The Dolomites cycleway
From Dobbiaco to Cortina d'Ampezzo you face the longest and most demanding stretch since between the two places there is the station of Cimabanche at a height of 1,529 meters. With a constant uphill, mild and then around 3,5%, you reach Cimabanche cycling on gravel.
Just after Cimabanche you pass by Ospitale, once a shelter for pilgrims, and you cross the iron bridge on the gorge of Austrian construction and two evocative galleries before arriving in Cortina. Going along the old track of the railway of the Dolomites by bike from Dobbiaco you skirt the Natural Park of the Three Peaks of Lavaredo and those of Fanes, Sennes and Braies in the Alto Adige territory too.
From Cortina d'Ampezzo to Calalzo the Dolomites cycle path is all a slight downhill and the bottom is almost entirely asphalted and in good conditions. You go down passing through the Boite Valley till the old customs and San Vito di Cadore. From Borca the Antelao and Pelmo, two massifs of the Belluno Dolomites, show themselves. You cross many galleries all however rather illuminated and, following the signposts, you get to your destination.
When to go and why
Spring and autumn (or the end of summer) are, as usual, the best time for facing this cycle path: temperatures are mild (I mean end of spring and beginning of autumn!), roads are little crowded, lodging prices low, the colors of the autumn forest or blooming fantastic... the cycle path is accessible until the first snowfalls and starting when the snow melts! If you want to travel along the cycle path of the Dolomites in an alternative way you can take on facing the stretch from Dobbiaco to Cortina in winter with cross country skis!
Our Dolomites cycleway
The cycle path of the Dolomites isn’t totally flat. Along the route there are often signs indicating which way to go. You go beyond some stone galleries, short and not claustrophobic at all, for a while you flank the state road and manage to see the Lake di Centro Cadore on the right. The cycle path ends at the station of Calalzo where we had a short stop and then continued towards Domegge, Lorenzago di Cadore and the Mauria Pass leading to the Friuli region. The Dolomites cycleway is quite an easy route (also depending on the direction you are travelling!!!), the only difficulty is length but you can remedy this trap dividing the trip in more days. On occasion of our two days in the Dolomites of Fanes, Sennes and Braies by mountain bike we traveled another stretch of the cycle path of the Dolomites going up from Alto Adige towards Cimabanche.
If you want to find out other cycle routes along the old dismantled railways, you can have a look at our article. The Dolomites cycleway is a part of the longer Friendship Cycle Trail, from Munich to Venice.
The Dolomites cycleway runs between Veneto and outh Tyrol province: from the Dolomites to the alpine and artificial lakes, from the most characteristic villages to more touristy destinations like Cortina d'Ampezzo.
- Dobbiaco: this small municipality in Alto Adige is more a crossing point than a stopover but in half a day it is possible to visit its most characteristic buildings like, for example, the five chapels of the Via Crucis that make up what is known as Mount Calvary. The castle of Herbstenburg where once a painting by Tiziano was guarded, now disappeared. The manor can be seen only from the outside because belongs to private citizens. The evocative nature park of Fanes, Sennes and Braies where to visit the Lake Braies, recalling an emerald nestled in the mountains and follow some hiking trails. From the lake we reached the Biella hut crossing over in Veneto and we recommend all trained hikers to do this trek wishing you to spot some fleeting ungulate animal as it happened to us! Be prepared to sweat but fun and wild mountain landscapes are for granted!!! Also the park of the Three Peaks of Lavaredo is a place to visit! From the Fiscalina Valley the excursion to the three peaks is not particularly demanding but, in return, picturesque and funny!
- Cortina d'Ampezzo: according to collective imagination Cortina is an extraordinary but really expensive town not suitable for all. Lately we’ve been right in Cortina and we must confess that this is a myth to debunk: it’s not excessively expensive (you need to spend some time to find the proper facility!) and isn’t just shopping and VIP people... but I would say especially Dolomites with funny vie ferrate, paths for excursions and treks not very crowded and our cycle path of the Dolomites passing through the town center offering views that must absolutely be photographed!
- Cadore in Veneto: the real surprise of this Dolomites cycleway. Travelling along stretches of the old railway of the Dolomites you go beyond the old stations, now partly abandoned, galleries and stretches somewhat uphill or downhill (we’re in the mountains and the lowland, after all, almost never exists!). The stream Boite flows into the Lake Valle di Cadore and then disappear in the river Piave just below Pieve di Cadore.
- Lagole: in this district of Calalzo di Cadore you can visit the archeologic thermal area following a marked path you find to the right of the cycle path.
- The Lake of Centro Cadore is artificial but due to its specific position, closed between two mountain ranges in the narrow Piave Valley, almost looks like a fiord. Starting from the lake in one hour you can reach the retreat Eremo dei Romiti of Mount Froppa.
Along the Dolomites cycleway there are all kinds of accommodations: bed and breakfasts, campsites, hotels and apartments on airbnb which can be booked with a discount if you are not yet registered.
In Veneto the Regional Law n. 40 of 1984 to the art. 12 provides for the absolute prohibition of camping outside specially equipped areas
- At Cortina and in Belluno province you can taste typical mountain dishes such as: red casunziei (typical stuffed ravioli from Cortina), goulash with polenta, wild meat with polenta and Kaiser Schmòrn, the Ampezzo version of the Tyrolean dessert Kaiser Schmarren.
- In South Tyrol you can taste typical dishes of the Austro-Hungarian tradition: from canederli to Spätzle, from soups to strudel. In Val Pusteria, excellent malga cheeses are also produced
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