Marbella may not conjure up images of snowy mountains, toboggans speeding down the hillside or ski lifts transporting skiers high up into the Sierra Nevada, but one of the best winter sports resorts is situated just a 2-hour drive from the town centre.
The Sierra Nevada is the perfect place for skiers from the chillier northern climes of Europe to banish their winter blues and take to the slopes in style. Why not split your time between Sierra Nevada and Marbella and enjoy the skiing and the sunbathing? Book a luxurious Marbella villa in winter and you will be within easy reach of all the attractions.
Located in the provinces of Granada, Malaga and Almeria, the Sierra Nevada is one of Europe’s most southerly ski resorts, with an abundance of sunshine during early spring. Spain, somewhat surprisingly, is the second-most mountainous country in Europe after Switzerland.
Dominating the Sierra Nevada skyline, Mulhacén is mainland Spain’s highest peak (at 3,478m above sea level) and was named after the former Moorish leader of Granada, Abu l-Hasan Ali. According to legend the King was buried on the summit of the mountain in the 15th century. If you want to get ‘up close and personal’ with Mulhacén guided single-day ascents start from the villages of Capileira and Trevélez.
The Sierra Nevada ski resort offers over 130 runs for all skill levels, 21 lifts and 15 ski schools for all ages. If you are not up to skiing, why not book a toboggan run down the mountain or simply chill out in one of the many cafeterias and restaurants dotted around the resort.
Serving a choice of delicious local dishes, including hearty meat stews, lentil soup, braised oxtail and cocido Madrileño, a traditional chickpea-based stew, you won’t go hungry in the hills. Stop of for a thick, creamy hot chocolate while out skiing!
If you haven’t been skiing before, start on the novice slopes which are a great introduction to the sport, and let you build up your confidence, before attempting the more challenging runs.
Make sure you arrive at the central car park at Sierra Nevada before 9am to make the most of the day -it really is worth getting up early to avoid the crowds. Check the weather before you go and note that the high slopes are closed in strong winds. If you have some flexibility in when you go, plan a day when the weather forecast is good. Go to lunch early. The Spanish tend to have their lunch after 2pm, so by eating earlier, its’s a win-win – fewer people in the restaurant and less crowded slopes later.
Make sure you have snow chains for your car or the police may stop you if the weather turns bad. Use strong sun protection as, even if the sun doesn’t seem strong when you set off, the reflection of the sun on the snow can burn you easily.
This snowy paradise near the Costa del Sol makes for an excellent day trip with the family and if you rent a luxury Marbella villa, you can be back in time for dinner, prepared by your own private chef!