Published On: January 27, 2024Tags: , , , ,

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Mountains are magic

And these are my favorites in the Dolomites

If you ask a motorcyclist to name any mountain range in Europe, the majority will surely mention the Dolomites. And I can totally understand why it’s a popular destination for many riders. For those that don’t understand just yet: make sure to make it happen anytime soon. These mountains will leave you in complete awe and might even move you to tears as it did me many times. After many visits to Italy on numerous occasions, I made a list of my top 10 passes in the Dolomites based on my visit in 2022 with my partner. But, I intend on going back pretty soon to make a YouTube series, and so this list will possibly have a follow up.

* I have tried my best to collect as much data as I could in the legend (keeping in mind that each pass runs from one valley, to the summit, to the other valley), but the shown numbers may not be 100% accurate. The included restaurants and accommodations are located around the summit.

10. PASSO DI CROCE DOMINI – 1892M

An unexpected pleasant experience. It started out as a normal pass but abruptly the tarmac stopped and a stretch of gravel was in front of us. At first I thought to myself what are we getting into, as we couldn’t see any tarmac in the far distance, but then it turns out to be a fun experience. It gives some amazing views as the central part of the route runs through the Parco dell’Adamello natural park. This is the only place in the Alps where a population of brown bears still lives. I’m happy to say I didn’t see any. On the border between the Crocedomini Pass and the Maniva Pass, you can spot some remains of a former NATO Base.

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9. PASSO GARDENA – 2211M

Often described as a picturesque mountain pass and I can only agree. It sometimes felt like a fairytale riding these hairpins with those incredible backdrops. As the Gardena is located in the famous Sellaronda ski circuit you will surely catch a glimpse of the colorful cable cars going up and down during the warmer months, which can take you for a great hike to see the road from above if you have some time. At the cosy restaurant at the summit you can eat the best pasta to go fasta!

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8. TORRI DI FRAELE – 1941M

Discovered by accident, when we saw a smaller hairpin road near the Stelvio on my satnav. We decided to ride up and once on the summit a pleasant surprise awaited. You only ascend a little over 600 meters, but with all its beauty it doesn’t feel unworthy or a waste of time going up here. With 17 hairpins stacked above each other you then pass a tunnel and reach two ruins of square towers. But after that? Two reservoirs lure you in and make you want to ride the gravel paths down. Together with the impressive views and the relatively unknown character, I thought it deserved a spot in my top 10.

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7. PASSO PORDOI – 2239M

What do you picture when you hear the word Dolomites? Is it an image of rugged, rocky and perhaps even snow-capped peaks? With extremely green valleys crossed with the most beautiful roads and people enjoying nature on many different ways of transport? It’s definitely a stunning mountain range and some may say the passes look alike, but I beg to differ. Each pass has its own unique views, as does the Pordoi. The first picture is one of my favorites from that trip and could easily be a postcard you hand out to someone explaining what the Dolomites look like.

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6. PASSO SELLA – 1948M

This road is often ridden in combination with the Pordoi, Campolongo and Gardena. These Dolomite passes lead around the mountain massif of the Sella, or the so-called “Selle Ronda”. The Passo Sella is the steepest of the four. It’s worth a visit at any time of the year, especially because of the uniquely beautiful views it offers.

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5. PASSO DEL ROMBO – 2509M

A famous pass on the border between the Austrian Tyrol and the Italian South Tyrol. Many may not recognize the Italian name, but perhaps the Austrian name will ring a bell: the Timmelsjoch. Magical green valleys, especially when the light hits it right, but when you gain altitude the views become more “solid”.

Along the road, five concrete structures inform visitors about the nature, history, culture, people and activities of this region. At the highest point is the Pass Museum, an object that lies on a rock like a boulder. On the outside, sleek and ruggedly designed in red-colored concrete, on the inside a museum. Good to know that tolls are charged from the village of Hochgurgl.

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4. PASSO GIAU – 2236M

What can I say? Just pure love for this road. It wasn’t a coincidence the heart shaped cloud appeared while riding here. I’m gutted I didn’t have my drone back then, but I’m making it my goal to return and update my content archive with some incredible shots! If you visit the Dolomites you simply cannot skip this exciting ride let alone miss out on a fantastic panoramic view at the summit.

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3. PASSO FEDAIA – 2057M

Widely known for its beauty and for the lively Lake Fedaia. Returning here many times between 2018 and 2023, the differences in the water levels were noticeable. A sad sight which is seen in many mountain lakes. But that doesn’t diminish the captivating beauty of the gallery and hairpin roads, valleys, glaciers and the mountains surrounding the lake.

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2. PASSO DELLO STELVIO – 2758M

Some may disagree with me putting the Stelvio on a second place in this list, but truth be told, this is not my favorite pass in the Dolomites. Yes, it’s incredible and it’s a very technical ride and one that you have to check off your bucket list no matter the way of transportation. But it is also a very predictable and obvious number one in many lists already. I don’t think I have to persuade you into going here, but just in case you needed a last push: it includes over 40 hairpins on the Prato side alone. Now, this may scare you or makes you scream out loud ‘LET’S GO!’. And, in the rain you might have the road almost to yourself.

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1. TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO – 2999M

A toll road (€20,- for motorcycles), but worth every cent! I can simply not put into words what this scenery did to me. The ride up is long, winding and breathtaking. You ride up towards Rifugio Auronzo and from there you have the most astonishing panoramic view. After spending almost two hours at this height, it saddened me to go down again. Later I found out that these three peaks are actually the most famous ones of the entire Dolomites. And guess what I didn’t photograph. Those three peaks. All the more reason to go back very soon!

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