While the Dolomite Mountains have been called most beautiful mountains on earth, Cortina d’Ampezzo is undisputedly the most famous town here, and one of the best known in all of the Alps. Set like a jewel in the crown of magnificent peaks, Cortina has been attracting visitors from around the world for over a century. Surrounded by with vast forests and meadows in the wide, sunny Ampezzo Valley, Cortina is not only known for the beauty of its landscapes, it has a unique cultural heritage and never-ending sporting activities on offer.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is a charming alpine resort town, just a quick – and beautiful! – two-to-three-hour drive from the Venice Marco Polo (VCE) or the Innsbruck Kranebitten (INN) International Airports. Countless outdoor activities are available here, in both summer and winter, and amateur and professional sporting events abound.
In summer, Cortina is an ideal location for hiking of all sorts – from gentle strolls to multi-day treks. Cyclists are everywhere, on road bikes climbing high mountain passes, mountain bikes in the backcountry, hybrids on fire roads, and e-bikes of every flavor, enabling them to increase their distance covered to exertion ratio. And the climbing! Pioneers of the rock world cut their teeth here, and opened up countless climbing routes into these mountains. World War II introduced via ferrata to the region – a network of metal cables and ladders installed directly into the rock to aid the Alpini military in their battles. Reinforced and/or replaced today with new steel, these routes have become a vertical playground for residents and visitors alike.
Competitive summer sports are not lacking either. There are multiple trail running races throughout the summer, including the Cortina Sky Race – an amazing 20 kilometer (12.4 mile) trail running race, with a challenging 1,000 meter (3,280′) elevation gain; and the 120 kilometer (74 mile) Lavaredo Ultra Trail, which includes an elevation gain of more than 5,000 meters (19,000′) and attracts 1,800 athletes from all over the world. Cycling competitions range from the Cortina Trophy and Cortina Gravel mountain bike races, part of a series of MTB races throughout the Dolomites, and road bike races, including the Giro d’Italia which frequently includes Cortina in the mountain stages of the race.
In winter, Cortina is all about the ample snowfall and sunny skies, which make it the perfect venue for vacations and competitions alike. Host to the first internationally televised Winter Olympic Games in 1956, Cortina is set to host the forthcoming Winter Olympics in 2026 in partnership with Milan. A myriad of World Cup Skiing events have been held in the Dolomiti Ampezzane, including the 2021 Alpine Ski World Cup and the 1932 World Championships, and the Tofane slopes in the region area a regular stop for women’s FIS speed events in January.
While Cortina is obviously full of challenging ski runs made famous from historic Olympic and World Cup races (think the Olympia delle Tofane where the men’s 1956 Olympic downhill events were held and the Women’s Downhill event of the 2021 Alpine Skiing World Cup, and the superb Canalone [or Couloir in English] on which the women’s downhill 1956 Olympic events took place), there are truly pistes for every age, ability, and interest.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is also to a huge selection of world-class shopping, from designer clothing and fashion boutiques to cosmetics and fine jewelry. Located along the Corso d’Italia, a pedestrian walk-street in the middle of the centro storico (historic center), there is such an abundance of shops and stores that it has become one of the biggest attractions for visitors. This chic Venetian town also caters to the high society crowd, offering many year-round social activities, and fine dining, including several Michelin-star-rated restaurants.
With plenty of comfortable accommodations and endless outdoor activities, this valley has become quite a popular destination for the adventure traveler!