Last Updated on June 23, 2024

For the longest time, I dreamed of visiting the Dolomites. This mountain range has everything you could ever ask for: captivating rock formations, crystal clear lakes, rolling green hills, and charming valleys. After finally seeing them on a visit to a childhood friend in Italy, I can safely say they’re just as breathtaking as I thought. So come with me and join me on this 3-day Dolomites itinerary!

The mountain range is near the border from Italy to Austria and Germany, adopting names and details from all those countries. Because of this, many places in the Dolomites have multiple names, so don’t be surprised if you hear different names for the same location!

The area has a soft, old-world charm that defines a lot of European wonders. It’s beautiful all year round, but the best time to visit is usually from late spring to early fall.

Want to take a peek at my trip? I posted a little about my journey on an Instagram reel, which you should check out!

Dolomites Itinerary

Day 1

Morning: Lago di Misurina

My trip began in Venice as my friend and I decided to drive up to Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Just before the Three Peaks, though, we stopped to picnic around the gorgeous Lago di Misurina.

The alpine waters of Lake Misurina are calm and soothing, much like most of the Dolomites. There are some restaurants, lodges, and hotels at the banks of the lake, and the general atmosphere is relaxed and easygoing. This is an ideal spot to buy equipment, check supplies, and prepare for the trek ahead.

Lago di Misurina from above, with some of the lodges and restaurants at the side of the road surrounded by woods.
Lago di Misurina

Afternoon: Tre Cime di Lavaredo

On the first day of our journey, we head to Tre Cime di Lavaredo. These are the Three Peaks of Lavaredo in Italian, sometimes called Drei Zinnen in German. Along with the other peaks in the Dolomites, they have been UNESCO World Heritage sites since 2009. Seeing the beauty of the area, it’s no wonder the country has worked so hard to preserve it.

The Peaks

Views of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo and its trail

The main attraction consists of three peaks wonderfully formed from layers of centuries-old limestone. The three peaks are called Cima Piccola (or Kleine Zinne in German), Cima Grande (Grosse Zinne), and Cima Ovest (Westliche Zinnne). They’re shaped a little like uncut gems, and tower over the mountainscape and lush meadows below. No Dolomites itinerary is complete without visiting them!

Historically, these peaks watched over the border between Italy and then-Austria-Hungary before 1919. I imagine they made powerful guardians while watching over both countries during that time.

The Trails

There are a lot of trails you can take to explore the peaks. Here are just two you should consider:

  1. Three Peaks of Lavaredo Loop: A popular 6.3-mile loop around the peaks. It starts near the Rifugio Auronzo hut before hiking up and down the mountain range. It’s a moderately challenging route that’s best enjoyed in the cool weather of fall or spring.

  2. Auronzo Refuge to Tre Cime di Lavaredo: A shorter 4.3-mile loop around the Three Peaks. It starts in the same area as the Three Peaks Loop, Rifugio Auronzo, but turns to the west after seeing the Cime Passaporto instead of heading straight towards Sasso di Sesto. It’s moderate and a little quicker than the larger Three Peaks loop.

Views from the Three Peaks trails

The Detours and Caves

Most hikes will start at Rifugio Auronzo, and then head around to Rifugio Lavarego, Rifugio Locatelli, and Rifugio Malga Langalm. 

Around Rifugio Locatelli, however, there are some detours to visit spectacular caves with up-close views of Tre Cime. These three caves are just seconds away from each other, so you can walk to all of them like passing through the halls of a castle. Just follow the path behind the Locatelli hut, or follow the instructions on this helpful website!

The caves of Tre Cime and the Rifugio Locatelli hut

Another gorgeous trail that starts from the same trailhead is Cadini di Misurina. It’s just a 2.1-mile hike down south from Auronzo, leading to a beautiful mountain peak with panoramic views of the Dolomites.

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Day 2

Morning: Lago di Braies

A harbor looking out at the blue waters of the Lago di Braies, surrounded by the mountain peaks.
The harbor near Lago di Braies

By far one of the most popular tourist spots in the Dolomites area, you’ve probably seen the ethereal colors of Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee in German). You might think the pictures of the lake are just enhanced–I’m here to tell you the lake is just as vividly blue as you’ve seen! 

The area is magical and looks like a fairytale. Rowing through these blue waters was definitely one of the highlights of my Dolomites itinerary.

Rowing a boat along Lago di Braies

The lake is a popular destination for many foreigners, so be sure to come early in the morning to enjoy the world out there. You can also book a hotel near the lake, like the Lago di Braies Hotel. 

You can rent a boat right there, a 45-minute private ride costs around €50, cheaper shared rides are available as well. These options are available from late May to early November, with boats generally first come, first served. It was a gorgeous experience, and I definitely recommend it!

Noon: Val di Funes – Santa Maddalena

Santa Maddalena and its livestock

What’s a Dolomites itinerary without a few quaint villages along the way? Thus, my friend and I hiked to Val di Funes, a lush valley surrounded by forests and mountain peaks. 

The main point of attraction here is Santa Maddalena, a church complex and village all in one. You can see the village church’s tower from a distance, surrounded by endless plains of bright green and foggy woods.

A path leads up from the town, going through the farmlands towards a hill. After taking your time greeting the various sheep and cattle, you can capture the majestic views of the church from an elevated point here.

Woman running over the hills near Santa Maddalena in Val di Funes.
Running up the hill in Santa Maddalena

My friend and I spent most of our time taking pictures and admiring Santa Maddalena. Nearby, though, there’s another church in the area with many names. English speakers call it St. Johann or St. John church, and it has a solitary view of the mountains in various pictures. 

The area around St. Johann is on private land, however, and it’s a little challenging to get there. We didn’t get the chance to visit it, but it’s worth mentioning due to its popularity.

Afternoon: Geisleralm/Malga Geisler

Geisleralm is an alpine hut in the Dolomites, and it has some of the most gorgeous scenery of all the huts I’ve visited. The hut is a rustic, warm house sitting in front of a snow-capped peak, surrounded by tall woods and short fences. A small pool at the front reflects the mountains and the hut perfectly. It was a great place to settle down and take pictures.

This hut wasn’t initially on our Dolomites itinerary, but after seeing some pictures, my friend and I just had to see it ourselves. We missed out on the food from the restaurant since it was already closing, but the sunset glowing on the mountains made the trip very worthwhile!


The shortest hike to the hut is from the Zannes Parking Lot to Glatsch Alm, roughly 2.8 miles from each end. The locals say it’s a lovely establishment with fine South Tyrolean food, good wine, and picturesque vistas of the Alps. There’s even a playground for children to frolic in. 

There are also a range of activities you can try out here. I’d recommend checking the Geisleralm website for a sneak peek of what you can expect. Just be sure to come earlier than we did!

 Day 3

Morning: Ortisei to Seceda

After a night’s rest, we headed out to the little artistic town of Ortisei in Val Gardena. The town itself is pleasant, but our main goal is to pick up a gondola towards the gorgeous peaks of Seceda. It’s the fastest way to get there within our 3-day Dolomites itinerary, but there are also some longer hikes you can take if you’re adventurous enough.

The gondola gets you as far as Furnes, where the cable car station is. You can already see some of the unique peaks from this distance, and you’ll find even more as you ride a cable car up to Seceda itself.


The Seceda range is a majestic collection of peaks that’s best admired from above. The Odle or Geisler Peaks make the biggest impression among them, but there’s a lot to take in. My favorite part of the journey is witnessing the sharp, dramatic cliffsides gliding down from each peak. 

It’s said that Seceda has countless hiking trails and mountain biking paths. It does make me want to come back and try them all! We’ll make the best of what we can for today, however, and head to our next destination.

Noon: Alpe di Siusi

Just after visiting Seceda, my friend and I took the same cable car network to visit Alpe di Siusi. Our railway, the Mont Seuc Funivia Ortisei – Alpe di Siusi, naturally trails up to both areas, though mind the fact that the directions are in Italian. In any case, it’s the next and arguably most romantic destination in our Dolomites itinerary.

Alpe di Siusi is the largest alpine pasture in Europe, holding some of the continent’s most nostalgic views. In the winter, it’s a perfect place to go skiing down the slopes or trekking through the woods. In the spring, it glows with hundreds of wildflowers, boasting over 790 plant types throughout the year.

There are also lovely buildings nearby that work as little outposts in the wide green pastures. They’re few and far between, and you can even stay at some of them. One of the most exclusive hotels in the area is the Adler Lodge, a beautiful establishment amidst the flowers. 

Adler Lodge in Alpe di Siusi

Some of the major lakes here are the Laghetto di Fiè and the Laghetto di Punta d’Oro. I found a smaller lake down below with a few ducks flocking around it. These lakes have stunning reflective views of the surrounding Dolomites peaks and a painterly touch to them.

A lake overlooking the Alpe di Siusi pastures.
A lake near the gondola stop in Alpe di Siusi

Just sitting on the grass seems to stop time entirely, even if only for a moment.

Resting in Alpe di Siusi

Afternoon: Karersee Lake

Still daydreaming of the mountain range, we decided to end our Dolomites itinerary with one last lake here: Lago di Carezza, or the Karersee Lake. We visited well into the afternoon, so the golden rays of sunset bounced off brilliantly on the emerald lake.

There’s a wooden viewpoint you can climb up from to take pictures of the full lake. I personally enjoyed walking down the road, along the rough fences, just absorbing the colors and feeling the mountain breeze one last time.

Karersee Lake

My trip to the Dolomites ended up being a real dream come true. As this 3-day Dolomites itinerary captures everything my friend and I visited, keep in mind that there are countless things the mountain range offers visitors. Where will it take you on your visit?

While you’re in Europe, you may want to ride up to some other mountainous areas in the continent. I wrote a lot about a guide to Switzerland in the past, so if you’re interested in nature, European sceneries, and pastures, be sure to take a peek!

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