3 Zinnen—which translates to the Three Peaks—is a lesser-known gem in the beautiful Dolomites. The area combines everything there is to love about skiing in Italy: glorious sunshine, fantastic snow, breathtaking views, stylish accommodation and a welcoming, laid-back atmosphere. Here’s everything you need to know to whet your appetite for a fantastic break at 3 Zinnen.
3 Zinnen is located in the heart of the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Despite its name, there are actually five stunning mountains to ski: Monte Elmo, Croda Rossa, Orto del Toro, Baranci and Val Comelico, with around 110km of uncrowded slopes to get excited about. Another reason to be stoked to visit is that it is part of Europe’s largest skiing networks, the Dolomiti Superski. One lift pass can give you access to 12 skiing areas, which is certainly worth your while on an extended stay, particularly because Italy’s steepest slope can be found here.
You’ll also have access to 200km of cross-country skiing, with all-encompassing scenes across the Dolomites area. The Val di Landro valley is the most famous, alongside Prato Piazza and the high-altitude cross-country ski track. Night skiing on both downhill and cross-country ski tracks is a huge draw, letting you experience the landscape in a truly unique way, and adding an extra thrill to the experience.
The guaranteed way to get a taste of the best the area has to offer is on the Giro delle Cime tour. There are both short and long versions, starting in Versciaco and reaching either Croda Rossa or the Val Comelico ski area. You start the day at 2,200m and descend via some impressive terrain, such as the Helmissimo slope and delights like the Monte Elmo panoramic gondola lift. With or without a guide, this tour is a great way to really experience the area, as well as working up a fantastic appetite for après-ski.
Apart from being a fabulous ski location, 3 Zinnen is also known for its family-friendly atmosphere. There are three sledging runs for kids and adults to enjoy, 8 ski schools, as well as Italy’s only reindeer herd – which aren’t averse to making new friends – and a resident family of giant snowmen. There’s also a large kids’ play park and a ski-cross track packed with fun obstacles, especially for little ones.
Snowshoeing is one more way to take in, and fully appreciate, the scenery at a slower pace. Equally leisurely is a horse-drawn sleigh ride, which is a magical experience in the snow. The more intrepid can try out ice skating and climbing (to tax the final few muscles skiing might not have reached), either indoor at the activity centre, or outdoor at the ice wall—if you’re feeling brave enough.
There are several charming villages to complete your experience in 3 Zinnen area. Our personal favourites are Sexten (or Sesto as it is sometimes known) and San Candido. Sexten has 44 pistes to choose from and is ideal for building beginners’ confidence in either skiing or snowboarding. Here, the 4-superior-star Berghotel has a beautiful indoor and outdoor pool, and a modern interior complemented by log fires. The menu at the hotel’s kitchen is designed to be healthy and organic, with local and seasonal produce at the core of the dining experience—their apple strudel is a must. Meanwhile, 4 superior-star Bad Moos has a romantic atmosphere, helped along by its wood-clad interior, ski-in ski-out access and a sauna, pool and steam room. Their luxury spa with more than 2000 square meters offers couples’ massages, skin masks and hot stones for some post-ski relaxation. The restaurant here is atmospheric and traditional, focusing on Italian delicacies, South Tyrolean cuisine, and a hint of the Mediterranean.
Connected to the main Sestro ski area by a 15-minute bus journey, the bustling and pretty market town of San Candido also has plenty to do. Experience horse-drawn carriage rides, hot air balloon trips and some hiking trails too—that is if you can tear yourselves away from its own, basically queue-free slopes.