THE DOLOMITES, ITALY
Shockingly, I hadn’t even heard of The Dolomites until a couple of years ago when my cousin visited! They are located in Northeastern Italy and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is so much to see and do and our 5 nights didn’t cover it but we definitely managed to see the highlights.
We are so lucky to be less than a 2 hour flight away from such a beautiful location, and I have no doubt that we will visit again one day.
So here is our 5 night itinerary…and more posts will be coming soon about individual parts of our trip!
We landed at Venice Marco Polo Airport at 9:30am, picked up our hire car and got straight on the road. We made it to Lago di Misurina for lunch and enjoyed some essential pizza and pasta at Pizzeria Eidelweiss with a great view of the lake – pizzas also started from €5 which was a great start to the trip!
Top tip – on your journey North you will go through biglietti (ticket) gates and then later on have to reinsert your ticket at another gate to pay a toll. It was €8 (and the same on the way back).
We continued North until we reached our hotel where we would be staying for 2 nights – Hotel Gasthaus Adler, run by the wonderful Pircher family. Here we received some of the best hospitality we have ever received in a hotel and we truly wished we could have stayed for longer. We stayed in the beautiful attic suite (pictured below) and were very sad when it was time to check out! Our schedule was so jam packed that we didn’t get a chance to use their pool/spa facilities – we will definitely be back for another visit and will factor in a day to relax next time!
And what a beautiful view we had from our suite:
Eager to explore, we decided to immediately drive to the famous Lago di Braies. It did not disappoint and was absolutely breathtaking! We were also pleasantly surprised at how quiet it was, showing us how relatively undiscovered the Dolomites are in comparison with other mountain destinations.
After a long day we returned to the hotel for a delicious dinner, easily one of the best meals we had all week.
Then it was time to catch some zzzs before we headed back to the lake the next morning.
We arrived back at Lago di Braies for 06:45am and completed the 1 hour hike around the outside of the lake. As soon as the sun rises above the mountains (around 08:30am mid-June) the lake gets flooded with beautiful light and it is the perfect time for photos.
At 9:00am the boathouse opens and we rented a boat for 1 hr (€25 euros). We were blessed with beautiful weather.
After about 200 photos (most of which looked the same, it’s just so hard to not constantly take photos!), we headed back to the hotel for a much needed coffee in the sun.
We grabbed a quick lunch back at Pizzeria Eidelweiss again (told you it was good) before setting off on a hike to Lago di Sorapis. The trail number is #215 and to access it everyone parks along the side of the road near to Restaurant Son Zuogo. Estimated time for the 11km hike is about 2.5 hours each way but James has an unwritten rule that we must not be overtaken so we actually did it in 1.5! But it was not without it’s problems…
The weather can change very quickly in the mountains and when we were about 15 minutes from the top we found ourselves in one of the biggest thunderstorms I have ever seen. It was pretty scary as there was fork lightening right in front of us in the valley but also quite exciting! And wet. We got ABSOLUTELY DRENCHED and when we reached the little cafe at the top we were starting to think we might be having a sleepover with the 15 or so other stranded hikers!
The weather did slowly clear up so we got straight back onto the track and took a steady hike back to the car. There are lots of steep sections and places where you have to hold onto ropes against the mountain so if you really do hate heights either 1. Maybe don’t do this hike or 2. Definitely still do this hike just try not to look down! I did feel a little queasy in places but it was definitely worth it!
Oh and we did manage to quickly see the lake before we headed back down the mountain…
As we got back pretty late this day we had to skip dinner and got pretty hangry but that’s another story!
After Tuesday’s 30,000 steps we allowed ourselves a (tiny) lie in on Wednesday, and enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Hotel Adler before heading out.
Our first stop was the famous ‘Three Peaks’ of the Dolomites – Tre Cime di Lavorado. We arrived at 9:00am and were back at the car by 12:30 (having also got drenched in the rain again for the final 20 minutes of the hike).
Top tip – there is a €30 toll for the road up to the Rifugio Auronzo car park, where the trail begins.
The trailhead we followed is number #101 which merges into #105 and we went anti-clockwise which is the most common choice. It is about 10km in total. (Individual blog post on this hike coming soon).
Hotel Adler kindly offered us a late check out as they knew we were doing this hike so after a shower and freshen up we check out and headed West to our new destination.
To break up the drive we stopped off at Santa Magdalena to enjoy some beautiful views and another fabulous Italian coffee.
By 6pm we arrived at Villa Insam, our home for the night. After a warm welcome from our kind hosts we were shown to our room to find that the view from our balcony was breathtaking.
We had dinner at Pizzeria L’Ciamin before getting some sleep ready for another exciting day.
A short drive from Villa Insam is the town of Ortisei where we decided to get the cable car up to the top of Seceda. It is not cheap at €32 each (return) but our legs needed a break! There are actually two lifts, you have to change half way up.
Top tip – there are about 200 parking spaces at the lift and it costs €8 for the day (or €1.5 per hour). Arriving early is best, not only to get a space but for views/light/good weather at the top of the mountain.
We did a short hike at the top to get the best views and had a drink in the cafe before heading back down for lunch at Ristorante Concordia.
Then we continued on to our final hotel for the week – Dolomiti Hotel Adler Carezza. We enjoyed a beautiful 4 course set meal in the hotel for dinner – so good that I didn’t even remember to take a single photo! We even got offered seconds which was a bonus!
After breakfast we hopped in the car and headed to Lago di Carezza, less than 10 minutes from the hotel. We were once again spoilt with beautiful reflections which made for great photos.
For lunch we enjoyed traditional carbonara at Hotel Tyrol Pizzeria.
Our plan for the afternoon had been another hike or some mountain biking but unfortunately I was not feeling well and the weather ended up being terrible anyway so we chilled out for the rest of the day, which was actually much needed after our busy week! The hotel staff are very knowledgable about the local area so we already know that if we return there are multiple hikes that lead from the hotel itself and multiple places nearby to hire mountain bikes.
We enjoyed a final breakfast at the hotel and made our way to the airport to head home – the week absolutely flew by and we will be back for sure!
I hope this itinerary helps you plan your own trip to the Dolomites, let me know if you decide to go or if you have any other questions!
Happy travels 🙂
Want to extend your trip? Check out my weekend guide to Venice!
And check out our highlights video of our trip:
A trip summary:
Lago di Misurina
Lago di Braies
Lago di Braies
Lago di Sorapis
Tre Cime di Lavorado
Lago di Carezza