10/16/2012 07:00 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

5 Unforgettable Experiences In The Italian Dolomites

The Dolomite Mountains, a vast mountainous region located just south of the Alps, encompasses over 90,000 acres of stunning views and rugged terrain, providing a breathtaking account of nature at its finest. The Dolomites are dotted with rolling green pastures, picturesque villages and steep mountain trails, with seemingly endless opportunities for outdoor adventure year-round. In addition to the traditional hiking, biking and skiing that draws most visitors to this outdoor playground, the Dolomites also offer a range of unique endeavors that can only be found in this region.

Be sure to seek out these five unforgettable experiences during your next visit to the Dolomites.

Hike a Via Ferrata
Translated as an "iron road," hiking a via ferrata is a unique way to traverse the mountainous paths of the Dolomites. Via ferrata are routes with fixed "protection" that aids travelers in moving safely along a vertical path to a mountain summit. Utilizing a series of metal rungs, safety cables and bridges, hikers are provided the unique experience of accessing places normally reserved for mountaineers and rock climbers. You need not be an experienced climber to enjoy this alpine endeavor, but be forewarned, the views during your climb will undoubtedly stop you in your tracks!


Stay a Night in an Alpine Rifugio
Rifugios, or backcountry mountain huts, can be found in some of the most unlikely alpine locations throughout the Dolomites. Typically rustic, simple and quaint, rifugios offer comfortable accommodation for anywhere from 20-50 hikers. Travelers swap stories of great hikes and magnificent views over house-made meals and tasty beverages. The experience of a remote and cozy stay in the high Dolomites is one not to be missed!

Explore the World War I Tunnels and Galleries
Constructed by the Austrians and Italians during WWI, Lagazuoi Mountain boasts an array of galleries and tunnels. Travelers can explore these intricate historical paths, as well as visit the museum dedicated to this unique piece of European history. During your visit, be sure to stop by the Rifugio Scotoni for lunch, famous for its delicious grill and vegetables dish. Also worth a visit is Rifugio Lagazuoi, located at the summit of the Lagazuoi Mountains, where you can experience some of the best 360-degree vistas in the Dolomite Mountains.

Experience the Queen of the Dolomites
Marmolada -- the highest peak in the Dolomite Mountains -- is fondly known by locals as the Queen of the Dolomites. Travelers can hike below the Marmolada Glacier on the massif's north face or take a cable car to the top. No matter how you reach the peak, the views are magnificent, awe-inspiring and unmatched.


Drive the Great Dolomites Road
Even if outdoor pursuits like hiking, via ferrata or biking are not your passion, you can still experience the majestic views of the rugged Dolomite Mountains. The Great Dolomites Road, open year-round, is a breathtaking scenic drive that crosses three alpine passes (Falzarego, Pordoi and Karerpass, at the renowned Rosengarten), connecting the Bozen and Bolzano regions. It's one of the most gorgeous scenic roads in all of Europe!

Experience these and many other highlights of the region with local expert operator, Dolomite Mountains. Bike the Dolomites, hike the Dolomites, ski the Dolomites - no matter your preferred activity, these mountains will blow you away with their beauty, culture, and cuisine!