Cortina d’Ampezzo, or simply Cortina, is located just two hours north of Venice in the Belluno province of Italy’s Veneto region. This section of the Dolomites is one of the most spectacular hence earning the name, the “Queen of the Dolomites”. Let’s find out what to do and see here in both the winter and summer.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
You may not know that the Dolomite mountains were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 for their “outstanding natural beauty” and “geological features”. The distinctive, craggy limestone peaks are among the most recognizable on the planet. Combine that backdrop with vast alpine prairies, delightful villages, and rich cultural traditions, and you have a practically perfect destination!
When you see these majestic peaks, it’s easy to imagine why this area has been chosen several times as the scene of numerous international films. They are also a chilling reminder of the thousands of lives lost right here during World War I, known as the “White War” in these parts for the frigid conditions.
Cortina: One of the Most Popular Winter Destinations in Europe
Cortina has been a well-known winter season destination since the 1950s when it hosted Italy’s first-ever Winter Olympics in 1956. Now, Beijing has handed the torch once again to Cortina which will host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games along with Milan.
Winter sports enthusiasts flock here for the 120 km of total runs, 36 lifts, and 86 separate ski runs that span the Cortina ski area. The interconnected ski slopes of Tofane, Faloria-Cristallo, Cinque Torri-Lagazuei, and San Vito-Auronzo-Misurina are completely equipped with everything you could possibly need from ski schools, rental facilities, to runs for every level from beginners to olympians. Every winter sport you can imagine can be enjoyed here from alpine skiing to dog mushing!
Don’t think for a second that Cortina is solely a winter destination because the warmer months offer just as many adventures and sporting activities, if not even more. For the outdoor lovers among you, there are over 400 km of trails through green pastures, waterfalls, and lakes. Also famous for its via ferrata which literally means “iron trails” equipped with cables, chains, and rungs for experienced climbers. Mountain biking and cycling trails abound, many suitable for families traveling with young children. Tip: Don’t miss the Col Rosà route which takes you to the Fanes waterfalls, or the natural caves of the Tofana di Rozes.
Culture and Cuisine
You may even just want to take casual strolls in the area and enjoy the historic center, spa resorts, luxury hotels, shopping along Corso Italia, and Cortina’s incredible culinary traditions. This is a unique area of Italy in that it combines both Italian and Tyrolean traditions. Pasta dishes include canederli (dumplings), casunziei (ravioli with beetroot filling), as well as bread made from barley and buckwheat flour. Numerous food and wine tours are available year-round.
Whenever you decide to visit Cortina, we’re certain that you will be glad you did. For more information, visit Cortina’s official website.
Read about the Three Peaks of Lavaredo, another amazing destination in the surrounding Dolomites!