Italy is one of the few locations I’ve been to this year. If someone had told me last year that I would be visiting exactly 4 countries in 2020, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. I usually travel to 15-20 countries/year, so this was quite a shock for me.
Maybe it was meant to be, so we could appreciate every trip again. At least it had that effect on me. I was looking forward to this trip – even though I’ve been to the Dolomites like 15 times and know just about every turn there.
And because I know the Dolomites so well, I made a list of places you must see at least once in your lifetime.
1 St Johann Church
This picturesque church is especially appreciated by those who don’t enjoy hiking for hours. You’ll find this charming little church just down the road from Santa Maddalena to Zannes. You can walk all the way to it, but have your change ready. The locals know well what treasure they have in their backyard, so they’ll charge for the visit.
2 Adolf Munkel Weg
Even though I’d been to all the places before, there was one I visitied for the very first time. And because it was November, it was covered in snow, which my snow dog Gin appreciated. Adolf Munkel Weg is a beautiful 13-km route that will take you right between the walls of Odle. These are the home mountains of climber Reinhold Messner, and that is a guarantee of a spectacular experience. Another positive of this route is that it is a circuit, so you don’t have to go back the same way. The hike is completely undemanding, you can expect an elevation gain of around 420 m. At the end of the journey, be sure to stop at the Malga Glatsch mountain chalet, which serves an excellent Knödlsuppe.
You can park in Zans/Zannes, but don’t forget to bring cash. Parking is paid and cards are not accepted.
3 Lago di Braies
The next stop we couldn’t miss was Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee. On this place, which I’m not a big fan of, we only stopped for a second because my boyfriend had never been here and it’s kind of a must-see, to which you don’t have to hike. You can drive all the way there, but again, the parking is paid, so bear that in mind.
If you’ve never been to Pragser Wildsee, it’s definitely worth a visit at least once in your life. But I warn you, you’ll have to deal with a lot of tourists here, often reckless and noisy. The kind you wouldn’t meet in the real mountains. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a spectacular spot, especially in November when the trees get colorful and the mountains in the background are covered with snow.
4 Tre Cime
The most famous circuit in the Dolomites, with hundreds, if not thousands, of people a day. It’s a little busy, but tourists often spread out along the route and you can watch the beautiful trio of rocks in peace.
If you’d like to enjoy Tre Cime without people, head out in the off-season. We didn’t meet a single person in November! The circuit is about 11 km long it will take you around 3-4 hours.
You can park at Rifugio Auronzo, which you can reach by turning off the main road at Lake Misurina. But this road is paid and is perhaps the most expensive road in the Dolomites. To drive it, you pay EUR30 per car. Parking at the chalet is free afterwards.
5 Tre Croci pass and lake Lago di Sorapis
There is more than one path to Lake Lago di Sorapis. I personally tried two, and I can therefore recommend the one that runs from Passo Tre Croci – it’s shorter, less abrupt, and more comfortable. Plus, you have an opportunity to check out the pass itself, which is worth a short walk.
You can park directly on the pass and the climb itself takes about 3 hours up and 1.5 hours down.
The glacier lake, with its spiky two- and three-thousand-meters-high peaks, is beautiful in every season. In summer its milky turquoise colour will stand out, in winter you can slide down it because it’s all frozen.
If you’re wondering what Lago di Sorapis looks like in summer, check out my article from the summer.
6 Croda di Lago
Last but not least, I can recommend the climb to Lake Federa, hidden beneath the Croda di Lago mountains. In addition to the photogenic cabin, you can admire the mirrored mountains early in the morning, as the lake is mostly calm in the morning. You can park at Ponte De Ru Curto and the hike up takes about two hours.
In the Dolomites, every pass that can be reached by car is absolutely breathtaking. You can’t pick just one, because every pass has something special. From Passo Falzarego you can admire the Lagazuoi group, from Passo Giau you can admire Ra Gusel. If I had to pick two, those are the ones. Other passes worth visiting are the Pordoi Pass and Sella Pass.
I can’t fit all the fancy places and treks into one article, but you can find a large number of articles just from the Dolomites on my blog. Check out an article from:
- Natural pyramids Ritten
- waterfalls Cascate di Fanes
- fall roadtrip around the Dolomites
- the most beautiful ferrata in the Dolomites
- wild camping at Messner museum
- fall hike to Seceda
- wild camping at Falzarego Pass
- ferratas at Lagazuoi
Which season is the best for visiting Dolomites?
Short answer is: “all of them”.
I think we can agree that the Dolomites are one of the most beautiful mountains in Europe. Personally, I love to go to the Dolomites in the fall, because the larch trees are beyond magical with their orange and yellow tones. If you’re traveling to the Dolomites during the fall, you have to expect that 90% of all cable cars are no longer running, and the only way to get to the top of a mountain is by foot, which is obviously more time-demanding. On the other hand, there is not a lot of people who are willing to hike for several hours, so you can usually admire the beauty without people. You have to expect that fall is out of both main seasons (summer & winter), so accommodation can be a problem too, with quite a number of hotels closing in early September.
Summer is very busy here, but the advantage is that you can do plenty, as you can get to almost any significant mountain by cable car. Of course, the weather is the most stable in the summer, so it’s the safest option.
Winter is dedicated to skiing. You’ll find plenty of ski resorts to use. I’ve never skied in the Dolomites myself, so I can’t recommend any particular location.
That’s all from me today. I feel like I haven’t managed to capture the beauty of the Dolomites enough, so please multiply all my superlatives by 100. If you feel like some place is missing, please comment, I’ll be glad to have more opinions!