A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Dolomites (Dolomiti) mountain range comprises almost 20 spectacular peaks topping 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) in the Alpine region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, which straddles the Italian-Austrian border. The scenery is staggering in both summer and winter, and includes the dramatic Tre Cime di Lavaredo pinnacles, the emerald-green Lake Misurina and Lake Santa Caterina, the elegant Cortina d'Ampezzo ski resort, and idyllic mountain villages such as Pieve di Cadore.
In addition to being one of the most popular ski destinations in Europe, the Dolomites are also known for summer activities such as mountain climbing, Alpine hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, and hang gliding. Visitors can join a small-group driving tour from Venice to explore the many gorgeous drives through the Dolomites without the stress of having to navigate the winding mountain roads. Upon arrival in the region, small-group and private walking and hiking tours are also excellent ways to explore in summer, with plenty of photo opportunities and a tour guide who can pick a trail suited to individual skill levels. Cable cars transport travelers up to the trailheads, ski slopes, and lodges year-round.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Many top trails in the Dolomites are for advanced hikers, though there are also easier routes. Wear clothing and footwear suitable for the weather, and bring water.
- For train buffs, the historic narrow-gauge Renon railway and the Brennero railway are considered the most scenic in Italy.
- To sample traditional cuisine, stop for a meal at a rifugio, or refuge mountain lodge.
How to Get There
Most visitors depart from Venice for a day trip or a longer stay in this part of the Italian Alps. The nearest airports are in Venice or Treviso, and there are airport shuttles directly to the ski resorts in winter. You can drive or take the train from Venice too.
When to Get There
The Dolomites are spectacular year-round. In winter, you can ski, snowshoe, or hike the winter trails. In summer, visitors hike, tour the countryside, and explore the area’s many villages.
The Multicultural Dolomites
The Dolomite mountains were part of Austria until after the World War I, and residents here still identify with Germanic history. In addition, the ancient Ladin people, who have their own separate culture and language, have been living among these mountains for centuries.