Exploring the Dolomites in October: A perfect off-season adventure

The Dolomites, a haven for outdoor lovers, often face summer crowds. But is an autumn visit worth it? Renata shares her October travel insights in this blog.

I embarked on a memorable road trip in the Dolomites this past October, and I couldn’t wait to share my experience. Over 4 full days in the Dolomites, with an additional two days for travel and a short detour to Lake Garda, I immersed myself in the breathtaking and unique natural landscapes of this mountainous region in northern Italy. Join me as I recount my adventures and provide valuable tips for a perfect off-season adventure in the Dolomites.

The Dolomites are a mountainous region in northern Italy mainly known for their unique mountain peaks and gorgeous lakes, where you can feel a mixture of Italian charm and its significant Austrian influence. 

In my opinion, this is a perfect destination for those who, like me, love being in contact with nature; the landscape is breathtaking and unique. 

Travelling in a campervan

To truly experience the Dolomites, we decided to rent the Nomad Campervan. Traveling in a campervan offers unparalleled freedom and flexibility. With the ability to travel at our own pace, we avoided excessive driving and time wasted by having a fixed starting point each day. This was crucial since we did not expect the distances and the driving time to be so time-consuming each day, and exploring from a fixed point every day would have meant driving a lot more and wasting a lot of time. 

Moreover, the convenience of changing our route and adjusting our wardrobe in response to temperature fluctuations in high-altitude locations made our campervan experience truly memorable. Nothing compares to waking up to a breathtaking sunrise before embarking on the iconic Tre Cime hike.

Some essential travel tips for the Dolomites

Here are some essential travel tips based on my journey:

  • Consider flying to Venice: To reduce traveling time, mileage, and toll costs, consider flying to Venice instead of Milan. Although we found a cheaper flight to Milan, in retrospect, flying to Venice would have been more cost and time-efficient.
  • Be prepared for parking fees: Especially for larger motorhomes, be aware of parking fees. Smaller caravans usually pay less.
  • Utilize apps like Park4Night: When booking campsites, I was surprised that most campsites were full even during the off-season. To find suitable places for your campervan, use helpful apps like Park4Night.
  • Pack for versatility: In October, the weather in the Dolomites can be a bit unstable. Be sure to pack comfortable, cool clothes for the fluctuations in temperature. Additionally, don’t forget to pack sportswear, hiking boots, or trainers, as they will be your best friends on the beautiful trails.

My Itinerary

Day 1: Milan to Trento

After landing in Milan, I headed to the Indie Campers pick-up center, where I began my journey by picking up an Indie Campers motorhome in Milan. 

My first stop was the picturesque town of Sirmione, situated on the shores of Lake Garda, where I enjoyed a stroll and a gelato. For the night, I opted for the peaceful Agricamp campsite in Trento.

Day 2: Adolf Munkel Weg and Val di Funes walking route

We started day 2, heading to the Dolomites from Trento, and we went directly to the  Adolf Munkel Weg trail, a 9-kilometer hike that offers breathtaking views of the mountains against a green backdrop. Along the trail, you can also find the Rifugio Delle Odle, which, in my opinion, is the most beautiful mountain hut with excellent food – a must-visit! If you’re feeling energetic, you can start and finish the trail from Val di Funes or other nearby places and avoid the cost of parking near the trail. Since we were visiting briefly, it made more sense to park nearby, but if you have the energy and the time, we recommend doing that. 

At the end of the afternoon, we visited the famous Chiesetta di San Giovanni in Val di Funes. It wasn’t possible to visit the church, but there was a perfect viewpoint from which to take some photos.

Useful links: Car park;

Lago Di Braies and Cadini di Misurina

On day 3 we headed north and visited two incredible places. 

First, I visited Lago di Braies, the region’s most famous lake. Its scenic beauty and the surrounding landscape make it a must-see. Due to limited parking for campervans, we parked in the nearest village and took a 6€ bus to the lake. The walk around the lake takes approximately an hour, so don’t miss the chance to have a picnic on its shores.

Afterward, we headed for the Rifugio Aronzo, located at an altitude of over 2000 meters.  The mountain hut is the starting point for two famous trails, the Cadini di Misurina, a moderately easy walk with breathtaking views. And the Tre Cime de Lavaredo, one of the postcards of the Dolomites, and a slightly more challenging trail. 

We did the Cadini di Misurina trail in the late afternoon, which made us experience a wonderful sunset, and then spent the night in the parking area ready for more hiking the next day!

Useful links: Lago di Braies Car park; Auronzo Car park.

Day 4: Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Lake Durrense

Our day began By watching the sunrise from our Nomad campervan in the Rifugio Auronzo car park. After a hearty breakfast, we headed out for the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike, an iconic hike in the Dolomites, known for its stunning rock formations and panoramic views. The hike can be difficult, but it’s well worth the effort. 

Afterward, we made a quick stop at Lake Durrense to enjoy its beauty at the end of the day.

Day 5: Lago di Carezza and Alpe di Siusi

On our 5th day, we started by visiting Lago di Carezza, a stunning lake that offers a short and easy walk around it. 

Next, we explored the vast meadow of Alpe di Siusi or Seiser Alm, known for its incredible scenery and outdoor activities. A curiosity: it’s a ski resort in winter and spring! To avoid the cable car, it’s important to arrive before 9 am, as the car park is only available when the cable car isn’t running. For an unforgettable experience, consider renting an electric bike, although it comes at an expense, as it allows you to fully enjoy the beauty of Alpe di Siusi.

Useful links: Alpe di Siusi parking; Alpe de Siusi parking for cable car access; Lago di Carezza parking;

Day 6: Return to Milan

With our adventure ending, we returned to Milan to hand over the motorhome to Indie Campers. And to catch our flight.

Conclusion: October is a great month to visit the Dolomites!

Despite initial doubts surrounding whether or not to visit the Dolomites in October, I can say my experience in the Dolomites during this off-season period was truly rewarding. 

Although I admit we were lucky with the weather, during my research I saw that the rainy season is in the summer, which is considered the region’s high season, and although we were visiting out of season, I still found the region quite crowded anyway, so to avoid the crowds, visiting in autumn seems like an excellent option. 

I went at the beginning of October, so that’s what I recommend, but I’ve seen fantastic comments about the end of October due to the changing color of the trees, which adds an extra charm to the experience.

I hope my tips and itinerary help you plan your own Dolomites adventure. Embrace the breathtaking beauty of the Dolomites and create memories that will last a lifetime!

About the Autor

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Having lived in 3 continents and visited 26 countries already, Renata is passionate about travelling and loves creating unique itineraries.