Dolomites Road Trip Itinerary
In the summer, we spent 8 days road tripping and hiking throughout the Dolomites in northeastern Italy. We fell head over heels in love with this mountainous region that offers unparalleled alpine views along with culinary delights.
This 8-day itinerary will take you to the Dolomites’ most celebrated places, including Seiser Alm, Geisler (Odle) Peaks, Val Gardena, Seceda, Lago di Sorapiss, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, and Pragser Wildsee. We’ve summarized each day of our Dolomites road trip, with links to more in-depth blog posts as well as tips for improving our itinerary.
For a more broad introduction to the Dolomites, read our Dolomites Travel Guide. The guide explains where to go, what to experience, and what to eat in this region.
Rental Car Needed
You’ll need a rental car in order to do this 8 day Dolomites itinerary.
Full Disclosure: we designed this trip with a focus on hiking. Some days are planned so that you’ll overnight in rifugios (mountain huts). So, it’s the perfect introduction to hut-to-hut hiking in the alps. If however, you don’t want to do that, you can easily modify this itinerary, so that you’re staying in the valleys instead. And for those that are seasoned hut-to-hut hikers, you can also plan a thru-hike and skip the rental car altogether. Research the Alta Vias for thru-hike inspiration.
What Languages are Spoken in the Dolomites?
The Dolomites are located in 5 different provinces (within 3 regions) in Northeastern Italy. One province, South Tyrol (in German: Südtirol; in Italian: Alto Adige), was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to World War I. German continues to be the primary language spoken in this region. When traveling and hiking through South Tyrol, every street, advertisement, natural area, mountain hut, etc… is written in both German and Italian. Throughout this itinerary, we will use both names to avoid any confusion.
Dolomites Itinerary Map
- Travel Day: Get to Villnöß (Val di Funes)
- Day 1: Adolf Munkel Trail, Seiser Alm, Naturpark Schlern – Rosengarten
- Day 2: Naturpark Schlern – Rosengarten, Seiser Alm
- Day 3: Val Gardena, Seceda
- Day 4: Lago di Sorapiss
- Day 5: Tre Cime Natural Park (Naturpark Drei Zinnen)
- Day 6: Tre Cime Natural Park
- Day 7: Tre Cime Natural Park
- Day 8: Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee)
How to get to the Dolomites
You’re probably wondering why this Dolomites itinerary begins in Villnöß (Val di Funes). Our Dolomites trip was planned as part of our move from Cologne to Vienna. Our drive took us through the beautiful wine country of South Tyrol, to the town of Bolzano, and finally to Villandro Village, where we spent the night.
But, more importantly, how are you going to get to the Dolomites.
If you’re flying internationally, look for flights to these international airports.
- Munich International Airport (Germany)
- Malpensa Airport (Milan, Italy)
- Marco Polo International Airport (Venice, Italy)
If you’re flying more regionally, also look for flights to these airports:
- Valerio Catullo Airport (Verona, Italy)
- Innsbruck Airport (Austria)
From the airport, rent a car and drive several hours to Villnöß (Val di Funes), or Bolzano. Here are the approximate driving times it takes to get from each respective airport to the heart of the Dolomites (according to Google Maps). You’ll probably want to add some buffer time, because… mountains.
- Munich International Airport (Germany) to Villnöß (Val di Funes): 3 Hours
- Malpensa Airport (Milan, Italy) to Villnöß (Val di Funes): 4 Hours
- Marco Polo International Airport (Venice, Italy) to Villnöß (Val di Funes) – 3 Hours
- Valerio Catullo Airport (Verona, Italy) to Villnöß (Val di Funes) – 2 Hours
- Innsbruck Airport (Austria) to Villnöß (Val di Funes): 1 hour 15 minutes
Day 1: Adolf Munkel Trail, Seiser Alm, Naturpark Schlern – Rosengarten
Hike the Adolf Munkel Trail
We started our first full day in the Dolomites in Villnöß (Val di Funes). In the morning, we hiked the Adolf Munkel Trail. This is an easy 8.8 km hike along the foot of the Geisler (Odle) Peaks. One of the highlights of this trail was arriving at the mountain hut Gschnagenhardt Alm (Malga Casnago), located on a high alpine pasture. Surrounded by cows, horses, and donkeys, we enjoyed a delicious South Tyrolean meal. Read Next: Hiking the Adolf Munkel Trail in the Dolomites for trail map and trail directions.
Hike Across Seiser Alm to Tierser Alpl
After the hike, we drove one hour from Zanser Alm to Am Schlern (Siusi Allo Sciliar) to start our second hike of the day. We took the Alpe di Siusi Aerial Cableway to Seiser Alm (Alpe di Siusi), a high mountain plateau dotted with wooden huts. There’s a free parking area by the cableway. After hiking across Seiser Alm and over the Rosszähne mountain ridge, we arrived at our accommodation for the night: Tierser Alpl Schutzhaus. This mountain hut (rifugio) is located in Naturpark Schlern – Rosengarten (Sciliar – Catinaccio Natural Park). Staying the night at Tierser Alpl was an outstanding experience. The location is remote, the cuisine is superb, and the mountain hut is both modern and cozy. Read Next: Hiking to Tierser Alpl Schutzhaus for the trail map, trail directions, and info about the rifugio.
How to Improve Day 1: Squeezing in two hikes into one day was stressful. We recommend breaking this up into two days. Tierser Alpl is such a special place. You don’t want to feel rushed in getting here. Also, you might want to consider staying two nights in Tierser Alpl.
Stay in Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)
Many people hike to Tierser Alpl for the day and return to Seiser Alm in the late afternoon. So, if you’re looking for a bit more comfort than a rifugio, consider staying the night directly on the beautiful mountain plateau of Seiser Alm (Alpe di Siusi), or directly below in Seis am Schlern (Siusi).
Budget | Villa Rier is a bed and breakfast in Seis am Schlern (Siusi) with spacious bedrooms.
Mid-Range | Hotel Bellavista is located directly on the slopes of Seiser Alm at Compatsch (Compaccio). With panoramic mountain views and a spa and wellness center, this is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Dolomites scenery. Breakfast is included.
4-Star Experience Hotel | Tirler – Dolomites Living Hotel is a deluxe hotel with an on-site spa, restaurant, bar, and amazing mountain views on Seiser Alm. Everything you could ever want is provided for. This eco-friendly hotel was also designed to reduce allergens.
Day 2: Naturpark Schlern – Rosengarten, Seiser Alm, St. Ulrich
After breakfast at Tierser Alpl, we started our descent to Seiser Alm. On our way down, we stopped for lunch at Alpenhotel Panorma Restaurant. Their Schlutzkrapfe was delicious. In the afternoon, we returned to our car and drove to the town of St. Ulrich (Ortisei) in Val Gardena (Grödnertal). The town has a lively center, with lovely shops, restaurants, and hotels. We had dinner at Vinoteque La Cercia, a charming wine bar with live music. Address: Via Rezia 30, 39046 Ortisei, Italy. After a few glasses of wine, we went to our Pension in St. Ulrich (Ortisei).
Stay in St. Ulrich (Ortisei)
Mid-Range | Garni August is a serene hilltop hotel with amazing alpine views, a delicious breakfast buffet, and lovely rooms. It takes 10 minutes (walking) to reach the center of town.
Luxury | Alpenhotel Rainell is a stunning hotel in St. Ulrich that offers panoramic mountain views, a wellness center, and a heated outdoor pool. Breakfast is included in the room rate.
5-Star Experience Hotel | Hotel Montchalet is a splurge-worthy luxury hotel in St. Ulrich. The hotel features a swimming pool, spa, and wellness center, bar and restaurant. The room rate includes breakfast and dinner.
Day 3: Val Gardena
Hike Around Seceda
We started today by taking the Aerial Cableway from St. Ulrich (Ortisei) to the mountain summit Seceda, elevation 2,518 meters. At the mountain summit, there’s a magnificent view of the dagger-like Fermeda peaks and Gran Odla. From Seceda, we hiked to Regensburger Hütte for lunch. This accessible loop hike was tremendously rewarding. For a trail map and trail directions, read Hiking from Seceda to Regensburger Hütte in Val Gardena.
After descending to St. Ulrich (Ortisei), we drove to our accommodation in Wolkenstein (Selva di Val Gardena), a charming town in Val Gardena. Unfortunately, we couldn’t explore too much due to a thunder and lightning storm. We had dinner at a popular pizzeria above a hockey stadium, which is actually not as weird as it sounds. Address: Ristorante Pizzeria Pranives, Strada Nives 17, 39048, Selva di Val Gardena, Italy.
How to Improve Day 3: Stay two nights in the same place in Val Gardena. We only stayed in two different accommodations, because we couldn’t find a hotel with availability for two nights.
Stay in St. Ulrich (Ortisei), or Wolkenstein (Selva di Val Gardena)
We stayed in the Roter Hahn (Red Rooster) Farm Soleiga. Roter Hahn is a trademark given to farmhouses in South Tyrol that provide quality holiday accommodations. We highly recommend Soleiga and Roter Hahn accommodations. From the farmhouse, we had unsurpassable views of the mountains.
Day 4: Sella Pass, Lago di Sorapiss
Today, we drove from Val Gardena (Grödnertal) to the town Sexten. We took the mountain passes Sella and Pordoi on our way to our first stop, Cortina d’Ampezzo. The mountain passes were a reminder of the vastness of the Dolomites. Throughout the drive, there were many opportunities to get out, get on a cableway, and hike. And, we would have loved to have hiked somewhere spontaneously, but we were determined to see the glacial lake Lago di Sorapiss.
We stopped in Cortina d’Ampezzo, a town in the Veneto region, for coffee. Cortina is very posh town (think Valentino and other designer stores), known for its ski resort. It definitely has a different vibe than the smaller farm villages we had stayed in.
Hike to Lago di Sorapiss
After coffee, we drove to Passo Tre Croci to begin our hike to Lago di Sorapiss. The lake takes its name from the mountain Sorapiss. Framed by trees, Lago di Sorapiss is one of the most stunning places you’ll see in the Dolomites. Apart from the mountain backdrop, the most spectacular feature of the lake is its unique turquoise color. The water also has a milky quality due to suspended powdered rock. You might think you’re looking at an enchantress’ pool filled with magic potion.
The hike takes 1.5 – 2 hours, one-way. You’ll take Trail no. 215 towards Rifugio Vandelli, which is a mountain hut closely located to the lake. The first-half of the trail is flat, but the second-half is steep. There are ropes and stairs that will aid you in your ascent. We saw people of all ages on this trail.
After the hike, we stopped at Lake Misurina, before driving to our accommodation in Sexten.
How to Improve Day 4: Slow down. There were so many beautiful places to stop and explore on the drive. You could make Cortina your final stop today.
Stay in Sexten, Toblach or Innichen
Budget | Residence Rogger offers comfortable apartments in Toblach (Dobbiaco) with fully-equipped kitchens.
Mid-Range | Boutique & Gourmet Hotel Orso Grigio is a beautiful hotel located in the center of Innichen (San Candido). This professionally-run 4-star hotel has an onsite restaurant, bar and spa and wellness center.
Luxury | Hotel Monika in Sexten (Sesto) is a 5-star hotel outfitted with an outdoor infinity pool, indoor pool, 2 Finnish saunas, steam bath, whirlpool, gym, bio sauna, and massage center. This top-rated luxury hotel also features an on-site restaurant.
Day 5: Tre Cime Natural Park (Naturpark Drei Zinnen)
Hike to Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Today, we began our 3-day hut to hut hike in Naturpark Drei Zinnen (Tre Cime Natural Park) from Fischleintal in Sexten. After parking our car in the Parkplatz Fischleintal (5 EUR per day), we started our ascent to Dreizinnenhütte (Rifugio Locatelli).
The hike takes about 3.5 hours along Trail no. 102. Directly facing the north-side of the iconic Three Peaks, Dreizinnenhütte is arguably the most perfectly positioned mountain hut in the Dolomites. And luckily for all hungry visitors, the hut has a restaurant serving South Tyrolian cuisine.
ANOTHER OPTION: We hiked into Tre Cime Natural Park the “hard” way. You can also approach Tre Cime di Lavaredo the easy way – which is by driving to Rifugio Auronozo. If you want to learn more about that option and how to plan a trip to Tre Cime, read next: Tre Cime Natural Park Travel Guide.
Stay in Tre Cime Natural Park
After a delicious lunch here, we made our way along Trail no. 101 to Rifugio Lavaredo, our end destination. The location of the hut is absolutely spectacular. Jagged purple mountains form the backdrop of the hut. We stayed in a 6-bed dormitory-style room, which was clean and comfortable. However in comparison to the other mountain huts, we stayed in, the food was subpar.
You can stay at the following rifugios: Dreizinnenhütte (Rifugio Locatelli), Rifugio Lavaredo, or Rifugio Auronozo. Make reservations early. You can find contact info for these mountain huts here.
Day 6: Tre Cime Natural Park (Naturpark Drei Zinnen)
Today, we finished the loop trail around the Three Peaks and hiked to the mountain hut Büllelejochhütte. For those who want to experience Tre Cime di Lavaredo as a day trip, you can drive all the way to the mountain hut Auronzo, which is located on the south side of the Three Peaks in the Veneto region.
From Rifugio Auronzo, Trail no. 105 begins at the end of the parking lot. The trail continues to the saddle Forcella del Col de Mezo and to the mountain hut Langealm. The last part of the hike to Dreizinnenhütte is on Trail no. 102. After another great lunch at Dreizinnenhütte, we started our journey on Trail no. 101 to our final destination: Büllelejochhütte (Rifugio Pian di Cengia).
Stay in Büllelejochhütte (Rifugio Pian di Cengia)
Büllelejochhütte is a place where dreams come true. Remotely situated, surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery, and gracing the clouds, Büllelejochhütte is the most charming mountain hut we experienced. The staff was beyond kind and friendly. And, the food was divine in an earthy-hearty type of way.
For Büllelejochhütt’s contact info and a map of this 3-day hike, read our guide to hiking around Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Day 7: Tre Cime Natural Park (Naturpark Drei Zinnen)
After breakfast, we started our descent to Fischleintal via Trail no. 101 and later no. 103. After an hour, the trail winds around the mountain hut Zsigmondy Hütte (Rifugio E. Comici), where we stopped to say hello to several bell-wearing donkeys. From this mountain hut, it takes about 1.5 hours to get to Talschlusshütte. The trail eventually intersects 102 (which we took on the way up). From the fork, we hiked the familiar flat trail back to Talschlusshütte and Fischleintal Parkplatz.
Stay in Braies
Budget | Appartments Jagerhof (2 nights minimum) is a top-rated apartment-style accommodation in Braies. It’s a 25-minute drive to Pragser Wildsee.
Mid-Range | Hotel Brückele is a perfectly situated hotel in Braies within the UNESCO Fanes Sennes Prags Natural Park. We had a relaxing stay here after our hut to hut hike. The hotel is also well-positioned for tomorrow’s visit to Pragser Wildsee (Lago di Braies), as it’s only a 15-minute drive away.
Luxury | Hotel Lago di Braies (3 nights minimum) is located directly at the famous Pragser Wildsee (Lago di Braies).
Day 8: Pragser Wildsee (Lago di Braies)
We spent our last day at Pragser Wildsee (Lago di Braies). This beautiful lake is called the Pearl of the Dolomites. We hiked around the lake, which took one hour. You can also enjoy the lake by renting a rowboat.
How to Improve Day 8: We arrived at 9:00 a.m., which we thought was early enough to beat the crowds. We recommend coming as early as 7 a.m. to enjoy the serenity of the lake without the foot traffic.
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