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Road Trip to Dolomites from Poland - How to Plan you trip

Dolomites Photography

I would say that I'm a fine driver, but I'm not a professional when it comes to driving in highly elevated places. Traffic on steep slopes and starting from a hand break - those are two things which still give me chills. But things like these weren't my only worries during our road trip to Dolomites from Poland.

Road Trip to Dolomites from Poland

After analyzing all available transportation options, it became clear to me that a car is the most reasonable one for this trip. Our trip started in Torun, which is in center Poland, from there we were heading to Ortisei in Italian Southern Tyrol. It was over 1300 kilometers one way. Before our trip we had checked google maps, there were two options for us to choose: the boring but fast one, through German highways:

Torun - Berlin - Munich - Innsbruck - Ortisei,

or a bit slower but more exciting one through Czech Republic and Austria:

Torun - Katowice - Brno - Vienna - Salzburg - Innsbruck - Ortisei.

There was actually one more option to go: through Graz in Austria. But we dropped this idea right away due to the mountain terrain, which we preferred to avoid. So we did. So we chose the road through Czech Republic, with a stop in Brno, which was our halfway point. We thought it would be a great place to recharge our batteries and continue the road next day. We were also considering taking the first option with a stop in Munich but it came up that the "Czech Republic" variant was more affordable. It was worth to add an extra 100 kilometers to our road and stay in Czech overnight than shorten the road by 30 minutes and go all the way through Germany. Anyway, at the very end we didn't stay in any of these two, but I will tell you about it later :)

Just to be sure that we wouldn't get lost, we downloaded a free navigation app Sygic, which allows you to download maps and use them offline. It's a great app. Came up super useful.

Map of Dolomites Road trip from Poland

Vignettes before Road Trip to Dolomites

We took off very early which allowed us to get to Polish-Czech border just about noon. Drive through Poland took us longer than we expected because of some maintenances on a 100 km piece of the highway. If I knew about that before leaving, I'd definitely choose the road through Germany. At least there was no toll fee to pay. Talking about fees, highways and some of the main roads in Czech and Austria require purchasing vignettes.

The most comfortable way to purchase a vignette for Czech is buying it from the official website. The vignette starts working right after your purchase. Having a valid vignette is verified by a monitoring system on highways and patrol cars.

You can purchase Austrian vignette online from the official website. Therefore, vignettes purchased online are only valid from the 18th day after purchase. The other places to purchase vignettes are gas stations in a close distance from the border on both its sides. Just to be sure we're doing everything correctly, we bought ours still being in Czech, on a gas station about 20 kilometers away from the border.

Driving in Czech Republic

It's necessary to know that drivers in Czech Republic are required to have a warning triangle, high visibility vest, fire extinguisher, first-aid kit and a backup set of bulbs and fuses in their cars at all times. Czech Police is known for being strict to drivers passing over speed limits. While driving through Czech Republic we felt like going in slow motion, as all the drivers respectively kept their speed right under the limit which made all the cars go within the same speed, just like a disconnected train.

Road number 1 from the Polish border to Brno has a break in the middle, near Olomouc. Because of that we had to drive through some small towns. It slowed us down a little but we really enjoyed driving there anyway. As we got to Brno though we decided to change our plans. We weren't tired yet and it wasn't dark so we thought that it would be fine to drive a bit longer and have our stop further on the way.

The Road to Dolomites from Poland
The Road to Dolomites

Driving to Dolomites from Poland

Driving in Austria

The highway A5 started just few kilometers away from the border with Czech Republic. It took us to Vienna's bypass road, from where we got to smaller, intercity roads and then to St. Pollen.

Driving in Austria was much fun. It's amazing how many beautiful things and magical views we saw straight from our car windows. As we just crossed Austrian border we knew right away - we are in Austria! Everything around us had Austrian vibe: cute small houses with bright flowers, perfectly cut grass on the fields and of course cows! Those lovely peaceful animals walking along the roads, keeping themselves busy looking for fresh green grass.

From St. Pollen we headed along the A1, which took us all the way to Salzburg where we decided to stay. For a decent price of 100€ we booked our last minute stay in FourSide Hotel. And it was a great decision as the hotel is located right on the exit to A1. So we stayed there for a night. After a long ride we needed to charge our energy and have a good rest.

Hallstatt Photography
My photo from Hallstatt in 2023

Just an hour drive from Salzburg lays Austria's most famous town Hallstatt. Unfortunately, that evening we got an awful weather. It was very foggy, we knew that it would be impossible to enjoy Hallstatt's beauty. So we decided to skip visiting it. It was a disappointment for us, but on the other hand, we used that evening to have a great rest which we needed and next morning we got an amazing breakfast. Full, energetic and excited we were ready to hit the road to Dolomites!

The fastest way from Vienna to Innsbruck is the one through Germany. As we wanted to avoid all difficult mountain roads, going through Germany was a no-brainer for us. The highways in Germany are very well maintained and most importantly - FREE. If you have a bit of spare time on your way, I recommend you to visit the nearby Berchtesgaden National Park, with its famous mountain lakes. Believe me, you won't regret it!

After reentering Austria we followed road 45 to Innsbruck. The highway in the city is secured by massive noise barriers, so if you are planning to enjoy the view of the city from the car - change your plans and make a stop in the city, otherwise - it's impossible.

Serpentine Roads in Dolomites
Serpentine Roads in Dolomites

Driving in Italy

Just like in Poland, there's no vignette system in Italy. So we had to stay in a long line to pay the road toll right after entering the country. After paying the fee we were able to access road 22 to Bolzano. In 30 minutes we left road 22 and got to our way to Val Gardena, which was our final destination.

Summary of our Road Trip to Dolomites

I was positively surprised how well prepared are mountain roads in Italy. All the roads connecting small cities in Southern Tyrol are very wide and very well maintained. Even on the most curvy roads you can drive about 50 - 70 km/h. Driving through Italy was just a pleasure: high quality roads + the most beautiful landscapes in the world made our trip unforgettable.



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