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15 Best Things to Do in the Dolomites — Skiing, Hiking, and Village-hopping Included

From ski mountains to scenic drives, these are the top things to do in Italy's Dolomite Mountains.

The Dolomites, a mountain range in Northern Italy, are what outdoorsy dreams are made of. The range, which is part of the Southern Limestone Alps, covers some 350,000 acres across its 18 peaks. It’s a region that’s ideal for those who want to get out and experience the freshest air in the world, look out on awe-inspiring landscapes, and challenge themselves to a few unforgettable hikes.

“People should visit the Dolomites because it's a unique place in the world,” Stefania Vigna, who hosts a skiing, eating, and wine-tasting adventure in the Dolomites via Airbnb Experiences, shares with Travel + Leisure. “I can assure you that the Dolomites are the most beautiful mountains."

Yes, it’s a fantastic place to go in the winter to experience the fluffy white snow blanketing the peaks, but it’s also a place where Vigna says year-round travelers can find some fun. Other activities Vigna recommends include stopping for lunch at a chalet, hiking some of the famed trails, and strolling through the quaint communities in the valleys. Need more? Here are 15 things to do in the Dolomites for your next Italian mountain getaway.

Related: How to Plan the Perfect Trip to the Italian Dolomites — Luxury Hotels and Beautiful Hiking Trails Included

Hike to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

<p>Travel Wild/Getty Images</p>

Travel Wild/Getty Images

Have an unforgettable hiking experience when you trek up to Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The 5.5-mile loop is rated as moderate, so be prepared to take your time and pack plenty of water. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with views of the three towering peaks, and if you time your hike for late spring or summer, you could walk through a few spectacular flower fields, too.

Paddle around the lakes.

<p>RobertBreitpaul/Getty Images</p>

RobertBreitpaul/Getty Images

The Dolomites are home to more than their fair share of glittering, gin-clear lakes, but none are as famous as Lago Di Braies. The lake, which sits inside the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park, stretches on for nearly 80 acres. Its azure waters can be explored via row boats, which are available to rent right from the shore.

Pedal along a scenic path.

<p>Saro17/Getty Images</p>

Saro17/Getty Images

The Dolomites also have endless biking trails, including the 70-mile Pustertal cycle path or the 20-mile Toblach-Cortina path, that make for excellent pedal-powered adventures. There are plenty of biking tours that you can book online, including this Airbnb Experiences e-bike tour, which takes you through the forests and straight to some of the best wineries and cheese-makers in the area.

See how high you can climb.

<p>Feng Wei Photography/Getty Images</p>

Feng Wei Photography/Getty Images

Don’t just hike up mountains or bike around them — spend a little time climbing and rappelling down them on a canyoning adventure. Canyoning brings you up and down the sides of cliffs and through rivers and waterfalls to show you the great outdoors from every angle. Take an all-day adventure with a company like Canyon Adventures, whose excursions are all led by qualified alpine guides.

Visit Europe’s highest alpine meadow.

<p>BastianLinder/Getty Images</p>

BastianLinder/Getty Images

Experience the best of the region in spring and summer by visiting Alpe Di Siusi, Europe’s highest alpine meadow. The meadow is the very definition of bucolic, with rolling green hills that will leave you speechless. Come hike it via the Alpe di Siusi Meadows Circuit Trail, grab a bite, or even spend a night here in one of the adorable boutique hotels.

Find the best powder.

<p>Алексей Облов/Getty Images</p>

Алексей Облов/Getty Images

Come in spring for the meadow, and stay through winter for the skiing, specifically at destinations like Cortina D’Ampezzo. The resort is part of the Dolomiti Superski area and offers skiers and riders miles of groomed terrain on this peak, which connects to hundreds of miles of terrain across the entire Superski area. Of course, you can always join Stefania for her ski tour, too.

Gaze upon gorgeous rock formations.

<p>TOMAg/Getty Images</p>

TOMAg/Getty Images

Sometimes, the best thing to do at a naturally beautiful destination like the Dolomites is to leave all distractions behind and gaze upon Mother Nature’s best creations. And that’s exactly what you can do during a trip to the Cinque Torri, a unique formation that includes five rock towers jutting toward the sky. For the best views, take a 4.5-mile intermediate hike starting at Baita Bai de Dones. Pack a lunch and sit for as long as you’d like before heading back.

See the Dolomites from above on a helicopter tour.

<p>Feng Wei Photography/Getty Images</p>

Feng Wei Photography/Getty Images

Get a bird’s-eye view of the Dolomites with a glamorous helicopter ride. Like other tours in the region, there are plenty of helicopter operators that will take you soaring above the mountains. Companies like Elikos can take one to six guests for 15, 30, and 50-minute tours, and they can go over specific peaks upon request.

Or from a cable car.

<p>Gina Pricope/Getty Images</p>

Gina Pricope/Getty Images

Want to see the Dolomites from above without boarding a helicopter? Head to one of the cable cars that hover over the mountains. The Tofana-Cortina Cable Car makes an excellent option as it’s open all year long, taking guests on a 30-minute ride to the top of Tofana di Mezzo, the third-highest peak in the Dolomites.

Go inside the mountains via historic tunnels.

<p>imagoDens/Getty Images</p>

imagoDens/Getty Images

Now that you’ve thoroughly explored the peaks of the Dolomites, it’s time to see the mountains from a different perspective with a tour of the Lagazuoi Tunnels. The tunnels, built by Italian soldiers in WWII, are fully restored and go on for more than half a mile along the mountain’s edge. Find out how to take a tour of the tunnels on the Lagazuoi Tunnels' official site.

Take a scenic drive.

<p>Jona Bastian/Getty Images</p>

Jona Bastian/Getty Images

For those who want a more leisurely expedition, there’s always the option to drive through the gorgeous landscapes of the Dolomites. The Great Dolomites Road was built in the early 20th century, and it goes on for 90 winding miles, allowing anyone to experience the beauty of this place without ever having to leave their car.

Learn more about the region at the Messner Mountain Museum Firmian.

<p>Probst/ullstein bild via Getty Images</p>

Probst/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Get a sense of the region's history and culture with a visit to Messner Mountain Museum Firmian. The museum is housed inside the Sigmundskron Castle and explores the connection between humans and the mountains. It also includes exhibitions on the changing landscape of the planet and the history of the castle itself.

Step back in time with a visit to Welsberg Castle.

<p>DEA / ALBERT CEOLAN / Getty Images</p>

DEA / ALBERT CEOLAN / Getty Images

See even more of the area’s history with a tour of Welsberg Castle. Tucked inside the Casies Valley, the centuries-old castle was built by brothers Schwinkher and Otto von Welsberg, and it has remained in the von Welsberg family for nearly 800 years. It was almost destroyed by a fire in the 1700s and was left abandoned until it was lovingly restored to its former glory. The castle is open for tours during the summer months.

Spend the night at a mountain hut.

Find a peaceful night’s rest in one of the rifugi (which translates to "refuge") found across the Dolomites. Spots like Rifugio Averau offer cozy rooms with dazzling views. Wake up with coffee and head straight out the door for a hike.

Stroll through charming alpine villages.

<p>TT/Getty Images</p>

TT/Getty Images

There are dozens of charming villages punctuating the landscapes in and around the mountains, making plentiful pit stops a must on your journey through the Dolomites. Add places like Ortisei, a village loved for its wooden sculptures and the perfect place to find a souvenir, to your Dolomites itinerary.

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