The best places to visit on the Dolomites with kids and travel tips for the perfect family vacation on the Italian Dolomites.
The Dolomites, the stretch of Alps in the North East of Italy, are one of the most beautiful places in Italy for natural beauty and a wonderful vacation destination for families.
The area has stunning mountains, picture-perfect villages with balconies adorned with cascading flowers that seem out of a fairy tale and a plethora of hiking options for adventurous families.
It also has options for animal encounters and outdoor entertainment for kids that make them a great vacation spot for children big and small.
I have been vacationing in the Dolomites since I was a child and now that I bring my kids to the area, they have also fallen in love with it (you can check 10 reasons why we love the Dolomites here).
The place is just special for children.
Nature here is imposing yet accessible, there are wonderful walking and hiking opportunities for all ages and farms and wildlife abound.
Rabbits, cows, horses but also eagles and ravens: whether you are staying in a farm or walking a pristine Alpine peak, nature is always around you and it is impossible not to feel refreshed and re-energized by it.
The Dolomites are overall a very family-friendly place however, some places are special to us and today we want to share them with you.
These are our favorite places to visit on the Dolomites with kids and our tops tips for planning a family trip to the area.
Family Travel Quote: Travelling in the company of those we love is home in motionLeigh Hunt
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The best places to visit in the Dolomites with kids
Alta Pusteria / Hochpustertal
I open this list with my favorite dolomites destination of all and the one I know best: Alta Pusteria/Hochpustertal (all the area has names in double language Italian and German).
I have been vacationing here all my life (our hotel gave us a badge as ‘loyal guests’, we went there so much!) so when I tell you I know the place, you can trust I am telling the truth!
HochPusterTal/ Alta Val Pusteria is a stunning, picture-perfect valley with pristine peaks, fairytale looking villages, brooks and lots of hiking and entertainment options for all ages.
This is a wonderful place for families who love hiking and while it does have family structures such as crazy golf, pools etc it is first and foremost a place where to enjoy nature.
The towns fall into the ‘small and perfectly formed’ category and the entertainment is mostly outdoors pursuits and animal encounters.
Some places we adore here are:
Val Fiscalina: a tiny, enclosed, easy to access valley framed by pristine peaks with hikes for hikers big and small.
The peaks here create a meridian that follows the journey of the sun (Meridana di Sesto) and hides beautiful mountain hikes. The view is so stunning it looks like a theater backdrop!
An elegant hotel is here, in a wonderful location for families, but cheaper accommodation options are also available in the nearby towns of Sesto or Moso.
Pretty villages in the area are Sesto/Sexten and Moso/Moos while slightly bigger centers are San Candido/Innichen and Dobbiaco /Toblach.
From here, you can access easy hikes up to Monte Elmo and Croda Rossa (including gondola option and chairlifts).
Best family hikes and day outs in Alta Pusteria, Dolomites
Some of the best things to do in Val Pusteria are:
- Day trips to Austria (by car, on foot or by bike+train, suitable also for older kids)
- Plenty of farms to meet animals and play outside
- Cycling opportunities (road cycling and mountain biking)
- Crazy golf and kid-friendly pools
- Dobbiaco’s lake (with camping, boat rental, hikes)
- Dobbiaco’s wildlife park
- Excellent skiing and cross-country skiing options in winter
Our favorite hikes in this area are Rifugio Fondovalle (very easy), Rifugio Comici (Rderate), Rifugio Carducci (moderate), Rifugio Larici (easy), Rifugio Gallo Cedrone (easy, also accessible by gondola), Alpe di Nemes (easy), Malga Klamnach and Rigifo 3 Scarperi.
All of these are suitable for kids.
A handy booklet with details of all excursions is available al the local tourist offices.
Family Hotels in Alta Pusteria
Good family hotels in the area are:
- Hotel Dolomitenhof, Sexten/Moos (4 stars)
- Bad Moos, Sexten/Moos
- Hotel Holzer, Sexten/Moos
- Grune Laterne, Sexten/Moos (3 stars)
- Cavallino Bianco, San Candido (4 stars)
- Post Alpina, Family Mountain Chalets (4 stars)
The best farm stays in the area are on the website: www.gallorosso.it (options for all budgets)
Misurina / Cortina d’Ampezzo / Braies
Close to Alta Pusteria sits a slightly different area that comprises the now Instagram famous Lago di Braies, the gorgeous Misurina Lake and glamorous Cortina.
This is a fabulous area with plenty of famous hikes including access to the 3 Cime di Lavaredo (some of the hikes in the area are family and even stroller friendly) and it is home of fashionable Cortina.
A small town in stunning locations, Cortina has been the mountain spot of choice for generations of wealthy national and international tourists who flock here for its stunning peaks, shopping opportunities and, in winter, powdery slopes.
Best things to do in the Dolomites with kids: Cortina area
Cortina is perfect for families under any point of view thanks to several family-friendly structures such as:
- The Olympic ice rink (amazing!), I spent so much time on this rink and loved every minute, every time
- The Gondola ‘freccia del cielo’, that brings you so far up you will think you are in the sky (you kind of are!)
- Crazy Golf
- Open-air mountain playgrounds for kids and teenagers
- Cycling paths
- Boating on the nearby lakes
- Skiing in winter
The mountain and their walking opportunities here take care of the rest: the hiking here is stunning!
Good to know! There are hikes for all levels of fitness and many lead you to interesting hideouts dating back to the First World war, heavily fought in this area between Italy and Austria. They are a fantastic learning opportunity and really bring home some of the realities of war.
Nice excursions in this area are Malga Ra Stua, Cime di Lavaredo (Mountain refuges: Auronzo, Lavaredo, Pian di Cengia, Fonda Savio), Lago Ghedina, Lake Pianozes and many walks in the Fanes-Senes-Braies park.
Family hotels in the Cortina area
Some family hotels in the Cortina/Braies area to check out are:
- Hotel Mirage Cortina
- Barisetti Sport Hotel
- Faloria Mountain Resort
- For agriturismo/farm stay, I recommend the website Gallorosso.it which has a lovely selection for all budgets
Another area we adore for kids in the dolomites is Val Badia/Gadertal.
Similar in style to the ones above, many people end up choosing one over the other based on affection more than anything else: truly, these valleys are all splendid and with much in common.
The most famous and family-friendly towns in the area are Corvara, Colfosco, La Villa and San Cassiano, all lovely and well equipped with outdoor play areas for kids and great bases for walks and hikes.
As well as stunning small villages and high peaks, this valley has some attractions studies specifically for children: the `movement parks’.
These are outdoor spaces for kids built to stimulate exercise and outdoor wellbeing.
They include hikes, lakes, water games, mountain biking trails, workshops etc and are wonderful places to get kids to enjoy the mountains especially if they are at an age when pure hiking may encounter resistance.
Family hikes in Val Badia
Hikes to seek out with kids are Val Parola, Rifugio Scotoni, Pederue (several), Sennes, Lavarella, Fanes, and not to be missed is the drive up Passo Gardena, which offers unbelievable views and access to stunning hikes hard and easy.
Fun fact! In Val Badia, as well as Italian and German you will be exposed to Ladino the language of this area! This is one of the many local languages still existing in Italy and it is interesting for kids and adults to spot even just the street signs in it.
Family-friendly accommodation in Val Badia
- Hotel Rezia, La Villa/La Ila (3 stars)
- Residence Vallon (Corvara)
- Appartamenti Serghela (San Cassiano)
- For farm stays, check out gallorosso.it
Val Gardena/ Grödnertal
On the other side of the Gardena Pass lies one of the most famous valleys in the area and again one of the most beautiful, Val Gardena.
Very well equipped to welcome tourism in general and families in particular, this is another valley with something for everyone and picture-perfect mountains everywhere
The most famous towns here are Ortisei, Selva di Val Gardena and Santa Cristina, all perfect for families with small kids and older children thanks to playgrounds and family-friendly attractions.
Family hikes in Val Gardena, Dolomites
Some of the best walks and hikes for families in the area are Kneipp paths, Col de Flam, the hikes in the Puez-Odle massive as well as the adventure path Col de Riada.
The valley is getting more and more welcoming to families with kids and has some handy initiatives such as the opportunity to rent baby equipment such as strollers and snow gear in the winter.
This is a very popular area with a wide selection of accommodation options for all types of visitors.
Family Hotels in Val Gardena:
- Hotel Garni Snalterhof , Ortisei
- Residence Villa Stella, Ortisei
- Passo Sella Dolomiti Mountain Resort, Selva di Val Gardena
Alpe di Siusi
Alpe di Siusi is another lovely area of the dolomites for kids, with beautiful landscapes framed by the peaks of Sciliar and Sasso Lungo.
Closer to Bolzano than many other localities on this list, Siusi is easy to reach and is particularly welcoming to small guests.
You can stay at a lower altitude and enjoy the lovely forests in the area or take the local lifts to get closer to the peaks and get hiking.
Some nice child-friendly hikes in the area are Malga Tirler (with playground), sensory paths (studied just for kids), Malga Tuff and Hoferalpl with playgrounds and animals for the kids.
We stayed with friends when visiting this area but good family hotels and apartments are available on booking.com. For farm stays, check out www.gallorosso.it
Val di Fassa, Trentino
A little to the South of the valleys mentioned until now lies maybe the most family-friendly of all mountain areas on the dolomites, Val di Fassa.
Stunning, this is the Valley you are most likely to have seen photos of, complete with beautiful peaks, perfect lawns and tiny churches with pointy bell-towers.
Val di Fassa was the first valley to position itself as a family destination with entertainment with kids and still now has some of the best-equipped hotels if all inclusive, active entertainment if what you are looking for.
Great places for kids are Canazei, Campitello di Fassa and Moena and the adventure parks in the area. Worth checking out are:
• Dolomiti Action Adventure Park (Campitello di Fassa)
• Adventure park Piciocaa (Pera)
• High altitude playgrounds/adventure parks (Ciampedie, Alpe Lusi, Ciampac)
Family hotels to consider in the area
Practical tips for visiting the Dolomites with kids
The Dolomites are at the border between Italy and Austria and in an area called South Tyrol.
Languages spoken in the area are Italian, German and, less widely, Ladin.
The Austrian influence is visible in architecture, language and food: here you will find delicious speck Keisersmarren and strudel more than pizza (although you find that too)!
The closest airport to the Dolomites is Venice and the biggest cities in the area are Trento and Bolzano.
To make the most of the area, it is advisable to have a car as this is the best way to reach the basis of many excursions.
Local transport such as buses and trains are available but they are limited to some areas and with times that are too limiting for families.
How long to stay on the Dolomites
While you can get a glimpse of the beautfy of the Dolomites with a short dolomites road trip from Venice, this is not a place to explore on a road trip.
Rather, this is a place to stay and enjoy like you would an American National park (it is actually a series of protected areas!
I recommend a minimum of one week
The best time to enjoy the dolomites is the summer (July- mid August) for hiking and the winter for skiing.
What to pack for a family holiday on the Dolomites
The Dolomites are a mountain area with weather significantly different from that of the rest of the country.
In summer, the sun can be hot but you need layers for the evening and you need proper hiking gear for excursions.
At the most basic level, when packing for the Dolomites with kids you will need:
- Hiking shoes and socks
- Day pack for hiking essentials (if you have very small kids, diaper backpacks can work surprisingly well)
- Sun hat
- Water bottle
- Layers for higher altitudes/ evenings
- Full winter and skiing wear for winter trips
- Wind breaker
- All terrain stroller
- Baby carrier
- Child back pack (you can find my favorite day packs for kids here)
- A nicer outfit for evening meals if staying in a nice hotel
In winter, the Dolomites are for skiing so you need proper snow gear.
I hope you enjoyed this overview of the best places on the Dolomites with kids. Happy travel planning!