I am very privileged. I live in one of the most fortunate corners of Spain. Less than an hour away is the Costa Tropical where one can get a good dip in the summer (even in spring and autumn) and 45 minutes away we have Sierra Nevada, the southernmost ski resort in Europe.
However, I don’t ski and I don’t have the intention to do so anytime soon. Raccoons are not made to slide down a mountain. However, this does not mean that one cannot enjoy the privileges of a snowy mountain range throughout the winter.
Sierra Nevada offers many alternatives to those who, like me, do not want to or cannot ski. During your stay in Granada, do not back out of a trip to the the snowy mountain top just because you can’t ski. In this post I will describe the options available in order to have fun and spend a pleasant day in the mountains.
Car ride with panoramic views
If you have a car at your disposal, the drive and the beautiful landscapes along the road are already a reason to go to the Sierra. The views of the valleys of the northern slope of the Penibaetic System are amazing. In addition, it’s easy to feel like a child just watching the snow get closer and closer as you ascend the hillside.
The journey on the A-395 road can be completed in about 45 minutes. If you have time, and if you want to add excitement and even more spectacular landscapes to your route, I recommend the route to the Sierra using the Purche road, which leaves from Monachil Its serpentine route makes it not only one of the most picturesque roads in the province of Granada, but also the route chosen by many car companies to test their models that have not yet been launched into the market.
Important tip: during the weekends in high season (December-March) there are long delays when going up and down the mountain and it makes it impossible to park on-site. My recommendation is to use public transportation if you decide to go on the weekend.
The Russian Sled (el trineo ruso)
Arriving to the Pradollano Station (the urban enclave where the ski resort is located) is like fleeing from Andalusia. Nothing is recognizable for being in the southernmost region of continental Europe. Its Alpine rooftops and Swiss-style buildings transport you to a very distant place.
The first recommended activity for non-skiers is the Russian Sled. It is located south of the station. To get there, you have to follow the signs to «Mirlo Blanco».
The Russian Sled is a fun, little attraction in which you ascend about 250 meters (800 feet) in a small cart and, after reaching the highest point, descend another 500 meters (1,600 feet) at full speed. (Up to 40 km/h or 25 mph).
Tickets can be purchased at the entrance of the attraction or at the central ticket offices of Cetursa. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
The Mirlo Blanco activity area
The Russian Sled is just one of the activities of the Mirlo Blanco. The other activities are nearby and include a variety of sleds and «donuts» (officially tubing). This is, in my opinion, the most fun activity in Sierra Nevada for non-skiers. The entrance is right next to the Russian Sled and it has two easy tracks to go down using one of the many sled options available.
On one side, you can enjoy the sleds and the bike-sleds (the bike-sleds are the ones that reach the most speed and are incredibly fun), and on the other side you can use the «donuts» (tubes or inflatable discs). Each set has their own track and you can enjoy the descent as many times as you want during the half-hour period. To get to the top of the hill you have a «magic carpet» to take you there.
Tickets must be purchased at the box office and the schedule, like the Russian Sled, is from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
A good feast
After a fun morning of descents in sleds, donuts, bikes, etc., it’s time to recover your strength with a good meal. There is a nice selection of bars and restaurants to enjoy the gastronomy of Granada at more than two thousand meters high! You also have restaurant chains available, but this is not really advisable.
On my latest visit to the Sierra, I was very satisfied with Bodega Casablanca, especially with its delicious pomegranate and gorgonzola salad. Since we are in Granada, I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Insert cymbals chime).
If the weather is nice and you are not very cold you can even enjoy your meal sitting on the terrace in the sun and watching the skiers go down the slope. Of course, do not forget the sunscreen because snow and sun can be a dangerous combination.
Finish the day relaxing in a good spa
After having a full belly, one of my favorite activities in the Sierra is to enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the spa. A little post-ski activity without having actually gone skiing. The Melià Sol y Nieve hotel has a spa that you can access without being a guest. It opens at 1:00 p.m. and is a true delight. It has a multitude of water jets, jacuzzis and chairs to lounge and relax in. Moreover, the sauna and vapor rooms are some of the best that I have visited. Do you know what a Scottish shower is? And a nebula? In this spa you have all the shower modes you can imagine. A real joy to end a «hard» day of no skiing.
What if we want to go to the beach?
Did you know that in an hour and a half you can go from being at the top of the Sierra Nevada to the warm coast of the Granada province? If you want to visit it after your adventure in the snow, I recommend the following beaches in this post:
The four best beaches on the coast of Granada (in Spanish)
Note:none of the establishments mentioned here have paid to appear in this post and the criticisms are based on my personal experience without receiving any compensation.