Peter Orsel

The Best Autumn Photo Spots of the Dolomites

People ask me this question a lot: What’s the best season for photography in The Dolomites? Well, let me be clear. The Dolomites will always be impressive and each season has its charms. BUT, autumn hits different. I did a spontaneous trip in late October 2022 and I was a tiny bit late in the season, but I still managed to take incredible photos. Some of them among my best shots ever! In this blog I’ll show you loads of my shots and their locations. These are the best autumn photo spots in the Dolomites!

In This Post

Before we head to the spots, I want to give you a piece of advice. Autumn colours are hard to predict. The timing is of the colours varies each year and depends on the first day of winter, the amount of sunshine and the amount of rainfall. In general, the last two weeks of October are the best. 

The photos I used in this blog were taken between the 25th of October and the 2nd of November 2022. For Lago di Braies, it was the perfect timing. For the road up to Tre Cime and Lago Federa, it was too late to capture the best conditions. 

Scouting the exact locations using Instagram

If you don’t want to be disappointed, scout your locations just moments before using Instagram. Search for the specific location and check the most recent posts, or even better: check the stories. This shows you the exact conditions, and it prevented me from going to Lago Federa, as I saw that all bright colours were gone already. Don’t check the ‘top posts’, as they were most likely taken before that specific day. 

Besides this, you always want to capture the Dolomites during sunset and sunrise. This requires some time management, but it’s well worth it. I pick my favourite locations for sunset and sunrise, and try to fill my spare time with editing, trip planning and enjoying some great Italian coffee and food! 

How to get around?

The Dolomites is one of these locations where you want to have access to a car. If you can’t manage to drive there yourself, it’s possible to fly in through Venice or Milan. Whenever you’re in need of renting a car, I always recommend Rentalcars. They’re usually the cheapest, they’re flexible and offer a wide range of companies to hire from. 

Where to stay?

Whenever you’re traveling to the Dolomites, it’s important to know that the area is BIG and it takes a while to get around. Whenever I visit the Dolomites, I try to stay at the east and the west side, both for a couple of nights. The east side covers places like St. Magdalena, Alpe di Siusi and Seceda. The west side covers places like Cortina d’Ampezzo, Lago di Braies, Lago di Sorapis, Tre Cime, Lago Federa and more. 

Some great villages to stay in the east side are Ortisei or somewhere between Chiusa and Colma. In the west side of the Dolomites, I personally love Dobiacco. There’s a great pizza restaurant where I’ve been so so many times now (shoutout to Pizzeria Hans! And that’s not sponsored 😉) Another option could be in Cortina d’Ampezzo or somewhere in the Falzarego Pass. 

Depending on the time you have, I recommend to stay in the east side for about a third of your time, spend the rest of your time on the west side. 

Lago di Dobbiaco

During my past trips to The Dolomites, I started with St. Magdalena and Alpe di Siusi, but this time I decided to do it the other way around. I made my way to Dobbiaco and at the end of the afternoon I parked at Lago di Dobbiaco for my first couple of photos. This lake is also known as Toblacher See, as you’re in the German speaking part of the Dolomites. I already hiked around the lake on a previous trip, and I knew the shot that I had in mind. It’s a popular spot, but it never got me excited with just the green colour. In autumn season it hits different! 

The photo above takes zero exercise and was taken around 50 meters from the parking lot. I paid for about 30 minutes of parking. I was lucky with the still water conditions and took a variety of shots until I was happy with the results. The colours already blew my mind and I loved to see some popping orange trees between the regular green ones!

🚙 How to get there: Navigate here and you can’t miss the house I shot.

💵 Costs: None, but bring some cash for the parking meter.

Lago di Misurina

Right after shooting Lago di Dobbiaco, I made my way to Lago di Misurina. I never really took photos of this spot, but I’ve seen countless photos of it. I decided that I had to take that photo at least one time, so I stopped by. The water wasn’t as still as I hoped, but I still like the result. Especially the popping trees on the left give that autumn vibes. As crazy as nature is, the trees on the right didn’t care about changing their colours yet.

🚙 How to get there: Navigate here and you can’t miss the house I shot.

💵 Costs: None, but bring some cash for the parking meter.

Lago d'Antorno

My third stop would be my sunset spot and the last spot of my first day. It’s also the place where I would park my car to spend the night. Lago d’Antorno is located on the way to Tre Cime di Misurina and a small lake with phenomenal backdrops on all sides. The trees really give that extra autumn vibe and I surely wasn’t the only one who planned to shoot his sunset here. The tripod gang showed up for not the best sunset I’ve ever seen, but still cool enough to get some decent shots!

A bad memory from this place is that my Sony 16-35 f/2.8 GM stopped working here. I didn’t know what it was and thought my camera was broken, but afterwards I found out that the lens has a common issue, resulting in the problems I had. My display froze and I couldn’t take photos anymore. Sony runs a repair program to repair this issue and I got it repaired for free afterwards.

🚙 How to get there: Navigate here and you can’t miss the house I shot.

💵 Costs: None, parking is free but limited for 1 hour, or park on the other side of the road, where you’re allowed to park longer.

Cadini di Misurina

Even though I knew that Cadini wouldn’t be a great spot for fall footage, it was still a location I wanted to visit for sunrise. Cadini is located above the tree line, so there won’t be any trees in frame. I visited this spot once during bright daylight and once during sunset, but I was sure that sunrise must be special as well. 

Due to the high costs of the toll road, I decided to wake up early and hike up to the viewpoint. This hike would take me about 1h 30m, but I had to leave in the dark, through the forest and up to the mountain. I did this hike once before on the first day of snow, so I knew how to get there. 

Again, I wasn’t the only one at the spot and many people were lining up for their perfect shots. I met two incredible good Finnish photographers here and we all flew our drone until we were satisfied with our content. One of the photographers was Krista Ylinen and I highly recommend to check her website and portfolio, as she’s such a talented photographer.

🥾 How to get there: Follow track 101, once you get above the tree line, bend to the right and hike up to the viewpoint of Cadini. It’s easier to use Maps.Me for detailed navigation and offline maps.

💵 Costs: If you hike, you save the €30 of the toll road. Parking spots can be limited around Lago d’Antorno. You can take a bus up as well. Keep in mind that the toll booth doesn’t open until sunrise, so you have to drive up the night before if you want to prevent hiking up for sunrise. 

On my way down, I could finally see the colours I was waiting for. It might have been a bit late to see the trees in optimal condition, but I still loved to look at them. It’s safe to say that it didn’t cost me any effort to get down to the lake with first of all these views, and second to that the ability to walk downhill instead of uphill.

Lago Ghedina

This one is less famous than all the other spots I visited during this Dolomites trip. I saw one photo beforehand and didn’t know where to find it. Of course this photographer didn’t share any location tags and I had to find it myself. Thanks to Google Maps and reversed image search, I was able to find the exact spot! What I didn’t know, is that you can actually drive to the lake yourself. I parked next to Camping Olympia and hiked for about 30 minutes, but after all I didn’t have to. A small hike is fine, but the next time I’ll just park my car next to the lake. 😇 

In this photo, I decided to keep that house on the right side in frame, so you can actually see that I didn’t do anything to the greens. I still can’t believe how orange the trees were here, making it actually hard to edit this photo in a realistic way!

🚙 How to get there: Navigate here and approach the lake from the south. The road is closed from the north side. If you want a small hike, park here and hike to the lake.

💵 Costs: None.

Lago di Braies

Whether you call it Lago di Instagram or not, you can’t go wrong with this place. The colours of the trees are simply amazing during autumn season. Expect crowds, expect a parking scene like it’s a theme park, but once you step into the scene, you forget everything that’s happening around you. 

Flying a drone seems to be accepted these days. It wasn’t allowed and there might still be signs stating that you can’t fly a drone, but the last time I was here (October 2022) I saw about 15 people flying a drone at the same time. 

🚙 How to get to Lago di Braies: It’s easy to navigate to Lago di Braies. You can take the bus from Dobbiaco or Cortina d’Ampezzo, or take the car and park less than a 5 minute walk from the lake.

💵 Costs: Just parking costs, unless you want to rent a boat. The parking costs €8,- no matter how long you stay. 

Church of St. John, Ranui, St. Magdalena

The photo above is probably one of my favourite photos I’ve taken of autumn season. Ever. Yes, it’s a famous spot, yes, you’ve seen it on Instagram before. But how can you not like this scenery? Instead of taking the photo of the viewpoint (at that fence, you’ll see), walk a bit uphill, following the road. From there, you get this amazing view.  

🚙 How to get to St. Magdalena: This is one of these places where you need a car. There’s a bus stop, but I think you should really be here at sunset and unfortunately most time table don’t support sunset missions, especially in low season. To get to the right parking, navigate here. 

💵 Costs: Bring some coins for the parking machine and you’re good to go! I honestly have no idea how much I threw in, so a couple of euros must be enough. 

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