For most, Costa del Sol is associated with beaches, sand, and sun, but rarely skiing. But the sunny southern coast of Spain has a lot more to offer than hot-weathered activities. Visit the nearby mountains for hours of wintertime fun sure to leave you feeling festive.
Sierra Nevada in the snow
It’s Europe’s most southerly ski resort, it lies on the same latitude as Cyprus, and a day-trip to the Sierra Nevada slopes is entirely possible. You can conceivably ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon! If you are driving from Granada or Marbella, then renting a car is the best way. Always leave early because traffic can get hectic, especially at the weekend. Once you’ve arrived there are around 15 ski schools and plenty of English-speaking teachers. You can learn to ski, snowboard or brush up on your telemarking skills.
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A good idea for Christmas
Christmas visitor numbers have been growing year on year in Sierra Nevada and the festive buzz is ever more exciting. Entertainment in Christmas week includes Santa Claus on the piste, concerts on the streets and various pistes, a New Year’s Eve party, children’s cinema and the cherry on top – the Three Kings’ arrival on skis with live projection on huge screens around the resort.
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For those who can only make it up late, or if you just can’t get enough, then the slopes at the Sierra Nevada are open from 7pm to 10pm at night. Lighting is available on the Maribel and El Rio pistes. Last season, star gazing workshops were an added option as was cinema on the slopes for the little ski-lings. The film of choice was Frozen. What else?
Related: Where to ski in Spain: a guide
Sierra Nevada is preparing to host the 2017 Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships and thanks to the Granada Universiade 2015 Games, the facilities are already there. If freestyling is your thing, look no further than the Super Parque Sulayr, the stage for four snowboarding and three freestyle events. The facilities include a parallel slalom, slopestyle, cross and halfpipe venues.
World Snow Day
Look out for the World Snow Day, which will take place on January 17th. Organized by the official International Ski Federation (FIS), it is all about getting your child out there learning to ski or snowboard and make good use of the snow. Activities on the slopes in Sierra Nevada include mini-competitions, exhibitions, cinema and lessons especially for children.
Ski School is more than your average holiday kid’s club. With the added fun that comes with snow, the little ones are bound to be happy. The Mirlo Blanco, the resort’s family park, makes a family holiday on the slopes even better. Complete with Russian ski train, slides, magic carpet ride and bouncy castles, there are activities such as snow-cycling as well, so even the grown ups are happy without their skis on.