Home » Kids In Italy » Cortina d’Ampezzo with Kids – A Chic, Family-Friendly Town (Summer Edition)
Boy pushes brothers in stroller down main pedestrian street of Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Yellow buildings on left. The buildings have a traditional Austrian/German vibe with flower boxes on the windows. Church bell tower in back and mountains looming behind.

Cortina d’Ampezzo with Kids – A Chic, Family-Friendly Town (Summer Edition)

Cortina d’Ampezzo is known as the Vail or Aspen of Italy, but that’s in the winter.  If you’re coming to Italy in the summer with your family and you’re looking for a place to play in the mountains, you may want to put Cortina d’Ampezzo on your radar.

It’s a chic mountain town in the Dolomites, surrounded my dramatic mountain scenery, fantastic hikes, and it’s got plenty for kids – from people watching to playgrounds to cycling paths and pizza!

I’m a mamma of three living in Italy, and I’ve been visiting Cortina d’Ampezzo for over two decades (yikes), as a hiking and cycling guide and tourist (on my own, with friends, and now with my family).   

Cortina is all about luxury, but even if you’re not (I’m not), it’s still a great place to visit for its beauty, culture, and outdoor activities. 

It’s on the radar for the 2026 Winter Olympics (paired with Milan), and it was the host of the 1956 Winter Olympics.

Cortina feels more Italian than many other places in the Dolomites, so it pairs well with other areas that have more of an Austrian (Castelrotto) or Ladin (San Cassiano) feel.   

Let’s take a look at visiting Cortina d’Ampezzo with kids so you can decide if the mountain town is a good fit for your family and summer vacation.

Map for Visiting Cortina d’Ampezzo with Kids

Why Visit Cortina d’Ampezzo with Kids

The whole family will appreciate the gorgeous, dramatic mountain views.

Cortina has a lovely, picturesque pedestrian center

Cortina has plenty of family-friendly events during the summer

Cortina has an Italian feel that pairs well with time in other parts of the Dolomites with a more dominant Austrian or Ladin culture (seen in clothing, language, food).  It’s fun and interesting for kids to see the three different cultures in the Dolomites.

Cortina is within reach of kid-friendly mountain areas (like the Cinque Torri).

Cortina has playgrounds and a nice cycling path

The town mascot is an adorable red squirrel.  Enough said.

Reasons to Skip a Cortina d’Ampezzo Visit with Your Family

You’re on a budget.  Cortina d’Ampezzo is expensive.

You’re looking for simple travel to your destination.  Cortina is difficult to get to, especially with public transport

You get stressed out with parking.  Parking in Cortina in high season can be a pain (and expensive)

You’re not a fan of chic, luxe mountain resorts.  Cortina is fancy, and if that’s not your thing, skip it!  I’ve had plenty of clients not enjoy Cortina because they prefer laid back, down-to-earth mountain towns.

When to Visit Cortina with Kids

Mom and three sons smiling for camera in the pedestrian center of Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
On a June visit to Cortina with my boys

Cortina is a huge international destination during the winter, and many families use it as a ski base (although I think there are better areas nearby for families… but that’s another post).

In the summer, Cortina is also booming, with the peak of crowds arriving from August 15-31.  There are also big crowds from mid-July to August 15 (just not as big as those last couple of weeks of August).  I normally shy away from big crowds (too many people and high prices), but Cortina d’Ampezzo is really fun in busy periods.  The people-watching is fantastic and there always seems to be something going on in the center. 

But, my pockets aren’t lined with Euros, and if yours aren’t either, look into coming for the last half of June or early September (before the 15th, when many lifts and gondolas stop running for the summer season).  Town does feel a little too quiet in September if you’ve seen it in the summer, but it’s still gorgeous!

Read more about visiting Italy in JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember.

How to Get to Cortina with Your Family

Cortina d’Ampezzo is best reached with your own car, but it’s also fairly well-connected by bus to other Dolomites towns, and to Venice. 

By Car – If you’re arriving from Venice, most of the drive is on the A27 AutostradaRead about Paying Tolls in ItalyIf you’re arriving from Bolzano, you’ll take smaller roads (including a few mountain passes) to get to Cortina.  Take it easy if you or your kids get car sick, but know you’re going to get some incredible views.

Parking in Cortina – If your hotel has parking, great!  If not, or if you’re visiting for the day, the easiest places to park are in the big parking lot by the bus station or the Pontechiesa garage.  Both are paid and pricey, but convenient. 

Good To Know:  Cortina’s ring road is one way, so if you miss your turn, you’ll need to do the loop again.  Don’t worry, it’s only about 5 minutes driving to go all the way around.

By Bus – With my kids, the only way I’d come by bus is from Venice.  You can take the Cortina Express bus direct from Venice to the Cortina bus station, which is just above town and walkable to the center (so, easy enough to do with kids and luggage).  You need to reserve seats in advance.

Read more about
Driving in the Dolomites
How to Reach the Dolomites from Venice

Parking in Italy

Family-Friendly Things to See and Do in Cortina

Ride bikes up the old railway path – Rent bikes at one of Cortina’s shops (2&2 has adult and kid bikes) and ride up the old paved and dirt railway path to Passo Cimabanche.  It’s a gradual uphill, and an easy ride on the way back!  You don’t need to go all 15km to the pass – just turn around whenever you want.  Or, keep going (slight downhill) after Passo Cimabanche for another 5km to an amazing viewpoint of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.  You can also ride south (downhill) from Cortina on a paved path, but your return will be uphill.

Visit the Olympic Ice Stadium (Stadio Olimpico del Ghiaccio) – This year, 2024, it opens in August).  You can ice skate, there’s a fabulous kids playground (best in Cortina), and there’s even a skateboarding area.

Head to one of Cortina’s playgrounds – Our favorite is the ice stadium playground (open 9-19, and it doesn’t open in poor weather).  There’s also a small playground in front of the elementary school with a slide, swings, spring toys, and climbing structures.  There’s no shade or benches, and it’s kind of fenced and set off of main road but still watch little ones (the ice stadium playground is much more relaxed safety-wise but this one’s open all the time).  The Mover Family Park is another option.  It has an entrance fee, a huge green area with trampolines, kids toys, and lounge chairs for parents.  It’s open morning and afternoon.

Take the lift up to Faloria – Your family can take the gondola up from the center of Cortina to Rifugio Faloria for great views of the surrounding mountains.  Up top, you can go for a walk or have hot chocolate at the rifugio.  I enjoy taking this gondola, but it’s a big one that you have to stand in, so take a look at the photos if you or your kids prefer to sit on the way up/down.

Have aperitivo on the main street – One of my favorite things to do in Cortina is sit outside on Corso Italia and enjoy an aperitivo while people-watching.  My favorite spot is the old school, elegant Hotel de la Poste, where kids can have chips and delicious olives while mamma and papa enjoy a Bellini or Hugo Spritz! It’s on the pedestrian street, so kids can play in the piazza area.

Browse at the Cooperativa – I’ve spent an embarrassing number of hours inside this store over the years, and I always make time in our itinerary to browse the Eurospar grocery store (mandatory purchase of the red and black berry candies), the gift area, the traditional clothing, and all of the other floors!  It’s worth a peek, even if you’re not a big shopper.  It’s a good spot for souvenirs for kids too (ground floor).

Shop for traditional clothing at Ghedina Zuccaro – This is the best spot in town if you want to purchase high-quality, traditional clothing from the area.  You can find both adult and child sizes.  If you’re interested in other clothing, there are plenty of other shops (from Patagonia to Moncler).

Visit the Libreria Sovilla (bookstore) – My boys always want to stop in to this bookshop in the center of town.  It’s actually easy to walk by it, but head down the steps and check out the small kids section (in Italian, but you could still get a book for little ones) and the postcards. 

Play a round of mini golf – This is on our to-do list, as my boys are huge minigolf fans.  It’s a really simple course, but looks fun!

Attend an event – One of the best things about visiting Cortina in the summer is that there always seems to be an event going on.  Keep an eye out in Piazza Dibona, or stop in and ask at Tourist Info.

Good To Know:  This is also prime territory for vie ferrate.  If you’re traveling with older kids or teens, ask for guide info at tourist info, or contact Helmut and Brigitte at Arc Alpin or Heidi at Vico Travel.

Things to Do Near Cortina with Kids

View of one of the rock towers of the Cinque Torri in the Dolomites, Italy. Dramatic mountains in the background. Green grassy areas with wildflowers in foreground.
On a visit to the Cinque Torri with my husband and son

Explore the Cinque Torri – I think a visit to the Cinque Torri is a must-do with kids (or even without) if you’re in the area.  Take the lift up to visit the WWI open air museum, keep eyes peeled and ears open for marmots!, watch climbers on the 5 Torri, and walk up to Averau (amazing lunch) or Nuvolau (incredible views).  Read more about Visiting the Cinque Torri 

Lake Misurina – Walk along the lake, go on the pedal boats

Tre Cime di Lavaredo – Hike!

Socrepes Play Area – Small (but fun) playground at the top of the Socrepes lift; you can also drive most of the way up and walk 15 minutes to the play area

Walk to Lago Pianozes – Stroller-friendly walk (open with views and then forested) to a small lake surrounded by forest near Cortina; you can arrive on foot from Cortina; not swimmable, but there’s a bar for a snack and a tiny playground; lake can be low (and not amazingly gorgeous) if there hasn’t been much rain

Walk to the Fanes Waterfalls – Out-and-back hike that’s best for older kids and teens; don’t do the via ferrata without equipment

Where to Eat in Cortina d’Ampezzo with Kids

If you’ve been traveling in the Dolomites and are craving Italian food (after all of those meals of canederli and strudel), you’ll find cibo italiano throughout the town.  There’s also plenty of choice in type of restaurant, from casual bars to Michelin-star establishments.

Here are some of the places I’ve found work best with families in Cortina d’Ampezzo:

La Cooperativa di Cortina (Corso Italia, 40) – This one-stop-shop has plenty of goodies for a picnic.  Grab some local cheeses, bread, fresh fruit and veg, chocolates, and something cold to drink.  You’re your picnic in the green area with shade and benches and white marble memorial at top of town or on the benches along the walking path (lunga via delle Dolomiti).  Other places to grab picnic goods – Latteria Cortina (pricey but fresh local dairy and other products) and Conad City (grocery store).

Pizzeria 5 Torri (Largo delle Poste, 13) – Plenty of seating; loud enough that energetic kids don’t bother anyone; I recommend sticking to the pizza; nice central location

Tivoli (Località Lacedel, 34) – Head up the hill toward Pocol for a family friendly Michelin star dinner.  The owners (and chef) are parents and patient and kind with kids (but remember it’s a Michelin-star meal so kids should be able to sit quietly).

Ristorante Ariston (Via Marconi, 10) – A good pick if you want something a little more creative. Delicious pastas and polenta dishes. You can sit out front on the small outdoor patio. It’s on the main road.

Hacker Pschorr Haus (Via Stazione, 7) – Come here for casual hot dogs or sausages and fries; limited outdoor seating on small side street in center.

Pasticceria Panificio Alverà (Piazza Ghedina, 14) – This is the spot for fun and fancy pastries; indoor seating with a few outdoor tables.  In the summer, the La Baita gelato stand pops up next door.

Where to Stay in Cortina with Kids

First, know that hotels are very expensive in Cortina d’Ampezzo and you will not feel like you’re getting good value.  The key is to remember… location, location, location.

When staying in Cortina with kids, I prefer to stay in the center of town (so you can reach the pedestrian center on foot) or along the pedestrian path that runs along town.   Why?  If you’re spending the night in Cortina, a big part of the joy is being able to walk from your accommodation to dinner, to get aperitivo, etc.  If you have to drive, I recommend staying in a nearby-ish town or village, like Armentarola or San Cassiano, all of which provide a better bang for your buck.  I prefer the charming towns to the west, versus staying in the ‘Cadore’ towns to the southeast.

See my tips on Where to Stay in the Dolomites with Kids

Cortina with Kids – Basics

Boy pushing brothers along cobblestone street in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Church and flags in background. People with bikes on left.
We use our stroller in Cortina, even though the center is small

Strollers – Cortina is stroller-friendly, but there are a few places with stairs (like the paths down to the town center from the bus parking lot).  Luckily, you can always find a way to avoid stairs, but you may have to walk a couple of minutes longer.  The center is small, so you don’t really need a stroller, but I bring mine if I have a tired baby or toddler or one who needs a nap.  Read more about Strollers in Italy.

Baby Supplies – If you need diapers, wipes, diaper cream, baby food, etc – look at the pharmacy or a grocery store.  The Conad City will have the best prices on basics, while the pharmacy and Cooperativa will also carry higher-end products (like fancy sunscreen and baby shampoo).  Read more about Pharmacies in Italy and Italy with a Baby or Toddler.

Snacks – You can find local snacks at the Cooperativa grocery store, and there are also basics at the Conad City just around the corner.  Read more about Grocery Stores in Italy.

Pedestrian Area – Corso Italia is a pedestrian area, but there are still cars that have permission to enter (some residents and workers), so always keep an eye on your little ones.  And, keep in mind that the ring road around town often has impatient drivers, so be careful if you’re close to the road.

Toilets – There are two public toilets, but in over 20 years of visits, I’ve never needed to use either of them because it’s easy to use the toilets in bars, restaurants, or the Cooperativa (upstairs).  If you do need the public toilets, look for the sign for ‘toilette’ at the main building at the bus station parking lot and in the back of the city hall (‘municipio’) building, just across the street from the Cooperativa.  Read more about Bathrooms in Italy.

Be sure to check out our Dolomites family info:
Dolomites with Kids
Dolomites 7-Day Itinerary with Kids
Cycling Dolomites Bike Paths
San Cassiano with Kids
Cascate del Pisciadù Hike
Seceda Hike with Kids
Fiè allo Sciliar with Kids
Resciesa Hike with Kids
Ortisei with Kids
Alpe di Siusi with Kids
Corvara in Badia with Kids
Visiting Colfosco
Bolzano with Kids
Lake Molveno with Kids
Castelrotto with Kids
Our Favorite Things to Do in the Dolomites

Boy stands at edge of small stone fountain in park surrounded by tall trees in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
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