Where To Ski, How To Get There and Finding Ski Jobs in Spain
Who Told You To Leave The Gear Behind? This is your guide to some of the best skiing in Spain, especially for expat ski bums who might be looking for a seasonal job at a ski resort in Spain.
Spain also boasts one of the largest indoor ski resorts in Europe allowing you to ski 365 days a year no matter what the weather or ability level.
The climate may be warmer but that only makes for a sweeter goggle tan (and less frostbitten toes) because the snow still falls in Spain. As the second most mountainous country in Europe (behind Switzerland) Spain has incredible skiing and for ski bums craving some downhill action there are over 36 resorts from which to choose when skiing in Spain.
Extending from the Pyrenees along the northern border, to as far south as the Sierra Nevada, Spain is full of ski resorts with varying terrain for skiers of all levels. Spain also boasts one of the largest indoor ski resorts in Europe allowing you to ski 365 days a year no matter what the weather or ability level.
Ski Resorts in Spain, A General Resort Overview
The best Spanish ski resorts are in the Pyrenees which are comparable with the mid-sized Alpine resorts. Further south above Granada in Andalucia, is the Sierra Nevada which in spite of its sunny climate has hosted the World Alpine Ski Championships and is most likely the number one tourist destination for skiers coming to Spain. North of Madrid there is some great skiing in La Pinilla, Navacerrada, Valcotos and Valdesquí. Further north there is skiing in La Rioja at Valdezcaray, at Alto Campoo in Cantabria and at San Isidro in León. These resorts are less inhabited by tourists than the ones in the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada and often have fresh powder for days.
An In Depth Look At A Few Key Areas Across the Country:
Ski Resorts in the Pyrenees
For high class skiing in Spain you can’t beat the Pyrenees with ski resorts all along the border with France. When trying to figure out the best place to go in the Pyrenees it’s easiest to divide it into 3 regions.
Ski Resorts in Aragonese Pyrenees
- Aragonese Pyrenees
- Catalan Pyrenees
- Andorran Pyrenees
There are five ski resorts in the Aragonese Pyrenees.
- 106km from Huesca, 178km from Zaragoza
- 4 Chair lifts, 9 Ski lifts, 1 Baby lift
- For Information on how to get there, lift prices and resort map check out: Astun Ski Resort
- 98km from Huesca, 170 km from Zaragoza, 220 km from San Sebastian
- 5 Chair lifts, 19 Ski lifts
- This resort has a reputation for hard skiing and lies 385km from Barcelona
- For more information on how to get there, life prices and resort map check out: Candanchu Ski Resort
- 157 km from Huesca, 227 km from Zaragoza, 148 km from Lleida
- 4 Chair lifts, 8 Ski lifts, 1 Telebaby
- 21 lifts and 97 slopes of varying levels.
- Formigal is now Spain’s largest ski resort with a total of 137km of pistes, spread out over 4 inter-connecting valleys.
- There are two snowparks, a moguls run, dog sledding, skidoo driving and many other activities to keep families entertained.
Ski Resorts in Catalan Pyrenees
- 2 Chair lifts, 5 Ski lifts
- 90km from Huesca, 154km from Zaragoza
- This resort has been called a diamond in the rough, a smaller friendly resort situated 170km from Zaragoza.
There are ten ski resorts in the Catalan Pyrenees.
- 150km from Barcelona
- 1 Chair lift, 5 Ski lifts, 1 Baby lift
- Spain’s largest and most popular ski resort, located 200 km from Barcelona and 160 km from Toulouse in France.
- 14 Chair lifts, 8 Ski lifts
- For more information on ticket prices, how to get there and resort maps check out: [url=http://www.baqueira.es]http://www.baqueira.es[/url]
UPDATE: The NYT did a relatively in-depth look at several ski resorts in the Pyrenees
, Jan 2012, including Baqueira Beret. Take a look!
- 295km from Barcelona
- 2 Chair lifts, 5 Ski lifts, 1 Baby lift
- 155km from Barcalona
- 6 Chair lifts, 14 Ski lifts
- Spain’s oldest ski resort and only a day trip from Barcelona. La Molina is one of the most appealing options with a variety of terrain for all levels.
- For More Information on ticket prices, how to get there and resort maps check out: La Molina Ski Resort
- 240km from Barcelona, 230km from Tarragona, 130km from Lleida
- 2 Chair lifts, 3 Ski lifts, 1 Baby lift
- 160km from Barcelona
- 3 Chair lifts, 7 Ski lifts
Vall de Nuria
- 135km from Barcelona
- 1 Cable car, 3 Ski lifts
Port del Comte
- 145km from Barcelona
- 3 Chair lifts, 11 Ski lifts, 1 Baby lift
- For more information on lift prices, how to get there and terrain maps
- Check out: [url=http://www.portdelcomte.net]http://www.portdelcomte.net[/url]
Ski all year round on over 18 000 square meters at Xanadu the first indoor ski slope in Spain.
Ski Resorts in Andorran Pyrenees
There are seven ski resorts in Andorra: Pas de la Casa-Grau Roig, Ordino Arcalis, Soldeu el Tarter, Pal, Arinsal, La Rabassa, and Encamp
Skiing in Spain: the Sierra Nevada
Spain's number one location for winter sports, the Sierra Nevada is located just two hours away from the Costa Del Sol. This resort has the best snow and the longest season in the country and avid skiers often see more than 5 months of skiing each year. The resort also boasts the best groomed snow in Europe and with the resort being just 30 minutes away from Granada you can play golf in the morning and ski or snowboard at the top in the afternoon.
Sierra Nevada has 61km of ski slopes with 45 pistes and 6 off-piste routes. There are 2 cable cars, 12 chair lifts and 5 ski lifts. The ski resort is open from 9am to 5pm although you can ski at night on weekends and on bank holidays as well.
- Useful Facts About Skiing in Sierra Nevada
- Resort Village: Pradollano (at 2100m/6889feet)
- Nearest City: Granada (37km)
- Season Length: December - April
- Number & Types of Slopes at the Sierra Nevada ski resort:
- Green ski runs: 8
- Blue ski runs: 33
- Red ski runs: 34
- Black ski runs: 4
- Night Skiing?: Yes
- Other features: Halfpipe for snowboarding. Parking lot for nearly 3,000 cars
- Contact Details:
Sierra Nevada Club Booking Office
Plaza de Andalucía, 4
Tel +34 902708090 /Fax +34 958249146
There are three ski resorts near Madrid as well as the first indoor ski slope in Spain.
- Navacerrada Ski Resort (rough site)
- Valdesqui Ski Resort
- Ski La Pinilla
Ski all year round on over 18 000 square meters at Xanadú, the first indoor ski slope in Spain. Xanadu is divided into both a beginners’ area and another area for more experienced skiers. It can take up to 3,000 people at one time not to mention the shopping area right next door with more than 30 restaurants and 15 cinemas if you get tired on the slopes.
Prices range from 22 euros (no equipment rental up to 4 hours of skiing) to 36 euros (with equipment and up to 4 hours of skiing)
Teach Skiing In Spain
If you love to ski and board, working in a ski resort is a great way to spend the winter and it is possible to find jobs teaching skiing in Spain. Since most resort jobs offer seasonal employment and can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months, there are several options when it comes to job flexibility. Also see our jobs in Spain
page for links to job sites.
How To Apply?
There are two basic ways to teach skiing in Spain: Apply in advance or simply show up at the resort. The former offers more security and will give you greater room for choice in terms of which resort you might want to work in, however many people take their chances every season and just turn up. Ski resorts have a high turn rate over and for the most part securing a job on the spot isn’t usually a problem it just might require some extra time and patience.
Applying in Advance: If you choose to apply in advance, the best way is to call the ski resort and ask to fill out an on-line application or have them send you an information package and application form. Following this, the company will most likely call and ask for an interview. Obviously recruitment procedures vary depending on the company and the resort.
will also depend on which resort you are applying through. For most resorts, if you are not an EU citizen and do not have a working visa
, can help you arrange everything through the ski school, however some might make you do it yourself but usually help in the process.
When To Apply?
It’s best to start looking into which resorts to apply to and how to go about it earlier than later as there are many people vying for the same positions and there are often only a certain amount of international visas available within each ski school and each resort. A good bet would be to start in July, as most resorts are well into their summer seasons and have already started looking towards the following winter season.
Pay and Benefits
Teaching skiing in Spain can be a great way to earn money as well as offer other benefits to enhance the overall ski season. Some ski schools provide their instructors with extra incentives and if there’s time to shop around before choosing which resort to work in it’s a good idea take a look at what they offer. Most resorts provide their instructors with:
The Ski Season
- Season's ski pass
- Ski & boots equipment
- Travel to and from resort
- Accommodation & all meals
- Health & Travel Insurance
Ski jobs usually start in late November / December and run through until the snow fades, usually around April / May. An idea of how long a typical ski season can run for and the kinds of jobs available throughout are below:
Full Ski Season Jobs (3-6 months)
Many ski companies like to employ seasonal staff for a 5-6 month season (Nov/December to April). Something to be aware of is that there are often a limited number of opportunities for mid-season relief staff from January onwards for durations of 1-4 months. It’s not a bad idea to start the ski season early (November) and finish early as opposed to trying to come and start in January.
Half-Term and Easter Jobs (1-4 weeks)
If you don’t want to teach all season and would rather pick up a few shifts throughout the winter, there are great opportunities to teach skiing in Spain for 1 to 2 weeks during February break and the Easter holidays. Most resorts need extra staff during this busy time and many ski reps and ski and snowboard companies who specialize in school groups or family ski holidays also need an extra hand and often have readily available work during this time.
If you love living on the slopes when the snow falls you don’t have to look very far in Spain. The incredible diversity in terrain, close proximity to the main cities and ease of transportation make skiing in Spain a wonderful sport to take part in on the weekend, during the week or even for a little vacation during the winter season. Just because the sun is stronger and the beach is around the corner doesn’t mean the gear has to stay behind. It’s just more incentive to get down the mountain and hop into the ocean after your run.