A Guide to the Top Ski Resorts in Spain
Though Spain is largely known for its sun, sea and sand, the idea of quality ski resorts in Spain is slowly warming up to tourists. In recent years, more and more winter sports enthusiasts have jumped at the chance of visiting one of Spain’s ski resorts for their winter holidays.
With the proliferation of new and refurbished ski resorts in five distinct regions of Spain, there is a wide variety of options to suit everyone’s preferences, standards and budgets.
Skiing in Spain
The main skiing regions of Spain are located in Aragon and the Catalonian Pyrenees, the Cantabrian, Iberian and the Central mountains and the Penibetico mountain range in the south.
The Aragonese and Catalonian Pyrenees in Northern Spain are home to most of the countries leading ski resorts although the Sierra Nevada located in the heart of Andalucia in Southern Spain ranks amongst the best. There is also an enviable choice of ski resorts near Madrid, Galicia, Leon and Cantabria in the north west and La Rioja and Teruel in the mid north.
For the winter sports and skiing enthusiasts Spain currently offers over1.000 kilometres of quality marked trails and slopes situated in over 36 ski resorts, half of which are proud owners of the Q awards for their quality tourism facilities and services offered. And all this set in a country that is ranked only second to Switzerland when it comes to the greatest number of mountains.
Spain may not presently be in the league of the some of the Swiss, Austrian or French ski resorts however the tide is definitely turning
as Spain becomes one of the best value ski destinations in Europe.
Quality slopes, trails, facilities, snow-making equipment, ski schools, winter sports activities, ski hotels, and great food make Spain a hot ski and winter sports destination.
Ski And Winter Sports Travel
Skiing in Spain usually starts at the beginning of November and runs through to the end of April. The ski resorts in Spain strive for excellence as they compete for the ski travel market against the Swiss and French resorts.
The lower pricing is one of the advantages that is making skiing in Spain an more attractive destination over it's more illustrious counterparts in Austria, Switzerland and France.
There is the added advantage that many of budget airlines fly to most arts of Spain, which makes it cheaper and convenient for tourists to reach the ski stations in Spain than other countries.
With the rising popularity of ski holidays in Spain, increased investment is being poured into this area of tourism.
Other areas that have been spruced up due to the ski resorts are easier access roads into the resorts, this has resulted in the growth of restaurants, parking and quality hotels nearer to the pistes.
Most of the resorts are very family orientated catering for all levels of skiers, and as skiing becomes ever more popular in Europe there are plenty of schools on hand with well trained professional teachers to lend a hand with your first tentative steps on the slopes.
Skiing in Aragon
Aragon is an area of outstanding beauty offering a number of popular ski resorts, here is a round up of the best ski resorts you would be wise to consider when planning your next skiing trip to Spain.
Candanchu is located at the heart of Aragon Pyrenees and is the oldest ski resort in Spain, it offers a large range of slopes that are suitable for all levels. There is a comprehensive network of ski lifts, making it easy for everyone to access the slopes. Its ski slopes where being explored back in the 1920,s which quickly became popular, the first ski lifts in Spain where installed at Candanchu, new modern lifts can now transport over 26.000 Skiers each and every hour.
Candanchu can now boast some 27 lifts, and nearly 40 kilometres of quality marked pistes with the magical “Tuca Blanca” run standing proudly over the resort at 2400 meters.And if cross country skiing is your thing, then the Candanchu Le-Somport ski resort is the perfect place for you.
The tracks are well marked, groomed and varied winding there way along beautiful scenery which meander through picturesque oak forests, here you will be at one with nature and enjoy some of the best cross country skiing Spain has to offer.
Nestled near the town of Panticosa, it offers a distinctive Nordic feel, sited amongst towering snow-capped peaks of Huesca. The Panticosa Ski resort is located at an altitude of 1,636 meters in a glacial circle, surrounded by peaks, some of which are over 3,000 meters high.
Divided into two sectors, namely Petrosos and Valle de Sabocos, it covers an area of over 35 square kilometres. Artificial snow machines keep many slopes open even during periods of low snowfall.
The journey up to the resort is stunning as it will take you through beautiful pine clad meadows via a striking natural lake.
Located eight kilometres from France’s border, Formigal is one of the largest ski resorts in the Pyrenees with an extensive area with over 83 ski runs. Formigal has around 137 km of pistes, spread out over 7 inter-connecting valleys. There are currently 16 lifts spread over 507 acres of terrain and is suitable for all levels, including terrain park enthusiasts.There are two snow parks, a moguls run, dog sledding, skidoo driving amongst many other attractions.
And for begiiners, the Formigal ski school is recognised as one of the best in the country with over 100 instructors.
The Benasque Ski Resort is located inside the Posets-Maladetas nature reserve, nestled within the Spanish Pyrenees. A picturesuqe region of protected oak, birch and beech forests, waterfalls and sheer valleys.
Declared a natural park in 1994 with an total extension of 33.267 hectares. This area is home three living Iberian glaciers the Posets, Perdiguero and Maladeta, and has more than 60 summits over 3,000 meters in height.to
Benasque offers a myriad of activities which will surely caters for everyone including hydro speed, kayaking and rafting. Trekking possibilities allow you to explore the Posets-Maladetas nature reserve within the peaks of the Aneto and Maladetta Masif in the shadow of the highest peak in Pyrenees which stands dominant at 3404 meters.
Astun is another fine resort located within the municipality of Candanchu in the Aragonese Pyrenees and nestles in the Aragon Valley. Situated right on the border with France and only 33 kms from Jaca, the largest town in the area which runs 4 coach services daily up to the resort.
The Astun Ski Resort has a wide variety of ski runs of all levels and all areas are well marked and maintained making skiing in this resort a pleasure at all times. There are plenty of apres ski or non ski activities on offer around the resort including plenty of restaurants, shops, swimming pool, ice rink and tennis courts.
The Javalambre ski resort is located just an hours drive north of the orange groves of Valencia. A fairly new resort, opening its doors to the public in 1995, it is very modern with plenty of advanced snow making equipment to ensure the slopes are well maintained ensuring quality skiing throughout the entire winter season.
There are an excellent choice of facilities on offer at the Aramon Javalambre which will ensure you really will have a terrific and memorable skiing holiday.
Valdelinares is the southernmost ski resort located in the autonomous community of Aragon. It is situated in the Gudar mountains at an altitude of some at 1.693 meters which makes it the highest township in Spain. It is one of Spain’s smallest ski resorts and the number of slopes and facilities are limited so would recommend short stays here rather than spending a long break as you may tire of skiing the same slopes.
Major improvements have been made to the regional infrastructure and roads which has made the Valdelinares Ski Resort much more accessible from Valencia, Catalonia and Aragon. So the visitor numbers are steadily increasing as its natural beauty becomes ever popular with skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts.
The Resorts current status as a low key resort rather than one that is firmly on the international ski circuit has kept good quality food and accommodation relatively inexpensive. Definitely worth while checking out some of the eateries in the nearby villages of Alcala de la Selva and Mora de los Rabielos, you wont be disappointed.
Skiing in Cantabria
Cantabria is a beautiful region in northern Spain and a top skiing destination, with top notch facilities, accommodation and amenities, the Cantabrian ski resorts are a popular choice for winter sports enthusiasts.
Manzaneda is a unique ski resort surrounded by a vast forest area, it's raw natural beauty surprises most first time visitors to the area.
Due to its easily accessible location, it is open all year round. Skiers will get a lovely treat of fantastic scenery as they ski down the slopes. And when the snow is scarce there is still a myriad of activities to do at the resort including cycling, riding, tennis and hand gliding.
The San Isidro Ski resort is one of the most popular in Spain, boasting 32 tracks set in an idyllic landscape. San Isidro is perfect for family vacations, as children can look forward to activities at a Children’s Recreational Centre in the resort.
Little by little the San Isidro ski resort has been converted into one of the most important in Spain and with over 23 kms of high class alpine skiing on offer its easy to see why. And a number of snow cannons ensure there are always enough slopes open during the skiing season.
Situated at the summit in the Campoo Valley, Alto Campoo is a beautiful resort with stunning views. Suitable for skiers of all levels, it is very well equipped with quality facilities. There are a selection of snow boarding runs within the ski area.
This stunningly beautiful resort sits amongst three mountains, the Cuchillon, El Chivo and Tres Mares, with peaks over 2000 meters in height.
The resort at Polo de Lena in Asturias is a good all round ski resort and is situated within an hours drive from the main cities of Asturias, Oviedo, Castilla, Leon, Gijon and Aviles. Although it is modest in size Valgrande Pajares is popular due to the variety of pistes and its quality installations. The resort has a long tradition in Nordic Skiing.
Leitariegos is a smallish resort located in the north west province of Leon which borders Asturias. The natural environment which surrounds Leitariegos makes skiing here a real pleasure and a great way to see over the beautiful countryside of both counties.
Skiing in Catalonia
Here are some of the top ski resorts in Catalonia, Spain.
Vallter 2000 Ski Resort
Located at a glacier valley within the Catalonian Pyrenees, this ski resort has a long established reputation for quality and service. The Vallter 2000 ski resort is sited on a glacial circle called Circulo de Morens-Ull de Ter and is located at the Easternmost part of the Pyrenees.
Due to its privilege geographical position visitors here are entertained with breathtaking scenery and panoramic views over Roses Bay all the way to the Costa Brava.
Located at the highest summit in the Pyrenees, its unique character and charm attracts tourists to enjoy their winter sports for their ski holidays Spain. As the Boi Taull ski resort is relatively smaller in size as compared to the other large scale skiing destinations, it is an excellent choice for families with small kids with its easy navigation.
Aransa is a popular cross country ski resort, trails pass through mountain meadows and black pines, offering the skier breathtaking views.
Due to its location, it is a place with high quality snow. There are tons of activities for everyone, ranging from snowshoe excursions to having a good meal at the resort’s restaurants.
Tavascan is a perfect location if you are looking for a smaller, cozy setting set in natural surroundings. Although Tavascan is a relatively small resort its facilities really are second to none and has an excellent reputation for alpine and Nordic skiing and snowboarding. The station is set high up in stunning mountain scenery with the spectacular views.
The resort has a pioneering winter sports centre which comprises of a ski school and high mountain school with experts teaching modern skiing and mountaineering techniques.
Located in La Cerdanya, the Masella ski resort situated amongst typical alpine scenery and whereby 80% of the slopes meander through forests. Theres good quality snow in abundance which is guaranteed by some 380 snow canons and has become one of Spain’s most popular and unique ski and snowboard resorts.
Also located in the Cerdanya valley within the municipality of Alp in the Spanish Pyrenees mountains immediately to the south east of Andorra. La Molina is one of the oldest ski resorts in Spain, the first hotel here opened its doors to skiers in 1925 and many snow-making and other lift engineering techniques where pioneered here.
The slopes are very well groomed and maintained with 390 canons ensuring the snows quality right through the season.It is a resort that has grown and built for skiers of all levels to enjoy.
Vall de Nuria
Vall de Nuria is a popular ski resort located at the eastern end of the Pyrenees set amongst spectacular peaks reaching 3000 meters in height. The only access to Vall de Nuria is via a funicular train which departs from Ribes de Freser. On your way up the mountain you will teased by some stunning scenery which gives you taste of what you can expect on reaching your destination.
The resort is family orientated with slopes and runs for all levels of skiers, they are also well groomed and marked out making it safe skiing destination.
Sant Joan de L`Erm
Sant Joan de L'erm is situated between the ares of Pallars Sobrirà and Alt Urgell at the base of the Orri peak. Beautifully natural and unspoilt forests surround Sant Jaon and make this resort an all year round favourite when the snowing season ends.
Port Aine is situated in the Pallars Sobura region of the Catalonian Pyrenees and was first opened to the pubic in 1986. Port Aine though is more than just a striking ski resort as it offers numerous mountain activities all year long. In summer the resort offers a good selection of adventure sports including quad biking, rafting, cannoning, hydrospeed and horse riding amongst others. It is also located next to Noguera Pallaresa where one of the most important white water rivers is located.
Port del Comte
The Port de Compte ski resort is located in one of the most picturesque and beautiful areas of the Catalonian Pyrenees surrounded by forests, woods and meadows. The resort has built a reputation for being very family orientated and is divided into two main areas which are clearly marked, Hostal-Sucre and Estivella. The ski runs are open to skiers of all levels and the classical ambience of this stunning resort makes Port de Compte a special place.
Baquiera Beret is located in the Lleida Pyrenees in the beautiful Val D`Aran Valley and is made up of three areas, Baquiera Beret and Bonaigua and is generally considered to be the most complete ski resort to be found in Spain. There is an excellent variety of slopes in the three areas for skiers of all levels
Baquiera Beret is a known hang out for the rich and famous so don’t be surprised if you see the current prime minister of Spain or a member of the royal family enjoying the slopes alongside you.
Skiing in North Central Spain
The northern central Spain region offers a good selection of quality ski and winter sports resorts, these are the top resorts:
The Navacerrada ski resort is the second most important within the central system and is the undisputed playground for the Madrid resident due to its proximity to Spain’s capital which is only 60 kms away. It is the only ski resort within the autonomous region of Madrid.
The slopes here are in two clearly defined areas, the top part which is more for the intermediate and advanced skier with the lower area for the intermediate and beginner.
Covatilla can be found in the south of the Salamanca province in the western most part of the Central Mountains. Its altitude and north facing location guarantee lots of high quality snow throughout the season. The wide slopes are well maintained and groomed and are on low gradient hillsides which make them ideal for both experts and beginners alike.
Experience the majestic slopes of Covatilla, a place to feel the adrenaline and the wind in your face while enjoying the beauty of the snow-capped peaks.
It is a fantastic choice to check into the La Covatilla ski resort, which has 31 downhill slopes to choose from. For the adventurous, you can try out the different cross country ski trails for an out of this world alpine adventure. Since there are varied options for different hotels and cabins to choose from, you definitely won’t be lacking choices.
The La Pinilla ski winter ski resort is situated in the Ayllon mountain range in the municpilaity of Cerezo de Arriba. Its location near Madrid, Bugos and Valladolid has made this resort a firm favourite with the visitors from central Spain.
La Pinilla is recommended for beginners, as it boasts two ski schools with experienced instructors. The area is generally uncrowded and offers vast open and largely tranquill ski areas.
The Valdesqui ski resort is located in the heart of the Sierra de Madrid in the town of Rescafria and close to Mundo and Valdemartin. Altough not one of the largest skiing centres it does have some interesting medium to difficult slopes which has made this resort very popular with all levels of skiers. The locations is close to some beautiful and culturally interesting sites such as El Paular and La Cartujar.
Valdezcaray is located at the base of Mount San Lorenzo near the town of Ezcaray in the heart of the Iberico mountain range. For the nature lover this is paradise as the resort nestles within a stunningly beautiful part of northern Spain with picturesque dense pine, oak and beech forests.
The resort boasts 22 pistes open to the public plus such activities as hunting, fishing, mountaineering and horse riding amongst others.
Skiing in Sierra Nevada Andalucia
Sierra Nevada nestles high in the Pentibetico mountain range some 32 kilometres from the historic city of Granada and is the southernmost ski resort in Spain. It offers great facilities for all winter sport enthusiasts and provides a good selection and quality slopes for all levels of skiers.
It also has an excellent cross country track and the old saying that can snow in the morning and spend the afternoon tanning yourself on a sun kissed beach is absolutely true, some of the best beaches and resorts are only a stones throw away along the Granada, Almeria and Malaga coastlines.
For nature lovers Sierra Nevada is a must place to visit with picturesque natural scenery and spectacular views over the surrounding mountains. The resort can get very crowded during weekends and public holidays so if you can try to avoid the slopes on those days your enjoyment of the slopes will be much more satisfying.
Ski Resort Hotels & Accommodation in Spain