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Spain is one of Europe’s most mountainous countries (it has been said the second most mountainous after Switzerland) so you have plenty of mountains to choose from, spread across the country, from the Pyrenees on the border with France in the north to the central Picos de Europa and the Sierra Nevada in the south.
The Sierra Nevada, in southern Spain, is Europe’s most southerly ski resort and due to its high altitude (its base level is 2,100 metres) the resort is open from late November until early May. There are over 100 km of slopes encompassing 124 runs suitable for everyone from beginners to experts.
Spain’s biggest and one of its most popular resorts is doing a lot to put Spain on the winter sports map. It was opened in 1964 and is a favourite of the Spanish Royal Family, who have a home there. Its over 150 kilometres of slopes are located in the Aran Valley in the Pyrenees. The valley is home to dozens of beautiful little villages where you can stay during your holiday.
There aren’t many places where you can spend the morning skiing and the afternoon sunbathing on the beach, but in Spain, it is possible. Head to the Sierra Nevada late in the season, in late April or early May, and you can be skiing in the morning and an hour later, sunbathing on the beach of a coastal town like Salobreña.
Puerto de Navacerrada is the closest ski resort to Madrid, located in the Sierra de Guadarrama just 60 km north of the city. It is a popular day trip for Madrileños and is easily reachable by train from the capital.
Combine a Barcelona city break with a day or two of skiing at these popular neighbouring resorts, within easy reach of Spain’s second city. La Molina is Spain’s oldest ski resort and the country’s oldest ski lifts opened there in 1943.
Even Spain’s top resorts are a fraction of the price of the most famous skiing spots in the likes of France and Switzerland and when it comes to eating and drinking, additional costs that can really hike up the price of a skiing holiday, Spain is much cheaper.
Spain offers a host of little-known ski options such as the small resort of Valgrande-Pajares in the Cantabrian Mountains of Asturias. With just 25 km of slopes, it’s a good place for beginners and a more laid-back option than some of the country’s bigger ski resorts.
While skiing is popular in Spain with locals and tourists enjoying the pistes, it has not yet reached the level of popular resorts such as Val d’Isère or Courchevel. You can enjoy pristine white slopes as well as some great off piste and cross country routes, without the crowds.
Who can resist tapas, hearty local dishes in beautiful mountain villages and delicious red wine? The general pace of many Spanish resorts is much more laid-back than their more northerly European counterparts, with the day often not starting until after 10am and Spaniards stopping for a long, leisurely lunch at around 3pm.
With long hours of sunshine in winter, many Spanish ski resorts, but especially the southerly Sierra Nevada, enjoy stunning weather conditions. Don’t forget your ski goggles!