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Visiting the Dolomites in October: What you need to know before you go!

The Dolomites peak season is in the summertime, from July to September. In October, many of the refugios start to close and the crowds disappear. I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about heading to the Dolomites in October, so I decided to check it out myself! My verdict? The Dolomites are absolutely worth visiting in October, but you need to be prepared and know what you’re getting into!

The Dolomites peak season is in the summertime, from July to September. In October, many of the refugios start to close and the crowds disappear. I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about heading to the Dolomites in October, so I decided to check it out myself! My verdict? The Dolomites are absolutely worth visiting in October, but you need to be prepared and know what you’re getting into!

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Weather in the Dolomites in October

October weather in the Dolomites is the perfect hiking temperature. You’ll have warm days (around 13 degrees), and cooler nights (5-9 degrees). Whilst there is a chance of rain in October, there’s actually more rain during the summertime peak season!

I would pack for autumn hiking, but add a down jacket to that list. I also packed jeans and a fleece for my rest days! When hiking in the sun, I got down to leggings and a sports bra, but during foggy days, I had my down jacket on! You’ll want to pack plenty of layers for October.

Hiking in the Dolomites in October

We had a good mix of sun and rain when we were in the Dolomites in October. We stayed for a little over a week and were prepared for rain and cold, but were pleasantly surprised with a couple days of sunshine!

Hiking trails are not very busy in October, which was a huge reason we loved it! Personally, I also think that October in the Dolomites is the best because you get to see the changing colours of the leaves. The magical views around the Dolomites only get better with rich warm tones reflecting that Autumn light.

Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites in October

Lago di Sorapis – This is such a stunning lake. I actually prefer it to the very Instagram-famous/popularised Lago di Braies. This has the most turquoise water and because you need to hike a few hours to get to the lake, it’s much less touristy than other lakes!

Croda da Lago – This is my favourite hike to do in the Dolomites in October. This hike also has the refugio that stays open the latest, so depending on when you visit the Dolomites in October, you may have a shot at grabbing a coffee/cake/tea along the hike! The lake is stunning and the hike up rewards you with breathtaking views the entire way.

Seceda Loop – This is a pretty popular hike, but for good reason! The dramatic knife-edge of the Seceda ridge is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen! There’s also a panorama of mountains surrounding you. If you aren’t keen to hike, but want to see the view, there’s a cable car that will take you up to the viewpoint.

Have more time? Here are my top day hikes in the Dolomites.

Public transport in the Dolomites in October

In October, there are limited public transport services. Whilst this is an inconvenience, it’s still VERY possible to visit the Dolomites without a car in October.

My biggest tip would be to research and plan well. Make a list of all the hikes you want to do and sights you want to see, then figure out your home base! I loved Cortina D’Ampezzo and Bolzano (more on those below!). After you’ve found your home base, research A) all the hikes you want to do and B) whether they’re accessible by public transport in October. For the latter, I would recommend looking at the regional website for the area you’re staying in.

Here are some helpful websites for helping your search!

Dolomiti Bus – Does not cover Bolzano area

Val Gardena

Bolzano Area

Where to stay in the Dolomites in October

Cortina D’Ampezzo – This was our home base whilst in the Dolomites and it was the perfect place for exploring some of the hikes that we had set to the top of our bucket list! The downside? If you don’t have a car, it’ll take you a while to get to Cortina from Bolzano or Venice. Once you’re actually in Cortina, however, public transport will take you to a bunch of trailheads!

Hotel Aquila is where we stayed and I couldn’t recommend it more. We found that in October, MANY hotels in Cortina D’Ampezzo were closed. The ones that were available were all upwards of a few hundred euros per night! We decided to stay at this hotel and had an amazing time. The hotel has a beautiful view of the mountains and town, a filling breakfast, and an indoor pool, which we LOVED during the rainy days we had in the Dolomites. Here is my affiliate link to this hotel.

Bolzano – I lived here for a short while and fell in love with this place. It’s very easy to get to by train (only four hours from Rome and less than an hour from Austria!) and has good connections to the Val Gardena area. It is a little far from the mountains, but it’s a great hub if you aren’t really keen on hiking and want more culture/food during your trip!

What to do on a rainy day in the Dolomites

I would advise against hiking in the rain, as trails can get slippery and many hikes in the Dolomites are exposed! Instead, on a rainy day, explore your local surroundings. There are so many different shops and restaurants with good views, so I’d recommend taking a FULL rest day and enjoying yourself. Plus, Italian coffee!!!

If you’re up to drive, Bolzano has the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology (Südtiroler Archäologiemuseum), where Ötzi the Iceman is located. Ötzi is a glacial mummy who has told us so much about the Copper age. Bolzano is a modern city with everything you could need, so if you need to do some shopping, Bolzano is a great place to go.


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