The Best Way to Discover This Beautiful Area of the Alps, One Day at a Time
The Italian Dolomites are known all over the world for their beauty, heritage and history. With their famous sheer rock faces and green pastures, cozy mountain huts and fine cuisine, they’re the perfect place for a summer mountain holiday (check out this beautiful video of the Dolomites!).
The Dolomites cover a wide area in the north-eastern part of Italy. It stretches over three different regions with strong local culture, language and varied landscape. It is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s no better way of discovering them than through day hikes. So here’s a list of my top favorites!
Adolf Munkel trail, Val di Funes, South Tyrol
Val di Funes (Funes valley, or Villnößtal in German) is located near the town of Bressanone (Brixen) in South Tyrol. It’s one of the Dolomites’ best kept secrets. This quiet valley is one of the very few that have kept their original charm. With no cable cars or ski resorts, is a haven for anybody who wants to experience a true alpine spirit. At the foot of the Odle mountain group is a 13km long path called the Adolf Munkel trail. This trail crosses green pastures and passes by a number of mountain huts and farms, the perfect stop for a slice of local apple strudel. This trail is a must! And the perfect introduction to one of the most scenic valleys in the Dolomites.
Sennes plateau, South Tyrol
The Sennes plateau, included in the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Natural Park, is a stunning place and another great introduction to the Dolomites. It’s accessible both from the north, via Lago di Braies and through Forcella Sora Forno (Sora Forno pass). However, it is more easily accessible from the south, with a number of paths starting at the end of the Rudlo valley. The plateau is a combination of green alpine pastures dotted with flowers and cows grazing freely over the summer and limestone outcrops shaped and carved by the elements. There are various huts on the plateau, offering great accommodation and a taste of the local cuisine.
Rifugio Coldai and Rifugio Tissi, Monte Civetta, Veneto
Civetta is one of the most iconic mountains in the Dolomites, if not the world. This is due to its impressive west face, soaked with mountaineering history. The easiest access to this beautiful mountain is from Palafavera, at the top of the Zoldo valley. An optional cable car ride followed by a short but steep path takes us to Rifugio Coldai. This is a great coffee stop with amazing views over the valley below. From here the path continues past a lovely mountain lake and over a pass, and then, with a few more hundred meters of ascent, to Rifugio Attilio Tissi. This is absolutely the best spot to admire the impressive west face of Civetta! Especially on a clear summer evening, when the sunset will burn the rock face up with a mix of reds, yellows and purples.
Nuvolau Group and Cinque Torri, Veneto
This area of the Dolomites is rich WWI history, having been one of the main stages of battle between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian empire, it’s full of tunnels, trenches and old buildings, used by the soldiers who fought in this area. On the south side of passo Falzarego is the Nuvolau group, characterized by impressive rock pinnacles, amongst which are the famous Cinque Torri (five towers) and the summit of Nuvolau itself. A walk through history and one of the most beautiful areas, with great views on pretty much every mountain group in the Dolomites. Getting lost through the maze of paths here is absolutely a must for every hiker who visits these mountains.
Tre cime di Lavaredo, South Tyrol
Last but not least, probably the most iconic mountains in the whole of the Dolomites: Tre Cime di Lavaredo, or Drei Zinnen in German. These three limestone giants, one beside each other, are probably the most photographed view in this area, and with reason. They can be accessed from Rifugio Auronzo on the south side. Here, a circular path starts and takes you all around these rock formations. This gives you a chance to admire each and every corner. A couple of huts along the way offer rest breaks and refreshments. This area is best visited in the quiet season. But, no matter the time of year, it is definitely a stop to add on your itinerary in the Dolomites.
Get Out There & Explore
Here’s a few ideas for whoever would like to visit the Dolomites. There are so many amazing things to see and explore, from self-guided trips to guided tours. The options for day hikes are endless and, be it a mountain hut or a summit, there’s something for everybody. So let’s get out there, and explore the Dolomites!