Looking for the best hikes in the Dolomites? Our hiker-inspired list will help you confidently plan your adventure-filled holidays in the Dolomites.
We know how hard it is to plan a trip to the Dolomites when every mountain and valley seems like a must-see. Especially if you only have 2-3 days to visit.
With 26 majestic ranges emblazoned by more than 3,600 trails, it’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed by the hiking possibilities. To help you, we went beyond our own experiences and surveyed the web analyzing the ratings and reviews of Dolomite hikes featured on the world’s leading travel sites.
The result? An in-depth overview of the top hikes in the Dolomites based on the experience of thousands of hikers — not just our opinion. In addition, we have also included helpful tips for creating a Dolomites itinerary that ensures your time in Italy is even more amazing.
#1 Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Located in the Tre Cime Natural Park in the Sexten Dolomites of South Tyrol, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (also known as Drei Zinnen and Three Peaks of Lavaredo) are the most famous trio of stone giants in the Dolomites. Their staggering immensity is hard to put into words. But to give you a striking perspective notice the tiny specks of hikers approaching the Three Peaks in the above photo. Such a sight makes it easy to understand why Tre Cime di Lavaredo tops the list of best hikes in the Dolomites.
The spear-like peaks, Cima Piccola, Cima Grande and Cima Ovest, pierce the sky at 9,373, 9,839 and 9,754 feet respectively. If they do not make your heart race upon first sight, check your pulse.
A mostly level hiking trail loops around the Three Peaks making these three amigos of the Dolomites incredibly popular with hikers of all ages and experience levels. The hike takes roughly four hours beginning from the parking lot near the Rifugio Auronzo mountain hut.
In addition to admiring the towering monoliths up close, you will also encounter military remnants from World War I including tunnels and trenches as the Front tore directly through here. For more about the war’s impact, see our award-winning story: Forest of the Fallen.
#2 Lago di Braies
It’s no surprise one of the most beautiful lakes in the world is among the best places in the Dolomites. A jewel of Italy, Lago di Braies (also known as Pragser Wildsee, Lake Braies and Lake Prags) attracts throngs of visitors from around the world each year.
Regardless of the season, the lake set against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains is a sight to behold. But to see it sparkle like a rare emerald, plan to visit between May and November.
A hiking trail encircles the lake beginning from Hotel Braies. It is an easy 2-hour hike that does not require any skill or feat of fitness.
But the trek may require you to dodge other hikers as this gem becomes incredibly busy. See our complete guide to hiking Lake Braies for details on how to enjoy the “Emerald of Italy” without the crowds.
Our personal favorite on this list, Seceda mountain (also known as the Seceda Ridgeline or Fermeda Towers) is an awe-inspiring spectacle soaring high above Val Gardena in the Puez-Odle Nature Park. Its ridgeline runs peacefully above an Alpine prairie before the saw-toothed peaks known as the Fermeda Towers cleave the heavens.
Seeing these serrated crags up close is a must for mountain lovers. In addition, the views of other famous South Tyrolean peaks from the seat of Seceda is astounding.
A series of lifts make reaching Seceda rather easy. The level of difficulty a hiker encounters depends on the route they choose to take down the mountain. Plan on 4-6 hours if you choose to wander from Seceda to the Twin Peaks of Pieralongia and beyond. You can find all the details and options in our hiking Seceda guide.
#4 Alpe di Siusi
We adore hiking Alpe di Siusi (also known as Seiser Alm). As Europe’s highest Alpine pasture, it unfurls jaw-dropping mountain vistas in the most dramatic way. The pasture land is a plateau rimmed by the most iconic peaks of the Dolomites – Schlern, Sassolungo and the Rosengarten.
Thanks to its many gently rolling hills, Alpe di Siusi is a walker’s paradise. Several hiking trails criss-cross the plateau making it one of the more popular day hikes in the Dolomites.
In addition, a network of mountain huts allows you to savor some of the best homemade meals in the region. Our favorite is the Malga Schgaguler Schwaige. This family-owned gem (pictured above) offers the best views of the Sassolungo Group. Plus, all of their food comes directly from their own farm.
Plan to spend a minimum of a half-day hiking. Our Alpe di Siusi hiking guide gives you step-by-step directions to this Alpine wonderland.
#5 Lago di Carezza
Another lake not to miss in the Dolomites is Lago di Carezza (also known as Karesee, Karer Lake or Lake Carezza). Even more magical than Lago di Braies (if you believe the legends), Lake Carezza shimmers beneath the Latemar mountain range of the Dolomites in Val d’ Ega. Less than 30 minutes from the charming city of Bolzano, it is a convenient hiking destination for anyone staying in the heart of South Tyrol.
Lago di Carezza is often referred to as the Fairytale Lake of the Dolomites. Its ever-changing rainbow of emerald colors inspired legends long ago of a wizard and nymph. You can attempt to spot both myths by hiking an evergreen-forested loop around the lake. It is only a 30-minute hike, but with plenty of opportunities to explore, a visit can easily turn into 2+ hours.
If you are in South Tyrol during the holidays, be sure to visit the Lago di Carezza Christmas Market as well. Set along the shoreline, the market brims with the cozy tidings of the season. And somehow the frozen lake still dances with a theater of icy hues.
While Lago di Braies tends to get much of the attention in the Dolomites, we prefer the pure stillness of Lago di Carezza and the Latemar mountains. If you like tranquil moments while hiking, you will find them here.
#6 Sassolungo & Sassopiatto
Sassolungo and Sassopiatto (also known as Langkofel and Plattkofel) are jagged behemoths making up the Langkofel group of the Dolomites. The sight of them from a distance is astounding. Up close it is jarring. In a way that enlivens all your senses.
From traversing the surreal “City of Stone” to taking in the undulating expanse of Alpe di Siusi from their mountainsides, hiking amid these imposing peaks should rank higher on this list in our opinion. For us, these giants encapsulate what we love about the Dolomites more than any other mountains in the world — the ability to experience their entirety from so many different vantage points.
A lengthy hiking trail of varying difficulty runs around Sassolungo and Sassopiatto. Trekking the Sassolungo circuit will take your breath away in more ways than one.
Fortunately, a handful of mountain huts dot the route allowing you ample opportunities to rest and recharge with food and drink. We suggest beginning the hike at the Passo Sella parking lot in Selva (Wolkenstein). The loop takes 7 hours to complete, but you do not have to trek the full circuit to experience this heavenly group of the Dolomites.
#7 Odle Group of Val di Funes
While researching hikes in the Dolomites, chances are you have come across the picturesque scene of the Church of St. Maddalena or the Chapel of St. Johann against the roaring backdrop of the Odle Group (also known as Geisler Group). These historic churches reside in Val di Funes (Villnöss) and are emblematic sights of South Tyrol.
In addition to visiting Val di Funes for such saintly views, you can embark on a hike that carries you directly to the foot of the mighty Odle peaks. The Adolf Munkel Trail is often touted as the most beautiful of the Dolomites’ hiking trails. Hard to argue with the claim once you see its storybook setting.
This 3 to 4-hour hike runs through sleepy pastureland and old-growth forests allowing you to experience the wide variety of landscapes and nature adorning the Dolomites. The trail is not difficult to traverse making it a popular choice for families.
You’ll find the trailhead for the Adolf Munkel Trail at the Zanser Alm parking lot, which is about 15-minutes past the tiny Chapel of St. Johann. See our guide to visiting Val di Funes for more about this enchanting valley.
#8 The Vajolet Towers
The Rosengarten Group (also known as Catinaccio) of the Dolomites seems to spike endlessly across the horizon allowing you to admire its peaks and spires from many points in South Tyrol including Bolzano. The range is at its most stunning during sunset when afire with a red glow.
This natural phenomenon known as alpenglow or “Enrosadira”, as it is beautifully referred to in Ladin (Ladin is an ancient language still spoken in the Dolomites), inspired a legend about a dwarf king and his rose garden hence the mountain group’s name. But if you really want to appreciate the grandeur of the Rosengarten, consider hiking to the group’s most famous summits: the Vajolet Towers (also known as Torri del Vajolet and the Violet Towers).
Another famous trio of the Dolomites, the Vajolet Towers thunder skyward in Val di Tiers — a valley of pure wild-hearted beauty. The three dolomitic towers, Delago, Stabeler and Winkler (named after the first climbers to conquer their summits), reign over a surreal, barren landscape. So barren in fact, you may even wonder if you wandered through a portal to Mars on the 5-7 hour circuit.
By all accounts, this is the most difficult hike on this list, which is why this corner of the Dolomites is less well known thus fewer tourists. The trek begins by taking a lift up from the Laurin Lift station in the village of Welschnofen (also known as Nova Levante) to the Rifugio Fronza (Rosengarten Hut).
How to Experience the Dolomites
The above hiking destinations are the most popular in the Dolomites for a reason. However, neither us nor anyone else can define what the best hikes in the Dolomites are for you. You have to find that out on your own.
When planning your hiking outings do not let the “fear of missing out” on a trail or sight muddle your time in the Dolomites. Cramming in destinations is a mistake. South Tyrol is a land of slow travel.
Beyond enjoying the breathtaking scenery, take the time to experience the enthralling culture of the region from its savory cuisine to its riveting history to its heart-warming traditions such as woodcarving.
If you’re like us, you may just find the best hike is each and every outing no matter where you roam.
What to Know Before Hiking in the Dolomites
Before planning your trip and embarking on hikes in the Dolomites you should know the following:
- As the “best” in the Dolomites, these hiking destinations can at times be bustling with other hikers especially during the peak season of summer. Consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. However, be sure to check the lift station operating schedules for any hikes requiring a cable car ride.
- Weather can be unpredictable and change quickly in the Dolomites. Make sure you sport proper clothing, footwear and gear before venturing into the mountains.
- Understand how to read the trail signs. Review the trail sign guide in our free South Tyrol Travel Resource Library to become comfortable with their instructions.
- Consider using South Tyrol’s affordable public transportation system to hike the Dolomites in the most environmentally-friendly way possible. Buses regularly bring hikers to these destinations.
- If you plan to rent a car during your trip, see our Driving in Italy guide to understand what is legally required and the rules of the road.
- While you may encounter English-speaking staff at the restaurants and resorts, it’s helpful and respectful to know some basic German or Italian. You can find guides to both languages in our South Tyrol Travel Resource Library mentioned above.
Creating Your Dolomites Itinerary
For every Dolomites itinerary, we recommend selecting one hiking destination per day. Each region of the Dolomites offers much more to see than these hiking routes.
In fact, consider purchasing the hiking guide: Dolomites and eastern South Tyrol. It covers step-by-step directions to lesser-known trails with equally grand scenery. This book is especially helpful if you are keen on avoiding crowds while hiking.
But if you’re set on embarking on as many of these outings as possible, here are the ones you can plan together as day hikes in the Dolomites:
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo & Lago di Braies – These two destinations are less than an hour apart by car.
- Lago di Carezza & Vajolet Towers – Since the hiking trail at Lago di Carezza is quite short you can also trek to the Vajolet Towers on the same day. The lift station is just 10 minutes from the lake.
- Seceda & Alpe di Siusi – The lifts to each destination are opposite of each other in the village of Ortisei. If you time the lifts wisely you can see the iconic sights of both.
Want help crafting your itinerary? Take advantage of our expertise with our South Tyrol Itinerary Review Service.
Where to Stay in the Dolomites
To get the most out of your holidays in the Dolomites, consider staying near the region where you will be hiking the most. From luxury resorts to mountain huts to farm stays for as little as 30-50 € per night, you will have no problem finding accommodations that fit your budget and desires. Here are recommendations for each area:
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo Accommodations
- Lago di Braies Accommodations
- Seceda Accommodations
- Alpe di Siusi Accommodations
- Lago di Carezza Accommodations
- Sassolungo & Sassopiatto Accommodations
- Vajolet Towers
If you would like a 5-star experience while in the Dolomites, check out our detailed reviews of Romantik Hotel Turm and Hotel Quelle Nature Spa Resort. Both resorts will dazzle with a host of Alpine wellness amenities and treatments that perfectly complement a long day of hiking.
Additional Tips for Your Holidays in the Dolomites
No doubt the Dolomites are a tremendous draw for South Tyrol. But the Dolomites make up only part of the region’s mountain story.
In addition to your hikes in the Dolomites, consider hiking in the Italian Alps to the west where you will encounter a wonderous collision of Mediterranean and Alpine mountainscapes. See our guide to visiting South Tyrol for more about what awaits you in Italy’s best-kept secret!
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