Spain may not be most people’s first choice when it comes to skiing. But skiing in Spain is actually a real great thing. The Pyrenees is the obvious choice if you are looking for high-class skiing. But further south you can combine skiing with a trip to the beach which may make up for the lower peaks.
Great skiing in the Pyrenees
The Pyrenees have plenty of peaks and valleys but an area that stands out a little extra is the beautiful Benasque Valley and mountains. There are great conditions for skiing. The valley is located in the north-east of the Huesca province. It is surrounded by the highest concentration of peaks over 3000 m high in the entire Pyrenean mountain range. The valley itself is stunningly beautiful with rivers, lakes and forests. There are also plenty of glaciers and waterfalls. In fact, these are the only glaciers in Spain. You can go skiing downhill but also go cross country skiing.
The Aramón Cerler ski resort, located in the area, reaches 2,630 metres, making it the ski resort in the Pyrenees with the largest skiable drop: 1,130 metres. The height also ensures that Cerler has excellent quality of snow right up to the start of spring. There are also lots of opportunities for cross country skiing in the valley.
Barcelona and skiing on the same day
Should you wish to combine some quality skiing with a few days in Barcelona, perhaps you’d like to explore the Catalonian Pyrenees? There are five resorts within easy reach by a two-hour drive from Barcelona; La Molina, La Masella, Guils Fontanera, Vall de Nuria and Vallter 2000. There are plenty of different activities to engage in. You can night ski, go cross country, down-hill, walking on snow-shoes and heading up into the backcountry, orienteering, torchlight skiing. There is even a big snow park for sledging.
The common theme is family. The ski resorts in the Catalonian Pyrenees are geared towards families. Although there are some black slopes you will find there are more red and blue ones, suitable for children and beginners. The Après ski is also more family-friendly than elsewhere.
The Pyrenees are fantastic also when there is no snow. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails from which to discover the beautiful mountains and its valleys.
Snow, sand and sun
If sunny days and being close to fabulous beaches is important, you may wish to try out skiing in the Sierra Nevada in Granada. The coast with for example Marbella is only a two-hour drive away. Sierra Nevada is the name of the mountains but also the name of the ski resort.
The resort’s base level is 2 100 m and the top station is located on 3 300 m. There is a total of 131 runs and there is 110 km of marked slopes. The resort is a smallish one to everyone used to the bigger ones in the Alps, but it is nice, not overly crowded and you can enjoy some good skiing and lovely foods. Also, in the summer there are many activities on offer, like biking and hiking.
Its location is in a privileged setting. You can easily make an outing to the nearby town of Granada, located in the foothills of Sierra Nevada, with its World Heritage site of Alhambra if your legs hurt after too much skiing. Just remember that you are required to use snow chains going up the mountains. Frequently the police will be checking, and should you not have the chains on, you will not be allowed to pass. And, of course, should you get bored with the snow, the wonderful beaches of the nearby Costas are not far away.
Skiing in Madrid
The Sierra Nevada and the Pyrenees are quite well known, but did you also know that you could go skiing if you visit Madrid?
Just over an hour by car from Madrid, there are three ski resorts. It is easy to get to them and they have slopes for any level, from beginners to advanced skiers. The closest resort to Madrid is Puerto de Navacerrada, just 52 kilometres away. It has almost ten kilometres of slopes, many running through pine forest and is very family-friendly. Here is also one slope dedicated to snowboarders if that is more your thing. The resort is in the middle of the Madrid mountains and you can easily get there even if you don’t drive. There are daily bus services as well as trains.
Within equally easy reach, you will find the resort Valdesquí. It has 27 slopes and you also have the choice of getting there by car, train or bus from Madrid.
The largest resort in the area, La Pinilla, is located about 115 kilometres from Madrid and getting there by car would be the easiest. It has 22 slopes (mostly red ones) and there are often different sporting events going on in the wintertime, like dog sledging or snow running.
No matter where you are in Spain, you are never very far from a good slope where you can ski or learn how to. There is always something fun to do in Spain!