What do you think of when you hear someone say ‘Italy’? I’m willing to bet you think of delicious pastas, wines and vineyards, the beautiful Amalfi coastlines, and even possibly the mob. But what a lot of people wouldn’t think of (that I do) are the Dolomites. The Dolomites are a unique mountain range located in northeastern Italy. I got the chance to hike around, explore, and sleep in our van throughout a few different parts of the Dolomites, and I loved it so much that I want to share my 4 favorite places we saw and conquered while in the area. If you like nature like I do, you have to check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
I wanted to include something for everybody.. so 2 of these places require hiking for those who are adventurous, and for those who are unable or short on time, the other 2 places on this list you can just park at and walk right up to.
1. Karezza Lake (aka Karersee)
Location: between Welschnofen and Carezza
Cost: free unless using parking lot which is €1/hour
Hike necessary: no
Carezza Lake (also known as Karersee), is known for the perfect reflection of the Dolomites mountains in the water. There is a parking lot directly across from this lake, so no hiking is required to reach it. The parking lot costs €1/hour. However, we managed to park in a lay by on the side of the road for free. (There aren’t many spots on the side of the road, so don’t depend on that). There is a hiking trail that circles the lake in entirety if you wish.. However, the the best views are from the platform nearest the parking lot. The water is crystal clear. The best time of day to see the reflections is in the evening, just before sunset. In the morning, the sun rises over the mountains so the reflections will not be there.. but no matter what time of day the blue water is beautiful.
2. Vajolet Towers
Location: access begins near Pozzi di Fassa
Cost: free. Unless you take the bus or chairlift halfway up for €10/person round trip.
Hike necessary: yes
The Vajolet Towers are the most difficult to reach on this list. They can only be reached by a completing steep hike and/or climbing up to them. The starting point for the hike is the parking lot of the Vajolet I chairlift in the town of Pera, near Pozzi di Fassa. The parking lot is free 24/7. It is possible to take a shuttle bus or a chair lift up majority of the mountain (only open certain hours of the day), but to reach the top where the towers are, the hike or climb is necessary. It is so worth it because there are not a lot of people up there and the views of the Dolomiti peaks are insane! 🙂 I felt like I was i a rocky desert on another planet up there. If you are interested in hiking here, and looking for a detailed description/more pictures of the hike up to reach the Vajolet Towers, including distance/time required please click here (coming soon….)
3. Pragser Wildsee (aka Lago di Braies)
Location: not really by a town haha, but belongs to the Prag municipality
Costs: free to walk.. but pay to park before 6, and optional boat rental
Hike necessary: no
Pragser Wildsee, also known as Lago di Braies, is the largest lake in the Dolomites, and is suitable for anyone to enjoy. It is the most popular place on this list, so be prepared for a crowd of people majority of the day. No hike is required to reach the lake, just a short walk from the parking lot. Once at the lake, there is a gorgeous walking trail that goes around the lake. It won’t take you more than an hour to walk around, but there are ample opportunities to stop for beautiful photography and sightseeing. The water is clear and blue, it is surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the Dolomites, and you will share the path with happy farm animals (lots of cows). I really enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere during our walk here.
It is also possible to rent a paddle boat (no motor boats) to enjoy the lake from another angle. There are 3 public parking lots that you are required to pay to park in if you arrive by vehicle. 2 of these parking lots become free of charge after 6pm. There is a hotel located directly on Pragser Wildsee, which is perhaps why there are many people there.
4. Tre Cime de Lavaredo
Location: in the Sexten Dolomites, not really by any towns
Cost: depends where you park. $30-45/car inside the park. Free if you don’t mind walking extra 6km to it.
Hike necessary: yes
The hiking trails that surround Tre Cime de Lavaredo (“3 peaks of Lavarado) are a photographer’s dream. I honestly felt like I was walking on another rocky planet during my hike here. The main/most popular trail is relatively flat and takes around 3 hours to complete. There are insane views of some of the most impressive peaks in the Dolomites (not just the 3 peaks that the trail encircles).
What some may consider a downfall (and personally I think is ridiculous) is that the nearest parking lot costs $30/car to park in and $45 for vans or campers to park in. We thought this was an insane price to see nature, so we opted to park for free, and overnight, by Lago d’Antorno (not in front of the restaurant, but in the bumpy lot to the left of it). This meant we had to walk an extra 6 kilometers on each way of our hike, but it was totally worth it to not pay $45. It took us 1.5 hours to walk up from where we parked to the pay lot, spent 3.5 hours walking the trail around Tre Cime de Lavaredo, and then 45 minutes walking back down to our van.
Because of tourism, there is now a tourism center in that main lot.. where tour buses drop off loads of people. GO EARLY IN THE MORNING TO HAVE THE TRAILS TO YOURSELF.
Below are some of the amazingly beautiful pictures of the Dolomites we took while hiking around Tre Cime.
As you can see from the photos above, the Dolomites are one of a kind. They are impressive, unique, beautiful, peaceful, different, and somewhere I highly recommend you see next time you are in Italy.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me at KellyNicoleTravel@gmail.com or message me on Instagram @KellyNicoleTravel
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