Cortina D’Ampezzo is one of the nicest places to visit in the Italian Alps, and especially in the winter.
If you are from a place like Sardinia, where winters are mild and bearable, but even if you are accustomed to the chilled temperatures of Central or Northern Europe; Cortina d’Ampezzo is a great place to visit – throughout the year, but by all means in the winter months!
Because who said that only Thailand or Mexico. are fun in the winter? After a winter wonderland trip to the Czech Republic – I decided that a winter trip to Cortina d’Ampezzo was long due. This is the perfect place to visit with family, friends, and even alone.
Continue reading this post to discover how to plan and make the most of your time in Cortina D’Ampezzo.
The Best Things To Do In Cortina D’Ampezzo
Cortina D’Ampezzo, commonly called Cortina, is known as the Pearl of the Dolomites. Located in the Italian region of Veneto, not far from Alto Adige at around 1200 meters above sea level, over the course of time, it’s become a favorite destination in the Italian Alps, not only for winter getaways, but also for hiking holidays during the spring and summer.
This lovely village is often considered the poshest destination in the Italian Alps; a luxury destination. It is not uncommon to find famous people walking around its lovely streets, shopping at designer stores and eating in the best restaurants.
Nevertheless, it is an incredibly pleasant place to spend a winter vacation, thanks to the great ski slopes that are located all around the small city; the spectacular views; the incredible selection of hotels and restaurants; and the overall fantastic atmosphere.
Continue reading to discover the best things to do in Cortina D’Ampezzo in the winter.
Nothing screams winter weekend more than skiing. Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of the top places in Italy to go skiing. There are slopes galore, for all levels, with any view, and for any weather condition.
When I visited, I was lucky to find sunny weather every day, and despite it being February it was never too cold.
When in Cortina, you can go skiing along the slopes of the Tofana – I recommend going p to Col Druscié first, and then all the way to Ra Valles. Col Druscié has lovely easy slopes, perfect for someone who is learning how to ski.
Ra Valles is more testing, but from the Rifugio – which is a great lunch spot, by the way – you can admire a spectacular view of the valley and of Cortina D’Ampezzo below.
The costs of skiing in Cortina D’Ampezzo
Renting ski equipment – consisting of skis, ski poles, ski boots and a helmet costs around €45 and there are several shops in the village where it is possible to rent. The costs go down if renting for longer periods, so that you don’t have to break the bank.
The prices of ski passes in Cortina D’Ampezzo vary depending on the season (whether it is high season, the beginning or the end of the season); the duration (one day, one week or even the whole season); and the amount of skilifts the pass is for. A one day ski pass is in the range €50. If you are spending a weekend there, definitely opt for the 2 days one which costs €96.
Walk around the beautiful village
Cortina D’Ampezzo is located in a gorgeous valley, completely surrounded by mountains. Walking around the village, and even more so outside of it, is a must – especially if you are a fan of mountain views.
The village itself is a series of lovely buildings, in perfect Dolomites style, with perfect facades and balconies; a square with a nice church and a bell tower; narrow streets with pretty cafés – just in case you need a break from the cold. There are also a couple of interesting museums to visit, such as the Great War Museum (a tour is also available).
From Cortina D’Ampezzo, a series of trails (which can also be biked) lead around the village and offer some gorgeous mountain views and some lovely views of the village. You can walk all the way past the ski jump that was used during the 1956 Winter Olympics that were held in Cortina.
GOOD TO KNOW: Not far from Cortina, you will find a couple of forts and castles in the area.
Go to Lake Sorapis
*Contributed by Lina of BucketListPlaces.com
One of the bucket list hikes that you must do when in the Dolomites is the hike to the stunning glacial lake, Lake Sorapis, which is just 20 minutes drive from Cortina d’Ampezzo. The hike winds you through some of the most incredible scenery in the Dolomites leading you to a tranquil, turquoise lake at the foot of rocky mountains – it’s great in the summer months, but quite a scene in the winter too!
There are some more challenging parts that require ascending using handrails but it is generally a moderate level hike. This trail gives you a bit of everything, from a forested paradise, to mountains, to lakes. It is a perfect introduction to the area and the mountains famous all over the world.
Once you arrive to the lake, there is a rifugio there for those that want to stay the night. You can also enjoy catching up with other hikers. Otherwise, pack a lunch and celebrate the end of the hike sitting by the cool, calm water and taking in the incredible scenery.
If there is one thing Cortina D’Ampezzo is famous for, that’s its amazing shopping, and you will definitely be tempted to go on a shopping spree. Famous designers all have a shop in this lovely small town and if shopping is not your thing, you can definitely just take a look.
Eat delicious food
A winter trip to the Italian Alps means eating good food. It’s just the way things are in this country. Needless to say, Cortina is packed with great restaurants and eateries.
For a great treat, Al Camin is the top choice. This is an upscale restaurant a bit outside the center of the village, offering traditional dishes cooked with a modern twist. The results are outstanding: full of flavor, yet delicate. There’s a great wine selection too. It’s a place where both the locals and tourists love to go.
Al Passetto is a restaurant and pizzeria located close to the center of Cortina D’Ampezzo. It’s easygoing yet classy, friendly and cozy. There is a good selection of local dishes, grilled steaks, and pizzas of course. As well as fabulous desserts.
Prosciutteria Dok Dall’Ava is a rather easygoing place to have a quick yet tasty lunch. It serves very good salads with cold cuts. It’s a good place to have aperitivo, as there’s a good wine selection.
Stay at a fabulous hotel
A proper trip to Cortina deserves a good hotel. When I visited, I treated myself to the gorgeous Ambra Cortina Hotel. It was an excellent choice.
Ambra Cortina is located in the center of the village and it is full of character. Rooms are located on 4 different levels, each one following a different style and different theme. I stayed at the nature level, where rooms are beautifully decorated in the tones of green. Mine also had a fantastic terrace. Other levels themes are theater, cinema, and fashion. I guess they reflect the essence of Cortina D’Ampezzo.
The lobby is stylish, cozy and in harmony with the local atmosphere. There’s a gorgeous fireplace, comfortable chairs, and a bar that serves homemade snacks and great cocktails.
Breakfast is served on the lower level, and there’s a lovely cold buffet which includes charcuterie, fruits, cereals as well as home made cakes and pastries. A hot brunch is also available.
Practical Information For Your Cortina D’Ampezzo Trip
How to get to Cortina d’Ampezzo
If you wish to visit Cortina, you have the option of flying into either Venice Marco Polo Airport, as well as Verona or Treviso Airport. From there, the easiest way to travel to Cortina is by car.
If you don’t wish to rent a car (you can actually easily move around Cortina and reach the slopes by public bus), you can make your way to Cortina by a combination of train and bus. Either travel to Calalzo di Cadore, which is at about 35 km from Cortina, and from there take a bus; or to Dobbiaco, from where – again – you will need to take a bus.
Packing for your winter trip to Cortina d’Ampezzo
Though I was quite lucky with the weather and never felt it was unbearably cold, I wholeheartedly recommend gearing up properly for your winter trip to Cortina – packing smartly is a must.
As I literally traveled just for a weekend, I only packed my 40 liters Cabin Zero backpack. Here’s what was inside:
- A pair of ski pants – if planning to ski during a winter vacation, these are a must. Nothing else can substitute them.
- A ski jacket – better to have one with plenty of pockets to guard important belongings such as a smart phone (taking pictures on a winter weekend is a must!), a ski pass and the very necessary chapstick and sun block.
- Ski gloves, and a pair of extra gloves to wear when in not skiing.
- A hat and a scarf – it’s easy to see why I recommend them.
- A good pair of ski socks – they make wearing ski boots much more comfortable, and when skiing on a winter weekend it is important that feet are warm!
- Thermal underwear
- A thermal top such as Maven long sleeves shirt, and on top of that wear a good thick sweater.
- A proper winter weekend calls for some going out at night, so I recommend wearing some stylish yet comfortable clothes: a pair of cozy pants; a nice flannel shirt such as Kuhl Tess Flannel ; the super warm Kuhl Alska. Top it off with a fabulous extra jacket – I love the Artik Parka by Kuhl as it is cozy, comfortable, stylish and keeps me super warm.
- A pair of good walking boots
- A pair of sunglasses as the sun reflects pretty strongly in the snow.
Have you ever been to Cortina D’Ampezzo? What did you like the most about it?
Legal Disclaimer: I was guests of Hotel Ambra for the duration of my stay, however all the views expressed in this post are mine.