Spending some time in the mountains means, first of all, staying in the open air. That's why coming to Cortina d'Ampezzo and not eating in a mountain lodge, at least once, would be almost a sacrilege.
In Cortina, in fact, almost all mountain lodges, in addition to offering breathtaking panoramas, are also excellent restaurants, where you can eat refined and quality dishes.
Both if you are looking for a place easily reachable by car, or if you want to make a hike to earn your lunch, on this page you'll find the best alternatives to eating in a mountain lodge in Cortina.
Of course, a mountain lodge is not only for eating, but also for sleeping. Most of the mountain lodges that we are going to recommend also have guest rooms, or dormitories, so you can spend one or more nights in the middle of nature, close to the ski slopes or to the most beautiful excursions.
We have not received any tip, reward nor discounts to recommend them...
Before we begin we'd like to emphasize that we have really been in all the mountain lodges that we are going to recommend to you. We have eaten there, we experienced them, so we selected our favourites, those that, for one reason or another, we've honestly appreciated. We have not received any tip, reward nor discounts to recommend them. We have written this page as if we had to answer an old friend of ours who, coming to Cortina, would call us asking for advice on the best mountain lodges to visit.
If any mountain lodges are missing in our list, it's only because we didn't remember to include it, or because we didn't go there in the last few years. Finally, consider that the quality level of restoration in Cortina is quite high, even in the middle of the mountains, but they are still mountain huts. In Cortina it's quite difficult to find a place where you'd eat objectively bad, but some of the less accessible refuges may offer very simple menus and more spartan services.(1) "Malga Federa" in winter. (2) "Malga Larieto" at Cortina. (3) Mietres mountain lodge.
Before starting, allow us to give you one last piece of advice. If you are coming on vacation during peak season periods, it's always a good idea to try to make a reservation, whenever possible.
In case that reservations are not accepted, try to be in place before 12 AM, to try to anticipate the crowd and avoid long waits.
If you've made an excursion, always bring a snack with you: it may help if you are "starving" while you wait for a table to free up.
Before planning an hike in the low season, it's always a good idea to call the mountain lodge to verify that it's open. If you want to know more about the tourist influx in Cortina in each month, you can read this article we wrote on the subject.
Mountain lodges near the streets
In this section we'll describe the mountain lodges that you can find on the road, or at least are very close to it. These places are ideal on days of bad weather
or when, for whatever reason, you are not too eager to walk in the mountains. Over the years many of them have become quality restaurants, but some places still
keep the atmosphere of the high mountain huts.
Between these, we certainly want to mention Malga Giau, which rises on the homonymous Giau pass and is surely one of the most rustic spaces in the valley. They serve traditional dishes in a simple but absolutely appropriate decor.
On top of the Giau pass, there are the Passo Giau Restaurant and Da Aurelio Restaurant, both offering a breathtaking view. You should know that da Aurelio the level is quite high, both as a peculiarity of the dishes and as prices. We suggest you reach the top of the Giau Pass even if you are not planning to eat in the restaurants, because it's really worth it.
You can also stop a little lower in the Giau Pass, to the Malga Peziè de Parù, a mountain lodge built on a beautiful pasture, very suitable for those with children.
If, instead, you prefer to travel to another mountain pass, you could choose the nearby Falzarego Pass. Also here you'll find beautiful and easily accessible restaurants: the Locanda del Cantoniere and Baita Resch, which is located directly on the ski slopes, that are beautiful meadows in summer. For those who want to travel a little more up the road, the Rifugio Col Gallina is a mountain lodge that also offers an incredible service: you can stay overnight in the Starlight Room. It's a charming, super exclusive and solitary room with a 360° view of the Dolomites and the starry sky.
Of course, the restaurants and shelters that stand in the immediate vicinity of a road doesn't end here, there are also El Brite de Larieto and the Rio Gere Restaurant, that are located along the Tre Croci Pass. Both of them are very popular, in summer as well as in winter.(1) Beer and pressed dumplings. (2) A plate of tagliata. (3) A dessert in the Refuge
Before concluding we would like to mention a place that is special not so much for the view, but for the story it tells.
The Rifugio Ospitale is one of the oldest buildings in the area, and one of the oldest inns in the world. Now it is completely restructured with a nice mountain decor, but it has been historically operative since the 11th century, over 1000 years ago. If you visit the restaurant, remember to take a look at the beautiful tiny church of Ospitale, which preserves the original structure supporting the roof dated 1200, one of the oldest in Italy, with over 800 years of history.
Mountain lodges with short walk
Here we have collected all the refuge in Cortina d'Ampezzo that are reachable with a walk, but always without exaggerating. These are hikes that can be done by anyone, as long as they are normally trained and healty. If you really don't feel like walking, in the more touristic months there is generally a jeep taxi service, but we always recommend to verify before contacting the mountain lodge, the actual availability. Even if these are short excursions, we recommend bringing with you a backpack with some water and some snacks.
The first place we'd like to tell you about is the Rifugio Mietres, easily reachable from the car park located at Guargnè or from Larieto. Mietres offers good cuisine, a terrace with a breathtaking view and can be reached quite easily.
The second refuge we want to recommend is definitely Malga Federa, that can be reached from the or from Parù de Col parking, just above the Pianozes restaurant. In this case it will be necessary to face a definitely more challenging, but very beautiful, walk with arrival at the mountain lodge.
The third mountain lodge that we want to recommend is the Rifugio Dibona. It's the starting point for many excursions and it's great for both eating and having fun. It's really loved by residents, partly because it's fairly quick to get to. Alternatively, another popular refuge is Malga Ra Stua, easily accessible from the Sant'Uberto car park. This is the ideal place for those who have children, as it stands on a pasture where there are cows and other friendly animals.
The last two mountain lodges that we want to suggest to you, for this chapter, are both reachable from the same
parking on the Falzarego Pass.
They are the Rifugio cinque Torri and the
The road starts from the parking lot and, in about an hour's walk, will take you to the base of the Five Towers, in italian "Cinque Torri". Them are an iconic and beautiful mountain formation, at whom base stands the homonymous Rifugio Cinque Torri, open only in summer, which offers a very genuine menu with local products.
If you have enough energy left, you can continue for another hour or so, to reach the Rifugio Averau, where we suggest you stop for eating, because it's a classy restaurant at high altitude, with a crazy panorama. If you'd continue for another 40 minutes, you'd reach Rifugio Nuvolao, but it's far enough to deserve to be described in the next chapter.
Don't worry, we have not forgotten about the historic Rifugio Scoiattoli, but we'll talk about it later, in the section about the mountain lodges on the ski lifts. It must be said that the excursions, both towards the Nuvolao and towards the Averau, can be shortened a bit if you start from the arrival of the chairlift of the Cinque Torri.
The last, but not least, is the Rifugio Lago d'Ajal, an evocative restaurant on the shores of the lake. The structure has just been restructured and the management has also been changed. The refuge can be easily reached on foot from the Pianozes Lake, but if you want to extend the excursion a little bit, it is also possible to walk from the center of Cortina to Pianozes Lake.(1) Eggs and potatoes with capucci. (2) Ajal Lake Restaurant. (3) Gnocchi with trout from the Ajal Refuge.
Refuge with longer hikes
In this section are collected all the mountain lodges that need a longer excursion to be reached. It's necessary to have a good training in order to get there.
These excursions are recommended for those who are used to walking in the mountains, or at least for those who want to try it.
If you are inexperienced, we suggest you click here, to read our article for novice hikers.
The first mountain lodge is Rifugio Palmieri at "Croda da lago", which stands on the shores of one of the most beautiful and characteristic lakes of Cortina. It can be reached from the "Parù de Col" parking and is located on the same road that leads to Malga Federa, from which you must continue walking for about 40 minutes more. Alternatively you can start from the Rucurto bridge, which is located on the road to the Passo Giau. If you have a chance to visit "Croda da Lago" in the fall, it is breathtaking, but you should first call to check if the refuge is open.
We have already mentioned, previously, the Rifugio Nuvolau, this is the first refuge built in the Ampezzo valley.
It can be reached in about an hour and a half, proceeding from the road that leads to the Rifugio Averau and offers an incredibly complete panorama of the valley. It has recently changed management.
Another very characteristic refuge is the Rifugio Biella. It's a very rustic stone building that stands on the upland of Sènes and Fòses, a surreal and almost "lunar" territory.
If you want to explore the Tofane mountains, there are two very beautiful mountain lodges, very popular between climbers and mountaineers: the Rifugio Pomedes and the Rifugio Giussani. Both of these structures offer a breathtaking view of Cortina.
All of the mountain refuge of this chapter are placed in fairly inhospitable locations, especially for supplies, so it's likely that the dishes you'll be served will be a bit simpler than the others. Don't worry, the panorama will overcome that tiny annoyance.
Mountain lodges on the ski lifts
The mountain refuge placed on the ski lifts, or in the immediate vicinity, are perfect for those who want to have a high altitude experience, but don't want to walk a lot up the mountain. These places are great for organizing elegant events, for the elderly, for those who can not easily walk or for those with skis on their feet. Access is free and is not limited to the users of the ski lifts. All these places are also accessible by excursions more or less easily.
The first mountain lodge we want to talk about is the Rifugio Faloria, which rises on the top of the mountain of the same name. It offers a splendid panoramic view of Cortina d'Ampezzo. The refuge can be easily reached using the Faloria Cable Car or walking up the panoramic path Dolomieu, starting from the big parking area of Rio Gere.
As an alternative to Mount Faloria, it's also possible to climb the Tofane with the brand new cableway Freccia nel Cielo. Upon arrival on Col Druscié you'll be welcomed by the Masi Wine Bar and the "Col Druscié" Restaurant.
If you want to reach the area of the Five Towers, but you don't want to walk, you can take the 5 Torri chairlift, which leads directly to the Rifugio Scoiattoli, one of the most frequented places, both in winter and in summer, that's also famous for the spectacular parties at the end of the season and for the summer concert.(1) The terrace of Rifugio Faloria. (2) Potatoes and cabbage. (3) A dessert at Malga Maraia.
The last, but not the least is the Rifugio "Lagazuoi", the one at highest altitude among all, in the Ampezzo valley, and also the largest. It can be reached by the namesake cableway, starting at the top of the Passo Falzarego, or with an hard excursion of about 2 hours. Alternatively, you can also get there along the Lagazuoi Tunnels, a steep and challenging gallery dug during the First World War, to undermine the Austrian military posts.
Sleep at a mountain lodge
Can you imagine waking up surrounded by nature, having a hearty breakfast and being immediately ready to go on a hike, with the crisp air of the early morning helping you to wake up? Sleeping in a mountain refuge is a special experience, even for those who usually live in the mountains, so try to imagine what it can mean for those who live in the city.
If you have a chance to plan at least one night in a mountain lodge, do it...
Most of the mountain lodges we have listed in this article offer overnight accommodation. If, during your vacation, you have the opportunity to organize at least one night in a refuge, do not hesitate, do it. Surely the comforts will not be exactly the same of a hotel, maybe your sleep will be disturbed by those who wake up at night in your same dormitory, maybe you'll have to share the bathroom with other people, but I can assure you that these annoyances will be amply rewarded by what awaits you at the morning, when you wake up. Some experiences can't be described, you have to live them.
Go down by sled
During the winter holidays it's possible to organize fun sled rides from the mountain lodges to the valley. In Cortina there are at least four structures that allow this type of activity, we are talking about the Federa, Dibona, Mietres and Ra Stua mountain lodges. All the locations have specifically structured trails for the descent with the snow sled, as it's not possible to use the ski slopes dedicated to skiers for this purpose. If you are not very trained, or you don't want to struggle, in the evening it is possible to call the refuge and organize the ascent with snowmobiles. If you decide to come back with the sled at night, always remember to bring with you a headlamp, with spare batteries. Also try to use pants with elastic on the ankle, if you don't want to find your legs full of snow. To explore the topic further, we recommend you read our page on the best winter hikes to the mountain refuge.(1) Sleds parked waiting for the pilots. (2) Sledding at Malga Federa. (3) A group of friends sledding.
Before concluding we would like to give you one last piece of advice. If you want to happily end a ski trip or an excursion, drinking a few beers in the sun is always a pleasure. After the beer, a grappa is a must, but remember that if you have to go home, Going down in altitude quickly, generally, makes the drunk go up just as quickly. Party responsibly.
Many of the mountain lodges we mentioned are open year-round. The proximity to the ski slopes or the possibility to walk along the snow-covered slopes allow a constant influx, but the most inaccessible realities remain closed during the winter months. If you want to know what excursions to do in winter in Cortina, we recommend you to read this page.
Hoping you liked the page on eating at a mountain refuge, before saying goodbye, we would suggest you to read other articles we wrote about what you can do in Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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