In the immediate vicinity of Cortina there are some places that are really worth visiting. These are peculiar towns or very picturesque destinations, which are located in the surroundings of the Pearl of the Dolomites.
In this article we are going to recommend some of these locations, that are only a few kilometers away from Cortina, but that would be a real shame not to see at least once in a lifetime.
All places can be easily reached by car, sometimes by bus, and are less than an hour's drive away, as long as there is no traffic.
... Cortina and its surroundings are a destination of heavy tourism...
When you decide to organize an out-of-town trip, always remember that, at certain months, Cortina and its surroundings are a destination of heavy tourism, which sometimes causes some inconveniences, related to traffic.
Depending on the time of year you decide to visit, you'll have very different experiences. In low season you can move around comfortably, with little traffic and almost absolute certainty of finding parking, but in July, August, December and January there are often slowdowns due to traffic jams and lack of parking spaces.
Try to be smart when you plan the day, with an early morning departure and return before the late afternoon mess.
In the busiest months always try to make reservations by phone call as soon as possible, if you decide to eat somewhere, at least when possible. If you have not made a reservation, try to find a table before 12 PM, as from 1 PM to 2 PM it may be quite difficult to find a free seat.
The same is true in the evening when, after 8 PM, restaurants are almost always full. On the other hand, if you are planning your trip during a low season month, always call to verify that the places are actually open, so you can avoid nasty surprises.
Speaking about bus tickets, we suggest reaching the ticket office in the station of Cortina to buy the tickets and gather all the information you may need.
If you decide to use public transportation, always check that the area is served, because some rides exist only at certain times of the year.
Lake Braies is one of the most photographed Dolomitic lakes in the world. Much of its notoriety is due to its unquestionable beauty, although the italian television series "Un passo dal cielo" (One step from Heaven) has certainly contributed to making it an almost a "pilgrimage" place for lovers of the series and Instagram influencers.
Surely the overtourism has made this place lose some of its magic, but if you have the opportunity to visit it in the low season, perhaps on a working day, it's still possible to perceive a good part of the peace that this place emanates.
Obviously if you are on vacation in August you have no choice, so simply accept that you'll find more people than you might want. Despite these small problems, Lake Braies is still a wonderful place that I strongly recommend to visit at least once in your life.
In peak season the access road to Lake Braies gets closed once the parking lot is full. To avoid any problems it is advisable to book a parking spot in their website www.prags.bz, to have guaranteed access to the paid parking lot. If you decide to park along the street, be aware that you are very likely to receive a ticket or the removal of your vehicle if it disturbs the traffic. If you would like more information about Lake Braies, please read our in-depth article below:
Just 15 kilometers from Cortina you can visit one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Italy, on whose shores are reflected the Three Peaks of Lavaredo, Mount Sorapis and Mount Cristallo. We are talking about Lake Misurina which, with its 2.6 km perimeter, is the largest alpine lake in the Dolomites.
In addition to a splendid panorama, Misurina also offers exceptionally clean air, so much clean that along its shores has been built the Pio XII institute, the only center in Italy specialized in the treatment of childhood asthma without medicines, but only with the help of mountain air and contact with nature.
In order to reach Misurina you have to take your car and go through the Tre Croci Pass, which will guarantee you a wonderful view of the Tofane and the Cristallo mountains. In about 30 minutes you'll travel the 15 kilometers that separate you from the lake. Once arrived, you can take a fantastic walk along the shores, have a drink in one of the local bars or eat something in a typical restaurant.
Although the lake is swimmable, we strongly recommend you to check the temperature before entering, as it's usually very cold. During the summer period it is possible to rent a pedal boat or a rowing boat to cross the lake. If you want to know more, you can read our article beneath:
Sunset in Giau pass
Photographers from all over the world come to Cortina to photograph the Giau Pass. There's a reason it has been cited among the most scenic roads in Europe.
If you pass through Cortina and you have a car, the sunset from here is a must. I suggest you plan the trip on a nice sunny day, with the departure time a little bit before dusk. From the center of Cortina it takes about 30 minutes with normal traffic, but in peak season it's better to consider more time. To know the exact time of sunset, I leave you this very useful link. Try to be there a little before the indicated time, so you can enjoy all the shades of the sunset.
Once you reach the summit you can stop in the big parking lot, or walk a little and enjoy an even better view. The colors that you can see during the sunset in Giau pass are breathtaking, at the beginning the colors go from blue to red, but with the advance of the twilight it is possible to see also green and violet shades. Personally I suggest stopping at least until the stars appear, which from the top of a mountain pass are indescribable.
Remember to dress well and take an extra jacket, as in the high mountains temperatures drop very quickly.
We also recommend that you bring some water, even if there is a very nice bar and hotel right on top of the pass, but in some months of low season it may be closed.
If you're lucky enough to visit Cortina in autumn (from October 15 to November 15) the larch trees along the Giau pass turn yellow and orange, creating an even more striking panorama. Seriously, trust me, if you come in the fall and do not visit the Giau Pass, you will have something to regret.
Military memorial at Pocol
The Military Memorial at Pocol is clearly visible from most of Cortina, but is rarely visited by tourists. Probably the main reason is the total lack of advertising, even if it's actually a very suggestive and interesting place. A rainy day may be ideal to visit this monument, that can be seen any time of the year, except during a heavy snowfall, due to the road to reach it, that is relatively steep.
The opening hours are from 9 AM to 12 PM and from 2 PM to 5 PM, except on Mondays and public holidays, when it's closed. To reach the war memorial it's better to take the car, driving in the direction of Passo Falzarego, until you reach the locality of Pocol, about 5 kilometers from the center. After parking the car in the large parking lot you'll have to walk about one hundred meters before you reach the ossuary.
The military memorial of Pocol was erected in 1935 by the engineer Giovanni Raimondi and consists of a large stone tower that contains the remains of 9,707 Italian soldiers, of which 4,455 are unknown. I assure you that walking along the tombstones inside the building makes quite well the idea of the sacrifice of human lives that the war required. Once you have visited the inside it's possible to take a walk outside, where are exhibited some demilitarized cannons, some ammunition and the tombstones in memory of the fallen.
On the way back, returning to Cortina, you'll cross a small tunnel in the rock. I recommend you to park in the small parking lot, just ahead on the right to enjoy the incredible panorama of Cortina. Not for nothing this location is called Belvedere, which means beautiful view.
If you would like more information about the Pocol military memorial, please read the page we wrote on the topic below:
The Three Peaks of Lavaredo
The Three Peaks of Lavaredo, in Italian "Tre Cime di Lavaredo", are one of the things that should be seen at least once in a lifetime. They represent one of the most iconic views of the Dolomites and can leave even the most insensitive of the observers breathless. The Tre Cime can be easily reached by car or by bus, but due to the high influx of tourists and the limited availability of parkings, if you decide to use the car, we suggest you leave very early in the morning, especially from mid-July to the end of August. Reaching the Auronzo mountain lodge requires a toll of approximately 30€, including parking for the whole day. Alternatively, there are several hikes to reach the Tre Cime walking, all of which are quite long.
Once you reach the parking lot you can choose different itineraries to visit the Tre Cime area, from a simple walk of a few kilometers to a hike lasting several hours. Choose however adequate equipment, it's an excursion in the mountains, so remember to bring a backpack with water, something to eat if you run out of energy, dress appropriately and wear sturdy and comfortable shoes.
Some routes are less touristy and also involve the use of carabiners and climbing harnesses, but you can avoid those paths. The Three Peaks area is served by three mountain lodges and an alpine hut, so it's up to you if you want to eat there or bring something.
If for some reason you can't get to the Three Peaks, you can reach a viewpoint and see them from a distance. The most accessible from Cortina is on the Giau Pass in the direction of Dobbiaco, near Lake Landro. Right next to the road you'll find a curiously shaped structure, which is the viewpoint. However, consider that the perspective is not ideal and the distance certainly does not do justice to this spectacle. Try to go and see them up close, it's worth it.
If you would like to explore this topic further, please visit the page we made on the Three Peaks of Lavaredo, you will find it below:
The murals of Cibiana
The town of Cibiana is a picturesque village of about 400 inhabitants in the center of Cadore, known for the over 50 murals painted on the facades of its houses, which depict mainly scenes of traditional mountain life.
The tradition of murals was born in the 80s, when the current president of the "pro loco" (a non-profit organization involved in the promotion of tourism), and a local artist, created the first fresco with the aim of enhancing and introducing Cibiana to tourists, preserving the historical memory of the place. The houses with the representation of the old arts and crafts are in fact very old buildings, originally inhabited by the worker represented in the murales: the blacksmith painted on the old house is where the metal was forged, etc...
In order to reach Cibiana from Cortina, you need to drive along the Cadore until you reach the crossroads of Zoldo Alto, located just after the village of Peaio. The distance to cover is about 33 kilometers, with an approximate travel time of 50 minutes, traffic permitting. If you want to know more, we invite you to visit the page we wrote about Cibiana di Cadore and its murals.
Great War Museums
Cortina has been the location of strong wartime conflicts during the First World War. The areas where the front extended were mainly those between the "Cinque Torri" (Five Towers) and the Lagazuoi, where many galleries and trenches were dug to protect the soldiers from enemy fire, and to try to sabotage the adversary positions. A large part of these works are today part of the open-air museums of "Lagazuoi", "Cinque Torri" (Five Towers) and "Sass de Stria" (Stone of Stria).
If you want to live the history, imagining to relive the conditions that the soldiers were forced to suffer, we suggest you plan a trip to the areas of the Great War.
The most accessible museum, easily reachable by car, is the "Forte Tre Sassi", easily reachable by car, which hosts a collection of weapons and equipment of the soldiers and the front, as well as some objects of common use in the Dolomite front.
The second option is located near the "Rifugio Scoiattoli", easily reachable also by chairlift, where the Open museum "5 Torri" (Five Towers) has been created. Here you can visit the places where the soldiers lived and ate during the war. It's also free of charge.
For those who want a slightly more challenging experience, you can walk the tunnel of the subpeak of "Lagazuoi". The tunnel has been dug by Italian soldiers to undermine the Austrian positions. For those who are not too trained it is advisable to go up by cable car and descend along the path, which however is rather long, challenging, steep and slippery. For those who have a good training it's possible to do the opposite route, going up from the Falzarego pass along the tunnel. Remember that this is a "via ferrata" (iron path), so a helmet, a head flashlight and appropriate clothing are strongly recommended.
House of Titian at "Pieve di Cadore"
"Tiziano Vecellio", known as Titian in English, has been one of the greatest Venetian painters of the 1500s, an undisputed master of the Venetian Renaissance. Thanks to his ability to paint light and color in a refined way, he became one of the most famous and recognizable Italian painters in the world.
While everything has been written about Titian's life, many doubts arise about his actual date of birth. What we do know for sure is that he spent a few years of his early childhood in Pieve di Cadore, a village where his family owned property and where the Museum of the Birthplace of Tiziano Vecellio, a perfectly preserved building where you can see how they lived in that ages, as well as some manuscripts and reproductions of the works of the Great Master.
In addition to Tiziano's house, Pieve di Cadore also houses an interesting eyeglass museum, where it is possible to discover the origin of this corrective tool and the history of eyewear in Cadore, the undisputed kingdom of this industry, where most of the world's most famous glasses in the world has been created.
Pieve, however, is not only museums, with a short walk you can visit the Panoramic terrace on the lake of Cadore, a stunning view that is located in the Roccolo park, from which it's possible to see a beautiful panorama of the lake and of the Cadore valley.
From Cortina it's possible to reach Pieve di Cadore in about 30 minutes by car, or you can choose one of the many buses that make this route.
Before concluding this chapter, we want to tell you a little curiosity, which could make more than a few people turn up their noses. There is a theory, supported by enough evidence, saying that Tiziano was not born in Pieve di Cadore, but rather in "Campo", a district of Cortina d'Ampezzo. If you want to deepen this theory, I invite you to read the article, in italian, on the website venetostoria.com.
If you happen to pass through "Campo di Sotto", stop for a moment and look at the "Hotel Tiziano". This large building, which has been closed for many years, takes its name from the painter Tiziano, thanks to the legend that says that the painter was born in this location. Who knows... maybe it's true.
Other must read articles
This page is a collection of articles about the best things to do in the surroundings of Cortina, but it's not the only "must read" page of our website.
The first article we recommend is a page related to this one, in fact it's about the things to do in Cortina, in the different seasons:
We also want to recommend reading our article about the experiences, in order to live Cortina at its best, things such as eat, have fun, party and sport. You can read it below:
Another important article is about some general information of the town. Things such as our history and traditions, but also useful information about parking and touristic flow. You can click it below:
The last article we want to suggest is about the best hikes routes of our amazing valley, don't miss it and click beneath:
We hope you liked this page on what to do 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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