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Best Places To Visit In The Dolomites Italy

Planning a trip to see the Dolomites in Italy? Here is a one-week itinerary for the Dolomites that will make sure you see all the most beautiful mountains, lakes, villages, and hikes in the Italian Alps.

Dolomites Italy

Best Places To Visit In The Dolomites Italy

The breathtaking region around the Dolomites of Italy is honestly one of the most beautiful places on earth. This picturesque countryside is full of rugged mountains, scenic hikes, beautiful lakes with brilliant turquoise waters, and charming, tiny villages straight out of a fairytale.

Here are our recommendations for the most beautiful, must-see places in the Dolomites and the best hikes with the most spectacular views.

Dolomites Italy

Dolomites Italy — One Week Itinerary

Our 6-night itinerary in the Dolomites of Italy includes 2 nights at Italy’s famous Lake Como — a must-see in northern Italy! You could spend an entire week just visiting all the charming towns around Lake Como. But if you only have 2 nights, you want to pick the most beautiful, picturesque village on Lake Como: Varenna.

Dolomites Italy

Day 1 — Lake Como

Arrive in Varenna. If you’re arriving by plane, the closest airport is Milan. For this itinerary you need a car, so you can rent one here. Milan isn’t that big of a city, so don’t be too worried about driving there. Spend the afternoon and evening exploring Varenna.

Dolomites Italy

Where to Stay in Varenna:

Albergo Milano — This charming hotel has lakefront rooms with balconies overlooking Lake Como. Book 2 nights here.

Dolomites Italy

Day 2 — Lake Como

Full day at Lake Como. Hike to Castello di Vezio for a panoramic overlook of the lake and walk along the lake through the terraced gardens of the Villa Monastero. You can also take the ferry to Bellagio, another popular town on Lake Como.

Dolomites Italyvia

Day 3 — Bolzano

Have a relaxing breakfast overlooking Lake Como on the terrace of your hotel in Varenna, then travel to Bolzano, about 4 hours by car. Bolzano is the biggest city near the Dolomites of Italy. Spend the afternoon exploring the town. You’ll be spending the next 2 nights in Bolzano. Try to book a hotel or Airbnb near the main square, Piazza Walther.

Dolomites Italy

Day 4 Morning– Lake Karersee

Spend the morning at Lake Karersee. This is a beautiful lake with brilliant turquoise green water and the dramatic rugged Dolomites of Italy in the background. There is a big parking lot across the street and an overlook for the lake. There is also a walking trail around the lake which takes around 20-30 minutes.

Dolomites Italy

{GPS Location}

We passed this cute little church on the way from Bolzano to Lake Karersee! How beautiful are the Dolomites of Italy in the background?? The entire drive is charming countryside like this.

Dolomites Italy
Dolomites Italy

Dolomites Italy

{GPS Location}

Day 4 Afternoon — Santa Maddalena

In the afternoon you’ll visit one of the most beautiful villages in the Dolomites of Italy. Santa Maddalena is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my entire life. I was so giddy the entire time I was here, I felt like I could start twirling around and singing. I could not believe this is a real place!!

Dolomites Italy

Santa Maddalena is a teeny, tiny quiet little village in the Dolomites of Italy. You will pass several beautiful little villages like this as you drive through the Italian countryside on the way here. One thing I loved about Santa Maddalena was it felt like we had the whole village to ourselves.

Dolomites Italy

{Santa Maddalena Church}

It was so quiet and peaceful here. All we heard were the faint jingling of bells from the cows grazing in the distance. We hardly saw anyone else here! It was so incredible to have such a magical place all to ourselves.

Dolomites Italy

There are two small hotels in Santa Maddalena where you can have lunch outside on a terrace. Or wouldn’t this be the PERFECT place to bring a picnic lunch with the breathtaking Dolomites of Italy in the background?? Honestly, can you imagine a more spectacular lunch view?

Dolomites Italy

Day 4 Evening — Chiusa Klausen

After lunch and an afternoon in Santa Maddalena, stop by Chiusa Klausen on the way back to Bolzano. You can drive up to the Kloster Säben for beautiful, panoramic overlooks of the area and the Dolomites of Italy. Spend the late afternoon and early evening exploring Chiusa Klausen.

Dolomites Italy

Where to Eat in Chiusa Klausen

We had dinner at Parkhotel Post, and this was one of my favorite meals of the trip. I just had a simple spinach ravioli with butter and parmesan, but it was perfect.

Dolomites Italy

Day 5 — Pragser Wildsee

The next morning you’ll leave Bolzano and make your way to Pragser Wildsee, one of the most gorgeous lakes in the Dolomites of Italy.

Dolomites Italy

Pragser Wildsee is a stunning glacier lake with vibrant turquoise blue water and the towering Dolomites of Italy in the background.

Dolomites Italy

There is an easy hiking trail all the way around the lake that takes about 1 hour.

Dolomites Italy

There are beautiful views of the lake and the Dolomites of Italy all along the trail. The color of this water is not photoshopped!

Dolomites Italy

You can also rent a wooden boat by the hour and paddle around the lake at the foot of the mountains of the Dolomites of Italy.

Dolomites Italy

There are a few places to buy food near the lake, so grab something to go and have a picnic lunch with a view of the lake and the Dolomites of Italy.

Dolomites Italy

Where to Stay in the Dolomites of Italy — Option 1

For our last two nights in the Dolomites of Italy we stayed in a tiny village north of Bolzano at the Ansitz Heufler. It’s an actual castle, and the views of the mountains and tiny village around the castle are incredible. The rooms are super nice, and the service is even better. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, I highly recommend upgrading to the tower suite. It’s very affordable and totally worth it. The restaurant is also very good, so definitely have dinner here one night.

Dolomites Italy

We stayed here because it is a bit closer to Pragser Wildsee and the next hike, Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Although from here, you are still about a 1-hour drive to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Dolomites Italy

Where to Stay in the Dolomites of Italy — Option 2

If you want to be even closer to the next hike, another nice place to stay in the Dolomites of Italy would be Cortina d’Ampezzo, a beautiful ski resort town.

Dolomites Italy

Day 6 — Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Tre Cime di Lavaredo is one of the most beautiful hikes with the most amazing views in the Dolomites of Italy.

Dolomites Italy

This is honestly one of my favorite hikes I have ever done.

Dolomites Italy

There are just unbelievably magnificent views of the Dolomites of Italy the entire hike.

Dolomites Italy

How To Get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Get there early and park at Rigufio Auronzo. There is a very large parking lot here.

Dolomites Italy

Trail Distance

The full trail loop is about 6 miles. I wore these waterproof hiking shoes.

Dolomites Italy

Time:

Plan 3-4 hours for just hiking, but give yourself plenty of extra time for taking photos!

Dolomites Italy

Don’t forget water and snacks!

You’ll definitely also want to stop and have lunch somewhere along the trail.

Dolomites Italy

You can bring a picnic lunch with you, or about halfway through the hike you will reach Rifugio Lavaredo where you can buy lunch and drinks.

Dolomites Italy

Day 6 Evening — Cortina d’Ampezzo

In the late afternoon after your hike, you will have time to explore one of the villages nearby. I recommend Cortina d’Ampezzo, it’s one of the most charming ski resort towns in the Dolomites of Italy. Have dinner here and spend your last night at Ansitz Heufler.

Dolomites Italy
Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hike in the Dolomites Italy

Dolomites Italy

Optional Day 7 — Lago di Sorapis

If we had one more day in the Dolomites of Italy, I really, really wanted to do the Lago di Sorapis hike. Look up Lago di Sorapis on Pinterest and read this article for some very helpful information on this hike: Hiking to Lago di Sorapiss.

Dolomites Italy

Where to go after visiting the Dolomites Italy?

After an incredible week in Lake Como and the Dolomites of Italy, if you want to extend your trip you have so many great options. Click on the links below for more pictures, sample itineraries, and information:

  • 3 nights in Venice — Be sure to do the day trip to Burano!
  • 1-2 nights in Verona — The third largest colosseum in the world is in Verona and is still used for concerts and operas today. It’s also famous for being the town where Romeo and Juliet takes place.
  • 2-3 nights Cinque Terre — 5 beautiful villages on the Italian coast. There are hiking trails between each village with fabulous views of the Mediterranean Sea!
  • 2-3 nights Florence — Be sure to do a day trip to Pisa!
  • 2-3 nights Siena — Use Siena as a base to take a road trip through Tuscany.

Dolomites Italy

Best Time To Visit the Dolomites Italy

We were there in mid-August. This is a super, super, SUPER busy time of year in Italy. I would avoid July/August at all costs if possible — it will be much less crowded in May or September (and even June) and the weather will still be nice.

Dolomites Italy

Any questions about hiking the Dolomites in Italy?

Thanks so much for reading! Here are a few more pictures from our Tre Cime di Lavaredo. If you have any questions about this itinerary please let me know in the comments!

Dolomites Italy

Dolomites Italy


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34 Responses
  1. M Louise

    Dear Amanda and Kevin, thanks for all your recommendations and lovely photos.

    Next June I’m spending 1 night in Bolzano and 4 nights in the Dolomites in an agritourism with farm animals (at Laion). We’ve already been to Lake Como and the other places you mentioned.

    We don’t drive when abroad but am managing to find bus (SAD and Flixbus) and train connections to visit Val Gardena and around (even the lakes you mentioned). It will obviously take us longer so we might have to limit the different areas in a day. Am also considering spending one day in Innsbruck (1 hr 20 min journey with Flixbus from Chiusa).

    One question: will I be able to access Google maps via internet in these remote places or would you suggest I download offline maps for the region?

    I’m so excited. Am saving your post.

    Thanks again.

  2. Paul Barnett

    Do you know if there are good mtn biking trails along the route you describe? I would like to do a combo of mtn biking and hiking on my visit. Great write up and wonderful pictures!
    Thanks

    1. M Louise

      Dear Amanda and Kevin, thanks for all your recommendations and lovely photos.

      Next June I’m spending 1 night in Bolzano and 4 nights in the Dolomites in an agritourism with farm animals (at Laion). We don’t drive when abroad but am managing to find bus (SAD and Flixbus) and train connections to visit Val Gardena and around (even the lakes you mentioned). It will obviously take us longer so we might have to limit the different areas in a day. Am also considering spending one day in Innsbruck (1 hr 20 min journey with Flixbus from Chiusa).

      I’m so excited. Am saving your post.

      Thanks again.

  3. Karen Leffler

    We are retired and have the time to spend 4 weeks (September) in Northern Italy including CInque Terra, the Lakes region and the Dolomites. YOUR website is amazing. Cannot wait to hit the trails that you have suggested. We will be flying into and out of Linnate airport in Milan and renting a car there. Any suggestions in addition to this site are graciously appreciated!

  4. SukChing

    Hi Amanda! 
    I love so much on your travel article and pictures, thanks for sharing indeed. We , family of 3 are planning to Dolomites of Italy in next September month. We are the first time to hike in Alp mountain. May I know  whether is safe if hike in Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Lago di Sorapis without a hiking guide? Any precaution we have to take note? And the hotel, guest house or homestay are still open during September? 
    Thank you! :)

    1. Amanda

      Yes, you can definitely hike them without a guide! Just be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you. Everything should still be open in September. Have a great trip!

  5. Ronald Pisano

    Hi Amanda,

    I love the pictures.

    We are in our early 60’s and in good shape.  We are renting a car starting in Chamonix France through lauterbrunnen valley into the Dolomites.  We are looking to do some easy half day hikes in the Dolomites and would like to stay in refuge huts.  Where would you start and where would you recommend to stay?  Did you leave the car at the hut?

    Ron

    1. Amanda

      All of them are very easy and enjoyable, except Tre Cime Di Lavaredo. It’s not hard, it’s just long. If you have very young children I would skip it!

  6. Kalyan Devunuri

    Wooow very nice info and helpful. I am planing a trip soon . I need some info about travel .
    HHow did you travel between all the villages you mentioned ? by hiring your own car ? or tour bus ?
    Commute info will be helpful .I mean when you travelled from Bolzano to Lake Karersee and all other cities you mentioned.
    Once gain , so happy for your trip and i feel like going today … :)

    1. Amanda

      Yes, we rented a car! :) It’s very easy to drive in this region and the best way to get around. Have a great trip!

  7. Michelle

    We have followed your path for the last week of our holiday in Italy, we are at Ansitz Heufler now ??
    Every stop has been magnificent, thank you so much for posting!! Will hike the last two recommendations the next 2 days from Cortina d’Ampezzo!!!

  8. May Lee

    Thanks so much for your sharing ! Loved all your pictures, we will be visiting Northern Italy in July this year. Trying to follow the route you recommended. Appreciate if you can let me know about the car rental. We will be at Conque Terre for a few days, thinking of getting a rental car from there, drive up to Varenna, and then across to Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Just wonder where can we drop off the vehicle ?

    1. Amanda

      You should be able to return the car in Bolzano. I always rent from Europcar and they have a location at the Bolzano airport. It’s the closest big city nearby! :) Hope this helps!

  9. Lauren

    I was so glad to stumble across this post, my husband and I are heading to the Dolomites this May. This was a great resource!

  10. Maisy

    Any recommendations for someone coming from Florence with no car? I am studying abroad in Florence and want to hike the Dolomites in April, but I’d like to stick to buses or trains if possible. Are there buses to any of these hikes? Love your photos!!

  11. Samantha Couch

    How was driving and navigating? I’ve heard Italy is difficult to drive – including tolls and knowing where to park, etc. Just wondering what your thoughts were. 

    1. Amanda

      Hmmm, I don’t remember it being too difficult here. This area is in the countryside, so we didn’t have any issues with parking or traffic. Everywhere we went had parking lots or parking decks. Some hotels have limited parking spaces that you can reserve if you email them ahead of time. I don’t remember there being too many tolls either, except on our way from France to Italy. Good luck!! :)

  12. Ali

    Wonderful post!  Trying to decide whether to visit the Dolomites OR Cinque Terre with our two teenagers (14 and 16) — would you recommend one over the other?  Many thanks!

    1. Amanda

      Hi Ali! I think you would love both and both would be appropriate for teens! I would look at pictures and see which one you want to see the most! :)

  13. Ashley

    Which website do you recommend in scheduling train rides throughout Italy? My husband and I are going to Italy in October and we are curious which website is the best?

  14. Lan

    Incredibly beautiful pictures! I really love your post. May have to change my itinerary on our trip to Northern Italy this May. Thanks so much for the GPS info of Santa Maddalena. We love photography and will definitely bring home a lot pictures of this gorgeous place. Quick question: how did you manage to avoid the crowds in August? There are no people in your pictures.

  15. Kate

    Love all the vibrant color and life in these shots! It truly captures the beauty of this region. We visited Bolzano and Chiusa last spring, but missed Lake Karersee unfortunately. Time for a return trip I guess!

    Kate

  16. Julia

    Oh my gosh, these photos are stunning.  My case of wanderlust is worse than ever.  I am SO going to visit the Dolomites! Thanks for the great posting.  

    1. Amanda

      We were there right in the middle August. It was a super, super, SUPER busy time of year. I would avoid July/August if you can — it will be much less crowded in May or September and the weather will still be nice.

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Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. Meet our Boston Terriers. Take a tour of our house. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.

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