!

Return to your accommodation in the evening and enjoy your first dinner in the Dolomites. Take the opportunity to have a meal at Michelin-starred SanBrite or Tivoli to kick your holiday off the right way!

Half-day in the Western Dolomites Itinerary

To give you an idea of your likely arrival time into Val Gardena, here are the driving times from nearby transport hubs to Ortisei:

  • Innsbruck airport – 1.5 hours
  • Bolzano train station – 45 minutes
  • Verona airport – 2.5 hours
  • Milan airport – 4 hours

For a relatively easy half-day excursion, I suggest taking the cable car up to the Seceda ridgeline or Alpe di Siusi, where you can hike as much or as little as you like!

If you really want to embrace the wellness vibes, book yourself a night in one of the best spa hotels in the Dolomites and just enjoy a sauna and a massage before you get cracking with the active part of your trip.

TRAVEL TIP | If you’re driving to the Dolomites from Milan or Verona, make time to visit the beautiful Madonna della Corona. It’ll add a couple of hours to your drive, but it’s well worth it, especially in the evening.

A church and convent nestled under a mountain, built into the side of the cliff with mist in the background
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Madonna della Corona is great detour if you’re starting your Dolomites itinerary from Milan or Verona

Eastern Dolomites Itineraries from Cortina d’Ampezzo

Each of these Dolomites itinerary days is easiest when done from Cortina d’Ampezzo or another location in the east. Having said that, you can definitely still incorporate these days in a stay that’s based further west – just budget for additional driving time!

Day 1: Tre Cime and Cadini di Misurina

It will take around 40 minutes to drive from Cortina to the car park at Rifugio Auronzo, where you’ll start your visit to Tre Cime di Lavaredo. I have a complete guide you can use with all the details on how to get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

The Rifugio Locatelli / Drei Zinnen Hutte nestled in the mountain peaks on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hiking loop
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Rifugio Locatelli with Tre Cime in the distance – you can see why I always add this to my Dolomites itinerary!

I recommend heading up the toll road to Rifugio Auronza car park shortly after the road opens, which will be either 7 am or 8 am depending on the month, to be sure of getting a parking spot. You’ll need to pay a €30 fee to drive up the toll road.

TRAVEL TIP | The toll road to Rifugio Auronzo is closed between late October and late May, with access only possible by snowshoeing or by experienced winter hikers.

There’s a huge variety of hikes to do at Tre Cime di Lavaredo, so you can really choose how easy or difficult you want to make your day here. The easy, shorter hiking trails will take you around 2 hours, but it’s possible to spend at least half a day exploring the 10km loop.

Either bring a picnic to enjoy on your hike or aim to visit one of the wonderful rifugi or Malga Langalm for lunch. Don’t miss the view from Forcella del Col de Mezzo, which is at the other end of the car park to Rifugio Auronzo.

In the afternoon, pay a visit to Cadini di Misurina, which I think wins the award for most breathtaking viewpoint in the Dolomites. It is a more moderate uphill hike to get there, but you can see the worst of it from Rifugio Auronzo and decide whether it looks doable for you.

Dark grey mountains with spiked peaks and a grassed covered outcrop in the foreground leading to the perfect viewpoint at Cadini di Misurina
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The viewpoint at Cadini di Misurina is one of the best in the Dolomites

The Cadini di Misurina hike is about 3.5 kilometres round trip and will take about an hour and a half, depending on how long you spend taking photos!

Depending on what time you get back to your hotel, either relax and have dinner or take the cable car up to Cima Tofana if skies are clear. Just make sure you check the hours so you don’t miss the last lift down!

For thrill-seekers | There are several beautiful via ferrata in the area.

For photographers | Add an overnight stay here to your Dolomites itinerary for the best chance at golden hour views at Cadini di Misurina.

With more time | Stay overnight at one of the Tre Cime rufigi – I’ve personally stayed at Rifugio Auronzo, which is a great spot to access Cadini di Misurina for sunrise. Next time I plan to stay at the Dreizinnenhütte and explore some via ferrata and day hikes.

Day 2: Lago di Braies, San Candido, Lago di Dobbiaco and Lago di Misurina

Get an early start for the 50-minute drive from Cortina to Lago di Braies. From July to mid-September, you’ll need to arrive before the road closes at 9:30 or buy a ticket in advance if you want to park at the lake. I recommend arriving before 9 am.

Spend some time enjoying the lake. There’s a lovely paved loop around the shore, or you could hire one of the photogenic row boats for half an hour on the water for a different perspective! Expect to spend most of the morning in the area.

The crystal clear waters of Lago di Braies with the orange and green larch trees reflecting in the water and the famous wooden rowboats stretching across the lake - a must do on any Dolomites itinerary
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Lago di Braies is incredibly popular for a reason and features on virtually every Dolomites itinerary

Drive to San Candido, a lovely little village that’s sadly overlooked on almost every Dolomites itinerary! Have a wander through the village to stretch your legs before finding somewhere for lunch.

On your way back to Cortina, stop off at Lago di Dobbiaco, where you can have another nice walk around a beautiful alpine lake. Lago di Landro is another gorgeous spot, and you’ll find the official Tre Cime viewpoint nearby.

Lago di Misurina is also worth a stop a little further on. You could have dinner in one of the many restaurants here or just enjoy the view before heading back to your hotel.

Day 3: Lago di Braies and Rifugio Biella

Rather than just going to the lake and leaving, hikers should take the opportunity to enjoy the very first stage of Alta Via 1, the Rifugio Biella loop.

Leave your hotel early for the 50-minute drive to Lago di Braies, aiming to arrive between 8 and 8:30 am. You’ll head around the lake to the base of Croda del Becco/Seekofel before embarking on the steep ascent to the Rifugio. Have lunch at Rifugio Biella, and then head back down the way you came.

This is a full day of hiking that will take you about 7 hours.

Return to your hotel for a well-earned rest!

With more time | Overnight near Lago di Braies at Gasthof Huber, one of my favourite hotels in the Dolomites!

Day 4: Lago di Sorapis

This is a full day of hiking, and the trail is not for the faint of heart. You’ll need to get an early start in order to read the trailhead of path 215 at Passo Tre Croci. From Cortina d’Ampezzo, it will take about 15 minutes to reach the parking area.

The Lago di Sorapis hike can be done as an out-and-back hike or, for more of a challenge, turned into a loop. It’s just over 5 kilometres to the lake, and the loop is almost 14 kilometres over Forcella Marcuoira.

The turquoise water of frozen Lago di Sorapis in the foreground with golden larch trees and a mountain peak in the distance
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Lago di Sorapis is a stunning stop on your Dolomites itinerary, even when it’s frozen!

Take a picnic to have by the lake, or enjoy lunch at Rifugio Vandelli from mid-June to mid-September.

This hike will take anything from 4 to 5 hours, depending on your level of fitness and whether you do the loop or not.

In the afternoon, you’ll want to take it easy rather than heading off like a mad woman to tick off all the things on your Dolomites itinerary to Lago di Federa like I did! Take a gentle stroll along the Pian de re Spines loop, chill at your hotel or take the cable car up to Cima Tofana if skies are clear.

Day 5: Croda da Lago hiking

While this was, hands down, my favourite hike on my autumn Dolomites itinerary, Lago di Federa and the Croda da Lago circuit are beautiful at all times of the year. I literally won’t shut up about this hike to anyone who will listen!

Golden sunrise at Lago di Federa with orange larch trees and a mountain peak reflected in the still water of the lake
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Magical Lago di Federa on an autumn sunrise
A mountain hut with a whitewashed lower floor, wooden upper floor and orange shutters that mirror the bright orange larch trees, all reflected in a mirror-like lake
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Rifugio Croda da Lago is a worthwhile stop on any Dolomites itinerary!

It’s a 15-minute drive from Cortina d’Ampezzo to the trailhead at Ponte de Ru Curto, and I recommend an early start for the moderately strenuous 13.5km hike. The Rifugio Croda da Lago is a lovely place to stop for coffee and cake or lunch, depending on what time you reach it.

From the trailhead, it takes about 2 hours to reach the rifugio and 5-6 hours to complete the loop.

In the afternoon, drive up Passo Giau and enjoy the views of Mt Ra Gusela before taking the cable car up to Rifugio Averau for an afternoon snack with incredible panoramas.

Return to Cortina d’Ampezzo, or use this day to connect your stay with Alta Badia (1-hour driving) or Val Gardena (1.5 hours driving).

With more time | A lovely alternative is to stay overnight at Rifugio Croda da Lago and complete the loop the following day.

Day 6: Cinque Torri and Mount Lagazuoi

Start your day by driving from Cortina d’Ampezzo to the Passo Falzarego 615 parking area, which is about 20 minutes. If this is full, you might need to continue along until you find a spot higher up the pass.

The 5 peaks of Cinque Torri with grey and pink striations and a path leading towards them
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Cinque Torri is an easy hike and a great place to spend some time on your Dolmites itinerary

Your destination is the Cable Car 5 Torri which, as you might expect, will take you up to Cinque Torri! The hiking up here is more of a walk on wide paved paths. Spend some time exploring the outdoor WWI museum before having lunch at one of the rifugi.

I recommend either Rifugio Scoiattoli or, if you still need to work up an appetite, hike up to Rifugio Averau (2.5km, 1h return) or Rifugio Nuvolau (4km, 1.5 h return). The views from the upper rifugi are utterly spectacular.

Either take the cable car or hike back down before driving to Passo Falzarego 7 car park (if you’ve parked at Rifugio Col Gallina, you can leave your car in the same spot). Then take Cable Car Lagazuoi up to Rifugio Lagazuoi where you can have lunch if you were speedy at Cinque Torri and didn’t eat there!

You can do a wonderful hike downhill through the Lagazuoi tunnels, although it’s not for the claustrophobic! You’ll be walking though the old WWI tunnels that were blasted out by soldiers for ease of access. The hike is around 4km and will take just over an hour.

Return to Cortina d’Ampezzo, or use this day to connect your stay with Alta Badia or Val Gardena.

For hikers | You can take the moderately easy path 440 from Rifugio Col Gallina for a 5km hike up to the Cinque Torri, a walk of around 2 hours with the most beautiful views.

Connecting East and West

Day 7: Driving the passes between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Val Gardena via Marmolada summit

This can obviously be done in whichever direction works for you – either from Cortina d’Ampezzo to Val Gardena or vice versa. Obviously, you can’t control the weather, but this is best done on a clear day so you can enjoy the panoramic views at the Marmolada viewing platform.

Assuming that you’re coming from Cortina, you’ll probably have tackled the Passo Falzarego or Passo Giau already, possibly both.

Passo Falzarego is what you’ll have done on the Day 6 Dolomites itinerary (Cinque Torri and Mount Lagazuoi), and you’ll have driven at least part of Passo Giau on the Day 5 Dolomites itinerary (Croda da Lago).

A road winds through the mountains with green forested trees and mountains in the distance
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The mountain passes are spectacular drives in their own right and worth adding to your Dolomites itinerary

Either pick your favourite or the one you’ve not already driven, and take that to Malga Ciapela – both routes will take about an hour from Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Once you reach Malga Ciapela, park up and get a cable car ticket to the summit. You’ll take 3 cable cars, and be sure to get off at the second station (Serauta) to visit the WWI museum and sights. If there’s significant cloud cover, I’d recommend just buying a ticket to Serauta.

A visit to Marmolada will take a couple of hours, so once you’re back at the bottom, hop in your car and drive the Passo Fedaia to Canazei. I suggest stopping at lovely Lago di Fedaia for lunch, depending on the time.

From Canazei, you’ll take the absolutely gorgeous Passo Sella to Val Gardena, where you can check into your hotel and have a relaxing afternoon. If you arrive early, you could take the cable car up to Seceda or Alpe di Siusi for a look around.

This route consists of around 2-3 hours of driving time.

With more time | Consider a guided tour of the Marmolada Glacier or skipping Passo Sella and taking Passo Pordoi, Passo Campolongo, and Passo Gardena instead, completing 3/4 of the Sella Ronda but adding an hour of driving!

Central Dolomites Itineraries from Alta Badia

While these Dolomites itinerary days are perfect for a stay in Alta Badia, they can all easily be done from either Cortina d’Ampezzo or Val Gardena with a little extra drive time.

Day 8: Driving the Sella Ronda

While this is technically a driving day, there are so many places where you can stop, stretch your legs and take photos that it won’t really feel that way!

You may know of the Sella Ronda as a famous cross-country ski route, but in the summer, you can drive or cycle the passes. If you’re a keen cyclist, feel free to turn this into a cycling day, but I’d much rather use horsepower than the power of my legs for this one!

A road snakes through the trees in the Dolomites
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The famous snake pass is a fun drive on your Dolomites itinerary, but if you’ve got a drone park up and fly!

You can tackle the route in either direction – you’ll get stunning views no matter what – but some enthusiasts recommend doing it both ways for the full experience!

These are the four famous passes in the Dolomites that you’ll be driving today:

  • Passo Gardena – Corvara in Badia to Plan de Gralba; access to Gran Cir
  • Passo Sella – Plan de Gralba to Canazei; access to Sassolungo
  • Passo Pordoi – Canazei to Arabba; access to Sass Pordoi and Piz Boè
  • Passo Campolongo – Arabba to Corvara in Badia

If you’re staying in Alta Badia, simply turn onto the SS244, which is the Passo Campologo.

If you’re coming from Cortina d’Ampezzo, it’s an hour to Arabba, the junction of Passo Pordoi and Passo Campolongo.

From Val Gardena, depending on which village you’re staying in, it’ll take between 10 and 20 minutes. to get to Plan de Gralba.

Driving the full loop will take you around 3 hours, so take your time, enjoy the views and take plenty of photos!

Day 9: Piz Boè and Marmolada

Start your day by driving to the parking area at Passo Pordoi, aiming to arrive when the cable car starts at 9 am. It’s a 30-minute drive from Corvara in Badia, but you can still do this day from Cortina d’Ampezzo (a little over an hour)and Val Gardena (45 minutes).

Take the cable car up to Sass Pordoi, the “Terrace of the Dolomites” at 2950 metres. If you’re not feeling very enthusiastic about an uphill hike at this stage, you can have a coffee, admire the views over Val di Fassa, and then head back to your car.

However, I highly recommend girding your loins for the roughly 5-kilometre hike to Piz Boè and back (because who would I be if I didn’t?!). It’ll take you around 2.5 to 3 hours.

The final ascent to Rifugio Boè is a bit of a scramble with cables and rungs to help you on your way. Persist, though, because making it to the rifugio at the summit will reward you with incredible views and the opportunity for a cold drink!

A wooden mountain hut with orange grass and trees and a mountain peak behind
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Views from the side of the road on Passo Giau
A cute A-frame wooden mountain hut with the grey peaks of the Dolomites half-hidden behind
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Passo Giau is one of my favourite drives to add to my Dolomites itinerary

Now you’re allowed to go back to the car and drive to Malga Ciapela, which will take you around 45 minutes. Take the opportunity to stop at Lago di Fedaia for lunch if you’ve not yet eaten.

Park your car at Malga Ciapela, and then take the three cable cars up to the viewing terrace at Marmolada. Don’t miss the WWI museum at the second cable car station before heading to the top for mountain views that stretch as far as Austria!

Once you’ve finished at Marmolada, you can head back to your hotel for a well-earned shower and dinner. You’re a little over an hour from both Cortina d’Ampezzo and Val Gardena and 45 minutes from Alta Badia.

With less hiking | Ride the Frara cable car from Alta Badia to Jimmi Hütte (amazing food!) for stunning views out over the Sella Group and Piz Boè. This can also be reached by riding the Dantercepies cable car from Selva di Val Gardena. Skip the Piz Boè hike!

Day 10: Gran Cir, Santa Cristina di Val Gardena and Seceda

This is an action-packed day, so if you’re not up for that, this one isn’t for you!

You’re going to start the day by hiking to the summit of Gran Cir. This is technically classed as a sentiero attrezzato, which is an easy via ferrata. It can quite easily be done without any experience if you’re an experienced hiker used to walking on the type of scree that’s found throughout the Dolomites.

I have done this hike for sunrise, but it does require a very early start, depending on the time of year. From the parking areas near Rifugio Frara, it’s about 90 minutes to the summit, depending on your level of fitness and your confidence in the dark on unfamiliar terrain.

Obviously, you can do this hike later in the day and take the cable car to Jimmi Hütte or Dantercepies, which will save you some time and effort! The actual ascent to Gran Cir takes about an hour once you’re on the trail.

Tandem paragliders with the Dolomites in the background
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Tandem paragliding in the Dolomites is one of my favourite things to do

If you’ve done the sunrise hike (good for you!) then have breakfast either at Jimmi Hütte or your hotel if it’s included and you’re staying in Alta Badia.

Next, drive to S. Cristina Valgarden/St Christina in Gröden and find yourself somewhere to park, because you’re about to go tandem paragliding! Obviously, you’ll need to book this in advance, but it was hands down one of my favourite things that I did in the Dolomites.

TRAVEL TIP | I did the Panoramic Flight from Mont Sëura to Monte Pana with Gardenafly and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to everyone. Book a few days in advance when the weather forecast is most accurate!

After your paragliding adventure, it’ll be time for lunch. At this point, you could either head up the Col Raiser cable car and onwards towards the Seceda ridgeline or go to Ortesei, where I highly recommend the Turonda pizzeria. If you opt to go to Ortisei, take the Furnes cable car up to Seceda.

Clouds coming across the jagged mountain peaks of Seceda
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Cloud cover at Seceda is a magical experience

Spend the afternoon wandering around the stunning Seceda area, doing as much or as little hiking as you feel like until it’s time to head back to your hotel. You might want to take the opportunity to book in for a massage this afternoon – you deserve it!

Day 11: Puez-Odle Altopiano

This is a full day hike, and I think it’s one of the best hikes in the Dolomites. In a change from most hiking in the Dolomites, you’ll be doing more downhill than up, because you’re going to make use of the cable cars.

From Corvara, take the cable car to Colfusco, where you have two options.

The first sees you transfer to the Plans Frara cable car (usually opens in mid July), taking you up to Jimmi Hütte. From here, you’ll walk to Rifugio Puez, which will take about 3 hours. You’ll be gaining 450 metres over the first 4 kilometres, but after that it’s pretty much all downhill.

The second will have you taking the Col Pradat cable car up to Rifugio Col Pradat, where it’s an initially steep climb up path 4A to the intersection with path 2, where you’ll continue to Rifugio Puez, having joined the route above. This is a slightly shorter hike and will take about 2 hours to reach Rifugio Puez.

A whitewashed village with a small church sitting on an outcrop with mountains in the background taken from a drone
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Little mountain villages that you stumble across are some of my best Dolomites memories

From Rifugio Puez, take path 14 down to the Pra da Ri valley, where you’ll finish your hike after 5 or 6 hours in Selva di Val Gardena. Take the Dantercepies cable car back to Jimmi Hütte where you should enjoy a well-earned cold beverage and then down Plans Frara to Colfusco. Make sure you don’t miss the last cable car at 5:30 pm.

This hike can also be commenced in Selva di Val Gardena if you’re creating your itinerary in the Dolomites from Val Gardena, taking Dantercepies cable car at the beginning of the day.

Western Dolomites Itineraries from Val Gardena

If these Dolomites itinerary days appeal to you most, then it’s best to base yourself in Val Gardena. The three villages here are Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva di Val Gardena, and they’re all gorgeous. Ortisei has the easiest access to both Seceda and Alpe di Siusi, while Selva provides good access to Alta Badia.

Day 12: Seceda

You can easily spend a full day exploring the Seceda region. You can access Seceda directly via cable car from both Ortisei and Santa Cristina. It’s a little cheaper from Santa Cristina, but you’ll have to do a bit more uphill walking than if you take the cable car Furnes.

If you’re a really keen hiker, you can ignore the cable cars completely and hike all the way to the ridgeline.

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP | Sunrise can present some challenges at Seceda as you’re shooting into the sun. Sunset gives you last light on the peaks, which is wonderful. If you’re not keen to hike down in the dark, book a night at Rifugio Fermeda or Almhotel Col Raiser. This is also a spectacular spot to try some astrophotography!

I honestly recommend dedicating a full day to exploring here if you have the time. You can read more and plan your trip using my complete guide to visiting Seceda.

jagged mountain peaks framed with wild flowers
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It’s worth adding some detours to your Dolomites itinerary to find views like this

Day 13: Sassolungo

You’ll find the parking area for Sassolungo at Passo Sella near the Hotel Passo Sella Dolomiti or the Rifugio Carlo Valentini. It’s a half hour drive from Ortisei in Val Gardena, and will take less time from S. Cristina or Selva di Val Gardena.

Once at Passo Sella, you have two possible options, depending on how fresh your legs are feeling and how strenuous or adventurous you’d like your day to be.

There’s a roughly 17-kilometre loop around Sassolungo, which is moderately hard and will take about 6 hours to complete. It’s recommended that you do the hike in a clockwise direction.

For a more adventurous but less strenuous (I know, what an oxymoron!) option, take the standing cable car up to Rifugio Toni Demetz, and then hike (mostly) downhill for 8.5 kilometres. This route will take about 3.5 hours and is a great option if you get a slightly later start than planned as well.

In the afternoon, you could take the cable car up to Sass Pordoi, enjoy the views at the Seceda ridgeline or relax at your hotel.

Day 14: Val di Funes

Val di Funes is one of my favourite parts of the Dolomites, in part because it feels like a completely different part of the country. Where so much of this Dolomites itinerary takes you through mountain passes, Val di Funes is all rolling pastures and pastoral idyll.

Whitewash and wood chalets sitting on rolling hills in a green and orange autumnal landscape in Val do Funes
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Sunset in Val di Funes is just something else

Get an early start, heading straight to the Zannes/Zans car park in the morning – it’s about an hour of driving from Ortisei. Head off on the Adolf Munkel trail, aiming to get to what’s maybe my favourite mountain restaurant on this Dolomites itinerary – the Geisleralm – for lunch.

Whatever you do, don’t rush your meal! After a long, leisurely lunch, stroll back to the car before taking a brief detour to St Johan in Ranui church on your way to the village of S. Maddalena/St. Magdalena. Park near the main road, since it’s almost impossible to find parking in the village unless you’re staying there.

Take a walk along the Panoramaweg for beautiful evening views over the church of S. Maddalena. For all the details, read my post on Val di Funes (coming soon).

With more time | Book accommodation in the village of S. Maddalena/St. Magdalena. Booking at hotels here will give you a DolomitiMobil Discount Card for free public transport and a discount at the Zannes and Ranui car parking areas.

Day 15: Alpe di Siusi

The highest alpine pasture in Europe is a must-see on any Dolomites itinerary. If you’re staying in Val Gardena, the easiest way to get there is via the cable car, which delivers you from Ortisei to the northern end of Suisi.

alpe di suis with the sassolungo range in the background
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Nothing prepares you for seeing Alpe di Siusi in person
Small wooden mountain huts scattered through golden fields with green and gold trees and a mountain range in the distance
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Alpe di Siusi with Sassolungo in the distance

The more common route is to drive to the village of Siusi and then take the cable car up to Compatsch. Driving to Alpe di Siusi if you’re not staying there adds a whole new level of complexity that you don’t need to wrestle with on your Dolomites itinerary unless you’re planning on being here for a couple of weeks.

Read this post for all the information you need about getting to Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm.

You can spend the whole day here hiking the region, or hire a bike and go hut-to-hut sampling the best of what the Dolomites have to offer.

With more time | Book a stay at any of the fabulous hotels in Alpe di Suisi for guaranteed front seats to the sunrise and ease of access to the pasture.

Day 16: Karersee/Lago di Carezza, Tramin and Castelrotto

This is a great day if you want to give your legs a bit of a rest or are wondering what the hell there is to do in the Dolomites for non-hikers! This is primarily a driving day, covering 170km and about 4 hours of driving in total.

Start your day off with a drive to Karersee/Lago di Carezza, via the beautiful Passo Sella, an hour and 20 minutes from Ortisei via Canazei. Although it’s true that the earlier you get here, the fewer people (and tour buses), it’s still beautiful mid-morning.

A perfect mirror image of pine trees and mountain peaks in a crystal clear mountain lake
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Lago di Carezza is a Dolomites icon for a reason

You can spend about 20 minutes here wandering around the lake, but if you do want more of a challenge, you can read this great guide to Lago di Carezza/Karersee from Mark and Mim of The Common Wanderer. Once you’ve finished here, get back in the car for the hour-long drive to Tramin via Aldino.

Tramin is a picture-perfect village amongst the vines and the home of Gewürztraminer, one of my very favourite wines. And the clue is all in the name! Tramin is a wonderful place for a stroll, some wine tasting and a divine lunch made with local specialities. Aim to spend a couple of hours here.

Once you’ve finished here, take the scenic drive to Bolzano via Caldaro and San Michele which will take about 40 minutes.

Although you could spend half a day in Bolzano, I think the main reason for a visit is to pop into the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology to see the famous 5000-year-old Ötzi the Iceman. Once that’s done, wander down Bolzano’s oldest street, Via dei Portici, and visit the Piazza delle Erbe Market. Aim to spend 1-2 hours in the town.

TRAVEL TIP | Don’t drive into the centre of Bolzano, or you’ll get a fine, as there’s a ZTL in place. Instead, park at one of the large carparks on the outskirts of the city and walk to the centre.

Once you’ve finished in Bolzano, take the scenic route via Siusi to Castelrotto/Kastelruth – around 40 minutes. Depending on what time it is, you could head up for a look around Alpe di Siusi either via the cable car or by parking nearer to Compatsch.

Castelrotto is another cute little town with a beautiful church. You don’t have to stop here, but it’s a lovely spot for sunset. If you’d rather, just stay up at Alpe di Suisi for the sunset! It will only take you 10 to 15 minutes to get back to Ortisei from here.

For photographers | I suggest either staying in Nova Levante to catch the sunrise at Lago di Carezza or reversing this day so that you can be there at sunset.

An onion-domed church in a field with light rays crossing the distant mountains
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St Valentin’s Church in Seis is simply stunning
A close up of the onion-domed St Valentin Church in Siusi with orange-foliaged trees in front and behind
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Autumn is my favourite time of year in the Dolomites

Day 17: South Tyrol wine road

Stretching from Nalles/Nals to Salorno/Salurn, the wine region of South Tyrol is clearly visible when you’re driving along the A22 – vines stretch across the east-facing hillsides as far as the eye can see. It’s such a dramatic juxtaposition to the jagged mountain peaks you’ll have been looking at for the last few days that it’s almost jarring.

Wine fans will definitely want to make time for this on their Dolomites itinerary. The best place to overnight for this is Bolzano. It can be done from Ortisei, but will add a considerable amount of driving to your day since Nals is an hour from Ortisei.

A close up of wine glasses containing red and white wines on a wine tasting in the Dolomites
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You should definitely add a wine tasting to your Dolomites itinerary

Cantina Terlano is the most-awarded winery in the region for 2023 and well worth a visit. Wine tastings are available, but you might need to bring your Google translate if your Italian isn’t up to scratch! For more information on the wine route you can take a look at the official website.

You can hire bikes to cycle portions of the route during the summer months. And in even better news, you can get a Winepass if you stay at any of the participating hotels in South Tyrol for free public transport and various discounts on tastings and bike rentals.

How many days do you need in the Dolomites?

Whilst it’s entirely possible to get a taste of the Dolomites in only a few days, I don’t recommend anything less than 3 days unless you just want to drive through the region and see some highlights.

For hikers and photographers, a longer visit will give you the flexibility to deal with unpredictable mountain weather (which is pretty much guaranteed), as well as return to some of your favourite spots. 5 days is the minimum to hit some of the best hikes in the Dolomites.

I’ve returned several times, sometimes just driving through, but it’s the trips where I have days to spare and be spontaneous that I’ve enjoyed the most. The best visit by far was when I spent 3 weeks in the mountains during my pandemic-related midlife readjustment, never to be replicated!

Do you need a car in the Dolomites?

If you’re visiting in the height of summer and you have some flexibility, you don’t need a car in the Dolomites.

If, however, you want to have the freedom to hike when you want, take your time on the trails, and not worry about bus timetables, then I highly recommend renting a car for your visit. You will need a car if you visit outside the summer season, as public transport in the region becomes scarce.

In my opinion, the best way to travel through the Dolomites is by using a rental car for more out-of-the-way hikes, golden hour photo shoots and getting between towns. Use public transport and shuttle buses for more popular tourist spots like Lago di Braies and Tre Cime.

#1 TOP PICK

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BEST ITALY CAR RENTAL COMPANY: DISCOVER CARS

For booking your Italy car rental online, I recommend and use Discover Cars. They search both world-renowned international companies and local operators, so you’ll get the best deal!

Dolomites Itinerary Suggestions

1 Day Dolomites Itinerary

With only a single day in the Dolomites, you’re going to need to be laser-focused on what you want to do. I would only visit if you’re under 90 minutes from either Cortina d’Ampezzo, Val Gardena or Alta Badia.

Bear in mind that Tre Cime, Lago di Braies and Alpe di Siusi all have parking restrictions in summer, so you’ll need to arrive early. Parking at the trailhead for Croda da Lago can also be challenging unless you arrive early or late in the day.

If you can get to Tre Cime (Day 1) before 9 am, then I think that’s the best bang for your buck as far as a “Dolomites experience” is concerned. The views here are simply breathtaking. If you’d prefer less hiking then visit Cinque Torri via cable car (Day 6)

If you can only get to the Western Dolomites with ease, I’d suggest visiting either Val di Funes (Day 14) for a lovely hike and wonderful mountain hut dining. Alternatively, Alpe di Siusi (Day 15) or Seceda by cable car (Day 12).

2 Day Dolomites Itinerary

For your arrival day, use either of the half-day itineraries depending on whether you’re visiting the east or west of the Dolomites.

On your second day, choose from any of the single-day itineraries depending on your interests!

3 Day Dolomites Itinerary

Use one of the half-day itineraries for your arrival day, once again depending on which side of the Dolomites you’re arriving into.

On your second day, select one of the single-day itineraries from the region you’re staying in.

On your third day, either select another day from the side of the Dolomites you’re in, or use the Day 7, Day 8 or Day 9 itineraries to see more of the region.

4 Day Dolomites Itinerary

With 4 days in the Dolomites, split your time between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Val Gardena, with 2 nights in each if you have a car. Use the Day 7 itinerary to navigate between the two centres in the middle of your trip.

With 4 days in Cortina d’Ampezzo:

  • Day 1: follow the half-day in the Eastern Dolomites itinerary – Cinque Torri or Lagazuoi tunnels
  • Day 2: follow Day 1 itinerary – Tre Cime and Cadini di Misurina
  • Day 3: follow Day 2 or Day 3 itinerary – Lago di Braies with or without hiking
  • Day 4: follow Day 4 or 5 – Lago di Sorapis or Croda da Lago

With 4 days in Val Gardena:

  • Day 1: follow the half-day in the Western Dolomites itinerary – Seceda cable car visit
  • Day 2: follow Day 14 itinerary – Val di Funes
  • Day 3: follow Day 15 itinerary – Alpe di Siusi
  • Day 4: follow Day 9, Day 10, or Day 11, depending on the amount of hiking and action you want on your visit

5 Day Dolomites Itinerary

With 5 days in the Dolomites, I recommend that you spend 2 nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo, 2 nights in Val Gardena, and either stay in Alta Badia or a rifugio on your additional night.

Here’s what I would do:

  • Day 1: follow the half-day in the Eastern Dolomites itinerary – Cinque Torri or Lagazuoi tunnels and overnight in Cortina d’Ampezzo
  • Day 2: follow Day 1 itinerary – Tre Cime and Cadini di Misurina and overnight in Cortina d’Ampezzo
  • Day 3: follow part of Day 2 and Day 5 – visit Lago di Braies early and then head to the Croda da Lago hike in the afternoon, booking a night at the Rifugio Croda da Lago
  • Day 4: finish Day 5 and Day 15 – complete the Croda da Lago trail, check in to your hotel in Val Gardena and take the cable car up to Alpe di Siusi in the afternoon
  • Day 5: follow Day 14 itinerary – Val di Funes, overnight Val Gardena

6 Day Dolomites Itinerary

With 6 days, I think you can create a really great Dolomites itinerary, with 2 nights in Cortina, 3 nights in Val Gardena and 1 night in a rifugio.

Here’s what that would look like:

  • Day 1: follow the half-day in the Eastern Dolomites itinerary – Cinque Torri or Lagazuoi tunnels and overnight in Cortina d’Ampezzo
  • Day 2: follow Day 1 itinerary – Tre Cime and Cadini di Misurina and overnight in Cortina d’Ampezzo
  • Day 3: follow part of Day 2 and Day 5 – visit Lago di Braies early and then head to the Croda da Lago hike in the afternoon, booking a night at the Rifugio Croda da Lago
  • Day 4: finish Day 5 and Day 12 – complete the Croda da Lago trail, check in to your hotel in Val Gardena and take the cable car up to Seceda in the afternoon
  • Day 5: follow Day 15 itinerary – Alpe di Siusi, overnight Val Gardena
  • Day 6: follow Day 14 itinerary – Val di Funes, overnight Val Gardena

7 Day Dolomites Itinerary

For 7 days in the Dolomites, I would add a night in Alta Badia so that you can summit Gran Cir for sunrise. Here’s my suggested itinerary:

  • Day 1: follow the half-day in the Eastern Dolomites itinerary – Cinque Torri or Lagazuoi tunnels and overnight in Cortina d’Ampezzo
  • Day 2: follow Day 1 itinerary – Tre Cime and Cadini di Misurina and overnight in Cortina d’Ampezzo
  • Day 3: follow part of Day 2 and Day 5 – visit Lago di Braies early and then head to the Croda da Lago hike in the afternoon, booking a night at the Rifugio Croda da Lago
  • Day 4: finish Day 5 and drive to Alta Badia – complete the Croda da Lago trail, check in to your hotel in Alta Badia and take it easy
  • Day 5: follow Day 10 – Gran Cir, paragliding and Seceda, then check into your hotel in Val Gardena
  • Day 6: follow Day 15 itinerary – Alpe di Siusi, overnight Val Gardena
  • Day 7: follow Day 14 itinerary – Val di Funes, overnight Val Gardena

10 Days or more Dolomites Itinerary

With more than a week, you can hit all my favourite days on your Dolomites itinerary. You could even arrange to do a multi-day hike, like this awesome-looking multi-day hike at Tre Cime that Kati and Sabrina of Moon & Honey Travel recommend.

My Dolomites Itinerary

Here’s what I did on my last trip to the Dolomites. You can read the details in the Dolomites in the Autumn (coming soon).

  • Day 1: Drive from Slovenia, overnight Sexten
  • Day 2: hiking Val Fiscalina, overnight Lago di Braies
  • Day 3: Lago di Braies, overnight Lado di Dobbiaco
  • Day 4: Lago di Sorpais hike in the morning, hike to Lago di Federer in the afternoon, overnight Rifugio Croda da Lago
  • Day 5: Complete Croda da Lago, drive to Tre Cime and overnight Rifugio Auronzo
  • Day 6: Cadini di Misurina, Tre Cime, sunset at Passo Giau and overnight Colle Santa Lucia
  • Day 7: Laguzoi, Cinque Torri and overnight Alta Badia
  • Day 8: Gran Cir, paragliding and overnight Ortisei
  • Day 9: Seceda, overnight Ortisei
  • Day 10: Alpe di Siusi, overnight Ortisei
  • Day 11: Val di Funes, overnight Val di Funes
  • Day 12: Start the drive to Tuscany

As you can see, even with 11 full days in the Dolomites, I couldn’t fit in all my favourite things on that trip! That’s why I keep going back.

Where to Stay in the Dolomites

So, here’s the deal. There are a shit ton of hotel options in the Dolomites, ranging from B&B situations to 5* spa and wellness hotels. All the choice can seem rather overwhelming, and if you want to do all the fun stuff, you’d better be travelling light (or in a van) because you’re going to be relocating a lot!

For solo travellers, I highly recommend staying at rifugio, where you might just make a new friend or 10! You could, in summer, create your entire itinerary around staying at the best rifugi in the Dolomites, but it requires considerable organisation to book.

For everyone, decide first on how many days you have in the area, then follow my recommendations above. You can check out the best hotels in the Dolomites, or decide if you’re only going to look at the best hotels in Cortina d’Ampezzo and Val Gardena.

I would recommend giving some thought to staying near Lago di Braies or at Val di Funes and Alpe di Siusi, where there are beautiful accommodation options.

Where and what to eat and drink in the Dolomites

Part of my love of visiting the Dolomites is because of the amazing foodie scene here.

South Tyrol boasts 21 Michelin-starred restaurants, and I really think that I need to put in more effort to eat at all of them! It’s actually the highest density of Michelin-starred chefs in Italy, which is wild.

Some of my favourite dishes here are Knödel (Canederli in Italian) which are dumplings made of bread and cheese. For the meat eaters, they often contain Speck, a local cured ham. You’ll frequently see a dish called Knödel Tris, usually a trio of spinach, cheese and speck dumplings.

Once I got over my childish hysteria at a dish called Schlutzkrapfen, it became one of my favourite dishes. It’s essentially a cheese and spinach ravioli, although there are other flavours, and it’s wonderful after a day of hiking. Spinatspatspazlen is another great spinach pasta dish.

I’m also a huge fan of Keiserschmarren, a pancake-style dessert chopped into large slices and covered in sweet berry sauce and cream.

Don’t miss trying the local wines – personally, I love a Gewürztraminer and it’s usually from literally down the road. I also love having a Hugo spritz after (or at the mid-point of) a hike – it’s a spritz made with elderflower cordial instead of Aperol, and it’s like summer in a glass for me!

5 Top Tips for the perfect Dolomites Itinerary

#1: Don’t try to fit in too much

This is kind of a do as I say, not as I do situation since I’m Queen of trying to do All. The. Things.

I promise, though, that you will have a much better time in the Dolomites if you don’t try to do too much. Try to stick to one part of the Dolomites rather than fitting 3 hikes into 1 day. Sure, you might be able to do it, but you’ll be too exhausted to take it all in.

Photographers, in particular, have a tough time trying to narrow down everything there is to do in the Dolomites, but I think you can hit the best photography spots in the Dolomites in 5 days.

#2: Allow extra time for mountain roads

It doesn’t matter what Google says, you’re not going to navigate these roads as fast as you think. The passes, in particular, are going to slow you down.

Quite apart from the fact that you’re probably in an unfamiliar car on unfamiliar roads, you’re going to want to pull over at every opportunity to marvel at the stunning views.

#3: Be flexible

This is sort of a continuation of the above, but it’s highly likely that you’ll run into a couple of days where the weather isn’t great. One of the great things about being based in one location for a few nights is that you can shuffle your itinerary to make the most of things.

Of course, if you’ve booked into a rifugio, you might not have a choice and you’ll just have to make the most of it. My number 1 piece of advice though is that if you don’t think that the conditions are safe for you, just don’t go. The Dolomites aren’t going anywhere.

#4: Have the right gear

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the right hiking and via ferrata gear if you’re planning a trip to the Dolomites.

The hiking here can be challenging and, unless you’ve trained extensively with trail runners, now is not the time to skimp on the hiking boots. You can see my packing list for the Dolomites (coming soon) to give you an idea of my essentials for a visit.

In essence, hiking boots that are well broken-in, lots of layers including windproof and waterproof, and a personal location device. Even though it’s highly unlikely you’re going to be on trails where you don’t see another soul, it can happen, especially in autumn, and it’s better to have a PLB and not need it than the other way around.

#5: Respect the environment and your fellow humans

The Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage site, and there are rules in place here for a reason. Make sure to follow the principles of Leave No Trace: don’t leave litter, stay on marked trails, and respect wildlife.

Please practice Leave No Trace principles; plan ahead, stay on trail, pack out what you bring hiking, properly dispose of personal waste, leave areas as you found them, be considerate of other hikers, and don’t approach or feed wild animals.

I’d also remind you that not everything you see on social media is real – a lot of those “tents at Seceda” images were taken by people literally setting up their tent for the photo and taking it down again. Wild camping is forbidden here, so please don’t deliberately break the rules.

There are places where it’s clearly signposted that drones are forbidden – please respect that. Also, I understand that we all want “the shot”, but give other people the chance to have a go at taking it too. Be welcoming, ask other photographers if they’d like to take a shot where your tripod is, and just be a good human.

Visiting the Dolomites FAQ

When is the best time to visit the Dolomites?

Although the Dolomites are beautiful at any time, I think that the absolute peak time to visit is September, when the summer crowds have died down, but everything is still open.

Try to avoid the peak season and crowds of July and August. Whilst the weather is beautiful at this time of year, it’s sometimes unpleasantly warm for hiking, and the roads, parking and accommodation options are all packed.

Another great time to visit is in late June and July, when spring brings wildflowers, mountain streams, and snowmelt refills the alpine lakes. Unfortunately, you may also find that snow remains on many of the higher areas, making hiking impossible in some areas.

I personally love autumn in the Dolomites. You still get crisp, sunny days and perfect hiking conditions, along with the beautiful autumn foliage of the larch trees. It is definitely more of a challenge to stay in the region at this time though since almost everything closes in mid-October until the ski season starts in December.

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

The best place to stay is the one that lets you tick off most of your Dolomites bucket list items! If you prefer not to move frequently, then I recommend splitting your time between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Val Gardena.

How long should I stay in the Dolomites?

You should plan your Dolomites itinerary for a minimum of 5 days, in my opinion. Longer is always better, and you won’t run out of things to do even on a 3-week stay in the area!

Are the Dolomites worth it?

The Dolomites are 100% worth visiting if you’re into hiking, photography, food and wine. I genuinely think there’s something for everyone here, which is probably why I keep coming back!

How can I get around in the Dolomites?

The easiest way to get around in the Dolomites is by hiring a car. In the summer there are good public transport links and you can also take cable cars into the mountains to shorten a lot of the hikes. Outside the summer hiking and winter skiing seasons, you’ll struggle without a car.

Final thoughts on the Perfect Dolomites Itinerary

So, there you have it! A ‘one-size-fits-all’ itinerary for galivanting around the Dolomites, no matter how long you’re here. But we’ve really only scratched the surface – the Dolomites aren’t really a ‘been there, done that’ kind of place. There’s always a new peak to conquer, a new strudel to taste, and another impossibly clear alpine lake to make your friends jealous with on Instagram.

If you found this post helpful, I’d love it if you’d Pin it and share it with your friends.

Ready to go deeper? Then dive into the good stuff with more of my blog posts about the Dolomites – they’re chock-full of more juicy details and hidden gems. The Dolomites are calling, and I must go – how about you?

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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3 Comments on “A Perfect Dolomites Itinerary for Any Length of Stay”

  1. This guide is amazing. Thanks for the hard work you obviously put into making it. Happy travels!

  2. question many hiking trails say closed after mid September is this true? it looks like you do a lot of your hiking in October with the beautiful autumn colours> so if I go in mid October is everything still open and accessible?

    1. Hi Danielle! I’ve hiked extensively in the Dolomites in October, but it’s always a bit of a gamble. If the snow comes early then you’ll struggle to get to some of the trail heads and the higher trails will be covered in snow and potentially quite dangerous. A lot of the rifugi will be closed, as will most (if not all) of the cable cars. I’ve tried to mention in specific hikes the dates that places are open, but you’d just need to be prepared to be flexible. It really is a stunning time of the year to visit if the weather’s in your favour though!

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