See the Dolomites Mountains, South Tyrol in Italy!
I have never been a big fan of hiking but after I have been to Switzerland in 2018, it became clear that this type of acitivity is exactly what I wanted.
After taking the bar exam, the time came for me to have a similar experience. This time it would be in Italy, in the Dolomites mountains.
This type of holiday was a journey of maturing, getting to know yourself, getting out of the infamous comfort zone that a flight will offer you. I am talking about discovering yourself because that is what travelling is all about: getting to know your true self and trying things that are not in your daily routine. To explore new places not knowing what you are going to see next and not knowing what to expect.
There is nothing that helps you discover yourself, better than traveling.
In life you don’t have to think about it too much, don’t overthink it!
This experience that I had in the Dolomites was raw because I did not do even half of the research that I’ve done before going to Switzerland.
I got in the car and left my country having only two accommodation options booked in Austria.
Considering the fact that the distance was quite big and because I didn’t want to be in a constant hurry, the first stop was Vienna. A city that I would sometime love to live in and that I always like seeing it again.
What did we do on our way to the Dolomites?
We spent two days in Austria’s capital, but I’ll tell you about that in another article because there are many things to say about Vienna.
Right after that, we enjoyed the city of Hallstatt for a day. Hallstatt was one of those places that I’ve noticed on Instagram. It is a beautiful, clean city even if there are so many tourist visiting nowadays (you will notice a lot of coaches drop off tourists all day long).
If you want to avoid the crowds, you should definitely come either really early at morning or in the late afternoon.
Even if it was a long distance and most people would prefer to take a plane and land at the nearest airport. I wanted to go to the Dolomites with my car.
The Dolomites are for everyone
I have entered the Dolomites area from the east side, around Lienz and San Candido, as it was the most convenient for me.
If you fly in and decide to rent a car, probably the south-west area is better for you, leaving from Venice.
This eastern region of the Dolomites mountains has become popular to the English speakers only in 1837, when a Londoner editor published a tourist guide. At first, you would only see alpinists being interested in this area.
This area is renowned for being open to all types of travelers. It is an area of contrasts.
You will find anything from being able to go around a mountain lake and tasting a fine wine from an Italian vineyard. Or walking under the palm trees on a seafront and at night, being able to sleep in a medieval castle.
Renting or driving your own car?
Renting a car can help you save some time by not having to book accommodation in cities that you are not interested in for now.
I wasn’t a big fan of rental cars because even if you sign and pay all of the insurance options, it still doesn’t feel comfortable enough because we are talking about mountain roads with lots of serpentines and inclines. Having all of that in mind, a car with a better engine would have got me to a higher cost.
If the distances and time are inconvenient, then you should rent a car. Even if it implies having to do all of the paperwork and even if you have to overcome some other aspects.
Public transport in the Dolomites
Yes, we all should recommend using the bus to get around but the way I see it, their infrastucture is not that great and it made me prefer going with my car instead.
But you could look up more info about these services if you google Dolomiti Bus or/and Cortina Express.
Bonus tip: if you are staying in Val Gardena, make sure to ask at your accommodation if they offer free passes. Many hosts in this area do give out these passes and their cost is usually already included in your accommodation price.
Rental options and what do they mean
Therefore, if you come to the Dolomites by airplane, then I recommend that you rent a car. In Europe I have rented cars fom Budget and Sixt. You should compare and see which is best for you.
Plus, you might want to book your car online because otherwise you might have limited to no options or you will have to pay a bigger price.
The nearby airports are those in Venice, Milan and Treviso.
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot. In Italy you have to pay when you enter the highway and there is no such concept as a vignette. You have to pay a road tax based on how many kilometers you drive on the highway. The fuel prices are extremely high and the gas stations look bad like they are abandoned or something. I chose to drive another 30 minutes and to get to Austria. So that I would refuel at OMV at 1.2€/L than in Italy for 1.7€/L at Eni, for example.
See here how renting a car goes in France!
When should you come to the Dolomites mountains?
I was here in September because that’s when my schedule cleared. In the months of July and August you will see countless tourists come here. Happily so, because September was great as it wasn’t that crowded and the weather was far better than I expected it to be.
Skiing in the most popular places
In the winter this area gets even more popular because it’s probably one of the nicest places around. But I had no plans for skiing so coming when it is still warm outside was perfect for me.
Building an itinerary
You can’t really go wrong in the Dolomites. No matter where you go, no matter which path you choose, you will love what you’re seeing. With that being said you have to get yourself organized because even though the distances aren’t long. We are talking about a mountain road full of serpentines that will take you a while to drive through.
Plan your activities by days
You have to plan your activites by days. It kind of takes you a whole day just for an activity and only if you stop by on your way back to your accommodation, you will be able to see something else you might want. I wrote a 3 days itinerary here and another itinerary for 5 days or more, here.
Creating content for social media
Nowadays it is hard to find a beautiful place that is not all over the internet. We wanted to make this trip in our own way and to go see the underrated spots.
I took a chance and I risked going nowhere in particular. Risked being tired and driving on trails that did not look as promising. Beauty can’t always be photographed and I think that this journey was the perfect proof of that. You don’t have to do it the way I did, but if you have some extra time, take your car and drive in the direction your instinct takes you because this whole area is outstanding.
How was it?
You will have issues with your phone signal in some areas.You won’t be able to share moments on social media instantly. But that will help you appreciate this so much more.
Anywhere that you would want to go up, is accesible with no issues. There are plenty cable car options, you will find them everywhere! I was actually surprised to see how well developed this segment really is.
You must, I repeat, must have sunscreen with you at all times. Being on the mountain, the sun will hit you even harder.
Along the way you will find the so-called refuge (rifugio) where you can grab something to eat or drink. In some places you will have to pay to use the restroom and they only accept coins.
What should you wear in the Dolomites?
It is very important to have the right shoes for hiking. Don’t wear anything that might make you slip or cause you blisters. You might want to get some walking poles (hiking sticks) if you have troubles with your knees.
Every hiking trail has signs and you will know which one is the easiest and which is the hardest. Those signs will also tell you how much time you need to allocate for the hike. Make sure you follow the signs if you don’t want to end up making it more difficult or even dangerous.
I’ve spent about 8 days in the Dolomites, having a different and relaxing approach without being in such a rush. You should get out of your comfort zone. Wakeup really early, catch the sunrise and why not sleep outside if you’re up for it.
This holiday has taught me a lot. Now I know what I really like and that was thanks to this unique experience. This has helped me to grow as a human and I hope that everyone will get the same experiemce. May it be a holiday in the Dolomites, the Alps, in Switzerland or a roadtrip and hiking around, but it is something that you should do at least once in a lifetime. Even if these things may scare you or make you feel uncomfortable or tiring at first.
For more photos check #AdrianMeetsTheAlps on Instagram.