A 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.
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.
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.
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
After 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
Although 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.
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
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
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
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.
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, where we ate, and places to stay in 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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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!