Skip to Content

The Ultimate Guide To Hiking In The Dolomites + 16 Best Trails in The Dolomites

The Ultimate Guide To Hiking In The Dolomites + 16 Best Trails in The Dolomites

Sharing is caring!

From exploring treacherous rocky mountain passes to discovering beautiful alpine meadows, pristine lakes, and stunningly beautiful circuits, hiking in the Dolomites is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Dolomites might not have the height and grandeur of the snow-covered peaks in France or picturesque steep-sided valleys of the Swiss Alps, but there’s a good reason why this mountain range in Northern Italy is home to some of the most popular winter destinations in Europe.

In this article, we’ll do our best to prepare you for your trip to the Dolomites by teaching you everything there is to know about the region, the best time to visit, where to stay, what to pack, where to go, and much more. But first things first…

Getting To The Dolomites

hiking in the dolomites

The main international airports that are near the Dolomites are the ones in Venice (Italy) and Munich (Germany). A few other smaller airports include the ones in Treviso (Italy), Verona (Italy), and Innsbruck (Austria). Depending on where you land, you’d likely need to take a bus or train to Cortina, Dobbiace, Brunico, or San Candido.

If you would like to pre-book your bus to your final destination in the Dolomites, I recommend using Busbud, a worldwide bus operator that covers thousands of destinations in different parts of the world. Alternatively, it also might be a good idea to rent a car and drive on your own. This way you can take your time, stop where you see beautiful landscapes, and have more flexibility on your trip.

Helpful Resources For Visiting The Dolomites

If you’re looking for a cheap flight to Italy, Qatar Airways always has some good deals (plus, our affiliate link gets you up to 10% off).

If you’re thinking about renting a car for exploring the Dolomites, make sure to check out and compare all deals on Auto Europe to make sure that you’re always getting the best deal possible.

To save on accommodation, you can get up to 15% off on all booking.com properties in the Dolomites by using our referral.

Last but not least, don’t forget about travel insurance. Do you know how it’s always better to be safe than sorry? That’s why we use World Nomads. They are more expensive than most other providers but my own experience has taught me (the hard way) never to try to save on travel insurance.

History

The region was named after French geologist Deodat de Dolomieu who led the first scientific exploration of this mountainous region in the 18th century. Before that, the range was known as simply the Pale Mountains. By the mid-19th century, every high peak of the Dolomites was conquered by accomplished mountaineers. Soon after this, with the opening of the Brenner Railway in 1867, the Dolomites became a lot more accessible to visitors. 

Natural Features

hiking in the dolomites lake

Even though one can easily get lost in the larger-than-life landscapes, we shouldn’t forget that the Dolomites are home to a wide array of flora and fauna. The range is home to large colonies of mouflon sheep, roe deer, ibex, and chamois and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a lynx, a brown bear, or a golden jackal. In addition to this, the Dolomites are also extremely rich in flora; it’s estimated that in this region, you can find close to one-fifth (20%) of the flora species that inhabit the continent of Europe…

In addition to being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 95% of the total area of the nine different mountain systems that make up the Dolomites is protected by national and regional parks and there’s a good reason for that. The Dolomites hide hundreds of beautiful trails that are waiting to be discovered and no matter where you choose to go, you will likely find serenity, beautiful nature, and jaw-dropping landscapes.

Where To Stay In The Dolomites?

hiking in the dolomites italy

Before making a plan about hiking in the Dolomites, it’s a good idea to choose where will stay and which places will you visit during your trip. If you know which area(s) of the Dolomites you want to explore, it will be much easier for you to choose where to stay. As always, it would be good to make a reservation at the place you want to stay at before your arrival because the Dolomites are a very touristy destination.

However, if you plan to do a lot of trekking, note that many camping sites in the region work on a first-come-first-serve basis and are not accepting reservations. That being said, here are a few places that you can use as a base for exploring the Dolomites.  

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Often called ‘the pearl of the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo is a great jump-off point for exploring the region. From here, you can easily get to some of the most frequented trails in the Dolomites, such as Lago di Braies, Lago Sorapis, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Croda do Lago, Lago Misurina, and Cinque Torri. If you’re looking for some great tours of the area, check out this Cortina d’Ampezzo ski resort day tour.

Val Gardena

val gardena

Val Gardena is a beautiful valley in South Tyrol that can also serve as a great starting point for exploring the Dolomites. The valley is located near several different famous trails and you can easily get to them by using the cable cars and chairlifts in the area. The most popular villages that makeup Val Gardena are Ortisei, Santa Cristina, and Selva di Val Gardena.  

Val d’Ega

If you’re looking to explore the Latemar and Rosengarten mountains, Val d’Ega is the perfect place to choose as your starting point. That’s why many hiking expeditions start from Val d’Ega before making their way deeper into the mountains. The valley (Val d’Ega) consists of seven beautiful mountain villages that are connected to the railway and offer a plethora of camping sites where you can stay before starting your exploration of the Dolomites.

Alta Badia

Comfortably situated between Mount Sassonger and Cir Mountains, Alta Badia offers some of the most scenic views of the Dolomites. All of the towns in the area are well interconnected with roads and walking routes. The most budget-friendly towns in the area are Corvara and La Villa

When To Visit?

dolomites

You can go hiking in the Dolomites throughout the year but if you’re looking to indulge in some other activities, some seasons are better than others.

For example, during summer, all mountains are open, the weather is nice which means you don’t have to worry about safety. From this perspective, this is the best time to visit the Dolomites, however, this is also the time of the year that gets the most tourists.

So, if you don’t like visiting touristy, crowded places, you might want to consider visiting during spring. There are fewer crowds, you can see the snow starting to melt and the trees starting to bloom. You can hike most trails but some parts of the Dolomites might not be accessible due to snow (depending on the exact time of your visit).

You can also visit in the autumn; if you don’t mind the colder weather and occasional rain, you will be able to witness some spectacular autumn landscapes.

Lastly, you can also visit in the winter but around this time of the year, your trip will be limited to the parts of the Dolomites that are accessible. You’ll see a lot of snow, you can go skiing and try other winter sports, but since the number of places that are accessible is shortened (compared to other seasons due to the weather conditions), you’ll likely still come across flooded with tourists.

What To Pack?

dolomites mountain

When hiking, you’ll probably want to maximize space which is why a hiking backpack should be the obvious choice. This way, you can carry the essentials while still hiking comfortably. In this section, we will not discuss clothing items because they vary depending on the season you choose to visit but we’ll cover some other useful items you should have in your backpack when hiking in the Dolomites.

A large hiking backpack where you can keep all of your belongings.

A smaller, lightweight backpack to take for more strenuous treks and day trips where you can keep some snacks and a first-aid kit.

Hiking shoes and comfortable footwear to rest your feet after a long day of hiking.

Rainproof clothing; when hiking in the Dolomites, you’ll spend most of your time in the outdoors and you should always be prepared for rain.

On the other hand, you should also have a sunhat and some sunscreen.

first-aid kit is a no-brainer for all longer hiking trips.

You should have a headlamp in case you go trekking in the night or in case one of your treks takes longer than expected.

power bank to charge your electronic devices is also a must.

Lastly, if you want to go camping, you should choose a nice, lightweight backpacking tent, a sleeping bag (even in summers, nights can be chilly), and a Swiss knife.

Places To Visit In The Dolomites

Hiking in the Dolomites is a wonderful experience. There are many beautiful trails to take but in this post, we’ll do our best to bring you the 15 best hiking trails in the Dolomites.

Adolf Munkel Trail

adolf munkel

Providing some of the Dolomites’ most spectacular scenery, the Adolf Munkel trail is one of the most frequented trails in the region. The hike starts in the town of Villnösstal; don’t let the name confuse you, this town is still in Italy. On the way to Tschantschenon (yes, still in Italy), you will pass by a few camping sites, B&Bs, and small restaurants. This trail is well-marked and you can easily navigate around on your own without a guide.

Hiking Distance – 9.2 km

Elevation Gain – 378 meters

Route– Malga Zannes-Dusler Alm-Rifugio Odle- Malga Casanago- Zannes

Duration – Around 3 hours

Level – Easy-Moderate

How to get there? You can easily get to the starting point of the trail, Malga Zannes (also known as Zanser Alm) by bus or via car.

Seceda-Pieralongia

seceda

The hike from Seceda to PIeralongia consists of exploring the circular trail that connects the two hill stations and is one that will allow you to enjoy breathtaking views with minimal effort. The starting and ending point is the Seceda Cable Car station. This is a great hike for people who are looking for a less strenuous, relaxing hike with a lot of scenic views and an abundance of huts and other facilities.

Hiking Distance – 4 km

Elevation Gain  – 158 meters

Route– Seceda-Pieralongia-Seceda

Duration – Around 1.5 hours

Level – Easy

How to get there? To get to Seceda, the starting point of this hike, you will need to take the Ortisei-Furnes gondola and then the Furnes-Seceda cable car.

Catinaccio- Mount Sciliar 

hiking in the dolomites

If you’re thinking of hiking in the Dolomites and are looking for something more adventurous, this is the perfect hike for you. This epic hike takes four days to complete. It starts in Val D’Ega, it takes you through the meadows and crosses the Hirzelweg Trail before taking you to Rigufio Roda di Vael where you’d spend the night. The next day, you hike the Passo Cigolade, one of the most scenic mountain passes in the Dolomites. You can spend the second night in Rifugio Vajolet before discovering two scenic passes the next day (Passo Santner and Passo Principe).

The last stretch of this hike takes you to Alpe di Tires and Rifugio Bolzano before ascending to Monte Petz where you can find a spectacular viewpoint from where you can see all of the other local mountain tops. The last day consists of descending from Sella Cavaccio to San Cipriano and following the path back to the Passo Nigra and back to your starting point.

Hiking Distance – 52 kilometers

Elevation Gain – 1.947 meters

Route– Catinaccio-Val D’Ega- Rifugio Roda di Vael- Passo Cigolade- Rifugio Vajolet- Passo Santner- Passo Principe- Alpe di Tires- Rifugio Bolzano- Monte Petz- Sella Cavacio- San Cipriano- Passo Nigro- Catinaccio

Duration – 4 days

Level – Hard

How to get there? Catinaccio (the starting point) is easily accessible by road and there are numerous buses going in and out every day.

Lago Di Braies

lago di braies

Lago di Braies is a beautiful, turquoise-hued lake surrounded by some of the most impressive mountain panoramas in the Dolomites. This is also the starting point for the 160 kilometers-long hiking trail of Alta Via n.1 that passes through the eastern Dolomites. If that sounds too ambitious for you, don’t worry, there’s also a beautiful short trail that circles around the entire lake.

Hiking Distance – 4 kilometers 

Elevation Gain – 180 meters

Duration – 1 hour or less

Level – Easy

How to get there? The closest major town to the lake is Bolzano which is connected via railway and road to most major cities (and even smaller towns) in the area.

Marmolada

marmolada

Sitting atop 11,000 feet (3,350 meters) Marmolada is the highest mountain in the Dolomites. In addition to spectacular natural beauty and majestic landscapes, the mountain is also home to the Marmolada Grande Guerra which happens to be the highest (elevated) museum in Europe. You can get there by taking a cable car that’s split into three different sections. There are numerous shorter hikes that you can take (such as Crepe Rosse, Malga Ciapela, Piz de Guda, Sasso Bianco, etc.) but if you’re seeking an adventure and have good stamina, we strongly suggest climbing to the top; it’s certainly an adventure you’ll never forget. 

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Tre Cime di Lavaredo translates to “the three peaks of Lavaredo”- one of the most iconic sights in the European Alps. The park surrounding the three tops is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a national park, and one of the most frequented locations in the Dolomites. The trail consists of a loop that takes roughly half a day to complete and offers some of the most breathtaking views of the three peaks and wildflower-covered valleys (at least during summers). The main trail is relatively flat and therefore, doesn’t require a lot of stamina but if you think you’re up for it, there are many well-marked, strenuous treks in the area.

If you’re planning to take this trail, note that you would have to start early in the morning unless you want to complete the descending during nightfall which isn’t recommended.

Hiking Distance – 10 kilometers 

Elevation Gain – 350 meters

Route– Rifugio Aurenzo- Forcella Lavaredo Viewpoint- Rifugio Locatelli- Malga Langalm- Rifugio Aurenzo

Duration – 6-7 hours

Level – Moderate

How to get there? The best way to get to this trail is by renting a car and driving on your own. Just follow the SS49 road towards Misurina. From Misurina, take the toll road towards Rifugio Auronzo.

Lago Di Federa 

Lago Di Federa

Lago di Federa is a beautiful, crystal-clear lake located high in the mountains near Val Gardena. The lake is completely surrounded by stretches of larches that make up one of the most magical fall backdrops in the Dolomites. The hike to the lake is a part of the longer Croda do Lago hike which takes around 8 hours to complete. So, if you have more time on your hands and are looking for a longer walk, you should seriously consider taking this route too.

Hiking Distance – 9.5 kilometers 

Elevation Gain – 750 meters

Duration – 3 hours

Level – Moderate

How to get there? Between July and September, you can get to the trailhead by taking the 30/4 bus from Cortina or Pescul. If you’re visiting during the autumn or winter, you’ll have to rent a car and drive on your own or hire a driver.

Cadini Di Misurina

Cadini Di Misurina

Located in the province of Veneto, Cadini di Misurina is one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the Dolomites. The range is famous for its rugged mountain peaks that bear an uncanny resemblance to Lord of the Rings’ Mordor. The range has a lot of beautiful trails but most people hike up to the two main viewpoints. I don’t recommend taking the walk to the first viewpoint because it’s ridiculously crowded and you’ll likely have to wait in a queue just to take a photo. Additionally, the trail is narrow which means it can be dangerous and the viewpoint is a small pinnacle and if the day is not clear, you might not be able to see much.

The other viewpoint, on the other hand, offers a much more enjoyable experience with even better views (and fewer people around).

Hiking Distance – 4.5 kilometers 

Elevation Gain – 130 meters

Duration – 1.5 hours

Level – Easy-Moderate

How to get there? The starting point is the same as the above-mentioned Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike.

Sassolungo (Langkofel)

Sassolungo

When hiking in the Dolomites, the Sassolungo circuit should be one of the first trails to put on your list. The 17 kilometers-long circuit is one of the most tiring but also most rewarding hiking routes in the dolomites. Along the way, you’ll see everything from lush meadows and alpine flowers to winding trails, rocky hills, and spectacular panoramic views.

Hiking Distance – 18 kilometers

Elevation Gain – 1,089 meters

Route– Passo Sella- Friedrich August Hutte- Rifugio Sasso Piatto- Sasso Piatto passage- Rifugio Vicenza- Rifugio Comici- Passo Sella

Duration – 6-7 hours

Level – Hard

How to get there? The trail begins at the Passo Sella car park, located around 20 minutes driving from the town of Canazei and around 40 minutes away from Ortisei. During high season, you can also get here by bus (number 471) that runs from Selva and Ortisei to Val Gardena.  

Passo Giau- Monte Mondeval

Passo Giau

Monte Mondeval is a scenic bowl-shaped plateau located in the eastern part of the Italian Dolomites. The plateau is a part of the UNESCO system Pelmo-Droda da Lago that covers an area of 4,344 hectares and is home to some of the most stunning panoramic views in Northern Italy. Monte Mondeval harbors a couple of fascinating historical sites, including the burial site of Mondeval de Sora, as well as a few other natural treasures like the picturesque Lake Baste, and of course, the Monte Mondeval peak that overlooks Monte Pelmo, Croda da Lago, and Lastoni di Formin.

Hiking Distance – 13 kilometers

Elevation Gain – 712 meters

Route– Passo Giau – Forcella Giau- Lago delle Baste- Monte Mondeval- Man of Mondeval Mesolithic Burial Site- Passo Giau

Duration – 5-6 hours

Level – Moderate-Hard

How to get there? The easiest way to get to Passo Giau is with your own vehicle (parking is free) but you can also get here by bus if you’re visiting during the high season. The number of the bus is 30/4 (Cortina d’Ampezzo – Passo Giau – Selva di Cadore – Pescul).  

Monte Pic Summit

Monte Pic

Rising high above Ortisei and Santa Cristina, Monte Pic is one of the most underrated spots for hiking in the Dolomites. The hike connects dozens of Val Gardena alpine pasture huts and offers one of the best views of the Odle Group and the Seceda Alp. In our opinion, the highlight of the trail is the view from the peak of Monte Pic and descent to the Baita Seurasas alpine pastures which is one of the Dolomites’ best-kept secrets (once you visit you’ll understand what this means).

If you’re planning to spend more days in this region, I recommend you combine this trail with the Seceda Ridgeline.

Hiking Distance – 14 kilometers

Elevation Gain – 1,064 meters

Route– Praplan Car Park- Baita Gamsblut- Baita Daniel- Mastlé- Baita Sofie – Seceda- Forcella Pana- Baita Troier- Baita Daniel- Cuca saddle- Monte Pic- Baita Sëurasas- Praplan Car Park

Duration – 6 hours

Level – Moderate-Hard

How to get there? The best way to get to Praplan Car park is with your own vehicle. Drive through Val Gardena to Santa Cristina until you reach the Praplan (or Shristauta) Car Park. During the summer months, you can also take the bus (line 357) from Ponte Gardena or Chiusa to Santa Cristina.  

Rifugio Genova & Val Di Funes Alpine Pastures 

Val Di Funes

Located in the Puez-Odle Nature Park, Rifugio Genova is a scenic mountain hut and in our opinion, one of the most underrated destinations in the Dolomites. The hut is connected to Val di Funes and its alpine pastures via an even more scenic trail that quietly leads across the meadows slowly ascending to the Kreuzjoch saddle. The alpine pastures of Val di Funes are one of the most pristine locations in the Dolomites but if that’s not enough, you should also know that from here, you can also get one of the most amazing vistas of the Geisler Peaks and Mount Heiligenkreuzkofel.

Hiking Distance – 11 kilometers

Elevation Gain – 450 meters

Route– Zans- Sas Rigais- Tschantschenon- Furcella de Furcia- Munt de Furcia- Rifugio Genova- Malga Gampen- Zans

Duration – 5 hours

Level – Moderate

How to get there? The trail shares its starting point (Zannes Car Park) with the much more famous Adolf Munkel trail (covered a few paragraphs above).  

Alpe Di Siusi– Rifugio Bolzano– Rifugio Alpe Di Tires

Alpe Di Siusi

This spectacular trail starts at Alpe di Siusi, the largest high alpine pasture in Europe. The plateau is dotted with walking trails and biking paths leading towards Sassolungo, the Rosengarten Mountains, and the Sciliar Massif. The first 3 kilometers of the trail are on an asphalted road and the rest is through the forests.

Along the way, you’ll be passing through divine Alpine pastures, green meadows, and lush forests ascending atop the Sciliar plateau before descending to Rifugio Alpe di Tires and returning back to the gorgeous pastures of Alpe di Siusi. If you’re in really good shape, there’s also a marathon that takes place every summer. You can learn more about it here.

Hiking Distance – 21 kilometers

Elevation Gain – 750 meters

Route– Spitzbuhel-Steger- Dellai- Pizweg- Monte Icaro- Mezdi- Hartweg- Compatsch Saltria- Ritsch Schwaige- Romer- Tuml- Lanzinerschwaige- Goldknopf- Mutz- Mahliknecht Weg- Gumerdunweg- Laurinhutte-Spitzbuhel

Duration – 8 hours

Level – Hard

How to get there? You can get to the starting point by your own car, by taking the bus (route 10) starting from Siusi, or via cable car from Siusi Allo Sciliar.

Sentiero Bonacossa North Trail

Sentiero Bonacossa

Sentiero Bonacossa is one of my favorite trails for hiking in the Dolomites. This is an exhilarating trail that passes through the heart of the beautiful Cadini di Misurina mountain massive, uncovering steep rocky valleys and picturesque ledges along the way. The trail connects Rifugio Col de Varda to Rifugio Auronzo and Rifugio Fonda Savio. You can choose to hike both the northern and southern loop or divide the trek into two (if you have more time on your hands). 

Hiking Distance – 18 kilometers

Elevation Gain – 1.350 meters

Route– Lago di Misurina- Rifugio Col de Varda- Forcella di Misurina- Cadin della Neve- Forcella di Diavolo- Rifugio Fonda Savio- Forcella di Rinbianco- Monte de le Cianpedele- Rifugio Auronzo- Lago di Misurina

Duration – 8 hours

Level – Hard

How to get there? The starting point of the trail is Sentiero Bonacossa at the southern end of Misurina Lake which can be reached by road from Veneto, Trentino, and Sudtirol (via the A22 motorway).

Val Venegia- Rifugio Mulaz

Val Venegia

Lastly, we round up this guide to hiking in the Dolomites with a hike in the Pale di San Martino range. The trek from Val Venegia to Rifugio Mulaz combines scenic alpine pasture huts and high alpine slopes with green valleys, lush forests, and rolling meadows into one spectacular trail. The hike begins with an easy stroll through the valley, then it slowly ascends through the forests into the alpine pastures and passes a few beautiful mountain passes from where you can get some of the most spectacular views of the Pala Group and Civetta.

Hiking Distance – 13 kilometers

Elevation Gain – 1.054 meters

Route– Malga Venegia- Malga Venegiota- Passo Mulaz- Rifugio Mulaz- Sasso Arduini- Passo dei Fochet- Passo di Venegiota- Malga Venegia

Duration – 7 hours

Level – Moderate-Hard

How to get there? The valley where the trek starts (Val Venegia) lies between Passo Valles and Passo Rolle in Trentino. The nearest towns are Predazzo and San Martino di Castrozza. These two towns are connected to most major hubs in the region via bus but the only way to get to the starting point of the trail from there is by renting a car or hiring a driver.

Charming villages near Rome

Hidden gems in Rome

Fun facts about Florence

Hidden gems in Florence

Sicily off the beaten path

Are you looking for some more Italian travel inspiration? Feel free to check out some of our other articles, such as…

Best things to do in Puglia

Are you thinking about hiking in the Dolomites? Did you find our article helpful? Is there something you think we forgot to mention? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Like it? Pin it.

dolomites
2

Sharing is caring!