View of Sassolungo and Sassopiatto in the Dolomites in northern Italy.

Traveling to the Dolomites from Venice – Modes of Transport, Access Cities, Our Recommendations

Are you planning on trading the summer crowds and heat of Venice for the fresh air, mountain cuisine, and stunning scenery of the Dolomites? 

Maybe you’re itching to visit the Dolomites on your trip to Northern Italy but aren’t sure how to fit them in? 

If you’re visiting Venice, you’re not far away from the Dolomites.  Italy’s most beautiful and dramatic mountains (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are within reach!

I’ve traveled many times between Venice and the Dolomites, and in this post, I’ll go over:

  • How close the Dolomites are to Venice
  • Which areas of the Dolomites we recommend visiting from Venice
  • If you should make the trip from Venice to the Dolomites
  • If a day trip to the Dolomites from Venice is worth it or if you need to stay longer
  • The best ways to get from Venice to the Dolomites (routes and modes of transport)
  • Things to think about if you want to visit the Dolomites from Venice with kids

QUICK RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Train from Venice to Bolzano (direct or change once in Verona) to explore:
    Bolzano, Alpe di Siusi, Val Gardena
  2. Bus from Venice to Cortina d’Ampezzo to explore:
    Cortina d’Ampezzo, Cinque Torri, Tre Cime di Lavaredo
  3. Drive from Venice to Bolzano or Cortina d’Ampezzo.

How Far are the Dolomites from Venice?

The Dolomites are located to the northwest of Venice.  The Dolomiti are just on the other side of the Venetian plain, which sits between the Adige and Isarco (aka Soča) Rivers.

The ‘gateway’ to the Dolomites from Venice is the town of Belluno.  You can get to Belluno easily by regional train in 2 hours.

While Belluno is close to Venice, we recommend traveling a little bit further to either Bolzano or Cortina d’Ampezzo for excellent access to hiking, skiing, cycling, and landmarks like the Cinque Torri, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Alpe di Siusi, and gorgeous Dolomites lakes.

Road Distances from Venice to the Dolomites

Venice to Belluno – 110 km

Venice to Bolzano – 220 km

Venice to Cortina d’Ampezzo – 150 km

Map of Venice and the Dolomites

The best access points to the Dolomites from Venice are Bolzano and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Is a Trip to the Dolomites from Venice Worth it?

boys hiking resciesa above ortisei, italy
Hiking above Ortisei

Visiting the Dolomites from Venice is well worth it!  Of course, what you can do while on your visit to the Dolomites depends how much time you have, your interests, and the time of year you’re visiting.

We think the Dolomites are worth at least a 5-7 days, but if you really want to see the area and have limited time, you could spend a night or two and still get to see a town or go on a hike or two.  Day trips will be long but are logistically possible (more below).

Dolomites Activities and Highlights by Season

Summer – Hiking, Cycling, Road Trip, Photography, Cuisine, Summer Festivals

Winter – Skiing and Snow Sports, Cuisine, Spas, Photography

Spring – Wildflowers, Some Skiing and Snow Sports, Cuisine, Photography

Autumn – Changing Colors, Photography, Some Hiking, Cuisine, Autumn Festivals

Helpful Tips:  Remember that the weather in the Dolomites can be drastically different from Venice.  And, you may need specific clothing or gear, depending on what you decide to do on your visit (for example, hiking boots).

Day Trip to the Dolomites from Venice

A day trip from Venice to the Dolomites is logistically possible, but you’ll need to focus on seeing one town or doing one activity (like a hike or restaurant visit). 

Example Venice to Dolomites Day Trip

Travel (drive or train/bus) to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Continue to the Cinque Torri for a hike, visit to the World War 1 Open Air Museum, and lunch.

Stop to see the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo on your way back to Venice.

Read more about Visiting the Cinque Torri!

Dolomites Day Trip with Kids

A day trip from Venice to the Dolomites is too much if you’re traveling with kids.  When you’re traveling with little ones, everything takes longer – you’ll feel like you’re rushing from the entire day.  If you’re set on a day trip to the Dolomites with your family, book a Dolomites day tour with a tour company.  The details will be taken care of, and you won’t need to worry about timing.  Don’t forget to reserve car seats if you need them.

Weekend or Longer Trip to the Dolomites from Venice

Quiet street in Bolzano, Italy.
Bolzano

The best access points for a Dolomites weekend trip (or longer) from Venice are Bolzano or Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Bolzano

See the Ice Man, eat a sausage, or shop in Bolzano.

Hike on the Alpe di Siusi.

Visit the villages of Fiè allo Sciliar, Castelrotto, or Siusi allo Sciliar.

Explore Val Gardena, including some of its best hikes (Resciesa, Seceda) and villages (Ortisei, Selva di Val Gardena, Santa Cristina di Val Gardena).

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Go for a passeggiata or check out the shops in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Visit the Cinque Torri for a hike, the WW1 Open Air Museum, or delicious rifugio food. 

Visit Lake Misurina (Lago Misurina), Lake Braies (Lago di Braies) or the Tre Cime di Lavaredo nearby.

Read more about Visiting the Cinque Torri! LINK

Either

Access the Sella Ronda or Alta Badia

Ride the Maratona dles Dolomites (based in Corvara in Badia)

Skiing and snow sports

Hiking and cycling

Transport Options for Reaching the Dolomites from Venice

Road signs in the Dolomites are in three languages – Ladin, German, and Italian

To the Dolomites from Venice by Rental Car

If you’re already in Venice, Piazzale Roma is the most convenient place to pick up your rental car. 

To Cortina d’Ampezzo:  Follow the directions from Piazzale Roma to Cortina d’Ampezzo, via the A27 and SS51. 

To Bolzano:  Follow the directions from Piazzale Roma to Cortina d’Ampezzo, via the A4 and A22. 

Safety Tip:  If you’re planning on driving to the Dolomites from Venice in the winter, make sure your rental car is equipped with snow chains (and you know how to put them on) or snow tires. 

Helpful Tip:  If you’ll be flying out of Venice when you get back from the Dolomites, return your car to the airport (Venice Marco Polo Airport – VCE) instead of Piazzale Roma.

If you’re planning on driving in Italy, check out our posts on:
Renting a Car in Italy
Italian Gas Stations and Getting Gas in Italy
Important Italian Road Signs
Driving in Italy

International Driving Permit for Italy
Renting a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License
Italian Toll Roads – Driving on the Autostrada
Paying Tolls in Italy

To the Dolomites from Venice by Private Driver

Hiring an NCC (noleggio con conducente – rental with driver) is an excellent option if you don’t want to worry about directions or you’d rather spend your time looking out the window at the spectacular scenery. 

It can be pricey, but if rental car rates are high at the moment, it may not be a bad deal.

To the Dolomites from Venice by Train

There are direct trains from Venice Santa Lucia train station to Bolzano (3 hr), but most routes have a change in Verona (3 hr 30 min).

I don’t recommend taking the train to Cortina d’Ampezzo.  It involves a train ride (with changes) to Calalzo di Cadore, then a local bus to Cortina.  It’s easier (and quicker) to take the bus.

To the Dolomites from Venice by Bus

Cortina Express and FlixBus are bus companies that drive between Venice Mestre train station and Cortina d’Ampezzo (2 hr 30 min, no stops).  Check the schedules to see which works best for you. 

You can also take a FlixBus to Bolzano.

To the Dolomites from Venice by Tour Operator

There are many Venice to Dolomites tours on offer from companies like Viator, GetYourGuide, and Expedia.  These are great for day trips, private tours, or group tours.

Best Way to Reach the Dolomites from Venice with Kids

Boy on a gondola in the Dolomites in northern Italy.

We prefer to have our own car when traveling to the Dolomites with kids, but you can easily travel from Venice to the Dolomites as a family by public transport.  With kids, we recommend the train to Bolzano or the Cortina Express bus to Cortina d’Ampezzo. 

Remember to take into account luggage, strollers and other baby equipment, car seats, diaper changes, and bathroom breaks.  Also, determine if your family needs to have flexibility with travel plans. 

Good To Know:  We typically prefer to take a car to get to the Dolomites, but we also utilize the excellent public transport system while we’re there. 

Some of our favorite places in the Dolomites with kids include:

I hope this helps you with your decision! And enjoy your time in Venice, too!

You may want to read
200+ Essential Italy Travel Tips
Best Things to Do in Venice
Venice in Winter
Venice at Night
Venice with Kids

FAQ

Should we take an organized tour to the Dolomites from Venice?
If you’re short on time and want someone to do the planning for you, an organized tour is a smart option.  Just remember, you’ll lose some flexibility with your travel plans.

Can you do a day trip from Venice to the Dolomites?
Yes, you can do a day trip to the Dolomites from Venice.  The quickest access point to the dramatic beauty of the Dolomites is by car or bus to Cortina d’Ampezzo, where you can hike, ski, and explore the town.

Can you take a train from Venice to the Dolomites?
You can reach the Dolomites fairly easily by train, but once you’re in the Dolomites, you’ll need to use other public transport (buses, chairlifts, and gondolas) or a car.  The best access point by train from Venice is Bolzano, which can be reached in 3-3.5 hours, on a direct train, or with a stop in Verona.