Let’s face it, heading to southern Spain for winter sun and then spending a day or two skiing is a real novelty. Granada province and the east of Malaga province are within easy reach of the slopes in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. So, if you’re visiting the area for some winter sun why not take advantage of the opportunity to ski?

Where is Sierra Nevada?

Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Granada

The Sierra Nevada in Granada is the southernmost ski resort in Europe. It sits within Andalucia in southern Spain – an area that is known for its mild climate yet the Sierra Nevada is a mountainous area in Granada and has a ski season from mid-December to mid-April.

This mountain range spans three Spanish provinces, Malaga, Granada and Almeria. Yep, that’s the same Almeria which is famed for its desert! The ski resort and highest peak are in Granada so during the ski season locals head up to the well-kept slopes for a dose of fresh mountain air and snowy adrenaline fun.

The ski village is called Pradollano; it’s divided into bajo, medio y alto. This is where you’ll find all amenities including accommodation. Two gondola lifts from the village take you up to the main ski zone, Borreguiles.

What is there to do in the Sierra Nevada mountains?

Ski in Sierra Nevada, Granada

During the winter season you can ski, snow walk and cross-country ski across the mountains admiring the view across Granada and onto Jaen as you go.

The ski village, Pradollano, has shops, bars, restaurants, hotels with spas and a great children’s play area. If you’re skiing, there’s plenty of choice to eat on the mountain from poke to pizza as well as a champagne bar and traditional canteen style restaurant.

For Non-Skiers…

If you’re not a skier, take in the sun in the ski village (Pradollano) and don’t miss the spa at Meliá Sol y Nieve with the added bonus of a fantastic kids club. The Meliá Sierra Nevada also has a smaller spa with views over the slopes. If you want to get active and head higher into the mountains, take a guide and do a snow hike. We recommend Al Andalus Activa for all things active in this region, from cross-country skiing to hiking the highest peaks to short mountaineering courses and snow hiking.

Snow hiking in Sierra Nevada

It’s worth mentioning in the spring and autumn that if you’re a keen hiker there’s some tough but rewarding hikes over this mountain range, particularly when tackling Veleta (3,396 metres) or El Mulhacén (3,479 metres).

Is Sierra Nevada Spain worth visiting in the winter?

Absolutely. The Sierra Nevada offers hikers, snow walkers and skiers big blue skies and good conditions. The major concern for many is its southerly location and the relative warm weather. However, the highest peak in the Spanish peninsula, Mulhacén, at 3,479 metres above sea level is part of this mountain range and there are 200 snow cannons allowing the resort to open even when there’s little snowfall throughout the season.

The skiing in the Sierra Nevada is on the northern side of Pico del Veleta (3,396 metres). Although high, it does not replace your annual trip to St Moritz, Trysil or Chamonix – we have to be clear on that one. But with more than 110 km of pistes, 21 ski lifts, family area, snowpark with half pipe and music pumping from most bars it holds its own for a family day or two out.

What is the skiing like in Sierra Nevada?

Skiing at the Sierra Nevada, Granada, Spain

There are 110km of pistes with a variety of lifts. For beginner skiing and children it’s great. Some routes are specially for children: Pista del Bosque (woodland slope) and Pista del Mar (Sealife slope) have animals and sea creatures encourage little ones along the way.

For intermediate skiers it ticks many boxes, too, with red runs aplenty to keep you in form during a day or two’s skiing.

For those who love off-piste though the options are more limited, although this does depend on snowfall during the season.

Ski park in Sierra Nevada, Granada

Runs

There are 19 green (beginner), 41 blue (intermediate), 50 red (advanced) and 8 black (expert) runs in total in the Sierra Nevada.

The main ski zone, Borreguiles, is the gondola drop off from Pradollano. At Borreguiles you’ll find the ski schools, a couple of bars, restaurant, childcare, toilets and a shop. This area is ideal for beginners and non-skiers can also spend time here – there’s lots of seating.

This is where you’ll meet your ski instructor if you choose to have a lesson. If you’re a beginner there are magic carpet lifts, shallow gradients and there’s 19 green runs from here.

Borreguellias, Sierra Nevada, Granada

From Borreguiles there are two chair lifts that take you to the top of the blue runs at this side which are worth exploring.

Taking the lift higher again is for the next level of skier wanting a little more of a challenge. There are 50 red runs here, a lot are quite narrow and well used like El Rio. Don’t miss the t-bar lift that takes you to the top of Veleta – the views are fantastic and there’s a very rewarding run from here.

Where to Eat & Drink?

Lunch with Tinto de Verano in Sierra Nevada

In Granada province you get complementary tapas with a drink and spending any time in the area means you quickly become aware of which places offer less generous crisps or olives to those who go a little extra and offer delicious bite sized portions.

El Bodeguita

With a smart dining room and terrace El Bodeguita is a great option for lunch or dinner. It looks over the main square and onto the mountain. The tapas here are excellent with mini stews and paella accompanying your drink.

Plaza de Pradollano Meliá Sierra Nevada, 18196, Sierra Nevada National Park España

Vivac

This is the fine dining option in the resort with an open fire in a cosy dining room. It does have an outdoor terrace but this isn’t the most attractive corners of Pradollano. The food most definitely makes up for the humdrum approach and lack of views.

Pl. Pradollano, 4, Edif. Genciana, Bajo 1, 18196 Sierra Nevada, Granada

El Lodge

Lunch time at El Lodge should be on the to do list while skiing. This is a five star hotel, restaurant and spa. It’s located quite high in the resort so best to ski to it on the Maribel run. Walking up to it from Plaza Andalucia in the village is a bit of a task, especially in ski gear. There’s usually a DJ on the sundeck and reservations are necessary.

C. Maribel, 8, 18196 Sierra Nevada, Granada
Surfin Restaurant

Great option for a hungry family, expect pizza, steak and burgers. There’s an indoor dining room as well as a huge terrace with heaters.

Plaza Andalucia edificio, local 4, 18196 Sierra Nevada

Restaurante Badia Gastro Chill

With a great location next to the gondola, huge terrace and a DJ, Badia is a good option for a drink. The food isn’t great on our visit nor is the service but it has fun atmosphere, is always busy and has a view of the slopes.

Plaza Andalucía Edificio Montebajo n12, 18196 Sierra Nevada, Granada

What is There to Do WITH Children?

Magic carpet in Sierra Nevada

There’s a day care area at Borreguiles where the gondolas take you. Dreamland and the Snow Garden are for children ages of 3 – 12 years (out of nappies), opening from 9.30 – 16.30, seven days a week.

In Pradollano, Mirlo Blanco is the children’s excellent play area. It has toboggans, ski-bike, chair-bike, mini-ski, mini-snowboard, donuts and roller-sled. But the most popular ride is the Russian Sleigh (trineo ruso), this is a kind of roller-coaster bobsled and fun for all ages.

Russian slide, Kids park Sierra Nevada

There are lots of ski schools that offer private and non-private lessons in all languages. The British Ski School is excellent as well as Rio Sport, Surfin is another option.

Top Tips

Do a lunch and spa package at El Lodge where you get a 50-minute massage, lunch on their sun deck, access to the gym, indoor pool, outdoor pool and a locker. It’s ski in and out so ideal as a spot to meet for skiers and non-skiers.

The second tip is the first lift from Pradollano is at 10.00hrs and last at 16.45hrs.

What’s the Weather like?

Winter in the Sierra Nevada has recorded average temperatures of between -10°C and 5°C. In real terms though your heavy-duty warm ski wear is rarely needed. Hitting the slopes at the start of the season is chiller than March or April. Factor 50 is a must, great eyewear and light to medium weight jacket will serve you well with layers. For non-skiers in Andalucía Plaza, Pradollano you’ll likely have lunch in a t-shirt. That all being said, the weather can of course turn…

Ski Station at Sierra Nevada

How to Buy Ski Passes

The best way to approach buying ski passes is via the resorts main website. You collect the passes from the ticket office with your credit card and QR code on arrival to the resort. During the weekends and holidays the ticket office can be busy so allow 20 minutes but at other times there is no wait at all.

Ski pass cost: A day pass is 45 euros. There’s a half day pass from 13.00hrs and nocturnal skiing from 19.00 a 21.30hrs.

Buy parking for the main car park in the centre of Pradollano just a short stroll to the gondola and ticket office in Plaza Andalucia. It’s just 18.00 euros per day. Sierra Nevada Parking.

Where to Hire Skis

When it comes to hiring ski equipment convenience is key. The ski schools mentioned offer links with ski hire so by all means this is a great place to start. If you just need ski or board hire then two places stand out for ski/snowboarding equipment hire in the Sierra Nevada: the heavily snowboarding leaning Surfin. And Rio Sports offering quality and style, not far away from the gondolas with a fast turn around.

Ski Shopping

There are plenty of shops in Pradollano selling ski wear and equipment. Burton, Goldbergh, Rossignol and all the major brands are available. There’s also a pharmacy, mini markets for any other essentials too.

Where to Stay?

Pradollano is an easy day trip from the whole of Granada province including the Lecrin Valley and La Herradura but it is also an easy drive from the Axarquia too (around 2 – 2.5hrs).

If you would like to do an extra day skiing and stay in the resort we’d recommend El Lodge or Melia Sierra Nevada.

Distances from the coast and Granada city

Granada Cathedral

Pradollano is just under an hour from Granada city centre and 1.15hrs to Salobrena the nearest coast.

Would you like to incorporate skiing in the Sierra Nevada into your winter sun holiday? Take a look at our villas within easy reach of the slopes, Granada city, the beach and only an hour from Malaga airport – Luxury villas in Granada.


Ben Cooper

A head-over-heels hispanophile, Ben is a one-time travel editor at Rough Guides, DK Travel, ELLEuk and Red Online.

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