FAQs about the Dolomites
Where to go in the Dolomites? When? How to reach the Dolomites? Is camping allowed? I have collected on this page the questions that are most frequently asked of me, along with their respective answers.
The need for this information system arises from the fact that I am often overwhelmed by a large number of emails that always ask the same questions: when, where, transport, camping… a quantity of letters so great that it becomes impossible, or inefficient, to respond to each one individually. Unfortunately, however, this ingenious information-sharing system is not always fully utilized to its potential by users.
How to get to the Dolomites?
Cortina is easy to access from several airports. The main international airports closer to the Dolomites are the one in Venice (160km) and the one in Munich (Germany). There also are smaller airports in the region, in Treviso, Verona, and Innsbruck (Austria). We recommend flying to Venice (Marco Polo) as a first choice. Once in Venice, you can take a bus to Cortina.
Are there bus services to the Dolomites from Venice, Treviso, and Bologna airports?
The Cortina Express Bus www.cortinaexpress.it and AVTO Bus www.atvo.it operate direct buses from Venice to Cortina d’Ampezzo. Another company is www.flixbus.it. Go to the websites for schedules and more information. The bus takes about 2-3 hours.
Can you get to Cortina d’Ampezzo by train?
The closer stations are the one in Calalzo di Cadore in the south, and the one in Dobbiaco (Toblach) in the north.
How to get there by bus?
During the season, there are direct bus connections between Cortina and some Italian cities:
– bus service between Mestre (Venice) railway station and Cortina d’Ampezzo (Bus line Cortina Express) in connection with the Eurostar trains from/to Milan.
– bus service between Bologna railway station and Cortina d’Ampezzo (Bus line Cortina Express/Zani) in connection with the Eurostar trains from/to Florence-Rome-Naples and with the “Adriatica” line (Rimini-Ancona-Pescara-Bari).
The journey from/to Mestre takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes and from/to Bologna 3 hours and 55 min. It is possible to pay for the ticket on board.
Where is the best place to stay? I’m interested in Ferrata and climbing.
Every Dolomite valley has magnificent towns which offer guests a wide range of services.
But there is no point in denying that Cortina d’Ampezzo is universally acknowledged to be one of the most beautiful mountain resorts in the world. Known as “the pearl of the Dolomites”, Cortina’s is a privileged position in an extremely open and sunny valley (Ampezzo from the Latin àmplus) and is surrounded by a ring of magnificent mountains.
In a letter to Ernest Walsh, Ernest Hemingway wrote: «Cortina d’Ampezzo is in the swellest country on earth. The people are good and square too. We spent the end of a winter there once at the hotel Bellevue. Liugie Menarde proprietor. It is the loveliest country I’ve ever known. We are coming down there this winter on a skiing trip if everything goes well.» (see: “Ernest Hemingway – Selected letters 1917-1961“)
It is in these mountains that we find the largest number of Ferratas in the Dolomites all reachable quickly and easily. Naturally, there are plenty of mountain climbing routes too and many of them have justly gone down in mountaineering history. Of course, countless paths allow you to fully enjoy the beauty of the place.
Moreover, there are a lot of cultural, sporting, and folklore events going on in Cortina and a great many shops and boutiques.
When is the best time to go to the Dolomites?
If you can help it, stay away from the high season. Most people want to be in the Dolomites in the summer… but that in itself does not ensure to try out these mountains at their utmost.
Yes, crowds can become a problem, but these can even be dodged; apart from that, though, often the summer (and August in particular) can be stormy and wet, especially so in the highest part of the range.
When does it start the appropriate period for excursions, vie ferrate, and climbs?
Usually, during the end of May, it is possible to climb the southern exposed faces and climb some railroads. In some cases, after winter with heavy snow, the snow on the top of the mountains can restrict access to the vie ferrate.
When is it possible to go climbing, trekking and via Ferrata?
You can go until the end of October. Usually autumn is an amazing season for all the activities in the mountains.
The weather is stabler than summer, which brings many dangerous storms. The colors of the forests and the fall lights make the Dolomites look even more beautiful!
When do mountain huts open?
During the summer season, they open on the 10th of June and close on the 25th of September, approximately. It depends according to the weather conditions.
In winter most of the huts are closed, except those located on the ski slopes.
Is it necessary to bring your sleeping bag?
Yes. It was not necessary, but the rules changed after the Covid19.
I suggest asking the mountain huts staff for detailed information anyway.
Is booking required?
No, but is highly recommended. Otherwise, it is better to arrive early in the afternoon to have a better chance of getting the room.
Which are the best topographic maps for the Dolomites?
Tabacco Maps are arguably the best topographic maps in the Dolomites. They are scaled 1:25000 and cover the whole north-eastern part of Italy. You can buy the maps here.
What about the Alta Via of the Dolomites?
The “Alte vie” (High Routes) of the Dolomites are alpine trekking routes that connect various refuges. In general, they are not particularly difficult, at least for those who are used to walking in the mountains. There are 8 routes provided with indications and marked with a characteristic symbol: a triangle with a number that labels each route.
The possibility to stay at a refuge – reservation is recommended – is guaranteed from the end of June to the end of September, but as bad weather is not uncommon in the mountains it is always better to be well-equipped.
This is my first time climbing in the Dolomites. Where would it be best to start?
I would definitely recommend Cinque Torri which is easy to access, has two refuges very near the rock faces, climbs of all grades and exposures (north, south, etc.) and single and multi-pitch routes. Its routes are not very long but the Cinque Torri has the same characteristics as any of the other mountains in the Dolomites: the same type of rock, vertical rock faces, slabs and overhangs. For more information consult the Classic routes and Dolomite cliffs pages.
How are the routes equipped?
The amount of protection varies from route to route: rest places with bolts and cemented-in rings are quite frequent. On the most challenging sections, there is often more frequent protection (sometimes much more than is necessary) but as soon as you reach easier terrain the pegs disappear and the route to follow is much less evident. Be careful around old, rusty, time-corroded pegs!
Though rarely indispensable, friends and nuts come in handy.
Mountaineering equipment: what do I need?
helmet is a must even where rocks are of excellent quality. Sometimes routes are broken up with ledges full of debris and if someone above you is not careful ropes can easily dislodge rocks and send them tumbling down.
The decision of whether to use one or two ropes depends on the route you intend to try: in rappelling down the distance between anchors is often 50 metres so two ropes are indispensable. As far as length is concerned, for multi-pitch routes 55 or 60-metre ropes are advisable, for sport climbing 70 metres is better but be careful as some cliffs have pitches of up to 40 metres in length and for these, you need an 80-metre rope.
How can I avoid risking unwelcome adventures?
1. Set off early in the morning.
2. Check the weather forecast.
3. Check the route as you near the rock face. What might seem obvious from a photo and a distance is much less clear when you are underneath it.
4. If the descent involves a gondola check the times of the last descent.
5. Take a hand or head torch with you and an emergency blanket.
Can you camp anywhere on the Dolomites?
No, in the Dolomites tourist camping is forbidden outside of authorised campsites. You are only allowed to set up camp occasionally and in areas where it is not specifically banned, with your tent, and not for more than 24 hours. So you cannot put up your tent in the middle of a forest or on a riverbank, light a fire, and camp.
In the Veneto, article 12 of Regional Law no. 40 dating to 1984 imposes a total ban on camping outside campsites.
Is it possible to rent the technical Ferrata equipment?
Yes, in a lot of sporting goods stores, you can rent climbing harnesses, helmets, and Ferrata sets.
When you go to the mountains with a mountain guide, the guide is going to provide the necessary equipment, usually included in the price.
What are the average temperatures?
The average annual temperature recorded in Cortina d’Ampezzo is 6° C, the average maximum temperature in July of 29° C and the average minimum temperature in January of -7° C. Click here to read further information and details on the climate of the Dolomites.