Like a gothic timeless art piece in a museum, the Dolomites is a year-round destination that piques every traveler’s interest. The rugged limestone peaks are distinct from what many are used to, which only adds to its mystique. The destination has clawed its way up several bucket lists and starred in several social posts, which justifies why the Dolomites are such a revered destination.
- 1 Why you should visit the Dolomites
- 2 What to pack for Dolomites winter trip
- 3 Conclusion
Why you should visit the Dolomites
The Dolomites are a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps that courses three regions; Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The Dolomites are made up of 18 peaks rising above 3000 meters and over 141,903 hectares. They are a revered destination for so many outdoor enthusiasts thanks to countless activities available in the region. Here are ten reasons why you should visit the Dolomites.
Although Dolomites winter is typically cold, this part of the region gets more sun than anywhere in the Alps. The winter season in the Dolomites comes as early as November, with snow beginning to rapidly accumulate on the foothills, and the season runs until March (and sometimes until April). However, winter in the Dolomites is typically cold, and January is the coldest month of the season, then December and February.
Some factors, such as altitude, exposure and topography, hugely influence temperatures. Simply put, a town in the valley is much colder than one on the slopes. During the season, temperatures in the valleys drop below 0°C. And in some places, such as Dobbiaco in Bolzano, temperatures drop to as low as -20°C. Furthermore, the Dolomites (Sudtirol / Alto Adige) are protected from fog and storms by the southern slopes (Lake Garda area), meaning you can gleefully ski down a hill under a sunny sky (eight out of ten days are sunny).
Countless ski resorts
Skiing is a popular winter sport in the Dolomites, and the countless ski resorts (32 to be exact) are a great testament to that. And one of the reasons why the Dolomites has become a popular ski destination is the immense investment in the infrastructure. So don’t expect to find queues at ski lifts.
Read also: Where to stay in the Dolomites
The spectacular Sellaronda at Sella Massif connects four resorts in the area, enabling skiers to hop onto different slopes without repeating any. One pass offers access to Alta Badia, Arabba, Val Gardena, and Val di Fassa. With over 1,315km of slopes designated for skiing and 449 ski lifts carrying skiers, the Dolomiti Superski carousel is an absolute delight. The ski pass connects 12 ski resorts, some of which are the most popular in the Alps, such as Alta Badia, Cortina d’Ampezzo, and Plan de Corones.
Skiing in the Dolomites entails so much more than gliding down the slopes; it also means large sun terraces and cool hats. However, if you don’t fancy the heart-throbbing experience, the resorts have many places where you can lounge and watch the activity.
For many travelers, dining outside routine plays a huge role in having a fruitful vacation. And the dining spots in the Dolomites don’t disappoint in this regard. Visitors can enjoy the rich blend of Italian and Austrian cuisines. Dolomite resorts aren’t so different when it comes to the dining experience. They will go toe to toe with those in the French or Swiss Alps.
Dolomite resorts have a side as swanky and pricey as France’s Courchevel or Switzerland’s Verbier. But the big plus here is that travelers with smaller budgets will still get an unmatched dining experience. There are several “rifugi” (mountain huts that function as inns/cafes) in ski villages where you can enjoy a scrumptious meal at a reasonable price. Savory dishes such as canederli dumplings, mushroom polenta, pumpkin-filled ravioli and pasta fagioli are a must-try.
Rich history and culture
Italy annexed Süd Tyrol in 1919. However, the region has always stayed true to its German roots. Even Mussolini’s Italianisation in the 1940s wasn’t enough to quash the Germanic culture in this region. In most parts of Dolomites, German remains a dominant language, and the rich Austro-Hungarian cultural heritage can be traced to the local cuisine and way of life.
If you don’t fancy slithering down snowy slopes, then a day trip to the small private museums is one you should fancy. The region has such a rich history that you will easily find all remnants of World War I. The guides in the museums give bits and pieces of how the region changed hands from Austria to Italy. Next, head to Lagazuoi (an outdoor museum in the mountains), where you will glimpse several tunnels built when Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire wrestled for control of the region.
Ideal for families
The Dolomites make for exceptional family destinations. From children’s skiing academies to Tobogganing, there are countless activities in the Dolomites to enjoy as a family. Of course, Christmas markets have always been a fun family activity. And this region’s numerous Christmas markets make for a beautiful family itinerary. These include; the Dobbiaco Christmas Market and the Dolomites Christmas San Candido, among others.
The Dolomites also have a myriad of attractions that are fun for kids, such as ice-skating rinks, ski schools, playgrounds, horse riding, husky sledding, and rock-climbing schools.
Try your hand at winter hiking
Hiking in winter is a great way to reclaim the season. And whereas hiking has been associated with the summer months, winter hiking is just as endearing, if not more. Imagine going on a hike without worrying about bugs, crowds or wildfires. You will also likely cover more ground, thanks to the cool weather.
The best spot to try winter hiking is at the foothills of Brenta Dolomites in Molveno. In this town, several hiking routes run through woods and snowy fields. And depending on the snowfall, there are routes on which you can walk in regular hiking shoes, but it is advisable to use snow hiking shoes.
Along with impeccable scenery and attractions, the Dolomites have several budges of honor only a select few destinations have in their ranks. The Dolomites is home to two world cup ski routes; Sass Longer and Gran Risa. The routes are the perfect metric for skiers. And if you can get the better of these, you are a genuinely gifted skier.
In addition, the Dolomites were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 and awarded the label of “Outstanding Universal Value” due to their significant earth scientific value and unique alpine beauty.
Few things arouse a set of emotions as scenery. Who said sightseeing isn’t fun? In the Dolomites, there are so many places where you can take in the beautiful scenery, making it an ideal destination. Whether you are on a hike or simply slithering down a slope, the breathtaking view of the Dolomites will catch your eye.
Something for everyone
Whereas most destinations are known for a distinct attraction in a season, the Dolomites in winter offer an array of activities to cater to diverse travelers. Travelers can pick from multiple attractions, such as rich and varied ski resorts, beautiful museums, and hiking routes.
The Dolomites are home to the winemaking tradition. And due to the unique climate, most wines are varietals such as Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay. However, if you are a stickler for reds, worry not. Schiava and Lagrein are two indigenous varietals that are just as endearing.
What to pack for Dolomites winter trip
Now that you have all the bits and pieces of the winter season in the Dolomites, it should be much easier to pack for your trip. However, for a comfortable journey to the region, I recommend you pack layers made of synthetic material (polypropylene, Polartec or Capilene). Here is a list of items to pack for your trip.
- Jacket: Be sure to pack one of the breathable and waterproof materials.
- Waterproof ski pants: These make for comfortable attire for those planning on skiing.
- Head socks and hats: Temperatures can be volatile in this region, so carry a head sock for when it gets frosty and a hat to protect against the sun.
- Gloves: These will keep your hands warm and help you fight off frostbite.
- Face masks: These are very useful for individuals prone to frost-nip
- Footwear: With footwear, consider lightweight, sturdy and waterproof boots with ankle support.
With so much to offer, Dolomites is a unique season offering specks of magic for every traveler. Whether you glide down a hill or climb one, the captivating scenery is a memory that will live long after you leave the Dolomites.
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