You may not associate Spain’s Andalucía region with skiing, but Sierra Nevada is Spain’s top ski resort. As Europe’s southernmost ski resort, the latitude, altitude and fantastic snow making system ensure a lengthy season. Once called ‘Sol-y-Nieve’, which translates to ‘sun and snow’, it’s the perfect resort for fair weather skiers. Read our guide to skiing in Sierra Nevada, Spain below.
Did you know that Sierra Nevada means mountain range covered in snow? Between December and April this rings true, thanks to Sierra Nevada’s high altitude at 2,100m. Even though the region hugs the Mediterranean Sea, you can expect decent snowfall throughout the season as well as plenty of sunny days – perfect for working on the tan at lunch.
The ski lifts reach a height of 3,300m with long red runs back into Borreguiles and Pradollano. During the week, the ski runs are virtually empty, and you won’t need to jostle for space in the lift queue or search for a fresh line after a big snow fall. The weekends can be a little busier as Spanish skiers come up for the day.
Sierra Nevada’s ski area is made up of four areas that are well-linked. Catch either the Borreguiles or Al Andalus gondolas up to the mid-point at Borreguiles for the beginner slopes, while intermediates should continue up higher for more challenging red and blacks runs as well as the terrain park.
Take the Laguna chairlift up to the highest point, Veleta at 3,398m. On a clear day you can see the neighbouring Mulhacén peak, Mediterranean Sea and all the way to the Rif Mountains in Morocco. From this peak, there are long, scenic red runs down through the Laguna de las Yeguas valley and the Valle de San Juan. On Saturday’s, ski under the stars and the lit up El Río run between Borreguiles and Pradollano.
Sierra Nevada has a lively après scene and a selection of Spanish restaurants serving regional cuisine and Alpine dishes. As you are in Spain, restaurants are quiet until about 9pm and the bars get going after midnight. A plus is that the slopes are vacant after lunch during the siesta!
The Mirlo Blanco sleigh is great fun for children as they curve around the track’s bends, as is taking a snow groomer up to Veleta peak for sunset over the mountains and the Mediterranean. See if you and your children can spot the silhouettes of Morocco’s Rif Mountains in the distance. There is also a toboggan run, sit-skiing and ski bobbing that will keep the kids entertained.
If you are only staying for four nights, there are a selection of hotels on offer, including the Mélia Sol y Nieve and Hotel Meliá. Centrally located in Pradollano, both these hotels have an indoor swimming pool, spa, bar and restaurant as well as being easy to access the slopes.
For those planning to spend the week, we recommend El Lodge. A luxurious hotel with an outdoor swimming pool and wooden hot tub, spa and a choice of four bars and restaurants. Rooms are stylishly decorated with Finnish wooden panelling, neutral tones, ethnic prints and artwork of skiers.
Just an hour from Granada and two hours from Malaga, reaching Sierra Nevada is easy. You could even combine your ski holiday with a city add-on in the stunning city of Grenada. With the impressive fortified hilltop Alhambra Palace, Roman Catholic Cathedral and fantastic tapas bars, it adds an interesting cultural dimension to your ski holiday.
From Sierra Nevada, you can ski and swim in the Mediterranean in the same day! If you are flying back from Malaga, why not spend a couple of hours exploring? Both Granada and Malaga have regular and reasonable flights, making Sierra Nevada an easily accessible and snow-sure Spanish ski resort.