Outdoor activities to do in the Dolomites

JUAN MARTINEZ

November 20, 2020

Outdoor activities to do in the Dolomites

Cycling, hiking and rock climbing in Summer, while skiing and alpine mountaineering in Winter. The Italian Dolomites are a paradise for outdoor explorers

It’s obvious I’m in love with the region of the Dolomites. They are not only in my opinion the most beautiful mountain landscape in Europe, but also one of the most diverse places when it comes to outdoor activities. No matter what time of the year you are planning your trip to the Dolomites, there is always an opportunity to get closer to nature and explore this region’s majestic mountains. These are the best outdoor activities you can do in the Dolomites:

Single day and multi day hiking

  • Time of the year: Summer/Autumn
  • Level of fitness: Easy to moderate
  • Equipment necessary: 2/5
Cinque Torri in Cortina Dolomites
Cinque Torri in Cortina is one of the most iconic areas of the Dolomites

Hiking is probably the most popular activity to do in the Dolomites and the best way to explore its beauty. Either planning short day hikes around your favorite spots or experiencing a full 7 day hiking expedition, the Dolomites won’t disappoint.

Travelers experiencing these mountains get also the opportunity to stay overnight over the clouds, as rifugios located in some of the most scenic spots usually serve as the start or arrival point for hikers. 

Regions like Cortina have more than 400km of signposted trails and no matter what kind of level of fitness you have, there is always a very panoramic route waiting for you.

If you are looking to explore the Dolomites on foot, the 10-day Alta Via 1 route or the 7-day Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking are the best two-multi day hiking routes to go for.

Read more: Planning a 10-day hiking trip in the Dolomites: The Alta Via 1

Via Ferratas

  • Time of the year: Spring/Summer/Autumm/Winter
  • Level of fitness: Medium to moderate
  • Equipment necessary: 3/5
Ferratas in the Dolomites
Ferratas are perfect for those wanting to try something different outdoors

Used as a war strategy at WWI, today ferratas are one of the most popular outdoor activities to do in the Dolomites. For those who never heard about a “ferrata” before, via ferratas are equipped routes that are fixed with metal cables, ladders and suspended bridges. Some consider them something between hiking and rock climbing, and if you never tried rock climbing before, a ferrata is probably the best way to start.

The region of Cortina has around 30 different ferratas all over the Dolomites with all levels of difficulty. Some ferratas like Averau or Lagazuoi do not require any specific knowledge in climbing and you can easily do them independently, while others would be better to try with a mountain guide for the very first time.

Prices for a guide lay between 100-300€ per route/group and if you are planning to do a ferrata independently you can also rent the equipment in many sport shops in Cortina d` Ampezzo.

Rock Climbing

  • Time of the year: Spring/Summer/Autumm
  • Level of fitness: Moderate to difficult
  • Equipment necessary: 4/5
rock climbing dolomites - outdoor activities
The views after rock climbing a peak in the Dolomites make the effort worth.

With some of the most beautiful climbing walls in the world, the Dolomites are considered a climbing paradise for amateurs and even professionals. Routes are available for all kind of levels and single pitch walls can be as high as 30 meters.

Iconic locations such as Cinque Torri has some of the most exciting routes in the area, while also offering the best views to those who reach the top.

For those looking for a more adventurous experience, mixed routes (hiking, wall climbing and alpine mountaineering) reach altitudes of over 3000m and will take your breath away. Gigantic mountains like Tofana di Mezzo (3244m) can be climbed in a single day and be the experience of a lifetime.

Cycling

  • Time of the year: Spring/Summer/Autumm/Winter
  • Level of fitness: Easy to moderate
  • Equipment necessary: 2/5
outdoor activities dolomites - Cycling
Cycling in the Dolomites is getting more known each each.

With dozens of trails in perfect conditions to choose from and establishing itself a cycling destination in Europe, the Dolomites are not only for climbing and hiking, but also for mountain biking and road cycling.

Routes passing through superb mountain passes and surrounded by gigantic peaks are the highlight of a cycling trip in the Dolomites. And while some of the routes can be very exhausting, the use of e-bikes has been increasing recently and more of these panoramic routes  are becoming more accessible to everyone.

The Dolomites has become such an iconic region to cycle that it has established itself as a standard leg at the Giro d’ Italia and one of the toughest climbs in the whole race.

Skiing and Snowboarding

  • Time of the year: Winter
  • Level of fitness: Medium to difficult
  • Equipment necessary: 4/5
Skiing Dolomites
The Dolomites is known for having a large tradition of alpine skiing

From green valleys and blooming fields, to vast snow-covered areas and icy peaks. The Dolomites breathtaking sceneries completely transform in winter and the areas where travelers go for a short day hike turn into an alpine skiing paradise.

Travelers can choose from traditional ski slopes at the lower part of the valley or explore the higher sections of the Dolomites, such as the Olympia delle Tofane. This is also the home of the Dolomiti Superski, one of the world’s largest ski circuits with 1200km of slopes across 12 ski domains.

With so many choices, incredible views and levels of difficulty, there is no wonder why Cortina was selected to be the host of the Winter Olympic Games 2026.

Other outdoor activities in the Dolomites

ice climbing in the dolomites
ice climbing is becoming a very popular extreme sport in the Dolomites during winter

Ice climbing

Ice climbing has always fascinated me as one of the most exciting activities to try on winter. Just like in any other parts of the alps, this sport is quite popular and if you are not coming from an alpine region, it might worth a try.

Professional guides can take you for a day and find the perfect cliff for you to learn. Moreover, don’t worry about the equipment, as all tours included everything you might need for this adventure.

Snowshoe Hiking

It is the perfect activity if you want to explore by foot the beauty of the Dolomites covered in snow. This is a sport most ski resorts/winter rifugios offer to their guests, and there is almost zero experience require if you want to give it a try.

Trail running

The Cortina valley in the Dolomites is the hub for one of the best destinations when it comes to trail running. The region has 18 GPS-tracked itineraries and almost 500 km of untouched routes offering amazing panoramic views.

Exact information of the trail maps and the different routes are available at the official website of Cortina.

Read more: How to plan a road trip in the Alps

Views of the Dolomites - outdoor activities
With some of the best views in Europe, an outdoor trip to the Dolomites is a full experience

I went to the Dolomites for just 10 days. However, this short time was enough for me to get a good taste of its beauty and fell in love with the region. Now that I visit this part of Italy and I know how far is it from my home in Berlin, I’m sure I will be coming back here regularly and explore its sceneries even more.

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