Did you know that skiing on Spain’s gorgeous slopes is an actual winter pastime? You always hear that it hardly ever snows in sunny Spain, but that’s just not true! There are several famous slopes to choose from across the country: 34 of them to be exact. The very best ones are Baquiera, located high up in the picturesque Pyrenees mountains, Formigal, nestled in the Aragon region, and Sierra Nevada, in the beautiful south.
With Covid-19 precautions in place, Spain’s resorts hope clients still come to ski this coming winter. They’ve all adopted anti-Covid protocol and are hoping that with extra precautionary measures in place, the season isn’t lost. Those of us stuck in Madrid (as of today!) won’t be allowed to travel outside of the city. But that doesn’t mean the rest of Spain has to say goodbye to this ski season.
Last year, as a neophyte skier (meaning literally zero experience), I traveled to the Sierra Nevada, and it was marvelous! In case I can’t make it back this year, please go & let us know how it goes. We’ll live vicariously through you ladies!!!
Getting to Sierra Nevada
Last year, I wanted to go to a place with all the amenities of a top-notch ski destination. But it needed to be beginner-friendly and have instructors that offered ski classes in English. I also wanted to be close to a major city, in case we wanted to do a mini day trip from the resort. After doing some research, we packed our bags and headed to Sierra Nevada.
The Sierra Nevada is located close to Granada, in the region of Andalucía. It’s super easy to get to by high-speed train (also known as the AVE). Our trip to Granada took about 3 hours from Madrid. Then from Granada, we proceeded to the Sierra Nevada by bus. It’s a 45-minute direct route from the bus station.
You can also rent a car and drive up the A-395, one of Europe’s highest roads. The drive is lovely and takes only about 30 minutes without traffic. You’ll see the ground gradually turn white as you reach a higher altitude. Snow-covered trees and rooftops make a pretty sight and make a perfect backdrop for festive music!
Where to Stay
There are a whole lot of options for housing in Sierra Nevada, from hotels and hostels to Airbnbs. We stayed at the Melia Hotel for two nights as a treat to ourselves, and it was worth every penny! Every detail was well thought of and designed for a luxurious stay.
But there are so many different options in the area. Another super popular option is El Lodge. This alpine-style boutique hotel is in Granada and has spectacular views and lots of amenities. Guests can ski out directly from the hotel to the main ski station or take a complimentary shuttle. If you want to take a class, the hotel offers skiing, snowboarding, telemark, snowshoes, and crossing lessons. With its cozy cabin vibe, you’ll definitely fall in love with skiing in Spain!
Start Skiing in Spain!
I love it when the Spaniards say, “tranquila, tranquila…” It’s the equivalent of saying, “relax, relax…calm down now!” It’s as if they know that for many of us, the opportunity to ski in Spain is crazytown!
So, to be fair, they are kind of right. So once we arrived at the hotel, we relaxed a little bit & enjoyed a cup of piping hot chocolate. There are many little cafés facing the slopes, and the view is spectacular. So, do as the Spanish say, and relax. Just breathe the fresh, cold air while basking in the sun.
The Sierra Nevada is especially known for a perfect combination of sunshine and snow, even at the peak of winter. And it’s so high up that you can see all the way through to the Atlas mountains of Morocco! Amazing, right?
When you’re ready for the action, head over to the Sierra Nevada Ski Resort to get information on equipment rentals, instructor rates, and other activities. They have lots of recommendations for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers or snowboarders.
If you’ve never been skiing, then let me tell you what you’ll need to wear.
First, you’ll need a waterproof and breathable ski jacket to keep out the cold and salopettes, or waterproof ski pants. Next, be sure to have a warm pair of gloves, thermals, ski goggles, a neck warmer, and a helmet. Most of these you can rent from the resort (except the thermals and gloves, of course).
Also, it’s super important to have the right boots. Find a pair that keep the water out and have good traction. You’ll need a good grip; otherwise, you’ll be sliding all over the snow.
Dressing in the chalet usually consists of jeans, sweaters, and loungewear to cozy up in by the fireplace. Since many resorts have a pool or jacuzzi for a toasty dip afterward, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit!
The First Lesson to Skiing in Spain
Ricardo, our ski instructor, led us out to the beginners’ course and showed us how to fasten the skis, moving first with one foot then both. He taught us the proper stance, with slightly bent knees, and how to point our toes to stop. After about 30 minutes of that, we moved on to turns. I was thrilled when I started moving along, stopping, and turning at will! Considering how clumsy I am, this was a miracle. Ricardo was patient with us and very experienced.
All in all, our first lesson was fun, useful, and done in a safe environment. I did a couple more over the weekend and felt a little more confident each time. By the end of the trip, we couldn’t believe we were skiing in Spain!! I highly recommend English Ski School!
If you’re still not convinced a ski trip is for you, don’t worry—there are many other things to do in the Sierra Nevada. You can get on a gondola/cable car, rent a snowmobile, go on a sleigh ride, or spend a day relaxing at a spa. Or you can hit the shops, trek the mountains, or enjoy the lively après ski social scene.
It really is a winter wonderland and makes a perfect vacation with family or friends. The ski season is between late November and late May, but the best months to go are December to March. Oh, and did I mention? It’s only a 2-hour drive to the Costa del Sol, so you can even spend a day on the coast when you’re sick of the snow!