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 escuirsions and breathtaking views, in an area that is unique in the world. Even those who love the mundane 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 festival or the festival of bands. In this article we will 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 offers generally 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 afternoon, but when the 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 is 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 came to visit us in the summer. We are not athletes, nor professional climbers. These are tips suited 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 if 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. Anyway you also have to consider that, if you really love the peace and quiet of the mountains, less crowded periods are the ideal months for hiking.
...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.
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.
An excursion or a hike
Could be a great vacation in the mountains without a little bit of fatigue? One of the best things about summer in Cortina, in fact, are the excursions. 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 lodge or the sandwich.
There are many excursions in Cortina, that's why we created a specific section, where we have collected the best trekking routes. You can find it by clicking here. The excursions have been divided according to the difficulty and your physical preparation. We recommend that you take advantage of the beautiful summer days and take at least one trip a day, trying to rest when the weather is not the best.(1) Mondeval, Passo Giau, Cortina. (2) The reflections on the Limo lake. (3) A climb in the middle of the mountain pines.
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 of the business activity of the lake. If you want to go on a picnic or to relax in the green, but you don't want to sit on the grass, always bring with you a 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, but we'll mention only those that have a bar or a restaurant because, nestled in the mountains, there are dozens of them.
- Lake Sorapis certainly does not need any presentation. It is 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 on foot, through a path not too difficult, but extremely busy 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. If you take the car, it is advisable to park 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 of 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 excursion. 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 old Fiames airport.
- Lake Misurina is located in the territory of Auronzo di Cadore. It is surrounded by hotels, bars and restaurants and is famous, above all, for the quality of its air, so much so 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 is 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 "relatively warmest" in the area, making it ideal for swimming. 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.(1) A closer look to Lake Sorapis. (2) Lake Sorapis and its turquoise color. (3) Pianozes restaurant reflects on the water.
The old 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 is 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 which, thanks to its 560km 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 direction along the ex-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 Jump Italy vestiges of the 1956 Olympics. If you want to continue, the road proceeds slightly downhill, alongside the state highway, until you cross Acquabona, and then it advances into the woods. Continuing on, you'll reach San Vito di Cadore, about 12 kilometers from Cortina (in this case, you can choose to return with a bus).
Walking north along the ex-railway, it is possible to see many amazing views of Tofana and Pomagagnon, until you reach the woods, then Fiames. Continuing for about 15 kilometers you arrive up to Ospitale, where there is a restaurant with the same name, and even further you can reach Dobbiaco. If you see a fountain (along the route from Fiames to Zuel there are three) you can freely drink some water, it is perfectly drinkable, but drink really slow: it is rather cold.(1) The bridge of the ex-railway of Cortina. (2) The tofane as seen from the walk. (3) Route of the former railway.
Walk from the center to "Campo"
One of the most beautiful things to do in Cortina in summer is a walk immersed in nature. One of the routes suitable for everyone without a doubt is the Former Powder Room 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 table will indicate the beginning of the walk.
The name of the road is given by an old gunpowder magazine that is located at the beginning of the walk which is now in disuse. The gunpowder magazine was built in 1859 to store gunpowder that was used to make explosive stones during the construction of tunnels and civil works and was restored in 2009. If you decide to visit it, you'll have to go through a street that looks private, passing by the yard of a veterinarian, so you might find some dogs barking. At the moment the state is not the best, when I went to visit it last time not even the smell was very pleasant. The fact that it is very out of sight makes it a possible area of "human and animal droppings", I don't know if I should suggest you to go and see it, in photos it is certainly more pleasant, but it could be interesting. For sure it's something that few people know.
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 a beautiful panoramic point, surrounded by meadows usually not very frequented and well cared for. Continuing along the road you'll reach the town of Campo di Sopra, where you can see the chapel of San Candido 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 is also possible to reach the Lake Pianozes a small lake very suggestive with service of refreshment in the periods of high season. The restaurant is of a very high level: excellent quality food with proportionate prices. If you prefer a less demanding stop, on the opposite side of the lake there is a kiosk that offers ice cream, toast and drinks, but it is open only in the peak season. If you want to return by the same route, you just have to retrace your steps, but if you reach the village of Zuel, you can go back along the railway, which we mentioned above.(1) View of Pomagagnon and Cortina d'Ampezzo. (2) The Tofane and the vast meadows. (3) The Former gunpowder that gives the street its name.
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 Alpine mountain lodge,
and have a drink while observing the breathtaking view and taking some souvenir photos. The most accessible cable car is the
(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.
As an alternative to Mount Faloria it's also possible to climb the 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, 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 the Tofana, in summer, sometimes is open to see the sunrise, that I strongly recommend, even at the cost of waking up very early.
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, sunny day.(1) The Faloria cable car. (2) The Sunrise from the Tofana. (3) Panorama from the top of Faloria.
If you have a free afternoon and you want to spend a couple of quiet hours, one of the most classic summer activities is a nice game of minigolf. Not everyone knows that, on the road leading to the ice stadium (via del Castello), there is a minigolf course with 18 holes that is also very well maintained and 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 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 much busier than the small size might suggest.
Now that you are at the minigolf, you should pay a visit to 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.(1) Some players of the Mini Golf Helvetia. (2) The exterior of the ice stadium. (3) The Mini Golf holes.
Having lunch in a lodge
When we usually think of a lunch in a mountain lodge we imagine a side activity of the mountain trip, but I assure you that in Cortina d'Ampezzo eating in a 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 very wide, here you can read a specific article we written about all you need to know about eating at Cortina's mountain lodges, or you can simply read a couple of tips beneath:
- The area of the "Cinque torri" is beautiful, you can reach it either on foot or by chairlift. The three mountain lodges in the area (Scoiattoli, Averau and 5 Torri) are very welcoming and you can eat really well.
- Alternatively, if you want to take a walk not too demanding, in summer the Mietres mountain lodge offers a beautiful sun terrace and is easily accessible.
- 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.
Many of these itineraries are described in this article we wrote about the best hikes of Cortina.
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 want to go to lunch in a mountain lodge don't forget to wear mountain shoes, call to check if they are actually open and make a reservation (not always possible, but it doesn't cost anything to ask). If you don't want to have problems with parking, we suggest you leave early in the morning.(1) Lunch at Scoiattoli lodge. (2) Eggs, potatoes and cabbage. (3) Terrace of the Faloria mountain lodge.
An e-bike ride
In this last period there is a trend, the pedal assisted bicycles, that allow riding, without too much training, prohibitive climbs and long distances. 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, I would recommend 2&2 Cortina, but there are other equally professional facilities. Always call ahead to book the bike, as there is really a high demand during good weather days.
Before you leave, let me give you a couple of tips as i?ve found myself in a bit of troubles the first time I used one:
- 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.
- 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 ex-railway (which we mentioned above) both in the direction of Dobbiaco and San Vito. Other routes to do by bike will be treated in the future, on a specific page that we'll write soon.(1) E-bike with the Faloria in the background. (2) White road by electric bike. (3) Electric mountain bike in Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Cortina Adrenalin Center
The Cortina Adventure Park is called Cortina Adrenalin Center. The name should already let you know that the experience is pretty adrenaline-pumping. You can find the Adventure Park in Locality Ronco, near the Bob Bar. Of course, 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 is 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.
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.
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 to the info point near the Comun Vecio, close to the bell tower.(1) The red train in "Via delle Guide" street. (2) The rubber wheeled train in Via del Castello. (3) Panning of the road train.
The country festivals are one of the unmissable events of the summer in Cortina. On the first Sunday of July, in Corso Italia, the town festival is celebrated, where a running race called La Corsa dei Sestieri is also held. Cortina is historically divided into six districts, called "sestieri". Among the members of the different "sestieri" there is a historic sporting rivalry, which however turns into beers and jokes at the kiosk once the different competitions come to an end. In addition to running, there are also rope pulling and stump cutting challenges.
After the festival, every weekend, one of the six districts organizes a country festival in which there is dancing, food and fun. This is an event far from the elegance and luxury that are often associated with Cortina, but if you like beer, music and country festivals, this is definitely the place for you. The country festivals open with the "Azon", on the second Sunday of July, then continue with the one of "Cadin", "Cortina", "Chiave", "Alverà" and they end with "Zuel", which always falls on 13 and 14 August. If you want to learn more about this topic, I invite you to read this in-depth article on the County festivals of Cortina(1) The feast of Zuel during the day. (2) Chickens roasting on the spit. (3) In the evening people are dancing with live music.
A walk 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, so we invite you to read our in-depth article on what to see in Corso Italia.
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 this page we have written on this topic.
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. 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 is 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.(1) Corso Italia and the bell tower in summer. (2) Half-deserted Corso Italia in Cortina. (3) The old town hall and the bell tower of Cortina.
The mountain is a place for vacation, and vacation is also fun. Returning from the excursion don'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 for a party in Cortina.(1) The Aperol Spritz, aperitif of excellence. (2) The Gin Tonic, perfect after dinner. (3) A beer and a Radler.
The original idea for this article was to write down everything we thought was interesting, regardless of the period of the year. To avoid making the page too long, however, we decided to divide it into several parts. Here we have described what to do in Cortina in summer, but do not forget to also read what to do in Cortina in winter and what to do in the surroundings of Cortina, where we describe the activities for which it's necessary to have a means of transport, be it a car or a bus.
Hoping you liked the page on things to do in summer in Cortina d'Ampezzo, before saying goodbye, we would suggest you to read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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