Hitting the slopes in Spain

December 10th, 2012

The Christmas holidays are a great time in lots of ways. Getting the family together these days is not as easy as it used to be, with people scattered all over the globe. A fantastic idea is to pour over the holiday ideas between the games of Scrabble and the endless TV repeats…what about a break for everyone in the New Year?  Have the whole family arrive at a destination and share the cost of accommodation – what better than a holiday with a little activity thrown in…Ski Spain it is then!

The Whole Family

An opportunity for a get together, and something for the whole family to enjoy.  Suggest a Spanish Ski break and everyone will be happy, you really can please all of the people, some of the time! The ‘been there, done that ‘ brigade can use the opportunity to show off – well, we all know a few! – the kids in the group will have great fun and wear themselves out every day, far better than sitting in front of a games console, and the oldies will enjoy the gentler slopes, the views, the bracing weather, and then again there’s always the Aprés Ski evenings – fondues and plenty of Cava – perfect!

The hills are alive…. with lots of skiers!

Spain and snow?! No way!

Spain is not always an automatic choice when you think of a Skiing holiday.  The Sunday papers with their travel sections  always seem to cover the Royal hotspots, and long haul American destinations.  But hop on a  short haul flight, and you’ll find that sunny Spain also has a lot to offer the discerning snow enthusiast! Spain is not just about sun, sand, and sangria!

Check out these specific Spanish Ski locations and places to rent here…

A happy crew!

Where to go

You have a choice of North or South, and a few in between!  The Spanish Pyrenees are a superb choice, high in the mountains that divide this diverse country from France.

Fly into the Winter sunshine of Barcelona and head towards the Pyrenees from there.

The highest peak in the Pyrenees – Aneto, standing tall at  just over 11,000 feet – will form the dramatic backdrop and frame as you discover some or all of the various resorts and their slopes.  The biggest is Beret/Baqueira spread over an astounding 5,000 acres.  There are peaks to suit everyone at all levels, and the quality of snow is top notch.  All the gear is available for daily or weekly hire, and an adult, single day lift pass costs just less than 50€.

Aprés Ski, a feast awaits! A delicious mixture of French and Spanish cuisine, sample the Fois Gras for starters and a main course of Steak, Lamb chops, or Trout.  Catalan desserts await, but only if you plan to shed the pounds tomorrow on the slopes! Then there’s the hot Chocolate and Churros, actually, better t maybe not stand on the scales until after the holiday!

The best time to go is said to be late in January, when all of the Christmas crowds have departed, and thee is more room to enjoy the slopes.  A pretty perfect choice for a New Year break then!

Lunchtime at Sierra Nevada ski resort

Heading down

If you would rather visit the south of Spain, then the mountains of the Sierra Nevada are the place to head for some serious snow fun.

The highest point – Mulhacen – as I write is snow capped with a heavy white coat.  and it forms the highest point in Spain at 11,411 feet.  The mountain range forms one of the most interesting parts of Spain for nature lovers and sport enthusiasts alike, the natural park has plant species indigenous to the area alone.

The ski resort of Pradollano draws big crowds, with 79 runs incorporating all levels, and visiting here means you can be down the mountain by the afternoon, exploring the fabulous city of Granada or further on to the coastline and the Mediterranean sea and even as far as Almería. You can ski here from now until April in the New Year.


Near the city of Santander make your way to the Ski resort of Alto Capo high in the Cantabrian mountains. Some 20 + runs ensure this is a more informal intimate affair than some of the bigger ski resorts, but with a days skiing costing just 25€ it’s also one to watch for the budget conscious!

Nearby Galicia and Leon also offer some ski facilities, with snow boarding and off piste ski-ing becoming more popular too.

Looking for more places to stay in Cantabria? Look here…

Starting young

La Rioja

No, I don’t mean the wine! That might be what you think of when you hear the name La Rioja but it’s also a name synonymous with the ski crowd.  The resort is Valdezcaray and it hosts 22 runs including 2 black.

There’s a ski school for those wishing to learn without the big crowds, always better, and restaurants and bars situated at three different levels. Again just 25€ per day in high season so it won’t break the bank, you’re unlikely to see Prince Charles or any paparazzi but maybe that’s a good thing!

Ski runs Sierra NevadaTeruel

Staying in Valencia? Good choice! Fancy doing something a little more energetic? Hop in you hire car and drive just 2 hours away towards  Teruel. The Ski resort village of Valdelinares awaits, some 60 kms form the centre of Teruel,  with 8 runs of various levels, no back here, and they use snow cannons here to guarantee you a good covering if the real stuff isn’t all that.

Still close to Teruel, the other ski resort of Javalambre is just 50 kms away, again with a small amount of ski runs and the snow cannons here too.

Valencia places to stay and go ski can be found here…

And finally, Madrid

Flying into the capital city of Spain, Madrid – hopefully bagging a cheap flight too – and you are also flying into a high spot…the city itself stands at 667 metres above sea level, so Madrid also gets quite cold in Winter. Hard to belive when you are walking around the city on a sunny and clear January day, but look up and you will see for yourself the snow capped mountains in the distance.

There are no less than three resorts for you to fall over in – and here they are-

  • Valdesqui
  • Navacerrada
  • La Pinilla

And if you find all of them just too cold than why not try out the indoor ski slopes in Madrid, at Parque de Nieve.

Look for a great Madrid place to rest up and park your skis and your bruised body here.

Ski holidays are proving more and more popular as a second holiday. Perhaps the idea of combining a little exercise with relaxation and getting away from it all – a good thing after the excesses of the festive period, perhaps?!  So, as you tuck into all of that turkey and stuffing, consider booking a break to Spain and hitting the ski slopes for some fun in the sun – and the snow!

Carol Byrne
Posted by Carol Byrne
Originally from Dublin, Carol has also lived in London and Wales before settling in Spain with her husband and family in 2006. She and her family run a rural retreat high in the Alpujarras mountains of Granada, which you can find here as property number 17043. She blogs about traditional village life, sparked by a passion for the culture and history of Spain, and teaches English locally..