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48 Hours in the Dolomites

48 Hours in the Dolomites

One of, if not the most gorgeous of all landscapes in northern Italy, is the Dolomites in the Italian Alps. This 18-peak mountain range that rises above 10,000 feet is a Unesco World Heritage site that is a winter paradise for skiers and a hiker’s haven in the summer. This range, which includes breathtaking landscapes of cliffs and valleys, deep and long, has all to offer for the lovers of hiking, climbing, water sports, mountain biking and more. And to top it all off? You can throw in a visit to one of the termes (spas) to wind down. 

Even though you are still in Italy in the Dolomites, the food, language and atmosphere are all a bit different than what you will find in other parts of the country. With its location on the border with Austria, the region offers a delightful mix of cultures

How to Get to the Dolomites from Milan

Travelling to the Dolomites from Milan can take anywhere from a little under three hours to five hours, depending on the type of transportation you choose. With a car, it will be easier to navigate your journey once you arrive, but there are areas that you can stay in like the ever-popular Trento or Bolzano that make it easier to travel even without a car and still give you your required taste of the Dolomites. For an additional and more in-depth look at travel options, including from areas other than Milan, check out these tips. 

What to Do in the Dolomites

Trento and Bolzano are filled with picturesque landscapes, which is to be expected when they boast a handful of the natural heritage sites included in the “World Heritage List.” According to Visit Trentino, “During the Unesco session in Seville on June 26, 2009, nine Dolomite systems within the provinces of Trento, Bolzano, Belluno, Udine and Pordenone were added as a “serial asset” to the World Heritage List. Additionally, “The Dolomites are widely considered among the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the world.” Truer words have never been written! 

But, what can you do? The better question is what can’t you do! If you decide to visit in the winter months, pack those skis and snowboards and get ready to catch some powder! With more than 800 km of slopes, it has it all! Make sure to scour this site to find the clues on where the best parks, slopes and tours are for your winter sports!

Photo by Maayan Nemanov

Not a skier, and still want to have some fun and dip your toes in some snow? Check out this link that has all the ins and outs for “non skiers” like snowshoe excursions, dog sledding or even aperitivos on a snowmobile! Plus, Christmas markets come alive in the mountains like the not-to-be-missed Christmas market in Bolzano complete with delicious food and shopping galore. The markets always offer antiques, jewelry, gadgets, and of course delicious food and drinks!

Lake Braies in winter / Photo by Riccardo Chiarini

If you like to hike, the Dolomites are a dream destination in the warmer months, whether you are a beginner, expert, or something in-between. The trails are of all lengths and difficulty, with memorable experience and gasp-worthy views. One popular peak to climb is Cima Rosetta or Rosetta Peak. Part of the Pala group, a mountain range within the larger Dolomites, it is no wonder that this peak at an  elevation of 2,743 meters above sea level has become famous among climbers and hikers for all of its adventurous opportunities. Another one is the Vajolet Towers, which are six peaks in the Rosengarten Mountain Group of the western part of the Dolomites.

Luckily, if your hike has worn your body out, there are gondolas to take you to and from. Top hint: make sure to double check the closing times of the lift before embarking on your hike as you don’t want to get left behind. And if you want to drink a beer or have a quick or hearty lunch, there are a couple of restaurants at the top of the peak, so don’t fret! Even more hiking via ferratas, canyoning or mountain biking just means the summer activities in the Dolomites are endless! You can also hike in the winter but with a bit more challenges. **But if you are ready for the challenge, check out this site with several guided tours to choose from.

Hiking in the Dolomites / Photo by Nadia H.

However, all of this activity just may have you begging for relaxation. Well, we have you covered. With spas like the QC Terme Dolomiti in Trentino surrounded by the mountains and the Terme Merano in Bolzano you will be rested beyond your wildest dreams. Traveling with children who are itching for another activity? Make sure to stop at the South Tyrol Archaeological Museum to see the historical Otzi the Iceman, the mummified remains of a more than 5,300-year-old body found in the Otzal Alps, which is sure to catch your children’s attention.

Where to Stay in the Dolomites

When hiking and skiing, people tend to stay in refugios or mountain huts. Some may have less perks than others, but overall, it’s the experience that keeps people going back for more. If you decide to bring your adventure to Rosetta Peak, don’t skip out on Rifugio Rosetta for the true rifugio experience. If you make your way up to see the stunning Vajolet Towers, make sure to book Rifugio Re Alberto in advance but if it is sold out, there are a few that you will most likely pass on your ascent to the towers like the charming Rifugio Stella Alpina Spiz Piaz.

Craving even luxury with your hotel with a side of a spa, possibly? Then, whet your appetite with these possible options. Or check out the dependable Booking.com for more availability in Trento and Bolzano. Keep in mind that many of the refugios may require a hike to get to, but once you have arrived, the awe you will experience will be worth it. 

Spa Resort in the Dolomites / Photo from Familiamus

Packing the Dolomites into one page is almost impossible to do as you can see, but if you have the chance to view these wonders, it is a must. When you see the scenery with your own eyes, you won’t believe it is real as it mimics a painting that has sprung to life. But when you do see it, it will undoubtedly leave you with the feeling of wanting more and with the realization that it is definitely worth the hype. 

Article by Mary Catherine Holcomb for Easy Milano

Featured Image by Eberhard Grossgasteiger

Easy Milano

Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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