The ultimate Dolomites road trip
Hit the road in the most scenic destinations
Movies have been made, books written, and songs sung about being on the road. It’s the kind of travel that allows for impromptu stops to natural beauties and for unexpected connections that make any trip worthwhile. Quaint villages, bucolic countryside, and snow-capped mountains make Switzerland and Italy prime road-trip territory. And could there be a better time to take the road than now? Join us for a ride taking you from Bavaria’s turquoise mountain lakes to the visual grandeur of the Dolomitian peaks and their endless valleys to the old-worldly allure of Lake Garda.
The journey commences at one of the most scenic lakes in the Bavarian Alps, located at the foot of the Zugspitze mountain, Lake Eibsee. Created by a gigantic rockfall, its crystal clear, turquoise waters are embedded in a rocky landscape at an altitude of over 1,500 metres, and home to eight islets dotted around it.
The largest natural lake in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Dolomites, and the so-called jewel of the Dolomites, Lake Braies sits about 1,5000 metres above sea level. A four-hour drive from Lake Eibsee, it turns kaleidoscopic in summer, with its clear water reflecting a broad colour palette spanning green, blue, and red. Against the backdrop of the imposing Seekofel Mountain, its reflection is best witnessed right after sunrise.
Tre Cime (Hiking Loop)
After another four-hour drive south, enjoy a day at Tre Crime di Lavaredo. Perhaps the best hike in the Dolomites, it is a famously beautiful alpine hiking loop that winds through jagged limestone mountains and the best way to sample the iconic landscape in all its rugged and raw glory. Plus, the ten-kilometre hike is easily manageable in one day.
Beautifully embedded in the surrounding mountain range, the town of Cortina d'Ampezzo in the province of Belluno Italy is rightly known as the Pearl of the Dolomites. A renowned ski resort in winter and venue of the 1956 Olympic Winter Games, it also impresses in the summer with hikes in the nearby famous Cinque Torri, a rock formation of five with a pale grey colour palette.
Giau Pass and Gardena Pass
The Giau Pass is one of the most visited Dolomite passes. It feels like a fairytale landscape, with views extending from the snowy peaks to the pastures and woods of the Agordine Dolomites. It’s a six-hour drive between destinations, with Gardena Pass being another scenic high mountain pass taking you from one winding road to another.
Val Di Funes, Chiesa Di Santa Maddalena and St. John Church
Val Di Funes is an enchanting comune in South Tyrol, located about 30 kilometres northeast of the city of Bolzano. The valley is small, cosy, and lush, from the Villnöß River to the mountain summer pastures at the foot of the pale mountains, with enormous grey gravel cones looming above the landscapes. Sheer cliffs, rocky spikes, and peaks that, depending on the time of day, are tinged with bright and pale hues. Don’t miss the village of Santa Maddalena and its picturesque church.
Garda Lake and Lake Carezza
On your way to Lake Garda, make sure to stop at Lake Carezza, a small alpine lake known for its wonderful colours and view of the Latemar mountain range. Lake Garda is Italy’s largest lake, located about halfway between Brescia and Verona, and between Venice and Milan on the edge of the Dolomites. Soak in its old-worldly allure, where once brightly coloured buildings have faded over time, narrow roads wind through lush greenery and beaches surround the vast fresh-water lake. At the south end, the town of Sirmione is dominated by the Rocca Scaligera, a fortress with harbour views. On the lake's western shore, in Gardone Riviera, is Il Vittoriale Degli Italiani, former home of poet D’Annunzio.
Basel is a city for art and culture aficionados. With thousands of travellers visiting each year for the world-famous Art Basel festival and the city's wealth of galleries, museums, and iconic buildings, the city boasts cultural activities galore. The most notable being Foundation Beyeler – an astounding private-turned-public collection – it's where to see 19th- and 20th-century works by Picasso, Rothko, Miró, and Max Ernst. When not looking at art, you can easily spend a day wandering the city’s cobbled streets and enjoying riverside alfresco dining.
Photography by Bruno Claeys
What to pack