I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Italy. It has my heart. The moment I land in that country I oddly feel at home, despite (unfortunately) not knowing the language. I’ve been privileged enough to explore everywhere between Bari, Naples/Almafi Coast, up through Florence, Lucca, Cinque Terre and Tuscany on multiple occasions. The Dolomites were saved for last - and you know what they say about saving the best for last.
That statement’s obviously completely subjective. The Dolomites do somewhat lack the Italian culture and have a more German influence, but alas…I’m a mountain gal. Always have been. I would take a secluded, nature surrounded hut than a penthouse in the city any freakin day. Though Italian cities are a must-see if you never have, a city is a city. But there’s something so invigorating about immersing yourself in a totally unique landscape in different countries; there’s nothing else like it. This is why Dolomiti is part of my top favorite destinations of 2018 (including Bali and Madeira), and Lauterbrunnen took number one in 2017.
We flew into Venice, rented a car and headed straight for the mountains. Renting a car is an absolute must. There’s little to no public transportation to the area! We drove about 3.5 hours to the town of Santa Cristina in the Val Gardena ski area. We switched it up from our usual Airbnb and stayed at Smart Hotel Saslong. It was cheap, clean, new, included breakfast and is conveniently located. You’re going to do a sh*t ton of driving anyway, but we were within a short drive to some of my favorite sights of the trip.
Admittedly we napped from a few Aperol Spritz’s then drove a little up the hill from our hotel to catch sunset. Real casual views.
I wish I could remember every street name and route we took, but not all Italian names stuck with me. The best thing to do is stay central (where we were) and just drive. We stumbled upon this epic sunset spot on our way to our hotel.
Day two: we woke up with the mission to see the summit of Seceda. This was by far the most legendary Dolomites scene in my opinion. Highly suggest taking the gondola all the way up then hiking around the area. Once you see it, you won’t want to leave. The most baffling part was that there were merely 20 people total in the area. This is why I suggest Alps destinations in the summer.
There’s only so many photos you can take of the same mountain, but we were in absolute awe of the place. These jagged ridges are the poster board of the Dolomites and truly are what makes this area so unique.
We spent our final day in Dolomiti making a couple hour drive to the iconic Lago Di Braies (Italian) also known as Pragser Wildsee (German). If you’re willing to make the trek, it’s definitely worth the view. That crystal blue water looked like something out of a storybook.
We then headed towards our final desired viewpoint, Val De Funes. It’s another legendary view of the Dolomites with an adorable Italian chapel in the foreground. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain and cold, so we had no visual. But if they weather is good, head there.
It was time to escape the cold and head back towards Venice. We had one more night before flying home, so we decided to pick a town on the way back to stay the night in so we didn’t have to drive 3 hours and take a flight on the same day. That’s when we found Lake Garda, a stunning lake with quaint Italian towns all alongside it. We stayed at the highly recommended Hotel Capri in Malcesine and immediately regretted not booking more nights there. The temperature was a good 20 degrees warmer, the culture much more Italian, and it was less crowded than our other way more popular option, Lake Como. Go to Lake Garda on your way out or back from Dolomiti - you won’t regret it!
A few of my favorite iPhone shots at Garda and Dolomiti!
Behind the lens
You pretty much HAVE to have a car in order to explore the Dolomites. The closest airports are at least a 2 hour drive.
2. Don’t except the drool-worthy, carb-loaded, fully culture Italian cuisine in the Dolomites. It’s a healthy mix of German and Italian culture, which downgrades the food ever so slightly in my opinion. The Dolomites are really about the outdoor activities, so this wasn’t an issue for us (plus you can get your fix in places like Lake Garda!)
That’s really all I can remember. Sorry this post took so long…my currently broken external hard drive had all of my photos so I dreaded transferring them all from my phone. Regardless, the Dolomites are a must see if you’re on your way to Northern Italy. Go go go!
Where to next?