After enjoying the sights of Venice, why not head north for a completely different Italian experience? Italy's Dolomite Mountains attract sports enthusiasts, nature lovers, wellness travelers, families, and couples looking for romantic getaways. Whether you visit during the winter ski season or arrive during the warm summer months, you will discover the incredible beauty of the Dolomites.
From Venice, there are two main routes into the heart of the Dolomites. The first takes you to Belluno, Cortina d'Ampezzo, and the nature parks near the Austrian border. The second brings you farther west, past Lake Garda, to Trento and Bozen/Bolzano and toward the Brenner Pass into Austria. If you head north to Belluno, consider stopping at Santa Croce Lake. You can walk along the shore or rent a kayak or mountain bike. If you're feeling really adventurous, try kite surfing. If, instead, you travel northwest to Trento, you can stop in Verona to see the Roman amphitheater and Juliet's Balcony or visit Rovereto's palaces and the imposing castles in the surrounding countryside.
Although you cannot fly from Venice to the Dolomites, getting to Belluno or Trento by train, car, taxi, or private driver is easy. Hiring a taxi or private driver to take you to smaller towns is a good option for travelers who are not used to driving in the mountains or in winter weather. Buses connect Venice and Trento, but it is difficult to find direct bus connections between Venice and Belluno except during the summer tourist season (mid-June to mid-September).
Duration: 2.25-3.5 hours, depending on destination
Regional Trenitalia trains connect Venice's Santa Lucia and Mestre train stations with Belluno, but you will have to change trains in Treviso. (Tip: Be sure to check the train schedule to make sure you do not end up on a train/bus journey, which will require a second change.)
Trenitalia trains depart Venice for Trento several times per day. Whether you travel from Venice to Trento by fast Frecce or slower regional train, you will have to change trains in Verona.
By Car, Taxi, or Private Driver
Duration: 1.25-3 hours
Belluno is just 66 miles (106 kilometers) from Venice, and it takes about one and one-quarter hours to drive that distance unless you leave during rush hour. To avoid most of the traffic, time your departure so you leave in the late morning or early afternoon. Regardless of when you leave, you may encounter traffic on the E55 Tangenziale and the A57, the highways that serve as a partial beltway or ring road around Venice (some sections toll). Once you leave the Venice area, you will travel on the A27 toll highway and Strada Statale 50 (SS50) to reach Belluno.
The fastest way to get from Venice to Trento (100 miles/161 kilometers) by car is via the A4/E70 and A22/E45 toll highways. You can also get to Trento on Strada Statale 47 (SS47) via Bassano del Grappa. You will see some spectacular scenery, but you will be driving on steep, winding mountain roads. If this sounds daunting, perhaps hiring a taxi or private driver would be a good option for you.
Keep in mind that Mestre, Verona, Treviso, Trento, and several other cities and towns on your route all have a Zona a Traffico Limitado (ZTL). If you drive into this limited traffic zone, you will be ticketed.
As in other regions of Italy, toll highways that pass through Verona, Venice, and Trento use average speed cameras to enforce speed limits. Fixed speed cameras and red light cameras abound. Obey posted speed limits to save yourself the hassle of paying an Italian traffic ticket by wire transfer