Whenever we think of the Iberian Peninsula and Spain, the largest country within the southern European landmass, our minds usually conjure images of sunshine and sangria, flamenco dancing or fantastic beaches and coastal destinations. However, often overlooked is the fact that Spain is also home to more than 30 ski resorts, each of which boast their own unique charms and excellent slopes.
Indeed, the Spanish culture for winter sports is actually more pronounced than people might credit, having produced numerous world-class competitors at the Winter Olympics, World Championships, and World Cup events. Interesting to know, should you ever consider wagering on winter sports competitions, given that Spanish competitors have enjoyed considerable success over the years.
Although the Spanish resorts have yet to host a Winter Olympics, despite numerous bids to do so, the country can genuinely be proud of the stations and facilities they can offer. These are accompanied by the most important aspect of all during the winter months, clean crisp snow and superb conditions, where the most popular sports can be enjoyed in the frostiest periods of the year.
Jaca – Huesca
If there is one thing that Jaca in the Huesca province of Northern Spain richly deserves, it would be the opportunity to host a Winter Olympics at long last, following no fewer than four failed bids to host the global event since 1998. While the IOC may have overlooked this location, visitors to the region should certainly not pass upon the opportunity to enjoy the outstanding slopes.
Jaca has two prominent nearby ski stations, nestling within the southern reaches of the Pyrenees mountains. Astún sits at an elevation of 617 metres, featuring 39.9 kilometres of pistes and 12 ski lifts, while daily forfeit for access to the slops costs around €45 per person. Also nearby is Candanchú, located at a slightly higher elevation of 722 metres, with around 50 kilometres of pistes and 24 ski lifts, where the daily forfeit will cost around €48 per person.
Sierra Nevada – Granada
The biggest winter sports event of its kind ever held in the region, the 2017 FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships were held in Sierra Nevada, much to the delight of all who attended the event. This includes the competitors, many of whom were stunned by the outstanding facilities and marvellous location, close to the fascinating historical city of Granada, and within just an hour of the Costa Tropical and the Mediterranean.
Often overlooked in favour of the more famous European destinations, the Sierra Nevada ski station at Pradollano has quickly become the pride of Spanish winter sports, along with the highest elevation in southern Europe for skiing and snowboarding. Ranging from heights of 2100 to 3282 metres, the glistening slopes here stretch over 106 kilometres, while there are 21 ski lifts available, with a daily forfeit costing around €54 per person.
Baqueira-Beret – Lleida
Rising to an elevation some 2,600 metres within the Aran valley, just above the hamlet of Baciver in Lleida province, the Baqueira-Beret ski resort is enjoying a rapidly growing reputation, highly rated by CNN Edition Travel in early 2022 as an authentic hidden charm. Indeed, this is where the Spanish royal family can often be found skiing, pursuing their habitual admiration for winter sports.
Looking ahead to the 2022-2023 winter season, the Baqueira-Beret resort remains one of the most popular skiing destinations in the north of Spain, therefore booking well in advance is always recommended. The resort itself boasts around 143 kilometres of pistes and 21 ski lifts for easy access, although due the increased popularity in recent years it is a little more pricey than others, with a daily access forfeit costing around €60 per person.
Great excuse to explore Spain in winter
While many of us may already be familiar with the most famous European ski resorts, the impressive array of options available in Spain makes this country a serios consideration, especially when focusing on the quality of pistes and facilities available. Furthermore, this is a country which features its very own unique culture and climate, making for an entirely different kind of experience.
Transport networks to and from the ski resorts have enjoyed heavy investment, which means that reaching them is easier than ever before, encouraging tourists to try the vast array of winter sports activities on offer. Compared to some of the other European skiing holiday destinations, Spain can also provide vacation opportunities that are kinder to our pockets, making this remarkable country an interesting and appealing alternative.