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The Dolomites are a stunning alpine mountain range that stretches across Italy’s northern provinces of the provinces of Belluno, Trentino, and South Tyrol offers pristine landscapes with dense forest, cascading waterfalls, and glistening lakes. While the winter transforms this top nature attraction in Italy into a snowy wonderland with powdery runs for skiing, the warmer months are ideal for hiking scenic trails.
No matter when you’re planning to visit, while the area may look small, the winding roads and narrow passes mean driving will take more time than you’d probably expect which means it’s important to carefully choose where to stay. These are the top areas and we’ll provide you with the best hotel options too.
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Val Gardena is one of the top spots for visitors to the Dolomites. An incredibly scenic valley with mountain views to die for, the opportunities for outdoor adventure are practically endless. It’s home to the villages of St. Cristina, Selva, and Ortisei, the main town. From here you can ride the gondola straight up the Seceda ridgeline and the Alpe di Siusi meadow. This area is also ideal for those without a car as every accommodation here will give you a Val Gardena Mobil Card for free transport throughout the region and nearby places like Alta Badia and Bolzano. Plus, there are many museums and galleries dedicated to exhibiting the area’s most treasured works and first-class eateries run by some of the world’s best chefs.
Situated in the southern part of the Val Badia valley at the foot of breathtaking Dolomite summits in a wide, sunny valley that’s surrounded by unspoiled nature, Alta Badia is home to six small villages, including Corvara, La Val, Badia, Colfosco, La Villa, and San Cassiano. The cultural heart of South Tyrol, it’s home to an astounding number of Michelin-starred restaurants and two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Plus the tiny village of Badia is the starting point for some of the best hikes in the region with a chairlift that will bring you to many different routes. In the winter, you’ll be at the heart of the world’s largest ski network which is covered by just a single lift pass, the Dolomiti Superski.
The Alta Pusteria region is where the famous three pinnacles, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, are located. It includes Villabassa, Sesto, Braies, and San Candido, along with an abundance of flora and fauna. Lago di Braies, the pearl of the Dolomites, can be found here along with Lake Dobbiaco, a stunning jewel. The Sesto Dolomites call many to ski in the winter with idyllic powder and outstanding slope conditions. In any season there’s lots to do for the kids too, with easy but remarkably scenic trails to hike along with many playgrounds and ski schools.
Picturesque Cortina d’Ampezzo is the place to be for those who not only want to enjoy many outdoor activities but lots of shopping, dining, and nightlife venues. Located in the Boite River Alpine valley, it’s also known for its long-held traditions as one of the top places to stay in the Dolomites for getting to know the Ladin culture. Visitors can also enjoy mountain tours, hiking and biking trails, and all sorts of winter sports, including 140 ski runs and over 50 miles of cross-country pistes.
A top pick among honeymooners, Val di Funes is tucked between Alta Pusteria and Val Garden, extending to the Odle mountain range which under various light is transformed into shades of orange and pink depending on the time of the day. One of the most jaw-droppingly scenic places in northern Italy, the contrasts of the emerald hills against jagged mountain peaks are absolutely stunning. There are plenty of hiking trails, from short and sweet to challenging, picturesque churches, and a mineral museum, located in this village.
Located less than 20 miles from Bolzano in the Trentino-Alto Adige region, Alpe di Siusi is the largest high-altitude alpine meadow in all of Europe. It’s known for its incredible views, surrounded by mountain ranges, and one of the best day hikes around. It winds through lush meadows, leading to Bullaccia, and just before the viewpoint right outside Malga Sanon restaurant you’ll find a swing that provides the ultimate photo-op. During the winter this is another great place for skiing and boarding too.
Nestled between the Latemar and Catinaccio massifs, providing easy access to the Carezza and Obereggen hiking areas, Val d’Ega offers miles and miles of hiking trails, many of which lead to gem-like lakes, including one of the Dolomites’ most spectacular. The aquamarine water of Lake Carezza reflects the Latemar peaks, drawing many photographers to capture one of the world’s most surreal scenes. And, the sunsets from Rosengarten are something you definitely won’t want to miss. Winter is fabulous too, with some 55 miles of well-maintained slopes and over 65 miles of cross-country trails.
Val di Fassa is located in the northeast province of Trentino surrounded by some of the Dolomites’ highest peaks, including the Rosengarten and Marmolad, the highest of them all. A panoramic view of the mountains can be seen from the Col Rodella viewpoint, accessed by cable car. In town, domed church towers soar above frescoed buildings and charming balconies, while independent boutiques and coffee shops line the streets below. A horse-drawn carriage ride along them is sure to be a highlight, especially during the winter. with snowflakes gently falling. This is also the time to take advantage of some of the world’s best skiing. The southern slope of the valley is for hikers and the northern slope is for skiers, which means this is a top destination to stay in the Dolomites no matter when you plan to visit.