The Dolomites
Photography Guide (Demo)
For beginners and professionals
The Dolomites
Photography Guide (Demo)
For beginners and professionals

Itinerary

The Dolomites Photography Guide
The land of the Dolomites... what does it bring to the first-time visitor? Pale peaks lifted against the horizon, ruggedly distorted heaps of rocks penetrating the floccus clouds above -- a stunning scenery worth being perpetually engraved in any passing traveler's memory. The Dolomites offer an extraordinary array of landscapes: high-altitude lunar plateaus, soaring peaks, breathtaking spires, pea-green valleys, and boundless evergreen and deciduous forests.

The mountainscape and surrounding valleys are especially beautiful in late Autumn. The "Burning Dolomites," an explosion of colors, is a very special natural phenomenon that happens when the summer draws to an end, nature is at peace, and the needles of the larch turn from green to yellow, tangerine, red, or brown. This is the perfect time to explore the land of the Dolomites. I invite you to join me on this beautiful and exciting journey to explore the mountains and photograph its amazing beauty.

ITINERARY

The Dolomites Photography Guide
From Cortina d'Ampezzo
There are different ways you can arrive at Cortina d'Ampezzo. Thanks to its strategic location, it can be easily reached from central European countries. Also, Cortina has excellent connections to the nearby cities like Venice, Milan, or Innsbruck.
Cortina d'Ampezzo is a charming alpine city and a luxury ski resort in northern Italy. The city nestles in a splendid valley basin crowned by beautifully shaped mountains. Because of the Olympic games in 1956, there are still a few artifacts left that attract tourists to this day.
In Cortina, I recommend spending from 3 to 4 days to explore the nearby locations, the most picturesque of which are, arguably, Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Lago di Misurina among others. I recommend stopping in Passo Falzarego overnight in a refugio to be able to photograph both sunrise and sunset.
From Cortina d'Ampezzo, I recommend going to Ortizei and staying there for another 3-4 days.

Ortizei is a beautiful little picturesque town encompassed by gorgeous mountainscape and lush green pastures. No doubt, it's a hiker's paradise.
In Ortizei, check in a hotel, where you'll spend your next 3 to 4 nights, while during the day, explore the following places around the town, such as Passes Pordoi, Sella, Gardena, Seceda, and pea-green valley of Alpe di Siuisi. In Alpe di Siuisi, which can be reached by a state-of-the-art lift right from the town, you may want to stay overnight to shoot both sunrise and sunset.
From Santa Magdalena
32 -Santa Maddalena ***
33 - Church of Saint John in Ranui ***
34 - Abbazia di Novacella (i)
From Ortizei head off to Santa Maddalena, the trip to which should not take more than 40 min by car.

Santa Maddalena is undoubtedly the most beautiful village in the Dolomites with the classic picture-postcard medieval church in its center. The scenic valleys, the softly rolling hills, and the surrounding mountains make Santa Maddalena easy to recommend as another stop on our journey through the Dolomites.

I suggest spending 1 - 2 days in Santa Maddalena and visit a couple of scenic locations in the vicinity: the famous picturesque church of the same name in the village, then the church of Saint John in Ranui, as well as a beautiful abbey, Abbazia di Novacella.
The next stop on the itinerary is an extraordinarily scenic lake, Lago di Braies, where you can get to from Santa Maddalena, a trip which doesn't take more than 40 minutes. This is our last destination.

If you have a chance, I recommend spending another couple of days here. Walk around the lake shore and the vicinity to explore different locations and capture magical Alpine landscape.
Usefull Information
To read before travel
DOLOMITES PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE

01 - Cortina d'Ampezzo

A picturesque town in the heart of the southern Alps in the Veneto region of Northern Italy
HOW TO GET THERE
32043 Province of Belluno, Italy, Cortina d'Ampezzo

Distance from Venice ~162 km (101 mi)
Travel time ~ 2 h

Distance from Bolzano ~110 km (~69 mi)
Travel time ~1 hour 50 minutes.


If you're traveling from Venice to Cortina by car, get on the A27 highway then take SS51 exit from A27 highway and follow SS51 to Strada Statale 51 di Alemagna/SR48 to Cortina d'Ampezzo.

Cortina has excellent connections to the nearby cities like Venice, Milan, or Innsbruck.

If you prefer to take a bus or train, then Venezia and Treviso airports run shuttle buses or private transfer services which will get you straight to your destination.

Otherwise -- just rent a car and follow the suggested route.
About Cortina d'Ampezzo
1,224 m
Elevation
6th century B.C.
First found referrence of presence of Mesolithic man
1956
Olympic games
5,842
Population (2017)
Cortina d'Ampezzo is a part of the Dolomiti Superski area, a luxury ski resort in northern Italy. Because of the Olympic games in 1956, there are still a few artifacts left that attract tourists to this day: the Ice Stadium, abandoned ski jump Trampolino Olimpico Italia, the Eugenio Monti bobsleigh run, and a few others.

There are also other places of interest in Cortina: the Museum of the Great War, dedicated to WWI, with its trenches, tunnels, and barracks; the Mario Rimoldi Modern Art Museum with the paintings by Renato Guttuso and Giorgio de Chirico.

The main street in Cortina, Corso Italia, is beautifully picturesque and definitely worth walking along -- coffee shops, malls, boutiques, and restaurants (with prices, though, a little higher than in nearby cities) where you can stop by, have a nice dinner, an excellent cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
historical reference
Through the centuries, Cortina was going back and forth to different countries. For example, in the Middle Ages, Ampezzo fell under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Aquileia and of the Holy Roman Empire. Then it was conquered by the republic of Venice in 1420. Much of Cortina's history was spent under Austrians with brief territorial changes under Napoleon.

From the 19th century and the emerging popularity of tourism, Ampezzo became a notable center for crafts, which were especially appreciated by the British and German holidaymakers: wood crafts, tiled stoves, iron, copper, and glass items. Now, Cortina thrives on tourism, particularly during the winter season, when the population of the town increases five times.

One of the town's famous and charming old buildings, The Basilica Minore dei Santi Filippo e Giacomo, rigth in the center of the main street -- home to the parish and the deanery of Cortina d'Ampezzo, was built in-between 1769 and 1775 on the site of even older churches, from the 13th and 16th centuries.
Cortina has a long history with Winter Olympic games, it failed to host 1944 Olympics because of WWII, but then caught up with it in 1956, and will co-host Winter Olympics for the second time in 2026. Cortina is also the start and end point of the annual Dolomites Gold Cup Race.
Several films were shot in Cortina, including famous James Bond For Your Eyes Only (1981).
DOLOMITES PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE

02 - Tre Cime di Lavaredo ***

Three distinctive peaks in the Sexten
HOW TO GET THERE
32041 Auronzo,
Province of Belluno, Italy

Distance from Cortina d'Ampezzo ~ 21 km (~13 mi)
Travel time ~ 40 minutes to parking + 2 hours on foot


From Cortina d'Ampezzo, take the SR48 road, turn to Lake Misurina at SP49, drive along the lake towards Tre Cime Park. You can drive to Rifugio Auronzo, where you can leave your car in a free parking lot.

I recommend arriving before dawn.
The entrance to the park is paid.

Further into the park, there's a footpath. The distance to Rifugio Antonio Locatelli is approximately 4.5 km (~3 mi). Travel time is a about two hours depending on your walking or hiking speed.

Coordinates of Rifugio Antonio Locatelli: 46°38'13.1"N12°18'38.7"E

Information on tracks in the park is available at: http://trek.trecimedolomiti.it/
historical reference
Tre Cime di Lavaredo, aka Drei Zinnen or Three Peaks of Lavaredo, are three distinctive peaks in the Sexten Dolomites of northeastern Italy. They are the best known mountain group in the Alps. So if you're travelling to Italy to Dolomites, this is the must-visit spot.

There are three peaks, which, from east to west, are as follows:

  • Cima Piccola (little peak; 2,857 metres (9,373 ft))
  • Cima Grande (big peak; 2,999 m (9,839 ft))
  • Cima Ovest (western peak; 2,973 metres (9,754 ft))

Although the peaks had formed part of the Italian border with Austria up until 1919, they now lie on the border between the Italian provinces of South Tyrol and Belluno. Because of the region's history, they are still a linguistic boundary between German-speaking and Italian-speaking majorities.

The first described ascent dates back to 1869, when Paul Grohmann and a couple of his guides climbed up Cima Grande. A few years later, a couple of enthusiasts conquered the two remaining peaks. Since then, all these three initial routes are used by tourists as the regular ascents.
suggested trail
Starting at Rifugio Aurenzo follow the path to Cappella degli Alpini, before arriving at Rifugio Lavaredo (which can be closed depending on the season, so check beforehand). Exactly to your left, you'll see the three peaks rising up above the landscape, while on your right, the other jagged Dolomiti mountains.

From Rifugio Lavaredo, turn left and follow the path upwards towards Forcella Lavaredo, a nice view point on Tre Cime di Lavaredo. From here, you can take breathtaking pictures over the valley and towards Rifugio Locatelli.

Your next destination is Rifugio Locatelli. From Forcella Lavaredo, you can hike up two trails, one of which is steep and the other -- easier and well-trodden, both of them are leading to the same destination; however, if you are confident in your hiking stamina, I recommend taking the least trodden path, as it has a few spots with epic views. Nevertheless, since the trail is quite steep, it might be dangerous, so if you're not confident in your hiking skills, better take the easiest trail.

Once you've arrived at Rifugio Locatelli, take a break on the terrace, have a drink or some food or both, and enjoy the stunning scenery of Tre Cime. If you have time, walk around Rifugio Locatelli and explore the area. There are a few bunkers and tunnels left from WWI, as well as other interesting photography spots to get a good perspective of three peaks. There's a nice Laghi dei Piani below the Rifugio that you can also take a glimpse at or shoot from above.

Hike up to the nearest peak, which will take about half an hour -- along the road there is a beautiful view of Refugio Locateli and three peaks. Otherwise -- you can go along the left path and climb 200-300 meters to a little moutainscape tunnel from which you can see the three peaks.
Consider staying overnight at the Rifugio to catch Tre Cime at different times of day or explore the vicinity in greater detail. However, check the website for more details on the seasons when the hotel operates.

From Rifugio Locatelli follow the path (102) down the valley stopping occasionally to capture breathtaking views of Tre Cime. This is the steepest path, so be careful. Join another path (105) to Malga Langalm Rifugio. At Malga Langalm, ensure you have food if you have not yet eaten.

The final part of the hike is following the same 105 path around three peaks towards Forcella del Col de Mèdo viewpoint, where you can observe Lago di Misurina. From this place, it's a 10 minute walk to the car park (Rifugio Aurenzo).

Make sure you dress up in warm clothes and bring along hot drinks and food. In the early morning in the fall in the mountains, the temperatures can be freezing.
Photography recommendations
Now, if you look at the photography map I've drawn above -- you'll notice the sun points go out from Torre di Toblin or "delle Scalette," which, by the way, was used by Autsrian soldiers as an observation point in WWI.

Then there are a few photo points to the south of Torre di Toblin with the approximate shooting range from each to the mountains in the west, Tre Cime. These are the perfect sunset locations where you'll get the sun coming from behind the three peaks illuminating them from the background and making them stand out in their late afternoon-early evening glory.

However, you can also experiment and shoot at sunset, sunrise, or any other time, provided you want to find out how Tre Cime looks at different times of day.

Use 24-70 and tripod.
DOLOMITES PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE

03 - Lago d'Antorno ***

Small lake overlooking Tre Cime di Lavaredo
HOW TO GET THERE
532040, Località Lago Antorno, 1,
Misurina BL, Italy

Distance from Cortina d'Ampezzo ~ 16 km (~10 mi).
Travel time by car ~ 25 minutes

From Cortina d'Ampezzo, take the SR48 road, turn to Lake Misurina at SP49, drive along the lake towards Tre Cime Park.

You can leave your car in a free parking lot near the lake. There's a nice little cafe nearby where you can enjoy a cup of coffee with home-baked treats.
Lago d'Antorno is a picturesque lake surrounded by the Dolomites. It's a short drive away (2 km, ~1 mi) from another famous Dolomiti destination, Lago di Misurina.

On the western shore, there's a chalet of the same name. During summer months, you might even practice sports fishing.

In the vicinity, there're a few hiking trails up the mountains, such as Sorapiss, Monte Piana, Cadini di Misurina, and Tre Cime.
PHOTOGRAPHY RECOMMENDATIONS
This the morning shooting location.

I recommend arriving at this point in advance before the sunrise.
It is very important to be the first one on the scene, since a good frame allows for only one tripod.

The top of the mountain in the foreground is beautifully illuminated with the rays of the rising sun and is reflected in a small puddle of water adjacent to the lake, exactly copying the mountains' shape.

You can often see ducks gliding on the surface of the lake, which can enliven the landscape.