12 Best Photography Spots in the Dolomites
I decided to come back to the Dolomites this year after spending only two days here last year, the reason being it’s the most beautiful mountainous area I’ve been to (on par with Canada). I spent 8 days in total and still felt like I could have spent more. I did a lot of research prior to this trip so I could find the best spots. August is the busiest time of year for the Dolomites as this is when most Italians take their summer holidays. The weather is the best during July and August, although prepare for a few rainy days and potentially snow even in August.
- Alpe Di Siusi/Seiser Alm
This area is the world’s largest high alpine meadow, and it quite literally looks like a postcard. The best time to photograph it is at sunrise to get the best light on the hills and mountains. The road to Alpe Di Siusi is closed to general traffic from 9am to 5pm, with a 150 euro fine if you get caught driving between those times, however if you drive in for sunrise and leave by 8:30am you’ll be fine. If you stay in any of the accommodation in the area you’ll get given a special permit to drive through whenever you like. I found that the maps location below was the best spot for photos. If you don’t have a car or want to go during the day, you can get a cable car for 17 euros return from Funivie Ortisei (shown below) which runs between 8:00am and 7:00pm in summer, or you can park outside the meadow in Compatsch.
There are two ways to get to Seceda – you can take the cable car from Ortisei (on google maps search Funivie Seceda) which costs 30 euros return and takes about 20 minutes each way, or you can hike up, which I’ve been told takes a few hours each way. I had originally planned to camp at the top so I could watch the sunset and sunrise, as the cable car only runs from 8.30 to 5.30, but it had snowed the night before and I wasn’t willing to take the risk of sleeping at 2,500m altitude in my $12 kmart tent…
- Vajolet Towers & Rifugio Re Alberto
I struggled to find accurate information on the hike to rifugio re alberto , so I’ll do my best to explain it here. To get to Rifguio Re Alberto, you need to get yourself to Gardeccia where the hike starts. You can do this by taking 2 cable cars from Val Di Fassa to Gardeccia (you just buy the one ticket at the bottom and swap halfway up). From Gardeccia, you hike to Vajolet where you’ll see Rifugio Vajolet as you’re walking. From there, the trail continues uphill, then forks where you’ll see a sign pointing left to Rifugio Re Alberto. I was told the hike was a 2 hour return hike, however it took me about 3.5-4 hours return of hiking, plus an hour at the top to have a hot lunch in the Rifugio Re Alberto. The hike is uphill essentially the entire way and is quite difficult, requiring a lot of rock scrambling for the last 1.5 hours to get to the top.
- Tre Cime Di Lavaredo & Rifugio Locatelli
The parking at Tre Cime is very expensive – 30 euros for 24 hours. Make sure you leave before the 24 hours is otherwise you will have to pay an extra 15 euros for being overtime. The carpark fills up very quickly aswell, so the earlier you start the hike the better. I started at 10am and the carpark was practically full, with traffic banked up pretty far back from the carpark. The hike to Tre Cime is pretty easy in hiking terms – about 2-3 hours round trip and not too much uphill walking.
You can stay at Rifugio Locatelli overnight for as little as 26 euros, depending on if you want half board or not (dinner and breakfast) as this will cost you a bit more. Book in advance if you want to stay as it books out quickly. Staying at the Rifugio allows you to stay for sunset and sunrise, the best times of the day for photography (and the most beautiful).
- Lago di Carezza
If you go on a cloudy day, you might get as lucky as I did with a layer of clouds just above the trees, below the mountaintops. This lake has a completely perfect reflection and the water is such a vibrant blue colour. If you get there early you may get a parking spot for free, otherwise you have to pay. There is also a pullout spot you can park at if you continue up the road past the lake, about a 5 minute walk from the lake (and free).
- Santa Maddalena
This is a beautiful little village in which photos of this church have become instagram famous in the last few years. The best times to see it are at sunrise (below) or sunset, and on a cloudy day you might get some clouds/fog around the mountains.
- Lago di Fedaia
I found this lake just by looking on maps at what was close to my campsite. There are some beautiful pink flowers as well as mountains surrounding the entire lake in August, it reminded me a lot of Lake Tekapo in New Zealand.
- Passo Giau
I found the scenery of this area a bit different to the rest of the dolomites, it very much reminded me of New Zealand and the Lord of the Rings movies. I stayed at a Rifugio called Malga Giau, which had amazing views, the friendliest hosts and included breakfast in the room rate. I’d highly recommend staying here, you can book through this link here. The best part of the drive is from Cortina D’Ampezzo to Selva di Cadore.
- Passo Sella
I would definitely recommend driving along this road from Val Di Fassa to Val Gardena especially close to sunset; it’s quite possibly the most stunning mountain views from a road that I’ve ever seen.
- Lago di Braies
Of course I couldn’t leave the famous Lago Di Braies off the list. This lake has become the most well-known spot in the dolomites. I made the mistake last year of going here at around 11am, where the light over the lake was very harsh and there were lots of people in canoes in the lake, so there were no reflections. Sunrise is the best time to visit the lake for photos; you’ll probably see a few other photographers there as well if you go in August. If you visit Lago Di Braies during the day you’ll have to pay for parking, but if you just go for sunrise and park in P2 (Car park 2) and leave before 8am, you won’t have to pay.
- Lago Di Dobbiaco
This lake is not quite as impressive as some of the others in the Dolomites but is still a beautiful colour and is different to a lot of the other lakes. It’s only a 20 minute drive from Lago Di Braies so if you have time it’s worth a stop at. There’s a paid parking machine at the entrance to the lake.
- Lago di Misurina
This is definitely best visited at sunrise or in the early hours of the morning, as the lake fills up with paddle boats and canoes, and the light is very harsh on the mountains behind the lake after sunrise. There is free parking right next to the lake.