Most travellers to Italy often sing praises about the canals snaking around Venice or rugged Amalfi Coast. However, much of the country by the Mediterranean is covered by mountains — specifically, the Dolomites.
The Alpine mountain range, characterised by its jagged peaks, is strung between the northern Italian provinces of Trentino and Alto Adige. Nine mountain ranges covering a total of 142,000 hectares make up the UNESCO-listed Dolomites.
Most people plan a trip to to the Dolomites during winter for its range of winter adventure sports: such as skiing, snowboarding, or mountaineering. However, it is also one of Europe’s best summer destinations. In fact, the Dolomites is the perfect place to go to for hiking, culture, and to awe at its majestic landscapes.
What languages are spoken here?
The Dolomites are located in five different provinces in Northeastern Italy — one of which is South Tyrol, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to World War I. Hence, both German and Italian are spoken here.
Where to stay
If you’re looking to experience the culture of the valleys and towns, a rustic farm stay is your best bet. Otherwise, the Dolomites is also home to some of Europe’s most beautiful luxury hotels.
Rosa Alpina Hotel & Spa
Stay in this beautiful mountain hotel in San Casino in Alta Badia. The lodging here ranges from gorgeous deluxe rooms to exclusive penthouse suites and luxury apartments. Rosa Alpina Hotel & Spa is also home to a spa and wellness centre which offers a Finnish sauna, an indoor pool, a Turkish bath, a hot tub and a fitness centre. Guests don’t have to venture out for a meal, either. Dining options include a 3 Michelin-starred Restaurant, St. Hubertus.
Alpenroyal Grand Hotel Gourmet & Spa
Another breathtaking five-star resort is the Alpenroyal Grand Hotel Gourmet & Spa, which boasts out-of-the-world mountain views and spa facilities. This resort has been a traditional hotel since it opened in 1956 and the only luxury hotel in the Selva di Val Gardena. Its unique architecture ensures that it was built in the shape of a horseshoe and overlooks the breathtaking mountain ranges. Today, the hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.
The intimate hotel is home to 54 rooms and suites, featuring panoramic views of the mountain backdrop from each balcony. If you want to venture outside in the summer, the hotel organises hiking trips daily.
What to do in the Dolomites
The Dolomites offer vast landscapes for avid hikers. One thing you have to check off your bucketlist is the Loop Trail around Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The hike circumnavigates the iconic Three Peaks and the whole loop takes about four hours (9.4km). However, its worth every step you’d take as the views are second to none.
Another one of the most iconic attractions in the Dolomites is Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee in German), a scenic lake with turquoise waters set against towering mountains. Also called the Pearl of the Dolomites, the lake was used as a backdrop of numerous movies. In recent years, however, it has gained a lot of attention on social media — especially since it’s such a photogenic spot. Thus, we recommend going as early as 7am to enjoy the serenity of the lake while avoiding the crowds.
If you’re a history buff, check out the Lagazuoi Tunnels from World War I, which starts at Passo Falzarego, the road pass connecting the Cortina valley with Val Badiafal. In the past, it was used as a front between Austria-Hungary and Italy, and ran through the Dolomites. Today, it attracts avid hikers from all over the world. If you’re doing this hike, make sure you’re equipped with safety harness and protection helmet, as the tunnels can be quite treacherous.
Best time to go
If you’re wondering when’s the best time to head to the Dolomites, that depends on what you’re planning to do there. If you’re looking to check a few hikes off your bucket list during the summer, the best time to go would be from the end of June to the end of September. However, if you’re aiming to ski, the season begins in December and ends in April.
How to get there
You can choose to fly into Munich International Airport (Germany) or Marco Polo International Airport (Venice, Italy) on Qatar Airways, Etihad, or Singapore Airlines. From there, it’s best to rent a car, which enables you to drive right to the heart of the Dolomites. The journey to Val Gardena will then take around 3.5 hours from each airport.