The Great Dolomites Road

The beauty of the Dolomites

For a long time only a few of the numerous valleys in the Dolomites were connected by a road. The narrow canyons and inhospitable conditions created serious problems for the road builders. It was not until the mid 19th century that they found out how to connect the valleys by roads and bridges and make them traversable. The Viennese Dr. Theodor Christomannos first had the idea to connect the former Austrian Dolomites with a single road – the foundation stone of the great Dolomites Road was laid, which leads today through the most beautiful regions of the Dolomites.

Great Dolomites Road Paradise for bikers

On the Great Dolomites Road

The Great Dolomites Road runs through the Dolomites from Bozen to Cortina d’Ampezzo. The Great Dolomites Road project started at the end of the 19th century after trying for several years to cross over the canyons of the Eggental Valley using suspension bridges. The originator of the project was the Viennese Dr. Theodor Christomannos, who first proposed to connect the Austrian Dolomites with a road. In 1896 the road from the Eggental Valley to the Karerpass was fully developed and, since 1909, the 110-kilometres long road has run from Bozen over the Eggental Valley to the Fassa Valley in Trentino and further on to Veneto and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Great Dolomites Road Beautiful panoramic roads

Route guidance: Great Dolomites Road

Anyone driving along the Great Dolomites Road is advised to begin in Bozen. The road is very well developed and paved. However, it is very curvy with a maximum gradient of 12% and requires concentrated driving. For teams, the route is only partly recommended because the streets are very narrow and confusing, especially from the Fassa Valley onwards. Numerous viewpoints and parking areas allow a panoramic view of the surrounding Dolomites:

  • The tour starts in Bozen in the direction of the district of Kardaun, where the road SS241 turns off to the Eggental Valley.
  • Along the steep gorge of the Eggental you drive to Welschnofen, where you have a wonderful view of the Rosengarten.
  • Continue to Lake Karersee, a favourite haunt of the Austrian Empress Elisabeth (Sissi). Extremely crowded – but worth a little walk around the small lake with its magnificent mountain panorama of the Latemar.
  • Over the Karerpass you finally reach the Fassa Valley in Trentino. In Vigo di Fassa you turn left onto the SS48, where you drive along the many resorts to Canazei.
  • From Canazei, continue on a steep winding road up to the Pordoi Joch (Passo Pordoi). It is on the border with Veneto and offers a beautiful view of the Marmolada, the Rosengarten and the Sassolungo.
  • Now drive further in Veneto on the SR48 through Arabba and Buchenstein to the next steep mountain pass leading up to the Passo di Falzarego: a great stop for visiting the museum and the battlefields of World War II.
  • From the Passo di Falzarego you finally drive down the valley to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

One should budget at least a full day for the 110-km-long route as it’s always worth looking at the panorama of the surrounding mountains or taking a little walk. Almost all of the major peaks of the Dolomites can be seen from the Great Dolomites Road. Anyone with the time should stop often along the route and climb up the summit of the mountain with a cable car to explore and enjoy the beautiful mountain world in all its glory.

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