National Geographic has selected Cortina as one of the World’s 25 Best Ski Towns, an important recognition for this location, which offers 3 winter ski areas with 66 slopes of varying difficulty, for 115 km of pure delight.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Photograph by Patitucci Photo
Best For: Aesthetically minded skiers who appreciate fine wine
Equally exciting are the thematic itineraries to discover the beauty of the UNESCO Dolomites, including the Ski Tour Olympia built for the Olympics hosted in Cortina in 1956, the Great War Tour, for history buffs, and the classic Sellaronda passes, among the most spectacular in the world.
With the dramatic peaks of the Dolomites rising like ruddy cathedrals in every direction, the ski areas around Cortina have been called the most beautiful in the world. Many of the bejeweled visitors here seem to be vying for the same title. The most upscale resort in Italy, Cortina’s car-free Corso Italia is packed with furriers, designer boutiques, and Italians with sunglasses that cost more than most skis. It’s a slice of classic Italy and loads of fun if you want to sample la dolce vita.
The good news is that most people here are more interested in socializing than actually skiing and snowboarding, so the slopes aren’t crowded—at least by European standards. It’s also possible to stay and eat here inexpensively, as long as you steer clear of establishments that require second mortgages to afford. Though mind-meltingly scenic, the skiing itself is inconveniently spread out, making taxi services or a car useful if you want to maximize the area’s potential. There is a free shuttle bus that connects the ski areas with continuous service during the operating hours of the lifts. Beginners and intermediates will have the most fun on the many gorgeous, groomed runs (Socrepes and Mietres are dedicated to children and beginners). If you don’t mind the bus or taxi rides, Dolomiti Superski tickets give access to a network of resorts that reach far beyond Cortina and offer more terrain for advanced skiers.