Someone just asked me over on YouTube for hiking tips for the Dolomites, so I thought I'd put a "top five" together based on our own experience over the years. I've been a number of times over the years, starting with a trip to Kastelruth near the Seiser Alm for the kids' first birthday back in 2002. I'm going to use the German place names rather than the Italian ones for simplicity, since these are the ones I'm most familiar with. Since then, we've spent several 7-10 day holidays there in the summer, staying in Malga Ciapela, Corvara and Cortina where we've usually done a mix of hiking and via ferrata. I'll stick to the hiking here for simplicity's sake, assuming that if your into the climbing you'll have other resources to fall back on.
One thing we learned the first time we we visited is not to make the mistake of thinking that you can do all of the Dolomites from a single centre or in a single week. The distances on the map do not translate to normal driving times as the valleys are very steep sided and linked by fantastic pass roads. Do not stay near the Seiser Alm and think you can visit Tre Cime/Dreizinnen as you will spend all day on the road and be very disappointed. I'll probably edit this document in the coming weeks as I want to get this out relatively quickly and I'll flesh out some of the details later when I have time together with photos and links.
I'm going to assume that people reading this are used to rough trails and spending 6-8 h hiking and covering fairly serious altitude differences. Be aware that if you're coming straight from the UK that some of the higher trails, such as Piz Böe, are really quite high and may require some acclimatisation. Don't forget to check the weather forecast and dress appropriately. Make sure you're up to the tour before you start, some of these are quite physically demanding.
Although we've been several times, there are still a lot of places that we don't know at all, so this is just our personal top 5, there are other trails out there that have yet to be discovered by us. Let me know below if you have any favourite tours not listed here, or if you follow any of these suggestions, let us know what you thought.
5: Sellajoch to Col Rodella (2484 m)
A relatively easy tour to start with, walking from the carpark below the Sellajoch (2200 m) to Col Rodella underneath the brooding slopes of the Langkofel/Sassolungo through a grassy landscape.
4: Piz Boë (3152 m)
Piz Boë is a biggy with great views over the Marmolada and north to the Sassongher. Take the chairlift up from Corvara to Rifugio Piz Boë (2200 m). Follow route 672 up and then 638 back down. Check out the Strudel at Rifugio Franz Kostner al Vallon on the way back.
3: Lago di Federa (2040 m)
Great round tour up from Pocol (1500 m) up to Lago di Federa through the forest along route 431 or 434, then back over Forcella de Formin (2462 m) via route 435. Take time to take in the views from the lake; in the autumn when the larch are yellow the view from the western bank of the lake eastwards towards Sorapiss are stunning. Don't forget to stop for Polenta Saucisse with cheese at the refuge Croda da Lago.
2: Cinque Torri to Nuvolau (2574 m)
Either take the chairlift up to Rifugio Scoiatolli (2255 m) or drive up to Rifugio Cinque Torri. Up route 431 to Rifugio Averau at Forcella Nuvolau (2413 m) and then on to Rifugio Nuvolau. Back the same way (unless you're feeling adventurous ;). Great all-round views over the Tofana to the north, Cinque Torri, Croda da Lago to the east and Lagazoi to the west.
1: Tre Cime Round (max. altitude 2454 m)
You can't really go to the north-eastern Dolomites without visiting the Tre Cime, even if you do have to pay an arm and a leg for the toll-road up to Rifugio Auronzo. Get there early in the summer to avoid the massive tailback at the toll station. Park at the Rifugio and then walk anticlockwise around the Tre Cime peaks along route 101 to the Dreizinnenhütte and back via Col Forcellina. If you have time, walk south from Rifugio Auronzo up Monte Comadelle for great view northwards of the Three Peaks.
A: The One That Got Away
I've not done this tour yet, but it's top of my list for next time based on the recommendations of a fellow photographer: Cold di Varda to Rifugio Auronzo through the Cima Cadin di Misurina. This would have to be a one-way trip giving you great views of Lake Misurina and later of the Tre Cime