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Hiking in the Dolomites



Photo: PHOTOGRAPHY Toporowski (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Craggy mountains, vibrant valleys and ever-munching marmots are all sights you’ll enjoy on walks in the Dolomites. This breathtaking mountain range is so beautiful and geologically significant that it’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Both geologists and hikers are drawn to this exceptional region for the same reason; the variation and diversity of the mountains, which has to be seen to be believed. Hikes in the Dolomites will reveal some of the highest limestone rock faces in the world, immense pinnacles and picture-perfect lakes. 

In northern Italy, you’ll find local pizzerias in every valley village and plenty of Italian hospitality to keep you comfortable. With hiking trails open from spring to autumn and world-class winter mountaineering, there’s no bad time to go adventuring in the Dolomites. 

Top 20 best walks and hikes in the Dolomites

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A range of walks for everyone

With low walks through valley meadows, you can explore the beauty of the Dolomites from the ground up. Trek across high plateaus and alpine pastures with craggy peaks all around. Some of the best hiking trails in the Dolomites are amongst these lush, green valleys with their traditional huts and tiny villages. 

Enjoying world-class views on walks in the Dolomites isn’t difficult to do. In fact, wherever you go in this stunning mountain range, you’ll hike in exquisite terrain and find trails that steadily wind higher and higher. The Dolomites is full of fantastic loop paths as well as long-distance linear walks so it’s easy to choose the right length of walk for you. 

Some trails focus on specific, iconic mountains such as the Three Peaks and the jaw-dropping Peitlerkofel. Others are set into lesser known mountains, taking you to viewpoints you’ll only share with the local wildlife. Most hikes in the Dolomites require reasonable fitness and sure-footedness but you can always find trails for everything from family strolls to expert adventures. 

The wildlife of the mountains

Admittedly, it’s difficult to tear your eyes away from the extraordinary views you’ll find everywhere in the Dolomites. When you do though, you’ll be rewarded with glimpses of this region’s wonderful wildlife. 

The Dolomites are home to a diverse range of animals who are exceptionally hardy, living and sometimes hibernating within the mountains. Chamois are one of the most commonly spotted animals whilst out on walks in the Dolomites. These goat-antelopes are remarkable rock climbers and graze the mountains and valleys with impressive agility. 

Up in the sky, you can spot golden eagles and goshawk while alpine choughs hop around on the cliffs. Marmots have been reintroduced to the Dolomites and these charming mammals can be found busily munching on grasses, fattening up for their winter hibernation. 

Brown bears have also been successfully reintroduced to the Dolomites and while spotting one is an unforgettable experience, care also needs to be taken. Making noise and keeping your distance from bears is a good way to stay safe. 

The historic via ferrata

The Dolomites are well-known for their amazing via ferrata routes. Originally made from iron (ferrata) and now from steel, via ferrata routes have ladders, steel loops and other climbing aids secured into rock faces and adrenaline-inducing paths. 

This exhilarating method of crossing mountains was initially developed in the First World War to allow Italian soldiers to move across the range. Now it’s an exciting way to take your hikes to greater levels, all while wearing a harness and safety clips. Unlike climbing, there are no ropes to heft around and it’s a brilliant way to experience the Dolomites and see the conditions soldiers lived in many years ago.

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