It’s no question to me that the Dolomites of the South Tyrol province of Italy contains the most stunning and picturesque landscapes for skiing. The impossibly dramatic peaks of its limestone mountains will make your jaws drop at every turn. There are probably a hundred different towns to stay in the Dolomites, but not every town is created equal. Corvara, in the heart of the Dolomites and on the Sella Ronda circuit, is probably the most cutest and quaint of them all.
I’ve visited the Dolomites once before, staying in Val Gardena in the town of Santa Cristina. While that was also incredibly beautiful, I must say for those looking for the most cutest and stunning of towns, Corvara is your town.
I’ve only been to the Dolomites for skiing, and what an amazing experience it is. However, the Dolomites is actually more known to be a summer destination as it only sees snow 2-3 months out of the year (if you’re lucky). I fully intend to revisit the Dolomites in the summer months but for now, this blog post will be dedicated to winter ski fun.
If you’re looking for general information on the Dolomites and doing the Sella Ronda in its entirety, then make sure to read my ultimate Dolomites ski guide!
Where is Corvara?
Corvara is located in the Alta Badia region (High Badia) of the Dolomites. It’s located in the northeast corner of the Sella Ronda and sits at the base of the Sassongher mountain.
The first ski school was opened in Corvara in the 1930s and the first lift in 1938 on the Col Alto run – a sledge lift that took the people up the mountain in a large sledge. 1946 the sledge lift was replaced by Italy’s first chair lift which went into operation in 1947.
Gradually, guesthouses and restaurants made its way to this beautiful town paving way for the international ski destination it is now!
Views for days
I have to dedicate an entire section to this because the views in Corvara are just absolutely bananas. If mountains are your thing, there is no better place in Europe to whet your appetite than in Alta Badia.
The views from Corvara and Colfosco are probably the best of all the towns on the Sella Ronda. Trust me, I’ve skied the Sella Ronda circuit 4 times now and have been to all the main towns, and there is nothing more beautiful than the views from Corvara.
The main reason? The Sassongher mountain. This is the symbol of Corvara and the mountain peak rises 3,300m above the town and its dramatic presence is visible from everywhere in Corvara. I don’t know what it is about this mountain, perhaps its beautiful spirally shape, but I’m in awe every time I ski down the main track into Corvara town.
Skiing in Corvara and Alta Badia
The Alta Badia region in the Dolomites offers some of the best skiing in the region. From Corvara, you’re at the center of it all and it is the perfect base to explore the many runs in the area.
Cost of Skiing in Alta Badia
You can buy a lift pass for skiing in just the Alta Badia region. However, if you’re in the area for a few days, you’d be doing yourself an injustice not getting the Dolomiti superski pass which gives you access to all the mountains in the region. Because you’re located on the Sella Ronda, you can easily access other mountain ranges like Val Gardena, Arraba and more.
The cost for a 6 day pass in Alta Badia is €291 as of 2020.
The same 6 day pass for the Dolomiti Superski is €313, only €22 more. Don’t think twice and book the Dolomiti superski pass!
Where to ski in Corvara
Skiing in Alta Badia, and the Dolomites region in general is considered on the easier side. There are not many blacks in the entire area and even the blacks that do exist are not very difficult in comparison to other parts of the world. I think the whole premise of the Dolomites is to just soak in the incredible views that you can’t get in many other places.
If you’re staying in Corvara, you’ll have essentially three options from the base to start your ski day.
- The Borest Gondola to Colfosco
- The Boè Gondola that takes you to the top of the Sassongher and towards Arraba on the Sella Ronda
- Costes Da L’ega chairlift
Start with the Boè Gondola
If you’re here for a week, then I’d recommend starting with the Boe gondola as it takes you very high to Piz Boe which you can then take a nice, long scenic route on largely blues and reds down to Corvara. I’d recommend doing this very early in the morning as it is a popular route and the base of this track gets skied out rather quickly.
As you ski down, you’ll be greeted with in your face stunning views of the Sassongher mountain.
Take the Costes De L’ega to the Col Alt Gondola
The Costes De L’ega ski lift will take you to the Col Alt Gondola which will then take you to the backside of Corvara where there are another 10-15 different tracks. This is the heart of Corvara skiing and where I’d highly recommend you spend at least a day exploring.
From the Col Alt gondola, ski down to the La Brancia ski lift where it will drop you off at a crossing point with many different lifts. Some of my favorite runs of the area were here including Ciampai, Bamby, Piz Sorega and more.
Ski run #11 was particularly memorable as it was a fast red run with spectacular views and hardly anyone on it. I was able to clock up to 80km/hr here!
Take the Borest Gondola to Colfosco
The third and final option is to take the Borest gondola to Colfosco. Since I stayed in Colfosco, this is actually where I spent my first day skiing. There are not as many tracks here but the ones that they do have are fantastic.
After the Borest Gondola, take the Colfosco Gondola right next to it. From the top of Colfosco, take the Forcelles ski lift which takes you to the very top where there is a delicious rifugio serving al dente pasta. This ski track is also incredibly enjoyable as there is usually not too many people.
After this, take the Col Pradat gondola to the peak of the Sassongher Mountain. This is probably the most dramatic viewpoint in the entire Alta Badia region as you’re literally face first with the Sassonger mountain. Col Pradat is probably my favorite track in the entire Alta Badia region. Make sure to take the red track down where hardly anyone skis because most elect to do the easier blue track. It’s not that difficult but you get some serious speed!
There is also a lovely hotel and restaurant here that serves the best Kaiserschmarnn in the region! More on that in the next section.
Where to eat in Corvara
Corvara has no shortage of delicious dining options. You’re in Italy, so you’re not going to go hungry here! We had pasta on the slopes for lunch, and pizza for dinner almost every night.
It was glorious.
If pizza and pasta aren’t your thing, there are always local specialties to try which are largely Austrian style cuisines like schnitzels, venison, meat stews, and pork ribs. The region of South Tyrol is not really what comes to mind when you think “Italian”. People here speak Italian and German as it was under Austrian rule not too long ago. Because of the high amount of German and Austrian tourists, restaurants almost always offer Italian and German foods.
The running joke from other Italians is that this area doesn’t know how to cook pasta because they only cook it for tourists who expect to eat it because they are in Italy. Don’t expect the food here to be like it is in the South, in Puglia for example!
Jokes aside, I stuck with Italian and was certainly not disappointed with my choices of food!
Fornella is one of Corvara’s classics. It has thousands of reviews on Tripadvisor and for good reason. It serves delicious pizza, homemade Italian cuisine, as well as traditional Tyrolean cuisine.
It’s always packed here so either make a reservation of be prepared to wait in line. We waited in line for about half hour before being seated. Have some wine at the bar to pass the time by!
The pizza here is delicious and was worth the wait.
Altes Keller was another restaurant that came highly recommended. It is a bit more upscale than other restaurants and focuses on traditional Tyrolean cooking. We had the tasting menu which had four courses of delicious cuisine.
Black Hill Pizzeria
Located in Colfosco, this pizzeria was down the street from our guesthouse. The pizza here was out of this world and certainly worth a visit even if you’re staying in Corvara. We ended up eating here two days out of the week!
L’Got is a super fancy wine bar located in Corvara’s city center. If you want a fantastic wine bar with an ambiance to impress, this is the place. It was also home to the most expensive Aperol Spritz we’ve had at 9 euros!!
And finally, another pizzeria in Corvara because why not? Salvan actually has a large menu of Tyrolean cuisine in addition to pizza. Their steak Florentina looked amazing but I ended up sticking with the pizza.
Where to eat on the slopes in Alta Badia
One of my favorite things about skiing in Italy is the food. Not only is the skiing and views out of this world, but you can always look forward to having some delicious Italian food on the mountain.
Europe skiing puts more emphasis on the eating and drinking part than in the US. There are countless little rifugios on the slopes serving delicious food and beverages.
I think in Alta Badia alone, there must be at least 30 places to eat on the mountains. The Europeans are also very much into their mid afternoon drinks before they call it a day. Nothing beats an aperol spritz with a view on the mountain!
Col Pradat Hutte
Without a doubt, thi sis one of my favorite restaurants in Alta Badia. It’s actually a hotel at the very top of the Col Pradat gondola right in front of the Sassongher mountain. The view from this hotel would be absolutely bananas. Thankfully, they also have a restaurant and is one of the only places that’s open for breakfast on the slopes. People are here very early having their espressos.
I read that their kaiserschmarnn is legendary so we made it a mission to come here early one day just to have it. We arrived around 10am with only a few others. We ordered some cappuccinos and the Kaiserschmarrn. It is €22 which seems expensive but is enough to feed 3 people in my opinion, and you don’t need much after that! If you ate this yourself, you’ll be rolling down Colfosco but if I was only here by myself, I’d gladly do it!
It was every bit as heavenly and delicious as expected! The pancakes were served on a cast iron skillet, the way it’s supposed to be. They were fluffy, and the charred bits were so delicious as it absorbed all the caramelized sugars. The view was absolutely insane and I’ve never had such a dining experience!
Hands down the best pasta we had all week. Their simple spaghetti ragu was cooked al dente to the max and the portions were huge.
Located in the heart of the Alta Badia region, this restaurant is right at the base of the Brancia lift. The views from this restaurant are stunning as you’re just surrounded by mountains on all sides!
I mainly chose to come here because it had an outdoor grill smoking all different types of meats. It’s also located in Corvara at the base of the Brancia ski lift. It gets crowded because other people probably also smell the delicious meats being grilled and fancy themselves a meal.
We got the pork ribs to share which were to die for.
Where to stay in Corvara
Corvara has no shortage of beautiful accommodation options at all price points. During the winter ski months, you can expect to pay a lot of money for even the cheapest accommodation as it is the peak time for tourists since the ski season is so short.
All towns located on the Sella Ronda will generally command a premium compared to other towns in the Dolomites. Corvara is probably the most expensive and “fanciest” town in the Sella Ronda circuit. I stayed in Santa Cristina in Val Gardena before and I can safely say Corvara is more posh. It was very difficult to find reasonably priced accommodation in Corvara in February so I’d recommend booking well in advance. I’m talking a minimum of 6 months in advance!
Another option is to stay in the neighboring town of Colfosco. Colfosco is located on the hill overlooking Corvara and is only a 15 minute walk away. The prices here are slightly cheaper and you have stunning views of the surrounding mountains (although you can’t see the Sassongher). I ended up staying in a guesthouse in Colfosco as pretty much any affordable option in Corvara was sold out. Clearly, I did not follow my own rule of booking 6 months in advance.
Nevertheless, my guesthouse was more than adequate for what I needed. It offered free breakfast, a shuttle bus to the ski lifts, and just absolutely ridiculous views to wake up to in the morning.
Hotel Col Alt
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