There is an early start to skiing here in the Dolomites with pre-season special offers starting late November and available through until 23 December, 2006. The total of 37 lifts with a combined total of over 45,000 skiers an hour makes Cortina one of the "gems" of alpine skiing and has been described as the "Queen of the Dolomites".
Cortina hosted the Olympic Winter Games back in l956 and although the resort retails much of its charm, it has certainly not stood still when it comes to development. The five different ski areas are connected by a network of lifts and where this does not exist, the ski bus is to hand. The winter season usually opens in November and runs through to April during which time this Dolomite area enjoys considerable snow-fall and provides excellent runs for all grades of skier. Certainly, the challenging black runs which make up 5 per cent of the resort's total will test the ability of the most avid of skiers. But for the average British skier Cortina has 62 per cent of red/medium difficult and a further 33 per cent of easy/blue pistes. To put it into context, there are 39 blue, 30 red and 7 black runs.
Cortina features in the "Best of the Alps" list of top ski resorts from five alpine countries alongside Arlberg resorts, Kitzbuhel, St. Moritz and Grindelwald together with Zermatt and Davos.
The main street of the old town is an experience all of its own with English tea-rooms and Italian ladies who like to "parade" up and down in their fur coasts training behind them their little dogs in matching fur coats! Cortina has a population of 6,500 which rises to over 40,000 during the peak of the season and provides 64 hotels of various types. The towen has 250 shops and 80 restaurants and 56 alpine huts as well as museums and plenty of local craft shops.
There is no shortage of restaurants serving excellent food and local wines that have an excellent flavour hard to match elsewhere. For nightlife there are five discos, a cinema and the thrills op the famous Cresta Run to watch.
The car journey from Calais to Cortina is not difficult and will take 10.11 hours via Munich and Innsbruck and then over the Brenner Pass. Snow chains should be carried in the car but it is unlikely you will have to use them to reach Cortina which is just 25 miles from the Austrian border and 103 miles from Innsbruck. However, if you prefer flying the airport at Venice is 160km distance and Innsbruck 165 km. In either case, a transfer of around three hours.