Skiing In The Dolomites: A Rough Guide
Suggestions on where to eat, where to sleep, and where to ski in the Dolomites.
If you're looking for a holiday destination where you can go skiing and/or snowboarding while surrounded by some of the world's most beautiful scenery, you'd be hard-pressed to find a mountain range more visually stunning than the Dolomites of northern Italy. Skiing in the Dolomites is an excellent alternative to skiing in the traditional Alpine destinations. Photogenic landscape, after photogenic landscape; there's a chance you'll end up melting your camera here through excessive usage. Oh, and while we're at it, the skiing's not too shabby either.
So, I guess it's time to go and book yourself a week of skiing in the Dolomites? But, wait; wait one second. What do you actually know about skiing in the Dolomites? Do you, for example, know that there are 12 main ski resorts in the Dolomites? And that the Dolomites are also known as the "Pale Mountains"? And that the Cortina d'Ampezzo resort featured in our '6 Of The Best Luxury Ski Resorts In Europe' article? And that Val di Fassa popped up in our '10 Of The Best Ski Resorts For Beginners' piece?
We're not trying to put you off skiing in the Dolomites by overloading you with a variety of useful and less useful information. Far from it, in fact. We just want to ensure that you're as up to speed with what the Dolomites has to offer, as you can be. Contrary to what you might think, we always want you to have the best time imaginable. This article is nothing more than a helping hand - nudging you along in the pursuit of ski trip perfection. Or, as the Italians would say, perfezione!
Basic Information On The Dolomites
As we've already mentioned in the introduction, situated within the Dolomites are 12 ski resorts. Combined, these 12 ski resorts offer up an impressive 1,220 kilometres of on-piste action. The ski resorts in the Dolomites are connected by 450 lifts, and can be accessed on a single pass known as the Dolomiti Superski lift pass. Depending on when you go, a five day pass for the entire area will cost you somewhere between €192 and €240.
The Dolomites ski area offers a variety of sunny pistes that range anywhere between 1,500 and 3,200 metres in terms of elevation. The Dolomites don't receive as much fresh powder as some of the more northern ski areas in Europe, but the army of snowmaking machines scattered across the resorts means you'll always have some white stuff for your planks to slide on. You might already be familiar with our love for the beautiful Dolomites, but don't just take our word for it; the mountains have actually been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They're kind of a big deal.
Eating In The Dolomites
Across a skiing area as large as the Dolomites, and in a country like Italy that prides itself on the standard of its cuisine, the choice of quality dining establishments is impossible to quantify accurately. Everywhere you go, around every corner you ski, there'll probably be somewhere serving some delicious food; grub that'll be so nice it'll most likely bring a tear to your eye. Welcome to the Dolomites, a place where making your tastebuds happy is all part of the plan.
The Rifugio Comici, at the foot of the Langkofel in Selva di val Gardena, serves a delicious range of seafood (rather surprising when you remember that it's situated in the heart of a mountain range). Stunning views, stunning food; you'll need a reservation though. The El Filò, in Pozza di Fassa, serves some excellent meat-based dishes in a friendly atmosphere. If sensational pizzas are what you're after, and let's face it - why else are you in Italy, check out the Ristorante Pizzeria Ariston in Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Sleeping In The Dolomites
The Dolomites is a massive area, and contains a variety of places for you to rest your head at night. From the luxurious hotels of Cortina d'Ampezzo, to catered and self-catered chalets, via campsites and lodges; those who go skiing in the Dolomites are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation.
Camping Olympia is a 4 star campsite in Dobbiaco - which is one of the main gateways for those looking to explore the magnificent mountains of the Dolomites. It's opened in winter, as well as in summer. The campsite has 200 power-connected pitches, with some of them offering gas and water connections. There's two restaurants here, a heated swimming pool, a wellness paradise, and a supermarket. At less than €10 for a 'Category A' spot during high season, a night in the Dolomites doesn't get much cheaper than this. Something for the camping and adventure enthusiasts to consider.
If a skiing holiday and campsite combination sounds a bit too much like hard work, you might be interested in the Alpina Dolomites Lodge. The Alpina Dolomites Lodge, which doubles as a health lodge and spa, is the height of luxury. The lodge is located on the Alpe di Siusi, which is Europe's largest high-altitude plateau and an all-round feast for the eyes. Relaxation, recuperation, party-in-your-mouth cuisine, and a premium wine selection are all on offer at this self-proclaimed wellness centre. It's certainly not the cheapest option in the Dolomites but with mountain air this fresh, and scenery this nice; there's no better way to treat yourself in this part of Europe.
Maybe you're looking for a ski-in/ski-out chalet because, let's face it, everyone loves a ski-in/ski-out chalet. The Chalet Dolomites, situated on the slopes of Alpe di Siusi, is a catered chalet with 14 bedrooms. All of the rooms have a balcony or terrace, so nobody's missing out on the amazing views. There's a spa in the chalet, with sauna and steam room, for those who just want to "chill-flix" and chill at the end of a heavy ski day. Surrounded by 60km of groomed slopes, this really is an excellent chalet option.
Skiing In The Dolomites
As a destination, skiing in the Dolomites has something to offer everyone. However, with 60% of the slopes here classified as red; it's little to no wonder that many people think it's an ideal destination for intermediate skiers. For those of you wanting to keep score, 30% of the slopes here are classified blue and 10% black. If you're an expert skier concerned by the relatively small percentage number of black ski runs, remember that this is 10% over a huge area (meaning there's actually quite a lot of black ski runs, if you know where to look). Some of the best black ski runs in the Dolomites are discussed in the following section.
Arabba has some of the Dolomites more challenging ski terrain, while Corvara has some of the best nightlife. Beginners should try out Campitello di Fassa or Pozza di Fassa. If you'd like to speak with some certified experts, Momentum Ski are Italian specialists who know the Dolomites like the backs of their hands.
Best Ski Runs In The Dolomites
If you find yourself skiing in the Val di Fiemme valley, you absolutely need to get yourself on the Olimpia ski run. The Olimpia is a 7,500 metre-long black run that starts on the Alpe del Cermis. It weaves through the forest like a woodland elf, and has some steep segments that will challenge and thrill you in equal measure. Between the challenging aspects of this run there are more horizontal parts. These will not only allow you to catch your breath, but also give you the chance to take some beautiful photographs of the Dolomites as well. The ski route is split up into three sections: Olimpia 1, Olimpia 2, and Olimpia 3.
Intermediate skiers hitting up the Dolomites should move heaven and earth if it gives them even half-a-chance to ski the Armentarola. The Armentarola is a 6km red ski run that goes down a total of 1,130 metres. Scenery so beautiful you'll have to have your chin surgically reattached (because it's all so jaw-dropping), as well as some truly epic frozen waterfalls; the Armentarola is not to be missed. The route itself brings together the Lagazuoi of Cortina d'Ampezzo and the marvellous Val Badia valley.
The Schmugglerabfahrt might have a properly ridiculous name, but it's actually one of the most famous ski runs in the Val Senales valley. The ski run is 8km long, and dishes out a vertical drop of 1,200 metres. Beginning at an altitude of 3,212 metres, the run descends quickly before winding up at Maso Corto. While the opening segment of this route is perfectly suitable for intermediates, and even confident beginners, the trail does rapidly transform into a difficult black ski run with steep slope angles and narrow slices.
La Bellunese, up on the Marmolada, might not be the most difficult ski run in the Dolomites but it's certainly one of the loveliest. It runs for a whopping 12km, and has a total drop of 1,000 metres. Beginning at Punta Rocca, it surges through the Marmolada glacier before going to the Fedaia Pass and eventually winding up at Malga Ciapela. The views you'll see while skiing down this incredible run will stay with you for a lifetime. Don't miss out.
For more information on the area, check out the Visit Dolomites website.