One of Italy’s northernmost regions, many travelers book their trip to Trentino Alto Adige to explore the best places to visit in the Dolomites. Whether you want to go on a Dolomites tour, do some easy Dolomites hiking, or explore the local northern culture, here you will find all you need to start planning your trip to the Dolomites in Italy.
We took a train to Trento and spent there some three weeks loving our Dolomites holidays as well as exploring several cities in Trentino.
Some of the best things to do in Trentino Alto Adige certainly are following the paths of the many Via Ferrata in the Dolomites as well as trekking, hiking and cycling this side of the Italian Alps. But we highly recommend not to discard its urban centres, you will be pleased and amazed.
Your go-to guide to the Dolomites in Italy
In our Dolomites guide, you will find all the necessary information to organize a great itinerary in this northern Italy region. We will include tips on how to plan ski holidays in the Dolomites with activities such as skiing in the Dolomites and where to stay.
Even though a popular winter destination, here you will find out also the many activities of the summer holidays in the Dolomites. We will give you practical tips on the best hikes in the Dolomites, trekking in the Dolomites and even great places for cycling in the Dolomites.
Our guide will include the best things to see and do in the Dolomites as well as suggestions of the top hotels to book for a great holiday. With a backdrop of the Italian Alps, here you will also explore the local culture and history.
Cool Places And The Best Towns In The Dolomites In Northern Italy
Our guide will start with an overview of the best places to visit in the Dolomites as well as where to go if you are organizing Dolomites holidays either for your summer or winter break. We will tell you where to find the best hikes in the Dolomites, where to go skiing the Dolomites, trekking, or just take in the best views.
There are many places in Trentino Alto Adige from where you can view the Dolomites and also hike, trek and climb. Also from many cities, you can organize your tour of the Dolomites, like Trento and Bolzano.
The fantastic towns in the Dolomites are perfect for those organising ski holidays in the Dolomites in winter or some hiking and trekking in the Dolomites in summer. These are places like Madonna di Campiglio, Cortina d’Ampezzo and Bressanone among the others.
Finally, between Trentino and Veneto regions are several valleys, and ski areas and resorts where you can have a luxury vacation with spectacular views. Holidays that are perfect for families, couples, experienced trekkers and climbers as well as beginners hikers.
All the Dolomites region between Trentino and Veneto is a never-ending scenery of different natural landscapes.
From Madonna di Campiglio to Val Gardena to Cortina d’Ampezzo, we will tell you the top ski resorts in the Dolomites.
Madonna di Campiglio, the gem of the Brenta Dolomites
One of the most famous ski resorts in the Dolomites, Madonna di Campiglio is in Val Rendena valley in Trento province. Nestled between the gorgeous mountains Adamello, Presanella and Brenta Dolomites, Val Rendena is a green valley clothed with quaint small towns, scenic lakes, nature trails and woods perfect for walking holidays in the Dolomites.
One of the gems of Val Rendena, Madonna di Campiglio is one of the best places to stay in the Dolomites. Green and beautiful during summer, Madonna di Campiglio sits at 1500 mt and is especially famous for its ski runs. This is probably the most touristy ski resort in the Dolomites of Trentino region. Very well organised and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, it’s perfect for advanced and beginners.
Madonna di Campiglio and the Brenta mountain range are also great places for those who want to explore the Via Ferrata in the Dolomites. Here, in fact, there are several via ferrata, which is a protected mountain route equipped with steel cables, fixed ladders and bridges to make it easier to climb. Some of the via ferrata close to Madonna di Campiglio are Bocchette Centrali, Bocchette Alte and Ettore Castiglioni. Some are easier than others, but keep in mind that you need to be a bit prepared for this type of routes and possibly not suffer from dizziness.
If you are planning a skiing holiday in the Dolomites or want to spend your summer break surrounded by scenic nature and sports activities, your best option is to find here your accommodation.
Here are some Madonna di Campiglio accommodation options, the best hotels in Madonna di Campiglio for who is planning ski holidays in the Dolomites:
- Hotel Garnì Caminetto. Located in the very city center and perfect for couples.
- Maribel Hotel, right in front of the Carlo Magno ski run.
- B&B Augusto. For a more budget option, a popular accommodation close to Madonna di Campiglio, great for many outdoor activities.
You can reach Madonna di Campiglio from Trento with an hour’s drive if you hire your own car or by bus from Trento’s main train station in Piazza Dante.
Andalo and Molveno Lake
Andalo is a lovely village crowned by the scenic peaks of the Dolomites. Among the things to do in Andalo is to ski in its Paganella ski area that counts some 25 stations and some 50 km of runs. Two of the most famous local runs are Dosso Larici and the old 3-Tre, former training run for the Italian national ski team.
While not as popular as Madonna di Campiglio, Andalo attracts visitors both in winter and summer. Summer holidaymakers can enjoy cycling in the Dolomites, some active Dolomites hiking and pleasant temperatures while most regions of Italy will be stifling hot.
From Andalo, you can reach the wonderful Molveno Lake with a few minutes’ drive or a local bus. Scenic mountain lake surrounded by the woods and the Dolomites that reflect in its deep-blue waters. The pearl of the Natural Park Adamello Brenta, Molveno Lake is a perfect place for windsurfing, canoeing, paddling and walking along the shores.
Lago di Molveno is great for family holidays in the Dolomites as it has a long beach, a kids playground, a water park as well as a pump track for teenagers and young people who want to learn mountain biking. The bravest can also take a dip in the ever-cold waters.
Andalo and Molveno are very close to Trento. It’s either half an hour’s drive or around an hour by bus. From Trento, you can also reach by bus or train. You can take the bus from Trento main station in Piazza Dante to Mezzocorona and here change with the local bus to Andalo or Molveno, or take the train “Trento-Malè” and get off at Mezzolombardo to catch the bus to Andalo or Molveno.
Val di Fassa, hiking and cycling in the Dolomites
One of the favourite places in Trentino to enjoy the Dolomites is the Val di Fassa. From Canazei, that you can reach from Trento as I explained above, you can get to Passo Fedaia.
Located at an altitude of more than 2000 metres, you can drink in the gorgeous view of the Marmolada, the Dolomites’ highest peak (Punta Penia peak at 3343 mt), reflecting on the artificial basin Fedaia Lake. In the area, you will find several lodges (rifugi) and also the Museum of the Great War (Museo della Grande Guerra 1914-1918), open from mid-May through September and displaying the war tools and objects found at la Marmolada frontline.
Marmolada peak can be admired from all the Val di Fassa viewpoints. Its southern slope is a favourite for those who want to go Dolomites climbing. The northern slope is home to the gorgeous glacier, the largest of the Dolomites, a very coveted destination among the lovers of snow activities and adventurous off-piste skiing.
In Val di Fassa you can also take the Campitello-Col Rodella cable car open in summer and get to Col Rodella viewpoint. Col Rodella is a “panettone-shaped” mount and it’s visible from every village in Val di Fassa. From its viewpoint, some 1000 metres, you will have a fantastic panorama: the Sassolungo range, the huge Marmolada, the Torri del Sella, the Sass Pordoi and more.
Among the best hotels in Val di Fassa are:
- Hotel Garni Lastei – A great Pozza di Fassa hotel, it’s close to Catinaccio cable car to Val di Fassa ski runs.
- Appartamenti Cèsa Crepa Niegra – Among Val di Fassa apartments choice, a favorite is this one in Canazei. Located 5 minutes from the city center and with a great view of the Marmolada.
Val di Non
The Val di Non, famous for its juicy and delicious apples, make it for a perfect holiday in Trentino Alto Adige for those who just want to relax and walk easier trails. It’s a perfect location for your relaxed summer holidays in a landscape of soft-rolling hills, untouched woods and beautiful lakes. You can also visit the local villages and towns like Predaia, Cis and Malosco, and explore the history and traditions in their castles, churches and sanctuaries often in the countryside.
From the Noce river to the Santa Giustina Lake near Cles city, the Val di Non continues along the Rio Novella river all the way to Bolzano province, so a part where citizens speak more German than Italian.
Nestled between different mountain ranges, you can access Val di Non from Val di Sole in Lombardia region, Val d’Adige and the passes of Mendola and Palade (from Merano). From Trento, you can reach Cles by train. From Val di Non you can organise also several Dolomites treks as well as skiing in winter in the ski runs in Regole di Malosco at the foot of Mount Penegal, Sarnonico, Predaia and Fondo. Don’t miss visiting the Non Valley’s wonderful lakes. Among these, one of the most popular is Tovel Lake.
Some of the best hotels in the Val di Non are:
- Agritur Ciastel in Sanzeno
- B&B Chalet ai Mulini in Caldes, which is in Val di Sole
- Hotel Cles in Cles.
Val Gardena, a gem to start your tour of the Dolomites
Even though part of the Dolomiti Superski, Val Gardena is a fantastic summer holiday destination. The valley counts endless walking trails and hiking treks. Here, both amateurs and experienced trekkers will find what they are looking for. Some hikes are easy, some are more challenging, but all have in common wonderful Dolomites views. The valley offers also several picnic areas as well as traditional restaurants serving local food.
While Trentino evokes mainly skiing and winter activities, Val Gardena is equally beautiful and offers a wide range of activities also in summer.
Among the places to visit in Val Gardena are for sure the beautiful towns of Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva. Ortisei became famous for its wooden sculptures and traditional hotels many travellers love to fell the local vibe. In Ortisei, you can enjoy a lovely walk in its central pedestrian area from St. Ulrich church to St. Anthony church. It’s a great place to sip on a drink in one of the quaint coffee shops, do some shopping (you’ll find truly warm coats and jackets here in winter!) and just enjoy the local life.
Some think Val Gardena offers some of the best places for hiking in the Dolomites. Especially because they are spectacular both in summer and winter. The Dolomites trekking routes you can experience in Val Gardena are many. One is around Sassolungo – Saslonch, a classic, it takes about 4 hours on average and it’s of medium difficulty.
If you are quite advanced and don’t shy away from harder routes, you can try the one on the Alpe di Siusi of 5 hours and some 15 km. Or from Ortisei to Munt Pic, some 12 km and 5 hours to reach an altitude of some 1130 metres.
For those into less challenging Dolomites hiking trails instead, you can try the tour around Ortisei, some 2 hours at around 100 metres above sea level.
Walking in the Dolomites means also wandering around its woods, and Val Gardena is a great place for this. One of the best ways to truly enjoy your holiday in Trentino Alto Adige is to soak in its nature, explore its vegetation and discover its wildlife.
Some of the best Val Gardena hotels are
- Residence Magdalena – Fully-equipped aparthotel and great Ortisei hotel for families and couples.
- Garni Hotel Mirabel – One of the favorite hotels in Val Gardena. Perfect Val Gardena accommodation and starting point to discover the best things to do in the Dolomites.
- Residence Hotel Fever – Another Ortisei hotel set in the very city center, close to the pedestrian area and several ski runs for adults and children. Perfect for families.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, a great option for Dolomites skiing
Cortina d’Ampezzo is not in Trentino but Veneto, in Belluno province. Part of the Dolomiti Superski area (see below), it’s the direct rival to Madonna di Campiglio for the title of the biggest tourist draws in the Dolomites.
One of the most popular destinations for your winter and summer holidays in the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo offers a huge choice of activities and things to do. Boasting a long skiing tradition, here you can find some of the best ski slopes in the Dolomites part of the Dolomiti Superski area. Skiing is not the only snow activities in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Visitors can also enjoy snowkiting and snowboarding.
Some of the best hotels in Cortina d’Ampezzo are:
- Franceschi Park Hotel – Located in the city center and close to Tofane cable car. Fantastic views of the Dolomites, a rich and diverse breakfast and spacious rooms equipped with all comforts.
- Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa – With a wellness center, an indoor heated pool, three restaurants, and a bike rental service in summer, Cristallo is one of the best five-star Dolomites hotels in Veneto.
- Daniela Apartment – Great accommodation in Cortina d’Ampezzo for Dolomites summer and winter holidays. Fully-equipped apartment including a ski storage room perfect if you are going skiing in the Dolomites.
Malga Ciapela, skiing the Dolomites in Veneto region
Malga Ciapela is a small fraction of Rocca Pietore town, also in Belluno province. This, too, is not Trentino but Veneto. So perfect if you are wondering how to get to the Dolomites from Venice. It’s also a great destination if you want to take a Venice to Dolomites tour or organise a Venice Dolomites day trip. At an altitude of 1450 metres above sea level, this is one of the best places to visit in the Dolomites.
Most Malga Ciapela lodges and accommodations are located strategically for both summer and winter holidays. They are close to the routes for some of the best hikes in the Dolomites and popular ski slopes.
From Malga Ciapela you can take the Marmolada cable car to Punta Rocca at 3265 metres above sea level. Along the way, you can also stop at the station of Serauta for yet another Museum of the Great War. In northern Italy World War I was very harsh and still is a painful memory. This is why you will find several museums displaying pictures and objects from the terrible life in the trenches. Located at an altitude of almost 3000 metres, this is Europe’s highest museum.
Once on top, you will stare at a breathtaking view of the Dolomites. For who is planning ski holidays in the Dolomites, this is one of the best places. Here is the 12-km Bellunese ski run that offers a fantastic view of the Sella mountain range.
Also from Malga Ciapela, you can get to the huge ski area Dolomiti Superski. Unmissable if you want to spend your winter break skiing in the Dolomites.
If you are a fan of walking in the snow, make sure you have a pair of good snowshoes. From here you can take the route to Val Ombretta towards Falier lodge and Franzedas valley. It’s a great place for trekking the Dolomites in summer or walking with the snowshoes in winter. Asking your hotel how to reach these areas is your best best. See below for some great options for accommodations in the Dolomites.
Dolomiti Superski, one of the best Dolomites ski resorts
Dolomiti Superski is a huge ski area comprising of 1200 km of runs and 1177 km of runs for cross-country skiing. The winter activities you can do here are basically endless. One of the best ski resorts in the Dolomites, here anyone can find something to do. Families, kids, beginners as well as advanced skiers will love it.
It covers a large territory. You can access from multiple sides and enjoy its modern facilities, natural landscape of high mountains, gorgeous lakes, several valleys and romantic lights day and night. Some of the most famous Dolomites ski resorts in Dolomiti Superski are Cortina d’Ampezzo, Val Gardena, Val di Fassa, Marmolada, Rio Pusteria-Bressanone, Arabba, Civetta.
If you are planning on skiing the Dolomites, purchase the ski pass MyDolomiti Skicard to have access to all activities and ski runs. A pretty good deal.
The best Via Ferrata in the Dolomites
Walking along a via ferrata will give you the chance to climb the Dolomites and admire unprecedented spectacular views.
As mentioned above, Madonna di Campiglio and Brenta group are some of the best places if you want to climb a via ferrata in the Dolomites. These are usually medium and high difficulty levels.
Of normal difficulty level are Via Ferrata delle Bocchette Centrali, the SOSAT trail in the Brenta Dolomites, Via Ferrata Alfredo Benini, Via Ferrata Felice Spellini and Alpine Via Ferrata Livio Brentari.
Among the harder ones are Via Ferrata Oliva Detassis, Via Ferrata Ettore Castiglioni and Alpine Via Ferrata Claudio Costanzi.
You can find wonderful “vie ferrate” also elsewhere in the Dolomites such as Val Gardena and Val di Fassa.
Val Gardena counts many spectacular via ferrata, and also here, some or harder than others. Some of the best protected climbing routes in Val Gardena are Piz Duleda, Sas Rigais, Oskar Schuster. If you book a tour with a local guide, you can also take your children with you. Provided that the climb is easy, obviously.
If you are in Val di Fassa, check the vie ferrate Mesules (hard), Santner (easy), Bepo de Medil (easy), Brigata Tridentina (difficult), and Cesare Piazzetta (very hard for the first 100 mt and then it becomes easier).
Some of the best hotels in the Dolomites, Italy
When planning a trip to Italy, booking your hotel in advance is always recommended. Here are some more options for the best hotels in the Dolomites for a great holiday both in winter and in the warmer seasons.
Fogajard Lovely Chalet is a great accommodation in the Dolomites. Located in the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio in the Adamello Brenta Natural Park, this hotel offers a view of the Italian Alps, a wellness center, and an organic restaurant.
Garni Aritz is located in Campitello di Fassa, one of the best places to visit in Val di Fassa. Close to Col Rodella cable car, this is a perfect departure point for panoramic views of the Marmolada peaks and skiing holidays. The hotel features a state-of-the-art wellness center with sauna, Turkish bath, and fitness center.
Rosapetra SPA Resort in Cortina d’Ampezzo in Veneto region is also a favourite hotel in the Dolomites. With a sophisticated blend of modern and traditional, wooden-furnished Rosapetra hotel guarantees high-end services including spa, indoor pool, Turkish bath, sauna and beauty treatments. This five-star hotel in Cortina d’Ampezzo features also a restaurant and a daily buffet breakfast.
Naturhotel Die Waldruhe is a great hotel in Chienes, Bolzano province, Alto Adige. Luxurious rooms and suites, this hotel is perfect for summer and winter holidays in the Dolomites. In summer, you can go for long walks, hikes, and Dolomites mountain-biking, while winter is great for those who love the snow, skiing, and adventurous activities such as ice skating and hikes in snow-covered Val Pusteria.
Camping in the Dolomites
For the more adventurous, a great way to enjoy your Dolomites holidays is to stay in a camping village. Thanks to the great organization, camping in the Dolomites is possible in every season.
Some camping villages are open only in summer, but many are operative all year long. If you are still wondering where to stay in the Dolomites, this can be a nice alternative to a hotel.
Dolomites camping in winter and summer is possible in campsites like Camping Seiser Alm at about 20 km from Bolzano, at the foot of the Siusi Alps. Here you can rent spaces for your own caravan as well as apartments and caravans. Fully-equipped also for children with a playground and kids’ facilities.
Camping Val di Sole campsite, too, works in summer and winter. Located in Peio, here you can rent wooden bungalows as well as spaces for your caravans and tents. Nestled in the Stelvio National Park, you can admire the great views of the Adamello mountain range and Brenta Dolomites. It’s very quiet and provides a full range of services such as free warm showers, an area for dishwashing and laundry that includes washing machines and dryers, as well as the possibility to rent private bathrooms.
Within Val di Sole campsite you will also find a bar-restaurant, a little convenience store, a playroom for kids with a playground outside, and a BBQ available to guests for use.
In winter, you can enjoy the nearby ski slopes such as Passo del Tonale and Folgarida-Marilleva-Madonna di Campiglio. All easy to reach via the handy shuttle bus. In summer, you can enjoy the greenery and high-altitude treks.
This campsite in the Dolomites offers many facilities also for children, such as a play area and activities outside of the camping village to learn horseriding, fishing, going biking and enjoy the snow in winter. Perfect for family holidays.
Among the services for adults, they have a mountain-bike rental service, a terrace, an outdoor pool and they are close to Dolomites ski runs and a climbing gym.
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Rome-based travel writer, blogger and photographer.