Tips for Planning a trip to the Dolomites

  • Narrow down the area you want to cover
  • Cut out boring sections by using the gondolas
  • Add some via ferratas into the mix
  • Download the Seiser Alm App
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We recently spent 11 days traversing through the Italian Dolomites, and if we have any insight on planning an outdoor adventure trip in this breathtaking area – it is that it is HARD. Here a a few tips for planning a trip to the Dolomites to help you plan your own!

Tips when choosing your hiking routes:

For those short on time, the endless possibilities of interconnected trails and towns across the dolomites can leave you with a severe case of analysis paralysis as you try to decide on which routes to take. Before getting into our suggestions, we’ll give a few tips before deciding on which hikes are best for you.

Narrow your focus down a section you want to explore and choose a few hikes with varying viewpoints.

This is easier said than done, but will make your planning process less onerous. Bolzano, a roughly 3-hour drive from Milan, is a good starting point. We worked our way counter clockwise making sure to hit our top hikes across the region on our way up the Northwestern corner of Tre Cime di Lavaredo and back.

Take advantage of the gondola rides to the start of the trailheads.

The cost starts to add up (~20-25€ round trip per person), but they are completely worth the cost of admission. Don’t be concerned that it will make the trek too easy. On most of the routes we discuss here, you will still have around 4 to 5 hours of hiking (some longer) and it will allow you to link up two hikes in one day. The gondolas essentially cut out sections we found rather dull, but if hiking across rolling hills and farm pastures for a few hours is your thing, then go for it! Besides the cost, the only downside of the gondola’s are the late starting times. We didn’t find anything open any earlier than 8:00am or 8:30am. Also keep in mind these are ski gondolas. They’ll keep running from start to close, so don’t expect to be standing in long lines for the most part.

If you’re an active hiker, try a few via ferrata routes, it’s worth the effort.

The routes were no more challenging than most scrambling we’ve done, and at times easier given the reassurance of being able to connect to the fixed rope. If you don’t own any via ferrata gear, we recommend stopping by Mountain Spirit NSC in Bolzano. It’s a local store that provided a better experience compared to the Sportler, a large chain store. The workers at Mountain Spirit were extremely helpful getting us set up right before closing down the shop. They also provided competitive pricing using most name brand equipment (Petzl, Camp, etc). We rented the full set, harness, lanyard, and helmet, for 49€ each for the week.

Download the Seiser Alm App.

No trip to the dolomites is complete without a day exploring Alpe Di Suisi (also known as the Seiser Alm!). We had no idea that the public access road is closed to the public from 9am-5pm until we were already arrived and settled in Italy and had we not found out from the hotel we had booked, we could’ve really mess this one up. If you didn’t book accommodations in this lush alpine meadow, you’ll need to carefully plan your arrival and departure times based on gondolas, public access roads or bus schedules. This app can help choose hikes, find bus schedules, check the weather etc.

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