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Dolomites Itinerary Ideas (+ Tips for Planning Your Trip)

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Dolomites Itinerary Ideas (+ Tips for Planning Your Trip)

The Italian Dolomites is one of the most beautiful mountain regions in the world. So if you are planning a trip to Italy in the summer, we highly recommend including the Dolomites in your itinerary. Even if you have just one day, it’s worth it! But there’s so much to see and do in the Dolomites that you could easily spend weeks and even months here and still not see it all…

In this article, we share our best suggestions for Dolomites itinerary, for any (road) trip duration from 1 day to 10 days or even more. So no matter how much time you have, you can see some of the very best places and make the most of your trip.

Good to know: We visited the Dolomites in Italy several times and spent several longer vacations here hiking some of the best trails in the Dolomites, exploring the most beautiful lakes, and visiting many places in the region. For these itinerary suggestions, we selected only the top places that we think are worth your time the most if visiting Dolomites for the first time.

And while some of the best places in the Dolomites require hiking, you can also see a lot even if you do not hike. So for each of the shorter trips, we share several options, one of them with tips for those who don’t hike much and simply want to see the nicest scenery. Find out!

Dolomites Itinerary – OVERVIEW

   

One Day in the Dolomites

If you only have one day in the Dolomites, your itinerary will highly depend on where you are traveling from and whether you have a car or not.

If you don’t have a car, by far the best way to visit the Dolomites for a day is by taking an organized day tour. There are tours from Lake Garda, Venice, or Bolzano and they’ll bring you to some of the nicest places that are feasible as a day trip from these areas. There are tours that run during any time of the year, with some special winter itineraries as well. So if you only have a day and don’t feel like driving or planning much, you can still visit this beautiful region.

If you have a car, a lot will also depend on where you are coming from, so you will have to adjust your 1-day itinerary based on that. Below are some suggestions on how to spend one day in the Dolomites. We selected the VERY BEST places that you can see in a day and linked to more detailed guides for more information. Take a look at our self-drive itinerary suggestions below. We included two options: one without much hiking and one for those who want to do one of the best hikes in the Dolomites.

 

OPTION 1

This 1-day itinerary brings you to some of the must-see places in the Dolomites. You won’t have much time to explore deeper, but you’ll see some of the best scenery in the shortest time possible. If you can walk for about 30-60 minutes, you can see some jaw-dropping scenery at Tre Cime. You can also start this itinerary at any other location and just make a loop.

  • Val Gardena.
  • Gardena Pass.
  • Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee).
  • Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See).
  • Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
  • Lake Misurina.

Start in Val Gardena and drive through Gardena mountain pass to Lago di Braies (2 hours drive). Visit Lago di Braies/ Pragser Wildsee (count at least 30 minutes for a quick visit). Try to be here before 10 AM (ideally before 9 AM) because in high season, they close the road and you have to take a shuttle if you come here during the day. Continue in the direction of Misurina and stop at Lago di Dobbiaco.

In the afternoon (and only if the weather is good and there are no thunderstorms), visit Tre Cime di Lavaredo. With one day in the Dolomites, don’t plan on doing the entire hike here, but you can hike the first part to Forcella Lavaredo (about 30 minutes one way and the first part is very easy). The views are amazing and well worth the 30 EUR fee in order to drive up here! Afterwards, take a quick photo stop at Lake Misurina and continue your trip.

If you are driving back to the Val Gardena area, you can take the mountain roads via Cortina d’Ampezzo and Falzarego Pass – this will take you at least 2 hours without any stops. If you take the road via Passo Pardoi, be prepared for some serious hairpin turning and count at least 3 hours. Alternatively, stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo – depending on where your trip takes you next.

Boats at Lago di Braies
Lago di Braies is not to be missed in any Dolomites itinerary
 

OPTION 2

This itinerary is for those who want to do one of the iconic hikes in the Dolomites and see a few of the best lakes.

  • Hike to Lago di Sorapis OR Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop.
  • Lake Misurina.
  • Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See).
  • Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee).

Start in the Cortina d’Ampezzo or Lake Misurina area and choose one of the most beautiful hikes in the Dolomites – Lake Sorapis hike or Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop trail. Both these hikes are very popular and either one of them will take you about 4-5 hours in total. Ideally, you start as early in the morning as possible, so that you can beat the crowds and avoid parking issues.

Afterwards, visit Lake Misurina and continue in the direction of Lake Braies. On the way there, you can stop at Lago di Landro (Dürrensee) and/or at Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See). These are both just short photo stops that don’t require much time.

End your day at Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee). Try to arrive here after 3-4 PM so that you can avoid having to take a shuttle and drive all the way to the lake. It’s very busy at this lake during the day but very quiet and magical in the evening. If you still have some time and energy, you can walk around the lake or rent a rowing boat and enjoy the scenery from the water.

Lago di Sorapis in the Italian Dolomites
Lago di Sorapis is one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Europe!
 

Two Days Dolomites Itinerary

If you have two days in the Dolomites, we highly recommend that you rent a car and make a mini road trip.

If you don’t have a car, make your way to a bigger town like Cortina d’Ampezzo (there are buses to Cortina from Venice). From her – in high season – you can take buses to some of the nearby areas like the earlier mentioned Tre Cime or Lake Sorapis, or to Passo Falzarego and Cinque Torri. You really can’t go wrong with any of these places.

If you do have a car, you could split your visit between two different areas, so that you spend less time driving and more sightseeing. Or you could still stay in just one area and explore deeper. There are so many ways to plan a 2-day Dolomites road trip itinerary! Once again, we focus on some of the very best places and give you two options (one for hikers and one non-hikers) of how you could plan your time. Take a look!

OPTION 1

This itinerary is for those who hike and want to get the absolute most out of their two days in the Dolomites.

Day 1 – Cortina d’Ampezzo area

This itinerary is pretty much the same as ‘option 2’ in the 1-day itinerary. So please see above for more details. We recommend that you end your day in Val Gardena – that way, you can make the most of your second day as well. There are many hotels in Val Gardena, but for this itinerary, it’s probably best if you stay in Ortisei.

Kids hiking at Tre Cime in the Dolomites Italy
Hiking at Tre Cime – the scenery is AMAZING during the entire hike here!
 

Day 2 – Val Gardena & Val di Funes

In the morning, take a cable car from Ortisei to Seceda and make a short hike there. You can find more info about this hike in our Dolomites hiking guide (see Seceda – Pieralongia). Afterwards, return to your car and drive to St. Magdalena in Val Funes (Villnöß). It’s about 40 minutes drive but can take longer if the traffic is busy.

In St. Magdalena, drive or walk up to the church and from there, follow the road even higher for stunning views of St. Magdalena church with Dolomites mountain peaks in the background. This is the most photographed view in the Dolomites!

If the weather is good and you are up for a nice hike of about 3 hours, consider hiking the Adolf Munkel Trail to Geisler Alm. Geisler Alm is a very picturesque mountain hut with great local food, a nice outdoor seating area, a playground for the kids, and the most amazing views. If a longer hike is too much for you, there’s a short trail that leads from the car parking at the parking area in Zans straight to Geisler Alm. You can find more info about these places in our Dolomites hiking guide that I linked to above – see Adolf Munkel Trail.

Geisler Alm in Val di Funes in the Dolomites Italy
Geisler Alm in Val di Funes
 

OPTION 2

This itinerary is for those who want to drive around, enjoy the scenery, see some WWI sites, but rather not hike too much.

Day 1 – Val Gardena to Cortina d’Ampezzo

This itinerary is pretty much the same as ‘option 1’ in the 1-day itinerary – see above for more details. We recommend that you end your day in Cortina d’Ampezzo. It’s a popular mountain resort with a cozy town center where you can also find a nice restaurant for dinner.

If you would make this trip starting in Cortina, then do it in the opposite direction (starting with Misurina – Tre Cime) and maybe skip driving to Val Gardena altogether. Driving in the Dolomites always takes longer than you estimate, and some roads are not for the faint-hearted.

Hiking around Lago di Braies in the Dolomites Italy
Hiking around Lago di Braies takes about 1 hour, so it’s doable even if you are short on time. On the other hand, it’s not a must if you are in a hurry…
 

Day 2 – Cinque Torri & Mount Lagazuoi

  • Cinque Torri
  • Passo Falzarego – Mount Lagazuoi

In the morning, leave Cortina d’Ampezzo in the direction of Falzarego Pass. It’s just a short ride of less than 20km, and takes about half an hour. There are two main places we recommend visiting here and since they are so close to each other, you can choose where you want to start first.

The first stop is Cinque Torri, where you can take a cable car to the top, so no hiking required. Cinque Torri (aka the Five Towers) is a beautiful area with some amazing mountain scenery and a WWI museum. There are many hiking trails here, but even if you don’t want to hike, you can just walk around this open-air museum. It’s a really interesting place to see and the scenery is some of the best in the Dolomites. Pictures don’t do justice to how beautiful it is here. Well worth it! Here you can read more about visiting Cinque Torri and the easiest nice hike you can do there.

Afterwards, head to Falzarego Pass, just a bit further. Here, you can also take a cable car and visit another beautiful area with WWI history – Lagazuoi mountain. Also here, there are lots of hiking trails, including hiking via some of the WWI tunnels. But you can simply walk around a bit, enjoy the jaw-dropping views, and take the gondola back down the mountain.

Depending on whether you hike at all, a little bit, or not at all, a visit to these two places can take you a good part of the day or just 3-4 hours. If you have some time left, you can visit the nearby Forte Tre Sassi Museum and/or take an easy short hike to a nearby mountain lake, Lago di Limides.

The rest of your itinerary depends on where you are staying. The easiest and the most relaxing option is to stay in Cortina, just as the previous night.

Itinerary for visiting Dolomites in the summer
Dolomites scenery as seen from the Cinque Torri hiking area
 

3 Days in the Dolomites

If you are planning to spend more time in the Dolomites, we assume that you’ll want to do at least some hiking. So all our longer itineraries include some hiking suggestions. Use these just as an indication of what can be done, and what’s worth your time the most.

Here’s how your three-day Dolomites itinerary could look like:

Day 1 – Tre Cime

  • Hike Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop.
  • Lago d’Antorno.
  • Lake Misurina.
  • Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Start your day as early as possible to beat the crowds and do the iconic Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike. This is the only major activity today, so take your time to really enjoy this beautiful area. See our detailed guide via the link above for all the details.

In the afternoon, stop at Lago d’Antorno and Lago di Misurina – both just a short drive down from Tre Cime. You don’t need much time for any of these lakes, so it can be just a quick photo stop. But if you still have some energy, you can do some short walks. At Lake Misurina, you can also rent pedal boats, get some ice cream, etc.

End your day with a relaxing walk and dinner in Cortina d’Ampezzo. There are lots of accommodations in Cortina, so this is a good place to stay the night as well.

Tre Cime is a must in any Dolomites itinerary
Tre Cime – the most iconic mountain peaks in the Dolomites
 

Day 2 – Most Beautiful Lakes

  • Lago Sorapis hike.
  • Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See).
  • Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee).
  • Gardena Pass.
  • Val Gardena.

Also on this day, start as early as you can and head to Passo Tre Croci for the Lake Sorapis hike. Parking here is very limited, so if you want to start close to the trailhead, try to be here at around 8 AM at the latest. The good news is that you’ll still have a lot of time left for other places after this hike.

In the afternoon, drive to Lake Braies (Pragser Wildsee). On the way there, you can also stop at Lake Dobbiaco where you can also have (late) lunch if you didn’t have the chance for it earlier.

If you are visiting in the high season (beginning of July to mid-September), the road to Lake Braies is usually closed to private vehicles until 3 PM, so it’s anyway better to visit Lake Dobbiaco instead of rushing straight here. If you get to the lake too early, you’ll have to take a shuttle. If you come after 3 PM, you should still have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery at Lake Braies and then drive to Val Gardena via the Gardena Pass towards the evening. However, please check the most up-to-date info for the Lake Braies shuttle, to be sure that the hours are still correct.

Afterwards, drive to Passo Gardena and from there to one of the Val Gardena villages for the night. If you are too tired, you can also take the main roads and highway A22 to get there quicker. The distance between Lake Braies and Ortisei is about 90 km no matter which road you take, but the drive via Gardena Pass will likely take at least 20-30 minutes longer. However, this road is incomparably nicer too and the pass isn’t very challenging, so I recommend avoiding the bigger roads. You’re here to enjoy the scenery, after all.

There are many hotels in Val Gardena. Selva town is a nice place to stay with lots of hotels and nice restaurants, or you can also stay in Ortisei which is where you’ll go first thing the next morning.

Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See) in the Italian Dolomites
Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See)
 

Day 3 – Val Gardena & Val di Funes

For more details, see day 2 in ‘option 1’ in the two-day itinerary above. If you want to start your day very early, you could also head to Val di Funes first and visit St Magdalena church and do the Adolf Munkel hike first before returning to Val Gardena and visiting the Seceda area.

In that case, keep in mind that you have to take a cable car for Seceda – Prolongia, so be sure to get there no later than 1 PM to still be able to enjoy it and do some hiking at the top.

Seceda Pieralongia mountain scenery in Val Gardena Italy
Seceda Pieralongia mountain scenery in Val Gardena
 

4 Days Dolomites Itinerary

If you have 4 days in the Dolomites, we suggest following the 3-day itinerary above and staying in Val Gardena an extra night. So the first three days would be the same (see above for more details), and on the 4th day, you could choose to do more hiking or visit Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Dolomites. See our suggestions below.

Here’s how your Dolomites itinerary for fours days could look like:

Day 1 – Tre Cime Loop

Day 2 – Lake Sorapis, Lake Braies, and more

Day 3 – Val Gardena & Val di Funes

St Magdalena church in the Dolomites Italy
St Magdalena church in the Dolomites. This is the most photographed view in the region.
 

Day 4 – Val Gardena, Passo Pordoi, or Marmolada

On this day, you have a choice to do some more hiking or visit the highest peak of the Dolomites. Below are three different options on how you could spend this day:

1. If you are looking for a nice full-day hike, check out the Selva – Rifugio Puez hike. It’s a bit challenging and long, but the scenery at the beginning and at the end of the hike makes it worth it.

2. Another – very popular – option is to take a cable car from Passo Pordoi to Terrazza Delle Dolomiti, and hike to Piz Boè mountain peak from there. Only do this on a clear day when the weather is good and be sure to get to Passo Pordoi very early to avoid parking issues.

3. The third option – ideal for those who don’t want to hike much – is to visit Marmolada, aka the Queen of the Dolomites. This is also best done on a clear day as you’ll be high above the clouds and won’t see much otherwise. Marmolada also has a WWI museum and it’s a good place to get to know the history of the region a bit better.

The drive from Val Gardena to Malga Ciapela (where you can take the cable car to Marmolada) is just 40 km, but count at least an hour for it without any stops. The roads are crazy here! On the way, you’ll pass Passo Sella and Canazei town – both could be nice stops in addition to Marmolada. But I suggest going to Marmolada first and then you can decide afterwards where you want to stop on your way back, depending on how much time you have.

If you feel like taking another detour, you could also visit Lago di Carezza on your way back. Stay in Val Gardena – same accommodation as on the previous night.

Mountain views at Rifugio Puez hike in Val Gardena Dolomites
Mountain views at Rifugio Puez hike in Val Gardena
 

5 Days in the Dolomites

If you have five days in the Dolomites, you could simply follow our 4-day itinerary above and choose two of the three recommended options on days 4 and 5. Alternatively, add a day in the Cortina d’Ampezzo region (day 2 in the itinerary below). Here’s how this road trip itinerary could look like:

Day 1 – Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Day 2 – Cinque Torri & Mount Lagazuoi

  • Cinque Torri.
  • Passo Falzarego – Mount Lagazuoi.
  • Stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

You can see more details of this itinerary under ‘option 2’ in the 2-days Dolomites itinerary above.

Rifugio Lagazuoi Dolomites Italy
Rifugio Lagazuoi at Passo Falzarego
 

Day 3

Day 4 – Val Gardena & Val di Funes

Day 5 – Val Gardena, Passo Pordoi, or Marmolada

See ‘day 4’ in the four days itinerary above.

Cable car and mountain scenery at Marmolada in the Dolomites
Mountain scenery at one of the gondola stations on the way to the top of Marmolada
 

6-10 Days in the Dolomites (or more)

If you have 6-10 days in the Dolomites or more, I recommend staying in the Cortina d’Ampezzo area and in the Val Gardena area for 3-5 days each and exploring some of the best places in those areas without having to drive too much.

Below, are some of the best places to see and things to do in each area, and you can easily plan your time around this. Or you can see our more detailed itineraries above for how you could plan each day.

Cortina d’Ampezzo area

  • Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike and Lake Misurina.
  • Lago di Sorapis.
  • Cinque Torri.
  • Passo Falzarego, Mt Lagazuoi and Lake Limides.
  • Hike from Passo Giau to Lake Federa.
  • Pragser Wildsee (Lake Braies) and Toblacher See (Lake Dobbiaco).
  • Cable cars in Cortina d’Ampezzo town.
  • Adventure parks, swimming pools, etc.

With 3-4 days in Cortina, you could visit most of these places, but you’ll likely need at least 5-6 days if you want to do all these hikes. You can read more about all these places in our guide of the best places to see in the Dolomites and the best lakes in the Dolomites.

Lake Misurina in the Dolomites Italy
Lake Misurina is one of the nicest lakes and also easy to visit since it’s just next to the road on your way to/from Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Dolomites mountain scenery at Cinque Torri
Dolomites mountain scenery at Cinque Torri
 

Val Gardena area

  • Passo Gardena.
  • Seceda – Pieralongia hike.
  • St. Magdalena church in Val di Funes (the most iconic view of the Dolomites).
  • Adolf Munkel Trail and/or Geisler Alm.
  • Passo Pordoi.
  • Passo Sella.
  • Lago di Carezza.
  • Marmolada.
  • Rifugio Puez hike.

With 3-4 days in Val Gardena, you could visit a few of these places, but if you also plan to do some hiking, you can easily spend a week here and still not see it all. You can find more info about all these places here: Dolomites best places.

Scenery near Selva di Val Gardena
Scenery near Selva di Val Gardena
Pieralongia in Val Gardena Dolomites Italy
Pieralongia in Val Gardena
Forcella Cier in Val Gardena Italy
Hiking near Forcella Cier in Val Gardena
 

Tips for planning your Dolomites trip

Visit in summer. Even though it’s the peak season and it will be busy, summer months are by far the best time to explore the Dolomites to the fullest. If you want to avoid the crowds and still want to be able to do all the hikes, visit in September. At the beginning of June, some of the highest places will usually still have some snow.

Rent a car. If you want to really make the most of your Dolomites trip, be sure to rent a car. Car hire in Italy isn’t expensive and it will give you so much more flexibility! If you don’t have a car, take a bus to Cortina d’Ampezzo or one of the Val Gardena towns and stay there. There’s a lot to see/do in these regions and you should be able to see some of the best places by using public transport.

Plan longer hikes in the morning. Afternoon storms are common in the Dolomites, so plan all your longer hikes as early in the morning as you can. Also, some hikes are so popular that it will be difficult to find a parking spot if you arrive after 9 AM. If the weather is really nice, you can often also do some hiking in the afternoon, so keep an eye on the weather forecast when you are there and see how you can make the best of it. Also, don’t plan two long hikes on the same day, unless the weather is exceptionally good and you are very fit.

Hiking shoes with Dolomites mountains background
Sometimes, you just have to take its slower and enjoy the scenery around you 🙂
 

Be flexible. The weather in the mountains is often unpredictable, so try to foresee in advance how you’ll adjust your itinerary if it’s raining or if there’s a big chance of thunderstorms. Also, don’t look at the weather forecast a week in advance; sometimes, it will not even be accurate a day or two in advance. Often, rain is very local too, so if you can’t visit one area, you can usually find plenty of alternatives nearby. In the morning, be sure to check the weather for the exact location you are planning to visit that day and adjust your plans if needed.

Every time we visited the Dolomites, the weather forecast showed rain for almost every day. But it’s only twice that we had to leave the mountains completely in order to find the sunshine. Once, we took a day trip to Venice by car (from the Cortina area), and once we visited Bolzano and Merano for a day (from the Val Gardena area). We also had to cut our hike at Tre Cime short once because of a thunderstorm.

Travel slower. If you can, plan to spend more time in the Dolomites so that you can truly explore the region a bit deeper. Having more time also allows you to easier adjust your travel plans to the weather if need be. Also, you’ll enjoy your trip more if you take your time to really look around, stop for some apple strudel at a mountain hut when you are hiking, rent a boat at one of the lakes, and enjoy some amazing Italian food at local restaurants in the evening.

Family rowing a boat on Pragser Wildsee in the Dolomites Italy
Rowing a boat on Pragser Wildsee (Lake Braies) is one of those experiences that made our visit so much more memorable. Kids loved it too!
 

Stay at two different sides of the region if you want to avoid driving. No matter how long your trip is, if you want to see a lot without spending hours and hours in the car, it’s easier to do this if you don’t have to get back to the same place every time.

We recommend staying in Val Gardena as a good base for the western side of the Dolomites and Cortina d’Ampezzo for the eastern side. Here you can find our guide on where to stay in Val Gardena, and here you can see the best deals for Cortina accommodation.

Avoid the smallest roads around Passo Pordoi, Passo Falzarego, or Marmolada if you are just passing by. The roads and the mountain passes in some parts of the Dolomites region are really narrow and winding, with countless hairpin turns, so you really can’t drive fast. If you are planning to travel through the heart of the Dolomites region – especially the areas mentioned above – be prepared for average speeds of maximum 30-40 km/h. So only come here if you are actually visiting these places, and take bigger roads if you just need to get from one side of the region to another.

Dolomites mountain road with a narrow tunnel near Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy
Driving in the Dolomites is very scenic, but you really can’t drive fast
 

More tips for your trip to Italy:

READ ALSO: Best Places to Visit in Italy

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How to plan a trip to the Dolomites Italy
Italian Dolomites itinerary suggestions for any trip
 
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