Top Lift: 2949m
Ski area: 120km of piste (1220km in Dolomiti Superski)
Adult lift pass: 229-287€ for six days (Dolomiti Superski)
In a Nutshell
Canazei is an attractive ski resort set amidst stunning Dolomite scenery – which has escaped the relentless price increases of the A-list resorts further north. For most skiers, the Sella Ronda ski circuit is the main draw – but actually the best skiing lies elsewhere, on the sumptuous, almost-empty pistes of the Val di Fassa.
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
Canazei and adjoining Campitello are the main ski resorts in the Val di Fassa, in the heart of the spectacular Italian Dolomites. They’re also key players in the famous Sella Ronda circuit of pistes, which girdles the flat-topped Sella massif, and is the hub of the massive, 1200km, Dolomiti Superski network of lifts and pistes.
An inexpensive, international resort
Canazei offers a good-value base for getting to grips with all this snow. A hotch-potch of narrow cobbled lanes, flanked by old barns and modern hotels, it attracts an international crowd (Dutch, Germans, Czechs, Poles, Russians, Scandis – we even heard a few French skiers on our last visit), as well as the clients of the big British tour operators. Overall, it’s an attractive spot – the town a little untidy, the scenery stupendous – but you wouldn’t call it posh, and the tour operators charge less for their catered chalets here than they do in Selva, the best-known of the Sella Ronda resorts. In January, they also offer quite a few late-booking discounts, too.
The best apres-ski scene in the Dolomites
The low-ish prices attract a spirited crowd. This isn’t as big a party town to match Val Thorens, Ischgl or Meribel. But the pubs and bars do get lively at night – and the après-ski is much more mainstream than in towns and villages elsewhere in the Dolomites. Nevertheless, those who don’t want to dance on the tables till dawn rarely complain about the noise.
Over-crowded shuttle buses
They do, however, complain about the shuttle-bus service which links much of the accommodation to the lifts. In peak weeks, the buses are full to bursting, and not everyone can get on. If you are going over New Year or February half term, try to book your ski accommodation within walking distance of the lifts as a result.
Lots of skiing beyond the Sella Ronda
Other villages in the Val di Fassa valley include Alba, Pozza, Moena, and Vigo di Fassa. They have their own small and much quieter ski areas, which don’t link into the Sella Ronda, and are much less crowded as a result. Don’t ignore them: there are some fabulous pistes in these areas – for example at Catinaccio and Buffaure – and some superb restaurants too. Catch them midweek in January or March and you’ll feel like you’re skiing your own private resort.
Many British skiers love it
Stupendous scenery, confidence-boosting pistes, reasonable prices: it’s a package that’s sure to appeal to many skiers, and the Brits are no exception. And so what if the climate is less snowy here than the Rockies or the northern Alps? Most holidaymakers want sunshine and well-groomed pistes, not powder, and Canazei has plenty of both.
But don’t come here later than the end of February
In the Dolomites, lots of snow-cannons and expert grooming compensate for the dry climate – when it’s cold. But when it’s warm, there’s nothing anyone can do to keep the pistes in good nick. So avoid spring – which in this part of the world often comes on early, and strong.
See also our feature 8 Things We Love About The Dolomites.