My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. TaylorA few weeks ago, Volvo Switzerland let me take one of their new Volvo XC40’s on a roadtrip to wherever I wanted for two weeks. I couldn’t think of any place more perfect for a roadtrip than the Dolomites in Italy – one of my favorite places in the world! I’ve been to the Dolomites five times now, and no matter how many times I visit I always find new things to discover. The summer months in the Dolomites are my favorite because the grass is green, the wildflowers are in full bloom and you can hike just about anywhere you please with some of the most incredible mountain views around you. One of the highlights of my trip was driving the beautiful, windy roads through mountain passes and alpine meadows in our Volvo XC40 – the perfect ride for a place like this. In case you’re interested in doing the same roadtrip we did, I’ve put together my complete “7 Day Roadtrip Itinerary For The Dolomites” including all the details you need to know about what to see, the best times to visit, and where to stay.

Day 1: Tre Cime di Laverado

After spending the night in Innsbruck, Austria we headed out to our first stop in the Dolomites known as Tre Cime di Laverado. What I love most about this spot is that after a 30 min drive up a windy, yet scenic road to Refugio Auronzo (note the 30 euro toll fee to enter) you can find yourself at the foot of Tre Cime di Laverado surrounded by nearly 360 degree views of some of Italy’s best mountains. This is a great area for hiking, especially for beginners, since most of the trails here have little elevation gain and are well maintained. While the most popular hiking destination is the Drei Zinnen hut, which can be reached within 1.5 hours from Auronzo, we opted to head in a different direction for sunset with equally stunning views. Within 20-30 minutes you can reach an incredible viewpoint of the Cadini Group peaks pictured below. As you make your way down the trail, the staggering sharp peaks tower in front of you and offer the perfect backdrop for any photo.

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor


Where to stay: We stayed in the town of Toblach at Park Hotel Bellevue since it was in between the Tre Cime area and Lago di Braies. I would also recommend staying in the town of Misurina since it is close to many other popular destinations and hiking trails. I have stayed in Misurina before and can recommend the Grand Hotel Misurina.


Day 2: Lago Di Braies and Lago di Sorapis

The next day we woke up early to catch sunrise at Lago di Braies. This lake has become incredibly popular with tourists and photographers in the last few years due to photos popping up all over Instagram and Pinterest. However, once you visit this lake it’s easy to see why thousands of visitors come here everyday to admire the beauty of this iconic place. In fact, it’s one of the largest and deepest natural lakes in the Dolomites.

Its green forests, crystal blue waters and breathtaking mountain views are perfect to enjoy on a warm summer day. However, I suggest visiting in the early morning hours since this lake can get extremely busy, even by mid-morning. You can also take a beautiful wooden row boat out on the lake from 10AM until 5PM  (beginning of June until late September) for 15.00 € for 1/2 hour and 25.00 € for 1 hour.

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

After grabbing some lunch and taking an afternoon nap, we headed to the Lago di Sorapis trailhead around 4pm to catch sunset at the lake. Make sure to park your car at Passo Tre Coci near Restaurant Son Zuogo and follow the signs for trailhead #215. It’s easy to take the wrong trail here or take a much steeper way to the lake so make sure you pay attention to the trailhead markers and ask around if you feel lost. The hike to the lake takes about 2 hours and features some relatively steep sections along the cliffside without railings. However, there is a rope to hold onto in case you are scared of heights. Since this is one of the most popular hikes in the Dolomites, I suggest visiting in the early morning or just before sunset as it gets extremely packed during the middle of the day.

my-7-day-roadtrip-through-the-dolomites-alliemtaylor-8

This was my first time visiting the lake and I was immediately taken away by the color of the water, in fact it was probably one of the bluest lakes I’ve ever seen. Lago di Sorapis is truly a magical place. It’s the perfect spot to relax amongst the lake’s turquoise blue waters, tall white rock walls and lush alpine meadows. You can even spend the night just 150m from the lake at the Vandelli Hut if you want to catch sunset and sunrise here.


Where to stay: We stayed at the same hotel as the night before, Park Hotel Bellevue since it was centrally located to many of the spots we wanted to see the next day.


Day 3: Passo di Giau

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

my-7-day-roadtrip-through-the-dolomites-alliemtaylor-12After shooting sunrise and sunsets for almost a week straight, we opted to sleep in this morning and catch up on a bit of work. We stopped for a lakeside lunch at Lago di Dobaccio before heading out to Passo di Giau for some hiking. Passo di Giau is a beautiful drive and is popular among bikers and car enthusiasts because of its sharp bends. Once you reach the top of the pass you can enjoy panoramic views of some of the most beautiful peaks in the Dolomites: the Nuvolau, the Averau, the Marmolada, the Tofane, and the Cristallo.

After waiting out a rain storm, we ventured out on the hiking trails in the direction of Mondeval in Val Fiorentina. We hiked through the valley and up a steep pass, until we eventually found ourselves at the vast plateau of Mondeval. Its beautiful grassy meadows and stunning views of Monte Pelmo instantly took our breaths away. What was even more incredible was that we were able to enjoy this entire hike without seeing a single soul in sight, a rare find in the Dolomites! We spent the evening taking photos around the small lake at the end of the valley with an incredible reflection of Monte Pelmo across its glassy surface that you can find in the photos below.


Where to stay: Since we planned on catching sunrise early at Lago di Carezza, we stayed just a few minutes down the road from the lake at Hotel Adler.


Day 4: Lago di Carezza, Sella and Gardena Pass

 My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. TaylorAlthough I’ve been to the Dolomites several times, I never quite made it to Lago di Carezza since it’s slightly out of the way from most spots in the Dolomites. Finally on this trip I got to visit this magical lake and its emerald green waters in person. We woke up early for sunrise and got to enjoy the lake entirely to ourselves for almost an hour before people started to arrive in crowds. Since Lago di Carezza is located directly next to the main road with no hiking involved, it gets extremely busy by mid morning as you can imagine. Therefore, if you want the best experience I recommend visiting at sunrise for the best light and the least amount of crowds. Besides being incredibly photogenic, it’s a great place to take a stroll around the lake and into the forest to enjoy some peace and solitude.

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

After enjoying breakfast back at our hotel, we headed off to drive over some of my favorite roads in the Dolomites; Sella Pass and Gardena Pass. I love these passes because not only are they connected, but they are also incredibly scenic as they wind their way through the mountains that dominate from both sides. We spent the rest of our day here, stopping what felt like every 5 minutes to take photos from the side of the road and to just admire the endless panoramic views that greeted us around every turn. It was the perfect place to test out the power of our Volvo XC40, handling every bend with grace and ease as we made our way through the passes. Although we didn’t quite get the sunset we expected at Gardena Pass due to an incoming storm, it was a beautiful spot to enjoy nonetheless and the perfect place to end the day.


Where to stay: We based ourselves in Seiseralm for the night since we planned on visiting the meadows of Alpe de Suisi at sunrise. I highly recommend staying at Berg Hotel Zorzi since it’s conveniently located at the point where you have to park your car to access the meadows, plus you can’t beat the surrounding mountain views from the room.


Day 5: Alpe di Suisi

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

Every time I visit Alpe de Suisi it feels like I’m caught in the scene of a fairytale. Even if you only have a few days in the Dolomites, this place has to be on your list. What I love most about this place is how incredibly idyllic it feels. Its pristine green meadows are dotted with rustic old cabins with the beautiful backdrop of the Sasso Lungo peaks towering the distance. To say this place is breathtaking would be an understatement.

One important thing to note is that it is forbidden to drive on the Alpe di Suisi road without a special permit, which can only be obtained if you are the owner of one of the cabins or staying at a hotel nearby. And if you get caught without a permit, you must pay a 150€ fine. In fact, Alpe di Suisi is the largest mountain pasture in Europe, therefore it’s important to respect the rules here and help the preservation efforts of this area.

One easy way to get to the meadows without a permit is to hike in like we did at sunrise. To do so, park your car at the Kompatsch parking lot located here and walk along the road that will take you in the direction toward the ADLER Lodge Alpe. The walk is relatively flat and takes about 45 minutes to reach an ideal view point overlooking the meadow. Make sure to allow enough time so that you don’t miss those first rays of light touching the peaks of Sasso Lungo. It happens quickly and is by far one of the most magical things you can witness here.


Where to stay: Initially our plan for the evening was to camp at the top of Seceda so we could see both sunset and sunrise there, however due to the changing weather we decided to book a very last minute hotel near the town of Ortisei. Ortisei is a charming little town and is perfectly located with access both Seceda and Alpe di Suisi via a cable car.


Day 6: Seceda

my-7-day-roadtrip-through-the-dolomites-alliemtaylor-24

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

Seceda is by far one of my favorite places in the Dolomites. No matter how many times I’ve visited, its sheer cliffs and panoramic views still manage to take my breath away. It’s a place that you have to visit in person since photos don’t even come close to the raw beauty of Seceda.

We had initially planned to camp at the top of Seceda the night before since you can witness some pretty incredible sunrises here. However, there was a massive thunderstorm lingering above us so we decided to just stay in a hotel to be safe. There are two ways to get to Seceda. You can either take the cable car up from Ortisei which costs around 30€ and from there reach the top of Seceda in 15-20min. If you’re looking for a challenge, you can also hike for about two hours from the Praplan Parking lot although it is very steep.

The next day we opted for the easier route and took the first cable car up in the morning. When we reached the top we were blown away by some truly magical conditions. We stood there in awe as fog rolled off the edges of the mountain plateau with the Geisler peaks poking out in the distance above the clouds. It was almost like walking in a dream.


Where to stay: As we made our way to the village of Val di Funes, we spent our last night at Hotel Gsoihof and had the most incredible experience. The staff makes you feel like family the entire time your here, the food is delicious and you have an incredible view overlooking the valley with the Dolomites towering at your doorstep.


Day 7: Val di Funes

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

As the weather continued to intensify overnight, we woke up to an incredible surprise out our window the next morning – SNOW! I couldn’t believe it had actually snowed in the middle of August. But then again if there is one thing to remember, it’s that the weather in the Dolomites is incredibly unpredictable. Although I love summer, I was actually really excited for the snow since it made for a nice contrast against the green grass and wildflowers freckled amongst it.

My 7 Day Roadtrip Through The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor Val di Funes is most famous for the iconic church of St. John. This church is a photographers dream since it is set in an idyllic grassy meadow with an incredible backdrop of the Odle mountain range. We ventured off to see the church in the early morning as it can get quite busy with hikers and tourists since it is the starting point for many hikes. It was so incredible to be able to enjoy the church and roam around the surrounding hillsides before most of the village had woken up. Sadly Val di Funes was the last stop on our journey through the Dolomites and we unwillingly had to start our drive back to Zurich.

Plan your trip!

Below you can find a map of the exact locations we visited and the route we took through the Dolomites.

Have you ever visited the Dolomites before? Comment below with your favorite spots to share it with everyone else.

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A Complete Guide to Cinque Terre, Italy

Disclaimer: I wanted to give you a big thank you to Volvo Switzerland for partnering with me and making this trip possible with their XC40. All opinions, thoughts, and experiences I share are completely honest and my own. Thanks for reading!

riomaggiore cinque terre italyNestled on the northern coast of Italy is a slice of heaven known as Cinque Terre. With its pastel colored villages, teal blue waters, and jagged cliffsides that extend into the Meditteranean, its picturesque beauty and sweeping landscapes will leave you without words. In English, Cinque Terre translates to “Five Lands.” This is because there are five fishing villages that make up the coastline here: Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore. Each village is as unique as the next, with a variety of distinct characteristics and things to offer visitors that gather here in the summer months. From my recent visit, I’ve been able to put together a complete guide covering everything you need to know about visiting Cinque Terre, from the best places to eat to the best sights to see.

manarola cinque terre italyWhere to stay:

If you’re visiting Cinque Terre, it’s most likely that you’ll want to see all 5 towns while you’re here. However, I highly suggest choosing one town to stay in as your home base and then visiting the other towns during the day. I say this because the towns of Cinque Terre are quite hilly and it’s a pain to have to drag a suitcase up an endless flight of stairs or a cobblestone hill. Since the towns are so close, you can easily visit them via the train, boat, or even by hiking.

We chose to stay in the town of Monterosso al Mare since it is the largest town, had the nicest beaches, and the best parking options. We stayed at this AirBnb, which was freshly renovated (a rare find in some parts of Italy), quiet, and close to everything you need. I would highly recommend it!

How Long to Stay:

I recommend staying at least 2 nights here to get the most out of your visit and be able to fully enjoy every village. If you want to spend some extra time laying out in the sun, swimming, or taking a longer hike, then I would suggest 3 nights here.

How To Get To Cinque Terre:

There are two ways to get to Cinque Terre: car or train. Although we arrived by car since we were coming from Switzerland, I think the train is easier since it stops directly in each town and you don’t have to worry about the hassle of parking, which can be very difficult here.

Depending on which direction you’re arriving from within Italy, you’ll connect to the regional Cinque Terre train line in either Levanto (from the North) or La Spezia (from the South). If you’d like to book your tickets in advance you can buy them on Rail Europe, which will tell you the best route and trains to take depending on your starting and end points.

Rome to Cinque Terre: About a 4.5 hour train ride with one train running per hour. You will have to change at the La Spezia station.

Milan to Cinque Terre: About 3 hours direct, with some trains changing in Genoa.

Florence to Cinque Terre: Leaving from Firenze S. M. Novella station, the ride is about 2.5-3 hours and usually involves a few changes in either Pisa and/or La Spezia. Some people do this as a day trip, so leave as early as possible since it will be a long day.

La Spezia to Cinque Terre: A short 15-30 minutes by train, with 2-3 trains arriving per hour.

Getting around

Getting from town to town is fairly easy and there are three ways to do so: by train, by ferry, and by hiking. 

Train: This is the quickest and cheapest option for traveling between villages. The local trains run every 20-30 minutes during the summer months and every hour outside of the summer period. Each village is just 5 minutes from the next, with one way fares costing €4 each way.

Ferry: This is a slower, more costly option. However, you must do it at least once while you’re here since it’s a great way to see the towns from the ocean. A day pass for the ferry costs €25 and €5 for a short trip to the next village.

Hiking: This is a great way to experience the Italian coastline and see the towns from a new perspective. The most popular trails are the “blue trails” that connect each village. If you’re planning on hiking any of these trails you’ll need to buy a Cinque Terre Card. You can buy this card at any of the train stations located in the five villages for €7.50. You can also buy a day pass for just €16, which gives you unlimited train and “blue trail” access. (Note: Only 2 of the 4 trails are open, Monterosso to Vernazza and Vernazza to Corniglia, because of storm damage)

Monterosso Al Mare

Monterosso, the largest town of the five villages, is renowned for its turquoise blue waters and rocky beaches dotted with colorful umbrellas. It offers a “modern-resort like vibe” and has the most accommodation options, which is why most visitors tend to stay here. In comparison to the other towns, Monterosso is not as quaint and is more spread out across flat land, making it easier to roll a suitcase around.

We spent most of our mornings and afternoons here, relaxing in the sun at a lido (a beach club), and strolling along the seaside boardwalk. It’s important to note that most of the beaches here (where you see the sun chairs and umbrellas) are private. So if you’re planning to spend some time in the sun you’ll have to pay for a sun bed, which you can reserve the night before (a must if you want a good spot). However, if you don’t want to pay, there are a few slivers of the beach that are public, but they fill up quickly with locals who arrive there by mid morning.

monterosso al mare beach in cinque terre italybeach in monterosso cinque terre italyumbrellas on a beach in monterosso cinque terre italyumbrellas on a beach in monterosso cinque terre italyVernazza

Out of the five towns, Vernazza was my personal favorite. Lined with pastel colored buildings that open up to a beautiful piazza and the sea, there’s something so quaint and charming about this village that makes it stand out. Some of the best views of Vernazza can be found in the first 15 minutes of the hiking trail that goes toward Monterosso. Here, the trail will lead you to a viewpoint that overlooks the entire village and the emerald blue ocean – a view so breathtaking that it simply can’t be missed. It’s a great spot to watch the sun go down and get that postcard worthy shot you see all over Instagram and countless European guidebooks. This is part of a paid hiking trail so make sure to have some Euros with you or cash on your Cinque Terre Card. However, we arrived at 6p.m. and did not have to pay since the checkpoint was already closed.

If you’re interested in seeing another perspective of Vernazza, head back to town and take the trail that leads to Corniglia. Since this spot is before the paid hiking trail starts, you don’t have to worry about having a Cinque Terre card.

vernazza in cinque terre italyview of vernazza in cinque terre italysunset overlooking vernazza italygirl in white dress overlooking vernazza italy at sunsetManarola

Arguably, one of the most romantic villages of Cinque Terre, Manarola is full of colorful streets and hillside vineyards. While there is no beach here, there is a small harbour where you’ll find flocks of people swimming and basking in the sun on every rock and inch of the boat ramp they can find.

If there’s one thing you must do in Manarola, it’s visit Nessun Dorma. Here you can dine while enjoying some of the best views in town, which is why it has become so popular on social media. Getting here is simple: Just follow the path from the marina and up the hill until you get to the bend, then take the stairs where you’ll most likely see a line of people waiting outside the restaurant. When it comes to ordering, go for the pesto bruschetta – it’s easily some of the pesto I’ve ever had in my life.

Beautiful ManarolaColorful buildings of ManarolaOverlooking the colorful buildings of ManarolaAfternoon in Manarola ItalyRiomaggiore

Filled with dramatic seaside views, Riomaggiore is the rustic gem of Cinque Terre. Out of all the towns, Riomaggiore has the most authentic feel to it. Here, you’ll get a glimpse into local Italian life where fisherman push their boats through the village streets and women hang laundry from their windows. The best thing to do here is grab a take away pizza or a cone of seafood and enjoy it on the rocks while watching the sun go down.

Colorful buildings of Riomaggiore Eating pizza at sunset in RiomaggioreBoats in the harbour at sunset in RiomaggioreCorniglia

Hidden high above the Mediterranean amongst the rolling hills and vineyards is the little village of Corniglia. Since there is no harbor here and requires a bit more effort to reach, it is significantly more quiet compared to the other villages. To get here, you’ll need to climb 365 steps from the train station below or take the shuttle bus that appears from time to time.

Colorful streets of CornigliaIf you found this guide helpful or if you’d like to see me write about something in particular please let me know in the comments!

allie xx