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The Dolomites - Italy

Clickable map of dolomites - please use text links



Accommodation for this areaHOTELS/B&B

What do the symbols mean? don't miss scenic route Avoid if at all possible Sweepers Twisties Hairpins Town or Point of Interest Web Cam Available

link to Dolomite photos The Dolomites are without doubt one of the great biking areas of the Alps. There is a very high density of mountain passes all within the same area. Many of them interconnect without the need for the boring main road in between. The Dolomite Mountains have a characteristic flat topped, vertical monolith appearance, which is unique within the Alps. Therein lies the bad news. Come a nice sunny weekend day, the roads are packed with tourists from northern Europe taking in the scenery at a gentle 15 mph. At the height of the Holiday season, this goes for weekdays as well. Your best bet is to stay locally and get up early, or alternatively risk the weather in June. Being in the nature of the Dolomite passes in that they run into one another, to a certain extent they also do so in my mind. So some details may be lacking.

We've stayed in a few places in and around the Dolomites over the years. We can recommend Arabba and Corvara for central location, and St.Vigilio for prettiness as well as St. Leonhard, which is a bit further away, but close enough, and perfectly situated for hitting the Timmelsjoch, Jaufenpass and the Dolomites too.

Corvara
Corvara

St. Vigilio

Arabba

The Roads.

Well the obvious circuit if not racetrack, is the four passes of:

  • Passo di Gardena
  • Passo di Sella
  • Passo Pordoi
  • Passo di Campolongo

We've mostly done these anticlockwise, though it's great both ways.
Despite it being the most obvious, to get the best roads in, I'd cover this route one way or another:

  • Passo di Gardena
  • Passo di Sella
  • Passo Pordoi
  • Livinallongo
  • Col di Lana
  • Passo Falzarego
  • Passo di Giau

This also would include the little stretch between the west end of the Giau (Caprile) to the junction with the main Falzarego road (Andráz/Cernadoi)

There are multitudes of roads in and around the Dolomites that we still haven't tried yet. So find your own and experiment.

s243 Grödnerjoch/Passo di Gardena: Corvara - s242b junction Bronze medal symbol
2006-07-30

don't miss scenic route Hairpin N46?32.996 E11?48.533
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The route up the Passo di Gardena (2121m) from Corvara is one of my particular favourites. The first time was on no more than a Yamaha Diversion (with Track-day tyres). It's just a mega-series of open and visible hairpins, with short straights in between winding through alpine meadows. No need for top end power, just a bit of low down torque and a reasonably light quick steering bike. The second time was on 215 Kg of Triumph Sprint (Mk 1), and it all seemed a bit like hard work.
From Corvara is a set of sweepers and medium hairpins, then up through the trees to the top in a steeper section. A great surface now (2002) after the much needed repairs in 2000 with the ultimate in classic Dolomite scenery.
The western side runs below a huge rock wall and therefore suffers from ice, rockfalls and subsidence so is a bit bumpy. [It had been completely repaired and resurfaced in 2002]. The scenery makes up for this bit. From the junction with the s242b it continues into the Sella road.....

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s242b Sellajoch
2005-06-16

scenic route Hairpin N46?30.475 E11?46.048
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From the top of Gardena Pass head for the Passo di Sella (2244m) down another series of tight hairpins through trees and then head though more open scenery almost below one of those aforesaid Dolomite monoliths. The west side has a poor surface and suffers subsidence. The top is quite narrow and there's only limited parking, even for bikes. It can be very busy, mostly filled with cars who's drivers are looking at the scenery and not the road.

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s48 s48/s242 junction - Passo di Pordoi - Arabba
2006-07-31

don't miss scenic route N46?29.2464 E11?48.7644
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The Passo di Pordoi (2259m) is also part of the Great Dolomite Drive, which runs between Bolzano and Cortina. Very scenic apparently (mostly shrubs and trees). The road is definitely on the tourist circuit - with all the traffic problems that involves - and the road is generally in very good condition.
33 hairpins on the eastern ramp should keep you busy. This is one of the best stretches there is, but only if you can do it outside the busy times. Expect busses and lorries. Even then you can usually get past the traffic with relative ease. A great surface with only one or two spots of subsidence. The eastern lower section around Livinallongo is sweepers and superb, very much like the Grödnerjoch, if a touch less visibility.

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Town logo Arabba
N46?29.9628 E11?52.5792
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Arabba is a small town right in the heart of the central Dolomite massive. it's a very popular place for bikers to stay. It's larger sister, Corvara is just to the north.

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Passo di Campolongo
2005-06-16

don't miss scenic route N46?30.770 E11?52.405
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Getting to Arabba turn left up the low Passo di Campolongo back to Corvara. It's an easy pass and an ideal warm-up for the rest of the area. The final part of this pass overlooking Corvara has suffered severe subsidence in the past, and you may have to pick your way past the chasms in the road for a few hairpins, which are wide and with good visibility. They are signposted. You can do this circuit to your heart's content in either direction. When you do finally reach escape velocity, there's plenty more roads out there to entertain.

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ss48 Passo di Falzarego: Andraz - Cortina
2006-07-30

don't miss scenic route N46?31.2618 E12?02.3370
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The road East of Arabba is a continuation of the Great Dolomite Drive heading for Cortina d'Ampezzo. There are a few small towns then it goes up the Passo di Falzarego(2105m). This is another good route with a great surface and with a combination of hairpins, medium fast sweepers and some long straights to clear out the carburettors (officer) ! Around Cortina there are two fairly short passes with plenty of hairpins. There are no real steep bits, but the east side is the steeper side. 17 hairpins on the west side. Scenery mainly trees and meadows.

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ss244 Passo di Valparola: Falzarego pass road - Villa la Sterna
2006-07-30

N46?31.3548 E12?00.1518
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The top is bleak and bare(2192m), with boulders and scree slopes but it quickly drops down into thick woodland. It's been extensively repaired around 2004 and is now quite a pleasant, easy ride.

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ss48 Canazei - Pozza di Fassa
avoid if possible N46?27.3084 E11?41.9700
Busy, boring main road with all the local traffic. No petrol between Canazei and Pozza

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s244 Gardertal: Bruneck/Brunico - Zwischenwasser/Pedraces - La Villa/Stern
2006-07-31

avoid if possible Twisty N46?39.8862 E11?54.4968
Potentially a great road, running along a narrow tree-filled river gorge with high rock wall above you on either side and the occasional gravel-pit. Very twisty and a good surface. Well, it would be a brilliant ride if it weren't for the seriously heavy traffic, lorry after bus....and the oil and gravel with almost no chance to overtake. To avoid the traffic do this only after midnight and with bloody good headlights.
As the heavy vehicles and busses will be working during the week, this is one road we recommend riding at the weekend. If you can ride it in the evening or early morning and avoid the gravel spills it is quite nice.

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241 Pozza di Fassa - Karerpass/Passo di Costalunga - Karersee
N46?24.331 E11?36.421
The short bit up the hill to the top is a good wide road through meadows and trees. It can be difficult at speed. If it gets busy, don't worry you can turn off at the top for the ...

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Karersee - Nigerpass - Blumau
2006-07-31

N46?25.9422 E11?35.4594
A low pass on a narrower and twistier road but with a generally good surface. Because it's narrow it can be difficult to overtake. There are not many hairpins but oodles of 90° corners and it's a bit steepish in places.
Scenery? There is some impressive scenery of the Dolomites and across to the Stelvio and the Swiss border. Trees and alpine meadows.
Fairly difficult especially at speed.

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ss48 Cortina - Passo di Tre Croci - Misurina
2005-06-10

don't miss scenic route Webcam N46?32.9736 E12?10.7142
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Passo Tre Croci is quite low and easy, and runs through woodland. There are only a few minor hairpins and snakes rather than zig-zags. We stopped near Misurina to loll about at the weekend, whilst the surrounding roads ground to a 15-mph crawl. Take camera for some classic mountain shots, if you take a picnic watch out for the cows -- they are after your crisps! The surface from Cortina to Misurina is very good, but has some often difficult to see bumps due to subsidence. It's not very steep and there are only a few hairpins, but with little traffic even when the rest of the Dolomites are packed. Some nice scenery for DIY postcards. Especially around the Misurina lake and the Tre Cime (Three Chimneys)
Easy.

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ss48 Misurina - Auronzo di Cadore
don't miss scenic route N46?33.5352 E12?20.4414
A continuation of the Passo Tre Croci, it runs though dark woodlands, mostly snaking with fast straights, except the bit near the lake which is a bit tighter. Quiet, with little traffic, but don't go out of your way, otherwise an enjoyable ride. Definitely a good way out of the Dolomites to the East.
Moderate/easy.

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ss638 Pocol nr. Cortina - Passo di Giau - Selva di Cadore - Caprile Gold medal symbol
2006-07-30

don't miss scenic route Hairpin Twisty N46?29.1588 E12?02.3220
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The Passo di Giau opens up into a windy road through "Sound of Music" type meadows, surrounded by panoramic mountain scenes.
This is my personal favourite in the Dolomites. It's becoming more popular now as others begin to realise its worth. It's also quite long so you get a good run for your money, and relatively easy yet still satisfying. The north ramp is a bit bumpier (has been improved by resurfacing in 2006) and shorter but the southern ramp is mostly just one corner after the other with narry a straight bit. Imagine getting into a rhythm on the corners, lovely. Now imagine getting into a rhythm with really tight twisies and the hairpins are just tighter bits you hardly notice them.... I like to go down the south ramp best for some reason.
This road naturally leads into the next stretch...

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251 Selva di Cadore - Staulanza - Villa
2006-07-30

don't miss scenic route Twisty
If you turn left at the bottom of the Passo di Giau you'll be on the road to the Forcolla di Staulanza. Running through a few small picturesque villages with a good surface, the road is mainly mild twisties and tight sweepers. Very little traffic.
Near the bottom you think it's finished and it runs through the villages of Villa and Forno di Zoldo before the turn off to the Passo di Cibiana.

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ss203 Caprile - Andr
2006-07-30

don't miss N46?27.5196 E11?59.5332
Slightly climbing and twisty with few hairpins to spoil the rhythm. A superb surface (2001). Very much like the Falzarego which it runs into. Lovely.

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s251/s347 Forno di Zoldo - Agordo - Castello
don't miss N46?25.7052 E12?06.7086
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Continuing south-east from Forno di Zoldo, this is another 2-part route, the first being from Villa to the top, which is very narrow in places, generally narrow through dense woodland. An intact surface with a few bumpy places, but the worst parts have now been repaired or widened since 2002. There are quite a few villages at the bottom. It can be very difficult to overtake so if you get stuck behind something it might be best to stop and wait a few minutes.
The next bit, from the top of the pass down to Ágordo is wider, fewer hairpins and better repaired. It consists mainly of sweepers, twisties and snakes, rather than serious hairpins. We think this is the better side.
Difficult, especially at speed (what else). The first stretch to is very good, not unlike a wider Passo di Giau. Then the roads get narrower and bumpier. Zoldo Alto - Passo Duran (1601m) - Ágordo - We first did this whole section to Trento in a long, hard afternoon, all the way to Trento. Because of that, and the fact that the roads are all a bit similar we can't remember much about any of them that distinguishes one from another.

The rest of the route goes like this:

Passo di Cereda (1369m) - Fiera - Imer - Passo di Góbera (988m) - Canal s. Bovo - Passo d. Brocon(1616m) - Castello - Strigno.

It took us 7 hours in good weather, about 350km.link to photos of Passo Duran
The whole route varies from wide sweepers, straights and incredibly tight bumpy bits. It's very demanding, and I'd only try the whole lot at speed in the dry. It'll take you all day in the wet.

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s641 Canazei - Passo di Fedáia - Caprile
2006-07-30

don't miss Hairpin Sweeper N46?27.231 E11?53.286
This road runs below the great Marmolada mountain where it leads to winter and summer ski resorts.
Because of that the road is generally well-kept and now the major road works of the last few years is finished it's become a good ride. The western ramp reminds me of a small version of the road up to Val d'Isere, in that it's a little busier and dustier hugging the rock face, the eastern ramp not unlike the Pordoi and the Grödnerjoch with its open, green, alpine meadows.

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s641 Sottoguda Gorge
scenic route N46?25.4832 E11?56.1156
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As of 2005 the Sottoguda gorge is closed to traffic. Only pedestrians and cyclists allowed. I'm leaving the entry here in case you fancy a break from the bike and nice stroll up the road. It's not far.

The gorge road "Sottoguda" is off the Passo di Fedáia on the way to Caprile. This is not on all maps as the road is very narrow and doesn't go anywhere much. It snakes along beside a stream in one of the narrowest gorges I know of. It has towering vertical sides, and not much light gets down there. The whole place has the eerie effect of making you feel very small (One for you Goldwing drivers then).
Starting in Caprile:
Head west towards the Marmolada on thess641. After about 3 miles, you'll come to Sottoguda,it's very small so if you blink you'll miss it. If you go through a tunnel,you've gone too far. Take the little cobble-stone road that goes off into thevillage. Keep going through to the other side of the vilage.
Starting on the Passo diFedáia:
Head towards Caprile, and you'll eventually go through2 short tunnels. Between these, and after the second tunnel, you'll go over abridge over the gorge. The road makes a sharp right in Sottoguda: turn leftinto and through the village itself and follow the cobble-stone lane.(..err gotthat?)

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ss552 Ampezzo - Fasso di Mont Rest -Tramonti di Sopra - Manaigo
N46?20.9106 E12?47.3598
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One of our experiments was the inappropriately titled Fasso di Mont Rest near the town of Ampezzo. I tried to race an Aprilia 125 on my 900 Sprint over this one. The narrow road is completely shaded by the surrounding forest. The surface is horrendous, the hairpins many, tight and bumpy. The straights: well there is one. If you think you've got mountain roads sussed, this will surely make you think again. The whole pass took about 20 minutes, but all agreed it was the most demanding pass we've ever done. So why do it? Well I'll never forget it.
(The Aprilia won the race by about 50 yards. The ZX10 and GS 500E ----- nowhere!)

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ss52 Lozzo di Cadore - Passo di Máuria - Ampezzo - Tolmezzo
This road is a long ride from Lozzo to Tolmezzo, all the way through woodland, except for the towns at the bottom near Ampezzo, then it's sweepers and houses - a bit of a drag. Still, the rest of the road is very good, quite narrow and a little bumpy in places, but on the whole very good and lots of fun. A number of hairpins on the Lozzo side, then a long snaking, winding road down onto the valley. Definitely worth thinking about as a way into and out of the central Dolomite area.

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Val d?ora-Olang - Furkel pass -St. Vigil/Vigilio
scenic route N46?43.7268 E11?59.0280
Quite narrow and twisty but very little traffic. What traffic there is can be polished-off pretty quickly as it's normally going so slowly. The surface is good and there's generally good visibility on the corners. A very nice ride through trees and low hill, and the best alternative to the ss48 to Brunico/Bruneck if you're going to take the ss244 down to to Dolomites.

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Town logo
N46?42.0048 E11?55.8264
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I can recommend St. Vigil as a place to stay. A smallish and quite picturesque little town with plenty of places to stay. Just turn up and ask of check with the tourist office inthe main street.
Fuel here.

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ss12 Brenner - Sterzing - Brixen - Bozen
2006-07-31

avoid if possible N46?39.8550 E11?36.5682
To the West of the main Dolomite area is the north/south motorway and accompanying A-road leading north to Innsbruck and south to Bolzen Bolzano.(Avoid if you can: Industrial and busy) and then Trento. As this busy A-road approaches Bolzen, the river valley along which it runs, is apparently very scenic, as long as you like motorway viaducts in your deep tree lined valleys. There are also a couple of passes west of Bolzen worth looking at. Around here you may also find that you pass through German speaking areas, as this is the edge of the region of South Tirol, still within Italy.
If you do ride down this road and you get bored, try ....

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s42 Bozen - Mendelpaß - Fondo Silver medal symbol
don't miss Hairpin Twisty N46?25.092 E11?11.920
Southwest of Bozen (Bolzano) is the Mendelpaß I've done this pass when the surface, weather and traffic have been crap. A couple of years later (1998) the surface was new, and dry, and it's been totally resurfaced again and improved now (2001). This transformed this low-level, densely wooded pass into a humdinger of a route. The hairpins, though not numerous are wide, and there are a number of wide sweepers to play on. The down side is it's a popular country drive for Fiat Pandas especially at the weekend.
One of my favourites.

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Brixen - Lus?n/L?sen
don't miss scenic route N46?41.7420 E11?40.1556
To the west and north of Brixen (a fairly pretty little town, actually), is a great road - or two actually. They both lead to the Würzjoch, the first going via Lusón after which it becomes a single-track road until it joins the Würzjoch road.
From Brixen the road climbs gently alongside a river in a wooded valley. There's little scenery really, but the road is superb. It's tight sweepers with a wide, mostly new surface and great visibility in the corners.
If you're near here do it.
The second alternative is the complete Würzjoch road described below...

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Brixen - Millan - St Andrea - Würzjoch - St. Martin in Thurn
2006-07-31

don't miss scenic route Twisty N46?39.6540 E11?47.6664
Climbing up out of Brixen is a long section of twisties of the best sort. A nice wide, well-surfaced road on the whole, it's fast and has real knee-down potential, with only relatively few hairpins. It gradually gets narrower up to the top of the pass where it's not quite so much fun, but then the scenery takes over.
Down to St. Martin is a shorter steeper version of the western side. Brilliant!
There's little traffic on this road except for bikes. It's gone up in my esteem from a few years ago.

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s238 Fondo - Gampenjoch/Passo di Palado - Meran
N46?32.010 E11?06.666
Leading north from the Mendelpaß is the Gampenjoch or Passo di Palado. This is again a low level pass and the southern bit from Fondo is fairly level snaking through dense woodland. The northern side is longer and drops down to Lana near Meran. It's not very challenging but fun. There's some great scenery coupled with wide enough road on the north ramp.

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ss508 Sterzing/Vipiteno - Penser Joch/Passo di Pénnes - Bolzano
2006-07-31

Twisty Sweeper N46?48.7578 E11?26.7324
link to more photos
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Running north-south directly between the two main roads to Bolzano is the Penser Joch. This keeps the traffic off and caravans are banned (yipee!). It's quite high at 2214m and the top is just desolate grass.
The northern ramp is narrowish and relatively short (17km). After extensive repairs in 2003 it's become a brilliant set of twisties. The southern, less steep side is 50km of medium to ton-upt sweepers running through a few villages and tunnels (the more frequent the nearer Bolzen you get, where traffic increases, especially south of Samtheim).
I'd recommend this route. It's not hard.

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347 Forno di Zoldo - Passo di Cibiana- Venas di Cadore
2006-07-30

Twisty
Narrow and twisty 1st to 2nd gear route. Surface on southern end a bit broken in places though not bumpy. The Northern part deteriorates as it gets more bumpy. Still a reasonable route.

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Mendel Pass Fossa di Sopra Passo Mauria Passo di Giau Grödner Joch Passo  d. Falzarego Pordoi Joch Rosengarten Gorge gardertal Sella joch sella ? Tre Croci Around Monte Cristalo ???? Passo  di Fedaia Passo  di Campolongo Passo di Fedaia Sottoguda gorge Val Gardena Penserjoch Brixen - Lüsen Furkeljoch - St. Vigil Forc. Staulanza - Agordo - Passo d. Brocon