The Italian Dolomites.
by site editor Rick McCharles
I write from Europe. This is the first adjustment to our Top 10 hiking regions since we first published them. Northern Italy has been added.
High altitude adventure and colourful sunsets. Wow! The Dolomites are far better than I expected. This was my first trip.
The scenery in the Dolomites may be just as good. And there are far, far more stunning jagged peaks in Italy than in all of South America.
Many, many Europeans get out hiking during the Summer. Trails are crowded everywhere throughout the Dolomites and the Alps. There’s a great shared sense of community here.
Instant gratification. You can ride chair lifts up to the very tops of some of these peaks. How convenient is that? Almost anyone can find a best hike for themselves in this range.
WW I history in the Dolomites is sobering. German, Austrian and Italian soldiers were stuck digging tunnels through these mountains through several winters. This was the “Front”. Needless to say, far more young men died from the elements and falls than by fire fights. There are reminders of the Great War everywhere.
Here is the home of via ferrata (Italian for “iron road”). (In fact, our next trip to the Dolomites will be dedicated to doing some of the best of those assisted climbing routes.)
Not everything is perfect in the Dolomites. I prefer the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, overall.
In the Sierras I can put up a tent anywhere I want. Fantastic.
Unfortunately, in the Dolomites you are required to sleep in alpine buildings called Refuges. (Refugios – Italian). Their locations are stunning. Many people love them. But – personally – I prefer my tent over sleeping on the floor. Or in bunk beds.
Happily you can reach almost any place in the Dolomites by day hike. Public transportation in the valleys below is good!
The two regions – the Sierras and the Dolomites – are similar in that everywhere is a best hike.
I do like the food and drink at Refugios. Prices are regulated.
The main reason I had not hiked in Europe in 30yrs is cost. Italy can be expensive.
It’s possible to hike on the cheap. Putting up my tent in a campground in Cortina only cost
9€ (US$12.80) / night in 2009. Ryan tells us it’s up to 44€ / night summer 2023!
Bread, chocolate, soft cheese and wine are inexpensive. What more do you need?
For specific information on how to hike these limestone mountains, check our Dolomites Information page.
Leave a comment if you have your own favourite hike in the Dolomites.