a few months ago the first country that came to mind me when thinking about "hiking in europe" would be switzerland, no questions. the dolomites, though, are an insanely epic and much less touristy part of the southern limestone alps located in northeastern italy [UNESCO site]. to be honest, until a friend mentioned this mountain range to us i had never even heard of it. the overall vibes are pretty much split from east to west, each with it's own unique culture and style. THE EAST [cortina d'ampezzo] is much more italian in terms of language, food and culture. THE WEST [bolzano] fully embraces the fact that they tightly hug the austrian border, with german being the primary language and schnitzel showing up more than pasta on menus.
GETTING THERE & THINGS TO KNOW:
you will 100% need a car and at least 4-5 days, as the region itself is quite spread out and there is a lot to see. we drove in from florence which took about 4 hours and the drive is beautiful. venice is also very close [3 hours], or you can easily come in from the opposite direction, innsbruck austria, which is 1 hour by train. we visited in late september and the weather was a dream – sunny most of the days and chilly at night, and the [minimal] tourists from summer had died down.
WHERE TO STAY & THINGS TO SEE:
we stayed a total of 6 nights, 4 in the east and 2 in the west. starting in pozzale, we had the perfect airbnb tucked in the mountains that was our home base for a lot of great hikes. i could not have loved the host or the location of this apartment any more. we later moved west and met up with friends in south tyrol [more on that later]. some of our favorite things include: hiking to chisetta di san dionisio, lake misurina, hiking tre cime [and seeing tiny horses], hiking to lago di sorapiss and seeing lago di braies & hotel briol in south tyrol.
SEE HERE FOR MORE INFO ON WHERE TO HIKE IN THE DOLOMITES.