dolomites photography guide and info
The Dolomites mountain range is one of the most famous and beautiful mountain ranges in the world. It is a relatively small area of about 16,000 square kilometers in northeastern Italy that contains breathtaking views of mountain peaks, lakes, waterfalls, streams, alpine meadows and more. For photography enthusiasts, the Dolomites are abundant in exciting landscapes that will leave you speechless. If you are planning to travel the Dolomites for photography, to ski or simply to hike and enjoy the area, it is recommended to understand the seasons, the weather conditions and to know the most beautiful locations in order to plan a successful trip.
dolomites - seasons and weather
The Dolomites region is characterized by the classic seasons that most of us are familiar with, but due to the fact that large parts of it is mountainous, the weather conditions might be different from classic seasons.
flights to the dolomites
The closest airport to the Dolomites is in Venice (approximately 2 hours drive). You can also easily find flights with connections through a variety of European cities such as Athens, Vienna and more. Even landing in Ljubljana in Slovenia and traveling by car will allow you relatively short and convenient access to the northeastern region of the Dolomites.
hotels in the dolomites
The valleys and mountain passes in the Dolomites are abundant with a variety of accommodation options in different styles and for every pocket. The main areas where you will find the most places to stay are the towns located in the valleys. There you will also find a variety of restaurants, shops, cafes, supermarkets and more. The Dolomites have a variety of accommodation options - from luxury spa hotels, comfortable and rustic B&B hotels, simple hostels, apartments for rent and mountain cabins. Each region usually has several different towns where you can stay. Most well know towns include: Selva di Val Gardena, Ortisei, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Canazei, Compatsch, Bolzano, St. Magdalena and more.
commuting in the dolomites
The most convenient way to get around the Dolomites is probably by renting a car. Car rental in Italy is relatively cheap and navigation apps like Waze or Google maps work great. There are also public transportation options, but availability is not always convenient.
best photography locations in the dolomites
Lago di carezza
One of the most famous lakes in the Dolomites. Carezza is a small alpine lake whose sourcing from an underground spring that originate from rains and snowmelt in the mountains around it. The color of the water changes according to the lighting, sediments, the height of the water and the color of its bottom. The water level is at its peak in June-July when the snowmelt is at its peak and decreases towards autumn, in winter the lake water freezes. There is parking near by (for a fee) with an easy short walk. It is highly recommended to visit it during sunrise and sunset (especially for photographers) when the lighting is pleasant and there is less congestion of travelers.
Alpe di siusi
The highest alpine meadow in Europe. A beautiful area of rolling hills with grass, flowers and coniferous trees. In summer, Alpe di Siusi explodes with green grass and spectacular blooms of different colored flowers. In winter the area is covered with snow and becomes a popular ski resort. There are a variety of hotels at different levels, including spa and ski hotels. The area is a biosphere conservation and accessing it with vehicles is limited to certain hours of the day (those staying at a hotel in the area have the option of arriving by car). Car travel within the area is strictly prohibited, but there is bus transportation that can take you from area to area. There is also access by cable cars from several valleys surrounding it. On the northern side of the area stands the Sassolungo-Langkofel mountain with its impressive jagged peaks.
Combines comfortable hiking trails with a highviewpoint of several areas in the Dolomites and an impressive range of jagged peaks. Because of the relatively steep slopes over a fairly large area, in winter it is a very popular area for skiing. There is a cable car from the town of Ortisei up to Seceda. Photographers will have a beautiful view of the edges of the jagged ridge on the western side of the area.
Right on the border between the Gardena Valley in the west and Purdoi Ridge in the east. South of it is the backside of the Sassolungo-Langkofel mountain. The pass itself allows a beautiful view towards the west and east on both sides, in the center and on the sides there are hills that during the summer are full of green grass and lots of impressive flowers.
passo pordoi and sass pordoi - "Terrazza Delle Dolomiti"
Lies between the Sella ridge to the north and the Marmolada mountain to the south. The pass also connects the towns of Arabba and Canazei. From the pass itself there is a short cable car that goes up to the top of Sass Pordoi where there is a spectacular viewpoint of great variety of areas in the Dolomites - the Sella ridge, the Sassolungo-Langkofel mountain, the Marmolada mountain and other peaks. The viewpoint is famously named "Terrazza delle Dolomiti" - the terrace of the Dolomites.
The highest mountain in the Dolomites rising to a height of 3,343 meters. It is also the only mountain in the Dolomites that still has a glacier. The access to the Marmolada is by a cable car that leaves from Malga Ciapela. There are several stations at different heights and with different viewpoints. There are different walking paths that leave from the cable car stations as well as a convenient cafeteria on site. The top observation point has a 360 degree panoramic view of a variety of areas in the Dolomites. In July 2022 Part of the glacier collapsed and caused the death and injury of several people, an event that has not happened in many years and was probably caused by a particularly hot season. Those who plan to walk on the trails that are in the path of the glacier should take extra care and be updated with the information center on the spot about possible danger.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo (drei zinnen)
Located in the northeastern part of the Dolomites. The main focus of interest in the area is of course the impressive peaks of the ridge! There is an entrance fee to the area (depending on vehicle type) and it is a short drive from Lake Misurina. After entering the gate there is a 20 minute drive uphill leading to a large parking lot and from there there are several hiking trails on both sides of the mountain. Near the ridge there are 3 mountain huts where you can sleep for those who want to stay overnight in the area. In the valley north of the peaks you will find hiking trails, small lakes and streams of water next to green hills and small alpine trees.
Located northeast of the famous town of Cortina di Ampazzo. By the lake there are several hotels and restaurants. The south view of the lake is towards Mount Sorapiss. 2 km to the north is Lake Antorno. The lake area is also the starting point for the hiking trail to the Cadini Di Misurina ridge. Lake Misurina is an excellent starting point and close to the Tre Cime ridge.
A small lake overlooking the Tre Cime ridge. There are very few places to stay near the lake, but it is very close to Lake Misurina, located about 2 km south of it. There is a short, comfortable walking trail that goes around the lake so you can see it from all directions.
dolomites photography tips
consider the seasons
There is no "right season" to photograph in the Dolomites, and it all depends on what you want to see, but in general, the peak of winter is probably a relatively tough and less comfortable season to travel and photograph in the Dolomites. During the summer the weather is relatively comfortable (apart from occasional rains) and during this period you will see the Dolomites at their peak of flower bloom and when the green color of the plants dominates the landscape. In autumn the vegetation begins to wither, but the weather is still pleasant and there are sunsets and sunrises at more "comfortable" hours. If you want to photograph the Dolomites in "winter" mood but in reasonable weather conditions, you can arrive around April-May.
sunrise, sunset and light
At the height of summer, sunrise will be around 5:30 and sunset around 9:00 p.m. If you plan to shoot during these hours, be prepared for extremely long days. Towards autumn (or spring) the daylight hours become a bit more comfortable. Sunrise will be around 6:30 a.m. and sunset around 7:30 p.m. Sunrise and sunset lighting is definitely great lighting that we often look for in landscape photography, but it's not the only time of the day that has good lighting conditions for photography. In mountain areas and especially when it is cloudy, there can be excellent light even in the middle of the day if there is enough interesting cloud cover that breaks and softens the light! So pay attention to the light in general during the day and use it properly.
location planning and scouting
Planning photos according to locations is an important and sometimes quite complex issue. During a trip, in order to try to get to good locations at the right time demands careful planning of travel times, arrival, familiarization time with the area, understanding of the lighting directions in relation to our location, and more. You are welcome for my article on the subject.