With the arrival of winter, the low temperatures and a fine coating of snow are enough to make the mountains look completely different from the rest of the year. The valleys are dusted with snow; snow-capped peaks dazzle climbers; mountain lakes freeze over; fir forests are cloaked in snowflakes. Discovering the Catalan Pyrenees during the winter months is a fascinating holiday experience, offering something for everybody. One way to enjoy the mountains is to go skiing in any of the 16 ski resorts (10 Alpine ski and 6 cross-country) in Catalonia.
Vall de Núria is a curious ski resort surrounded by peaks of some 3,000 metres and the site of a popular sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin of Núria. Access is by the rack railway train emblematic of this destination. Once you get there, the hotel or hostel will be your base camp for skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh riding, or tobogganing in the fun park.
Eastwards from Vall de Núria, the privileged location of Vallter 2000 ski resort affords breathtaking views of Bay of Roses and Cap de Creus (Costa Brava) from the top level (2,535m). Towards the west, the pleasant Alpine and cross-country ski resorts in Cerdanya and Alt Urgell Counties offer more original activities such as igloo building (available in several resorts) and, for the bravest and most experienced, swimming under the ice in a lake located at an altitude of over 2,200 metres (La Molina). The latter option is limited to expert divers, as the atmospheric pressure here is very different to that found at sea level. Other activities include panoramic flights by helicopter, balloon or light aircraft, and segway routes over the snow. You would think you were in Scandinavia! Finally, don’t miss Alp 2500, spanning La Molina and Masella resorts, one of the largest ski domains in the Pyrenees.
Port del Comte, the nearest resort to Barcelona, caters for families and offers many activities that will delight children and adults alike.
An original way of enjoying the fabulous landscapes of Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park is by going on a snowshoe route. Originally invented in Central Asia, snowshoes enable you to walk over all types of snowy terrain without being an expert skier. Just walk around and enjoy this unique place! The National Park offers many winter excursions, such as an orienteering route from Sant Maurici Lake to Amitges refuge, with gentle slopes affording luxury views of Els Encantats, Sant Maurici Lake, Agulles d’Amitges and Tuc de Saboredo. Take time to go skiing while you are in the area. Espot and Port Ainé resorts are located in stunning sites near Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park and Alt Pirineu Natural Park.
Vall de Boí offers the perfect combination of nature and culture. In the morning, you can ski in Boí Taüll Resort and in the afternoon, you can visit the ensemble of Romanesque churches in the valley, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000.
Finally, a winter destination par excellence is Val d’Aran, where you can explore picturesque villages with their stone houses, Romanesque hermitages, and medieval bridges, nestling in snowy landscapes reminiscent of a Christmas card scene. Baqueira-Beret is the largest ski resort in Spain, offering Alpine and cross-country ski slopes, and a wide range of other options including heli-skiing and snowmobile routes. As a special treat, take a dog sleigh route through the magic forests on the evening of a full moon, to a sanctuary where you will be served a delicious Aranese supper! As you see, there is no need to go to the other end of the world to enjoy an original winter experience.