Glorious Hiking, Outdoor Activities & Luxury Spas Close to Venice for Your Italian Summer Holiday
You don’t have to be a mountaineer and eat dried food to experience out of this world hiking with breathtaking views, even with your kids or mobility impaired friends and family.
Everyone should travel to Italy to experience the magnificent cities but it’s a hustle and touristic bustle that can leave you or your family well-fed but drained.
Cortina d’Ampezzo Italy: Where to Stay in Dolomites in Summer
Fortunately, it’s only a 2-hour drive from the international airport in Venice to the stunning mountain village of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the heart of the Italian Dolomites.
Don’t worry, mountains in Italy don’t mean a sacrifice in the food or luxury department.
Cortina is a must-see for people who love Nature with a dose of good food and wine on summer holiday.
tl:dr: Epic Food and Delicious Hikes in the Dolomites in Summer Italy Travel
Continue reading to discover:
Go to the Town of Cortina for a quick break from the tourist overwhelm of Venice or as a unique wellness and Nature destination of itself. This mountain range extends North-South.
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Best Town to Stay in Dolomites : Cortina d'Ampezzo
The motto of this family-friendly outdoor paradise is “Cortina Delicious” and it delivers.
My Italian friends say Cortina d'Ampezzo is the place to be seen sipping a cappuccino if you’re a movie star on summer holidays.
My favorite part is that you’re just as likely to see a Gucci lady all done up in heels with her designer doodle dog drinking coffee next to a sweat-drenched hiker with mud-spattered boots and hiking poles on her backpack.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is also rich with WWI history as it was on the infamous Italian Front.
This area switched between Austrian and Italian control after WW1, and it’s suggested that Italy only joined the war and went against its natural ally of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to annex this part of South Tyrol.
Technically it’s in Italy, but German and Latin languages prevail in both speaking and signs.
Don’t get confused if you see, hear and taste things that seem more German than Italian.
Best Time to Visit the Dolomites in the Summer
Cortina is pretty amazing in the winter with its skiing being world-class. It's hosted multiple Olympics and world cup skiing events.
However, the unique experience of the Dolomites isn’t skiing.
The incredible thing about Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Italian Dolomites is the chance to walk easily at high elevations with minimal effort and no special training.
Huts and Trails in the Dolomites are open mid-June through mid-September
Directly on those accessible trails sit family-run mountain huts serving hot, delicious food and wine with comfortable soft beds which are open mid-June through mid-September.
A mountain hut is called a “rifugio” in Italian and “hütte” in German and they provide luxurious and delicious hiking experiences that are rare outside this region.
They seem impossible to this mom from the United States. If you can avoid August you'll find easier table reservations and less expensive accommodations.
Magic of the Italian Dolomites - Rifugios and Hiking Trails in Nature Park
You’ll savor some of the most spectacular views in the world. Protect your eyes though. The high elevation trails are framed by bright white limestone mountains and the sun reflects as if it were snow.
I’m always down for good value and being cheap whenever it makes sense. Here’s my article about how to turn your SUV into the best place to sleep before a big hike.
You’ll want to avoid my mistake around sunglasses though. I’ve got several pre-cancers just in my eye area which should NOT have been the trigger for me to take sunglasses seriously.
***Recommended sunglasses: Mountain Shield Cat 4 Reactive Lens Julbo
It doesn’t seem “hot” but don't forget a good hat and sunscreen too.
Top 5 Things to Do in Dolomites in Summer Holidays
1. Easy Day Hikes Your Kids Will Love
From Cortina, it’s easy to reach some of the best and most popular day hikes in the Dolomites.
Take your pick of Cinqui Torri (our favorite), Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Val Gardena, Seiser Alm, Alto Adige, Rosa Alpina, Alpe di Siusi, Lago di Sorapiss, Lago di Braies, Rifugio Croda di Lago, and more.
For maximum scenery with flat and stroller-friendly trails plan the Lago di Braies walk.
Parking can be challenging and there are many limitations. Book a Lago di Braies parking ticket here.
If you can’t get a ticket, it’s a good and less stressful option to take the bus to the Lago di Braies park.
Buses go from Cortina to Dobbiaco on SAD bus 445. Get off at the “Dobbiaco autostazione”.
Then switch to the 442 bus from Dobbiaco autostazione directly to the Lago di Braies national park, also called Prager Wildsee.
Parking is free in Dobbiaco, so if you’ve got a car it’s easier to drive from Cortina to Dobbiaco, park, and then take the 442 bus to Prager Wildsee (Lago di Braies).
2. Ride Bikes Around Gorgeous Lakes and Rocky Spires
If riding a bike is more your thing than hiking there are safe bike routes throughout the Dolomites. Rental bikes are sturdy and affordable to maximize your natural sightseeing on the route from Cortina d’Ampezzo to Dobbiaco.
3. Dolomites Summer Adventure: Do a Via Ferrata with Your Kids
Have a thrilling adventure doing a Via Ferrata. It means “iron way” and they are some of the absolute most exciting, yet safe mountain activities in the Alps.
Cables, handholds, and various bars embedded into the rocky paths, allow you to pass behind waterfalls and walk along the tops of peaks.
Take a guided tour with a mountaineer that will show you the safe way to experience a family-friendly via ferrata. They will provide all of the gear you need (helmets, harnesses, etc) so you can just show up and get the thrill of a lifetime, even with your kids.
If history is your jam, this guided World War 1 tunnel and via ferrata experience will scratch your history itch. Everything is included but you’ll buy your lunch at the fantastic Rifugio Lagazuoi sitting on the top of a rocky mountain.
4. Take a Chair Lift to Cinque Torri Outdoor Museum
This is probably the most dramatic rock formation in the entire region and is worth spending a day exploring. This area is 25 minutes outside Cortina d’Ampezzo and was on the infamous Italian Front of WW1. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers died on both the Italian and Austro-Hungarian sides, mostly from avalanches.
Cinque Torri means 5 towers and you’ll immediately see why it has this name in this surreal landscape.
It’s a 1-2 hour hike on foot but if you want to get to the outdoor history museum quickly, it’s a simple trip up the 5 Torri chair lift.
While you are there, definitely make a reservation and have lunch at the delicious Rifugio Averau. It’s about a 30 minute slight uphill walk from 5 Torri. You can’t miss it.
How to Get to 5 Torri
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can do some serious bucket list hiking and can hit up four different hikes on this tour.