This Breathtaking Hiking Trail In Italy Is Known As One Of The Best In The World

As your European summer plans start to take shape, you're likely considering Italy as a destination. Whether it's dining on dishes like carbonara and bucatini all'Amatriciana in Rome, taking in the impeccable sights of Florence, or enjoying a luxurious "White Lotus" vacation down in Taormina, Italy has a little something for everyone. The Dolomites are one of the best outdoor destinations on the European continent. Boasting dramatic mountains, charming German influences, and some of the country's best alpine lakes, the Dolomites are well worth exploring.

Avid hikers have likely heard of the Dolomites and have it on their bucket lists or have checked it off already. But no trip to the Dolomites is complete without a proper hike at Puez-Odle Altopiano. This trail is one of the most popular, not only in the Dolomites but in all of Italy and even the world, and is famous for its stunning views of the surrounding mountains from start to finish. The beautiful rewards of hiking Puez-Odle Altopiano don't come without a challenge, however.

Know before you go

Puez-Odle Altopiano is a 10.6-mile hike and can take anywhere from six hours to several days to complete in its entirety. The best time to go is during the warmer summer months, and it's advisable to steer clear when it's raining or snowing. Summer is also ideal because it's when plenty of wildflowers are in bloom, making the scenic hike even more beautiful.

The hike begins in Selva di Val Gardena, a charming town located under an hour away from Bolzano. The ascent is made a bit easier thanks to a chairlift that operates year-round, making the total climb 2,800 feet. The hike down, however, is 4,900 feet. So bring your hiking poles to support those knees!

You'll want to ensure you wear good hiking shoes and bring a jacket, as, even in the summertime, it can get chilly. The views along the way are those classic jagged-looking peaks of the Dolomites. These mountains are so well known for being picturesque that they're deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with Puez-Odle being a part of it.

Nearby towns worth exploring

While hiking is the main draw in the Dolomites, you'll need to choose which of the charming towns to base yourself in. Bolzano is one of the most popular towns in the area, for both its fairytale-like feel and its convenience. It is easily reachable by both airplane thanks to having Bolzano Airport, and train via Italy's efficient train system. 

To really get a feel for the Dolomites, head to one of the evening smaller villages for a slice of local life. Cavalese has a unique German influence thanks to the region's rich history and is home to La Roccia Wellness Hotel, a family-run resort in the Trentino region. Cortina D'Ampezzo is another fan favorite when choosing a town for lodging. In true Italian fashion, Cortina is home to some of the area's best restaurants, including but not limited to Pizzeria Ristorante Al Passetto and even two Michelin-starred restaurants; Tivoli and SanBrite.