5 Things to Try While Visiting the Dolomites
Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, a vast mountainous region located in the southeastern Alps, provide visitors with a stunning account of natural beauty and endless adventure. Its 90,000 acres (365 square kilometers / 140 square miles) consist of picturesque villages, rolling green pastures, and steep mountain trails with breathtaking views. Traveling to the Dolomites can at first seem overwhelming, given the size and expanse of the area, so it’s a good idea to prepare a list of things to do ahead of time so you get the most out of your trip.
Below are five experiences that should not be missed!
Climb a Via Ferrata
In English via ferrata means “iron path.” These storied routes offer a unique way to traverse the mountains of the Dolomites, by climbing using a series of metal rungs, bridges, and safety cables that form a vertical path to the summit. While you need not be an experienced mountain climber, be forewarned that the views during your ascent will most certainly stop you in your tracks!
Drive the Great Dolomites Road
The Grande strada delle Dolomiti, or Great Dolomites Road, is a scenic route that connects Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Veneto region with Bolzano/ Bozen in Alto Adige / South Tyrol. Open year-round, this scenic route crosses three passes – Passo Falzarego, Passo Pordoi, and Passo di Costalunga / Karerpass. While the road is approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) long, the distance and travel time varies depending on where you start and finish!.
Stay Overnight in a Rifugio
Rifugi are high-elevation mountain huts set in spectacular locations throughout the Dolomites, usually along popular hiking trails or near the top of ski lifts. Not only are they perfect for a one-night stay or a multi-day trip, rifugi in the Dolomites are considered the best in the Alps! These charming, rustic inns offer simple, comfortable accommodations that can sleep anywhere from 14-80 guests, and most serve excellent food and drink. And because camping is prohibited throughout the Dolomites, they are the next best thing to overnighting in the backcountry here!
Known as the “Queen of the Dolomites,” Marmolada is the highest mountain in the Dolomites, set at 3,342 meters (10,964'), and home to its largest remaining glacier. Visitors can hike underneath the glacier or around the base of the mountain, climb a via ferrata over an exposed ridge, ski down the glacier on the longest run in the Dolomites: the 12-kilometer (7.15-mile) La Bellunese piste, or enjoy lunch or a snack at a nearby rifugio by riding a cable car to the top or staying put at the base near Lago Fedaia. Whatever adventure you choose, the magnificent views are awe-inspiring and unmatched.
Explore WWI Tunnels and Galleries
Lagazuoi Mountain boasts an intricate array of galleries and tunnels that were constructed by the Italians and Austrians during the First World War. There is a museum you can visit, as well as the Rifugio Scotoni, which serves a delicious and highly recommended grill and vegetable dish for lunch. While you’re there, you might also consider a stay at the Rifugio Lagazuoi, located at the top of the Lagazuoi Mountains, where you can experience the best 360° views in the Dolomites.
Given the vast size of the Dolomites, there are endless scenic adventures to be had, but unless you plan on staying for an extended period of time, it makes sense to select a few activities to participate in while you’re there. The five listed above will help ensure that you get the most out of your trip and experience the very best that the Dolomites have to offer.
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