Spending your summer holidays in Cortina d'Ampezzo, surrounded by the Dolomites, is an incredible experience. We live in Cortina all year round, and we'll give you sincere and disinterested advice on what to do, in the summer, in the most beautiful and famous location in the Dolomites, among infinite possibilities for fun, relaxation, nature, sport and culture.
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. May and June also are wonderful months, but in the fist part of the summer the town is pretty empy, and many activities and mountain lodges may still be closed. The same goes for the second half of September, after the schools opening.
A very important thing to know when coming to Cortina is to always bring a waterproof jacket in your suitcase. One of the peculiarities of afternoons in the mountains are heat thunderstorms, intense and generally short showers, created by the heat accumulated during the day.
It's also 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 may be cooler than you might expect, even if we are in summer.
If you are unlucky enough to find rain during your summer holidays, you can find some inspiration on how to fill your days on the page 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 though 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.
Sunbathing at Fiames
For those who enjoy mountain sunbathing, a good alternative to the Dolomite lakes is offered by the banks of the Boite stream. In Cortina there is a place called "Fiames" where the riverbank is pretty wide, making it a high altitude pebble beach. It is the ideal place for a day under the sun in the fresh air, especially with children.
In order to reach "Fiames", you may use your car, parking in one of the many parking lots available, or you may take the bus n°1 at the bus station of Cortina to the end of the line. For more information you can ask to the ticket office S.E.A.M. that is also in the bus station.
The river bank at the north of "Fiames", for almost two kilometers, one mile, are all ideal and pretty nice, you only have to find the place you like. We think the best place is the one nearby of the "baita spiaggia verde", as there are many parking lots, a bar service, and the bank is very wide. From here you can explore a bit the area, going south which is left, if you are looking at the river. If you want to take a nice walk, from there, you can take the loop of "Pian de Ra Spines". Do you want advice for a special day? Walk and then relax on the banks of the river.
If you have taken the bus, following the last part of the excursion we will describe how to reach the green beach from the bus stop, following the only road from behind Hotel Fiames that continues parallel to the state highway, in the opposite direction from which you came.
The bravest may think to do a refreshing swim in the Boite River. This may not be the best idea, as the current is very strong and the water is very cold. However, it is something that can be done, no one is forbidding you to do it.
The Boite shores are known, but they are pretty wild, so it is advisable to bring water and food from home. Remember that you are in the Park of the Dolomites of Ampezzo, so it's strictly forbidden to light fires and abandon garbage.
Former Railway Walk
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.
The route of the ex-railroad is part of the Munich-Venice bike path and is considered one of the most beautiful bike paths in the world thanks to its 560km, 350 miles, and the context in which it is inserted. 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.
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. 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 magazine 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. A cable car, in Italian, is called "Funivia".
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 "Tofane", 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 AM to about 9:30 PM 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 "Palmieri" mountain lodge at "Croda Da Lago".
- 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:
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 this page on the things to do in summer in Cortina d'Ampezzo. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read our home page, with all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo.
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