Exploring the Dolomites

Experience the Meaning of Epic





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How to Visit the Dolomites

The Italian Dolomites are a dream destination for nature lovers. Their labyrinth-like massifs crown an awe-inspiring stretch of northern Italy — covering more than 350,000 acres across multiple regions including South Tyrol. 

With 26 mountain ranges and 2,000+ peaks, the Dolomites offer an overwhelming amount of hiking and sightseeing opportunities. Such vast alpine grandeur means one thing: you need to have a travel plan before visiting the Dolomites.

Through this guide, we share options on how to develop the perfect Dolomites itinerary for your interests and fitness level. Whether you seek relaxing rambles or challenging treks, you’ll discover how to get the most out of your Dolomites adventure.

Before we dive into our travel planning approach, allow us to share a bit of history about the Dolomites if these mountains are a mystery to you.

About the Dolomites

The Dolomites, also called the Dolomite Mountains, Dolomite Alps and Dolomitic Alps, are like no other mountains on Earth. They boldy defy alpine norms appearing almost not of this world. To understand why, one must look to the ocean…albeit one that existed about 250 million years ago.

The Dolomites formed beneath a tropical sea during the Triassic period and emerged through a series of fascinating geological events. Over millennia, marine life remnants formed reefs and atolls on the seabed, which eventually solidified into rock during the Jurassic period. An onslaught of tectonic turmoil upheaved these seabed formations, creating mountains where a sea once stood.

This upheaval wasn’t the end but rather the beginning of a transformative journey. Over millions of more years, the newborn mountains underwent relentless sculpting by the forces of nature, carving out the dramatic, almost surreal landscapes of the Dolomites we see today.

dolomites history
dolomites history pale mountains

The Pale Mountains

It’s interesting to note that before the 19th century, the Dolomites were called the “Monti Pallidi” (Pale Mountains), a moniker as ghostly as the mountains themselves. However, in the late 1700s, a French geologist named Déodat de Dolomieu was the first scientist to explore the chain’s geologic secrets.

Through chemical reaction tests, Dolomieu discovered the mountain rock did not fizzle like limestone. He concluded the Pale Mountains must be of a unique mineral and published his observations in a well-respected French science journal.

His geologic discovery was later confirmed by Swiss chemist Nicolas-Théodore de Saussure in 1792, who named the new mineral “Dolomite” after Dolomieu — forever redefining the identity of these enigmatic wonders. The rare geology of the Dolomites earned them the esteemed status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

Initial Steps to Plan a Trip to the Dolomites

STEP 1: Choose the Right Time of Year to Visit

The Dolomites offer different experiences depending on the season. Summer is great for hiking, biking and sightseeing, while winter naturally caters to skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. Spring and fall can be quieter, less expensive and offer stunning natural beauty with fewer crowds. However, there are downsides to consider with each season.

STEP 2: Pick Your Must-See Destinations & Activities

Given the sheer magnitude of sights, trails, and cultural festivities available in the Dolomites, it’s imperative to select your top attractions based on your interests and fitness level. This requires a bit of homework that can be time-consuming and daunting but will pay off when in the region.

STEP 3: Select Your Base & Transportation Mode

With the Dolomites spanning such a massive geographic area, picking a strategic base or two is crucial to avoid time wasted between destinations. At the same time, you will also want to clearly understand your transportation options (including lift operating schedules) as this can impact where to select your ideal base.

How Throne & Vine Can Help Plan Your Trip

latemar dolomites vista

South Tyrol + Dolomites Travel Guide

Our South Tyrol + Dolomites Travel Guide simplifies your trip planning, providing everything you need for an unforgettable adventure. Inside, you’ll find insider tips to save money and fully experience the region. Available for immediate download, our guide is packaged in a user-friendly and accessible format, ready whenever you need it.


Trip Planning Services

We know how overwhelming it can be to plan a trip to the Dolomites. Whether you are grappling with the final touches of your itinerary or do not know quite where to begin, we can help. Our Trip Planning Services provide personalized guidance tailored to your interests, ensuring that every aspect of your trip is thoughtfully curated.


Articles + Advice

On Throne & Vine, you’ll find a mountain of articles and advice to help you plan your trip to the Dolomites. From step-by-step hiking guides to must-see historic sights and must-attend festivals, we share our in-depth knowledge and firsthand experiences. Below we’ve organized our articles by category for easy navigation. You’ll find sections on the best hikes in the Dolomites, finding accommodations, and more.

Explore Hikes in the Dolomites

Where to Stay in the Dolomites

The Dolomites boast an astounding array of accommodations to suit every budget and preference. Across each holiday region, you can choose from cozy farm stays, luxurious wellness resorts, and quaint rifugios nestled among the peaks. Whether you wish to experience the rustic simplicity of a mountain farm or the lavish charm of an alpine wellness resort, we’ve made it easy to find your dream escape! Simply tap the holiday region you would like to visit below to begin searching.

Val Pusteria Hotels


Alpe di Siusi Hotels


Val Gardena Hotels


Hotels in Valle Isarco


Eggental Hotels


Cortina d'Ampezzo Hotels


A view of Sasso della Ccroce in La Val, Alta Badia


Additional Things to do in the Dolomites

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