Snowboarding in Spain? Say whaaaat??
As it turns out, yes, yes it’s true. You can go snowboarding in Granada Spain, a place known for 45°C summers, I’ve been there, I’ve done it, and it's freezing cold and absolutely beautiful.
A little back story on me, I am a sucker for snowboarding! I love it! I’ve never really been that into sport, I’m a bit clumsy, have two left feet and haven’t ever been that good at following the crowds (football and rugby – but I am learning!) I went on my first snowboarding holiday when I was about 11 and it was crazy, exhilarating, fast, and painful. I actually really hurt my tailbone the first week I ever went – it still gives me grief now, but damn it was fun! Over the years unfortunately work and other things got in the way so my last ever snowboarding session was at the age of 16.
The south of Spain is known for a lot of things, sun mainly, cheap wine, party capitals, tapas, but not snow. Snowboarding in Spain almost sounds like a joke, or a dream. So, when I started to do some research on Granada (check out what else you can do) before we booked it I was astounded to find out that just 20km from my city centre door step, there was snow.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains are one of the highest points in Europe reaching 3,478 meters, coming second only to the Alps. There are over 100km of runs and 21 lifts, that’s some serious snowboarding or skiing right there. I was stoked and definitely going – it did not disappoint!
To reach the Sierra Nevada’s from Granada you need to make your way to the Estacion de autobuses and from there the ALSA bus company runs twice in the morning, first at 08:00 and then at 10:00 and runs twice in the evening at 16:00 and 18:30 (do not miss these buses). There is often a bunch of people clambering at the machines when you arrive at the bus station. But here’s a little secret tip for you guys, head down to where you get the buses from and here are 2 machines down there which never have anybody queueing for them. The bus costs €9 for a return ticket.
So off we set on our way. If you’ve ever driven through the south of Spain you will know that it’s a fairly desolate, open space, full of cactuses, big rocks, and dry soil. Well as we approached the mountains believe it or not things stayed the same! But the higher we climbed the more beautiful and unusual the scenery became, have you ever seen a snow-covered cactus? Well you can if you go snowboarding in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As the bus continued to climb the arid dessert like colours faded away to reveal some beautiful views of which I have never experienced in the other countries I have snowboarded in.
The Sierra Nevada Ski Station Resort encompasses Pradollano, the small village at the bottom of the slopes, which is packed full of ski shops, restaurants, rental places and hotels (yes you can stay here!) and the mid-station Borreguiles which is accessed by the cable cars and contains a few restaurants, rental places and ski schools.
On arrival to Pradollano its time to get your lift pass and ski gear. The cost of a lift pass varies depending on whether it is high or low season, but it ranges between €36.50 and €48.00 for a day, head on over to the lift pass machines to get your pass. There are plenty of Ski/Snowboard gear shops at the base of the slopes. The shop that we chose, and the shop I couldn’t recommend more because they we fantastic, is Intersport Riosport. I hadn’t pre-booked a board or gear (which I would advise you do!) and they still managed to set me up with everything I needed for a fantastic price too!
So, all toasty and warm in my new gear (snowboarding in Spain is hot! I recommend just wearing 1 layer) and a board slung under my arm it was time to hit the slopes. It would be important to note that Bryony has never snowboarded or skied. She’s really up for learning but with just one day on the slopes she didn’t want to hold me up; that, plus I imagine the comfy champagne bar with decent sun and great WIFI at the bottom of the slope seemed a much better idea than the bruises of a first timer.
The mid station of Borreguiles is reached via cable car, I’m used to the fantastic views that you see when visiting the Alps for example, but the view from the cable car blew me away. As I continued the ascent, to the one of the highest pistes, on one of the 21 chair lifts the view only got better! There is a stark contrast ere between desolate dry arid Spain and the beautiful white mountain scape. A contrast and a view that, ultimately, I have never seen before or could have believed possible. The feeling is exhilarating, almost like a secret that the mountain has only let a select number of people in on.
As I reached the top of the piste and strapped myself in admiring the scenery – which gave me a very zen feeling – and shuffled towards the edge of the slope – which reminded me god you aren’t 16 anymore – I realised this is an experience that I believe everyone should have at least once in their life. I hit the slopes and the rush and excitement returned, I felt 16 again, it was just like riding a bike.
The snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is like something I have never snowboarded before, it’s like the finest dust but so easy to ride. The pistes are huge, wide, well beaten paths that aren’t too full of people, and, there are also some fantastic (though a bit difficult for snowboards) thin flat runs that take you right along some of the tight mountain edges over to more of this ski resorts 124 trails and runs.
Fancy a bite to eat to recharge your batteries before the rest of the afternoon? I would highly recommend Terraza Tia Maria, a fantastic sun-drenched beer and food terrace with cracking Ibiza style tunes pumping out to keep your energy flowing. The portion sizes here are huge and really good value! I went for a Jar of beer (if you don’t drink at lunch while boarding, are you really boarding?) and a giant burger which was almost as big as my head! If you want to know where to get a bite to eat when you finish in the evening click here for our best tapas bars
After lunch I headed back up the slopes for the rest of the day and it was even better than the morning.
So, what can you expect when you go to the sunny south of Spain and decide to take a trip skiing or snowboarding? Prepare for outstanding views, prepare for incredible snow and pistes, and prepare to have your expectations blown away, because let’s face it it’s not every day you get to see proper snow in Spain, let alone experience it like you will when you snowboard the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Plus, if you were really smart about it you could even get back to your accommodation and take a swim in a pool and sunbathe afterwards!
My top tip would be to check the Sierra Nevada website to make sure the weather is good on the day you want to go. You wouldn't want to arrive and find every lift closed. The mountain weather is very unpredictable after all.
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