The Pyrenees constitute a huge area with endless possibilities for winter sports. The Spanish side, is maybe less known but it boasts sixteen resorts offering skiers everything they could require: amazing slopes, an attractive array of après ski activities and services. For those who already know the Spanish Pyrenees, they will certainly stick with the most known and obviously overcrowded resorts that are Formigal and Baqueria/Beret. But we thought you might like to know about other options: smaller, quieter, and more family friendly ski resorts. Resorts that, apart from providing well-groomed pistes with excellent family skiing facilities, also boast cultural and gastronomic activities.
Here is our choice:
In the heart of the Boí Valley, right in the central Pyrenees, you will find the Boí Taüll resort and its 49 pistes covering a distance of 44 km. This is one of the highest ski resorts in the Pyrenees, with high snow quality throughout the day, and without queues and crowds.
Of the many highlights nearby, besides the Aigües Tortes National Park, we should also mention some of the beautiful Romanesque buildings which have UNESCO World Heritage status: Sant Climent in Taüll, Sant Feliu in Barruera, Sant Joan in Boí, la Nativitat de la Mare de Déu in Durro, and the hermitage of Sant Quirc near Durro.
Still within the natural surroundings of Aigües Tortes and close to Andorra, is located the family friendly ski resort of Espot, with pistes running through the lush forests of pine and valleys. During summer the area attracts many tourists for its ideal conditions and infrastructure for white water rafting, paragliding, horse-riding, canyoning and hiking but during winter the Espot Esquí Ski Resort is ideal for those who wish to enjoy the snow of this 23.5 km of pistes with all the family, far away from the crowds.
La Molina and Masella
For a more peaceful après ski atmosphere, La Molina and Masella ski resorts are the best options. La Molina is Spain’s oldest ski resort with skiing known to date back to 1908! As it hosted the Snowboard World Cup few years ago, the resort of La Molina offers a modern sporting spirit combined with a family atmosphere and activities for every age. Nearby, the very scenic ski resort of Masella provides what is one of the longest seasons in the Pyrenees and the longest run in the Eastern Pyrenees at 7km. Its outstanding views overlooking the sunny valley of La Cerdanya will just blow you away!
Another nice resort in the Lleida region is the relatively new ski resort of Port Aine. Situated under the Pic de l’Orri, 95% of the slopes are facing north and because of its wonderful microclimate, many consider you’
ll find the best snow in the entire Pyrenees here.
Vall de Nuria
On the Eastern side of the Pyrenees, the extremely peaceful and friendly atmosphere of Vall de Nuria is quite unusual, because the only way to access is by taking a funicular from Ribes de Freser, a 40 minutes journey that covers 12.5 km and climbs 1,000 metres – but the stunning views are only a small taste of the beauty, peace and harmony that await you in the valley above, surrounded by 3,000 metre peaks, where the stunning backdrop is like a huge natural amphitheatre. Important to note that this small resort that has only 11 pistes for alpine skiing, has been awarded a Q rating for Tourism Quality, granted by the Spanish Tourist Quality Institute.
Candanchu and Astún
One of Spain’s oldest established ski resorts dating back to 1928, and the longest-running winter sports resort in the Aragon Pyrenees is the resort of Candanchu. Its slopes lead through the spectacular settings of the Rinconada and Ciudad de Piedra areas, and so are protected from adverse weather conditions; you can use them even in the worst weather! Its ski school is reputed to be one of the best in Spain. Only 4 kilometres from Candanchú you will find its sister resort: Astún, that provides a good 39 kilometres of skiing. The futuristic and fully-equipped purpose-built centre is located in a treeless valley above Candanchu. By the way, both Astún and Candanchú share a lift ticket.
To end on a high note, let us introduce you with Cerler, our favourite ski resort and without a doubt our best choice for family skiing holidays! As you’ll find the biggest vertical range in the Pyrenees here, the views are just stunning and the skiing excellent! With 71km of skiable runs on 60 pistes, served by 18 lifts, Cerler is a modern resort with extensive choices of quite pistes and trails. About a third of the pistes have snow-blowers to guarantee snow throughout the ski season. There are rarely queues at the lifts so you can explore freely without having to worry about waiting in line.
The authentic Spanish village of Benasque is also easy and safe to explore on foot. Here you will find good après ski atmosphere with lively bars, restaurants, cafés and stylish hotels.
After booking your ski holiday your thoughts will soon turn to what you need to pack for your trip. Ski, snowboard, boots and helmet are always available at all ski resorts, and if you are a beginner skier we recommend you to hire these items once at your resort. Below you’ll find our checklist of what other items you might consider to bring with you:
ESSENTIALSThermal Baselayer Worn directly next to your skin to wick moisture away from the body keeping you dry and warm. No cotton. Sock Liners Next to skin wicks moisture away from your feet keeping you dry and warm. Glove Liners Wicks away moisture from hands, protects from cold when removing gloves. Provides additional layer for warmth. T-necks Second Layer: Look for technical fabric to wick moisture. Keeps cold from going down your collar. Socks Wicking & insulating properties keep feet warm & dry. Cushioned padding for maximum comfort & performance. Gloves Hands are the hardest part of the body to keep warm. Proper fit & waterproofing keeps your fingers warm. Hat 85% of your body heat escapes from the top of your head. Neck Gaiters Seal in body warmth on your neck, face and mouth with soft neck gaiters or face masks. Helmet Protects against head injuries and in case of injury, may reduce severity. Goggles (case / anti-fog) Protects eyes from sun glare, snow and wind while highlighting objects & terrain. Keeps you warm. Double lenses for no fog. Sunglasses Protects your eyes from the intense sun glare while highlighting objects & terrain. After Ski Boots Keeps you comfortable, warm and dry when you are not skiing. Lip Balm / Sunscreen Skin protection prevents skin problems and damage due to extreme weather. Hand and Toe Warmers Up to 10 hrs. of warmth; place 1 in each pocket, glove or shoe. Make your skiing experience more enjoyable.
COMFORTAfter Ski Gloves Helps keep your hands warm after a long day of skiing (your other gloves may be wet). Boot Warmer & Dryer Removes moisture from your boots for a dry day of skiing the slopes. Walk Aids/Cat Tracks Protect the bottom of your boots and prevent slipping while walking to and from the lift. Footbeds Provides extra support & performance along with added comfort throughout the day. A necessity for ski boots. Hydration Pack Keep hydrated to avoid altitude sickness. Camera We are sure you look very cool on the slopes, so do not forget to take your camera with you and once back from your holidays, do not hesitate to send your pictures to our Facebook Page!