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SKI

Eight amazing ski resorts in Spain

From the Pyrenees to the Sierra Nevada, The Local looks at some of the best places in Spain to hit the slopes and enjoy the après-ski.

Spain's main ski slopes are located in Andalusia, Castilla y León, Aragón and Catalonia.
Spain's main ski slopes are located in Andalusia, Castilla y León, Aragón and Catalonia. Photo: AFP

It’s sky season in Spain.

The Covid rules for skiing this winter largely depend on which region in Spain you plan on visiting, as each has implemented slightly different measures. 

Currently, no ski resorts in Spain require the Digital Covid Certificate in order to gain access to them, but they are required in many regions for certain activities within the ski resorts such as gaining access to restaurants, cafés, nightlife venues or other indoor spaces, as is the case in other countries. 

MAP: Which regions in Spain still require a Covid pass for daily affairs?

If you want to find out in more about the Covid rules at Spanish ski resorts this winter click here, but if instead you’re looking for some inspiration to help you decide which ski resort to choose, read on!

1. Benasque


Photo: yimix / Flickr Creative Commons

Nestled within the Posets-Maladetas nature reserve in the Spanish Pyrenees, Benasque is perfect for those who prefer skiing of the cross country variety. There are routes to suit all tastes from experienced to beginners that wind through scenic oak, birch and beech forests. And unlike downhill ski resorts, you don’t have to pay anything to cross country ski.

2. La Molina

Photo: Kibo M / Flickr Creative Commons

Less than two hours by car from the beaches Barcelona, this is a busy, bustling resort with a lot of history. The home of Spain’s first ski-lift and ski-school, it now offers top facilities built to host the 2011 Snowboarding World Championships: 61km of pistes divided into 54 runs, a park for beginners and the biggest half-pipe in the Pyrenees. 
 

3. Masella


Photo: Josep M / Flickr Creative Commons

Close to the French and Andorran borders on the northern slope of Tosa d’Alp overlooking the Cerdanya Valley, Masella is located only 90 minutes away from Barcelona. The resort has 65 pistes of all levels, spread over 75km. 

4. Baqueira-Beret 


Photo: Inigo Zubia / Flickr Creative Commons

Spain’s biggest and most visited ski resort, with 153km of pistes, is found less than four hours from both Barcelona and Zaragoza, in the Aran and Àneu Valleys of the Pyrenees. Skiers flock here because of the resort’s good snow record and to enjoy more than 50 local, rural villages of stone and wood houses, many of which feature beautiful Romanesque churches. 

5. Navacerrada


Photo: Pablo Yunyas / Flickr Creative Commons

Located 52km (32 miles) outside Madrid, Navacerrada is the closest ski resort to the capital, making it perfect for a day trip. It is divided into two areas, the upper area with intermediate/difficult pistes and the lower area with intermediate pistes. The resort also boasts a slalom stadium and ski jump. 

6. Formigal 

Photo: es.topsportholidays.com / Flickr Creative Commons.

A resort in the Aragon Pyrenees, Formigal offers 137km of pistes over 90 runs. Its north- and west-facing slopes give it a good snow record and its location within driving distance of a number of cities in the northwest of Spain and southeast of France drives its popularity. Formigal has snow gardens and facilities for younger skiers, and hosted the 2008 Alpine Junior World Ski Championships. 

7. Sierra Nevada


Photo: Álvaro Salas Ordóñez / Flickr Creative Commons.

The most southerly ski resort in Europe, the Sierra Nevada ski station is located outside Granada, on the northern slopes of Veleta, the third highest peak in peninsular Spain. It is the highest ski resort in Spain; the season can last from late November until early May. The resort has over 100km of alpine ski runs. Just a short drive from the Mediterrean coast makes it one of the few places in the world where you can ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon!

8. Valgrande-Pajares 

If you fancy discovering a lesser known part of Spain, then Asturias has a resort with 25km of pistes within an hour’s drive of both Oviedo and León. Ideally suited for beginners.

READ ALSO:  A weekend in Spain’s Formigal: Guide for skiers and snowboarders

For members

TRAIN TRAVEL

Spain to offer free train trips: when, where and how?

Train passengers in Spain will soon be able to travel on some 'trenes' for free, the Spanish government has announced. Become a member to find out which trains will be free, when, the smallprint to look out for and how you can take advantage of this offer.

Spain to offer free train trips: when, where and how?

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced recently that multi-journey tickets for some trains operated by the state owned train network, RENFE, will be free.

Announced on July 12th during the first day of the ‘State of the Nation’ debate, the headline grabbing 100 percent discount followed news that the government had originally committed to a 50 percent reduction. 

A 30 percent discount will also be applied to the cost of passes and multi-trip tickets for regional and local transport services, including city metro, bus and tram systems, bought between September 1st and December 31st 2022.

READ MORE: How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

The scheme will cost public coffers a reported €200 million, according to government spokesperson Isabel Rodríguez, and comes amid a series of measures put in place by the government to try and ease the pain of rising inflation and prices, but also to lower pressures on fuel following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ensuing energy crisis. 

“The government will subsidise 100 percent of the public service of commuter trains operated by Renfe. We hope that the autonomous communities can complement this enormous effort made by the Spanish government,” Sánchez said.

But which trains will be free, when, and how can you take advantage of them?

When?

This eye-catching travel discount will be available from September 1st to December 31st 2022, during which multi-journey train tickets on the trains outlined below will be free.

Which trains are free?

Unfortunately, the Spanish government has not given everyone in Spain free train travel on every route and on every type of train.

There are rules.

Simply put, local and commuter trains will be free. Cercanías, Rodalies (Catalonia), and Media Distance (local and medium-distance journeys) will be 100 percent free of charge.

The policy is aimed at encouraging the use of trains as opposed to other fossil fuel intensive forms of transport, and it’s valid for journeys up to 300km.

That in mind, trips on long-distance or high-speed trains, such as AVE and Alvia, are not included in the plan.

Neither will the routes in Avlo, the low-cost AVE option established in 2021, nor the medium and high-speed Avants.

Avlo and Avants will instead have a 50 percent discount on the original price, as outlined by the government in June.

How can I take advantage of this offer?

For the 100 percent discount on Cercanías, Rodalies de Cataluña and Media Distancia, monthly and multi-journey tickets will be eligible for the discount.

The multi-trip ticket for Cercanías or Rodalíes will be valid for unlimited trips between any origin and destination, and free for travellers who make 16 or more trips (four per month) between September and January, offered to travellers who purchase monthly passes.

You can find a breakdown by RENFE on the regional differences and passes here.

For Media Distance services, the pass will be free for those users who make 16 or more journeys, or travellers that purchase any of the following monthly passes:

For more information in English about each of these Media Distancia (medium distance) passes, click on the one you’re interested in learning about. 

SPAIN-FREE-TRAINS

So far, the Spanish government have announced the discounts but not exactly how to get them. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP

Types of journey

Importantly, it is worth noting that one-way and round-trip tickets are also excluded from this initiative, and will therefore not be free.

The free travel is designed for frequent travellers, and includes weekly and monthly subscription passes, the full cost of which will be covered.

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Deposits

As with anything in life, always read the small print – as it’s rare that something is totally free. Fortunately, The Local has done that for you, and it turns out that you won’t simply be able to waltz up to your local train station and take a free train anywhere from September 2022.

In order to take advantage of the 100 percent discounts, you must first put down a small deposit.

  • For Cercanías and Rodalíes services, this will be €10.
  • For medium distance services, it will be €20.
  • The idea of the deposit is that they ensure travellers make a minimum of four trips per month and it’s a way of avoiding scams.
  • The deposits will be returned to travellers after four months, when the scheme ends at the end of December.

Which routes?

Because Cercanías or Rodalíes cover shorter, local routes, the passes will be valid for unlimited trips (with a minimum of 16 over the four months) between any origin and destination.

As for medium-distance, high-speed trains (on routes that do not exceed 100 minutes, 1 hour and 40 minutes), the government has said it will pay the price of 50 percent of monthly passes.

The lines benefiting from this are Madrid-Palencia, Madrid-Zamora, León-Valladolid, Burgos-Madrid, León-Palencia, Burgos-Valladolid, Ourense-Zamora, Palencia-Valladolid, Huesca-Zaragoza, León-Segovia, Segovia-Zamora, and Palencia-Segovia.

How do I get the discount?

As of now, the government have announced the discounts but not exactly how to get them. 

It seems fairly certain that a deposit will be required to take advantage of the offer, but it is unclear how exactly the government will apply the discounts, and whether they will be applied to the monthly travel passes or if there will be some kind application process – whether online or at the station – in order to get the discount.

Like many things in Spain, it is expected the way in which the discount is applied and how to apply for it will be left up to the regional governments.

Stay tuned to The Local Spain to keep up to date with this offer, and to receive information on taking advantage of it as soon as the government releases more information.

Spanish trains explained

Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of train services in Spain.

Cercanías: Local trains that link major cities with their metropolitan area. Cercanías operates in Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Cádiz, Madrid, Málaga, Oviedo Santander, San Sebastián, Sevilla, Valencia and Zaragoza. 

Rodalies: The same as Cercanías, but in Catalonia.

Media distancia: Regional trains that link different cities, towns, and villages within a single autonomous community. 

Regional: Similar to media distancia but usually with more stops, and are often, as a result, slower but also cheaper. 

Ave: Spain’s high-velocity, cross country service. 

 

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