The Dolomites are one of the best places in the world to go hiking. But what if you don’t want to go hiking. Is it still worth visiting the Dolomites if you never plan to set foot on a hiking trail? Yes!! In this guide, we cover the best things to do in the Dolomites that involve little to no hiking.
What do we mean by little to no hiking? Most things we list are either scenic drives, visits to lakes and towns, cable car rides to wonderful viewpoints, or recommendations on where to eat (there is a long list of great restaurants and dining experiences throughout the Dolomites). However, there a few things that we list that require a short walk or a very short hike. The longest hike on this list is 2 km (1.25 miles) and it’s worth it for the view.
There are plenty of things to do in the Dolomites with very little hiking, which we want to share with you in this guide.
Things to Do in the Dolomites: On a Map
To simplify where things are in the Dolomites, the Dolomites are sometimes split into the Eastern Dolomites and Western Dolomites. Val Badia is the dividing line between these two areas.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lago di Braies, Lago di Misurina, Passo Giau, the Cinque Torri, Lagazuoi, Croda da Lago and Lago Federa, and Selva di Cadore are all located in the Eastern Dolomites.
The Western Dolomites includes Val Gardena, the Puez-Odle Nature Park, Alpe di Siusi, Val di Funes, Sassolungo, and Seceda.
On the map below, the things to do in the eastern Dolomites are blue and the things to do in the western Dolomites are red/orange.
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (things to do in the Dolomites and recommended restaurants). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Best Things to Do in the Dolomites (With Little to No Hiking)
This list of things to do in the Dolomites can be done all year, with the exception of skiing in the summer and cycling in the winter. In the winter months, there could be ice and snow on the roads, but they are generally cleared very quickly.
1. Spend Some Time in Cortina d’Ampezzo
Cortina d’Ampezzo, also called the “Pearl of the Dolomites,” is a beautiful town that is located in the Belluno province of Italy.
The cable car to Tofana di Mezzo (mentioned next) is located in Cortina d’Ampezzo, as well a handful of fabulous Michelin-starred restaurants.
While in Cortina d’Ampezzo, take a stroll along Corso Italia, the pedestrian street that runs through the city center. Go shopping, visit Basilica Minore dei Santi Filippo e Giacomo, and ride the Faloria cable car.
Cortina d’Ampezzo | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
The view of Cortina d’Ampezzo from Cima Tofana.
2. Ride the Cable Car to Cima Tofana
Starting in Cortina d’Ampezzo, a series of cable cars whisks riders to Cima Tofana, one of the highest peaks in the area. Along this journey, the views are incredible. And at cable car stations, you can dine with a view at several different restaurants. Below is the viewing deck at the Cima Tofana mountain station. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the view.
Upper deck on Cima Tofana | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
For those that want to go farther, you can stand on Tofana di Mezzo. At 3,241 meters (10,633 feet), this is the third highest peak in the Dolomites.
To hike from Cima Tofana to Tofana di Mezzo, it is only a 0.3 km (0.2 mile) hike.
But there’s a catch.
This trail is not for everyone. It scales the edge of a cliff and then it is a steep, slippery hike to the peak.
But your reward is one of the best views of the Dolomites. In our opinion, it’s even better than Marmolada (mentioned next), since you have fewer crowds and a more wild, rugged viewpoint.
Tofana di Mezzo | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
3. Visit Marmolada
Marmolada, also called the Queen of the Dolomites, is the highest peak in the Dolomites. A series of cable cars zips you to the top, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Dolomites.
This mighty mountain straddles the border between the Italian regions of Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige.
Punta Rocca (3,265 meters/10,700 feet) is one of the highest points in the Dolomites and the final cable car station on Marmolada. From here, you have 360° views of the Dolomites.
The view from Marmolada | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
Another view from Marmolada | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
Serauta is the lower cable car station. There is an outdoor viewing terrace, but the views aren’t quite as impressive as those you get from Punta Rocca. A short, easy downhill walk takes you to the WWI sites on Punta Serauta (you can only do this walk from June through September because the remainder of the year it is covered in snow).
Punta Serauta on Marmolada
4. Drive the Mountain Passes
You can see some of the most beautiful parts of the Dolomites from behind the wheel of a car. There are numerous roads that cross some of the highest mountain passes in the Dolomites.
Passo Pordoi is one of the highest mountain passes in the Dolomites. From the town of Arabba, you will drive 33 hairpin turns to reach the top of the pass. And from Canazei, you will drive 27 hairpin turns to get here.
How do we know this? There are signs marking each hairpin turn as you drive past it (look for the small white signs with a number and the word “tornante”).
Passo Pordoi | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
Once at Passo Pordoi, you can travel even higher on the cable car to Sass Pordoi for awesome views over Passo Pordoi. And if you like the idea of adding on a hike, you can hike to Piz Boè, one of the easiest 3,000+ meter summits in the Dolomites (5.3 km/3.3 miles, 2 to 4 hours).
Overlooking Passo Pordoi from Sass Pordoi…no hiking necessary to get this view!
The Sella Pass
The Sella Pass is located near Passo Pordoi and runs past the Sella group. It connects Selva di Val Gardena and Canazei. From here you can ride a cable car to Sassolungo.
Sella Pass | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Most of the roads in the Dolomites are narrow and winding. In fact, there’s hardly a straight stretch of road here. If you suffer from motion sickness, make sure you pack your Dramamine or anything else you use to minimize your symptoms.
The Gardena Pass links Val Gardena and Corvara. As you drive this winding path, you are treated to views of the Sella group and Sassolungo. This is part of the Sella Ring, a loop of four passes that also includes Pordoi, Sella, and Campolongo.
Overlooking the Gardena Pass from the Puez-Odle Altopiano trail. You can also get a similar view from a short walk from the Jimmi Hütte, mentioned later in this article (#9).
Sitting at the northern base of Marmolada is Passo Fedaia. It’s not quite as high as some of the other passes mentioned on this list, but this road frequently appears on the Giro d’Italia and runs past Lago Fedaia.
Lago Fedaia | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
This mountain pass connects Selva di Cadore with Cortina d’Ampezzo. From this pass, you get an iconic view of Ra Gusela, the pinnacle of rock in the photo below.
Passo Giau | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
While at Passo Giau, you can get out and stretch your legs. If you walk the path behind Berghotel Passo Giau you can get closer view of Ra Gusela (and maybe a few cows).
Not far from Passo Giau is Passo Falzarego. In World War I, this pass was the site of heavy combat between the Italians and Austrians.
From this pass, you can ride the cable car to the peak of Lagazuoi, which is mentioned next as one of the best things to do in the Dolomites.
Cappella della Visitazione at the Falzarego Pass
5. Ride the Cable Car to Lagazuoi
The Lagazuoi cable car runs from the Falzarego Pass to the top of Lagazuoi.
Once here, enjoy the view from the terrace. You can also visit Lagazuoi EXPO Dolomiti, a brand new exhibit room that runs temporary exhibits throughout the year.
If you walk a short distance down trail #401 (about 100 meters), you come to an outcropping of rock that is a great photo spot (note: there are a lot of outcroppings here, some safer than others, so be careful here).
The view from Lagazuoi | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
And if you like the idea of adding on a hike, you can do the short, easy, downhill hike from Lagazuoi to Falzarego Pass, that takes you back to your car.
6. Rifugio Scoiattoli & the Cinque Torri
There are several good reasons why a visit to Rifugio Scoiattoli is one of the best things to do in the Dolomites if you don’t want to do a lot of hiking.
For one thing, right from this rifugio you get an awesome view of the Cinque Torri. The Cinque Torri is one of the most iconic rock formations in the Dolomites.
The view of the Cinque Torri and Tofana di Rozes from Rifugio Scoiattoli
Rifugio Scoiattoli | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
During World War I, this area was the site of conflict between the Italians and the Austro-Hungarians. Bunkers and trenches were built amidst the Cinque Torri towers, and after the war, once the area was abandoned, these formations remained. Recently, the trenches and bunkers were restored and the Cinque Torri is now a WWI open air museum (the Museum of the Great War).
If you want to go hiking, you can hike in and around the Cinque Torri and explore the trenches. It’s a short, easy hike that is great for all ages and ability levels (2 km, 1.2 miles, 1 hour).
Reason #2 to visit Rifugio Scoiattoli is to have lunch with a view. We did not eat here but this is one of the highest rated restaurants in the area.
And reason #3 is to sit back and enjoy the view from these lounge chairs, which are located right next to the rifugio.
To get to Rifugio Scoiattoli, ride the chairlift from Baita Bai de Dones, which is on SR48, to the rifugio. Later, on the chairlift ride back to the parking lot, you will have a phenomenal view of Lagazuoi and Tofana di Rozes.
7. Rifugio Averau
Rifugio Averau sits on the hill above Rifugio Scoiattoli. This rifugio serves some of the best pasta and ravioli in the Dolomites. Plus, you have a nice view of the Cinque Torri from here, although you are farther away than at Rifugio Scoiattoli.
Rifugio Averau | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
To get here without hiking, ride the chairlift from Rifugio Fedare (a very short drive from Passo Giau) to Rifugio Averau.
You can also get here by walking/hiking up from Rifugio Scoiattoli: 1 km/0.6 miles one way, about a 30 minute walk.
8. Visit a Lake or Two (or Three)
There are several beautiful lakes you can visit with little to no hiking. We already mentioned Lago Fedaia but here are a few more.
Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee)
Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) is one of the most popular places to visit in the Dolomites. This crystal-clear aquamarine lake, with its dramatic mountainous backdrop, easy walking trail, and rowboats, attracts a lot of visitors.
You don’t have to walk far for a great view. From the parking area and bus stop, it takes about 5 minutes to walk to the lake. One of the best viewpoints is from the boat house.
Lago di Braies | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
One of the best things to do here is to rent a rowboat and paddle around the lake. You can also have lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants here. Or spend the night in Hotel Lago di Braies.
If you want to explore farther, walk the trail that circles around Lago di Braies (about 4 km/2.3 miles, 1.5 to 2 hours).
Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See)
At Lago di Dobbiaco (Toblacher See), take a stroll on the trail the loops around the lake or have lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants that sit next to the lake.
Lago di Dobbiaco | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
Lago di Misurina
Lago di Misurina is a large lake that is located near Auronzo di Cadore. Several hotels and restaurants are located along the perimeter of the lake and from here you can ride the chairlift to Col de Varda.
Lago di Misurina | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
COOL FACT: In 1956, when Cortina d’Ampezzo hosted the Winter Olympics, speed skating was held on this lake. It was the last time that an Olympic speed skating event was held on natural ice.
Lago di Carezza (Karersee)
Lago di Carezza is a beautiful, aquamarine lake that you can see right from your car as you drive on SS241. It’s definitely worth the quick stop so you can enjoy the view and take a few photos.
Lago di Carezza | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
9. The Amazing View from the Jimmi Hütte
This is a short hike but it’s worth it. There is a viewpoint from the Puez-Odle Altopiano hike, near the Jimmi Hütte (Rifugio Jimmi), that is one of our favorite viewpoints in the Dolomites. From here, you are looking out over Passo Gardena and the Sella Group.
From the town of Selva di Val Gardena, take the Dantercepies gondola up into the mountains (already the views are amazing!). From the gondola, walk east on the wide, gravel trail until you get to the Jimmy Hütte (about 1 km one-way). You will have a nice view from the Jimmi Hutte but it gets better if you hike higher. From the hut, take trail No. 2 up into the mountains. You will have to hike up a rocky trail for 500 feet to get this view.
For the exact location, here are the GPS coordinates: 46°33’27” N 11°48’47” E
This entire experience will take about 2 hours.
10. Visit Alpe di Siusi
Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm in German) is the highest alpine meadow in Europe. Cabins, rifugios, and hotels dot the landscape. Hiking trails and biking trails run along the hillsides, connecting the small villages. And Sassolungo, with its jagged, rocky peaks, looms over the area.
Alpe di Siusi | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
This area can be visited all year. In the summer, you can hike, bike, and get around by bus. In the winter, this becomes a top skiing destination.
We spent the morning hiking here and then riding the chairlift to Williamshütte. Williamshütte has a restaurant with an outdoor terrace, a playground, a small zip line, and a huge swing, not to mention an amazing view of Sassolungo. This is a great place to bring kids.
To get around Alpe di Siusi without hiking, you can rent bikes in Compatsch (the main town and starting point for a visit to Alpe di Siusi) and cycle around the area or use the public bus, which is fast and efficient. To get to the Williamshutte without hiking, ride the bus from Compatsch to Saltria. In Saltria, ride the chairlift to Williamshütte.
For those who just want a great meal with a view of Sassolungo, ride the bus from Compatsch to Rauchhütte and have lunch or dinner here.
11. Val di Funes
Val di Funes is one of the most picturesque areas of the Dolomites. From these green rolling hills, you get a jaw-dropping view of the Odle/Geisler Group and it’s made even more picturesque with the Church of St. John sitting in the valley.
There is a viewpoint of the Church of St. John that you can get to with a very short walk. In the town of Santa Magdalena (St. Maddalena), park in the small parking lot on Via Zanser (Via Geisler), GPS coordinates: 46°38’12.3″N 11°43’19.6″E. From here, walk 1 minute on San Giovanni (St. Johann) to the viewpoint. It is a small, elevated platform with a fence around it. Here’s the view.
Church of St. John | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
If you want to get to the viewpoint in the photo below, it is a 1.5 km/0.9 mile walk one-way to the Santa Maddalena viewpoint. Park at the Parkplatz Naturparkhaus lot in town. There were plenty of parking spaces here midday in July when we were here. The entire walk will take about an hour and it’s along paved roads that run through town. You also have the option to add on a visit to the Santa Maddalena church during the walk.
Santa Maddalena viewpoint | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
12. Visit Seceda
Seceda is one of the most popular viewpoints in the Dolomites. From the summit of Seceda, you can look out across the jagged, slanting pinnacles that makes this viewpoint so famous.
One of the best things about visiting Seceda is that very little hiking is required. A cable car whisks you to the summit, eliminating what would be a very long and strenuous climb to get here.
Right from the upper station you are immediately treated to views of the Puez Odle Nature Park.
This is the view near the Seceda mountain station
From the upper cable car station, it takes about 10 minutes to walk up to the viewpoint. This is a completely uphill walk and some people may find it strenuous. But it is worth it for the perfect vantage point from Seceda.
Once at the top, you have 360° views of the Dolomites. You are now standing at 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). On a clear day, you can see Grossglockner, which is the highest mountain in Austria.
The famous Seceda viewpoint | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
Another view from the viewpoint
From this viewpoint, you can walk back down to the cable car station or turn this walk into a short loop. It’s easy and all downhill from this point. For full details on how to do this, read our article How to Visit Seceda.
13. Dine at the Restaurants, Rifugios, and Malgas
In the Dolomites, the food is a wonderful blend of Italian, Austrian, and German cuisine. For an area so devoted to outdoor sports and experiences, there are a surprising number of Michelin-starred and fine dining experiences.
In the Dolomites, you can dine at a rifugio (a mountain hut, also called a hütte), a malga (an alpine pasture hut, also called an Alm or Baita), a Michelin-starred restaurant, or any number of restaurants located in the towns and hotels.
One of our favorite experiences in the Dolomites was dining at a rifugio. The food was always fantastic and the view was icing on the cake.
Here is a list of our favorite restaurants in the Dolomites.
Ristorante El Camineto. Located in Cortina d’Ampezzo, this Michelin-starred restaurant serves some of the best pasta we had in Italy. The view from their outdoor terrace is what first attracted us to this restaurant.
Ristorante Al Camin. This is another Michelin-starred restaurant in Cortina d’Ampezzo. If you want to have a Michelin-starred dinner in a more casual restaurant and not spend a fortune, this is a great choice.
SanBrite. For foodies, put SanBrite on your list. The food is locally sourced and the menu is very creative. Take your pick from one of their tasting menus or dine a la carte.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Make your reservations in advance. Every restaurant was filled to capacity and dinnertime during our 2022 summer visit.
Il Vizietto di Cortina. If you want good Italian food without spending a fortune, this small, busy restaurant is a good pick. It is located in the city center of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Fvsion Cortina. We did not eat here but I still want to mention it, since it gets great reviews and is unique. This restaurant serves a fusion of Italian and Japanese cuisine. It’s located in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Rifugio Scoiattoli and Rifugio Averau. Mentioned earlier, these two rifugios are accessible by chair lift and are highly rated restaurants in the area.
Rifugio Nuvolau. You do have to hike to get here, but the views plus the great food made this one of our favorite experiences in the Dolomites.
Restaurant Freina. This is one of our favorite restaurants in Selva di Val Gardena. On the menu is Italian and Austrian food.
Baita Ciampac Hut. This small restaurant sits in Vallunga, a valley just to the northeast of Selva di Val Gardena. You can drive here from town. Kids will love the playground and parents will love the views of the nearby mountains. If you happen to hike the Puez-Odle Altopiano, you’ll pass this hut towards the very end of the hike.
Rifugio Nuvolau and its view of the Cinque Torri and Tofana di Rozes.
14. Go Skiing
The Dolomites are a world-class skiing destination. There are numerous ski resorts scattered through the mountains. Some of the top resorts include Alta Badia, Alpe di Siuis (Seiser Alm), Val Garden (Groden o has dots), and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
15. Go Cycling
During the summer months, the Dolomites becomes a top cycling destination. Cyclists from around the world come here to cycle up the many mountain passes.
In May, the Giro d’Italia is a cycling event that takes place in Italy, similar to the Tour de France in France. Taking place in May, there are usually a few stages that are held in the Dolomites.
Hiking in the Dolomites
The Dolomites are one of the best places in the world to go hiking. If you have plans to go hiking in the Dolomites, or are curious about what it’s like to go hiking here (there are a LOT of short, easy, and incredibly beautiful hikes that are great for all ages and ability levels), take a look at our article Best Hikes in the Dolomites.
Alpe di Siusi | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
How to Get Around the Dolomites
The best way to get around the Dolomites is by car. This gives you the freedom to explore the towns, drive the passes, and get to the lakes and trailheads on your own schedule.
There are public buses in the Dolomites, but they unfortunately are not always reliable. It also depends on which region you are in. In Trentino-South Tyrol, we frequently saw buses running. But in Veneto, we rarely saw a public bus and we spoke to several people who said the buses never showed up, leaving them stranded at a trailhead.
If you are dependent on public transportation, based on our experience, it’s best to stay in Val Gardena (Selva di Val Gardena or Ortisei) and explore this area of the Dolomites.
While in the Dolomites, we have always rented a car and I truly think it is the best way to get around here. You can rent a car for just this portion of your trip to Italy, doing so from the last major town you visit before entering the Dolomites. Venice, Verona, Bolzano, and Milan are all great options. If you return the car to the same city, you will avoid the drop fee which can help keep your rental car cost low.
Lago di Braies | Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
Frequently Asked Questions
How many days do you need in the Dolomites?
As many as possible. If you simply want to drive through the Dolomites and visit a few highlights, two to three days is all you need. If you love hiking, spend as much time here as you can. I recommend five days at a minimum.
So far, we have spent 12 very busy days in the Dolomites and still have more that we want to come back and do. So, if you have the time in your schedule, you could easily spend 7 to 10 days hiking in the Dolomites.
When is the best time to visit the Dolomites?
That depends on what you want to do. If hiking is your thing, June through September is the best time to visit the Dolomites. In October, once the snow begins to fall, the trails close. If skiing is your thing, visit the Dolomites from December through March, although some ski resorts will open sooner than this or close later than this.
Where is the best place to stay in the Dolomites?
The towns of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Selva di Val Gardena, Ortisei, and Selva di Cadore are good places to stay in in the Dolomites. If you will be visiting the Dolomites for four or more days, consider staying in two different locations to minimize how much driving you do. On our recent trip to the Dolomites, we stayed in Cortina d’Ampezzo and Selva di Val Gardena and it worked perfectly.
If you have any questions about the best things to do in the Dolomites, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Italy
DOLOMITES: We cover important things to know before you go and travel tips in our article How to Plan a Trip to the Dolomites. And don’t miss our Dolomites Itinerary, which has suggestions on the best way to plan your itinerary, whether you have 2, 4, 7 or more days.
NORTHERN ITALY: If you plan to visit the Dolomites, read our article Best Hikes in the Dolomites. Verona is a beautiful city to add to your Italy itinerary and we also have a detailed guides on Sirmione on Lake Garda on how to day trip to Lake Como and Bellagio.
FLORENCE & TUSCANY: If this is your first visit to Florence, read our guide to the Best Things to Do in Florence. If you plan to visit Tuscany, learn how to spend one day in Siena and the best things to do in San Gimignano.
AMALFI COAST: Getting from Rome to the Amalfi Coast can be confusing but we take the guesswork out of how to do this in our Rome to the Amalfi Coast Guide. You can also add on Pompeii as you travel between Rome and Sorrento. We also have a 3-day Sorrento Itinerary and information on how to visit the Blue Grotto in Capri.
EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe and the 20 Best Hikes in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our 10 Days in Europe itinerary guide, which has 10 great itineraries for your next trip to Europe.
We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide.
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