Cortina d'Ampezzo, also known as the Queen of the Dolomites, is one of the most beautiful and prestigious summer destinations in the world. The beautiful season allows hikers and nature lovers in search of a break from the summer heat to enjoy splendid excursions and breathtaking views, in an area that is unique in the world.
Even those who love the mundane life, in the summer, will be able to find interesting highlights for their vacations in Cortina, thanks to the many events organized, such as the country festivals or the festival of bands. In this article we'll try to recommend the most beautiful activities, in our opinion, to spend your vacation at its best in Cortina d'Ampezzo during the summer period.
... the hot weather is generally much more tolerable than in the plain...
Summer in Cortina generally offers mild temperatures with a relatively dry climate, that's why it's often chosen as a destination for those who are seeking a breath from the scorching temperatures of the cities. Some days can be torrid even in the mountains, but the hot weather is generally much more tolerable than in cities or at the sea.
One of the peculiarities of the Ampezzo summers are the heat storms: it's not uncommon to have a wonderful climate in the morning and in the first part of the afternoon but, when the late afternoon arrives, the heat accumulated during the day creates an unexpected rainstorm. Usually the rains do not last long, it's strong and short, but it's definitely a thing that you have to consider when you are planning a walk or any other activity in the mountains.
Before proceeding, consider that we'll describe the activities that we personally consider most enjoyable and relaxing, the ones we would do with a friend who has never seen Cortina if he'd come to visit us in the summer. We are not athletes, nor professional climbers. These are recommendations tailored for a family, a not too trained person or anyone looking for peace and relaxation.
Overview of the summer season
The summer season in Cortina, from a tourist point of view, is relatively short: it generally begins in July and ends around mid-September. Even though May and June are wonderful months, for several reasons, the town is not very crowded. In those two months the sea has a greater attraction, also for the residents, who generally go on vacation in May, or in the first weeks of June. For this reason remember that, in the first part of the summer, some activities or shelters may still be closed. The same goes for the second half of September, after the schools opening.
There is one thing that you have to consider: if you really love the peace and quiet of the mountains, less crowded periods are the ideal months for hiking. In June and the first weeks of July there are a lot of young hikers, many of them foreigners, that come here only to climb our mountains.
... temperatures are sometimes cooler than you might expect...
A very important thing to know when coming to Cortina is to always bring a waterproof jacket in your suitcase, because, in the mountains, it could rain at any time. It's also always a good idea to have some long sleeved clothes in your luggage, because it's not uncommon that, after a rain or in the evening, temperatures turn out to be cooler than you might expect, even if we are in summer. If the weather is not the best, remember to read the article on what to do in Cortina when it rains that you can find below:
If you are interested in better understanding the dynamics of tourism in Cortina, do not forget to read our article on seasonality and touristic flow in Cortina, month by month that you can see below:
A walk or a hike
A great vacation in the mountains can't be called so without a little bit of fatigue. One of the best things about summer in Cortina, in fact, are the walks. The mountains, whenever it's possible, should be lived in first person, breathing clean air, taking pictures and earning, with a little bit of sweat, the lunch in the mountain lodges or the sandwich.
There are many hikes that you can do in Cortina, that's why we created a specific section, where we have collected the best trekking paths. The hikes have been divided according to the difficulty and your physical preparation.
We recommend taking advantage of the beautiful summer days to take at least one walk a day, resting and shopping in the evening or when the weather is not the best. Beneath you can read our article on the best trekkings:
Relax on the shores of a lake
In Cortina and its surroundings there are several lakes, which in summer become the ideal locations if you want to go sunbathing, have a drink or take a walk or a picnic. Always remember that, if there are tables, chairs or deckchairs, they are private of the business activity of the lake.
If you want to go on a picnic or you want to relax in the green, but you don't want to sit on the grass, you should bring with you a foldable chair, a blanket or a mattress and check that there are no prohibitions.
Dolomite lakes range in size from small to medium, with a few exceptions. Let's see the most significant ones, with a brief description. This is not a complete list, we'll mention only those that have a bar or a restaurant because, nestled in the mountains, there are dozens of small, almost unknown, lakes.
- Lake Sorapis certainly doesn't need any presentation. It's probably the most fascinating, well-known and frequented lake in the area, mainly for its turquoise color, which makes it an incredible jewel. It can only be reached walking, through a path that's not too difficult, but is extremely crowded and with some rather narrow and exposed points. Avoid going there if you suffer from vertigo. In the immediate vicinity, for refreshment, there is the mountain lodge Vandelli.
- Lake Pianozes is a very picturesque lake, inserted in a postcard context. Easily reachable also on foot, from Campo di Sotto, but only after a short and steep climb of about 250 meters, 0.155 miles. If you take the car, we recommend parking a little higher, on the wide parking area "Parú de Col". The lake houses a prestigious restaurant and a bar, and is the starting point for an amazing walk in the woods, towards Socol.
- Lake Ajal is located in the same area of Pianozes, but at a higher altitude. Being smaller and more isolated, it is definitely preferable for those looking for more intimacy. Also on its banks there is a very cozy restaurant recently restored.
- Lake Federa in "Croda da lago" is always in the same area, but at an even higher altitude, so as to be recommended only to those who want to make a real hike. On its banks there is the Rifugio Palmieri.
- Lake Ghedina is a marvelous place, which seems to have come out of a fairy tale. It can be reached by car or on foot, but it is a rather long walk, which starts from the former Fiames airport.
- Lake Misurina is located in the territory of Auronzo di Cadore. It's surrounded by hotels, bars and restaurants and it's famous, above all, for the quality of its air. It is so clean that the only Italian center for the treatment of childhood asthma was opened there. It is preferable to reach it by car, especially for the distance and the difference in height that separate it from the town of Cortina.
- Lake Landro is located in South Tyrol and is an enchanting lake of medium size. It can be reached both by car and by bicycle, in fact it's located on the road that connects Cortina to Dobbiaco, which is also a bicycle path. On its shores there is a very nice bar-restaurant and a small pebble beach that can be easily reached. Due to the fact that it has tiny tributaries and no outfalls, the lake is among the "warmest" in the area, making it the more suitable for swimming, even tought you need to have a thick skin because its warmth is relative, it's not warm at all. In the immediate vicinity there is also a climbing wall.
If you decide to spend a day by the lake and you want to take advantage of the bar or restaurant, always remember to check first the actual opening and availability.
The former railway that connected Cortina to Calazo and Dobbiaco was dismantled in 1964, but from its ashes was born a beautiful walk, shared with a bike path, which allows you to walk for thirty kilometers north and south, without ever encountering a steep climb or a prohibitive descent. Since the former railroad crosses Cortina in all its length, in summer, it's one of the most frequented walks in the town, both by cyclists and pedestrians.
The route of the ex-railroad is part of the Munich-Venice bike path thanks to its 560km, 350 miles, and the context in which it is inserted, is considered one of the most beautiful bike paths in the world. The route can be easily found using Google Maps, in any case, you won't struggle to find it because there are dozens of entrances all over the town.
Walking south, along the former railway, you'll find the panoramic area of Peziè and, in about 40 minutes, you'll reach the village of Zuel, where a glimpse of the Olympic Ski Jumping trampoline "Italia", a vestige of the 1956 Olympics. If you want to continue, the road proceeds slightly downhill, becoming unpaved, alongside the state highway, until you cross Acquabona, and then it enters into the woods. Continuing on you'll reach San Vito di Cadore about 12 kilometers, 7.5 miles, from Cortina. If you reach San Vito, you can choose to return with a bus.
Walking north along the former railway it's possible to see many amazing panoramas of Mount Tofana and Mount Pomagagnon, until you reach the woods. Continuing for about 15 kilometers, 9.5 miles, you will arrive at Ospitale, where there is a restaurant with the same name, and even further you can reach Dobbiaco. Along the route from Fiames to Zuel there are three fountains, if you want you can freely drink some water, it's perfectly safe, but drink really slowly: it is rather cold.
Walk from the center to "Campo"
One of the most beautiful things to do in Cortina in summer is a walk immersed in nature. There is one path that is near the center, short, panoramic and suitable for everyone. It is the Former Powder Room road, also known as via del Convento. Starting from the center, you have to go down to the Revis gym, then, keeping to the right, you'll reach the large parking lot of "Via del Parco", where a wooden sign will indicate the beginning of the walk.
The walk starts downhill, then crosses a bridge over the Boite river, after which begins a tough but short climb. At that point you'll be on an amazing panoramic road, surrounded by meadows anf, generally, not too many people. Continuing along the road you'll reach the district of Campo di Sopra, where you can visit the small chapel of San Candido,a tiny church built in the first half of the eighteenth century, as a vote against the fires, which several times have destroyed this location.
In about 20 minutes, from Campo, it's also possible to reach Lake Pianozes, a small lake very suggestive where you can also drink or eat something, but only if it's peak season. There is a restaurant of a very high level: excellent quality food with proportionate prices, but there's also a kiosk that offers ice cream, toast and drinks, on the opposite side of the lake. If you want to return by the same route, you just have to retrace your steps, but you can also reach the district of Zuel and go back along the former railway, which we mentioned in the previous chapter. If you want to learn more about this walk, we wrote a specific page that you can see below:
A cable car ride
Seeing the panorama from above is priceless, which is why we suggest you find some time to take, at least, one cable car ride during your summer stay in Cortina. If you're not a big walker, it's the fastest way to climb a mountain, giving you the chance to experience the thrill of high altitude with minimal effort.
Once you have reached the top you can also consume something on the mountain lodges on the arrival, and have a drink while observing the breathtaking view and taking some souvenir photos. The most accessible cable car is the Funivia Faloria (2,120 meters above sea level), just a short walk from Cortina train station. The cost of the ride is approximately 20€.
Right at the arrival of the cable car you can find the Faloria mountain lodge, where you can refresh yourself with a drink or a full meal or, if you are interested, spend the night there.
As an alternative to Mount Faloria it's also possible to climb Mount Tofane (3,244 meters above sea level) using the Funivia Freccia nel Cielo which, however, is not suitable for everyone. Going to 3,000 meters, in fact, could cause a minority of people some dizziness, for the reduced oxygen and vertigo. If you want, you can stop half way up, at Col Drusciè (1,778 meters above sea level), where you can find the restaurant with the same name and the Masi Wine Bar, a place where you can taste excellent wine, rigorously from Veneto, our region, at high altitude. The price of the full ride is about 30€, while for the Col Drusciè only, the price is about 15€.
The cableway to Mount Tofana, in summer, sometimes offers the opportunity to see the sunrise, which I strongly recommend, even at the cost of waking up very early. If you are lucky enough to be there on a day where it's available, you should consider it.
A couple of tips before going up the mountain: always bring a jacket, check the closing time of the cable car and do not arrive late. If you are afraid of heights, you might feel a little dizzy, but the railings are high, so you are in no danger. Needless to say, if possible, choose a clear and sunny day.
If you have a free afternoon and you want to spend a couple of hours in the name of challenge, one of the most classic summer activities is a funny match of minigolf. Not everyone knows that, in Via del Castello, the street from the center to the ice stadium, there is a minigolf course with 18 holes. It's very well maintained and it's open from 10:00am to about 09:30pm in the summer months. Rental of clubs can be done directly at the little wooden house overlooking Via del Castello, where you'll also be provided with scoreboards and minigolf balls.
In addition to the minigolf course there is also a bar, where you can refresh yourself before, during or after the game. The bar, during the summer, is a meeting point for many young locals, as it offers very competitive prices. Don't be surprised if it appears busier and louder than the small size might suggest.
Now that you are at the minigolf, you may consider visiting the nearby Olympic Ice Stadium where you can also see the Olympic brazier of the 1956 Olympics in Cortina. The brazier sits on the top of a wooden platform decorated with the five Olympic circles and is clearly visible from the parking lot outside.
Having lunch in a lodge
When we usually think of a lunch in a mountain lodge we imagine a side activity of a mountain hike, but I assure you that in Cortina d'Ampezzo eating in a mountain lodge, in most cases, is like eating at a restaurant, with the an interesting menu and the possibility to relax on the solarium terraces with an astonishing view.
The mountain lodges can be reached with long walks, but in some cases you can take a chairlift, or take their jeep, or reach them directly by car, walking only the last few steps.
Since the topic is huge, you may want to read our detailed article about the best mountain lodges where to eat in Cortina. You can find it below:
If you are not going to read the specific page above, we still want to give you a couple of recommendations:
- The area of the "Cinque torri" is wonderful, you can reach it either on foot or by chairlift. There are three mountain lodges in the area: Scoiattoli, Averau and 5 Torri. All of them are very welcoming and you will eat really well.
- Alternatively, if you want to take a walk, the Mietres mountain lodge offers a beautiful sun terrace and is easily accessible from the Brite de Larieto.
- If you want to walk a bit more, the Dibona mountain lodge is one of the most popular destinations for locals.
- Another very touristy area is Ra Stua, easily accessible both on foot and by car. Ra Stua is the starting point for many trips or walks in the pastures.
- If you don't mind the steep climbs, the "Gores de Federa" route is very beautiful and leads to the Federa mountain lodge or, continuing, to the Croda Da Lago mountain lodge.
- If you want to go to a mountain lodge for lunch, don't forget to wear hiking shoes.
- Call to verify the actual opening and make reservations. This is not always possible, but it costs nothing to ask.
Of course those listed are not the only mountain lodges in the area, but they are the most accessible and the most touristy. If you don't want to have problems with parking, we suggest you leave early in the morning.
An e-bike ride
The pedal assisted bicycles are really appreciated by tourists. A motorized bike allows anyone to ride prohibitive climbs and long distances even with a little training. Many people tend to forget that it's a sport, even though it's easier, so it's necessary to have a little bit of fitness and a minimum of balance. In the center of Cortina there are several rentals of electric bikes, each one is equally professional and with good quality products.
Always call ahead to reserve your bicycle. On sunny days there is great demand, we imagine you won't want to run the risk of being without one.
Before you get into the riding, we want to give you a couple of recommendations since, the first time we used an e-bike, we realized a couple of things we couldn't imagine:
- If you decide to go on a fairly long trip, ask the dealer for advice on battery life. Then use the "eco" mode, it costs a little extra effort, but at least you won't run out of battery halfway.
- If you've never ridden a bike or you are a little "rusty", before you turbocharge and tackle steep climbs, try to remember that you'll also have to come down.
- If you use the modes with more engine you should always be careful about the acceleration of the bike. It may make you fall backward or start forward with too much energy.
- Electric bikes are heavier than regular bikes, so they tend to pick up more speed on descents and are harder to stop, be careful.
- If you don't want to suffer too much butt pain, put on padded bike pants, and also remember to always use a helmet and bike gloves.
- Remember to always use your brain, on the roads there are also pedestrians and cars, go slow.
- Be careful also along the trails, especially downhill, as they are also frequented by hikers.
If you want to become familiar with the bike, certainly a good start is the path of the former railway, which we mentioned above, both in the direction of Dobbiaco and San Vito. If you prefer to know more about this topic, we invite you to read the page on cycling in Cortina. You can find it below:
During the summer, in Cortina, there are many events that have become a tradition. On the first Sunday of July, in the town center, the country fair takes place. A running race called "Ra Corsa dei Sestiere", translated as "the race of the districts", is also held on the occasion. Cortina is historically divided into six contrade, called "Sestieri". Between the members of the six different "Sestieri" there is a historic sports rivalry, but it turns into beers, hugs and jokes at the kiosk once the different competitions come to an end. In addition to the running race, there are also challenges in tug-of-war and stump-cutting.
After the country fair, every weekend, one of the six "Sestieri" organized a Country Festival in which people danced, ate gastronomic specialties, and had fun. The first country festival was that of "Azon", on the second Sunday in July, continuing with that of "Cadin", "Cortina", "Chiave", "Alverà", and concluded with that of "Zuel", which was always on August 13 and 14.
Unfortunately, we are forced to talk about it in the past tense because, due to a series of unforeseen events, the country festivals have been suspended at the moment. If you would like to learn more about this topic and keep up to date with the latest news, you should read our page on Cortina's country festivals:
The perfect ending of the summer season is "Ra Fèŝta de ra Bàndes". It is a music event, held at the end of August, that lasts for a week. On the last Sunday of the month the climax of the festival is the Marching Band Parade in the town center, followed by a big concert in Piazza Roma. The day continues with other activities and side events, always under the banner of music and fun.
It is one of the most loved events of the year. Many girls wear the dirndl and many boys wear the lederhosen, the traditional Tyrolean clothes. If you want more information about both the Marching Bands Festival and Cortina's musical tradition, you can read our dedicated page below:
Cortina Adrenalin Center
The Cortina Adventure Park is called Cortina Adrenalin Center. The name should already let you guess that the experience is pretty adrenaline pumping. You can find the Adventure Park in Locality Ronco, near the Bob Bar. The park is only open during the summer.
The Adrenalin Park consists of 14 courses on which you can test yourself and face obstacles that include Tibetan bridges, cables, nets, pulleys, suspension crossings and jumps into the void. It's a very fun experience where you'll spend an adrenalinic half day, always in total safety.
Because of the nature of the park, you must follow the safety instructions given by the control staff, always precise and professional. There are two types of tracks, the mini track, suitable for younger children and whose height from the ground varies from 2.5 to 7.5 meters and the adults track, where the height varies from 2.5 to 16 meters.
At the present time, the area is involved in expansion work for the Bobsled track in the run-up to the 2026 Olympics, so we cannot guarantee opening for the summer. We have contacted the facility and are awaiting an official response.
The road train of the dolomites
The Dolomites road Train of the company City Red Bus is a different shuttle service. It is, in fact, a cute red rubber train, active in the months of July and August, which allows you to visit Cortina through four scenic routes. It is active even in case of rain.
We cannot guarantee the actual presence of the road train, as it is not constant over the years, but if it's there, it should not go unnoticed.
This could be a nice activity to be done with children, but also for adults which allows you to visit the Ice Stadium, "Campo di Sotto", "Pierosà" or "Cadin". The departure is from Cortina Station or from Corso Italia, in front of the "Cooperativa". The cost of the ticket varies from 3€ to 6€. For more information you can ask at the info point, near the Comun Vecio, close to the bell tower. In the interest of fairness, we warn you that the service has not been consistent over the years, so we recommend that you inquire before promising your children a ride on the Dolomite road train.
A walk and shopping in Corso Italia
For those who visit Cortina for the first time, it's a must to take at least one walk and some shopping in Corso Italia, the beating heart of Cortina and the meeting point for guests and residents. In addition to the most fashionable boutiques and trendy places, Corso Italia has many public buildings of historical interest. If you are interested in this topic, we invite you to read our in-depth article below:
Anyway, remember to give at least a look to the Cooperativa of Cortina, to go to see the Basilica of Cortina and to go for a walk in the stores of the center. If, after all this shopping, you are a bit tired, the ideal is to drink or eat something in one of the many bars in the center. If you need to know more about the best restaurants where to eat in Cortina, we invite you to read the page we have written on this topic, you can see it below:
In Corso Italia it is not uncommon to meet some famous Italian people, especially in peak season, where vip watching is an activity practiced by some. Probably you wouldn't recognize the vips because they are Italian, but if you see any, please always try not to be impolite and leave them alone.
If you see any curious or interesting street, do not hesitate to explore them. Considering the small size of the centre, and using the bell tower as a reference, it's practically impossible to get lost. Cortina is also a very quiet place, it is extremely unlikely that you'll have any kind of problem wandering around even in the darker streets.
The mountain is a place for vacation, and vacation is also fun. Returning from the hikes doesn't let tiredness have the upper hand: there is an efficient natural remedy that alleviates all ills, it's called Aperitif. The long summer days and the hot weather bring happiness and leave you a little thirsty. Some doctors recommend a typical aperitif, called spritz Aperol, however there are alternatives: the classic Prosecco or the Americano, but I'm sure that each of you knows your ideal remedy.
What if the weather forecast for tomorrow isn't the best? Well, if there's no early wake-up call, you can go to bed a little later.
There is no shortage of clubs in Cortina, both along the center and in the middle of nature. If you want to party, you'll have a lot of options. Only one suggestion: avoid drinking too much if you are at high altitude. Among mountain people it is well known that a rapid descent of altitude usually raises the tipsiness. Of course, remember to drink responsibly: if you have to drive, call a cab. If you want more infos, you can read our page about everything you need to know to have fun in Cortina below:
We hope you liked the page on things to do in summer in Cortina d'Ampezzo. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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