Spanish skiing has unfairly been overlooked, but is rightfully gaining a reputation for its excellent value, top-quality terrain and fantastic mountain food. Most of the resorts are located on the southern side of the Pyrenees – Sierra Nevada in Grenada is a notable exception – so can be accessed from Barcelona to the south or Toulouse to the north. The former in particular makes for a fantastic pre-or-post-trip stop over, plus winter flights are notably cheaper.
In the Pyrenees, the main resorts are Baqueira-Beret, Formigal and La Molina, which between them possess over 400km of well-groomed slopes. A modern lift network accesses great beginner-advanced terrain, but real experts may find the ski areas somewhat limited. The snow is generally reliable, bolstered by snowmaking, and the Pyrenees are often in good shape when the Alps are suffering (although this can sometimes work in reverse!). The other main resort, Sierra Nevada, is located way further south, a mere 50km from the Mediterranean coastline but at a snowsure and lofty elevation topping out at over 3000m.
Skiing or snowboarding here generally offers very good value for money, with lift passes costing a good chunk less than in the Alps and accommodation costs coming in well below average. You’ll also get a lot for your money when it comes to eating out and drinking at après – not only is the food and wine usually delicious, but it is very friendly on the wallet too. The only thing to get used to is the late dinner time – remember to pick up a few snacks for the end of your ski day!
Wherever you are the atmosphere is usually pretty relaxed, and you’ll notice a difference if you come here after spending previous ski holidays in the Alps. This is particularly the case in the spring, when the strong Spanish sunshine takes hold and the deckchairs surrounding the mountain restaurants quickly fill up with peaking soaking up some rays.
Getting to the Spanish mountains is the only major downside as there is a long transfer from wherever you’re flying in to. Toulouse is marginally closer than Barcelona, but if there’s bad weather and the mountain passes are blocked then access can be very tricky.