Ski and après ski tourism in Spain
Spain is the perfect country for indulging your passion for sport. As well as hosting major sporting events, it also offers unique areas where you can enjoy everything from extreme sports to other more relaxing activities for the whole family.
The first snows usually come to Spain in late November/early December. This is when the country’s 34 ski resorts get up and running. Mountain passes and snow-covered valleys, along with facilities which are constantly being refurbished to provide enthusiasts with a whole range of exciting options after a day’s sport. Spain’s ski resorts all offer excellent infrastructure and transport links. The chance to enjoy other outdoor sports in the countryside, cultural routes, history, art, leisure, unique mountain villages and delicious gastronomy will make a skiing holiday to Spain all the more pleasurable.
In general, all of Spain’s ski resorts are characterised by their excellent location, as well as good transport connections and services. Facilities designed to satisfy skiers’ requirements before, during and after the runs. Enthusiasts of this age-old sport can choose the type of Spanish resort best suited to their preferences. The largest resorts are Formigal, in the Aragón Pyrenees; Baqueira Beret, in the Catalan Pyrenees, and Sierra Nevada, in Andalusia. The rest are scattered across different parts of the country, and are ideal for longer stays and for those who want to combine skiing with other activities.
Sport, art and countryside in the Catalan Pyrenees
The10 ski resorts in the Pyrenean Mountains in Catalonia offer more than four hundred kilometres of marked ski-runs. Beginners, more advanced skiers and experts all flock to this resort, surrounded by peaks reaching more than 3,000 metres above sea level, and offering a privileged setting which provides the ideal conditions for conserving its high quality snow throughout the season.
The main resorts are centred around the Arán Valley, Boí Valley, the area around the Aigüestortes i Estani de Sant Maurici Nature Reserve, and the Cerdanya region. These are areas of extraordinary beauty, home to cosy mountain villages with unique traditional architecture and monuments. Artíes, Salardú and Boí Taüll, amongst others, have a large number of examples of Spanish Romanesque art. The towns and villages close to the resorts also have numerous companies and facilities offering other activities such as ice skating, hot air balloon flights, white water rafting, hiking, horse riding, canyoning, climbing and kayaking.
Fun and skiing in the Aragón Pyrenees
The resorts of Astún, Candanchú, Cerler, Formigal, Panticosa-Los Lagos, Javalambre, Valdelinares, Candanchú (cross country) and Llanos del Hospital are have a particularly young and sporty atmosphere. They are all close together and surrounded by stunning Pyrenean landscapes –the Aragón Mountains reach heights of more than 3,000 metres above sea level. Excellent communications with Madrid Airport mean that you can get here from the capital in just three and a half hours.
When you’ve finished on the slopes, you will find a wide range of leisure activities on offer in the town of Jaca, the main point of entry to the Aragón Pyrenees. Recommended visits are: the Cathedral, Spain’s oldest in the Romanesque style; Santa María en Santa Cruz de la Serós Church and other examples of Romanesque art such as the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña and the Church of Santa María de Iguacel, which has the Cultural Property designation. Also worthwhile is a visit to the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. In Benasque, close to Cerler, there are plenty of excellent restaurants and cafés, as well as lively bars and clubs, open into the early hours.
Sun and snow
Sierra Nevada is one of Spain’s best ski resorts. Its altitude means that snow is guaranteed throughout the season. Its international fame, proximity to the coast and excellent weather have made it a popular winter destination for many European skiers.
The lifts are only twenty-five minutes from Granada, so many skiers who head down to enjoy one of the most important monument cities in Europe, home to the Generalife gardens and the Alhambra palace, a real gem of Hispano-Muslim architecture. Also recommended is a visit to the Albaicín, the old Arab quarter which has the World Heritage designation; also the Plaza Nueva Square and the Sacromonte neighbourhood, where you can still see old gypsy cave-houses and experience the distinctive flamenco spirit.
Along the Cantabrian coast you’ll find the resorts of Leitariegos, Manzaneda, Fuentes de Invierno, San Isidro, Valgrande-Pajares and Alto Campoo, ideal for family skiing and for nature lovers in general, with numerous options for cultural trips to the cities of León and Santiago de Compostela, along with routes where you can savour the famous cuisine of Galicia and Asturias, specialising in fish and shellfish. Also of interest are visits to the beautiful glacial lakes of Isoba and Ausente, the Valporquero Caves and the Somiedo Nature Reserve, amongst others.
The facilities on offer in the Sistema Ibérico Mountains are ideal for beginners and for skiing in peaceful surroundings. Close by, in the Region of La Rioja, you’ll find the monasteries of San Millán de la Cogolla and Valvanera, both well worth visiting. Ezcaray is the closest village to the resort of Valdezcaray, and has good restaurants where you can sample the excellent wines of La Rioja.
The modern lifts at La Covatilla, in the Sierra de Béjar Mountains, and the resorts of La Pinilla, Navacerrada and Valdesquí are also easy to access. The slopes here are ideal for enjoying a combination of skiing and cultural tourism in the nearby cities: Segovia, Avila, Salamanca and Zamora. These resorts are very popular with skiers and non-skiers alike on account of their proximity to Madrid.
Wherever you are in Spain, when the snow starts falling you’re sure to find somewhere to enjoy your favourite winter sport. Peaks, slopes, ski-runs and lifts for all kinds of skiers and tastes, in perfect harmony with the surrounding landscapes and environment.