Tip: Renting a car is the best way to get around the Dolomites

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This post is all about how to get to the Dolomites in Northern Italy. Although popular among European tourists, the Dolomites are still a bit of a hidden gem for American tourists. I was pleasantly surprised that even visiting during the peak tourist season, the hikes were expansive and not completely overrun with tourists.

Luckily, the Dolomites are super accessible from major Italian cities such as Venice and Milan. Read on to find out exactly what you need to know about travel to the Dolomites in Italy.

But before you dive in to the article, let me give you list of the most popular tours and excursions in the Dolomites:

Top tours in the Dolomites

  • ⛰️ Enjoy free time in Cortina d’Ampezzo, stroll along the banks of Lake Misurina, and snap photos from the Tre Cime di Lavaredo on this tour
  • 🌄 Discover the Dolomites on this hiking tour and enjoy breathtaking views with an environmental hiking guide, who, with many years of experience, knows all the most beautiful places
  • 🌊 Enjoy a sightseeing tour of the lakes of the Dolomites starting and ending in Venice
  • 🚁 Enjoy an unforgettable helicopter tour to discover the most beautiful mountains in Europe, the Italian Dolomites

Overlooking Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy
Overlooking Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy

How to Get to the Dolomites

Travel to the Dolomites

The Dolomites, or Dolomiti, is a mountain range located in northeastern Italy. In 2009, the region was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With picture perfect landscapes of rolling green hills, curvy mountain roads, and sharp peaks, the Dolomites should definitely be on your bucket list!

The Dolomites experiences two peak tourist seasons. The region is popular in the summer for hiking, climbing, and mountain biking, and for skiing in the winter. I was warned by many to avoid the area July, as it is the busiest time of the year, but I still felt that we had room to breathe on the trails. If you want to avoid the crowds completely then I recommend visiting in the shoulder season, although expect cooler temperatures and some trail closures.

Val di Funes in Dolomites, Italy
Val di Funes in Dolomites, Italy
Girl in blue dress and a hat at Lago di Braise in the Dolomites, Italy
Lago di Braies in the Italian Dolomites

 

Where do you fly into for the Dolomites?

The closest airports to the Dolomites region are Venice Marco Polo Airport and Venice Treviso Airport. There are daily nonstop flights to Venice from the United States and Europe from main carriers such as Delta and United, as well as local airlines such as Alitalia and EasyJet. Nonstop flights from NYC to Venice take 8.5 hours.

To find the cheapest flight options from your city, you can use this search form below: 

From Venice, you can reach the Dolomites in approximately 2 hours by car. There are a number of car rental companies available at the airport to choose from.

Don’t forget travel insurance

Sign up for Heymondo travel insurance to make your travel experience worry-free. Heymondo covers medical expenses, 24-hour medical chat, COVID coverage, delays, cancellation, and more. Check Heymondo here.

A guide on how to get to the Dolomites in Italy. Sunrise on Tre Cime de Lavaredo hike.
How to Get to the Dolomites in Italy

Driving to the Dolomites

If you’re wondering how to get to the Dolomites then you first need to understand that the area is best explored by car. It can be reached by car from Venice in 2 hours, and from Milan in 4 hours.

I recommend renting a car and planning a road trip through the Dolomites for the best experience.

Rent your car here

The first thing to know about renting a car in Italy for a trip to the Dolomites is that the majority cars for rent in Italy are manual transmission. If you are going to need an automatic car then expect to pay significantly more. It is also important to rent automatic cars as far in advance as possible, especially for the high season.

Photo credit: Booking.com

Hotel Chalet al Foss

Hotel Chalet al Foss is a luxury hotel in the Dolomites, surrounded by the mountains. From the outdoor pool and spa to the on-site alpacas, this is one of the best places to stay in the Dolomites

Perfect for summer and winter escapes.

Check rates and availability

Additionally, it is mandatory to purchase car renters insurance and to be in possession of an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) when driving in Italy. You can register for an IDP online for as little as $25 USD. Car renters insurance can be purchased directly through the rental company. Some United States credit cards offer primary coverage auto insurance, however it is important that you double check with your bank.

For a manual standard size car for 4 days we paid $223 USD, without insurance, booked through Expedia.

How to get to the Dolomites in Italy
How to Get to the Dolomites in Italy
How to Get to the Dolomites in Italy

Taking a Bus to the Dolomites

Bus services are readily available for both getting to the Dolomites, and getting around the region. The bus from Venice to Cortina is probably the fastest option if you are taking public transportation. You can find direct buses from both Venice Marco Polo Airport and the Venice Mestre station. From Venice Airport to Cortina D’Ampezzo the bus takes approximately two hours and ten minutes, and tickets are as cheap at 18 euros each way. You can book tickets through Cortina Express.

While I personally enjoyed the freedom of having my own car to get around with, the public bus network is extensive. If you are visiting during the peak season then you will find that the buses run quite frequently, both getting to and around the Dolomites. Cable cars will also allow you to get up into the mountains easily without a car.

Is There a Train from Venice to the Dolomites?

Unfortunately there are no direct trains to the Dolomites from Venice. However, you can take the train from Venice to Belluno and then transfer to a bus.

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Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop

The Best Time to Travel to the Dolomites

The Dolomites experiences two peak tourist seasons, Summer for hiking, climbing, and mountain biking, and Winter for skiing. The peak hiking season is June to August. If you want to avoid the crowds completely then I recommend visiting in the shoulder seasons of May or September. However, even during the peak months you can visit the top spots in the Dolomites, without too much of a crowd.

seceda mountain the the dolomites
Hiking on Seceda mountain in the Dolomites
rifugio in seceda for lunch
Rifugios are a great place to stop for lunch in the Dolomites

What to Know Before Visiting the Dolomites

Before visiting there are a few key things that every traveler should know! Here is a list of some of the top things to know.

  • Both German and Italian are spoken throughout the region. Depending on what part of the region you travel to, one language will be more prominent than the other.
  • Everywhere has two names. Every town, lake, mountain, etc will have two names: a German name and an Italian name. These names are usually completely different from one another!
  • The region is expansive so you will want to choose one or two towns to base yourself in.
  • Rifugios are a great lodging option in the mountains

TRAVEL TIPS

🏘️ Book your accommodation

Booking.com will help you to book accommodation in advance and check availability

✈️ Book your flight in advance

To find the cheapest flight options, you can use WayAway and find the most suitable option for you

🧾 Get your tickets and tours

with Viator and GetYourGuide to get the most out of your journey

Here are some other articles that you should check out if you’re traveling in Dolomites:

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