The Dolomites, chock full of astonishing hiking trails and epic viewpoints, quickly became one of our favourite places in all of Europe. Located 2 hours north of Venice, you are not going to want to miss this little slice of mountain paradise in italy.
Featuring grand landscapes and endless outdoor adventure, every inch of this place was authentic and scenic. There are dozens of excellent hikes in the Dolomites, but these 8 stood out to us as extraordinary.
The Dolomites have a very different vibe from the rest of Italy. It almost feels like you’re travelling through small villages in the Swiss Alps. The locals are wonderfully friendly and the scenery is absolutely exquisite.
How to get to the Dolomites:
The easiest way to get to the Dolomites is to fly into Venice and rent a car. From the airport, it will be around 2.5 hour’s drive. We booked our car 2 months in advance and it was very reasonably priced. We paid around 500 Euros for 11 days.
It is possible to take public transit to the Dolomites, however, we would not recommend it. Trust us on this one, having a car will make your life so much easier. It will save you time and allow you to get everywhere you want to go easier and more efficiently.
Now, let’s get into the good stuff. Here are 8 hikes in the Dolomites that are guaranteed to blow your mind!
These hikes are in no particular order and they all offer distinctive views. If you have time, we would highly recommend trying them all.
Lago di Sorapis
11.6 kilometres & 460 m elevation
Lago di Sorapis was one of our favourite hikes in the Dolomites because of the bright blue lake at the top. There are a few different trails you can take, but we would recommend trail 215.
We did not take this trail and ended up gaining about 650 meters of elevation over 1.5 kilometres. Note to self… avoid trail 216! According to friends, trail 215 is steep in parts but overall much more manageable.
The trailhead is located HERE, just down the street from B&B Hotel Passo Tre Croci Cortina. There is parking available on the side of the road, at the B&B, or in a gravel lot just west of the trailhead.
Once you reach the top, there is plenty of space to spread out, find a place to sit and eat your lunch. You can also choose to hike around the lake which will add just over a kilometre to your journey.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo
10 kilometres & 500 m elevation gain
Known for its one-of-a-kind geography, fantastic mountain huts, and jaw-dropping scenery, Tre Cime di Lavaredo is one of the most famous areas in northern Italy. The 10-kilometre trail does a complete 360-degree loop around three striking mountains. This allows hikers to admire Tre Cime from a variety of different angles.
We hiked the trail counterclockwise which seemed to be the typical flow of traffic. The first few kilometres were the busiest. While the views here were nice, they got much better around the backside.
The second half of the hike was our favourite part, offering quieter trails and better views of Tre Cime. Near the end of the loop, there are a few small lakes that make for great reflection photos on a calm day. They are known as the Sorgenti Fiume Rienza AKA the springs of the Rienza River.
If you are lucky enough to be here at sunset, the entire south side of Tre Cime di Lavaredo is said to light up in mesmerizing shades of orange and crimson red.
Cadini di Misurina
3.2 kilometres & 235 m elevation gain
While Tre Cime is stunning, there is another viewpoint in the area that is, in our opinion, even more impressive. Many people arrive here and don’t even realize that Cadini di Misurina is accessible from the same parking lot.
Because of the toll road and the long drive, we highly recommend doing both hikes on the same day. This will save a ton of precious time and money.
The unique thing about Cadini di Misurina is the trail that leads out onto a narrow strip of rocks. Once you arrive, you are rewarded with one of the most exquisite mountain views of all time. Seriously.
If you are lucky enough to be the first ones here, as we were, take advantage of it! I promise it will not last long. We had about 15 minutes of pure bliss before a line began forming behind us.
Tip for photographers: bring a zoom lens and a drone if you’ve got one!
Col de la Puina
7.1 kilometres & 565 m of elevation
Col de la Puina is one of the lesser-known hikes in the Dolomites but we have no idea why! It gave us mad Cadini di Misurina vibes and we didn’t pass anyone on the trail. It starts off gradually along a dirt road from the parking lot, Parcheggio Rifugio Città di Fiume.
The last half of the hike is a bit gruelling with a steady incline to the top. Once you reach the ridge, however, all of your efforts are rewarded with panoramic views and peaceful seclusion.
We began this hike around 3 PM and stayed at the top for sunset which we would highly recommend. We could have stayed here for hours, it’s just that gorgeous.
This was one of our all-time favourite hikes in the Dolomites so don’t miss it! Make sure you walk to both sides of the ridge as they offer different views and photo ops.
1.5 – 17.8 kilometres & 100 – 1,275 m of elevation
This dramatic ridge is easily accessible with a ton of space to spread out once you reach the top. The sunset here is especially delightful, but you will have great views at any time of the day.
The easiest and fastest way to get to Seceda Ridge is to take the Ortisei-Furnes-Seceda Gondola from Ortisei in Val Gardena. A ticket for this gondola will cost €27.50 one-way or €38 roundtrip per person (2023). From the top station, it’s only about a 10-minute walk to the ridgeline.
From here you can follow different trails as you admire the jagged rock formations in front of you. There is even a restaurant and a playground at the top.
If you choose to forgo the cable car, it will be 8.4 kilometres each way with a whopping 1,275 meters of elevation gain. Because the cable car is only open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, some travellers buy a one-way ticket to the top, stay for sunset, and then hike down. Make sure to bring a headlamp and hiking poles if you choose this option!
7.5 kilometres & 400 m of elevation
Located in Val di Funes, Giesler Alm is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Dolomites. This mountain hut (AKA Rifugio) is located in an alpine meadow, serving food and drinks from 10 AM to 5 PM.
Make sure to explore the meadows around the Rifugio as they offer some of the most iconic views in the Dolomites. There is also a large outdoor area with lounge chairs and a patio where you can order a drink and enjoy the scenery.
To get here, we parked at the Zanser Alm parking lot (AKA Parkplatz Zanser Alm or Parcheggio Malga Zannes) for a small fee. You can find restaurants, maps, and washrooms near the trailhead but cell service is very limited.
There are a few different options for this hike. We chose the most direct out-and-back route (trail 36) as we were short on time. If you would like a bit more exercise, you can turn it into a loop on the Adolf Munkel Trail. This increases your distance to 9.2 kilometres with 440 metres of elevation gain.
8.4 kilometres & 500 m of elevation
This was one of our first hikes in the Dolomites and remains one of our top recommendations! Lago Federa is a vibrant alpine lake surrounded by jagged peaks and lush forests. The lake is part of a popular hiking circuit called The Croda da Lago Circuit.
We hiked this as an out and back because we were short on time, but if you would like to complete the entire circuit it will be 12.9 kilometres and 900 metres of elevation gain. Either way, park HERE and follow trail 434.
The majority of this hike is through a pine forest. You will cross several bridges and endure a few sets of steep switchbacks. About 3 kilometres in there is a short detour to the left which brings you to a picturesque viewpoint over Cortina d’Ampezzo.
This is followed by one last grind of steep switchbacks and a short downhill walk to the lake. There is a trail around the perimeter of Lago Federa which offers a plethora of fantastic viewpoints. On the shore, you can grab something to eat, drink, or even stay the night at Rifugio Croda da Lago.
Alpe di Siusi
Alpe di Siusi (AKA Seisler Alm) is the largest high-altitude alpine meadow in Europe and one of the top hikes in the Dolomites. Well, it’s more of a walk than a hike, but hear us out. The rolling hills, vibrant wildflowers, and winding roads are picturesque and charming.
Getting here can be a challenge, but I promise it’s worth the extra effort. The first method is to stay at one of the hotels in the area. If you are a hotel guest, you will be allowed to drive all the way to Alpe di Siusi at any time of day and explore at your leisure.
*If we were to do this again, this is the option we would choose. Make sure to book your hotel in advance as they fill up fast!*
If you are not staying here, it becomes a bit more difficult. As a day visitor, you are not actually allowed to drive the road that takes you to Alpe di Siusi. We would recommend driving to a town called Compaccio (AKA Compatsch) and parking HERE. It costs €19 which is steep, but options are limited.
From there you can hike along the restricted road toward Alpe di Siusi. It is only about an hour and the views are spectacular the entire way! The road to Compaccio is closed to incoming traffic from 9-5 daily, so if you plan to drive you NEED to get there before 9 AM. You can drive out at any time.
Upon arrival, there are several restaurants where you can enjoy a well-deserved coffee and breakfast. If you would like to visit after the road closes at 9 AM, you will need to take public transit or a gondola.