Exploring Abroad Series: Family Adventure in Italy's Dolomites
Introducing the Robinsons, a family of three and two lovable mutts that enjoys traveling, exploring, and being active in the outdoors. Jamie and Peter are on a quest to raise their daughter to love and appreciate nature because they believe that kids grow better outside. To follow the Robinsons' adventures, follow them on Instagram @roving.robinsons.
If you enjoy traveling and hiking, and also taking your kids along with you, Italy’s dramatically jagged rooftop, the Dolomites, are the ideal place for a family adventure. We visited these famed mountains during the off season in October with our then 18 month old daughter, and were treated to gorgeous fall colors that made this already stunning landscape even more breathtaking.
Visiting this region during any time of the year would be a delight, though we recommend visiting during the off season for a couple reasons. The high season in the Dolomites runs from June through August for hikers and cyclists, and then switches over to a busy ski season from December to April. During October, there is relatively nice weather and fewer tourists to bump elbows with on the trails. The mountains are still free of snow so trails are still accessible, and the weather isn’t so cold that you have to worry about keeping your kids warm. Pricing for hotels and activities tend to be cheaper as well, though beware that many restaurants and cable cars ferrying you to the tops of mountains shut down during this time.
Here are three of our favorite hikes for experiencing the region’s grandeur with a toddler in tow:
Alpe di Siusi
Getting There: Alpe di Siusi is a short cable car ride over the mountain from Ortisei. Here’s the address for getting to the cable car station: Setil Street 9 Oltretorrente, 39046 Ortisei Val Gardena
The Alpe di Siusi is the largest alpine meadow in Europe, and offers year round activities for all ages. Our visit during autumn was perfect for, as Kelly calls it, “wiking” with our 18 month old daughter and enjoying the autumn colors, mountain views, and mild weather. The gently rolling hills and wide walking paths make it a perfect place for little ones to stretch their legs and explore outside of their backpacks.
Tip: Make sure to hit up the mountain hut Gostner Schwaige for lunch. The goulash and wine are a perfect mid-wike meal, and there is a lovely playground with a swing just east of the hut that is a toddler’s paradise.
Getting There: Cristauta – Praplan, Via Plistnat, 150 39047 Santa Cristina Val Gardena
Seceda may be one of the most photographed mountains in Val Gardena, and for good reason, it is spectacular. There are a couple of ways that you can access this mountain; one is by taking the Furnes-Seceda cable car, which will get you to the top of the mountain in 15 minutes from Ortesei. The cable car is open during the high seasons in the summer and winter, and is packed with tourists all vying to catch a glimpse of the famously jagged peaks. The second option is to hike there during the off season when the cable car is shut down. This option is long and strenuous, but will guarantee that you have the mountain to yourself when you reach the top. We did this hike with our toddler (we have an Osprey Poco AG Plus and highly recommend it for long hikes). The route was nine miles round trip, with roughly 2,600 ft. of elevation gain. It took us about 5.5 hours but we took plenty of rest stops and spent about an hour at the top to take in the views, eat lunch, and give our daughter a break from her pack.
Tip: The trail is steep and has some exposure in places so isn’t ideal for letting toddlers out of their packs to try out their hiking legs. Try to time your hike so that you start 30 – 60 mins before a normally scheduled nap so that they will start out having fun looking around and then fall asleep for a good chunk of the hike. Also, to help your kiddo pass the time in the pack, bring lots of small finger foods, play “I spy,” and learn some good trail songs (The Ants Go Marching is a good one).
Tres Cime di Lavaredo
Getting There: Parco Naturale Tre Cime, 32041 Auronzo di Cadore, Belluno, Italy
Tres Cime is nothing short of breathtaking and is an absolute must see in the Dolomites. These three distinctive peaks reside in the Parco Naturale Tre Cime, and this hike is one of the most popular hikes in the region. Don’t expect any solitude on this hike, but do expect to be wowed by the incredible views in every direction. The hike is a moderately challenging six mile loop on a well maintained trail around the three peaks. There are plenty of opportunities and safe spots to let your little ones out of their pack to run around and explore.
Tip: Don’t skip the short spur up to the Refugio Locatelli. The best view of the Tres Cime is from there. Also, visit during the off season if you can; the trails are much less busy and will give you and your kids more space to meander and explore without worrying about holding up hikers behind you. If you visit during the fall, the cafes and refugios located on the hiking loop are closed. Pack your lunch and plenty of water and find a private spot on the west side of the loop for a spectacular view of the peaks while eating lunch.
>>Pin Me for Later!<<
Check out the rest of our Exploring Abroad Series HERE, and share your own adventures on our Facebook page or by tagging @wikebaby on Instagram!