Have you ever been to this gorgeous part of the Alps? The breathtaking Dolomites scenery has so much to offer? The Dolomites has become one of the most memorable landscape photography locations. We are going to guide you through some breathtaking places and give you some tips along the way. So let’s jump in!
The largest part of the Dolomites is situated in Belluno county, Italy, and it is part of the World Heritage. It’s named after a geologist, Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu, who explored the mountains in the end of 1700s. Amazing peaks and special lakes what make this place unforgettable. These mountaintops always respond differently to the incidental light, due to the high magnesium content of these mountains.
In Italian it is called “enrosidara” which translates into ‘the fiery glow of the peaks’.
Why the Dolomites?
They have some really unique mountain formations. Located in the Alps, they’re easily reachable from almost all parts of Europe by train, car or plane. These giants have always fascinated me, reminding me of those places from the Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Huge inspiration also came from Erin Babnik who is the best-known landscape photographer of the area.
Plan your trip
Before you get behind the wheel and make a long drive to an amazing place it’s always a good idea to do some location scouting to find out where to start and what to visit.
There are so many ways to research. I usually do it on Google Maps, Google Earth, and 500px.com. With these platforms, I can easily explore the area and determine where particular images were taken and what to expect at the location. You can even place stars to mark a specific point on Google Maps so you can find it easily.
Wanna know more about location scouting?
Check out this article where I cover this topic in detail.
I recommend to visit here in early/mid summer or even early autumn, this time of the year almost all the hiking routes are reachable and most importantly it’s not that cold. However, it is always a good idea to have some warm polars and extra jackets at hand, because it’s not unlikely to experience 3-7 degrees celsius above 2000 meters. You can always have hot tea or a warm meal in the Refugios and for a few nights, you can even have an overnight stay in them. These huts usually lie far from each other.
What to bring
- Hiking boots
- Trekking poles
- Spare batteries and power banks
- Camera gear (duh…)
After I collected all the necessary gear, I organized the trip with my friends. We stayed in a charming little town called Borca di Cadore which was a great base to reach the surrounding sights and to start the planned hikes.
Overall we spent 10 days and have visited the following places, which I recommend doing so:
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo
- Lago di Limides
- Passo di Giau
- Fannes-Sennes-Braies National Park
- Cinque Torri
- Alpe di Siuisi
Tre Cime di Lavaredo
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 already spectacular – but it will get even better! When we got there it was pretty cloudy, but above this altitude, the weather changes quickly. From the weather forecast, we knew it were 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, on the south, there is the Cadini group – peaks that also offer endless possibilities. I will cover this location in a future article.
After roughly 3 hours of hiking, we took a break in Malga Rifugio and watched this amazing landscape.
We are at 2600 meters above sea level, the passing storm started to disperse and the Sun gifted us some amazing lights.
When I was setting 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 enchanting sky.
I had to capture this moment quickly because the mist and the clouds only stayed in the frame for a couple of minutes. Lesson learned, always be mindful of what is happening behind you.
Lago di Limides
On the 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.
This spot is the closest to our base, but the scenery is breathtaking and it works neatly both with sunrise and sunset. With its little lake and the surrounding mountains, it offers great angles to take some valuable 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 as easy as it seems to capture a perfect reflection. I had to wait until the water riffles went away. A helping factor is that the wind usually stops around the time of sunset.
I used a low angle to deliver the mountain reflection.
Passo di Giau
It’s also one of the closest location to Cortina, heading southwest on the serpentine roads. Passo di Giau connects the valleys of Boite and Fiorentina.
The passageway has an individual impression and there are great prospects in almost every direction. The weather joked us again and we needed to hide in one of the refugios, because there were a lot of hail amongst the rain. The storm has torn away and left these jaw-dropping views.
Fanes-Senes-Braies National Park
The national park is within 1 and a half hour drive west from Borca di Cadore through the Passo Falzarego – a pleasant route 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. Instead of the 1-hour hike, we were facing a 3-hours crawl on a mid-level route.
The first 2 kilometers were quite difficult 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. 🙂
Through beautiful flowery meadows and great mountains, we arrived at this picturesque location which really exceeded my imagination. It wasn’t even packed with tourists, we only saw a couple of people at the time we were 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. On this picture, I used the stream to lead your eyes through this picturesque valley.
The Five Towers is a unique location and became one of the most photographed rock formations in the Dolomites. It usually works best photographed from the west with the rising sun.
You can either choose to approach it from Passo Falzarego or the Passo di Giau. We chose a longer route, from the Giau Pass. It took us about 2 hours to get to Rifugio Scoiattoli at Cinque Torri.
At the time we were there it was very cloudy, so we couldn’t take any decent photos of the five towers. Although in the other direction, some interesting things took place on the horizon.
Alpe di Siusi
Our last location is the farthest from Cortina, about 3 hours drive. Although it is definitely worth the visit.
With its huge wild meadows and small tree houses, it is one of the most memorable places in the Dolomites. The highest peak is 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 good luck, I dare to say.
It all started very foggily but the rising sun broke through the mist which had covered the whole valley. These ranch houses on that green meadow are always grateful photo elements.
The Dolomites has really Unique places and we definitely would love to come back in autumn when the Larch trees are turning yellow and some parts even have some snow.