For experiencing the Veneto Dolomites, you can’t beat Cortina d’Ampezzo! Here’s a roundup of my favorite hikes and trails in outdoor Cortina.
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If you want a taste of the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo is a great place to use as a home base. It gives you access to great skiing in winter, hiking in summer, and gorgeous views year-round!
I’ve already shared a guide to the town, so check that for restaurants, hotels, and shopping tips. But today, let’s talk outdoor Cortina!
Since I’m not a big skiier, I’m going to refer you to the official Cortina ski page – it has plenty of trail guides and will give you an up-to-date sense of which lifts are open. But many of the hiking spots I’ll talk about have corresponding ski options, so if something appeals, go check the slopes in that area!
Outdoor Cortina in Walking Distance
You can soak up epic views in Cortina without leaving town! There are two great outdoor options I’ll highlight that don’t require driving anywhere.
Secret Pedestrian Path
One of the best-kept secrets (from the tourists, anyway) is the walking trail just above town. There’s a biking and walking path that runs along the northeast edge of town. The most beautiful section heads north out of town, and you can easily pick it up next to Ciasa Lorenzi. If you go to the tourist office and pick up an official map, it’s marked as a green path (passagiata).
The trail doesn’t do much elevation and only holds a few locals, so it’s perfect if you want a low-intensity walk after you arrive. It’s especially beautiful in the fall when the leaves are changing and the late afternoon sun reflects off the mountain across.
If you want a taste of serious snow without going too far, head to funivia Faloria. It sits on the northeast side of town and if you drove in, it’s probably where you parked. You can take the funivia (cable car) up to Faloria, a popular ski area. There are a bunch of ski routes up here and more chairlifts, but if you just want to play in the snow it’s an easy spot!
After getting off the cable car, head right to stay out of the ski paths, and you’re suddenly in 3 feet of pristine snow! We’ve gone with friends and let our dogs romp around for a few hours, and it’s magically beautiful and relatively effortless to get access to that much snow. Rifugio Faloria has good lunch options paired with incredible views, so it’s a good day trip!
Outdoor Cortina: Epic Hiking
If you’re like me, you want some epic mountain hiking to go with the town views. Here are a few of the best trails in the area!
Tre Cime di Lavaredo
This is one of the best-known hikes in the region. Tre Cime translates to Three Peaks and the name will be obvious from the photos.
There are two main ways to experience Tre Cime. One is obvious: hike it! There’s a trail that circles them, covering about 6 miles. It covers a decent amount of elevation gain/loss, but the tricky part is that you’re already in such high elevation that breathing can be a bit tougher. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks!
It’s free to enter the national park, but to drive up the road that leads to the Tre Cime hike isn’t cheap – 30€ per car! Alternatively, you can hike the extra distance but that adds another 6 km uphill (minimum) to the hike each way. During some seasons there’s a bus you can book seats on from Cortina, so check into that if it’s available during your visit.
If you want to do it old school, know the trail number. Generally, to do the loop around Tre Cime, follow signs for Rifugio Auronzo – it’ll steer you right.
After the hike, do yourself a favor and eat at Malga Rin Bianco on the drive back down the mountain – the food is excellent and sits overlooking their farm (that’s the definition of a malga) and the surrounding mountains!
The other way to see Tre Cime is to head to the Tre Cime Panoramic Viewpoint. You can drive there and see them after a short hike. The area is beautiful and worth a visit if you don’t have a mid-level hike at high elevation in you. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly, but I’ve included the exact location on my Thatch Guide to Cortina d’Ampezzo!
The Cinque Torri area is another great place to spend a day of Dolomite hiking. It’s also a popular spot with climbers in summer and skiers in winter, making it a bit of the signature spot for outdoor Cortina. The five towers are easier to spot if you know the first one is MUCH bigger than the other four.
There are tons of trails that crisscross the area, so make sure you know where you’re going! For this, we use wikiloc – we’ll choose a trail first and know what to look for. We opt to pay for the subscription service so our phone will buzz when we leave the trail! It’s also helpful to always consult the local tourism office – they can give advice on trail conditions, what offers the best views, and what’s currently closed.
The most common trail option is Alta Via 1, a 150-km trail that goes through most of the Italian Dolomites. You can also hike along historic WWI trails around Cinque Torri if you want to add a history layer to your hiking!
A bit further out is Marmolada, known as the Queen of the Dolomites. It’s roughly an hour and 45 minutes from Cortina. It’s enough of a destination that I’ve shared a full guide already.
What’s the Weather Like?
In 2021, we hiked around Tre Cime in mid-October and there was almost no snow. We wore sweatshirts with hats and gloves and were fine, temperature-wise. But in the fall & spring, the temperatures can vary drastically, so be prepared for unexpected weather you may find at the top of the mountain! Snow starts falling in early October and can stick around until May or June, so it’s safe to assume there will be some on the trails even if nothing has fallen recently.
If you want to check out the Dolomites, Cortina is one of the best places to use as a home base because there’s so much nearby! Check out my guide to Cortina d’Ampezzo and follow me on Instagram for more local Dolomite tips!