A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Dolomites are famous for their natural beauty: sheer pink mountain faces made even more spectacular during alpenglow and towering vertical peaks responsible for beautiful, snaking mountain passes. Not to mention its luscious green meadows, enchanting woodlands and crystal-clear lakes that make up some of the most stunning national parks in Europe, bursting with thousands of alpine plants and wildlife. It’s the ultimate natural playground for summer activity.
The Dolomites, in all its nature and beauty, awaits the adventurer. Let’s not keep them waiting. Some of our Alps In Luxury team have contributed their expertise to highlight the top things to do in the Dolomites on a luxury summer mountain holiday. Whether on two feet, two wheels, or in the water, there’s so much on offer…
On Two Feet
Hiking in the Dolomites
Ellie, Marketing Manager
Is a holiday to the mountains in the summer truly complete without packing your backpack with your favourite snacks and heading out for the day to explore nature’s best paths? If you are in agreement, let me tell you, there is nowhere quite like the Dolomites for hiking. The rugged mountain faces and picturesque alpine lakes form an idyllic hiker’s playground. There are an impressive number of kilometres to cover by foot for all abilities; we have done our best to narrow down our top hiking trails in the Dolomites for each level…
- 🥾 EASY: Tofana di Mezzo, Cortina d’Ampezzo
Breaking those boots in with a nice easy 0.3 km hike. Yes a super short hike but very much worthy of a mention. For the little effort required, this hiking route in Cortina offers some of the best views in the Dolomites. Add a little challenge by scrambling up a steep but short hill where a 360° panorama awaits.
For those looking for slightly longer easy routes, check out Cortina’s Cinque Torri (1.9km), Cadini di Misurina (3.2km) or Rifugio Nuvalou via Rifugio Averau (4km and excellent lunch stops!). Or if you’re based in the Val Gardena, Seceda is the one for a stunning viewpoint and Alpe di Suisi for luscious green meadows at altitude.
- 🥾🥾 MODERATE: The Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Cortina
To get close to the iconic symbol of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage site, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo is a great route for jaw-dropping views of the ‘triple peaks’. Taking anywhere between 2.5 to 5 hours, this 8.8km loop is a must on a luxury summer holiday in Cortina. There’s options to take in unique viewpoints and stunning alpine lakes too.
Sassolungo (16.7km) in Val Gardena and Lago di Sorapis (11.6km) in Cortina are amongst other popular moderate hikes in the Dolomites.
- 🥾🥾🥾 HARD: Resciesa Plateau to Seceda Ridgeline, Val Gardena
Starting in Ortisei and ending at Seceda – Col Raiser Gondola Mountain Station, these ridgeline routes cover 14k – 16.8km with an elevation gain of up to 1,090 metres, depending on your choice of path. Expect challenging terrain with some scrambling, but rewards of breathtaking scenery and mountain refuges such as Rifugio Malga Brogles.
Via Ferrata in the Dolomites
Ellen, Summer Alps Specialist
In the world of Via Ferrata holidays, the Dolomites is one of the best. It makes sense as the phrase ‘Via Feratta’ translates from Italian as ‘Iron Roads’. The routes were used for soldiers to access strategic positions during WWI in Italy. Today the climbing aids, upgraded from iron to steel, are closer to a giant mountain jungle gym. It’s easily one of the most thrilling things to do in Dolomites, plus, for an intellectual blast many routes afford views over important battlefields or climb past historic military outposts.
With ropes and a guide, Via Ferrata is an accessible and memorable activity for anyone – regardless of climbing experience. It’s a summer activity in the Dolomites that will make you feel like a mountaineer adventuring into the sublime, but this exhilaration is wrapped in safety and accessibility. Some Dolomites Via Ferrata routes even include zip wires for added excitement!
There are over 600 Via Feratta climbs in the Dolomites. For a small taste of the action, near the alpine resort of Selva Val Gardena is the beginner friendly Gran Cir Via Ferrata route. This Via Ferrata connects over the Gardena Mountain pass so, bring the camera as it’s one of the most beautiful places in the Dolomites. If you’re looking for more challenging route, then the intermediate Via Ferrata Dibona could be for you; it’s known for being featured in the 1993 film Cliffhanger!
Experience the Culture
Ellen, Summer Alps Specialist
Out of the variety of things to do in the Dolomites sometimes the charming alpine villages are overlooked in favour of high adrenaline, exhilarating activities. Nevertheless, some of the most worthwhile things to do in the Dolomites involve exploring the local alpine resorts, and absorbing their unique culture. Here’s a few highlights of some of the most beautiful places to experience culture in the Dolomites…
- Madonna di Campiglio, the ‘Pearl of the Dolomites’, offers an abundance of stunning landscapes within the UNESCO Adamello Brenta Nature Park. The car-free centre is the perfect place to promenade and take in the vibrant ambience amongst traditional, high-end architecture. Once enjoyed by Princess Sissi of Austria and the wealthy Austrian bourgeoisie in the 1800s, who had a huge influence on the chic alpine resort it is today.
- Selva di Val Gardena is bursting with culture. Once part of Austria, the friendly locals have worked hard to preserve its Tirolean charm. Exploring beautiful churches, chapels and castle ruins perched on craggy outposts in Selva di Val Gardena, are just an insight into the many cultural things to do in the Dolomites. You may even chance upon a parade or local festival – important summer events that keep this resort feeling authentic.
- Brunico town dates way back to the stone ages, so it may be no surprise that this quaint alpine village is steeped in history. Offering an insight into the true essence of Dolomiti heritage, you can explore highlights such as the Brunico Castle and many museums including Messner Mountain Museum Crones, Messner Mountain Museum RIPA, South Tyrolean Folklore Museum and The City Museum, complete with contemporary art galleries and interesting collections of artifacts.
On Two Wheels: Biking in the Dolomites
Bradley, Product and Marketing Executive
If you’re looking for heart-pumping and adventure-fuelled things to do in the Dolomites, mountain biking should be high on your list. The majestic, imposing landscape in summer not only creates a hiker’s paradise but offers geology for some of the best mountain biking trails in the Italian Alps too. Featuring an extensive network of trails across beautiful mountain panoramas, where better to reward your efforts than a tasty refreshment in a rustic mountain hut?
The Val Gardena valley is pedal pushing its way to becoming one of THE places to visit for a mountain bike holiday. Made up of Ortisei, St Cristina and Selva Val Gardena, mountain bike lovers will have access to over 1,000km of trails, more than 30 routes and a number of bike parks. With something available for all ages and abilities, from easy to enduro-marked routes, the Val Gardena valley offers a fantastic option for a Dolomites family summer holiday. The Sella Ronda Tour is one of the best MTB trails found in the valley – surely one to add to your list of things to do in the Dolomites this summer?
Cortina d’Ampezzo should also be considered for mountain biking in the Dolomites, and where better to rest those weary legs than in one of our luxury summer chalets in Cortina!
Ollie, Product Data Assistant
Road biking is among one of the best summer activities to do when on a Dolomites summer holiday. There are few better ways to enjoy the scenery than cycling across the many mountain passes. However, a Dolomites cycling holiday is not for the beginner. Routes here involve plenty of challenging climbs, many made famous on the Giro d’Italia which has featured stages here since as far back as 1937.
If skiing the Sella Ronda circuit is a bucket list winter activity, then cycling the Sella Ronda route should be your top ambition of things to do in the Dolomites in the summer. The easiest stretch, the Passo Campolongo, starts in Corvara in Alta Badia and heads over to Arabba. You will also climb across the Pordoi, Sella and Gardena passes, taking you past Selva Val Gardena on your way around. There is no better day to experience this than on the Sella Ronda bike day, which occurs in both June and September, where roads are closed to cars to allow you to freely explore the 53km of road biking around the Sella Massif. Of course, cycling in the Dolomites isn’t just limited to these mountain passes. Roads are closed again in July for the Maratona dles Dolomites, a 138km amateur Gran Fondo that lets you experience the best climbs in the Dolomites.
On the Water: Water Sports in the Dolomites
Ollie, Product Data Assistant
The mountains might not be the first place that spring to mind when you think of kayaking. However, the Dolomites are scattered with mountain lakes, glittering sapphires in the pronged crown of the Dolomite peaks, perfect for kayaking in Italy. Lago di Misurina is one such lake for kayaking holidays, with crystal waters that reflect the majestic mountain faces, it’s located just a short 20 minute drive from the world-renowned resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
A Dolomites kayaking holiday isn’t only about lakes. Two of Italy’s longest rivers cut through the region, the Piave and Adige, the latter of which passes not too far from Ortisei. Float gently downstream or navigate tougher channels of white water that have been crafted over a millennia by melting ice.
Faye, Summer Alps Specialist
If you’re planning an escape to Italy this summer, taking a dip in some of the most beautiful lakes in the Dolomites is an absolute must for your bucket list. With some of the Europe’s most picturesque and breathtaking lakes so accessible, we recommend a visit to the following…
- Lake Braies – the most photographed lake in Italy! Take in the dramatic mountain panorama and crystal clear waters for a wild swim in the Dolomites.
- Lake Misurina – one of Italy’s largest natural lakes. Surrounded by beautifully thick, fir forests, experience a harmonious swimming experience not to be missed.
- Lago di Carezza – the ‘Rainbow Lake’. Shimmering waters of all different colours makes this lake the favourite for a cool-down after a hike on one of it’s many mesmerising trails.
The Dolomites are home to some of the most stunning lakes in Europe, offering peaceful retreats in the midst of nature. A sunrise swim or a post hike dip is a definite must for this summer!
Bradley, Product and Marketing Executive
Summer in the Dolomites boast beautiful bodies of water; from roaring rivers to stunning lakes, it’s the perfect destination for an Alps water sports adventure. White water rafting in the Dolomites offers a fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled adventure for your holiday. Not only is it a fantastic option on family summer holidays, with teamwork and fun very much at its forefront, white water rafting is great for corporate Alps trips looking for team building activities.
Rafting tours down fast flowing rivers encompass the beauty of the Dolomites in summer. It’s important not to get too distracted though as you may be met with a refreshing dip! The River Noce is a popular choice and promises a beautiful setting for an exhilarating experience on a white water rafting holiday. Located in Val di Sole, this river is situated approximately 1-hour’s drive from Madonna di Campiglio. Alternatively, why not try rafting along the Eisack and Passer rivers? Close to a number of our summer resorts in South Tyrol, such as Alta Badia, Brunico, Cortina, Ortisei and Selva Val Gardena, these long, meandering torrents should quickly navigate their way onto your Dolomites bucket list.
Ollie, Product Data Assistant
Luxury summer chalets in the Dolomites have something for everybody. There’s a fine selection of alpine retreats, places like White Deer San Lorenzo Lodge, Cesa del Louf, and Chalet Sotciastel, idyllic escapes nestled high in the mountains oozing heritage, luxury and charm. You can also spend your time in properties like Chalet Vilaiet, Chalet Sella Ronda and Chalet Mi Amur, luxury chalets with swimming pools, all of which are outside allowing you to marvel at breathtaking mountain panoramas while you enjoy a refreshing dip. The Brenta Dolomites resort of Madonna di Campiglio offers up some stylish chalet and apartment options, while the fashionable and elegant Cortina d’Ampezzo naturally offers up the ultra luxurious LV | 01 Dolce Vita and LV | 02 Perla; luxury chalets in the Dolomites with an overabundance of wonderful facilities that match up to the prestige of the world-famous luxury summer resort they reside in.
If you are inspired by the many things to do in the Dolomites and the exceptional luxury chalets, then get in touch to start planning your next luxury summer holiday in the mountains. Our Summer Alps Specialists are on hand to share their experiences and expert knowledge to ensure you have a summer Alps holiday brimming with special moments and memories that last a lifetime. Get in touch giving us a call on +44 1202 203659 or dropping us an email.