The Great Dolomite Road – a drive among mountains

The Great Dolomite Road in winter

Enrico Massetti
The Great Dolomite Road


The Great Dolomites Road crosses three regions: Südtirol, Trentino, and Veneto. It is a classic itinerary to visit some of the most scenic parts of the Dolomites. I advised anyone driving along it is to begin in Bozen (Bolzano in Italian). The road is paved and very well developed; however, it is very curvy with a maximum gradient of 12% and requires real driving.

I only partly recommended the route for teams because the streets are very narrow and confusing, especially from the Fassa Valley onwards.

This guide will help you go on the entire road, with clear color maps that indicate the distance and time between places, in addition to photos of the localities. It gives you the route to follow between the different stages. 

Numerous viewpoints and parking areas on the Great Dolomite Road allow a panoramic view of the surrounding Dolomites.

The guide starts with a description of the attractions in Bolzano, the Ötzi – the Iceman Museum, Bolzano’s castles, and nearby locations.

It then leads you in a drive from Bolzano to Cortina d’Ampezzo, going through the Carezza Lake, Val di Fassa, and the Tofana.

It contains many reviews for the best-recommended restaurants at the location described.

An extensive section full of useful information on -how to get to Bolzano and Cortina, and how to go back, plus what kind of services are available to rent a bike, the favorite means of transportation to ride the Great Road, are available.

The Great Dolomite Road: Itinerary

This guide leads you on a drive on the Great Dolomite Road, from Bolzano to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The itinerary goes through Karneid, Nova Levante, Carezza Lake, Passo di Costalunga, Vigo di Fassa, Pozza di Fassa, Campitello di Fassa, Canazei, Pecol, the Fadaia Pass, Pieve di Livinallongo, Col di Lana, Falzarego Pass, Valparola Ridge, Cinque Torri, and the Tofana.

It includes maps, color photos, and descriptions of the attractions of all the localities touched. Travel info and reviews for the best-recommended restaurants included.

€ 15

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Excerpt from the book

Bolzano 

Crossroads of cultures – sterzing  fottoo

“For me, Bolzano – Bozen is a mountain transformed into a city. The moment you move, it changes its appearance.  You move forward, and the profile is different, go back, and discover new faces. It speaks different languages. He is an actor, charming and contradictory, arrogant, charming, hot, and cold in his heart.”
R. Messner

Bolzano – Bozen, the only city in the world with an international piano competition in honor of F. Busoni and a house where Mozart slept. An elegant living room where different people can meet, exchange cultures, music, and shows.

The central Piazza Walther, dedicated to the troubadour Walther von der Vogelweide, has one street named after Dante. Another is for Goethe, a conservatory named after the Monteverdi orchestra named after Haydn. A trilingual university and a design academy and a bilingual film school. All this makes Bolzano a little significant capital with a European atmosphere!

Bolzano Runkelstein Castle

Runkelstein Castle – AisanoCC BY-SA 4.0

Runkelstein Castle
Tel. +39 0471 329808
Frescoed Fortress
roncolo@comune.bolzano.it

Baron Wangen built the first Runkelstein Castle walls on a porphyry spur on the city’s outskirts in the 13th century. 

A renowned fresco cycle from the 14th century depicts Tristan and Isolde, while others show games, jousts, giants, and dwarves. They are considered the most complete and various centuries-old medieval frescoes still existing in the world.

It is one of the most famous castles for sacred art in Europe. It was built in the 13th century and is home to exciting temporary exhibitions.

Excursions to the castle are made every day except Monday.

The restaurant is open from 12.00 to 10.00 pm—admission € 8 (reduced € 5,50).

Vigo di Fassa – Canazei

From Vigo di Fassa to Canazei -16 min 12.2 km

From Vigo di Fassa we take the SS 48 and pass through Pozza di Fassa, Campitello di Fassa and in 16 minutes we reach Canazei.

Canazei is very well located – in the middle of some of the most beautiful peaks of the Dolomites, such as Sassolungo, Sella, and Marmolada – and offers activities for everyone. Skiers and winter sports enthusiasts, hikers, mountains, and nature lovers will find the perfect activity for their needs. Taking a tour around the Sella is particularly impressive – either following the beautiful panoramic mountain walks or along the ski slopes in winter. Visitors to Canazei can admire some old stone houses and wall frescoes, as well as two beautiful churches.

Paragliding in Canazei

Double Paraglider with fly4fundolomites.it


Campitello di Fassa and Canazei are famous for those who love paragliding and hang-gliding.

Every day a large number of paragliding enthusiasts take off from the peaks of Col Rodella and Belvedere. 

Thanks to the two-seater paragliding, flying in this natural paradise, everyone can live this unique adventure accompanied by qualified and certified instructors.

fassa.com
Azienda per il Turismo della Val di Fassa, Strèda Roma, 36, 38032 Canazei TN, +39 0462 609 500.

Where to eat in Canazei


Restaurants in Canazei:

Pian de Schiavaneis $$ – $$$ Strèda de Sel 14, +39 0462 601338: The restaurant, located in an excellent location, serves good food, South Tyrolean style. But perhaps more important than the food is the environment. You will have a fantastic view of the surrounding peaks of the Dolomites. Enjoy it!

Rifugio Baita Cianci $$ – $$$ L. Val Contrin, +39 335 173 6893: A hearty lunch, as a reward, after two and a half hours of walking at a good pace. Share a tasty dish of pasta and as a second polenta with sausage. All well cooked and the scenario, as expected, can not be better.

Rifugio Ciampolin $$ – $$$ Strada del Pordoi, 40, +39 0462 602200: Beautiful shelter, the possibility to eat at the self-service but, if you want to taste the excellent grilled meat, try the restaurant. Fillets, cuts, chops, and other significant cuts accompany unique side dishes and a good bottle of Lagrein. In the afternoon, you cannot do without an excellent drink with good musical accompaniment.

La Montanara $$ – $$$ Via Dolomiti 185 +39 0462 601593: It is a tavern, not a restaurant, and you can see this in the restaurant, the furnishings, and the food. It is of good quality, the portions are satisfactory, and the prices reasonable. It is not possible to book; it is very crowded around 20.00. You could share a table, and you would like it; there is a pleasant atmosphere, friendly owners.

Where to stay in Canazei

How to return to Bolzano from Cortina

From Cortina to Bolzano through the mountains – 2.5 hours 110 km


To return to Bolzano without following the great Dolomite Road’s hairpin bends, take the Val Gardena and Passo Sella road until you reach the Isarco valley. You can climb up to Chiusa and take the A22 freeway or continue on the SS12 to Bolzano.

Where to rent a motorcycle in Bolzano


You can rent a motorcycle for your ride on the Dolomite Road in one of Bolzano’s many rental stores. The following is a limited list; you can do your online shopping for the best solution according to availability on the dates you require.
Motorcycle rental in Bolzano.
BikesBooking compares the best offers.

How to reach the Dolomites Road
How to get to Bolzano


You can easily reach Bolzano by car and train. In the Adige Valley, it is a fundamental axis of north-south communication both rail and freeway (A22 Brenner freeway).
Bolzano by train: Trenitalia.comItalotreno.itmegliointreno.it

By train: The most convenient way to get to the center of Bolzano is by train: the station is two minutes walk from Piazza Walther!
Trenitalia’s arrows: Frecciargento offers some direct daily connections from Monday to Sunday from Rome, Florence, Bologna, Verona, Trento, and Rovereto.

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