Trekking in the Dolomites: 10 hikes and itineraries

One of the most desired destinations for mountain lovers is the area of the Dolomites, a group of mountains belonging to the Eastern Alps and considered amongst the most beautiful of the entire mountain range. The Dolomites, also known as the “Pale Mountains” due to the colour of the Dolomite rock from which they are composed, extend between the regions of Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and occupy an area of about 16,000 km2, which includes a national park and 9 nature parks.

In 2009, UNESCO included the Dolomites on its list of World Heritage Sites, recognising their geomorphological importance and emphasising their extraordinary natural and scenic beauty. One of the most distinctive features, which contributes to the uniqueness of the Dolomite peaks, is the phenomenon called “Enrosadira”, a term meaning “turning pink”.  This phenomenon is only visible at sunrise and sunset and is caused by the sun's rays meeting the Dolomites' very bright and reflective rock. The sunlight colours the walls of the Dolomite peaks pink or orange, especially in summer, and then changes to red and purple at dusk.

Due to the uniqueness of the area, the Dolomites region is an ideal place for winter sports, but also for summer trekking, and therefore, is also a perfect destination for a holiday dedicated to nature and wellness. The paths that can be trodden during a hike in the Dolomites are numerous and always offer breathtaking views.

Establishing which are the best routes in the Dolomites is a difficult task, so we have selected for you some of the most distinctive trails for an unforgettable hike.


Enrosadira in the Dolomites


Hiking at Lake Coldai

The trail to Lake Coldai, on Monte Civetta, is one of the most iconic in the Dolomites and offers stunning views of Monte Pelmo, Marmolada, and Lake Alleghe. Lake Coldai is an extraordinary example of a basin of glacial origin and reflects the majestic rock faces of Monte Civetta in its waters. To get to the lake you pass by the Rifugio Sonino al Coldai (mountain lodge), while the more adventurous may decide to continue the hike to the Rifugio Tissi (mountain lodge).

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Distance and elevation gain: 6km, 700m
  • Duration: 2h
  • Start: Piani di Pezzè (Alleghe, BL)
  • Arrival: Lake Coldai
  • Recommended period: from June to October
  • Useful advice: it is also possible to start from Rifugio Palafavera (Zoldo Alto, BL)

Trekking to Rifugio Nuvolau

One of the most popular destinations for a trek in the Dolomites is the Rifugio Nuvolau, the oldest mountain lodge in the Dolomites, built in 1883 on the mountain of the same name. From the Nuvolau it is possible to have a privileged view of the surrounding mountains, from Croda da Lago and Croda Negra to Monte Civetta, Pale di San Martino, and Marmolada. Those who enjoy dining at high altitude can enjoy typical local dishes at both the Rifugio Nuvolau and the lower Rifugio Averau.

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Distance and elevation gain: 4km, 500m
  • Duration: 1h30
  • Start: Passo Giau (Colle Santa Lucia, BL)
  • Arrival: Rifugio Nuvolau
  • Recommended period: from June to October
  • Useful advice: from the same starting point, it is possible to organise a 10km loop tour. In the high summer season, it may be difficult to find parking because the Giau Pass is very busy.

Tofana di Rozes loop trail

This itinerary represents one of the most beautiful loop trails in the Dolomites, because it follows the high walls of the Tofana di Rozes and crosses valleys, waterfalls, and historical evidence of the Great War. At several points, including Rifugio Giussani, it is possible to admire the surrounding mountain groups, in particular the Ampezzo Dolomites, Monte Pelmo and Marmolada.

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Distance and elevation gain: 12km, 600m
  • Duration: 5h
  • Start and arrival: Rifugio Dibona (Cortina d'Ampezzo, BL)
  • Recommended period: from June to October
  • Useful advice: those who love via ferrata routes can try the Scala di Minighel, a short but very exposed iron way where it is necessary to wear a complete via ferrata kit.

Geologist’s Trail, easy hike on the Alpe di Siusi

The Alpe di Siusi, Europe's largest high plateau, looks like a fairytale location, perfect for a family holiday. Among the various itineraries, we recommend the Geologist’s Trail, a loop that passes waterfalls, enchanting forests, and endless meadows. This route is also great for children.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Distance and elevation gain: 9km, 600m
  • Duration: 3h
  • Start and arrival: Bagni di Razzes (Siusi, BZ)
  • Recommended period: from May to October
  • Useful advice: the road to Alpe di Siusi is closed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but it is possible to reach the area by cable car or bus.

Trekking to Rifugio Brentei

The Brenta Dolomites also offer spectacular itineraries; such is the case of the hike to Rifugio Brentei, located in a natural amphitheatre between Crozzon di Brenta, Cima Tosa and Cima Brenta. This mountain lodge, which was managed for 62 years by the famous mountaineer Bruno Detassis, was recently renovated by the Leonardi family, who became owners in 2009.

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Distance and elevation gain: 5km, 700m
  • Duration: 2h30
  • Start: Vallesinella (Madonna di Campiglio, TN)
  • Arrival: Rifugio Brentei
  • Recommended period: from May to October
  • Useful advice: if you are looking for an itinerary in the same area which is good for children, we recommend trying the Vallesinella Waterfalls loop trail.


Itinerary in the Dolomites


Monte Pelmo loop trail

Our list could not fail to include one of the most characteristic mountains of the Belluno Dolomites, Monte Pelmo, nicknamed the “Throne of God” due to its peculiar shape. The loop trail around Monte Pelmo is quite demanding and crosses the most typical environments of the alpine area: forest, meadow, rock, and scree. The trek on the Throne of God is quite demanding, but it is possible to stop at the Rifugio Venezia (mountain lodge) to have lunch along the way and recover energy.

  • Difficulty: hard
  • Distance and elevation gain: 13km, 800m
  • Duration: 7h
  • Start and arrival: Staulanza Pass (Alleghe, BL)
  • Recommended period: from June to October
  • Useful advice: the path has some exposed sections and landslides, so we do not recommend this itinerary for the less experienced.

Trekking on the Latemar to the Rifugio Torre di Pisa

The Latemar mountain group is very popular in the winter season, but it also offers great opportunities in the summer, especially for trekking enthusiasts. Reaching Passo Feudo with the cable car from Predazzo, you can walk along the path to the Torre di Pisa refuge and admire the imposing pinnacles of the Latemar.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Distance and elevation gain: 2.5km, 500m
  • Duration: 1h
  • Start: Passo Feudo (Predazzo, TN)
  • Arrival: Rifugio Torre di Pisa
  • Recommended period: from June to September
  • Useful advice: the chairlift closes at 17.30, so make sure to return to Passo Feudo at least 15 minutes before closing time.

Monte Settsass loop trail

This loop trail does not present any specific technical difficulties and crosses the typical Dolomites environment. On the way, you will be able to admire Lake Valparola, and once you reach Cima Settsass, you can enjoy a 360° panorama of the mountain groups of the Dolomites, from Sass Pordoi to Sorapiss. If you are lucky, it is also possible to meet the marmots that populate the slopes crossed by the trail.

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Distance and elevation gain: 14km, 750m
  • Duration: 6h
  • Start and arrival: Rifugio Passo Valparola (Livinallongo del Col di Lana, BL)
  • Recommended period: from June to September
  • Useful advice: near the Valparola Lake you can visit the Tre Sassi Fort, a museum with artefacts and evidence of the Great War.

Monte Borgà loop trail

The Friulian Dolomites are certainly more rugged and severe than other Dolomite groups, but this does not make them any less beautiful or exciting. This is the case of the loop trail on Monte Borgà, a very distinctive route that also allows you to admire the 'Books of San Daniele', a rock formation that resembles open books and boasts a multitude of stories and legends centered on the patron saint of travellers. From the summit of Monte Borgà you will have an excellent view of the Civetta, Pelmo and Antelao mountains.

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Distance and elevation gain: 11km, 1300m
  • Duration: 7h
  • Start and arrival: Casso, PN
  • Recommended period: from June to October
  • Useful advice: the trail has some exposed sections, so we do not recommend this itinerary for the less experienced.

Trekking to Rifugio Zsigmondy-Comici

The last itinerary we recommend is in the Sexten Dolomites, the group that includes the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. A lesser-known but certainly very beautiful route is the one that connects the Rifugio Fondovalle with the Rifugio Zsigmondy-Comici and allows views of the Fiscalina Valley and the rocky peaks of the Three Peaks Nature Park. The mountain lodge stands on a plain at the foot of the Croda dei Toni.

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Distance and elevation gain: 6km, 700m
  • Duration: 2h30
  • Start: Rifugio Piano Fiscalina (Sesto, BZ)
  • Arrival: Rifugio Zsigmondy-Comici
  • Recommended period: from July to September
  • Useful advice: more skilled hikers can continue the itinerary to the longer trail known as "Giro dei tre rifugi".


Trekking in the Dolomites


What to know before hiking in the Dolomites

The best period for hiking in the Dolomites is definitely the summer season because temperatures are warmer, there are more hours of daylight, and there is no snow or ice along the trails. However, it is always a good idea to pay attention to shady areas, often in the northern part of the mountains, where you might encounter snowfields or areas that are still frozen. During July and August the Dolomites area is very busy so the trails and mountain lodges may be very crowded, especially on weekends.

Generally, mountain lodges are open from June to September, but it is always a good idea to check opening days and times before embarking on a hike. If you plan to sleep in a mountain lodge, we recommend booking in advance after checking the availability of beds in the facility.

Camping, specifically staying in a tent for multiple days, is prohibited in the Dolomites area. However, there is an exception where you can spend the night in a tent as long as the settlement does not last for more than 24 hours, and there are no explicit prohibitions in the area.


What to bring: our tips

The area of the Dolomites is very popular, however, it often presents some difficulties related to the ruggedness of the terrain, difficulty in orientation, and unpredictable weather conditions. For these reasons, we have prepared a list of essential things to have with you during a hike in the Dolomites:

  • Waterproof jacket. During the summer it is not uncommon to encounter sudden thunderstorms, especially in the Dolomites area. Even if the weather conditions look great, it is always good to have a waterproof jacket with you to wear when needed.
  • Proper footwear. Using sneakers or smooth-soled shoes in the Dolomites can be very dangerous. It is essential to wear footwear with structured soles such as approach shoes, or hiking boots.
  • Water. It should never be missing on a hike, especially in summer and on the Dolomite trails, which are often long and lack water sources.
  • Sunscreen. Essential to avoid burns, especially in high mountains where vegetation is almost absent.
  • First Aid Kit. Having the necessary supplies with you to treat cuts, abrasions or wounds can save your life or the lives of others, you can read more in our article "First Aid Kits for Hiking and Trekking: Our Tips."
  • GPS device. Although the trails in the Dolomites are well marked, it is always a good idea to have a GPS device with you so that you do not get lost, especially if you are walking on trails that are not well traveled.

If you plan to tackle a 2-day trek in the Dolomites, you can read our article "Backpacking: our tips for being prepared" where you can also find advice on where to sleep.


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