Summer 2017 has to be one of my favorite summers to date. I got to see the best of Europe by road tripping through the continent for a month, filled with hikes, camping, splashing in lakes and long late sunsets. It is safe to say that, henceforth the taste, smell or even thought of ham and cheese sandwiches and iced coffee will always bring up images of this dream of a summer. I will also always have Cortina D’Ampezzo, right up there with those epic long summer days.
Is Cortina D’Ampezzo your next summer destination?
The Italian Dolomites has been on my list of Places to Go ever since I’ve decided to base myself in Europe for the summer. To save you the hassle, Cortina D’Ampezzo is the premier spot to base yourself out of to enjoy the mountains, and all the outdoor activities you can name. From endless hiking trails, to ridiculously scenic chairlifts, mountain biking, swimming in lakes to even trying out via ferratas – there is indeed something for everyone (even when it rains!)
Mention Cortina D’Ampezzo to any Italian, or even Google it and images or the wintry ski resort pops up. After the 3.5 month jaunt in Africa, we were feeling the urge to head back into the mountains for a spot of good hiking. No more hassling, no more dealing with people, just to hear your heart pound in your ears, sweat dripping down your brow, and 360 degrees of nature at its finest. All this while enjoying the comforts of having a little town, a supermarket at your disposal, clean bathrooms with hot water, and even a ping pong table for the rainy days!
Cortina was a dream find, and a summer paradise
To give you an idea of our road tripping schedule, we never stay more than a night at a campsite. We stayed 4 nights in Cortina (and still wanted more). We could have easily spent 2 weeks camping, hiking, biking and swimming, but as time and schedule would have it, we had to scale it down to 4. Four nights was still a good amount of time to get a ton of things done and see the most of Cortina D’Ampezzo. I’ve condensed my 5D4N itinerary into a pdf containing all the information that I’ve written in this post that you can download below (including a map of the entire Cortina area)
Some key background information:
- We drove to the Cortina D’Ampezzo (Having a car is really convenient. Picking up a cheap rental is not difficult)
- We had Super Summer lift passes which includes bike transport, and allowed us to ride all the lifts available in summer. Highly recommend the passes as they were super worth it and saved us a bunch of time while letting us see all that Cortina had to offer.
- We camped as accommodation at Camping Rocchetta (the best campsite of our entire road trip) 11€ per person per night in high season which is super affordable! Really clean bathrooms, great facilities and even Wifi! Pretty sure all the campsites in Cortina are held to the same standards too.
- We bought our own food to cook on a portable stove (from Decathlon!), which was really fun! Brought our own alcohol and games too
- It does get cold at night, even in the high summer months, bring appropriate cold weather wear, and a good sleeping bag if you are camping
- Be prepared for rain at all times (as Cortina is in a valley surrounded by the Dolomites, the weather is temperamental to say the least. But good news, even when it rains, they usually don’t last long. Either hunker down for a good session of ping pong or brave the rain for a spot of dramatic photography!
- Take the weather forecasts for Cortina on Google with a pinch of salt. Being in the valley surrounded by the Dolomites, the weather can change in an instant and stressing out weeks in advance over the forecasts of thunderstorms all week will do you no favors!
Budget: Camping Rocchetta, Camping Dolomiti, Camping Olympia (further out)
AirBnb: You can also easily find apartments on Airbnb with rentals from a few days or even the entire summer. (Get up to $40 off your first sign up and stay with my link here – who doesn’t love a bunch of free money?!)
Mid-Range: Hotel Aquila, Meuble Villa Neve, Villa La Roncolina, Villa Verocai
I’m on Vacation, Pamper me!: Savioa Palace, Villa Ronco, Chalet Gilardon, Villa Corso Italia, Villa Mariana
But if you are intending to do hut to hut hiking, definitely go with the Refugios!
Detailed Itinerary here on how to navigate Cortina D’Ampezzo and the Italian Dolomites in 5 days, 4 nights. Downloadable pdf + map below.
- Arrive in Cortina D’Ampezzo (2h drive from Venice or 4h drive from Milan)
- Check into Camping Rocchetta
- Drive into town for a look-see, get food supplies from the supermarket
- Head to a tourist office to get the Map of Cortina D’Ampezzo (or more than 1 if you’re the type to lose things – the map is the bible you need to navigate around, don’t lose it!)
- Get SuperSummer passes and head straight for a lift to check out the scenery for a relaxing rest of the day
- Check out Passo Giau for a beautiful sunset show
Golden hour threatened by storm clouds make for beautiful dusk. Only in the Italian Dolomites. I used to love Italy for the pizza and the pasta. I’ve found another reason to make it my most visited European country. I’ll be back Cortina!! 10/10 would recommend What’s your favourite country in Europe? #cortinadampezzo #mycortina #dolomiti #visititaly
- Prepare for a big day of hiking and the best views around Cinque Torri
- Drive to Refugio Fedare, take the lift up to Refugio Averau, start hiking towards the Cinque Torri rocks, pick any hiking trail around there (they’re all stunning!) or walk around Cinque Torri. If you’re a rock climber, this will be your jam! Spot all the climbers on the Torri rocks if you can.
- Take a break for lunch at Refugio Scoiattoli, try the special Cortina Mountain sausage in a sandwich, and have a beer or two while admiring the 360 degree views of the Dolomites
- Hop on another hiking trail in the vicinity to tackle for the afternoon
- Take a break at any of the Refugios for tea and cakes after the mid-afternoon hike (I would recommend Refugio Averau for the delicious tiramisu) as they all serve quality eats. It’s not an urban myth that the food in the Dolomites is exceptional. You’re on vacation after all!
- Head back to pick up your car by riding the lift down to Refugio Fedare and drive over to Passo Falzarego to head up Refugio Lagazuoi (one of the highest peaks of the Dolomites) – Ensure you have enough time to head both up and save a good hour and a half at least at the top before catching the last lift back down at 5.30pm
- The views at Refugio Lagazuoi are ridiculous but run on over to the cross to take in the full panorama of the surrounding ranges.
- Cook up a big feast for dinner and chill out at the campsite – you deserve it!
- (Optional) Head out at nightfall (10-12midnight in summer) to check out the stars. Cortina is great for astronomy! They even have an observatory at Refugio Col Druscie.
- (Optional) Head to Passo Giau for sunset if you didn’t the night before, it’s worth it!
- Head out after breakfast to town to get rental equipment to tackle a Via Ferrata
- Bring a packed lunch
- You can get solid rentals at Slalom Ski/Bike Hire and Shop (15€ for the first day, 10€ for subsequent days). They can be found at (via Franchetti 632043 Cortina d’Ampezzo).
You will get a helmet and a harness set.
- Drive to the nearest parking lot to Cascata de Fanes, it is approximately a 45min-1h easy hike to get to the Via Ferrata trailhead. You have to to descend steep stairs to the river bed where you can start the Via Ferrata. This is one of the easiest Via Ferratas in Cortina (kids do it all the time) and you get to go behind a waterfall which is pretty fun! All in less than 2.5h to complete everything (hike to and from car included)
- Drive to attempt another Via Ferrata in the afternoon! Rentals are 24h so make the most of it in a day. (I would recommend Ferrata Ra Bujela) for the afternoon. We got waylaid by crazy rains that afternoon but still made it up to Refugio Pomedes for all the views (and watched the rains move in on Cortina, quite the sight I must say)
- We hunkered down out of the rain and made the rest of the afternoon eventful with a sweet ping pong tournament at Camping Rocchetta (don’t worry, they provide paddles for a refundable deposit)
- Return Via Ferrata gear (also possible to drop it off the next day as it was a 24h rental)
- To make full use of the SuperSummer lift pass, we made Day 4 a lift day!
- PROTIP: Don’t leave your car in the main parking lot in town as you have to pay for it, just drive to each of the lifts, they all have free parking and you don’t have to waste parking time walking over to the lifts (like we did! Eek!)
- Make sure you check out the highest peak in Cortina at Tofana Di Mezzo. Spectacular views and one of my most-liked Instagram photos for good reason. Absolutely stunning.
- Head to Passo Tre Croci to check out the views from there too by taking the lifts up to Refugio San Forca. Take in views of Mount Misurina from the top!
- Head back to town to take the cable car nearest town up to Faloria for the last views of Cortina from above. Faloria cable cars leave every half hour on the hour, so time your visits right to reduce waiting time.
- If you are still up for a big hike, there is a pretty stunning one through Val Travenanzes that is less trodden by the typical tourist crowds. And you can even walk back to town after, how’s that for convenience. Bear in mind it does take 6-8 hours to do the whole loop so be prepared for that
- Or you enjoy a little sleep in and get a head start on your drive to the next destination while already missing Cortina before you’ve even left.
That concludes 5 days and 4 nights in the Italian Dolomites! And we did not even venture into rock climbing or mountain and road biking! There were climbers and cyclists everywhere! Cortina is definitely the Outdoor lover’s paradise and we absolutely enjoyed our time there. If summertime in a premier winter destination is so amazing, I can’t even imagine what winter must be like. Don’t worry, I am already dreaming about how I’d be back for a winter season!
Because I love y’all so much, the downloadable version of this 5 day itinerary (in less detail but with the main points for easy reference and in 1 page to save the earth!) can be found at the end of this post!
If you found this guide to Cortina D’Ampezzo useful or know someone who would benefit from this, please share it with them! It means a lot to me! Last but definitely not least, don’t forget your Travel Insurance before you go on those adventures in the mountains!
We were furnished with Super Summer lift passes for our adventures in Cortina D’Ampezzo in the Italian Dolomites, all other expenses were on our own. All opinions of the Dolomites, huffing and puffing up mountains are as always, my own. We were under no obligations to write a post and this is purely because I loved my experience there so much. This post also contains some affiliate links which help keep KoalaTravelstheWorld up and running at no extra cost to you. I do earn a small percentage from a sale should you decide to buy something, which is probably just enough to sustain my need for coffee! Thanks! I really do survive on a good cup of joe.