But what I like about the Dolomites is the relative stillness you can still feel in this region. Although it’s a UNESCO World Heritage range—with some of the best skiing in the world—I think it’s the bright sunshiny weather that brings people in!
So, if you have just a long weekend in the Dolomites this winter, here’s how I think you should spend it. Let’s go and enjoy the cold sunshine!
On your first day in the Dolomites, I think you should enjoy the best it has to offer: the snow! Today, we’re going outside!
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just a beginner, there’s a ski slope for you in the Dolomites. The region is full of nursery slopes—Kronplatz, for example, has five ski nurseries!—as well as many blue slopes for nervous beginners.
For the more experienced, one of the best ways to get the most out of your stay is though the Dolomiti Superski Pass. This pass gives you access to the entire ski region, including 12 Bellissima ski areas connected by 450 ski lifts. It’s a great way to explore everything the region has to offer, including the high mountain rifugios that dot the area.
Afternoon & Evening: Après-ski and Aperitivo
Spending all day on the slopes is great, but for some, they’re here for the après-ski. This social time spent drinking—often at the top of the snowy mountains you’ve just skied—is some of the best experiences of the holiday.
Italy has, of course, done one better and introduced the tradition of the aperitivo. Not only can you enjoy drinks after your day on the slopes, but you can also pre-game your dinner with a small, pre-meal snack to get your appetite primed for a late dinner.
Keen to seek out some après-ski? Selva and Cortina are popular, and Livigno has more than 150 bars to choose from. Make sure you try a local bombardino before you head home!
If you head to the Dolomites this side of Christmas—and you spent your first day enjoying the snow—day two is the perfect time to check out the Christmas markets and the museums to rest those weary muscles.
Morning: Christmas Markets
Depending on where you’re based, you can take your pick. Bolzano is home to the biggest Christmas Market in Italy. Walterplatz is covered with more than 100 stalls selling gorgeous handmade decorations and presents from the region.
Bressanone also has a gorgeous Christmas Market framed by the exceptional St. Michael's parish church and the town hall. This is a great spot to pick up some handmade pottery, candles and painted glass, as well as trying a few of the local delicacies.
What started off as one small museum in Sulden in Vinschgau, called Curiosa, is now a network of six mountain museums. Now known as the MMM—Messner Mountain Museums—these museums capture the history and art of mountaineering in South Tyrol.
The Dolomites have a recorded history that goes way back to the Stone Age, through the Roman Empire, both World Wars, right up to the present. Each people and culture that has passed through the region has left its mark behind.
For example, over 60% of people in this region of Italy speak German. There’s also the language of Ladin, a Romance language that is spoken almost exclusively in the Dolomites.
Excited to learn more about the ancient history of the Tyrol? Head to the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology to learn more about Otzi the Iceman, the oldest human body ever to be found intact.
On your last day in the Dolomites, we’re heading back out into the great outdoors, but not to ski this time. There are loads of other things to do in this snowy region, apart from skiing, so go get those boots!
Morning: Non-Ski Activities
This is going to be such a fun one! Think snowshoeing, tobogganing, winter hikes, snowmobiles—using those amazing ski lifts, you can get all over the show—even dog sledding! There’s so much to do out in the snow that doesn’t involve skis or snowboards.
You could also take those cableways up to the mountaintops to see the amazing views and eat at the lovely restaurants. No need for sports at all, if that isn’t your thing. Prefer something at a lower altitude? Head to Cortina for some of their world-class shopping (only your credit card will regret it!).
Afternoon & Evening: Eat Everything!
Since it’s our last afternoon in this amazing area, we’re going to do as the locals do: eat! Food in this area is a unique blend of German and Italian and it’s delicious.
Look out for Tris di Canederli, tennis-ball-sized bacon speckled dumplings served in a soupy broth. If you see game meat on the menu, give it a go! You should see cervo (deer), daino (fallow deer), capriolo (roe buck), Camoscio (chamois, a goat-antelope native to Europe), and stambecco (ibex, or mountain goat) in restaurants throughout the region.
There are also two kinds of cheese native to the mountains: Fontina and Montasio. Fontina is originally from the Valle D’Aosta and Montasio was first made by Benedictine monks in the 1200s. Both are DOP protected, although other countries do make their own versions of Fontina, at least.
Ready to Pack?
The Dolomites and South Tyrol are such a unique area, and well worth taking the time to explore. I find that one weekend is never enough: I want to return again and again! Luckily, it’s quite easy to get to from the office.
If you fly into Venice, it’s an easy trip by car up to the mountains. In fact, why not book a private transferor transfer tour to wherever you’re staying? These are not live yet, but email us at [email protected] for more information.
Fancy exploring the area a bit more? Stop off anywhere en route to get even more out of the experience. Bassano del Grappa—and its gorgeous 13th-century Ponte Vecchio style bridge—is always worth a stop. In fact, there are many towns and villages along the way that are each unique and wonderful to explore.But we’ll talk about that some other time.
Get in touch here to start booking your winter trip to the Dolomites now!