The Dolomites mountains have become one of the most memorable landscape photography and hiking locations over the years. Mostly because of its beautiful trails and breathtaking scenery. Anybody can find suitable routes from easy to challenging trails.
In this article, I collected 7 scenic dolomites mountains that are easy to approach and provide interesting hikes. Along the way, I explain what time to visit, how to dress, and where to stay. This article will guide you through each location and give you valuable tips.
So let’s jump in!
In this Article
- About the Dolomites Mountains
- When to visit?
- What to wear?
- Where to stay?
- 7 Dolomites Mountains
About the Dolomites Mountains
The Dolomites are located in the Alps, in north Italy. They’re easily reachable from almost all parts of Europe by train, car, or plane.
The largest part of the mountain range is situated in Belluno county, Italy, and is part of the World Heritage.
It’s named after a geologist, Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu, who explored the mountains at the end of the 1700s.
Impressive peaks and gorgeous lakes make this place unique. These mountaintops always respond differently to the incidental light due to high magnesium content.
In Italian, it is called “enrosidara,” which translates into ‘the fiery glow of the peaks.’
These giants always fascinated me, reminding me of places from the Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.
When to visit?
Before you get behind the wheel and make a long drive to this fantastic place, it’s always a good idea to do some research and figure out what’s the best time to visit these dolomites mountains.
I recommend hiking in the dolomites mountains during the summer. It can be still chilly in May and June so make sure to visit in July or August. This time of the year, almost all hiking routes are reachable; most notably, the weather is warm. Therefore you can enjoy a great hike or even a picnic in the green meadows.
The autumn is definitely colder in the dolomites, and there can be snow on the top of the peaks. In this season larch trees turn yellow, making the landscape spectacular with its golden touch. Personally, this is my favorite season because of the vibrant colors. September and October is the best time to experience this phenomenon.
The winter scene in the dolomites is very dreamy. If you planning big hikes, it’s better to hire a guide due to snowstorms and avalanches. Although on a calm day you are safe a snowshoe in the valleys.
If you like snowboarding or skiing, don’t go any further. The Dolomites has one of the best ski resorts in Europe.
Wanna know more about how to research an area? Check out my location scouting article?
What to Wear?
The weather in the mountains is unpredictable; conditions can change quickly, so it’s better to be prepared for cold weather in almost all scenarios.
As altitude increases under normal atmospheric conditions, air temperature drops between 1°C and 3°C for every 1,000ft (300m) height gained.
Let’s see an example:
1000 meters: 20 °C, 2400 meters: 8 °C
It’s 20 celsius in the valley; even without quickly changing weather conditions, you can expect a significant 12 Celsius temperature drop at higher elevations.
Definitely think in layers and make sure you have some warm polar and rain extra jacket at hand because it’s not unlikely to experience 3-10 degrees Celsius above 2000 meters even in the summer.
The terrain can be rough in the mountains, so be prepared and have a great pair of hiking boots that hold your ankles stable. If you plan on buying your first ones, Decathlon is an excellent start. They have great and affordable shoes. If you want more advanced boots I highly recommend Dachstein shoes, they have beautiful technical shoes.
Where to stay?
We chose to stay near Cortina d’Ampezzo which is one of the biggest towns in the dolomites mountains and we planned our hikes from there. It gave us more comfort, but what we saved on staying in huts we spent on gas. So if you choose this option, count on driving back and forth every day.
Refugios are shelter houses or huts close to the peaks where you can rest and have a warm meal to refuel for your journey. They are approximately 3 hours from each other on foot, so it’s perfect for a day to day hike.
It’s possible to stay a few nights in these houses but make sure you call a schedule your stay, usually one month in advance, is enough. You can find all the Italian huts on this website. The prices vary between €30 and €80; it depends on the location and what services you want to use.
Some huts have accommodations; some places only offer warm meals.
If you have never slept in a hut before, this is what you can expect: It’s one or two big rooms with lots of beds inside. Most of the time, they provide blankets but make sure you bring your own warm sleeping bag.
Now that we know the necessary information let’s dive in and see the places I recommend for spectacular hikes.
7 Dolomites Mountains to visit
1.Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Length: 13,6 km
Elevation: 991 m
Route: Circuit around the Chimneys
It can be easily reached from Cortina d’Ampezzo, heading southeast through Misurina.
The entry fee into the National Park is 25 euros per car.
In Rifugio Auronzo you can fuel yourself with some great Italian food and hot beverages, plus the panorama is magnificent – but it will get even better!
It was pretty cloudy when we got there, but above this altitude, the weather changes quickly. From the weather forecast, we knew it was just rain showers, which will pass by eventually. The sun came out, so we started the eastbound hike towards the towers of Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Along the way, there is the Cadini group on the south – peaks that also offer a spectacular view.
After roughly 3 hours of hiking, we took a break in Malga Rifugio on the other side of the chimneys, and our blown just blown away watching this fantastic landscape.
We are at 2600 meters above sea level, a passing storm started to disperse, and the sun gifted us some great lights.
When I set up my gear to photograph the 3000-meter-high Tre Cime di Lavaredo, I realized something pretty cool was happening behind my back. I saw this jaw-dropping view, and I ran on the meadow in a panic to find a foreground for this beautiful sky.
I had to quickly capture this moment because the mist and the clouds only stayed in the frame for a couple of minutes. It’s an epic spot where you can easily spend a whole day.
2.Tofana di Rozes
Length: 3,3 km
Elevation: 124 m
Route: Lago di Limides
Probably the most comfortable hike with incredible scenery. Just a few hundred meters from the parking lot and you can have scenery like this.
On our first attempt, we ran into a massive thunderstorm in which we couldn’t make any decent shots, so we decided to come back on one of the following days. Fortunately, the weather cleared and we enjoyed the view around this little pond.
This spot is the closest to Cortina d’ Ampezzo, but the scenery is breathtaking, and it works neatly both with sunrise and sunset. With its little lake and the surrounding mountains, it offers excellent angles to take some magnificent pictures.
We had plenty of time to explore the area and set up our gear for the lake’s reflection of the mountain. Although all the clouds had gone by the time of the sunset, we still captured the reflected giants on the water surface.
It’s not always easy to shoot the perfect reflection. In this case, I had to wait until the water riffles went away. Fortunately, the wind stopped around the time of the sunset and I was able to get a great shot.
Length: 3 km
Elevation: 991 m
It’s also one of Cortina’s closest locations, heading southwest on the serpentine roads where Passo di Giau connects Boite and Fiorentina’s valleys.
The passageway has a unique appearance, and there are excellent subjects in every direction. The weather joked us again, and we had to hide a refugios, because there was a lot of hail amongst the rain. The storm has torn away and left these jaw-dropping views.
As the sun started to hit the mountains’ sides, it was quickly created some uplifting clouds.
4.Corda da Lago
Length: 13,5 km
Elevation: 863 m
Route: Circuit of Croda da Lago
My favorite trail so far, although it’s a bit difficult and lone it offers breathtaking scenery. Along the trail, you can see Cinque Torri and Tofana di Rozes.
Among all the fantastic sights the main attraction is the lake Lago Fedèra, which reflects Croda da Lago peaks perfectly for anyone who wants to snap a nice landscape photo.
I recommend visiting in the autumn when all those larch trees transform the environment into a fairytale.
I am sure you will get tired just like we did, so take a break and fuel yourself in the nearby hut, Refugio Palmieri.
5.Fanes-Senes-Braies National Park
Length: 13,6 km
Elevation: 991 m
Route: To the Fanes Hut
The national park is within 1 and a half-hour drive west from Cortina d’ AMpezzo through the Passo Falzarego – a very pleasant drive among these giants.
We arrived pretty late in the park and realized we may not be able to go all the way up to our destination by car. Instead of the 1-hour hike, we were facing a 3-hours crawl on a mid-level hiking trail.
The first 2 kilometers were quite tricky due to the 400-meter difference in altitude. As we were trying to catch our breaths on the steep slopes, some cows joined us along the way and hiked almost quicker than us. 🙂
We arrived at this picturesque location through beautiful flowery meadows and extraordinary mountains, which exceeded my imagination. It wasn’t even packed with tourists, we only saw a couple of people there.
The blooming flowers always make great foregrounds for your photos. Here we can find almost everything we need for a great landscape shot: horses, streams, a multitude of colored flowers, and unusual rock formations. In this picture, I used the stream to lead your eyes through this picturesque valley.
Read more about landscape composition techniques in my previous article.
Length: 8,8 km
Elevation: 563 m
Route: Cinque Torri
The Five Towers is another unique location and became one of the most photographed rock formations in the Dolomites.
It took us about 2 hours to get to Rifugio Scoiattoli at Cinque Torri.
It was very cloudy when we were there, so we couldn’t take any decent photos of the five towers. Although in the other direction, some exciting things took place on the horizon.
7.Alpe di Siusi
Length: 13,8 km
Elevation: 541 m
Route: Alpe de Siusi
Our last location is the farthest from Cortina, about 3 hours drive. Although it is definitely worth the visit.
Its large wild meadows and small tree houses are one of the most memorable places in the Dolomites. The highest peak is the Sassolungo; it’s 3180 meters high and dominates the surrounding landscape.
We woke up quite early to drive from Cortina to capture this beauty. Fortunately, we had a much better lick than a year before, I dare to say.
It all started very foggily, but the rising sun broke through the mist, which covered the whole valley. These ranch houses on that green meadows are always great for photo subjects.
The dolomites mountains have unique places with scenic hiking routes, so I definitely recommend visiting because it’s a great destination at any time of the year whether you want to hike or ski.