It comes as a surprise to some, given Spain’s latitude and sunny reputation, that there are around 35 resorts in which to ski Spain’s snow slopes spread right across the country. Slightly more than half of these, including most of the country’s larger ski areas, are in the Pyrenees mountains which stretch along the Eastern border with France, and also encompass Andorra. However there are smaller Spanish ski resorts in hills and lesser mountain ranges across the country and there have been artificially slopes installed on the Balleric islands and even the possibility of skiing in Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands off the coast of Africa – however the supposed ski resort of Teide there was an impressive internet hoax!
Spain’s ski resorts are characterised by friendly people, good food and late starts to the skiing day and to après skiing, which often doesn’t really get going until just before midnight.
One of Spain’s three biggest ski areas, and its highest, as well as being the most southerly major mainland resort in Europe, is Sierra Nevada. Close to Malaga, it offers the realistic possibility of skiing or snowboarding half the day and swimming in the warm Mediterranean sea for the other half. It was host to the biggest winter sports event ever held in Spain, The World Alpine Skiing Championships in 1995, but a lack of snow led to their postponement to 1996. The centre does have a good snow record and sometimes boasts the deepest snowpack in Europe at 5 or 6 metres by the spring, staying open in to May many years. It also has a huge snowmaking arsenal.
Spain’s main cities are well located for quick trips to the ski slopes. La-Pinilla and Valdesqui are among half a dozen resorts within a couple of hours of capital Madrid, which is also home to a large indoor snow centre, popular with the Beckhams during their time in the city. Barcelona is an easy trip up to the Pyrenees and its many ski centres, and indeed many non-Spaniards fly in to Barcelona as the easiest way to get to Spanish or Andorran ski areas. However a new airport closer to the slopes at Lleida opened in 2010 after a 130 Million Euro investment to make access even easier.
Baqueira/Beret is one of the three resorts battling for top spot in Spain in terms of skiable terrain and lift ticket price. Along with Sierra Nevada the other contender is another resort in the Pyrenees, Formigal, which has invested heavily in state-of-the-art ski lifts in recent years and international sales and now claims to be Spain’s biggest ski area, just.
Baqueira/Beret however has the more established reputation and royal credentials, as Spain’s royal family holiday here most winters. There are several four and five star hotels to match this reputation and a reputation for the best in its restaurants and shops – a kind of Spanish St Moritz.
Spain: latest snow conditions round-up
Summary of forecast snowfall and ski conditions for resorts in Spain. Fresh snow is forecast at 34 resorts. Powder is reported at 0 resorts and 0 are reporting good piste conditions.