Dolomites in North Italy

November 2, 2019

Dolomites, Italy is an amazing choice for wild nature, mountain views and roads, calm natural lakes. I believe that there is a great experience here every season: autumn with wonderful colourful trees, winter for ski, spring and summer for hiking.

We spent one week driving around the most popular locations such as Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lago di Braies, Cortina, Passo Giau, Passo Rolle, San Marino do Castrozza, Alpe di Siusi and Val di Funes.

I would like to share the best photography spots in Dolomites and our experiences from the trip.

Autumn colors in Dolomites-Cinque Torri

Our  photography trip started at Slovenia, lake Bled.

Slovenia – Lake Bled in Autumn, October 10th

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Driving from Bled to Tre Cime di Lavaredo took us around 4 hours. My hotel recommendation is Albergo Chalet Lago Antorno, which is right next to car entrance to Tre Cime. There is also a nice small lake in front of the hotel.

Lago d`Antorno

The toll gate is just after Lago d’Antorno, entrance from 8am to 5pm (you can exit at any time) and charge is €30 per car. It is a large car park with considerable parking lots but it can get busy at peak times.

The trail begins next to RIFUGIO AURONZO. The hiking season here is from May to October and will be quite busy in the area. The best views will always be sunsets and sunrises also avoiding the crowds.

The mountains are known as Three Peaks, Dreizinnen, or Tre Cime di Laveredo. Hiking around will give you best photography spots. There are also some caves at the north part, but it requires climbing equipment and is difficult to get there.

I recommend the south part during the afternoon light. The mountains are as paintings with beautiful soft orange colors. The mountains are like Towers of Mordor, height 2800 m.

Tre Cime di Laveredo

After a long hiking and a beautiful and colorful sunset, best is to go back to the hotel. The dinner at the hotel is really good, and the service as well.

Lago di Braies

Next destination is in early morning to Lago di Braies, takes around an hour from our hotel. You can park the car next to the hotel and the lake. It is important to arrive here latest around 08:00 to avoid crowds. The sun rises behind the mountains. The boats are still well organized, and no one yet is taking a boat tour in the lake. There is a bridge where you can try to be for the best photo spots. After 10:00, the boat rental bridge is open, and it starts to be really crowded. The amazing green color of the lake, with clear mountain reflections is one of the best photographic places. 

Lago di Braies
Lago di Braies

After the photo shoot with the morning light, we head to Cortina, Pocol area, to our next hotel: Sport Hotel Pocol. Also very friendly personal and great location here. You will see from the hotel, amazing curvy, scenic mountain roads. 

The hotel location is very near to Cinque Torri (10 min.) and to Passo Giau (20 min.) 

Sport Hotel Pocol, Cortina dʼAmpezzo

Cinque Torri

We were hiking here during the day time. There are ski resorts and great hiking trails in this area. The ski hotels and restaurants are all closed in October, no lifts are working.

Cinque Torri

Passo Giau

Passo Giau is absolutely the most beautiful and interesting passes of the all Dolomites both for hiking and for photography. The pass is dominated by the triangular shape of the mountain Ra Gusela.

Passo Giau, parking area and climbing to best photography spot

We drove from our hotel only 20 minutes to get here. You will easily find the parking area and a hotel at the top of the hill. If you climb to the hill from the parking side, you will find the best photo spot which is great both at sunsets and sunrises. As all hotels and restaurants closed, and no markets exists, take your water and food with you if you will spend long time here as you will be amazed by the stunning view here.

Passo Giau Sunset

For the evening, the best restaurants are in Cortina city, only 8 km.from our hotel.  We tried a restaurant named Il Vizieto. I highly recommend this place, it is really great food and service. Don`t forget to taste the Tiramisu here.

San Martino di Castrozza

After breakfast, we drove to San Martino di Castrozza, which is close to Passo Rolle. Our hotel is located at Primiero San Martino di Castrozza, a nice spa hotel. However, due to low season, the hotel did not have many guests and spa was only open Saturdays. The whole town was almost like a ghost city. There were no open restaurants for lunch or dinner. Only one cafe is open during he day time, and the only choice is a toast. The location of the hotel is quite close to Passo Rolle, 9km, which takes around 20 minutes to drive.

The nearest city, Fiera di Primiero, 10 km away, 20 minutes driving, have more restaurants, pizzeria and shops.

Passo Rolle, South Tyrol

Passo Rolle is one of the most popular skiing destinations.  There are very nice hiking routes around Passo Rolle, perfect mountain views in combination with autumn colors.

The starting point is the church on the top of Passo Rolle. 

Passo Rolle Church in the morning mist
Passo Rolle Church – daylight

We followed the path to Il Cristo Pensante, Jesus sculpture. 

Hiking up at Passo Rolle, the Cristo Pensante (meditating Christ)
View from Meditating Christ

We drove up to Baita Segantini. Due to low season, not many hikers here, so it was possible for us to drive until the Baita Segantini. (small lake with reflection of the mountains) This spot is beautiful both in the sunsets and sunrises. Magical light here.

Baita Segantini at Morning light, before sunrise
Blue hour

Canazei region, near Ortesei (Alpe di Suisi)

From Passo Rolle, we drive another 50 km but takes longer time around 1,5 hours due to the curvy mountain roads. Unfortunately, the hotel I booked here was quite far from Alpe di Suisi and Val di Funes. I recommend that you stay closer to these 2 places, as you will like to spend time hiking or photographing, but not driving all the time.

There are nice small towns here like Selva, Seiser Alm, Kastelruth. Kastelruth looks very German, 81% of the population speak German. These places could be good options for hotels. 

Alpe di Suisi, you can either drive in the early morning to the parking lot up in Suisi, costs 18 Euro to park. or you can use the cable car during the day times. Driving is not allowed in the valley, and there are high penalties. 

Best photo spot is where the hotel Adler is located. This is a very cosy and elegant hotel with amazing view. You will enjoy sunrises and sunsets. We were not that lucky with weather, it was very foggy and you could not even see the whole mountain, Langkofel, 3181 meters high.

Alpe di Suisi

Val di Funes (Santa Magdalena)

It takes around 1 hour driving from Ortesei to Val di Funes. 

Santa Magdalena church is located at small town of Santa Magdalena.

Right after the small town, there is another church ST.Johann. Best light here is in the afternoon, before sunset. Behind the church, you see 300 meter Odle mountains. I was speechless with this view.

St Johann Church at Val di Funes
Santa Magdalena Church at Val di Funes

The trip have been one of my best photography travels. Dolomites have breath taking nature.