Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy’s Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage site is Italy’s most upmarket ski resort, with superb skiing in some of Europe’s most spectacular mountain scenery. It’s also been selected as the host resort of the 2026 Winter Olympics. Having previously hosted the event in 1956, the occasion will mark something of a homecoming for the five-ringed event.
As well as its illustrious history and impressive reputation, Cortina is blessed with incredible natural assets. Alongside Swiss resorts like Mürren, this must be a contender for the title of the most beautiful ski resorts on the planet. Even non-skiers (of which there are usually plenty in Cortina d’Ampezzo) will find themselves overawed by the beautiful mountain views and as for skiers – well, you’ll be hard pressed to find more glorious landscapes for your background. The town itself is equally attractive – one of the oldest ski resorts around, it draws plenty of affluent Italian visitors from Venice and Milan. Chic shops and galleries selling expensive art, designer clothes, jewellery and furs have pride of place here, with the ski rental shops and supermarkets relegated to positions away from the pedestrianised main street. Beautiful old buildings, refined dining experiences and a classy, subdued approach to après ski all contribute to Cortina’s elegant ambiance. Sold on it yet?
But Cortina isn’t just about luxury. glitz and glam – there’s some serious skiing here too, albeit not all interconnected. It’s a regular stop on the Ski World Cup circuit and offers access to some decent backcountry terrain. History seekers will be drawn to ski the Great World Tour – a circuit that’s even more challenging than the Sella Ronda. The stunning Cortina outpost of Cinque Torri-Lagazuoi in particular has preserved evidence of the extraordinary conflict that took place here between Italy and Austria during the first world war. Though not interconnected, Cortina is also part of the huge 1,200km Dolomiti Superski domain, with Cortina’s 120km of local slopes split into a number of ski areas. The highest and arguably most spectacular is Tofana, whilst the largest is Pomedes, both accessed by a series of ski lifts from town. Faloria is reached by cable car from the centre of town and links to the tiny Mietres ski area and the imposing crags above Cristallo.
Meanwhile, Cinque Torre can only be accessed by road and links into Col Gallina and the Lagazuoi ski area and the beautiful ‘Hidden Valley’. From here you can also access the Sella Ronda circuit, via Alta Badia. Cortina is a superb introduction to skiing for first timers. The lovely, gently angled runs of the Socrapes area on Pomedes are as good as it gets and there are plenty of good blues to graduate to.
Intermediates will find a fine selection of red and blue runs, maybe not that long but threading through glorious alpine scenery. It’s well worth spending a day up high on Cinque Torre and at the same time taking in the stunning Hidden Valley, one of the most enjoyable intermediate runs in Europe, which is topped off with a fun horse tow at Armentarola. Experts will find relatively limited groomed terrain, although the black Forcella on Tofana and the rarely open Staunies on Cristallo are steep and exciting, and when conditions allow the off-piste can be both sensational and untracked for days on end.
Cortina is a good place to learn to snowboard as there is plenty of wide, open easy terrain although there’s less to challenge experienced riders. But they will enjoy the Socrapes and Faloria terrain parks. For those wanting it, there is excellent off-piste skiing to be found in all of Cortina’s ski areas. In Faloria the Val Orita is a lovely wide valley with 1,200m of vertical, while Sci 18 is one of the region’s most famous itineraries. On Tofana’s slopes, the Bus de Tofana is a spectacular route, hailed by local mountain guides as one of the best off-piste spots in the Dolomites. Cinque Torri has some gentler off-piste – especially lovely after fresh snow as the area is usually practically deserted anyway! Cristallo is the place to head for if steeper couloirs are your thing.
For anyone part of a ski group who doesn’t ski. Cortina is a good choice for non-skiers too who can happily visit and not get bored. Apart from walking around and just staring at the awesome scenery, the window shopping and people watching are second to none – especially along the cobbled, traffic-free Corso Italia. You can also ice skate, hit the old Olympic bobsleigh run, toboggan, watch ice polo, visit the WW1 tunnels at Lagazuoi (fascinating) or even take a highly recommended day trip to Venice. The cross-country skiing is also excellent, with 70km of trails or all abilities, and there are winter via ferrata if you want a real challenge.
The dining options are extensive and good, from superb mountain restaurants such as Rifugio Averau at Cinque Torre and the eponymous Rifugio Pomedes to a huge selection in town. Of these the best includes the pricey El Toula, the Michelin-starred Tivoliand the Baita Fraina Given the amount of money floating around, the après ski action isn’t as wild as you might expect, although the Clipper Bar is busy after the lifts close. For a classic and friendly local Italian experience, the Enoteca with its 700 different wines, is hard to beat.
For your ideal accommodation options, we are only too happy to help advise, so you can get the most out of your trip to Cortina.