Looking to have a winter holiday in one of the world’s most beautiful Mountain Ranges? There are so many to choose from, so where do you start? The Dolomites in winter and the Italian Alps, in general, are a front runner in this race and a fantastic vacation hotspot.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site provides many winter activities to choose from, with breathtaking views of the Dolomites. We created the perfect itinerary guide to assist you with traveling to the Dolomites in the Winter. Keep reading to start planning your winter adventure!
The Perfect Itinerary for the Dolomites in Winter
Day 1: Arrive to Cortina D’Ampezzo
If you are based in Central Europe like us, you should just drive to the Dolomites region. The roads are great and the journey will take you 4 to 6 hours.
If you live further away, fly into Venice Marco Polo Airport, which is a two-hour drive from Cortina D’Ampezzo. The airport is pretty well connected to many cities in Europe. Once you grabbed your luggage, you can take a bus that costs about €30 directly to Cortina D’Ampezzo or drive yourself if you have a car rented.
Tip: We recommended renting a car when traveling to the Dolomites in the winter. Although the region has a well-developed bus network, the fares are quite costly and you will not be that flexible. Renting a car in the Dolomites is really worth it, especially if you are not on a solo trip.
By the way, Cortina D’Ampezzo has many jaw-dropping ski resorts that are a part of the Dolomiti Superski Area, which is known for its downhill slopes. The Winter Games were even held here due to their iconic ski jumps.
Once you arrived in the city and checked in, spend your afternoon exploring Centro Storico, which is the main street in Cortina D’Ampezzo. This shopping area features well-known shops that you can shop at. Shops include La Cooperativa Di Cortina, which is a department store full of items. Stroll around the streets while enjoying the amazing mountain views. You will be soon there.
Where to Stay in Cortina D’Ampezzo?
On our hangouts in the city, we spotted Hotel Olimpia. It is a lodging option that is located in the heart of the downtown area. Averaging about $80 USD a night, it is an affordable option with a prime location. A fantastic place to relax after a day of winter activities.
Day 2: Spend Your Day Winter Hiking
Cinque Torri Winter Hike
Enjoy winter hiking by indulging in the Cinque Torri hike. Cinque Torri are rock formations in Cortina d’Ampezzo and Monte Averau in the Eastern Dolomites. Baita Bai de Dones – Cinque Torri is a 4.5-mile circular hike with an elevation of 1,364m. Actually, it will take you about 3 to 4 hours to complete. Perfect for a morning activity!
This loop starts from the parking lot at the foot of the lift. It is a moderate trek uphill that will get your heart racing. This is a historic path that features old WWII trenches that you can spot along the way.
Tip: You will need snowshoes in the winter months.
Cadini di Misurina Viewpoint
Next, get ready to find the Cadini di Misurina Viewpoint Hike. A popular destination even in the winter months, located about thirty minutes east of downtown Cortina d’Ampezzo. The hike itself is not listed on All Trails and has only been found by other hikers. It is a 2.4 mile out and back trail with an elevation gain of 370 feet.
The path is really easy and rewards you with a stunning view of Cadini Mountain Group. It is one of my favorite spots in the Dolomites!
Start at Rifugio Auronzo, where you access the trailhead by vehicle. There you will begin at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop Hike, which goes around the three peaks. As most hikers will be taking that trail and staying to the right, you will not. You will walk the other way, away from Tre Crime.
There you will find the Cadini di Misurina Hike which brings you to the viewpoint. Enjoy the snowy mountain views before heading back down.
Time to Refill in SanBrite
End your day by experiencing a delicious dinner at SanBrite. Chef Ricardo is passionate about his meals and prides himself on using his farm-to-table ingredients. The dishes range from fresh-made pasta to hearty meat dishes. SanBrite is a once-in-a-lifetime meal, cooked up with passion and love for the area.
Day 3: Hit The Slopes!
Learning To Ski
Disclaimer: I haven’t tried skiing so far. But I wanted to on multiple occasions and did my research. Here is what I would do when i get the chance again.
It is time to experience the slopes firsthand in Cortina. There are options for those completely new to skiing (like me!) or those looking to get some practice runs in.
For new skiers, head over to Cortina Ski School, the first Italian ski school that was founded back in 1933. The instructors are vast in most languages, great for worldwide travelers. Book the Smart Ski Course, which is a six-hour lesson providing the basics of skiing. You can review the prices on their website here.
Beginner Friendly Slopes
For those that know the basics of skiing but want to practice their skills, try a beginner trail. Almost half of the slopes in Cortina d’Ampezzo are beginner-friendly and rated as easy. Most of these slopes are beneath Tofana, between Socrepes and Pocol, and can be accessed by the chairlifts.
Tip 1: The practice area is on the edge of Cortina d’Ampezzo on Col Tondo, where most beginners practice.
Tip 2: No skis? No problem. You can rent gear on Alpineresorts.com for pickup in advance or on the day of.
Time for Dinner at Ristorante Pizzeria L’Fana
After working up an appetite on the slopes, take a thirty-minute drive south to Ristorante Pizzeria L’Fana. A cozy dinner spot that is located in La Villa BZ, Italy.
They are known for their fresh pizzas and plates that included cheese salami and fresh porcini mushrooms. Other options include hearty pasta and soups.
Day 4-6: Explore La Villa and Alta Badia
Located 46 minutes from Cortina d’Ampezzo is Alta Badia. Which is a ski resort in the Italian Alps in the upper part of Val Badia in South Tyrol.
Day 4 – Visit the Ski Area
One of the best places in Italy to visit during your winter trip is Alta Badia. Known for its maintained winter hiking trails and cross-country skiing. The ski area has over 130 km of slopes!
Spend your day checking out the infamous Sellaronda. It is one of the most sought-after ski circuits in South Tyrol. The lifts will connect you to different runs and you can experience many in just one day. Experienced skiers should do the whole circuit while beginners can try some of the easier slopes.
Where to Stay in La Villa?
As I am not always a city guy, we decided to stay a little out of town, in Residence Sas Vanna. It is a great place located in a village called La Villa. We loved it there and had an amazing time with the owner. She was a formal athlete in winter sports!
Day 5 – Hit The Winter Hiking Trails
Spend your day trying one of the popular winter hiking options in Alta Badia.
Hike The Farmland
This three-hour hike brings you between La Villa and Badia through the valley. Walkthrough the snow in the meadow and in the forest. You can use snowshoes for this hike after a heavy snowfall.
Once the snow is packed down, you can walk it with just your winter weather boots. The hike is 9 km with an elevation gain of 281. It is rated as easy and recommended for all skill levels.
Spend the Night in Rifugio Cherz
You guessed right! Your night will be spent nestled on the top of a mountain in this Dolomite refugio. While most winter refugios shut down when the summer months get cold, Rifugio Cherz stays open to visitors. Lounge in their cozy mountain lodge rooms that provide direct access to the ski slopes.
Check out their rooms here and request a reservation. Enjoy a yummy dinner at The Restaurant Of The Cherz Refuge. Which provides simple dishes accompanied by gorgeous views of the alps.
Day 6 Visit the Museums and Parks of the Area
Museum Ladin Ciastel de Tor Museum
Okay, let’s take a break from outdoor activities. Our bodies need that! Now, it is time to learn about the history of the Dolomites by visiting the Museum Ladin Ciastel de Tor Museum. This hidden gem opened in 2001 and teaches visitors all about the development of the Ladin Dolomite valleys.
The museum hosts exhibits and seminars throughout the year. They even host concerts that showcase local musicians. Take a tour of the museum and learn about the Ladin people.
Wildlife Viewing in Deer Park
Spend the rest of your day visiting Deer Park also known as Sompunt. It is located between La Villa and Badia. This unique area has seven acres of meadows and forest that is home to over thirty species of deer and fallow deer. These two animals share the land together making it their home.
You can view them in their natural habitat at the park by walking the 0.6-mile path around the park. In addition to the deer, there is also a small area that has ponies, donkeys, rabbits, ducks, chickens, and goats. A must-see for any animal lover visiting the Dolomites.
Where To Stay in Alta Badia?
When you are not staying in a mountain refuge, you can try a fancier option. A luxury hotel when staying in Alta Badia is Hotel Cristallo. Pricing starts at an average of $184 USD. The hotel suites have an alpine mountain village feel with jaw-dropping views.
Their wellness center even overlooks the Dolomites. A tranquil and relaxing experience. Not a bad idea after many days spent outdoors.
Day 7-9: Val Gardena
Get excited! It is time to explore Val Gardena. You will now leave Alta Badia and take a five-hour drive over to Val Gardena. Which is a valley in Northern Italy known for adventurous mountain sports.
Day 7: Spend your day at Puez-Odle Nature Park
Only a thirty-minute drive from Val Gardena is Puez-Odle Nature Park. Enjoy the stunning views and hiking areas here. Hiking the Secada Ridgeline is the most popular activity in the whole park, especially in the winter.
Begin by taking the Col Raiser Gondola to the top of the mountain, the price is 23 EURO round trip. From here, the hike brings you through the vast meadows and lush forest. Take in the views of the Dolomites, throughout your whole hike.
Tip: The hike itself is 4.4 miles with an elevation gain of 531 feet. It is rated as moderate and can take anywhere from 3-4 hours. A must-hike when visiting the park.
Due to the forests in the Puez-Odle Nature Park, watching the Golden Eagles is a common activity here. Spending the day in Puez-Odle Nature Park is an exhilarating trip when visiting Val Gardena. Plan to spend your whole day here, as there is so much to explore.
Day 8: Adventure in Val di Funes
Visit the most majestic valley in the Dolomites, Val di Funes. The valley provides miles and miles of vibrant green landscape and forests. First stop by The Church of St. Magdalena, which sits on top of a grassy hill. The inside of the church provides religious art and enchanting floor-to-ceiling paintings.
Next, take the forty-minute walk over to The Church of St. Johann. This small church is made of stone and is famous for its small round steeple. The church sits in the middle of the meadow, making it easily spotted in the distance. The magnificent Dolomites sit behind the church, making it a marvelous view.
Take a Detour to Zona Pedonale, Ortisei
Take a walk in the villages of Val Gardena, the Germany of Italy. First stop by the main square, which is home to the famous churches in the area. The baroque parish church and the S. Antonio Church, which display gorgeous architecture for you to marvel at.
Then go see the wood sculptures at The Valgardena museum also known as the Museum Gröden. Be sure to stop by one of the many restaurants and bars that line the streets.
Where To Stay in Val Gardena?
Not many affordable hotels open in the winter in Val Gardena. Luckily, Monte Pana has an average of $97 USD a night. The property overlooks the meadows on the edge of the forest. Their rooms are completely renovated and have a modern comfortable feel. Spend your evening dining at their restaurant on property.
Day 10: Visit Seiser Alm
Last but not least in this itinerary is the largest high-altitude Alpine meadow in all of Europe: Alpe di Siusi
also known as Seiser Alm, the area draws thousands of tourists each year. It is known for its vast hiking trails and adventurous ski slopes. Available in the winter is the Seiser Alm Aerial Cableway, which provides a cable car route from Seis am Schlern to the Seiser Alm.
Tip: Seiser Alm is home to 175 km of ski slopes, 50 huts, 80 lifts, and 60 km of hiking trails. Providing winter activities for everyone that comes to the area.
Winter hiking is a great activity when you have a few hours in Seiser Alm. A quick and popular trail is the walk to the Tuff and Hofer Alpl mountain hut. This snowy hike brings you from ölser Weiher Lake to the Tuff and Hofer Alpl mountain hu.
You can even walk up the trail and sled back down since it is a sledding path as well. The distance of the hike is 4.7 km and takes up to 2 hours to complete.
Tip: Once you reach the top, spend some time at the Hofer Alpl mountain hut. Enjoy the views from their sun terrace while enjoying some hard-earned bakery eats.
Now and unfortunately, it is time for you to leave this winter paradise as you make your way back to the Venice Marco Polo International Airport. A three and a half-hour drive from Seiser Alm. Take in the gorgeous mountain views, one last time.
How to Get Around in the Dolomites
Rent a Car
In the summer months catching a bus route is a common way to get around the Dolomites. In the winter, many routes stop running, and renting a car becomes the most convenient way to explore. Renting a car may be easy, but being prepared for winter driving is a whole other task.
Driving Tips in the Dolomites in Winter
Even though the roads are paved and well taken care of, you still need to prepare for winter weather. When the snow falls, the roads can become very icy, very quickly, due to the high elevation.
It is recommended to pay extra for a car with winter tires, this will help keep your tire traction on the roads if you do hit the ice.
Also, Be sure to check the winter forecast before traveling, in case any heavy snowfall is in the area.
Things to Know Before Visiting the Dolomites in Winter
Normally visiting places in the winter means fewer crowds. The Dolomite mountains are the opposite. Since it is a winter destination for downhill skiing, snowshoe hikes, toboggan runs, and sledding, it can become crowded. Be sure to book your hotel reservations and guided tours in advance to secure your spot.
It is also recommended to have a backup plan, in case a winter storm hits. A small list of indoor activities is a great backup plan in these situations. Some hotels have indoor spas and hot tubs, so bring your bathing suit just in case.
If you plan on skiing, it is best to get a Dolomiti Superski Pass. This convenient ski pass gives you access to the ski area in the Dolomites. Which is home to 1200 km of ski runs and 450 connected lifts. A great value for those planning to visit multiple ski areas. You can purchase the pass directly on the website here.
What to Pack for the Dolomites in Winter?
The average temperature for the Dolomites in the winter is a high of 23°F (-5°C) during the day and 14° (-10°C) at night. Dressing properly will make or break your trip. Layers are very important, especially when planning on spending your time doing outdoor activities.
A wool base layer can provide extra warmth since it uses your own body heat. A great second layer is a warm fleece. Your winter jacket should be windproof and be able to handle 20-degree weather. Snow pants such as ski pants can be paired with a pants base layer.
Hats, gloves, and warm socks will be key to keeping the rest of your body warm. Make sure all of your clothing is extra warm and made for winter activities. Gear is not necessary to bring unless you prefer your own skis or snowshoes. Each village and ski resort has rentals available. Be sure to check with your hotel upon arrival for local recommendations.
What to Eat in the Dolomites in Winter?
Don’t Miss Hut-Food
Food in the Dolomites ranges from luxury to simple. Try their Mountain Hut food, which has a relaxed Laden style. The dishes include fish, meat, and pasta, they are prepared right in the house for guests.
Try Slope-Side Food
Slope-side food is another option that is commonly found at ski resorts. This type of food is made to fuel up guests so they are able to spend as much time as possible on the ski slopes. These dishes are commonly compared to street food and can be anything from burgers to sandwiches.
Pizzas and Pasta
Don’t forget that you are in Italy. Home to some of the best food in the world. Most places will be serving fresh-made pizzas and hearty pasta. Some mountain huts and ski restaurants feature Michelin star chefs and ingredients are normally farm-to-table.
Final Thoughts about the Dolomites in Winter
The Dolomites draw visitors from all over the world, every winter. Sports enthusiasts spend weeks taking advantage of the miraculous Italian Alps.
Other visitors come to just relax while gazing at the snowy peaks, with mountain ranges in the distance. Come try the delicious Italian dining and exhilarating winter activities. The Dolomites are a destination that is perfect for those looking for that adventurous winter escape.