Many people only associate Spain with sand and sun and are surprised to find that Spain also offers a wide range of winter sports. Spain’s number one location for winter sports, the Sierra Nevada is located just two hours away from the Costa del Sol. Located above Granada, it has the best snow and the longest season in the country. One can look forward to five months of snow.
Sierra Nevada has 61km of ski slopes with 45 pistes and 6 off-piste routes. There are 2 cable cars, 12 chair lifts and 5 ski lifts. The ski resort is open from 9am to 5pm although you can ski at night at weekends and bank holidays. Night skiing was introduced in 1994 with lighting along the El Rio slope (3km/545 vertical drop).
The sport has gained in popularity and the resort, which provides its fans with ideal conditions, is working to promote this new discipline. An on-slope half pipe is being built for surfers, this will be available depending on snow conditions.
Specialised snowboarding shops and schools are also available in the resort. In addition to alpine skiing and snowboarding, Sierra Nevada offers many other winter spotrs including cross-country skiing, artistic skiing (ballet, jumps, moguls), telemark skiing, trekking and adventure skiing.
It is also the place to be seen, even if you don’t ski. There’s a stigma attached to the resort – its a cool place to be seen and you have to have the most trendy of gear.
If you have never been to Sierra Nevada because you haven’t got the essential gear, then that’s no longer a valid excuse for everything you need can be hired on a daily basis. If your excuse is that you can’t ski then forget that too for there is no shortage of schools that will assist everyone from beginners to experts. Because the area has such a pulsating nightlife, the slopes tend to be less crowded between 9am and 11am and between 1pm and 3pm, presumably the time when the skiers are sleeping off the effects of the night before.
Over recent years the resort has turned to technology to extend the season by investing in artificial snow machines and now the resort has 16 of them that generate snow round the clock. The resort has the best groomed snow in Europe. With the resort being just 30 minutes away from the city of Granada, nowhere else in the world can you be playing golf in the sun then within such a short time, be skiing or snow-boarding at a top resort.
Pradollano – The resort village
Sierra Nevada´s village area has been greatly enhanced thanks to the construction of new alpine-style buildings. One of the villages most important features is the four-storey underground parking complex with a capacity of 2,880 vehicles.
The village offers a variety of services including quality hotels in a range of categories which include jacuzzi, squash, workout areas, sauna and indoor swimming pools. There are also shops, night clubs, pubs and bars, discotheques etc. There is a new medical centre, child day-care centre, banks with ATM´s, supermarkets, sports and fashion boutiques, gift shops, magazine and newspaper kiosks, ski rental, photo-developing services, hairdressers, car rental, taxi service and a pharmacy.
The road to the resort is narrow and winding and as you get within a mile of the resort, snow begins to appear on the ground and the air turns cold. Be prepared for traffic jams at the top, especially at peak times. Even the coaches go to the top which does appear to cause problems. We found the best place to park is the main underground park, good but expensive for long-term. From here its easy to access the facilities. There are ample bars and restaurants, hotels and shops. Queues for the lifts were very long and the bars were all packed to capacity. The whole place pulsates with life and energy.
Most facilities are located around the main Plaza. You can also catch the small tourist train here that takes you round the resort. If you take the lift from the main square, at various stages before the peak you will find bars and restaurants offering panoramic views and blazing sunshine reflecting off the slopes.
The Sierra Nevada is the place to be for a ski holiday or even on one of the many day trips from Granada.
The Sierra Nevada is also a beautiful place to visit out of season, when there is no snow. You will find it a peaceful place with plenty of hill walking routes. The air is clean and fresh and there are still a few cafes and bars open for refreshments. You will find ample free parking unlike during the ski season when it can become very crowded and busy.
The road to the resort is very winding and narrow. Take extreme care, especially when icy.
Allow plenty of time to arrive – during the season the road can have queues for several hours.
Why not try one of the hotels on the way up to the resort – they’re cheaper and less busy than those in the centre
Remember to take de-icer with you for your car.
If you are early enough you can get free parking on the roadside before the main resort.