If you’ve ever wondered “does it snow it Spain?”, I can tell you that it does! Just before Christmas we went on a weekend away and saw more snow than we’d ever seen before.
We hadn’t been feeling very Christmassy as even in the middle of December we were still sat outside in the sun. It’s quite a weird feeling getting ready for Christmas in weather that’s warmer than summer in England, so when we saw photos on Facebook of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains we decided to book a little trip.
Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in Andalucia, in the province of Granada, which is about 310km from where we live and around 3.5 hours drive. The husband and I visited Sierra Nevada about 10 years ago on a summer holiday and since then have said we’d love to go back in the winter. I’ve never been on a snowy holiday as I always prefer the sun, but now we get sun all the time I like the idea of snow – talk about always wanting something different!
The snow started to fall in October and we’d been keeping an eye on the snow forecast for Sierra Nevada. We bought snow trousers, boots and thermals as we’d gotten rid of any winter clothes when we moved – we didn’t really consider that we might want to go skiing in Spain.
We kept the whole trip a secret from Little H and surprised after school on a Friday afternoon by giving her clues of a woolly hat, gloves and a carrot. Her little face when she guessed “building a snowman?” was priceless!
The drive from Alicante to Granada is full of beautiful scenery. You can see the temperature gauge in the car drop with every mile as you get higher and higher up – there were some excited squeals from all of us when we spotted the first snowy peaks.
As with any ski resort, hotels are quite pricey so we only booked to stay for one night. Rather than getting up at the crack of dawn to drive down there on Saturday morning, we decided to go after school on Friday and stay in a cheaper hotel in Granada. We booked the bus to take us from Granada to Sierra Nevada the following morning as weren’t sure our little car would be the best at getting up the steep roads.
The bus from Granada costs €10 return per person and we booked through busbud.com. The journey is approx 45 minutes and the scenery is amazing – we drove through the clouds until we were high above them which was quite strange to see.
The bus drops you in the main square Plaza Pradollano and it’s a short walk to most of the hotels and apartments – we stayed at the Melia Sierra Nevada which is in the centre. First we went for a walk around the village and got some info from Tourist Information in the center of the village about where to go. It was a lovely sunny day and wearing all our thick winter gear we were absolutely sweating! We sat and had a drink looking up at the snowy mountains and had to strip off a few layers.
As non-skiers, you can go up in the cable cars to the start of the ski range. The cable cars are quite expensive even if you aren’t skiing, we paid €55 for 2 adults and 1 child which is one return trip. The views are fantastic from the cable cars and you can watch the skiers whizzing down the slopes as you go.
At the top, there are ski lifts to take skiers to the various slopes, a restaurant (incredibly expensive!) and plenty of space to walk and play in the snow if you aren’t going skiing. There are also sledges and inflatable rings for kids which cost €10 for 30 minutes. Little H had great fun in the rings and we also went for a walk in the snow and made a snowman. Because it was such a sunny day we were so hot in our ski gear but glad we had bought proper boots and waterproof trousers!
After a few hours, we went back down to the ski village where there is a kids recreation area with more sledges, inflatable rings, and a toboggan ride. You need to pay for these as well though and at €10 a time it can get quite pricey.
That night we went for dinner at a restaurant we’d spotted in our online research. La Antorcha (the torch) is a lovely cosy restaurant where all the meat is cooked in front of you on a stone slate. They also bring round the complimentary Arbol de Salchicha (sausage tree) while you wait! If you do visit the Sierra Nevada we highly recommend this restaurant, the food was amazing.
The ski village looked really pretty lit up at night and there were still plenty of people skiing in the dark. Without the sun it was obviously a lot colder, and with the snow and lights it definitely made us feel more Christmassy.
On the Sunday we’d booked the 4pm bus to take us back to Granada so that we had plenty more time to play in the snow. Unfortunately, because there hadn’t been any snowfall for a week or so the actual village had no snow. This meant that there was no “free snow” to play in – you either had to pay to go on the activities in the recreation area or buy more tickets to go up to the top of the mountain. As we probably won’t see snow again for a long time we decided to buy another ticket to go back up to the top of the mountain.
We had a lovely walk, built another snowman and did some exploring. You can walk for miles but we didn’t want to venture too far with an 8 year old!
We were sad to leave as we had an amazing time but I don’t think our bank balance would have liked us to stay any longer! Now that we know we can get there in a few hours we will most definitely head back again another winter, maybe saving up to go skiing next time.
Did you know that you could find so much snow in Spain? If you want a winter holiday with both snow and sand, this would make a great option as you could get to the nearest beach to Granada in around an hour.
You can see more of our Spanish travels here.