Sierra Nevada: Skiing an hour from the beach

my bitchin snow shoes

There are not many places in the world that you can go to the beach one day and then go skiing the next. In fact, there are not many places you can do these 2 things within the same day as one another if you wanted to. With both the beach and ski slopes less than 60 minutes drive away from one another, it was a welcome surprise this week to discover that Spain offers winter sport activities just a stone’s throw away from the southern coastline towns of Almuñecar, Salobreña, and Motril.

High Altitude

sierra nevada view from ghm hotel

Spain is not necessarily the first destination that springs to mind when you think of skiing. A country known for its sunshine weather, you’re first image is probably going to be of beach side views or eating tapas outside at a local bar. However, due to the high altitude of the Sierra Nevada mountains you can often find snow on the north facing slopes throughout the winter season. During my recent trip there with Minube we literally went to the beach one day and then the next day headed up into the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains to go skiing and take part in other winter sports activities. It is for this reason I feel Sierra Nevada offers a unique opportunity in southern Europe because it allows you to take a trip that offers a combination of winter season and summer season benefits. There is not really anywhere else in Europe that you will find such sunny weather and winter sports taking place in close proximity to one another.

Another interesting discovery we also had relating to the high altitude of Sierra Nevada was the High Altitude Training Centre situated in the mountains 2,320 metres above sea level. The facilities are used by many Olympic standard athletes in a variety of sports who need training in high altitude settings.

Cheap flights

In a previous post I had written (half joking) of my dislike for the city of Malaga. It is one of the few cities in Spain that I don’t like. I absolutely love the country, but I do not love Malaga unfortunately. However, one great benefit that the city does have is super cheap flights from the UK. Malaga Airport is a mere 2 hours drive from Sierra Nevada and you regularly see flights advertised around the £60 – £70 mark one way including taxes and luggage fees. As a place to get to the south of Spain on a budget it’s hard to beat, and as far as Sierra Nevada goes I think this gives the ski town a massive advantage over a lot of other ski resorts in Europe because it is so cheap to fly there year round.

Ski & Snow Board Lessons

The last time I had been skiing before I was in Sierra Nevada I was in primary school, approximately 15 years ago. Needless to say I required some lessons in how to ski again and a refresher course.  In our group we had a variety of levels from complete beginner up to more advanced regular skiers. I really enjoyed our lessons with the instructors at Sierra Nevada who were not only good in showing you the technical aspects of skiing, but they created a really fun environment from which to learn. Little things like how the instructors gave us some cake made from a local recipe to taste on the way up in the chair lift, or how our guide helped me practice and learn a bit more Spanish – I thought these were some nice little extra touches above and beyond the call of duty.  Certainly if you are travelling as a group with many beginner or novice skiers I would recommend taking some ski and/or snow boarding lessons in Sierra Nevada. Below is my thumbs up recommendation haha.

skiing sierra nevada

Riding a bob-sled roller coaster!

The Mirlo Blanco recreational centre was also a major highlight of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It is here you can enjoy activities such as ski biking, tubing, ice skating, and take a ride on a bob-sled roller coaster. The centre is predominantly aimed at families with children but many of the activities can be enjoyed by adults. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I enjoyed this part of the area the most – but I am a big kid at heart.

On the ski slopes themselves you can also enjoy other additional activities such as walking in snow shoes (which I’m pictured in at the top of this article). In terms of touring the slopes in order to find great views I think this is a potentially fantastic activity to take part in.

Cool atmospheric bars

Sierra Nevada is also full with many laid back cafes and tapas bars in the centre. They all seemed to have a cool, laid-back, snow boarders paradise type vibe to them. Bob Marley seemed to play on repeat in the background in just about every bar we entered or walked past. It was all very cool, chilled, relaxed, and full of lots of young good looking people in winter sports attire who I must say looked a lot more cool than me! In general the whole place just had an abundance of atmosphere that made it very easy to relax after a day on the slopes with my personal favourite being the El Cartujano bar.

– Overall I had a fantastic time in Sierra Nevada and I really would struggle to find anything bad to write about the place. As someone who is usually a bit of a beach bum on my travels (and who usually avoids cold weather at all costs on my travels) it has inspired me to optimise the winter season next time around and also get in shape so I can ski a bit better! It would be nice to come back one day and really optimise the whole of Sierra Nevada’s range of ski slopes instead of being the rusty out-of-shape-girl on the slopes that I was this time! But I suppose that is all the more reason to go back!

3 Responses to “Sierra Nevada: Skiing an hour from the beach”

  1. Claire says:

    Fantastic article and fantastic pictures!!!

  2. Barry Smith says:

    I didn’t even realise you could ski in Spain! I thought it was too sunny! Thank you for this article.


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