Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway, or have visitors in town and are looking for somewhere to go, Cortina d’Ampezzo is the perfect place. Located at the base of the Dolomites, a mountain region in Northeastern Italy, and just a 2.5-hour drive from Vicenza, Cortina has much to offer throughout all seasons of the year. With tons of sightseeing, shopping, and plentiful outdoor activities, it has something for everyone.The most popular times to visit Cortina d’Ampezzo are summer and winter. But if you prefer to avoid the crowds, then spring and fall are great seasons as well.
Things To Do in Cortina
In the winter, there is skiing for all levels, including children. The best alpine and cross-country skiing or snowshoeing take place between December and April. You can check for more information on Dolomiti Superski. From December to January, they hold the famous Christmas Markets where you will discover wooden stands with handmade crafts, local food, and the traditional vin brule.
Whether you’re an avid hiker up for a challenge, or just want to visit the peaks of the Dolomites, Cortina is a great place to base your adventures. A favorite of mine is the Falzarego Pass and the Lagazuoi Mountain Path. There, you will encounter caves, tunnels, bunkers, and lots of steps. You will also pass through points where the Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces once tread through during World War I. Check out my post here for more pictures and details of the hiking along this route. In the summer months, Lago di Sorapis is a hidden gem. It’s just a short drive to parking from the town center. To get to the lake, you will hike through forests, by waterfalls, and around cliffs. 2.5 hours will put you at this magestic clear blue lake composed of melted glaciers in the summertime. If hiking isn’t your thing, they also have cable cars that will take you up to the peaks and back. Be sure to check local timetables for off-seasons.
Come fall, you’ll find shades of red and orange brighten up the valley roads. If you visit during October after the summer crowd vanishes, you’ll discover the Fešta del Dešmonteà in town. This is a traditional festival blessing the agriculture. Animals of all sorts, such as cows, horses, donkeys, and sheep are brought down from the Alps where they have spent their summer grazing in pastures. They will settle in the stables to battle cold winter weather. This festival includes stands of local dishes, agricultural products, handmade goods, and cheese galore. It’s a great outing for families and children as they can observe the cows dressed in their stunning floral headpieces being paraded throughout town.
There is quite a selection of places you can stay within Cortina, including hotels, hostels, or an Airbnb. We love staying in Airbnbs and our most recent experience was wonderful – located within walking distance of the town center. You can visit the place we stayed here, or check out this post for more information (and a discount) on our recent trip.
In Cortina, there is shopping to suit all needs. Known for their handmade items, you will find craft stores and artisans’ shops at almost every corner in town. This is a great place to get gifts for friends and family. Ampezzan Fiori & Casa is a fascinating home decor and gift shop. Be sure to head downstairs for even more color assorted items ideal for your home. You will also find many well-known outdoor equipment stores, such as The North Face and Patagonia, amongst other winter and ski shops throughout town.
History & Films
The quaint village is proud of their history and their ideal location at the base of the Dolomites. Scenes from famous movies were filmed in town and the mountains nearby, including Cliffhanger and the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only. Ernest Hemingway, the author of A Farewell to Arms, also spent time vacationing and writing in Cortina. Sports and outdoor activities are a major part of the vibe. They are home to SG Cortina, a top league professional ice hockey team. If you get a chance, check out the beautifully designed building, where you can go ice skating inside if no hockey games are scheduled. If you’re still in Europe in 2021, check out the Alpine Ski World Championships being held in Cortina.
No matter the time of year, Cortina d’Ampezzo has something for everyone – shopping, food, great lodging, and plenty to do. Be sure to add this town to your list of places to visit!
Have you been to Cortina? Any places we missed? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!