Quality slopes, trails, facilities, snow-making equipment, ski schools, winter sports activities, ski hotels, and great food are making Spain a hot ski and winter destination.
With the Pyrenees mountains bordering the country in the north and the high Sierra Nevada closer to home, there are a lot of options and lots to recommend. Whether seasoned skiers, beginners, or families; we’ve rounded up some of the best ski resorts across the border.
Sierra Nevada: The family one closest to home
Situated between the Andalusian city of Granada and the Mediterranean Sea, this is one of the few Spanish ski resorts not located in the Pyrenees, and very familiar to those on the rock. Europe’s southernmost ski resort is our ‘home’ resort and being only 204kms as the crow flies it’s an option as a day trip but we prefer a couple of days mid-week!
Sierra Nevada boasts 100 slopes and about 107km of skiable terrain during the height of the ski season and if you are going with the family, you will get a free pass for children under 6 years old. Pista de El Mar, the resort’s family-themed area, is located in the area of Borreguiles, and is specially designed for both children and adults to enjoy the snow.
Another standout for families is Pista del Bosque, where there is a 200-meter themed area where children will find figures of forest animals that guide them on the way to an igloo camp that is sure to delight the little ones. And when everyone is tired from lots of skiing and needs a break there are options galore to refuel and recover.
Valdezcaray: The one for the budget minded
Located in the region of La Rioja, Valdezcaray is a small ski resort with approx 15kms of skiable terrain and 20 open slopes in the height of the season. If you have a tight budget when planning your snow days, you will find an adult ski pass at around 29 euros and if you go on weekdays that are not considered high season by the resort, the pass costs even less. The rental of skis, boots, and poles is also very reasonably priced compared to other ski resorts in Spain, so you can get everything you need, on a budget.
Like many other resorts, they opened as close to normal as possible this season, despite the ongoing health situation, in a push to get us all back to some sense of normalcy. And if after a few ski sessions you feel like doing something different, take advantage of the rural tourism, gastronomy and wine tourism activities in La Rioja. The area is famous for much more than just the snow!
Candanchú: The one for cross-country skiing
For some, gliding down the slopes is not what they are looking for in a ski holiday. But there’s no need to worry; Spain also offers cross-country skiing, or Nordic skiing, for those who want to enjoy the stunning winter landscapes, without so much input from gravity! With more than 500km of routes in Spain, there is plenty of choices to be had, but our recommendation is in Candanchú.
Here, in the Aragonese Pyrenees, the cross-country skiing area is located in La Rinconada, with 3 circuits ranging from 2.5 to 7.5 km in length, so you can choose how far you travel across this winter wonderland. This area also has the only facility in Spain dedicated to the biathlon, the popular winter Olympic discipline that mixes cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. .
Formigal: The one for Instagram!
Formigal stretches across four different valleys and offers some of the most challenging skiing in the Aragon Pyrenees. A purpose-built ski resort, Formigal has introduced state-of-the-art detachable lifts as well as Spain’s first-ever eight-seater chairlift – and one of the first hands-free lift pass systems which can prevent inadvertent access to slopes beyond the abilities of the skier.
Formigal which recently got a €110 million renovation, which included the addition of 21 ultra-modern lifts linking to its valleys, has around 140 kilometers of skiable terrain. Night skiing is allowed at the resort, and there is a timed slalom track where you can test your skiing skills. You can do this while being video recorded, a service the resort also offers, so that you can review your run once done and also have a unique souvenir to take back home with you, or share with your friends on social media.
The snow-making system here is equally sophisticated – with over 200 snow cannons, ensuring that the resort has been one of the first to open in recent seasons and has been able to offer skiing right through to the start of May. Almost all the runs are wide cruising trails that lead towards a snow bowl linked to 500 meters of blues. Above this, you will find three-kilometer-long blacks and some extensive off-piste opportunities. If anyone ever tries to tell you Spain isn’t a place to take a skiing holiday, send them here and see what they think.
La Molina and Masella: The two for one!
Another resort you can easily get to from Barcelona. Located about two hours away from Barcelona are La Molina and Masella, two ski resorts that are next to each other.
La Molina was the first ski resort to be opened in Spain back in 1943. It also has the country’s first ski school. It is popular with skiing beginners and snowboarders because of its easy runs.
Masella, on the other hand, has more difficult runs and is popular with advanced skiers. Together the two resorts have more have 130 kilometers of skiing terrain combined. If you’re looking to ski and take in Barcelona then these two offer the perfect accompaniment to the historic city.
Baqueira Beret: The one for boarding
One of the largest Spanish ski resorts, Baqueria (if you’re wondering about pronunciation, think Shakira) can be found in the Catalan Pyrenees. Its location provides a unique Atlantic climate, guaranteeing high-quality snow, just the right amount of sunshine and, due to its southerly latitude, an hour’s more daylight than the Alps.
Baqueira has some of the best snowboarding facilities in Spain, including 2 snowparks, Marmotes, and the Blanhiblar boardercross, the latter being ideal if you are just starting out in the snow as it is an easy circuit and, most importantly, a lot of fun. On the other hand, the Marmotes snowpark has three levels of difficulty: beginner, intermediate, and expert. With the options here it’s impossible to get bored!
These are just a few of the options to choose from when considering your next break in the cold stuff. Give Spain a try, it’s our backyard and you might just fall in love with all there is to experience.