Italy, often celebrated for its rich history, stunning coastlines, and delectable cuisine, also hides a winter wonderland within its borders that begs exploration—the Dolomites. This mountain range in northeastern Italy transforms into a snowy paradise during the winter months, offering various activities that cater to everyone from the adventurous soul to those seeking tranquility amidst nature.

Take a break from the mundane of life and allow the mountain peaks and towns to fill you with delight as you plan a trip to the Dolomites in winter. Here’s a breakdown of the top things to do in the Dolomites during the winter months.

Related read: The 9 Best Towns in the Dolomites

1. Go Mountain Hiking

The mountains make the Dolomites the iconic destination they are. The sites are incredibly majestic, and you can always find a hiking trail that works for you. Each mountain tour will provide a breathtaking view different from others, so choose wisely from the numerous private tours. You can also walk self-guided if you know your way around similar terrains.

Apart from the sights, consider the trail’s difficulty and walking time. Some routes, like the Tofana di Mezzo in Cortina d’Ampezzo or Seceda in Val Gardena, are suitable for beginners since they only take less than an hour. Experienced hikers can also hike south of the Geisler. The route takes three hours of walking on average, though it may take a little more if you want to slow down and take in the journey’s view.

2. Arrange a Ski Trip

The Dolomite mountain ranges are also a fantastic skiing destination for tourists. When winter hits, the sites get chilly and snowy quickly. And there’s no need to worry if the weather falters—resorts have modern snowmaking machines to guarantee a fun skiing experience. All that’s left is to make some preparations.

Livigno is another great skiing destination in Italy, check out:

Find Your Equipment

Skiing requires plenty of gear. Grab some skis and poles. It’s also essential to find ski boots. You need to keep your feet warm and grip your skis well. Protect your head with a helmet and some goggles, too.

If you’re a beginner or don’t plan on skiing much, rent out ski equipment. Some resorts offer ski gear with their lodging and passes. You can buy your own if you want to be a bonafide skier — just remember to bring a bigger suitcase.

Pick Out Your Slopes

Like mountain trails, skiing slopes will have their own sets of difficulty. Try to explore different sites at the Dolomites and pick out a hill for you. Remember that some parts of the mountain have unmaintained routes, which can make it a little more challenging and dangerous.

Newbies and experienced skiers can visit Ortisei The Dolomiti Superski in Val Gardena. This spot offers ski routes with different inclines. Those who want to learn skiing can request instructor lessons on the more accessible trails.

Related read: Things to Do Before Hitting the Ski-Slopes

The slopes of Rocca Pietore

Prioritize Your Safety

Skiing is fun, but don’t do it at the expense of your safety. Always wear your helmet. You can also apply sunscreen to the exposed parts of your face and hands since you’ll be exposed to the harsh winter sun.

Alpine skiing is the safest type of skiing style that budding skiers can do. All you need to do is start from the top of a hill and ski to the bottom. There are ski lifts to use for momentum, but remember to get the landing right. Use bindings to strap yourself and prevent injury.

The Dolomite Mountains are best known for backcountry skiing, also known as off-piste skiing. Compared to traditional alpine skiing, backcountry skiing involves more freedom in sliding through the snowy wilderness. You can go beyond the ski resort to explore a wider variety of terrain along the mountainsides.

The Arraba offers comprehensive piste preparation that is ideal for avid backcountry skiers. Remember to travel with a group since these areas are more unmandated and risky. Bring phones or other communication devices when backcountry skiing.

3. Have an Activity Day in the Snow

There are more ways than skiing to have fun in the snow. Adventure enthusiasts can take a snowboard and slide down the Sella Ronda circuit clockwise. At the Greta and Gummer Snowpark, you can make snow angels or create snowmen. That said, you may not be able to replicate the giant snow sculptures by Croda Rossa.

Alternatively, sled with a couple of buddies. You can rent out a group sled or book a fun ride with some of the most lovable huskies on the planet. Huskysleddog in San Martino in Badia can take you along Passo delle Erbe, pulling you around the snowy woods in the Dolomites. Focus on relaxing and taking pictures.

4. Go Ice Skating

What’s winter without a bit of ice skating? Visit the Olympic Ice Stadium in Cortina d’Ampezzo to check out the historic rink and have a skating session. As hinted by the name, the structure was conceptualized and created for the 1956 Winter Olympics.

Catch professional instructors offering lessons to mold you into a great figure skater, or just zoom around for fun by yourself. If you encounter a couple of shows and competitions on the rink during your visit, take advantage of it. Get tickets to watch professional skaters or an ice hockey game.

5. Take Pictures by the Lakes

In addition to the Dolomites’ famous mountains, there is a wide selection of lakes you can visit and take stunning scenic photographs of. Make sure you visit Lago di Braies and Lago di Carezza, renowned destinations every tourist should make time to see.

Some lakes, like Lago di Misurina, allow swimming. However, it may be too cold, especially when traveling during the peak winter season. Visit the Dolomites again in the summer to enjoy all they offer.

Related read: Best Places to Visit in Northern Italy

Dolomites in Winter - Things to do in the Dolomites in Winter
A dock overlooking Lago di Braies

6. Snow Trek Through the Parks

Some people like walking for fun, and there’s no shortage in the Dolomites. Drive down to the Belluno Dolomites National Park and make a challenge out of walking all the way through. The site extends to 32,000 hectares, offering countless sights of nature.

Remember to keep your car well intact during the drive and trekking session, especially if it’s a rental you’ll return. You can get studded snow tires to drive through the slippery roads safely. You can park in safe public spaces too. There are several free areas, like the Seiser Alm cable car station or the Mulin da Coi car park.

7. Shop at Markets

Shopping centers are abundant in the Dolomites, filled with all kinds of goods and trinkets. Dedicate a whole day at Trentino Dolomites to sift through the food and products. You can even pick up a couple of travel souvenirs to remember the trip.

To get some Italian gems, drive to South Tyrol. Look out for the handmade jams and preserves. The region also offers specialty Stilfser cheese and Speck ham. Add a bit of bread, and you have a full-on picnic basket.

There are also some lovely wooden figurines from Val Gardena to have as a keepsake. Wood carving started as a tradition in the 17th century to spark a new trade. You can even drive and tour local workshops to learn more about the process of how they’re made.

8. Eat Good Food

The Dolomites have plenty of delicious dishes to try out. Even with Rome’s reputation for serving tourists menus with generic food, stay sharp. You’re sure to find good food to use as fuel for your winter activities.

Here are some examples:

  • Pizzeria Caffè Villa Sella: Visit this cozy pizzeria to grab a slice of good pizza. You can find familiar flavors like Margherita or new ones like the Wurstel, which features Europe’s version of hot dogs. Don’t forget the apple strudel after.
  • AlpiNN by Norbert Niederkofler: Local three-star Michelin chef Norbert Niederkofler opened up his own food space, offering a menu that provides his Cook the Mountain philosophy. Get a taste of fine dining with his pasta dishes and courses.
  • Cristlá Restaurant and Pizza: Cristlá in San Martino has some delicious ravioli to fill you up. You can’t skip their superstar dessert, as the raspberry tartlet provides just the right sweetness.
  • Kostlichkeiten Gioia: Kostlichkeiten Gioia Quaint is a quaint gelato store in Ortisei with several great flavors. When in Italy, remember that real gelato is denser and richer than ice cream since it undergoes a churning process.
  • Rifugio Burz: Rifugio Burz in Arraba has its own restaurant, offering a fantastic view of the Dolomites while you’re eating. It’s best to book in advance if you want to be seated upon arrival. Request a spot on the terrace and include the lasagna in your order.
  • Ristorante Cianza: Ristorante Cianza has a relaxing ambiance with its cottage-like interior that truly fits the Dolomites. Come for dinner to get bruschetta and one of their intoxicating cocktails.
  • Gostner Schwaige: Gostner Schwaige is an unconventional restaurant with delicious food procured from mountain hut cooking. You can even take cooking lessons to learn some new tips and tricks.
  • Daniel Hütte: Get some German cuisine from Daniel Hütte in Val Gardenia. Ask for the Knodel, a giant steamed dumpling made up of mashed taters.
  • Club Moritzno: If you’re craving seafood, head to Club Moritzno. The restaurant is a master at creating unique dishes like squid ink noodles and scallop carpaccios.

9. Stargaze by a Mountain Hut

It can be hard to see the stars in cities full of light. But when you’re in the Dolomite mountains, all those sparkles seem as clear as day. The average night sky is shining brighter by 9.6% from 2011 to 2022. Arrange a night of stargazing with friends or by yourself.

Even if you’re staying at a hotel, reserve at least one night by a mountain hut in the woods. The Baita Segantini is a popular destination for mountain travelers, located an hour away from Passo Rolle. There’s also the Astrovillaggio Val d’Ega, which offers an astronomical observatory. Get a completely unobstructed view of the sky to treasure forever.

Starry sky above Lago di Carezza
Starry sky above Lago di Carezza

10. Arrange a Spa Day 

If the Dolomites’ winter cold persists, consider arranging a spa day. This experience is the best way to recover from a day out in the snow. Most hotels, like the Rifugio Lagazuoi, have their own sauna. You can even book a room and enjoy the sights before you take a dip.

You can also visit wellness resorts dedicated to delivering a luxurious spa experience. Imagine getting a whole-body massage as you look out the window and watch the snow fall onto the mountain slopes and trees.

What about joining a hiking and yoga retreat in the Dolomites?

Embark on a 7-day Italian Alps retreat in the Dolomites, starting with a welcome at Venice Marco Polo Airport and transfer to Hotel Kolfuschgerhof. Experience wellness activities, Ladin cooking classes, scenic hikes, including Sass Ciampac and Rifugio Cherz, an e-bike tour around Alta Badia, and a wine-tasting session.

Enjoy traditional Italian meals, breathtaking views, and a farewell dinner in Corvara.

Your journey combines wellness, culinary delights, and exploring the Dolomites’ stunning landscapes and charming towns.

Price from € 4,202 for 7 days/6 nights, including:

– 6 nights accommodation
– Meals
– Transfer to and from the airport
– All excursions
– Private Italian cooking class
– Guided hikes
– E-bike tour
– Yoga classes
– Workshops

Book here!

Have a Memorable Trip to the Dolomites in Winter

The Italian Dolomites are a spectacle to behold, especially in their element. Stop by the region when visiting during winter to achieve new experiences. Book your tickets and experiences early, as others may be eyeing the same spots and activities you want.