Best Places & Hikes in the Dolomites to Visit in the Summer
The Dolomites are an Alpine mountain range that decorates the Northern Italian province of Trentino and Veneto. It’s a land of breathtaking mountains with spiky peaks, which are snow-dusted 365-days of the year. Fairy-like alpine meadows, countless alpine lakes and incredible hiking trails. The charming mountain villages and towns are packed with all range of accommodations. From luxurious hotels with relaxing wellness areas to budget friendly hostels run by warm Italians. There are also tons of restaurants serving some of the best cuisine in the world. This area fills in the winter with snow sport enthusiasts, but is as impressive to visit during the summer time. Below, you will find a list of the best hikes & places that shouldn’t be missed during your road trip in the Dolomites.
Best Places & Hikes To Visit In the Dolomites
Lago di Braies
This beautiful Alpine lake became incredibly popular in the past years due to countless pictures popping on social medias. Once you arrive to the destination however, you quickly understand why thousands of people visit this location every day. The mesmerising deep blue water calmly reflects the snowy peaks surrounding the lake.
During the summer months, you can rent a rowboat from 10AM until 5PM (15 EUR for 30 min). However we highly suggest to visit Lago di Braies early in the morning as the crowds during the day are really intense. In fact, it’s the only destination when we found many people already at 6 AM. And it gets busier with every hour.
Lago di Sorapis
Lago di Sorapis is truly a magical place. It’s the perfect spot to relax amongst the lake’s turquoise blue waters, tall white rock walls and lush alpine meadows. The hike starts at Passo Tre Coci near the restaurant Son Zuogo from which you should follow the signs for the trailhead #215. The hike takes 2h and it’s not an easy walk. You should be in good health conditions and the have proper hiking footwear and gear. Parts of the trail is extremely narrow and passes next to unprotected drops. Those with vertigo should avoid this adventure.
↬ Note : This is the only place we missed during our road trip and regret it very much. Due to long lasting bad weather, we couldn’t complete the hike. We look forward to next year when we hope to come back.
Tre Cime & Cadini di Misurina
The most famous mountain peaks in the Dolomites, Tre Cime fully deserve its popularity. A serpentine, scenic road takes you all the way up to Refugio Auronzo from where you have 360 degrees spectacular mountain views.
↬ Note : There is a 30 EUR toll fee for cars and 45 EUR for campervans. Arrive in the morning or late afternoon as parking spaces are limited!
The most popular hiking trail leads past Tre Cime to Drei Zinnen Hut and it’s usually very busy. It’s an easy trail with little elevation. It’s so beautiful and really easy to understand why it is one of the most famous places and hikes in the Dolomites.
We suggest you do this one in the afternoon, and in the morning head the opposite direction to the viewpoint of Cadini Group peaks. It’s only a 20-30 min hike from the parking lot and the trail is usually empty.
↬ TIP : You can spend the night in your campervan in the parking lot next to Refugio Auronzo.
Passo Giau & Gardena
Passo Giau and Gardena are incredibly scenic roads twisting their way through the mountains that dominate from both sides. While you will surely pass Passo Gardena during your road trip, Passo Giau requires a small 10 min detour from the main road. It is however extremely worth the detour as the views are mind-blowing.
There are many hiking trails starting from Gardena Pass. If you are not in the mood for hiking, stop for just few a minutes and walk up the hill past Rifugio Frara. You will have splendid views over the mountains and the road serpentine.
Alpe di Siusi
Even if you have only few days to visit the Dolomites, Alpe di Siusi should be on your list as it has so many wonderful places and hikes to experience. Here and there you can spot old wooden cabin sitting beautifully between the pristine green meadows. The beautiful backdrop of the Sasso Lungo peaks towering in the distance, adds a dramatic touch to this fairytale scene.
↬ Note : An important thing to know is that it is forbidden to drive on the Alpe di Siusi road between 9AM and 5 PM without a special permit, which can be obtained only if you are a local, the owner of one of the cabins or staying at a hotel nearby.
There are two ways of visiting Alpe di Siusi. You can leave your car at the free parking lot in Siusi here and take a cable car up to the meadows. Or you can drive before 9AM and park your car at the Compatch Parking lot (17 EUR per day). Returning to the valley is always free.
Whichever way you choose, you will end up in the same spot and can start exploring from here. There are multiple hiking trails and rifugios where you can stop for delicious lunch.
↬ Note : We planned to hike to Rifugio Alpe di Tires via Forcella Denti di Terrarossa, however a storm caught us as soon as we arrived to Alpe di Siusi. We decided to retract and hope to come back next year and complete the hike.
Seceda is a truly unique mountain formation and without a doubt it was our favourite spot in the Dolomites and one of our favourite adventure so far. There are two ways to get to Seceda. You can either take a cable car up from Ortisei (36 EUR return pp). Or if you’re looking for a challenge, you can also hike for about 2-3 hours from the Praplan Parking lot although it is very steep.
Initially we were planning to save some $$ and hike, but after the experience of hiking with heavy backpacks in Seebensee in Austria, we decided to take the cable car.
We took the last ascent that day and spend the night up the 2519m in a tent. It’s an unforgettable experience and one of the best we’ve ever had.
Val di Funes
Val di Funes is most famous for its iconic church of St. John. This church is a photographer’s dream since it is set in an idyllic grassy meadow with an incredible backdrop of the Odle mountain range.
↬ Note : there is 4 EUR fee to visit the grounds, but you actually cannot enter it the church itself. You can just look through the windows and wander around it.
Santuario Madonna della Corona
This marvelous church lies outside of the Dolomites, but if you are continuing your road trip south, it’s a place you shouldn’t miss.
Built right into the side of Mount Baldo, the Santuario Madonna della Corona (Sanctuary of the Lady of the Crown) looks as though it is nearly suspended in mid-air. The church was built in 1530 and thanks to its relative inaccessibility the church survived nearly intact. It’s an impressive site to visit not only for worshipers.