Discover Cortina d'Ampezzo, the Queen of the Dolomites

Mara Noveni | Live the World

May 29, 2024

Italy has many destinations for winter holidays, and many Italian regions are equipped with ski resorts and ski slopes. But the first, the most famous and the most beautiful, is undoubtedly Cortina d'Ampezzo. In Cortina, a ski week can become a 360° experience because this famous Italian ski resort has a landscape, food and wine and cultural heritage and offers an infinite range of activities to practice indoors and outdoors. Today, you will discover the best things to do in Cortina d'Ampezzo, the Queen of the Dolomites.

© iStock / Dietmar Rauscher

Cortina d'Ampezzo is located in the province of Belluno, in northern Veneto, just two hours from Venice. Since 2009, it has hosted the women's alpine skiing world cup competitions and is part of the Dolomiti super ski circuit, which includes over 1200 km of slopes and a single ski pass.

© iStock / emicristea

Outdoor activities

Cortina is a paradise for alpine ski and snowboard lovers, with slopes for experts, beginners, and children. And for Nordic ski lovers, Cortina offers more than 70 kilometres of slopes in the Ampezzo Dolomites Natural Park and is part of the largest cross-country ski area in Europe, the Dolomiti NordicSki.

© iStock / extravagantni

Other activities that mountain lovers can practice are ski mountaineering, off-piste skiing, snowshoe excursions, cross-country skiing, climbing, ice skating, curling or husky dog sledging. In addition, special experiences are offered - like the "Astrocene", to observe the starry night sky and savour local dishes and wines, with a final guided tour of the Astronomical Observatory. Another one is skiing at dawn in Ra Valles, a unique moment to enjoy the immaculate slopes with the first rays of the sun.

© iStock / Uwe Moser

Corso Italia

Cortina somewhat represents the places of the winter "dolce vita", with its shopping streets and its boutiques, events and meeting points, which the personalities of the international jet set love to frequent. For more than a century, Cortina d'Ampezzo has been a showcase of style and elegance. Corso Italia is the main street of Cortina and the centre of worldliness. A walk in this city living room is not to be missed, to browse the windows of the luxury shops, hoping to spot some VIPs. The shopping walk on Corso Italia lasts about two hours and, wallet permitting, you can buy everything: jewellery, high fashion clothes, sports equipment, souvenirs, typical products, etc.

© iStock / Dietmar Rauscher

But Corso Italia is not just shopping. In fact, located on this street are the Basilica of Saints Philip and James and the Ciasa de Ra Regoles, an elegant 19th-century building that represents a beautiful example of Austrian urban architecture of the time.

© archivio fotografico Regole d'Ampezzo / unknown author

Wellness at high altitude

A stay in Cortina is also wellness and relaxation. In addition to the beauty of the landscapes, good food and walks in the city centre, the spas and activities related to well-being at high altitudes will also help you to relax and regenerate. Here are just some wellness experiences to try in Cortina, which combine wellness with the beauty of the mountain for a unique and unforgettable experience.

© iStock / RossHelen

The Finnish sauna of the Lagazuoi Refuge

Cortina also offers holidays dedicated to wellness and relaxation, including special and unforgettable experiences, like the Finnish sauna of the Lagazuoi refuge, recently included in the world's top ten places with breathtaking views. Situated at an altitude of 2752 metres, it is the highest and most capacious refuge in Cortina d'Ampezzo. It boasts the most panoramic terrace in the Dolomites with a view of a veritable ocean of peaks. Experience not to be missed: the brand new Finnish sauna, where you can relax thanks to the scent of wood and the heat that melts all tensions, with a breathtaking 360° view of the surrounding mountains.

© Cortina Delicious /unknown

The refuge itself also offers a panoramic terrace. The brand new "Mountain Coffee Bar" in the Cortina Delicious area, at 2,732 meters above sea level, offers everything one could wish to satisfy the senses: the desserts are handcrafted, from the classic brioches to the Sacher, from fruit tarts to strudel and soft donuts. Everything is rigorously prepared "in-house", the jams, the organic fruit juices and the hot chocolate. Furthermore, they offer filled sandwiches, toasted sandwiches and unique sandwiches for quick snacks. Again, on summer weekends, a barbecue is set up on the panoramic terrace to provide tasty hamburgers, local sausages and delicious frankfurters.

© Cortina Delicious /unknown

The outdoor pool of the Scoiattoli Refuge

Even the Scoiattoli Refuge offers an unmissable show: the sunset over the five towers at an altitude of 2,225 meters from an exclusive location: the open-air barrel tub, heated by a wood-burning stove, from which you can admire, immersed in hot water, the surrounding landscape and the sunset. This refuge also has a beautiful panoramic terrace, sheltered from the wind by high windows, where you can stop sipping a hot drink or savouring a traditional local dish.

© Rifugio Scoiattoli / Bandion

The Starlight Rooms of the Col Gallina Refuge

Then, there is the Starlight Room, a wooden room with glass walls, which allows you to sleep under the stars, immersed in nature. In my stories, I have already told you about a similar experience living in Piedmont, in the Stars Boxes. In this case, the Starlight Room was built following the principles of eco-sustainability, using larch and fir wood worked by local craftsmen and using solar panels to generate electricity. In addition, the structure is equipped with an exclusive system, which allows it to rotate on itself at 360°, changing the panorama that can be enjoyed from inside.

The interiors of the Starlight Room recall the traditional style of mountain huts, with the characteristic Ampezzo fabrics. The space is divided into two areas: on one side, the table to enjoy a romantic dinner in the light of the sunset and on the other side, a queen-size bed. All are surrounded only by glass walls to immerse yourself completely in the surrounding nature. In the centre, there is also a small bathroom, and heating is guaranteed, to live an exciting experience even when the temperatures are lower. The Starlight Room is located in a quiet area, secluded from the main body of the Col Gallina refuge, and can be reached accompanied by the staff by snowmobile in winter and by off-road vehicle in summer.

© Starlight Room Dolomites / unknown author

Also not to be missed is skiing at dawn: free slopes, surrounded only by the wind and an enchanting landscape, lapped by the first rays of the sun. A** moment is even more pleasant by the genuine flavours of breakfast in the refuges, which reflects the pink colour of the Pale Mountains at the first light of the day. But, a visit to Lake Misurina or the wonderful Lake Braies, a few kilometres from Cortina, is also unmissable: they are experiences in nature that will remain in your memories forever. This is also one of the best things to do in Cortina d'Ampezzo, the Queen of the Dolomites**. Enjoy this unforgettable experience!

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