What to do in winter in Cortina

Winter in Cortina d'Ampezzo means sport, snow, skiing, gastronomy and fun. Let's discover together everything that The Pearl of the Dolomites has to offer to its guest in the winter season.


If you think that winter in Cortina is just skiing, you are very wrong. In the cold season the Ampezzo valley offers many opportunities for fun and relaxation between snow, sports, culture and gastronomy. We live in Cortina all year round, and we'll give you sincere and disinterested advice on what to do in Cortina in winter and how to organize your perfect holiday in the Pearl of the Dolomites.

Snowfall in Cortina, with Tofana in the background

Winter season

Cortina d'Ampezzo is one of the most prestigious ski resorts in the world. Cortina is one of the most popular winter destinations ever, thanks to the wonderful context in which it is placed. It's almost impossible to find another valley, so wide, surrounded by mountains of such beauty. Cortina has become famous in the world thanks to the 1956 Winter Olympics, so much that today it is also known as the Pearl of the Dolomites.

Snowy house of the Regole, in Cortina d'Ampezzo

Cortina d'Ampezzo, like all vacation resorts, is strongly conditioned by tourism. In the peak season, such as Christmas and New Year, prices skyrocket and to find a free room you need to book well in advance. In other periods, such as January, the town is quieter and everything is more liveable.

... Cortina is strongly conditioned by tourism...

If you want to know more about touristic dynamics, don't forget to read our article on the seasonality of Cortina during the year, you can find it below:

Tourists flow in the different seasons
Cortina's seasonality Let's discover the tourist influx to Cortina. A detailed analysis of every month of the year. Reading time: 12 min

Ski and Snowboard

Downhill skiing and snowboarding are the winter sports par excellence in Cortina d'Ampezzo: the sixtysix slopes spread for over one hundred and twenty kilometers, seventy five miles, and are served by thirty four cableways. There are also many rentals for ski equipment, mountain lodges and bars where you can rest, sunbathe, drink a "bombardino" or do some Après Ski to end the day. "Bombardino", also known as "Vov", is an alcoholic thick and sweet cream made with eggs covered by whipped cream. It's typical of the north east of Italy, and it's delicious.

A chairlift in the Dolomites ski area

Surely the most known Après Ski in Cortina is the Chalet Tofane , but also all the other bars near the ski slopes are a good choice. Here you can have a drink almost without taking off your ski boots, and then go back to skiing in no time.

The slopes are divided by difficulty, from the most accessible, to the most technical. Whether you're an experienced skier or a neophyte, you'll surely find a ski slope perfect for you.

Ski slope with Mount Faloria in the background

If you want to improve your technique, there are many ski schools, with hundreds of ski instructors for all needs.

For more information about skiing in Cortina d'Ampezzo, we invite you to read the page we wrote on the subject, but what if you don't like downhill skiing? Don't worry, there are several alternatives.

Skiing in Cortina
Skiing in Cortina d'Ampezzo Some useful tips for all those who like to spend their winter holidays with skis on their feets. Reading time: 7 min
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Cross country skiing

For those who love the contact with nature and the tranquility, cross-country skiing is more suitable than downhill skiing. In Cortina there are more than 70 km of tracks for Nordic skiing that cross the beautiful Dolomiti d'Ampezzo Natural Park along the route of the former railway or the location calledPian de Loa.

A group of boys practice

The Sport Nordic Fiames is the starting point for cross-country skiing in Cortina. On site you can buy the entrance ticket, rent the equipment and possibly ask for the help of a qualified instructor . Consider that the average cost of cross-country skiing is lower than that of downhill skiing, which makes Nordic skiing a sport for everyone.

Cross-country skiers at the Sestieri race

Some trails can be artificially snowed, but in order to find all the trails open, the natural snow cover is necessary. If you choose to ski along the route of the former railway in the direction of Ospitale it is possible to go for over thirty kilometers, around twenty miles, until you reach the village of Dobbiaco.

Mountaineering and snowshoeing

If you don't like skiing along the ski trails, there are two alternatives to practice off-track skiing: mountaineering skiing and walking with snowshoes. The snowshoes, in the local dialect, are called "ciàspes" and in italian "racchette da neve".

On mountaineering skis at Malga Ra Stua

Using one of these aids it is possible to walk out into the woods even if there is a lot of snow on the ground. When practicing these kinds of sports you have to be very careful, as deep snow changes the appearance of the woods, making orientation more difficult.

Mountaineering skiing equipment

Alternatively, with mountaineering skis and snowshoes, it's also possible to reach some mountain lodges through special tracks, closed to downhill skiing. It's really important to know that using these aids on "normal" ski slopes is forbidden, both during the day and at night.

If you want to try this experience, and you don't have the equipment, I suggest you go to a rental service, where they will rent everything you need without having to buy it. We recommend being accompanied by a mountain guide if you don't know exactly what you're doing, but you want to reach isolated places: the mountains should never be underestimated.

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If it's one of those uncommon winters where it hasn't snowed, it's possible to practice "normal" hiking. Obviously it's not easy to find a winter without snow, but in this case it's possible to go walking to quite high altitudes. If you'd like to learn more about this topic, we recommend reading our page on summer hikes in Cortina d'Ampezzo that you can find below:

The most beautiful hikes in Cortina d'Ampezzo
Best hikes in Cortina The most beautiful hikes to do in Cortina d'Ampezzo, from the easiest to the most difficult. Reading time: 6 min

Anyway even the presence of snow is not a big problem, because there are special roads where hiking is possible even without the help of skis or snowshoes. You can simply walk on snow roads groomed by snowmobiles or snowcats.

Uphill along the road of Malga Federa

Believe us when we say that hiking in the white along the road leading to Ra Stua is something surreal. When you walk on ice and groomed snow you have to be careful, because it could be very slippery. We always recommend to attach, under your shoes, any kind of spiked crampons, which can be easily found in any sports store.

Snow walking in Cortina

Obviously, compared to summer, the days are shorter, so you should always choose relatively short hikes and dress appropriately, with warm, comfortable shoes and, again, always carrying crampons, so you don't slip on ice. If you are interested in a more in-depth article, we have collected the best hikes you can do in winter, you can read it below:

Winter hikes in Cortina
Winter hikes in Cortina The most beautiful winter hikes in Cortina, easy walks, for everyone, on groomed snow. Reading time: 12 min

When you walk in the snow, you need to be very careful: along snowy roads it's possible to cross ski mountaineers and also snowmobiles, which are often used to transport people to the mountain lodges. It's always a good idea to have a flashlight with you, and also to use brightly colored or reflective clothing. Finally, you should choose routes dedicated to pedestrians, such as roads going to mountain lodges, always staying on the side of the road and clearly visible. Also remember that walking on ski slopes is strictly prohibited, both during the day and at night.

Ice skating and hockey

For those who love figure skating, ice skating and ice hockey, we highly recommend a visit to the Ice Stadium of Cortina . Built during the 1956 Olympics, the ice stadium is frequented by ice skating lovers during the day, while in the evening it hosts the training sessions of S.G. Cortina, the local hockey team. The structure has a skating area of four thousand three hundred square meters and is able to accommodate seven thousand spectators, of which two tousand in the tribune and five thousand in the stands.

Cortina Ice Stadium illuminated with the tricolor at night

In 1956 the opening and closing ceremonies of the VII Winter Olympic Games took place in this building. The Olympic flame shone inside the ice stadium for the entire duration of the event. Now the Olympic torch is proudly displayed on the roof of the building and it's clearly visible from the street.

The opening hours may be varied in order to guarantee the training of the athletes. To make sure you can access without problems you should take a look here, at the website of the "Servizi Ampezzo" , to check the effective opening of the structure.

An ice hockey action in the Cortina stadium

For those who love watching hockey matches, it is also possible to support the local hockey team at the ice stadium. SG Cortina is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in Italy, it is also the team that, to date, has the highest number of appearances in the top Italian league. For more information on scheduled matches or to purchase tickets, we invite you to visit the website of the "Sportivi Ghiaccio Cortina" .

If you have never seen a match, we recommend you dress with a very warm jacket, winter shoes and double socks. At the less popular matches there may not be many people, but you will almost always find a group of loyal fans.

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Ice Climbing

In winter the waterfalls along the rivers freeze, so it's possible to equip yourself with ropes, nails, crampons and ice axes to climb them safely. Given the characteristics of the sport, it is essential that the ice is solid, so it is one of those activities that can be done only in the colder months. If you have a passion for climbing and an adequate physical preparation, it could be an interesting experience.

Un'azione di hockey sul ghiaccio nello stadio di Cortina Creative Common, by Jef132

As for us, it's one of those things that we wouldn't do even for money. Suffering from vertigo, we don't have the slightest idea how to approach this sport. We can tell you one thing for sure: be accompanied by professionals. The right place to ask for information is the office of the Alpine Guides, which is located in the center, in Corso Italia 69/A. Here you can find their website .

A cable car ride

The view of Cortina from above is priceless, especially in winter, when the mountain lodges and lifts are fully open. The easiest way to see a breathtaking panorama is to take the cable car, an activity that we strongly recommend, even if you don't like skiing and winter sports. Once you reach the top you can visit the mountain lodges, where you may eat or drink something, while observing the incredible panorama and taking some photos. A cable car, in Italian, is called "Funivia".

Panorama from the top of Mount Faloria in Cortina By concession of Faloria Spa

The most accessible cable car is the "Faloria" cable car , it reaches 2,120 meters above sea level. It is located just a few meters from the Cortina bus station and the cost of the ticket is more or less 25€ round-trip. Right at the arrival of the cable car you'll find the "Faloria" mountain lodge , where you can have a drink or eat something.

The cabin of the Faloria cable car in Cortina before the ascent

As an alternative to Mount Faloria, it's possible to reach the top of Mount Tofane, a very impressive mountain massif, 3,244 meters above sea level. The cable car to Mount Tofane is called "Freccia nel Cielo" cable car and its departure is located near the ice stadium.

The first stop is at Col Drusciè, 1,778 meters above sea level, where you will find the restaurant "Col Drusciè" and the "Masi" Wine Bar Cortina , where you can stop to eat or drink something and enjoy the view.

If you want to reach the top, you can take the cable car and continue further, it will cost more or less 30€ round-trip. Be careful though, going 3.000 meters is not for everybody. The altitude may cause some dizziness due to the reduced oxygen, and the cold is very biting.

A couple of tips before going up any mountain: dress very well, check the closing time of the cable car and the actual opening of the mountain lodges. If you are afraid of heights, you will probably feel a little uncomfortable during the cable car ride, because in some points it's really high, but it's really safe. Try to choose a sunny day and don't forget your sunglasses, the snow can be dazzling.

Lunch at a mountain lodge

Many people think that mountain lodges are unglamorous places where you can eat sausage, polenta and a glass of wine, in an austere hall, warmed up with a wood fire. This is a reality in some places, but you should know that many mountain lodges in Cortina are, in fact, elegant restaurants, with sophisticated menus and modern furnishings.

Photograph of a lunch at the Scoiattoli mountain lodge in Cortina

If you are planning to go to have lunch in a mountain lodge, and you want to know what you are getting into, we recommend that you read the in-depth article we wrote for you. You can find it below:

Eating in a Cortina's mountain lodge
Eating in a mountain lodge An article about mountain lodges, both if you want to walk there or use the ski lift. Reading time: 11 min

In case you don't want to read the dedicated article, let's summarize quickly, Both in summer and in winter it's possible to reach many mountain lodges by your own strength, or by taking a ski lift. It's not necessary to toil to enjoy clean air, sun terrace and a great lunch.

The mountain lodge Mietres, ideal destination in winter

There are many mountain lodges that can be reached with the ski lift or with the car, for example the "Rifugio Scoiattoli" , the "Rifugio Faloria" , the "Rifugio Averau" , the "Rifugio Lagazuoi" , the "Rifugio Col Gallina" and many others.

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Dinner at the lodge with sledge

Some mountain lodges offer the possibility to have a different and very funny dinner: you reach them on foot or by snowmobile, you eat, drink and then you go down by sledge, even better if you do it at night.

This is an activity that requires sufficient snow, as the sledding trails are not artificially snowed. The three lodges equipped for this activity are "Malga Federa" , the "Rifugio Dibona" and the "Rifugio Mietres" . Before planning your dinner, I recommend calling and making a reservation. If you don't have a sled, you can try to ask if they can provide it to you. Alternatively, you can go to any ski rental in the valley, which usually also provides sled rental.

Sledging on the snow at Malga Federa

If you decide to venture into this fun activity, don't forget to dress well, with waterproof pants and warm shoes. Other essential things are gloves, a head flashlight with new batteries and a little bit of common sense, because the descent could be dangerous, as the snow may be frozen or you may have exaggerated with schnapps. I want to repeat it: it's absolutely mandatory to have a head flashlight with you.

A group of friends with sleds

If you are more athletic and you want to eat without guilt, we recommend walking up dragging your sledge. Walking on the snow could be quite tiring and slippery, so we recommend to use snow crampons, but it will allow you to do a survey of the slope, increasing your chances of winning the podium in the sled descent.

If you want to learn more about this topic, we recommend you read our page about winter hikes in Cortina, as anyone allows you to sled down.

Winter hikes in Cortina
Winter hikes in Cortina The most beautiful winter hikes in Cortina, easy walks, for everyone, on groomed snow. Reading time: 12 min

A walk in Corso Italia

Corso Italia is the beating heart of Cortina d'Ampezzo and the meeting point for guests and residents. In addition to hosting the trendiest stores and clubs, Corso Italia is the housing of many public buildings of historical interest. To learn more about the subject we invite you to read our article on the most interesting buildings in Corso Italia.

What to see in Corso Italia in Cortina
What to see in Corso Italia All the buildings and points of interest in the pedestrian area of Cortina d'Ampezzo. Reading time: 17 min

If you don't want to read the article, try to see at least the Parish Church of Cortina and the nearby former town hall , headquarters of the tourist office. Don't forget to go to the "Cooperativa" of Cortina , or to do some shopping in one of the many stores in the center, or simply look at the windows and to the different artwork exhibited in the art galleries along the Corso.

The Campanile and Corso Italia of Cortina in winter

If after all this shopping you need a break to replenish your fluids, you can refresh yourself in one of the many bars and restaurants that crowd Corso Italia.

During the Christmas vacations in Cortina it's possible to meet some famous people. Probably you wouldn't even know them, because they are Italians, but in this case I recommend you to be polite and discreet, they are on vacation and they want to relax too.

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A bit of a party

The mountains are vacation, and vacation is also having fun. Once you put down your skis do not let fatigue win. There is a natural remedy to avoid this problem, it's called Aperitiv. Some doctors also recommend some specific recipes, such as the Vin Brulè or the Spritz Aperol. The first is warm red wine with spices, it really warms the heart in the cold days, the second is a north italy typical pre-dinner light cocktail. And if the weather forecast for tomorrow is not the best? In that case, you won't have to get up too early, so you might consider extending the fun to the entire night.

An evening at Suite in Cortina

There are different locations to have fun if you want to have some revelry. However, we advise you to avoid drinking too much if you are at high altitudes. Among "mountain people" it's well known that the change of altitude is dangerous: going down in altitude makes the drunkenness rise. Of course, remember to drink responsibly if you have to drive: if you're late, call a cab. If you need some suggestions on where to hangout in Cortina, you can read the page below.

Where to party in Cortina
Party in Cortina Nightlife in Cortina: all the places to party, from bars to nightclubs to mountain lodges. Reading time: 17 min

Final considerations

Winter in Cortina is characterized by cold temperatures, with a rather dry climate. Some days can even be relatively warm in the middle hours of the day but, as soon as the sun goes down, temperatures drop quickly.

Winter in Cortina in Corso Italia

In the peak season the tourist affluence is strong and there can be logistic problems, both in road traffic and in services, especially with snow. The busiest time is certainly from Christmas to Epiphany. The affluence could however be high, especially on the weekend, for all the winter months, until Easter.

... In peak season it's very important to plan...

If you want to visit Cortina in peak season, planning is very important. If you want to go to a restaurant, book in advance, maybe a lot in advance. If you want to go skiing and don't want to go crazy to find a parking space, try to be on the spot early in the morning, even before 8:30 a.m. The slopes will be less crowded and smooth as a pool table.

Winter in Cortina, Corso Italia

If you need a ski instructor, or you need to rent equipment, call whoever you need with plenty of advance. The same goes for eating, in a restaurant at 12 p.m. there would be much less confusion than at 1 p.m.

The reverse problem could be in low season. In months like November, or the first weeks of December or after Easter the chairlifts, cable cars, mountain lodges and restaurants could be closed. If you plan to visit in low season, we suggest you verify in advance the actual opening of the lifts or business activities.

The beginning and the closing of the winter season are difficult to predict, because you cannot know how much snow there will be, nor when it snows, so each year is a different story.

Store in Corso Italia decorated for Christmas in Cortina

As in all mountain resorts in winter it snows, sometimes a lot. Cortina is equipped to deal with snowfall, but always consider that there could be heavy precipitation. In this case it takes time to clear roads and parking lots, it may cause some inconvenience. In case of strong wind remember that the ski lifts may be closed for safety reasons.

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We hope you liked this page on the things to do in winter in Cortina d'Ampezzo. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read our home page, with all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'AmpezzoInternal link .

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