The Dolomites are one of the most recognizable geographical features in Italy, so it’s little surprise why camping is so popular here. The ancient forests, encircling stunning mountain peaks, transports you back in time. And that’s all topped off with the iconic UNESCO World Heritage site, the ‘Three Peaks of Lavaredo‘. Simply put, this region is nature at it’s most beautiful and serene, which is why camping in the Dolomites is becoming more popular each year.
Thankfully, campsites and wild camping are both options here (although rules apply to the latter), and we cover both in this article.
Camping in the Dolomites
Camping is a very popular pastime in Italy so there are campsites throughout the Dolomites covering all budgets. Almost all of which have spots for RVs too.
Several of them lie close to the most popular hiking routes too, allowing walkers to enjoy a day’s trek in stunning surroundings, knowing they can have a dip in a campsite pool at the end of the day.
For serious walkers, the best way to work out which campsite to use is to determine the route you wish to hike. A Dolomites hiking book like this one will help you decide. Once you have your route, mark out any settlements. It’s highly likely they will have at least one campsite near by. A quick Google search will do the rest.
And if you’re planning on hiking one of the eight ‘high paths’ – which can sometimes take up to a week to walk- then camping along the way is the best option.
Or you can wild camp as you traverse the Dolomites – although that is technically illegal. We will explain more on that, and how you can still do it, further down in this article.
However for less serious hikers, campsites are the best option. We tell you our favorites, and why, next!
The best campsites in the Dolomites
One of the great things about the Dolomites is that there are a variety of campsites that cater for all types of tourists. From travelers looking for an adventure, to ones searching for a relaxing holiday in natural surroundings. Here’s a few of our favorites:
Camping Catinaccio Rosengarten
Set in serene surroundings, with lush mountain-side forests and stunning mountain peak views, this campsite is picture perfect.
Located in the heart of Fassa Valley, this site also has fantastic access to some of the Dolomites’ best cycling and hiking routes. It’s a great base for those looking for an active holiday!
Camping Seiser Alm
Located in Italy’s South Tyrol, this campsite sits in the foothills of Seiser Alm – a beautiful mountain that is also home to the largest high-altitude Alpine meadow in Europe.
The mountain happens to be one of the best places for hiking and skiing in the Dolomites, but that isn’t the only reason we like this campsite.
There’s a great swimming pool on site, and a natural bathing lake just a few minutes walk away. Perfect after a long day of walking. This book has 50 great day walks and could be a great asset for any trip to the Dolomites.
Situated beside South Tyrol’s capital Bolzano-Bozen, and one of the most beautiful towns in the Dolomites, this family-run campsite is tranquil yet offers a more lively vibe being so close to town.
That doesn’t mean you don’t get stunning mountain views though – plus the actual pitches are set within a meadow. Bolzano-Bozen also has great access to many of the popular hiking and cycling routes, and the town itself has a wide array of restaurants.
Camping Al Plan
One of our favorites for the views alone, this campsite is located in the breathtaking Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site in the Dolomites.
The quaint village of San Vigilio di Marebbe is right beside too, and is well worth a visit in itself.
Wild (free) camping in the Dolomites
The bad news is that wild (free) camping in the Dolomites is technically illegal. The good news is that it is sometimes tolerated, depending on circumstances and if you follow a certain set of rules.
Legally, national parks and the national authorities in charge of the Dolomites region forbid setting up a tent for the night. However you can do so in an emergency situation – i.e. you cannot reach shelter and it’s getting dark.
However, the majority of wild campers wish to camp in the Dolomites for fun. That in itself isn’t allowed.
Yet whilst local authorities try and dissuade people from wild camping, they don’t appear to prosecute walkers and hikers for it. Therefore wild camping appears to be generally tolerated here if you stick to the following guidelines:
You should camp in the same place for one night only, and pitch your tent discretely and in a remote place. Therefore don’t camp in or near settlements, someone’s farm or on cultivated land. If you think you’re on private land, try and seek out the landowner and ask permission.
Campers should set up their tent at dusk, and take it down at dawn. A tent that is discreet and pitches quickly is best. Therefore a lightweight hiking tent like this one would be a great investment for someone planning to hike and camp in the Dolomites.
If you are hiking a main trail you should camp away from the path as a matter of courtesy. You should also avoid camping in tourist areas completely.
When wild camping in the Dolomites you should never make a campfire. For cooking, use a storm cooker. The Swedish brand Trangia make fantastic storm cookers that are virtually indestructible.
If you want to go completely fuel-less, a portable solar powered cooker like this one would work. Plus, is there anything cooler than harnessing the power of the sun for your breakfast!
And of course, take any trash with you, and leave your camping spot the way you found it.
Below are our must-know tips for wild camping in the Dolomites.
Tips for wild (free) camping in the Dolomites
- Thunderstorms and heavy rain can happen in the Dolomites – even during the hiking season. Make sure you have a durable, rainproof tent that can survive heavy rain. A lightweight one-man hiking tent like this or similar would be perfect. For a good value tent that fits more than one person, this mosquito-proof one would work well too.
- Keep an eye out for animal poo – if there’s a lot near your perfect camping spot, you may end up being woken up by some enthusiastic sheep or something else in the middle of the night!
- There are lots of different water sources in the Dolomites, but remember to always have plenty of water on you when you’re walking. A space-saving collapsible water bottle would be a good purchase.
- When going to the toilet you should do it far from water sources, such as rivers and lakes. Make sure to use a trowel (like this folding one) to bury any human waste – don’t just leave it out in the open.
- Like many rugged and wild rural areas around the world, there are flora and fauna to be aware of. So read up and make sure you know what to expect in the region or area you are planning to wild camp in.
Recommended for your trip to the Dolomites
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