Well guys I have had the best holiday of my life and I wanted to share the best part with you for some travel inspiration. This post concentrates on my 4 days hiking in the Dolomites as I feel it was by far the highlight of my trip. For any adventurers, nature lovers or someone who just wants an escape from everyday stresses it’s a spot you need to put on your list. Over the past few years we have done numerous hikes from Yosemite Falls in Yosemite to Dragons back in Hong Kong but no place has topped Italy for its accessibility, views, trails, services and sign posts – very important if you’re like me and you get lost easily! Plus you’ve no excuse it’s so close to Ireland!
On this trip many of you will have seen on social media that I flew to Venice and spent 3 days in the city before heading up the mountains, it’s a beautiful place everyone should see once and I’m so glad I went to experience the fairy-tale like city! A blog post with all the details will be live soon!
Now back to nature however!
How we did it:
Flew to Venice airport (2 hours from Dublin) via Aer Lingus cost roughly 170€ on a Thursday AM most flights seem to be around 7 am getting in at midday (option head to Venice for 1-2 days and go back to airport) picked up a rental car so many on offer here
Drive 2 hours to Cristallo, Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Cortina d’Ampezzo
Average cost double room weekend p/n;270-300 € Note; roads are great I was slightly worried about the reputation of crazy Italian drivers but I have to say it was the easiest car trip ever. This is the best place to stay in the area for the hikes below. The best hotel I think I’ve ever stayed at and I have to say I pride myself on knowing a good hotel I love researching hotels and exploring every inch to compare my stays but something was really special about this place it wasn’t the fanciest or largest rooms or the best luxury spa but it was a feeling the place brought. I have never felt so relaxed! The breakfast is pretty damn good also along with the staff who were really friendly and attentive! I don’t often say I would go back somewhere but I would love to stay here again. It also has a smoke free policy which you don’t find a lot of in Italy and its pet friendly so perfect if you’re planning on bringing your dog!
If you fly from Ireland that morning you should get to the hotel for late lunch time just in time for check in at 3 pm, I would recommend chilling out for the afternoon having a dip after travelling – its better to have a full day to hike. Make sure to eat in the restaurant at least one of the nights and get their special pasta dishes – they also give free chocolates after dinner and the bread baskets are phenomenal – just ask for balsamic.
Finally we are on to some Hiking!
Just before we start some information that I found really interesting – where the name
dolomites comes from. The name Dolomite came from their discoverer: Deodat de Gratet de Dolomieu,at the time of his finding the rock material was unknown. You will see a lot of signs for calcium magnesium carbonate, CaMg(C03)2 about!
There is loads more geology information here about the dolomites and their past life under the sea https://www.guidedolomiti.com/en/location-climate-geology/
Drive 40 minutes approx.. from the hotel to Rifugio Auronzo. Entrance fee to park is 25
euro, you will then follow a winding road to the top where the jagged peaks of tre cime will be on show. Note; when parking (at the very top where the road ends) it is pretty tight the parking guy will guide you into a space and make you park right at the edge of the cliff – it’s safe and when you get out you realise you’re not as close as you think when you’re in the front of the car however it’s a testing experience!
The Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop hike which is the most common to take is approx. 10km
taking around 3.5 hours its undulating track goes only 400m up and down and is relatively easy, there were all ages and fitness levels on this hike. I can’t express enough how many photos you will take on this hike, the view is almost fake looking. Miles of razor sharp peaks as far as you can see matched with the most vibrant lakes and winding trails. All paths here are really well signposted and you can go either direction as it’s a circuit loop but we still managed to go wrong….hence we ended up doing a 20km loop – however for people who enjoy hiking I would recommend the longer trail if you have the time. It was hard but definitely worth it. The trail starts on the same track as the 10km loop and joins back on to it so you get all the same views. The view along the 10km loop are unbelievable, some of the best views I have ever seen without a doubt and the 20km loop had some added wow views but you would really be doing the extra 10 km for the heck of it and the achievement
element! There are designated refuel cabins all along the 10km loop serving delicious food, beer, water, coffee and cake – we stopped at http://www.dreizinnenhuette.com/ this one is just at the top before the road back down to the car park to rest our feet, sip some tea and dig into some chocolate along with taking in the spectacular views from the top.
For great info check out this site – https://www.guidedolomiti.com/en/hikes-and-trekking/walk-around- the-tre-cime/
What to pack late summer time:
- Water is essential, there are refuel shops but just ensure you have some starting off.
- I would recommend Hiking boots, the loose stone of the trails and rocky paths were far easier to manoeuvre in gripped boots.
- Sunblock – don’t go red, it’s a long day out in the sun and remember you’re at altitude so even if you’re not someone who usually burns respect your skin.
- A light jacket for the higher peaks as it can get a bit nippy up there.
- The most important thing, your Camera to capture the memories!
- P.S. there are plenty of snacks to pick up along the way! Bring your wallet.
What to expect:
Parking very close to the edge, lots of tourists – yes the trails are busy that’s why I suggest setting off early and maybe even going anti clockwise on the loop or if you really want to be alone do the 20k we did! Post hike- get the feet up, have a dip in the pool, a pizza slice in one hand and an Aperol Spritz in the other.
Note; you could just stay in this area over the weekend or three days there are loads of trails and hikes to see if you don’t fancy moving locations! The hotel website above gives loads of information on other activities.
Drive North to Lago di Braies (approx. 50-60 minutes) on great roads where you’ll see the most beautiful lake. Enjoy a stunning (and flat) 5km loop trail which is actually pretty good to flush the legs out after the hike the day before. When arriving there is a well signposted parking lot (our parking cost approx. 6 euro for 2.5 hours). You can rent a boat for 25 euro for an hour (there was no queue for this) where you can row around the lake. If you’re organised bring a packed lunch and just enjoy floating surrounded by soaring mountains, trees and ducks – loads of ducks!
What to pack
- Water (however there are shops around the lake if you forget)
- Your camera
- Walking shoes
What to expect
- Loads of Instagram boyfriends
- Every type of dog you can think of
After the walk drive to Ortisei which is about 1 hour and 40 minutes away (mostly on motorway)
Where we stayed:
Hotel Adler – Approx. 250 p/n double room at the weekend one of the best breakfast buffets I’ve ever experienced! With huge rooms, a great outdoor pool and bang in the centre of town with easy access to all the walks it’s a great choice. For the rest of the evening why not relax by the pool or maybe get the cable car up to Seiser Alm / Alpe di Siusi which has incredible views.
Food – most places in this area are very meat heavy, but some places like the below offer veggie options and seafood. Try Risto Enoteca Snetonetube go for the seafood pasta! Another good option is Ristorante Tubladel.
Hike Seceda 2500m!
Don’t worry, you’re already at a good advantage starting at Ortisei which is at ana altitude of 1200m.
Ok, you need to know we hiked from the town which came to 15km of pure crawling as you’ re trekking up ski slopes – not for the faint hearted or unfit I would definitely only suggest this to really seasoned walkers or people who regularly exercise. The walk itself is all up through forests with only some scenery the higher you go. There is a mix of hike levels well listed here
Another option is to drive to the Col Raiser Almhotel and hike from there. It’s a 90 minute uphill hike with rolling hills and a view of the peaks. You could also get the cable car up from Ortisei and walk down if you have good knees! We trekked up and opted for the cable car down (20€ each) leaves every 15 minutes to head down.
Ticket prices here depending on what you chose to do http://www.seceda.it/eng/skipass- tickets-w.htm
What to pack
- Water- loads! There is a restaurant at the top so you can get lunch there and refuel.
- Walking shoes or runners
What to expect:
- At the top some sun bathing
- Fresh cut grass – don’t ask me how they mow the lawns up there Unbelievable mountain views.
Drive to Verona to fly home via Aer Lingus (1 hour 50 minute drive) or why not stop off in Lake Garda (1 hour 50 minute drive) for a night or two like us to relax and finish off eating all that Italian food in style – post coming soon!