If you’re considering how to travel from Venice to the Dolomites, I’m here to help you. I live about halfway between Venice and the Dolomites, and I’ve been to both destinations more times than I can count. I highly recommend visiting both places, as they’re unique. A day trip from Venice to the Dolomites is a great idea. Whether you enjoy exploring the area on scenic drives or lean more towards public transit, I have some tips that might help you.
If you haven’t visited Venice yet and plan to add it to your upcoming Italy Trip, don’t miss out on exploring the unusual places of Venice and some of its beautiful surroundings. North Italy is well connected, and there are lovely towns to see near Venice to keep you busy for many days. If you want to see the closest mountains near Venice, a day trip to the Dolomites in the Cortina region is worth it.
A Day Trip from Venice to the Dolomites
Few know you can go from Venice to the mountains in less than 2 hours. And the connections are also good. You can get from Venice to Cortina or go on self-driving tours by train. Drive the highway from Venice to Belluno, and from there, you will drive through the small villages of the Dolomites Cadore region.
Many small towns and cities near Venice are worth visiting, like Verona, Padova, and Ravenna. But a trip to the Eastern Dolomites is unique because you will have the opportunity to dive into the heart of the Italian Alps, a UNESCO heritage site, and see some characteristic landmarks of Italy.
The Dolomites are not only for keen walkers and these mountains. The stunningly unique landscape and geology are extraordinary; you will not see anything like that in Europe.
Where are the Dolomites
The Dolomites are a mountain range in Northern Italy, going up to the border with Austria. They cover more than 350000 ha with no less than 18 mountains that stand over 3000m tall. Visiting the entire region on a day trip to the Dolomites from Venice won’t be possible. The primary destinations if you’re coming from Venice will be Cortina and Belluno, the getaway town to the Eastern Dolomites. Below is a map showing the drive from Venice to Cortina in the Dolomites. The distance is about 150 km, and you should plan two and a half hours of driving.
Are the Dolomites worth visiting?
Many small towns and cities near Venice are worth visiting, like Verona, Padova, and Ravenna. But a trip to the Eastern Dolomites is unique because you will have the opportunity to dive into the heart of the Italian Alps, a UNESCO heritage site, and see some characteristic landmarks of Italy. The Dolomites are not only for keen walkers and winter sports fans. The stunningly unique landscape and geology are extraordinary; you will not see anything like that in Europe.
When is the best time to visit the Dolomites?
Without a doubt, the best time to visit the Dolomites is in the summer. From mid-June to mid-September, I’d go in July or August when the weather is more predictable to be on the safe side.
Check out our small group tour:
➡️ Dolomites Hiking Trip Sept 2023
I know it’s the busiest time in Italy for tourists and the nicest, as far as the weather and daylight are concerned. If you have to choose a day, don’t go over weekends, as all locals take their day out in the mountains, and traffic jams are a classic.
Bonus Tip: When visiting the Dolomites from Venice, plan your trip over midweek days with less busy and fewer tourists. Leave early in the morning and stay until late to avoid office hours traffic.
How to get from Venice to the Dolomites
Few know you can go from Venice to the mountains in just over 2 hours. And the connections are also good. You can get from Venice to Cortina by train or on self-driving tours. Take the highway from Venice to Belluno, and from there, you will drive through the small towns and villages of the Cadore region.
By Car (fastest option)
If you choose to go on a self-drive tour of the Dolomites, you can drive on the motorway, A27, from Venice through Treviso and Vittorio Veneto to exit the “autostrada” in Belluno. From there, one hour more drive, Cortina, on the SS51 road. You can hire a car in Venezia-Mestre or at Venezia Airport.
By public transport (cheapest option)
Going from Venice to the Dolomites is easy. There is an express bus service every 2 hours or so. Or you can also go on the Cortina’s typical day trip from Venice by trains and shuttle buses from Venezia-Mestre (mainland of Venice). In the Eastern Dolomites, there is a local bus network, but it’s suitable for those who live there. To go on a day trip, you must be flexible and move around fast to maximise your time.
If you are taking the train from Mestre Venice to the Dolomites, you will go through Treviso and change to the train to Belluno, and from there, you can go by bus. It will take 3-4 hours. From Venice to Cortina, by bus is probably the fastest among all public transportation options. Even though public transport is well served, I recommend driving in the Dolomites, because it will simplify things if you want to see more places when you get there.
By tour (most convenient option)
When going from Venice to the Dolomites, joining a tour is a super convenient option. You don’t have to worry about transport; you’ll get excellent local guides who know all the best spots and ensure a fantastic time.
The Dolomites, Lake Misurina, and Cortina Day Trip are highly recommended day tours. This tour is designed for small groups, with a maximum of 8 people. During the trip, you’ll visit Lake Misurina and the charming town of Cortina, both offering breathtaking views and stunning natural landscapes.
By Taxi / private transport (for larger groups)
If you prefer a taxi to get you from Venice to the Dolomites, some companies offer door-to-door transfers from your accommodation in Venice to the Dolomites. The journey usually takes 2 hours, depending on traffic. Private transport is the most convenient option for travelling in groups or as a larger family.
Best Places to Visit in the Eastern Dolomites
Most people on a day trip to the Dolomites from Venice end up in Cortina to see the most touristy places. Cortina itself is a beautiful small town in the Dolomites. However, the mountain scenery around Cortina is gorgeous and in the heart of the Eastern Dolomites. So, I would use Cortina as a hub for a day trip or more trips in the area.
The Queen of the Dolomites is the hub when travelling from Venice, thanks to its easy access by public transport. It’s a luxurious ski resort but equally touristy in summer. Next to its amazing views, don’t miss the many lakes, WWI destinations and the many, many hiking trails.
San Vito Di Cadore
San Vito Di Cadore is a smaller town in a green valley in the Belluno Dolomites. Its most famous attraction is Lago Mosigo. It’s a fabulous place for those who prefer strolls over strenuous hikes.
Auronzo Di Cadore
This former mining town is now an international ski destination. It’s built on the banks of Lake Santa Caterina, and aside from a visit to Pallazo Corte Metto, make sure to explore nearby villages such as Villapicolla.
Sappada is a small mountain village with a strong community that doesn’t speak Italian but German! The typical wooden buildings get decorated with flowers in summer. Some top attractions include Nevelandia Park and the 3-day Carnival in February/March.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Not a mountain town this time, Tre Cime Di Levaredo is one of the most famous hikes in the Dolomites. It’s a 4-hour circuit trail that begins at the car park of Refugio Auronzo, and it’s known for its three unique towering peaks.
Last but not least, on your way to Cortina from Venice, Belluno is a must-see historic town in a stunning mountain setting. Thanks to its direct train from Venice, it’s a great getaway to explore the Dolomites. When you’re there, visit the ancient squares, the Duomo of Tulio Lombardo and the Church of S. Stefano.
Things to do in the Dolomites
No worries, there’s more to do than exploring historical villages! If you go to the Dolomites, I’m sure you’re ready to hit the outdoors. Here are our picks for the best things to do in the Dolomites.
Hike the beautiful green valleys
There are hundreds of hikes in the Dolomites. And it would take months, if not years, to do all of them. But if you stick to a day trip to Cortina from Venice, you must not miss the Croda da Lago Hike. It’s a 12 km easy hike that you can start from Passo Giau, about 20 minutes north of Cortina. You will enjoy the spectacular view of Mount Nuvolau and hike through sweeping valleys and a picturesque landscape from the beautiful refuge.
The hike’s first half is more on a rocky path to reach the great Mondeval Alpine meadows’ highest point. The walk meanders through the lunar landscapes of Val Formin along the tall spikey mountain walls of Croda Da Lago down to the Feral Lake and Palmieri Refuge. It is an idyllic place and one of the most scenic landscapes of the Dolomites I know.
Go climbing or mountain biking or paragliding
If you are into extreme mountaineering and want to try some “Ferrata” (climbs), you can do some serious climbing and go on mountain biking trails. Or try out paragliding if you are brave enough.
Relaxing in the mountain landscapes
If you are not a fit hiker, you can take short walks in the villages or nearby and spend time in a cosy rifugio (mountain hut). Most have gardens where you can sit outside and enjoy the spectacular panorama. Or you can take a relaxing walk around one of the many Dolomite lakes.
Indulge in the Dolomites food
Do you think the Dolomites are only for those keen hikers and walkers? That’s not true. The Dolomites are famous for great food, too. You can taste sweet and savoury specialities from locally produced cheeses and rich culinary traditions.
Extending your trip
A day trip is way too short to do justice to the fantastic Dolomites in Italy. However, if you ideally want to plan 2 or 3 days in the Dolomites to visit more cities outside Venice, there are endless combinations and day trips that you can do. You can see the Prosecco Hills, halfway between Venice and the mountains.
You can tour some of the ancient small towns in North-East Italy. Vittorio Veneto, Belluno, Bassano del Grappa, and Agordo are just a few Dolomites Towns that you can add to your trip itinerary.
If you love food & wine, this region produces the Prosecco wines d.o.c.g. You can also spend time at the many lakes at the foothills of the Dolomites. If you want to join a multi-day tour that encompasses all of the above and caters to small groups of travellers, click below:
Check out Our
➡️ Dolomites Tour From Venice
Where to stay in the eastern Dolomites
If you would like to explore more of the Dolomites, here are some great suggestions on where to stay. The Dolomites is a vast region well-known for its hospitality and warm community. While Cortina and Belluno are great day trip destinations, I recommend booking your stay in one of the smaller, more authentic villages such as Sappada, Auronzo and San Vito di Cadore.
Best Places to Stay in the Dolomites:
➡️ Franceschi Park Hotel (4* Hotel in the heart of Cortina D’Ampezzo)
➡️ Albergo Miravalle (Mid-Price Hotel in Auronzo di Cadore)
➡️ Wellness Hotel Bladen (Mid-Price Hotel in Sappada)
➡️ Albergo Cappello e Cadore (Mid-Price Hotel in Belluno)
Where to stay in Venice?
If you want to book your stay in Venice, here are some great suggestions. Venice counts over three thousand places, from luxury hotels to budget hotels and B&Bs to rental houses and apartments. It takes a lot of time to do an accurate search online. Below are our picks from our experience and the client’s feedback. Check prices and availability now by clicking on the links below.
Or check our guide to the best areas and hotels where to stay in Venice.
Best Places to Stay in Venice:
➡️ Casa Accademia (Budget in Dorsoduro Venice)
➡️ Locanda Ai Santi Apostoli (Budget in Cannaregio)
➡️ Ca Nigra Lagoon Resort (Mid-Prices in Santa Croce)
➡️ Hotel Casa Verardo (Mid-Priced in San Marco)
➡️ Ca’ Di Dio Small Luxury Hotel (Lux hotel in Castello)
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First published in 2018, last updated in August 2023
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