Visiting the Sierra Nevada: Everything you need to know
Sierra Nevada (Granada, Andalucía)
From where can I plan this day trip? Ideally Granada, although you might be able to swing it from other nearby places in Andalucía with a car
What is it? One of the biggest skiing attractions in Spain, you wouldn’t expect to find snowy slopes just an hour from the Mediterranean coast, but there they are! “Sierra Nevada” means snow-covered mountain range in Spanish and that’s exactly what you’ll find. You can take in the beautiful white-capped mountainous ‘skyline’ from the city center of Granada but if you’re looking for a day of winter sport, you simply must plan a trip up to the slopes!
How to prepare ahead of time: Although you can see these mountains from the city center, the trip to reach the top will take approximately 45 minutes. Be sure to check the timetable in order to plan your trip in the most time-efficient way. While you can rent skis, snowboards, and other equipment at the top, another option is to rent them in the city center before you go. This will save you a bit of money (and time once you’re at the slopes), but it will also require you to lug your equipment with you on all the buses (likely from the rental shop to your home and/or on the local bus or metro to the bus station before the main bus). Generally, prices in the center start at about 15€/day whereas at the slopes start at about 25€/day. Check out your options and decide which makes most sense for you; these links for ONE of your options in the center and ONE of your options at the slopes can help you get started.
Pro-Tip: Keep in mind that there are also a number of hostels, hotels, and cabins for rent in the Sierra Nevada if you would like to make this a longer stay. If you’re a true ski-bunny, this might be a good idea in order to take advantage of the slopes before and after the crowds arrive. On the other hand, if you’re NOT a skier, this trip can still be fun for you! I’ve taken a day trip just to wander through the cute little ski village, ride the chairlift up to an area where people were sledding, and then kick back with some mulled wine and snacks at the ski lodge to take in the views. There’s something for everyone (just keep in mind that food is expensive up there)!
How to get there: Bus or Car
During ski season, there are three bus departures from the Granada bus station Monday-Friday and four departures on the weekends (see timetable link above). One-way tickets cost 5€, but I recommend purchasing ida y vuelta for 9€ so that you have a guaranteed spot on the ride home (also three and four returns during ski season). If you want to visit outside of ski season, that is still an option but check the timetable as there is typically only one bus each way per day! You can also take your own car as there is parking near the slopes (but beware of poorly-marked no-parking zones along the road). However, I do not recommend going by car unless you have snow chains on your tires as well as experience driving in mountains and snow. It can get a little nerve-wracking if not!
Pro-Tip: The last bus home (6:30pm) is a very popular option as everyone is typically looking to get the most out of their day trip. If you plan to choose this option, be sure to book a day or so in advance―the last thing you need is for your day trip to turn into an overnight unexpectedly!
Recommended time of year to visit: November through April is typically ski season. However, if you’re planning a trip from further away, I recommend you don’t count on those ‘bookend months’―plan your trip somewhere in the middle to ensure there’s enough snow to enjoy the Sierra Nevada in all its glory. And if you haven’t visited Granada yet, definitely factor in another day or two for this gem!