Dolomites in April – a photo diary of a short trip

Dolomites in April can be a hit and miss. Well, even Dolomites in spring, really.

These mountains in the north of Italy are, well, mountains, which means that there is a quite equal chance of warm weather and snowy everything.

I knew this very well when planning my trip to Dolomites with my friend. It was clear to both of us that a lot of things that I’d like to do might not be possible, as the mountain passes and trails might still be closed.

And, well, that’s how it went – we couldn’t or just wouldn’t do most of the things that I wanted.


We still managed a lot. And the main thing – we found some hidden gems were just amazing.

See for yourself!

a road with the mountains at the end in dolomites, italy

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Arriving to Dolomites

driving in the dolomites italy

Since my friend flew to the Vienna airport, I picked her up from there with my car and we travelled on to Dobbiaco, Italy.

This meant a whopping 6 hours of driving!

lake worthersee in austria on the way to dolomites in italy with snowy mountains in the background

On the way, we stopped at one of my favourite rest stops on this route – Marche Worthersee. The restaurant is expensive and not that great, but the view, as you can see, is amazing.

Then on to Italy!

mountains in austria with snow on top of them on the way to the dolomites in italy

The way we took had some quite magnificent views.

Since it was still snowing this April in Dolomites and, well, the Alps both in Austria and Italy, the snowy tops of the mountains made them that much more impressive.

Unfortunately for the driver (me, haha), it’s not so easy to enjoy them. The roads are quite wibbly wobbly.

But we made it! And it was definitely worth it.

view of a street and mountains in dobbiaco/toblach italy dolomites

Welcome to Dobbiaco – or Tobblach, as it’s known in German.

What are the Dolomites

view from the hotel in dobbiaco/toblach of the snowy mountains in italy dolomites in april
View from our room in Dobbiaco

The Dolomites, or the Dolomite mountains or Alps or Dolomitic Alps, are a quite dramatic mountain range in the North-East Italy that range from the Adige river to the Piave river. There are 10 natural parks protecting the area, with countless hiking trails for all levels and abilities, museums, viewing platforms, and immeasurable beauty all around.

The mountain range is located in the regions of Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol (South Tyrol) and Friuli Venezia Giulia. It goes all the way to the lake Garda and on good days, you can see them when driving next to Venice.

You might also like: Dolomites and other interesting short trips from Venice

In June 2016, they were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List “for the beauty and uniqueness of their landscape and their geological and geomorphological importance.”

As the name suggests, the Dolomite mountains are made of the material dolomite, which makes them look quite pale. And they offer a ton of Alpine lakes, mountain rivers, and mountain trails to enjoy, for every taste.

a sunset picture of a street mirror in Dobbiaco Dolomites in Italy

After settling in in our apartment – Haus Greg in Dobbiaco, we headed out to dinner to the nearby restaurant called Winkelkeller. It was a very tasty experience, let me tell you, so I can definitely recommend it to you if you end up going to Dobbiaco.

two types of Spritz cocktail in dolomites italy
Spritz, obviously. Two types of it!

Then back off to the hotel. It gets dark quite early so we were treated to some nice views on the way!

a church at night in Dobbiaco dolomites Italy

First day in Dolomites in April

Although the weather forecast was saying that it’s going to be cloudy and rainy/snowy, we woke up on the first day of our trip with the sun shining. Perfect!

a hotel by Lake Braies in Dolomites, Italy

After breakfast, our first destination was, obviously, lake Braies or Pragser Wildsee.

boat house by lago braies with mountains, blue sky, green waters, and a lot of snow in dolomites in april italy

It’s called the jewel of the Dolomites and is one of the most instagrammed lakes in the world. And that’s for a very good reason – the lake is magnificent!

lago braies with turquoise green waters, mountains, snow, blue sky, and sun. april in dolomites italy

Lago Braies is located at the altitude of 1469m above sea level and is turquoise-green in colour… unless you visit Dolomites in April or early spring, as that’s when most of it is covered by a layer of snow.

shoe in the snow in lake braies dolomites italy

Quite a deep one, actually.

turquoise green waters or river braies, with snow and snowy mountains around it; dolomites italy

But anyways, on our trip, we got a bit of a glimpse of the actual colour of the lake from the Braies river – and it’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

braies river looking towards lake braies with a snowy mountain reflected in the turquoise green waters; dolomites italy

Since it’s such a popular destination, there are always loads of people at lake Braies. Wherever you look, it’s full.

river braies and lake braies as seen from the bridge side with lots of snow and turquoise waters; dolomites in april italy

There’s a trail going around the lake, with climbing actually possible as well.

a sign of closed path because of danger of slipping lago braies dolomites italy

We wanted to go all around, but there was a sign saying that the trail is closed. Although someone had put it aside and it looked like people were going around the lake, we didn’t want to risk it.

So we went right back and to the other side of the lake.

view towards the "front" end of the frozen lake braies; dolomites italy

The trail is quite good even for strollers, so if you’re taking a family trip to Dolomites in spring, don’t worry about enjoying lake Braies.

people pushing a stroller on a wet and slushy trail by Lago Braies in Dolomites italy

There’s even a hotel right at the lake. And a gorgeous little church and a café, and a souvenir shop.

a little cute church, mountains, trees, and snow lago braies dolomites italy

As I said, Braies is very popular with tourists and locals alike.

What’s the weather like in Dolomites in Spring?

view of lake braies from the boat house dolomites italy

Well, as I mentioned, the weather can be warm or cold. It depends on where you go, of course, and on how the spring is going. That’s what generally happens in the mountains, though.

The higher you go or the earlier in spring you go, the bigger the chance that it will be cold and snowy.

So, in march, wherever you go, it will most probably be snowy and cold.

May, on the other hand, can be quite warm and sunny, even in the higher altitudes.

April can go either way, so make sure to check the weather forecast… often. And especially the morning before you go on your trip so you can repack, if needed.

Overall, if you’d like to visit Dolomites in Spring, make sure to check out the specific destination you’d like to go to at the specific time. And, well, even if the weather forecast says it’s going to be warm, make sure to pack some warmer clothes as well; and vice versa.

enjoying the views around the snowy lake braies in dolomites in italy while sitting on a huge rock

After enjoying the Lake Prags (yes, it has many names) for a few hours, we went on to look for another beautiful turquoise lake that I saw on a map – lake Valdaora.

valdaora dam as seen from a road; dolomites italy

I didn’t know anything about this little beauty, just found it randomly on the Google maps. So we were going blindly, haha.

There was no official parking, so we just drove from one end to the other of it. I tried to access it on some smaller roads, but it was wayyy too scary for me.

Luckily, my friend had noticed some kind of a parking spot on the side of the road so we went there!

a forest trail down to lake Valdaora Dolomites Italy

And down a steep and narrow forest trail…

turquoise green waters of lake valdaora in dolomites italy

Right to this beauty.

Lunch time!

Since we stayed in an apartment and had a kitchen, we decided to save on a meal and have a picnic.

A picnic next to a calm lake with gorgeous views – what can be tastier?

me washing hands in the turquoise green lake valdaora in dolomites italy - the water was very cold

The water was very cold, by the way, but I just had to try it.

After enjoying the lake for a bit, we moved on!

Just as an accident, after crossing a bridge, I noticed a kind-of parking spot just on the side of the road. We had to stop and look for the river that we just crossed!

a white car parked on the side of the road in dolomites italy

And of course, we found it. Less impressive than we thought it will be, but still.

As the next stop I had planned lake Misurina. I knew there’s quite a big chance that it will be rather not impressive in April, but still, I wanted to try.

On the way, though, we saw a parking spot and decided to check out the views around it. Of course, as everywhere in Dolomites, they were quite nice!

a parking lot with lots of snowy mountains around it in dolomites italy

The mountains are impressive wherever you look.

a selfie with snowy mountains in the background in dolomites italy
Hi! Bad selfie time!

Well, I was right about lake Misurina, though. No view, haha. Just a lot of snow and clouds. When planning our Dolomites 2 day itinerary, I was thinking of going to lake Antorno as well, but since it’s even higher up in the mountains than Misurina, we let it pass.

a view of a very snowy lake misurina with very snowy mountains in the background in dolomites italy

Well, since Lake Misurina was not that impressive, we took a couple of quick pictures and decided to drive back.

As you can see, the views are rather beautiful wherever you look.

The next lake I took my friend to? It’s called Lago di Landro, and it looks much better when the sun is shining on the water, haha.

lake landro in a shadow with very snowy mountains in the background - there's still quite a lot of snow in dolomites in april

I still like the colour, though.

a bench by a turquoise green lago di landro with mountains in the background in dolomites italy

But you know one place that everyone has to see when in Dolomites? The symbol of these mountains – Tre Cime di Lavaredo or Drei Zinnen. And you know what was not possible this April in Dolomites? Going up to the parking where the trailhead is for the best views, as it’s closed due to snow.

a view of tre cime di lavaredo in april in dolomites italy

It’s good that there’s a viewpoint, though. So that’s where we went.

an empty river bed with snowy mountains around it in dolomites italy

On thing about spring in Dolomites is that many of the rivers are still dry, as you can see.

a dry river bed in april in dolomites with snow and snowy mountains around it/ italy
This river is at the parking spot were we stopped on the way to Misurina

That’s because the water in them comes from the snow in high altitudes – which might not still be melting. Later in the spring or in the beginning of summer they’ll be full and have some rapids.

What to do in Dolomites?

there's still quite a lot of snow in april in dolomites, italy

There are many things to do in the Dolomites, especially if you visit in the main seasons which are Summer and Winter.

Winter is good for all kinds of winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, and even tobogganing.

In the summer, on the other hand, Dolomites become quite of a hiker’s paradise. There are many trails available for all kinds of shapes and sizes.

The shoulder seasons are a bit trickier. Depending on the weather, it might be good for hiking or for winter sports. Or, as in our case, for having a little bit of a road trip in Dolomites and enjoying the views.

After having enjoyed the view of Tre Cime for a bit, we moved on to the next lake on our Dolomites 2 day itinerary which was – lake Dobbiaco.

a side view of lago di dobbiaco with mountains behind it dolomites italyh

It’s actually one of my favourites in the Dolomites. As beautiful as Braies is, this is so much more peaceful and offers that typical mountain lake view that you expect.

lago di dobbiaco with turquoise green waters and mountains behind it in dolomites italy

The water is as turquoise as it should be.

a view of a camping and hotel with lake dobbiaco in the foreground in dolomites italy

And of course, we found a river! And this one even had some water!

After that, it was time to go back to the hotel – being outside the whole day is quite tiring, really.

a cannolo and a bombardino in a cafe in dobbiaco, dolomites, italy

Two things I didn’t want to leave without were a cup of Bombardino and a cannolo – they are perfect for winter, which this April in Dolomites definitely felt like. Accomplished!

Second day in the Dolomites

For the second day of our road trip in Dolomites, I had quite some plans. I’d planned a 6h circle from Dobbiaco through different mountain passes and with stops at different lakes back to Dobbiaco. And those 6h were shown by google maps, which means that the whole trip would have been like 12h!

Map courtesy of Wanderlog, a trip planner on iOS and Android

The trip is the brown circle on the map.

But when eating breakfast, we decided that it’s a bit too extravagant of a plan and settled for just a couple places. The previous day was already so full of impressions that we wanted something easier and relaxing. So we decided to look for rivers right there nearby Dobbiaco!

We got into the car and drove towards Cortina d’Ampezzo. It’s one of the most popular ski resorts in Northern Italy and arguably one of the most beautiful little towns in the Dolomites. Actually, at first, I planned that we’d stay in Cortina, but there wasn’t any accommodation there that I’d really like.

We knew that the river Boite is running just by the road and had checked out some parking spots along the way on Google maps.

lake landro on a foggy morning with snowy mountains in the background in dolomites italy

But first, I wanted to get that “proper” colour of lago di Landro, but nope, no sun to shine on that turquoise water again.

turquoise waters of lake landro, snowy mountains, and me by a wheel in dolomites italy

I did get to take a picture with the wheel which I somehow didn’t notice the day before! And the water kind of looks like it does on a sunny day!

a turquoise pond next to lake landro with snowy mountains in the background in dolomites italy

And we checked out the lake on the other side of the road which had an incredible green colour.

When is the best time to visit the Dolomites?

a sign that says that in case of snow, cars have to have chains on their tyres in dolomites italy
In the winter, you might need chains for the tires of your car.

Well, it generally depends on what you’d like to do.

The best time of the year for hiking is definitely going to be the summer months. Even at the end of May, it might be possible to hike. But the best time for hiking in the Dolomites is going to be middle of June until September.

The shoulder seasons, which are spring and autumn, are good for road trips and exploring the lower altitudes of Dolomites. Unfortunately, the higher elevations might not be accessible yet or already due to snow. But there are still tons of things you can explore, especially different mountain passes.

Winter, obviously, is the best for different kinds of sports you can do in the snow. Skiing, snowboard, there are a lot of them available in the Dolomites. The ski resorts are generally open from December until sometimes even March.

Back to looking for rivers in Dolomites.

a map of trails at a parking stop in dolomites, italy
Trails of 1,5h and more

Our first random stop for finding a river, though,  didn’t work out – although Google Maps showed that there’s a river close by and that you can drive towards it, there was only a very narrow HIKING trail there and the hike would take like 2h one way. Nope, we wanted relaxing!

a huge mountain just by the cortina d'ampezzo airport in dolomites italy

So on we went! The map showed a parking near the Cortina d’Ampezzo airport (airstrip is a better word though). And we got lucky! There was a river we could get to.

a small airstrip of the cortina d'ampezzo airport with snowy and not snowy mountains in the background in dolomites italy


river boite by the Olympic camping and cortina d'ampezzo airport in dolomites italy

Next, we decided to go to a free parking lot in Cortina. Yup, if you’re ok with walking for a bit (uphill, I might add), you can park for free. Otherwise, it’s rather expensive to park in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

paid parking is marked by blue lines in italy
A paid parking in Cortina, less than 100m from our free one

We went down to the river there, which had a rather scary bridge over it.

a selfie by a river in cortina d'ampezzo in dolomites italy
Why was I so bad at selfies on this trip?…

As we could see that the road continued and someone actually walked there, we decided to check it out as well. And boy were we happy that we did!

view of the houses, church, and snowy mountains in cortina d'ampezzo dolomites italy
See those tiny tiny cars right there under the church? That’s where we parked

The view was magnificent. Definitely worth the cardio.

another view of the cortina d'ampezzo and the snowy mountains behind it in dolomites italy

Cortina itself was nice to see, too, as it’s your typical mountain town that you can just find in the Austrian and Italian Alps.

a cute little street with cute houses in cortina d'ampezzo dolomites italy

And the lunch that we had in Il Vizietto di Cortina was very tasty, too. Even though the restaurant still had Christmas decorations up – may I remind you, we visited Dolomites in April.

a restaurant with Christmas decorations still on in april in dolomites italy

After filling up, we felt so tired that we wanted to just relax in Dobbiaco or maybe go to the lake Dobbiaco instead of looking for whatever.

How much does a trip to the Dolomites in April cost?

a car parked in a wet and snowy parking lot with mountains around it in dolomites italy

Our short trip to Dolomites (and Slovenia, and Austria) cost approximately 600euro per person, but of course, no two trips cost the same.

The three nights in Haus Greg cost 476 euro. We spent one more night in a hotel by the lake Worthersee, though (130euro).

Altogether, we drove 1500km, and the fuel cost approximately 120 euro for the two tanks of gas. Yes, my car is very economical, I love it! But we drove from Slovakia and back, so keep that in mind.

As for the food, it was only 2 meals in restaurants, the rest we cooked ourselves. One meal in a restaurant for 2 people costs approximately 50 euro, and in the stores, we spent approximately 100euro. So food (and wine, obviously) costs were 150eur.

We were just driving back to the hotel and looking for some rivers on the google maps, when I decided to let some faster cars park in a pocket on the side of the road.

There, we noticed this sign:

signs pointing to cascate di fanes in dolomites italy

So we decided, ok, let’s go and check!

a narrow road to the cascate di fannes in dolomites italy

At that point, some regrets were had, as the road was quite scary.

After parking and not seeing really anyone else besides a man raking the road (yes, exactly), we followed the signs for “Forra del Felizon”.

We found this waterfall which didn’t exactly have any water.

a small trickle in the forra del felizon waterfall in dolomites italy

The images on the signs (and on Google maps) made us realize that maybe Dolomites in April are not exactly the best time to see fancy waterfalls, but oh well.

me admiring the forra del felizon in dolomites italy

Still, we decided to continue on the trail and see what’s available further down, as we could see that there should be some river – the same one that we saw by the Cortina airport, actually, which gave us hope for a river with water.

a turquoise river boite with huge mountains in the background - there's still snow on some of them in april in dolomites italy

And we were so incredibly happy that we continued! As we found out, river Boite right there has quite the correct amount of water to enjoy it closely!

a waterfall on the river boite with dolomite rocks all around them - dolomites, italy

We ventured on by the river and ended up in a gorge. I believe it’s full of water later on, so it wouldn’t be possible to walk right here.

taking a selfie at the Boite river gorge dolomites italy

The cliffs are high and the water – clear as a day.

me admiring the turquoise waters of the boite river in the gorge in dolomites italy

We actually spent a few hours here, just enjoying the water, taking pictures, and looking around.

a woman walking in the cold waters of river boite in dolomites italy

My friend even walked in the freezing cold Boite river!

resting my feet in the crazy cold turquoise waters of the boite river in dolomites italy

I wasn’t so brave – I only managed to dip my feet in a bit. But for me that’s actually an achievement – this was the first time in my life that I stepped into a mountain river!

a waterfall and a bridge on river boite in dolomites italy

This was the most perfect accidental find we could have managed.

blue and yellow spring flowers in the forest by river boite in dolomites italy

It was incredible, with the views, the waterfalls, and altogether atmosphere. And judging by the (lack) of people there, it’s quite a hidden gem – especially if you’re visiting the Dolomites in April like we were.

turquoise waterfall in dolomites italy

And in the end, for the first time on our trip, we got to see the Dolomites coloured in orange and red during sunset – the perfect goodbye.

a sunset view from our hotel in dobbiaco dolomites italy - the sun is colouring the mountains orange

So, in summary about this trip to Dolomites in April

me admiring the magnificent views around lake braies in dolomites italy

I think our trip to Dolomites really did work out nicely. Of course, we didn’t get to do quite a few things – I wanted to see the Tre Cime or hike to lake Sorapis, for example.

We’ve done these trails with Michal, though, so one day soon I’ll make an article about that trip. And the one we did with my parents as well, although that was just a short road trip mostly through mountain passes – in November, if I remember correctly.

But still, what we did see and get to enjoy was quite incredible. It’s one of my favourite places to visit in Northern Italy, and I think it should be on almost everyone’s bucket list.

What do you think?

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