surinenglish

It's not all about the slopes

The view from the top - the stunning views down towards the coastline are part of what makes Sierra Nevada special.
The view from the top - the stunning views down towards the coastline are part of what makes Sierra Nevada special. / Ash Bolton
  • After a hard day's snowboarding, Ash Bolton takes a look at some of the après-ski on offer at the Sierra Nevada ski resort

Many a seasoned skier or snowboarder will often tell you that the Sierra Nevada is the best ski resort in Spain. And why is that you ask?

Well, for starters, it is officially the sunniest ski resort in Europe with more than 320 days of sun a year.

It's also one of the highest resorts in Europe, meaning the slopes are usually open from late November until early May.

Then there are the stunning views of the of the Costa del Sol, Gibraltar and the Moroccan coastline for those brave enough to venture up to the top of the highest run.

As for the all important slopes, the Sierra Nevada has a total of 107 skiable kilometres, including 115 runs made up of 40 blue runs, 9 black, 50 red and 16 green.

What's more, it's home to Europe's largest freestyle snowboard park and you can do night skiing on Thursday and Saturday nights as the main slopes are floodlit.

But more importantly, where can you go to relax after a hard day throwing yourself down the slopes?

El Lodge boasts an outdoor heated pool with mountain views.

El Lodge boasts an outdoor heated pool with mountain views. / SUR

The après-ski aficionados among us will be interested to note that there are a large number of luxurious Alpine-style hotels, cozy log cabin bars and lip-smacking restaurants to spend your evenings in.

In fact, there are 30 restaurants and 28 bars around the village, which is called Pradollano.

One of the best places to enjoy a well-earned drink as the sun goes down is on the terraced area that hugs the valley side of the Plaza de Andalucía.

There are a number of great little watering holes here including Tía María, La Visera and Vertical, where you can soak up the stunning views of the snow covered valley.

Or if you don't fancy sitting outside, there is a snug bar in Hotel Ziryab that features comfy armchairs, several roaring log fires and some eye-waveringly beautiful views.

Another iconic bar is the Crescendo, which has a roaring fireplace in its centre and is rumoured to have one of the best hot chocolates in the resort. Located in Pradollano Square at the base of the Parador chairlift, the drinks are a little on the expensive side, but it's worth popping in for one.

A beer with a view - the terrace close to Plaza de Andalucía.

A beer with a view - the terrace close to Plaza de Andalucía. / Ash Bolton

As for restaurant recommendations, there are more than you can shake a ski pole at.

One of the most popular is the family-run La Antorcha Restaurant, which offers a mixture of Spanish and Alpine cuisine.

Specialities include succulent steaks that you cook on hot stones brought to your table, and, what can only be described as a meat tree, where various chorizos, black pudding and spicy sausages are hung on a small tree on your table.

However, the best restaurant according to Trip Advisor, is La Muralla. This cosy, locally run eatery offers free tapas to customers, but is best known for its mouth watering steaks.

And once you've filled your ski boots, you're spoilt for choice in terms of accommodation, as there are places to suit all budgets.

However, if you're looking for an authentic alpine style place to stay, El Lodge Ski and Spa comes highly recommended.

This sumptuous, cosy hideaway is one of few hotels where you ski in and out from the hotel.

Built in Finnish wood and boasting the only outdoor heated pool in the resort, there's also an outdoor sauna and whirlpool for those wishing to pamper themselves.

What's more, the hotel's Grill restaurant makes a hearty fondue to add to that alpine resort feel.

And as the end of the season approaches faster than a runaway snowboard, don't forget about the annual Bañador (date to be announced but usually in late April), where skiers and boarders are invited to descend the mountain in their swimsuits.

It's certainly an eye opener - just make sure you wear plenty of sun cream!