From the Pyrenees to the Sierra Nevada, The Local looks at some of the best places in Spain to hit the slopes and enjoy the après-ski.
Photo: yimix / Flickr Creative Commons
Nestled within the Posets-Maladetas nature reserve in the Spanish Pyrenees, Benasque is perfect for those who prefer skiing of the cross country variety. There are routes to suit all tastes from experienced to beginners that wind through scenic oak, birch and beech forests. And unlike downhill ski resorts, you don’t have to pay anything to cross country ski.
2. La Molina
Photo: Kibo M / Flickr Creative Commons
Less than two hours by car from the beaches Barcelona, this is a busy, bustling resort with a lot of history. The home of Spain’s first ski-lift and ski-school, it now offers top facilities built to host the 2011 Snowboarding World Championships: 61km of pistes divided into 54 runs, a park for beginners and the biggest half-pipe in the Pyrenees.
Photo: Josep M / Flickr Creative Commons
Close to the French and Andorran borders on the northern slope of Tosa d’Alp overlooking the Cerdanya Valley, Masella is located only 90 minutes away from Barcelona. The resort has 65 pistes of all levels, spread over 75km.
Photo: Inigo Zubia / Flickr Creative Commons
Spain’s biggest and most visited ski resort, with 153km of pistes, is found less than four hours from both Barcelona and Zaragoza, in the Aran and Àneu Valleys of the Pyrenees. Skiers flock here because of the resort’s good snow record and to enjoy more than 50 local, rural villages of stone and wood houses, many of which feature beautiful Romanesque churches.
Photo: Pablo Yunyas / Flickr Creative Commons
Located 52km (32 miles) outside Madrid, Navacerrada is the closest ski resort to the capital, making it perfect for a day trip. It is divided into two areas, the upper area with intermediate/difficult pistes and the lower area with intermediate pistes. The resort also boasts a slalom stadium and ski jump.
Photo: es.topsportholidays.com / Flickr Creative Commons.
A resort in the Aragon Pyrenees, Formigal offers 137km of pistes over 90 runs. Its north- and west-facing slopes give it a good snow record and its location within driving distance of a number of cities in the northwest of Spain and southeast of France drives its popularity. Formigal has snow gardens and facilities for younger skiers, and hosted the 2008 Alpine Junior World Ski Championships.
7. Sierra Nevada
Photo: Álvaro Salas Ordóñez / Flickr Creative Commons.
The most southerly ski resort in Europe, the Sierra Nevada ski station is located outside Granada, on the northern slopes of Veleta, the third highest peak in peninsular Spain. It is the highest ski resort in Spain; the season can last from late November until early May. The resort has over 100km of alpine ski runs. Just a short drive from the Mediterrean coast makes it one of the few places in the world where you can ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon!
If you fancy discovering a lesser known part of Spain, then Asturias has a resort with 25km of pistes within an hour’s drive of both Oviedo and León. Ideally suited for beginners.