The most photogenic spots in the Northern Dolomites
Following our first part of the trip in the Parco Naturale dell’Adamello Brenta, were the Northern Parks of the Dolomites. Once again the natural beauty is astounding and finding out which areas to visit may be overwhelming especially if you are limited with time. However below you can find the main attractions in (and near) the main parks in the northern Dolomites with the most photogenic spots to visit if you are interested in photography.
Here are some basic facts on the Dolomites:
- The area comprises a mountain range in the Eastern Alps.
- They are mainly located in the region of Trentino Alto Adige in Italy.
- The nearest airports are Milan Linate (where we landed), or Malpensa, Bergamo, Verona, Treviso or Venice.
- Several natural parks totalling 141,903 hectares are located within the Dolomites and the length of your trip depends on how many and which parks you decide to choose.
- UNESCO in 2009 included the Dolomites in their list of World Heritage sites as it includes one of the most spectacular mountain landscapes of the planet.
This is one of those places that I had been dreaming about for a long time. I had seen these majestic peaks on several documentaries and wished to visit for so many years. If you read my previous post you will know why I had been postponing this ‘easy’ trip to the Dolomites in Italy. The most popular trek in the park and also the easiest is the one from Rifugio Auronzo, where you can leave your car (entrance with a car costs 30 Eur) towards Rifugio Locatelli and back. This trek can be done as a loop, but you may also opt to do a part of the trek and go back using the same path. It is quite an easy trek and you will be able to see the famous peaks from all the directions.
Practical Tip: Since the trek is quite popular in summer, you may wish to get here as early as possible to find a good parking spot.
Photography tip: Do the trek counterclockwise if you are starting in the morning to get the best light conditions on the three peaks.
Here are some of the highlights along your way:
- Rifugio Auronzio (parking and start of the trail)
- Cappella degli Alpini (this part of the trail is the easiest part and can be done by anyone)
- Rifugio Lavaredo (take a rest here because you will need to catch your breath)
- Forcella Lavaredo (the most difficult part, where you will reach the highest altitude but also the most spectacular in my opinion)
- Rifugio Locatelli + Laghi dei Piani (1 hour downhill – this is the place where you may wish to have lunch)
- Keep your eyes and ears open all along the way! You may meet marmots, eagles and deer!
In this park you will find what is considered by many the most beautiful lake in Italy : Lago di Braies! We spent only a couple of hours here and I regret this! You can explore the several trails around the lake and spent days in this park. We limited ourselves to do a part of the relaxing walk around the lake; a walk which can be done by anyone. It is quite popular so you won’t be alone, unless you visit before 9am when the rowing boats start running (June – September). This is the most popular activity here and you can hire a rowing boat to get a different view of the surrounding mountains. More information here.
Photography tip: If you want the best reflections on the lake get there before 9am before the rowing boats start operating.
Here are some more key facts about this lake:
- Altitude: 1,496 m above sea level
- One of the largest natural lakes in the Dolomites measuring 31 hectares
- Length of the easy trek surrounding the lake: 3.5km
- Maximum surface water temperature: 14°C
Parco Naturale Puez Odle
This area is a feast for the eyes of photographers and includes the most iconic spot in the dolomites! The main attractions of this park include:
Val di Funes (Western area of the park)
If you are a keen photographer I am sure that you have seen the famous photo of the church in Santa Maddalena with the mountains in the background. If you have been wondering where that place is … check out Val di Funes! This is the most photogenic place ever; with lush green meadows full of grazing sheep and cows and quaint villages like Santa Maddalena and San Pietro where you don’t hear anything except the sounds of animals and birds chirping. There are numerous trails to follow here as well but be sure not to miss out the Santa Maddalena Alta Panoramic trail.
Photography Tip: The best light conditions are in the afternoon or at sunset
Passo delle Erbe (Northern area of the park)
From this mountain pass start several trails towards Sass de Putia or Peitlerkofel. This is considered as one of the easiest ascents if you are an inexperienced climber. If you have less time you can also admire this solitary peak from the road and take a break in one of the chalets along the way, like we did. We love mountain passes and driving along them is always one of the highlights of our trips 🙂
Passo and Val Gardena (Southern area of the park)
Val Gardena is a very popular tourist destination and several people visiting the area choose to stay in this valley. The most popular villages are Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva di Valgardena. They are situated to the south of the park with an impressive drive along Passo Gardena located to the east of these three villages. Both from the villages and Passo Gardena depart several trails towards the Puez Odle Natural Park.
Photography Tip: In my opinion the most photogenic spot in the area the impressive Seceda Ridges (photo below). The easiest way to reach the peaks is with a cable car departing from Ortisei.
Parco Naturale Sciliar-Catinaccio
This park comprises an area of 7,291 hectares and it is the oldest of all the natural parks in Südtirol. This park is a natural habitat to several species of flora and fauna and this is the reason behind the foundation of this park. The main attractions in and around the park are:
- Massiccio del Sciliar – an imposing rock formation with distinctive pinnacles
- Alpe di Siusi (North) – this is the largest Alpine Meadow in Europe and one of the most picturesque places in the area
- Lago di Carezza (South) – this small lake is located to the south of the park and is famous for its turquoise waters
- Sassopiatto & Sassolungo (East) – views toward these peaks are spectacular especially during sunset!
Photography Tip: Book your accommodation on Alpe di Siusi for the best sunrise and sunset views. You won’t be disappointed!