The Dolomites is one of the most beautiful places in Europe and the perfect place to rent a car. A rental car is the way to discover all of the different places within the area of the Dolomites and on top of that it is a spectacular place to drive!
During your road trip you’ll drive through alpine meadows, around glacial lakes and across incredible mountain passes. I can guarantee you that with every turn you’ll take you’ll be greeted by one breathtaking after another.
So far I have visited the Dolomites three times and every single time I did so with a car. And every single time I was able to plan as much as I wanted in a day. You don’t get that kind of flexibility if you rely on public transportation.
After reading this article you’ll be completely ready to plan your own perfect road trip in the Dolomites!
Tips For Driving And Renting A Car In The Dolomites
Why you should rent a car in the Dolomites
If you’ve followed any of my previous travels you know that I am an absolute sucker for a good road trip! Renting a car gives you the freedom to go anywhere you want, whenever you want. One moment you’ll watch the sunrise over Lago di Braies and the next you’re driving up the iconic mountain pass to rifugio Auronzo in the Tre Cime National Park.
The best way to get the most out of your time in the Dolomites is to rent a car. You’ll have all of the flexibility that you can dream of and you don’t need to rely on public transportation. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything I hate more than using public transportation.
If you don’t have a rental car and you can only rely on public transportation you’ll loose a lot of your flexibility and freedom. You can’t visit places in the early morning and sometimes you’ll even have to combine taking a bus with paying an additional taxi fee. There’s time schedules to take into account and honestly your trip planning can become a real hassle.
Plan your trip to the Dolomites
🏨 Find the best accommodations on Booking.com
💰 Get reliable travel insurance from World Nomads
🎒 Pack a power bank, hiking shoes and trekking poles.
🚗 Rent a car to drive to the best hiking trails in the Dolomites with SunnyCars.com
📚 Read Photographing the Dolomites and Walking in the Dolomites
Is it safe to drive in the Dolomites?
The Dolomites are a mountainous area in the Northern part of Italy but the area also shares a lot of Austrian influences. The roads are well maintained and you’ll find road signs in both German, Italian and sometimes even in English. Even the mountain passes are pretty easy to drive across.
The last time that I visited the Dolomites it had just snowed like crazy and even then all of the roads were cleared and not slippery at all.
I’ve driven in Italy on many occasions and a few things you need to make yourself familiar with are roundabouts, small turns, other cars passing you on single lane roads and always look at the signs.
The Italians aren’t known for their steady driving and at times I really wondered why the hell they were always driving in the middle of the road on a mountain pass. But oh well, that’s Italy for you!
Besides that you don’t have to worry about a thing when going on a road trip in the Dolomites.
💸Dolomites Travel Insurance
I highly recommend you to get a travel insurance before your trip cause the risks are never worth the costs. If you’re going on a more adventurous trip you can always get yourself injured! So far I have sprained my ankle in Jordan, got food poisoning in India, turned snow blind in the Dolomites and have fallen multiple times during many hikes. It’s always best to be safe than sorry in such cases and with a good travel insurance you don’t have to worry about medical bills piling up.
I personally love World Nomads, their prices are affordable, their coverage is great, and they also offer 24/7 on-call customer service! When I got super sick in India they even covered an extra night for me at the hotel that I was staying it and rearranged my flight home at no extra cost!
🚘 Tips for driving and renting a car in the Dolomites
Where to pick up your rental car for a road trip through the Dolomites
If you’re traveling to the Dolomites by plane there are several places where you can start your road trip! You can pick up your rental car from the airport in Venice. Flying into Venice is the shortest amount of time for driving if you’re starting on the Cortina d’Ampezzo side of the Dolomites (Tre Cime di Lavaredo).
Another option is to fly to Milan and pick up your rental car from either one of its airports. The drive towards the Dolomites is a little longer from here but you’ll have the chance to pass through the beautiful area of Trentino which gets often overlooked by people. This is also where you’ll find the stunning Hotel Chalet Al Foss.
A third option is to fly into fair Verona, this is the best option if you want to start you road trip with exploring the area of Alpe di Suisi.
Tips for driving in the Dolomites
Watch out for cattle – During your drives in the Dolomites you’ll probably bump into some “wildlife”. Farmers tend to use the roads to move their sheep, donkeys, cows, goats, etc… from one piece of land to the other. If you see a lot of droppings on the road in front of you lower your speed a little. And if a group of animals like this needs to pass you by it’s best to simply stop the car.
Toll roads – There are a couple of toll roads in the Dolomites, the most famous one being the one leading up to rifugio Auronzo. A lot of times these places only accept payment by cash so make sure you always carry enough Euros with you. For instance the price for the road up to the Tre Cime costs €30 for a regular car.
Getting gas – Gas stations often will not take American credit cards. They do however accept Mastercard and Visa. If you don’t have either of these make sure to bring enough Euros with you. Payment is usually done inside of the gas station itself.
Google Maps – For navigating around the Dolomites it’s best to use Google Maps.
Tips for renting a car in the Dolomites
Credit Card – Make sure you bring a credit card with you in the same name of the person who has booked the rental car. This is very important when you pick up your vehicle so they can block the deposit on your credit card. If you don’t have a credit card with you or there’s not enough money on it you won’t be able to rent the car.
⛔️Traffic rules & regulations in the Dolomites
Speed Limit – Within towns you’ll have to drive between 30 and 50km/h while on the highway you can drive up to 130km/h
Seat Belt – You’re required to wear a seat belt at all times.
Toll – When using the highway in the Dolomites you’ll have to pay toll. Road toll can be paid in cash (Euros), with an Italian account card, by credit card or with a prepaid card (Viacard). Viacards are available with an initial credit of 25 or 50 Euros through the automobile clubs or at the Italian toll stations and service areas.
Drive on the right side – In the Dolomites people drive on the right side of the road just like in most other places in Europe.
Valid drivers license – Always check if your drivers license is valid if you’re renting a car in a foreign country. In Italy my Belgian driver’s license is valid. The country is part of the European Union. That means you may need an international license to be allowed to drive on the roads.
🚙 What kind of car do you need in the Dolomites?
You really don’t need a 4×4 for driving in the Dolomites. A lot of people think that when they go driving in the mountains they immediately need a 4×4 to do so. This is really not the case!
I’ve done all of my road trips in the Dolomites with my small Audi A1 with a manual transmission.
If you prefer driving an automatic I say go for it. It’s always a little easier if there’s a lot of traffic in the mountains and if it makes you feel more comfortable driving then you should definitely do it.
How much does it cost to rent a car in the Dolomites?
You can already rent a car in the Dolomites for only €27 per day, insurance included. But the price of a rental car totally depends on the time of year and how early you book your car. So if you already know when you’ll travel to the Dolomites it’s best to book your rental car as soon as possible. I always use SunnyCars when choosing a rental car because there’s never any hidden costs with them. Their price is transparent and everything is included. And yes, really everything you need is included in our all-inclusive car rental formula:
- Unlimited mileage and a fair fuel arrangement
- Third-party insurance of at least €7.5 million,
- Damage insurance
- Theft insurance
- Towing cost if your car breaks down
These days it’s also important that you can cancel or change your reservation without any hassle. This is also possible with SunnyCars. And yes, sometimes you pay a few euros more compared to other rental companies but at least with this one you’re certain that there are no more hidden costs.
💡 TIP – Sometimes the local rental company will try to make you pay for additional insurance. This is in no way necessary cause SunnyCars offers you full coverage.
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