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Best Towns in The Dolomites

best towns in the dolomites

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The Dolomites are home to some of Italy’s most enchanting villages found among breathtaking vistas and world-famous hiking trails. This guide features all the best towns in the Dolomites to visit when you’re in the area. 

The natural landscapes in the Dolomites attract many adventurers from around the world to explore its beauty. Whether that is by walking the hiking trails,  mountain climbing, biking, or blazing through on a snowboard.

But while the outdoors is beautiful, the picturesque towns within the Dolomite mountains each offer their own unique mixture of Italian, Austrian, and German architecture. As you visit each small town, you will see that the mostly Austrian-influenced architecture weaves an intricate historical tapestry of varying cultures.

The Dolomite mountain range is home to three distinct regions, Trentino–Alto Adige, Vèneto, and Friuli Venezia Giulia. The towns below are located in the first two regions since there aren’t really any significant villages in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Best Dolomites Towns in South Tyrol / Trentino–Alto Adige (Südtirol)

dolomites towns

Trentino-Alto Adige (Südtirol) is filled with exciting activities like hiking, skiing and rock climbing. The region is also home to some of the most awe-inspiring landmarks.

Each of the following towns is surrounded by natural beauty and ancient history. Whichever you find yourself in, you will always be within reach of mouth-water food and delicious wine, and usually no more than a stone’s throw away from a natural park.

Bolzano (Bozen)

towns to visit in the dolomites

Bolzano is a charming cobblestoned city and the capital of Trentino-Alto Adige. Here you’ll find some of the best hotels and resorts in the Dolomites. The town also offers a wide variety of things to do. For example, you can go museum hopping from the world-famous South Tyrol Archeological Museum where you can learn about Ötzi, the 5,000-year-old man discovered preserved in a glacier, Museo di Scienze Naturali dell’Alto Adige Natural History Museum to discover more on the geology of the region and to the Museion Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art that houses over 4000 artworks. 

Medieval buildings such as the Maria Himmelfahrt parish church and the Piazza Walther together with the Castel Sant’Antonio are worth seeking out as you wander the shops and cafes of this alpine town.

Bolzano also caters to more adventurous sensibilities by offering you a great base to explore the heart of the Dolomite Mountains UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ortisei (St. Ulrich in Gröden)

best towns in the dolomites ortisei

Once you’ve visited, it is easy to see why Ortisei is one of the most popular towns in the Dolomites. This picturesque village boasts spectacular vistas created by the surrounding mountains including the impressive Seceda ridgeline. From here you can also reach the Alpe di Siusi by cable car.

While Ortisei is a typical ski town, including some world-class resorts, it’s also known for its long and rich history with wood carving. This charming village has wood shops such as the Franco Comploj that have been around since the 17th century. Their longevity alone stands as a testament to the outstanding quality of work you can expect from these workshops.

The town’s culinary delights also satisfy every hunger, offering a range of Michelin-star restaurants as well as South Tyrolean delicacies. Visit Buteiga Dal Pan Hofer to try some strudel and dumplings.

Chiusa (Klausen)

dolomites towns chiusa

Chiusa is one of the most stunning towns in the Dolomites, promising an alluring mix of art, culture, and nature right outside your door. Hiking through the Valle Isarco (Eisacktal) or exploring the Säben Abbey monastery are just a taste of the variety of options this town offers its visitors.

If hiking and Medieval monasteries aren’t what gets you out of bed in the morning, rest assured that this mountain town is also home to a collection of excellent wineries like Eisacktaler Kellerei showcasing varieties like Kerner, Riesling and Pinot Grigio. Chiusa also has some of the best views thanks to the exquisite chestnut groves surrounding this small town that seep into the Dolomite mountain range greenery.

Vipiteno (Sterzing)

Powdery white snow, anticipation-building cable car rides, and some of the best slopes to host winter sports all reside within the borders of Vipiteno and its nearby ski resort. This charming town is also home to some of the most intriguing architecture in all of Italy.

One such landmark is the ancient Zwölferturm bell tower which is the centerpiece of this beautiful town and stands 151 feet tall. Another notable landmark is the imposing Castel Tasso (Burg Reifenstein). This picturesque castle seems to have been brought to life right out of a fairytale.

Santa Maddalena (Sankt Magdalener)

towns to visit in the dolomites santa maddalena

As far as food and wine-oriented towns in the Dolomites go, there may be none better than Santa Maddalena village. This valley-surrounded town is home to some of the best vineyards in South Tyrol, where absolute dedication, care, and passion are poured into every bottle made here.

Santa Maddalena is also home to some of the best hiking and mountain biking trails that explore the Dolomite mountain peaks. It’s found deep in the Val di Funes one of the most popular destinations for exploring the Dolomites. 

Bressanone (Brixen)

best towns in the dolomites brixen

Brixen is definitely a town worth detouring for. The oldest town in Tyrol, it is a quintessential alpine town renowned for its scenic beauty, narrow streets and beautiful arcades.

The Chiostro di Bressanone is the town’s most famous cultural heritage monument, but you must visit at Christmas time as Brixen hosts one of the region’s most festive markets. Bressanone also features some of the best hiking trails and mountain biking adventures in all of the Dolomites.

Castelrotto

alpe di suisse dolomites towns

This gorgeous village is one of the closest towns to the legendary Alpe di Siusi (pictured above), which is Europe’s highest alpine meadow. 

Castelrotto offers a wide variety of adventures, from perfecting your favorite winter sports on the slopes to romantic mountain hut getaways. Fill your days with spectacular panorama views of the surrounding mountain peaks and your nights with hot drinks and a cozy fire.

Santa Cristina Valgardena (St. Christina in Gröden)

What makes Santa Cristina Valgardena one of the best towns to visit in the Dolomite Mountains? It is hands down one of the best skiing and ice skating towns in the Dolomites.  Val Gardena (Gröden) is the ski resort closest to Santa Cristina Valgardena. It boasts over 108 miles of slopes and a whopping 79 ski lifts — making this one of the best towns for cross-country skiing or snowboarding.

Santa Cristina Valgardenais also known for historical landmarks, like the Rovine del Castello Wolkenstein. The castle was constructed back in the 13th century and was stormed by the Venetians in the 15th century. The dilapidated castle still holds a lot of historical significance, making it a must-see for any history lovers.

Selva di Val Gardena (Wolkenstein in Gröden)

selva di val gardena

Out of the many towns in the Dolomites, Selva di Val Gardena may have the best views of the Sassolungo (Langkofel) mountain peak. If you’re looking for an active vacation, we suggest staying overnight in one of the mountain huts known as Rifugio and hiking the village’s surrounding trails.

LISTEN: To our podcast on Hiking The Dolomites.

Selva di Val Gardena is where you’ll discover remnants of the region’s Medieval past, such as the Fischburg Castle. This castle is sadly closed to the public. However, it makes for some spectacular panoramic views and photo opportunities with the Gardena Valley and Castle as a dramatic backdrop.

Corvara in Badia (Corvara or Kurfar)

As with many of the villages nestled in the Dolomite Mountains, Corvara in Badia offers ample opportunity to try your hand at skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. Romantic fireplaces, hot drinks, spectacular views, and spacious rooms are all things you can expect while staying in Corvara. 

For the extremely brave adventurers, there are rock climbing opportunities to take on. For those who are not quite ready to grapple with a  mountain face, you can try equally exciting outdoor adventures such as snowmobile and dog sled riding

Best Dolomites towns in Vèneto

cortina dampezzo best towns in dolomites
 

Many of the towns in the Dolomites offer an unforgettable winter getaway. Yet, the enchanting mountain villages are genuinely magical to visit during the autumn, thanks to the captivating views of trees changing colors. Spring and summer also offer some terrific lakeside vacations making any time of year the best time to visit Italy.

Just like the other Dolomite Mountains regions, Vèneto offers a wide variety of activities to experience throughout the many small towns strewn across the Italian Dolomites. Trust me when I say one of the following five towns has exactly what you desire.

Cortina d’Ampezzo 

Few Italian mountain towns are as picturesque as Cortina d’Ampezzo, the major ski resort of the Dolomites and host of the 1956 Winter Olympics was also the site of some of Italy’s most significant First World War history. 

Cortina d’Ampezzo is the closest town to the Tre Cime Nature Park — only 14.2 miles away. This puts some of the best hiking trails, and the most spectacular views in all of the Italian Dolomites will be right outside the door of your accommodation.

Misurina

dolomite towns misurina

Misurina is a small town located on the west bank of Lago di Misurina. It is home to a few hiking trails, such as the Blick “Drei Zinnen” and Vista sul Lago di Misurina. As such it is a very popular camping town, with Camping Alla Baita being the most prevalent camping grounds to stay in.

Lago di Misurina is a beautiful lake nestled in the splendid natural landscape of the Dolomite Mountains. The lake offers one of the most tranquil and relaxing swimming experiences the Northern region of Italy has to offer. You will also have easy access to some delightful pedal boats if you aren’t in the mood for swimming.

Belluno

Belluno is surrounded by some of Italy’s best scenery and most captivating architecture. The exquisite Minor Basilica of San Martino and Palazzo dei Rettori are only a few of the gems you can expect to explore while staying in Belluno.

This town, burrowed in the Dolomites mountain ranges, is surrounded by snowy slopes, tranquil lakes, and more hiking trails than you could ever dream of. Belluno may just be the perfect town for an active vacation in Italy.

Agordo (Augarten)

towns to visit in the dolomites agordo

Agordo has many magnificent historical landmarks, such as the Crotta Palace and the open-air museum of Agordo Paese del Graffito. It also is home to some of the best hiking trails offered by the towns in the Dolomites.

The best example of this is Duran Pass, with its three distinct trails ranging from intermediate to expert. It is also worth noting that this town is only an hour’s drive away from Venice. This makes it a great option for accommodation outside of the crowded city but still gives you access to its many tourist attractions.

Auronzo di Cadore

Auronzo di Cadore offers some of the best family experiences on this list. You can take the family to ride on the Fun Bob Auronzo rails that follow along the ski slopes, starting at an altitude of 4465.2 feet.

For something a little more calming,  go for a swim or soak up the sun on the shores of Lago di Auronzo. As you take a stroll through the streets of Auronzo di Cadore you will be enthralled by the Austrian-influenced buildings. Prime examples of such monuments are the Chiesa di Santa Giustina, Chiesa della Madonna delle Grazie, and Chiesetta di S. Caterina.

DISCOVER: The best Things to do in the Dolomites.

Close to but not in the Dolomite Mountains

These two towns offer warm hospitality, fun festivals, and breathtaking views of the Dolomites’ three peaks.

Merano (Meran)

best towns in the dolomites trauttmansdorff

Merano offers you the full Dolomite experience of dazzling mountain views, awe-inspiring castles, and endless fun outside activities, despite not being located within its valleys. You can speed down the thrilling ski slopes of the Meran 2000 ski resort and explore the ancient Trauttmansdorff Castle and its stunning floral gardens, which span 12 hectares (1,2 million square feet).

After scouring every inch of the castle grounds, relax your weary muscles in the thermal baths of Terme Merano. Finally, to end the day, attend one of the many concerts that take place on the promenade almost daily.

Trento (Trient)

trento dolomites towns

Trento has many of the usual tourist attractions. For those who are seeking knowledge, a visit to the Muse, which is a science and natural history museum with cutting-edge, high-tech exhibits, is a must. For a more historical and cultural experience, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Cattedrale di San Vigilio (Kathedrale Trient), a Roman Catholic cathedral with legendary rose windows.

That being said, the biggest reason to stop in this captivating Renaissance town is to taste the iconic Trentodoc sparkling wine. Each bottle is made with centuries of knowledge and fiery Italian passion. Much like its more famous French counterpart, a bottle may only receive the title of Trentodoc if it was made the traditional way within the Trento borders.

Final Thoughts on Towns in The Dolomites

The Dolomites, with their towering peaks and lush valleys, provide a stunning backdrop for these towns. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast seeking adventure or simply looking for a peaceful escape, the region has something to offer everyone.

Since these towns span across multiple regions, we suggest you look at renting a car in Italy so you can easily get around.

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