10 reasons to swap the beach for a family adventure in the Italian Dolomites

The Dolomites

This summer we didn’t want the same old family beach holiday – Tanning on a sun lounger, dozing off to the sound of lapping waves, kids frolicking in the sand. All very nice and believe me exactly what my body craves sometimes, but not this year. Instead I was after some action and adventure. So off we headed to South Tyrol. The land of lush green mountain valleys, bubbling streams, dense forests, isolated villages and snow-tipped mountains all surrounded by the magnificent pink-grey walls of the Dolomites.

The Dolomites

A hiking holiday in the mountains with a four and seven-year old is not the first thing that pops into your mind I suppose when you think of a family holiday. Well this post is here to change your mind. Here are seven reasons on why an Alpine summer holiday should be next on your travel hit list!

1. Something different

The Dolomites

I’m the type of holidayer who wants to enjoy different experiences, cultures and countries every time I step off a jet plane. Going to the same place year on year just doesn’t cut it for me. I’m always on the hunt for new and unusual ways to spend my hard-earned holiday time. Since having children I’ve been tied to resort style holidays for ease, comfort and quite frankly a god damn break from my mummy chores! Don’t get me wrong I’m by no means knocking the summer beach holiday. From my past jaunts you can see I revel in them as much as the next person. However, I can’t deny I’ve been itching for an adventure and the Alta Badia region in the Dolomites was just the ticket!

The Dolomites

Introducing the kids to an activity based holiday and broadening their horizons beyond beach holidays also played a huge part in the decision-making. Although there is always room for both lazy beach and action mountain holidays in my world if annual leave days allow it.

2. Mountain prices aren’t sky high in the summer

The Dolomites

Summer in the mountains can be very cost effective! A lot of the luxury ski chalets slash their prices during the summer months. You can bag some incredible bargains, on average accommodation can be 40% cheaper than in winter. We stayed at a charming hotel Rosa Alpina in the quaint village of San Cassiano. It’s home to a two Michelin star restaurant too and we received a fantastic five night deal you can read about here.

The Dolomites

And it’s not just about taking advantage of the off-season perks and lack of crowds. For us it was about making the most of the alternate world that’s uncovered once the snow melts.

3. Jaw-dropping scenery

The Dolomites

In the summer months the 90,000 acres of breath-taking mountain landscape morphs into a stunning playground for both active types and those just seeking a peaceful and picturesque escape. The white blanket is replaced by vibrant green with thick grass and beautiful wild flowers. The Dolomites are known as the ‘pale mountains’ for their limestone hue. The peaks emerged from the sea as coral reefs millions of years ago. They are widely regarded as the most beautiful mountain range in the world and the area was named a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site in 2009.

The Dolomites

On our walks it was like we were on constant rewind of the opening scene from The Sound Of Music, with the blue skies, rolling countryside and faint tinkling of cowbells in the distant. It was our own slice of alpine heaven.

4. Sunbathing on top of a mountain

The Dolomites

Well have you? You’re bloody missing out if you haven’t. And believe me there is nothing like resting tired legs on a massive bean bag thousands of feet above sea level surrounded by stunning views. When the sun is out the temperatures can soar to the mid to late twenties on the lower slopes. Being the mountains you can also have some unpredictable weather days, but as long as your prepared with sensible clothing. Even the rainclouds make for a spectacular picture.

5. Little people? No problem…

Many of the chalets are accustomed to catering for younger guests during ski season, so the same applies in the summer too. Most hotels and chalets are fully equipped with cots and high chairs, buggies, children’s bikes, kids menus and so on. Babysitting can be very easily arranged too if required.

The Dolomites

Plus you are spoilt for choice when it comes to parks – adventure, trampoline, animal. You name it, they’ve got it. Along with themed child friendly walks. Before you even get to the parks there are chair lifts and cable cars helping you access the various peaks, which will provide no end of fun for your mini hikers. I mean you can’t expect those little legs to climb all the way up the mountain. That would be plain mean!

The Dolomites

6. Adventures with your family

We found a walking holiday in the Dolomites perfect for families due to its flexible landscape. Depending on the age and ability of your family you can choose to meander across meadows and woodlands or enjoy more challenging walks. There is something for everyone. The endless list of flattish hikes with easy access, amazing playgrounds, absence of dangerous predators (bonus!) and idyllic rolling hills for the perfect picnic stop makes it an all round hit!

The Dolomites

Adrenaline junkies can always try their hand at mountaineering, potholing, mountain biking, skyrunning, abseiling and paragliding. And if that puts the fear of god into you electric bikes are all the rage here, so cycling up steep mountain slopes is a doddle. Plus you’re allowed to cheat. You’re on holiday!

7. Recharge your battery – healthy mind & healthy body

By the time I returned from our mountain adventure I felt like I’d come back with a new set of lungs. I kid you not there’s something in that fresh mountain air or maybe it’s just the biology. Apparently staying at altitude gives your body a natural boost by encouraging it to produce more red blood cells, given the lack of oxygen. So whether you care about running a faster 5k or not – a holiday in the mountains will always makes you feel better.

The Dolomites

Plus I think its the first time I’ve come back from a holiday and not put on any weight. With all the glorious food on your doorstep from the mountain huts to the abundance of high-end cuisine available in the Alta Badia, weight gain could be an issue. Not on this holiday. Your super active days will easily burn off those pesky calories – Win Win? Glad we’re agreed!

8. Food glorious, food

The region of Alta Badia in South Tyrol boasts 16 Michelin star restaurants. Considering it’s an area the size of Devon with half its population that’s pretty impressive! I was lucky enough to eat at two of the restaurants La Stüa de Michil in Corvara (you can read my review here) and Restaurant St. Hubertus in San Cassiano (you can read my review here)

The Dolomites

The food in the Rifugios or mountain huts is extraordinary too. Diverse menus feature cured meat platters, dumplings, polenta, grills, pizza to pasta. And don’t miss the Kaiserschmarren – shredded caramelised pancakes served with a plum compote and powdered sugar. I could’ve dined on this alone after every hike.

9. Picturesque towns

The Dolomites

While the horizon is dominated by majestic mountains the valleys are dotted with picture postcard towns full of  flower lined wooden houses, castles straight out of fairy tales and quaint churches.

The Dolomites
The hospitality and warm welcome from the people of South Tyrol is incredible. The towns almost create their own magical vibe against the jutting mountains in the background.

10. Unique cultural diversity

You will be greeted with Halo in German and Ciao in Italian. The Dolomites were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but the border lines were ultimately drawn to take them into Italy. Through this melting pot of two traditions the Austrian alpine and Italian dolce vita along with the regions strong Ladin culture, makes this an area unlike any in Italy. Many of the towns and villages often have three names – German, Italian and Ladin. Makes it interesting when driving around and reading the road signs!

The Dolomites

If you’re after some action, movie worthy vistas and some healthy air in your lungs the Alta Badia region in the  Dolomites is the place for your next family holiday. Trust me, you won’t regret it. We didn’t!

www.altabadia.org

Have you spent summer in the mountains? I’d love to know about your experience. If not have I convinced you to go? Let me know in the comments box below.

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10 reasons to swap the beach for the mountains

Oregon Girl Around the World
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25 Comments

  1. 29th August 2016 / 10:32 pm

    Wow, you didn’t even have to write one word…Your photos speak for themselves. Gorgeous. I would love to visit there. Good to know that there’s plenty to do for the little ones too, and those cable cars are so cool. They remind me of my childhood at Dutch amusement parks. So much fun. Thanks for sharing. Always nice to discover new places.

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      29th August 2016 / 10:42 pm

      Thanks so much Kimberley! It was actually hard to stop writing. There is so much to write about. Glad you enjoyed the read and I hope it inspired you to don your hiking boots

  2. 29th August 2016 / 11:50 pm

    Great images for a well written and pictured post, numbers 4, 7 and 8 sounds the best part of this post to me though. everyone will have a few selections and now i see more reason for the swap of beach fun for some family time and adventure. thanks for sharing.

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      30th August 2016 / 3:49 pm

      So glad it has inspired you too Lex. Mountains rock! x

  3. 30th August 2016 / 12:31 am

    Omg I love isolated country side! The weather looks amazing I can smell it! I can imagine this would be my fancy getaway vacation combining my passion for outdoor activities. I’ve never tried mountain bike but if I go there I would totally do it. Nice discovering this place though!

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      30th August 2016 / 3:48 pm

      Add to your list of things to do Gigi. It’s a fantastic break to help escape and clear the mind. Being surrounded by nature certainly recharges the batteries.

  4. 30th August 2016 / 2:47 am

    Holy cow. Who knew. You have done an amazing job painting a beautiful picture of the ideal family getaway. And I love the pictures. Thank you.

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      30th August 2016 / 3:46 pm

      Thanks so much Keith! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  5. Barbara Chapman
    30th August 2016 / 2:29 pm

    I love your photos and this looks like a beautiful place to visit. I have a son so it might be good to travel there for some family time in the future and maybe even take him to the park in one of your photos.

  6. 30th August 2016 / 11:10 pm

    I am the same, I love the beach but I like beaches because I like to explore and not to sunbathe. Its why I prefer sightseeing holidays to ones solely for partying!

  7. 31st August 2016 / 1:28 pm

    My family has come to the realization that huge tourist destinations like the beach are not as enjoyable as a hike in the mountains. We love the views and almost camp like atmosphere. I think I just overall prefer this over hot, sticky sand and baking in the sun.

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      1st September 2016 / 9:46 pm

      I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree. I came back feeling so alive from this holiday!

  8. 1st September 2016 / 12:30 pm

    wow it feels like I am lookin to post cards! Your pictures are truly amazing.., you captured them so well that it makes me want to visit this place someday! Oh how I wish I will be given a chance to travel this far and have the opportunity to embrace the beauty of this place

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      1st September 2016 / 9:48 pm

      Thank you so much xx

  9. 1st September 2016 / 9:25 pm

    Wow what stunning photos Sima!!! The Dolomites look absolutely stunning!! xx

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      1st September 2016 / 9:50 pm

      Thanks Maggie. The Dolomites is an unbelievable place in summer. I absolutely loved it.

  10. 4th September 2016 / 6:49 pm

    holy frickin beautiful place! I think this will be on my top list of places to go to in my lifetime, amazing photos and thanks for sharing this place!

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      4th September 2016 / 7:08 pm

      Oh Eloise. It has to be on your wanderlust list. An amazing place and even more beautiful in real life.

  11. 3rd March 2017 / 1:40 pm

    Sima it doesnt take much for me to be excited about a trip to Italy and this looks amazing! We are thinking of going to the Dolomites for Christmas but summer looks gorgeous too. We did a similar break in Switzerland last year and loved it. Pinning and saving. Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

  12. 3rd March 2017 / 1:49 pm

    That looks AMAZING!!! I want to lace up my hiking boots. I’ve been searching for tickets for a summer holiday to Switzerland, but maybe the Dolomites are a better choice…

  13. 3rd March 2017 / 7:36 pm

    All good reasons! I am always torn between the mountains and the beach, and we tend to do a combination of both each summer. I think the adventures, scenery and the towns are my personal favorite reasons. Love mountain towns! #farawayfiles

  14. 3rd March 2017 / 9:00 pm

    I’m very much a mountain person anyway so I wouldn’t need much (any) persuading to visit the Dolomites. I had an Italian pen friend when I was a teenager and she sent me a photo of her in the Dolomites- I’ve always remembered how stunning the scenery was in it! #farawayfiles

  15. 6th March 2017 / 9:37 pm

    Absolutely stunning. I found myself nodding in agreement with all of your ten reasons, and gaping in amazement at your photos. We have visited this region a few times and love the bizarre mix of Italian and German cultures, not to mention the awe-inspiring scenery and plethora of things to see and do. Great article – thanks! #FarawayFiles

  16. SOLD! Living in Copenhagen’s flat, I find I crave scenery of epic magnitudes – this would definitely fit the bill! Sooo beautiful! Thank you kindly for your very persuasive post for #FarawayFiles! Cheers from Denmark, Erin

  17. 7th March 2017 / 7:10 pm

    You have certainly convinced me to go, Sima! I’ve been to the Dolomites for skiing but would love to enjoy that beautiful mountain scenery and a walking holiday with young kids is completely doable. There are some family travel companies in the UK that are offering summer Dolomites packages and they’ve had huge success in the last twelve months so you’re not alone. It does look fabulous. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

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