Hiking in Dolomites Mountains in Italy

If you plan to do hiking in Dolomites Mountains in Italy, here you have some of the frequently asked questions that may help in getting there and organize your stay in the area.

Note that these are actual questions that people ask about Dolomites mountains. So they have value because they contain various topics that may be of interest to you if you plan to go there. On the other hand, as a frequent visitor of Italian Alps, I feel that I can provide accurate answers.

Note also that the title includes the word hiking, while some of the tours in the Dolomites can hardly be described as hiking, this can be more about mountaineering. This terminology issue is discussed in my separate text.

In fact, I am writing this text just a few days after coming back from my trip to these Italian mountains. The top picture above is my own from that recent trip. I was staying in Arabba which you see in the picture below.

Arabba, Dolomites Italy.
Arabba, Dolomites Italy.

Where are the Dolomites mountains in Italy?

Dolomites are in the north-east part of Italy below Austrian border. The interactive map below is zoomable so you can see wide and small areas, with all access roads as well as hiking routs.

If you come from Munich (Germany) or Innsbruck (Austria), you will go over Brenner Pass and after some time you will switch off and turn to the east, dependent on your particular destination.

But if you come from the south, say from Venice, Dolomites are roughly in the north direction. Just zoom out the map above and you will see it.

What are the Dolomites famous for?

This depends on the season. In summer, this is about hiking, mountaineering, and climbing. But these mountains are also a paradise for cyclists. This is because of so many attractive mountain road passes and possibilities to make round tours.

The best example of this type is Sella Group with its Piz Boe as the highest peak. This area is surrounded with five attractive passes: Passo Gardena in the north, Passo Campolongo and Passo Falzarego on the east side, Passo Sella on the west side, and Passo Pordoi (the photo below) on the south-west side.

Passo Pordoi, Dolomites.
Passo Pordoi, Dolomites.

In winter, the area is renowned for skiing. I am talking about outdoor activities only, but there are many other things to see in this beautiful area.

The sad story is that it is also famous for many things left from the WWI. The mountains are full of tunnels, caves, trenches, etc., left from the war.

What city is closest to the Dolomites?

This will depend on how you approach the area. But think about Cortina d’Ampezzo as a city that is exactly in the area, surrounded by many mountains that are more than 3000 meters high.

Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Where do you fly to get to Dolomites?

There are several options. Bigger airports are in Venice (Italy) and in Innsbruck (Austria), roughly the same distance from Cortina d’Ampezzo. Other options are Munich (Germany), Milan (Italy), and Trieste (Italy).

When should I visit the Dolomites?

This depends on your activity.

  • If this is about skiing, then winter months of course.
  • For cycling, spring till autumn, check about situation on mountain passes.
  • For hiking on lower elevations, think about May-November interval.
  • For mountaineering by following normal walk-up routes, June-October.
  • For ferrata routes it may not be good to come early because such routes are usually with narrow gullies and/or on north sides, so they may have lots of snow till mid summer. This may ruin your plans, and it may be dangerous as well.

What is the best town to stay in Dolomites?

This will again depend on your activity and your preference so nobody can tell you. But if this is about cycling, I already mentioned the Sella Group (the photo below) with its numerous passes around, so any town in the valleys around will be fine. I was recently in Arabba which is in this same area. Corvara (the top picture above) on the opposite side of Campolongo pass is a truly pleasant area.

But if you want a bigger place yet close to mountains, then Cortina d’Ampezzo may be the best place for you.

Sella Group as seen from Sella Pass.
Sella Group as seen from Sella Pass.

Is there a train from Venice to Dolomites?

There are some options to get to Bolzano. This includes a connection from Verona or Bologna where you can get from various directions.

But Bolzano is a big center and not really in the heart of mountains. So when you arrive there, you will need a bus or car to your exact destination. All in all, train is not the best way to get to Dolomites, avoid it if you can.

Can you visit Dolomites without a car?

There are busses so you might do without a car. As far as I know, there should be a bus from Venice airport to Cortina. But it is best to have a car, nothing can replace this option, unless you have a motorhome.

Is hiking the Dolomites hard?

The word ‘hiking’ is used for a variety of activities, I saw recently some people were planning of ‘hiking Eiger’. English is not my native, but I feel this is not the best word used for such a mountain.

Anyhow, Eiger is not in Dolomites, so “hiking” may or may not be hard in Dolomites, dependent on what you do. If you get by car to a high mountain pass like Sella Pass and do some walk around then this is not so hard.

If you take a lift from Pordoi Pass and get to the summit of Sass Pordoi and then walk around, this will not be hard. I have seen tourists walking around the lift station there in sandals, and this is an area of almost 3000 meters above the sea level.

But if you follow any summit route, it will be hard, no more no less. Many of the mountains in Dolomites are doable by anybody in normal physical conditions, but they are far from easy. See this photo to realize what you have:

Tofane Group near Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Tofane Group near Cortina d’Ampezzo.

On a 3000-meters summit you have only around 60% of the oxygen as compared to its see-level value. I can tell you, this is something you feel with every step.

If you want to know what people normally do when they get to such summits, please check in my separate text.

What is the most beautiful part of the Dolomites?

This is individual and nobody can tell this for you. I would put forward two areas: Tre Cime di Lavaredo shown below, and Sella Group (one of the pictures shown above).

Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Is Cortina d’Ampezzo worth visiting?

Frankly speaking, when I am in the mountains, I am obsessed with summits, so I do not pay much attention to the cities around. I have been in Cortina d’Ampezo a few times, just passing in various directions. It can be described as a true mountain center and it is incredibly popular.

If you want to buy a property there, you will have to pay far more than in any other place in the Dolomites. But I know more pleasant smaller places in the area, like Corvara valley (shown in one of the pictures above) and Auronzo for example.

Is September a good time to visit the Dolomites?

I would say that every time is a good time to visit Dolomites. But I go to the mountains for mountaineering only, so this means summer months. September is good because you can be sure there should be no snow left on ferrata routes.

I also have a feeling that weather is usually more stable later in the season.

Is it easy to drive from Venice to Dolomites?

The interactive map above will show you the roads, and you will realize that it is a simple drive, you can get there in a couple of hours. I did not drive from Venice, but I did drive from Trieste so I know the area well.

Is hiking in the Dolomites Italy safe?

I am in love with Italy and with Italian Alps, so I am biased. But I have been going there every summer, I mean to the Italian Alps in general, and have never had any unpleasant experience.

So yes, Dolomites are safe. This holds also for solo female backpackers, I have seen this question being asked.

What time of year can you hike the Dolomites?

I have already addressed this question above. The best period is summer and early autumn.

What is the best way to see the Dolomites?

If you have a motorhome then this is it. You have many options to park at those high passes and stay a day or two and then continue to the next one.

Having no motorhome, I have done this in the car, so this is the next best option.

How do you get to Dolomites by train?

This question I have already addressed above. In short, it is complicated, so use this option only if you are forced to.

Do you need hiking shoes for Dolomites?

If you are a cyclist, then the answer is no. But if you plan to make walks around, the most certainly you need something for this. Depending on what you want to do, you choose your shoes or boots.

There are long walks that you can do at a high elevation in literally any walking shoes. One great example is the Sentiero Friedrich August from Sella Pass to Sasso Piatto hut. For such walks no need to spend money on shoes or boots.

But for any mountaineering or hiking tour, I would warmly advise to have a proper pair of boots. I was using Salomon boots in several of my day tours.

Note also that this is the area of some famous mountaineering brands like Scarpa and La Sportiva. They started in these mountains.

How do you dress for the Dolomites?

To answer this question directly: most people dress inappropriately. I am sometimes shocked when I see how tourists go into mountains.

If you go for a day tour, I would warmly suggest to read the text what to wear for summer in the Alps.

Where do you base yourself in the Dolomites?

I already mentioned a few places and towns. This is a very popular area so it is crowded in full season, but there are so many options to rent a room or an apartment.

As mentioned, I was in Arabba last time and I rented my apartment through Booking,com which I warmly recommend.

Is it expensive to rent an apartment in Dolomites?

This depends on the season and on location. I usually rent apartments when I am in the Italian Alps, and this is always through Booking,com. Last time this was the first week of July and I rented a small apartment in Arabba for 420 Euro for one week.

So these are my answers to questions about hiking in Dolomites Mountains in Italy. This list of questions may be updated occasionally and this is why you might want to bookmark this post and visit it when you need it. More about Alps in general you can read in my separate text.

Did you know that you can make living from hiking? So follow the link and see more. On such hiking and mountaineering tours I always use trekking poles so follow the link and read more about them.

You might want to read also my text about 4-person camping tents size with various questions answered. Let me know if you have questions, there is a comment box below.

Bookmark this site and keep as a reference, you will always have new texts about outdoors added here. Have a nice day.

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Me on Jalovec.Hi, I am Jovo, the founder of this OutdoorsFAQs site and several other outdoor sites. I have been mountaineering for almost 40 years already, and I have created this site to use as a reference for various questions that I receive in my sites. Being a theoretical physicist by profession, I tend to base my answers on facts and on my own personal experience.

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