Sierra Nevada—skiing by The Mediterranean Sea
The best of both worlds.
The south of Spain might not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of skiing, but Sierra Nevada, Europe’s southernmost ski resort, dares to be different. On sunny days, you can stand at an altitude of over 11,000 feet with your skis on and look out over the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. On clear days, you can see all the way to North Africa and Morocco. The beaches of Salobreña are just over an hour away, perfect for a post-ski swim.
There’s so much more to skiing in the Sierra Nevada than being close to the sea. There are nearly 70 miles of slopes and 21 lifts that lead to an impressive 4,000-foot vertical drop, and the slopes and parks are first-class—so much so that the Alpine Ski World Championships was held here in 1996 and the Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships were held in 2017. Just beyond the resort is Mulhacén, which, at 11,421 feet, is the highest mountain on the Iberian Peninsula as well as the highest in Western Europe outside the Alps.
Flight to Málaga
The ski resort is only a two-hour drive from Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP). You can either take a shuttle bus or rent your own car to reach the snowy mountains.
The most sunshine in Europe
The ski season runs from late November through early May, which is particularly impressive given its southern location. Just don’t forget your sunscreen—it’s hardly a surprise that Sierra Nevada gets the most sunshine of any ski resort in Europe. If you want to make sure you see the best snow, head here in January or February.
After a hard day’s skiing, the Spanish know how to let their hair down. It all takes place around the square in the tiny village of Pradollano, the base of the Sierra Nevada ski area, with plenty of cozy restaurants and bars. The nightclubs don’t open until 11:00 p.m., so you might not be the first on the slopes the next day.
If you want a real challenge, the steep slopes of Fuente del Tesoro and Tubo del Enebro (classified as black runs) are the place for you. Countless international alpine skiing competitions have been held here over the years, so push your hips down, dig in, and feel the Gs.
Sierra Nevada is big on park skiing and slopestyle for both skis and snowboards. The largest of the seven different parks on the mountain is Super Parque Sulayr, one of the largest in Europe with over 70 different jumps and features. The park is world-class, so don’t be surprised if the riders’ skill levels are just as high.
Only 20 miles away is the city of Granada, the capital of the province of the same name. There are plenty of attractions here that bear witness to the region’s mixed Muslim and Spanish history, such as the Alhambra World Heritage Site, a majestic castle and palace complex that is one of the best-preserved examples of Western Islamic architecture.
Golf and swimming
Why settle for “just” skiing? The Spanish Costa del Sol has plenty of golf courses and beaches that are perfect for when you just can’t decide what to do on your vacation and prefer to mix and match.
Text by Daniel Björk