With all of the hype around Barcelona beaches, architecture, and nightlife, it’s easy to forget that our lovely city on the Mediterranean is also less than two hours away from several ski resorts. You can spend your morning tearing it up mountainside and arrive in time for cocktails and a late lunch at the beach. My family and I frequently ski at Masella, the nearest ski resort to Barcelona, and then enjoy a leisurely late lunch on the beach at Gavà, all in the same day.
My husband and I live in Barcelona partly because of its proximity to skiing. We moved from Madrid to Barcelona one month before our son, Nils, was born. My husband, who’s of Norwegian descent, wanted Nils to be as passionate about skiing as he is, so at two years of age, Nils started skiing. Nine years later, I’m officially a ski mom; Nils now regularly participates in ski races with the 150 kids his age who train at Masella and La Molina. Both of these ski stations allow you to get a quick ski fix without having to wait for a long weekend.
The Day Trip: Masella and La Molina
The closest ski stations to Barcelona are La Molina and Masella, each around an hour and a half from the city, in the Cerdanya region of the Pyrenees mountains. Both stations are family friendly and, being mid-sized, perfect for beginners. Even more helpful, the two stations are connected and you can easily ski between them. La Molina is owned by the Catalan government, unlike Masella which is privately-owned. Masella is the first resort in the Pyrenees to open and close each season. The moment it starts getting cold and snows a little, the resort starts up the snow cannons and keeps the snow perfectly groomed until at least spring break in April.
Ski Clubs and Lessons. La Molina and Masella host many ski clubs where kids can learn skiing and even start racing. These clubs require participants to attend every weekend, plus winter holidays. Some of the most important clubs in the area are La Molina Club d’Esports, which is the home of many Spanish ski team members. Other area clubs include May Luengo, CANM, CET, Llívia and Club d’esqui Elit, which is the one my son attends. Joining a club is more than just skiing, the kids forge long term friendships and there are activities après ski for parents and kids.
There are also clubs that offer classes on an hourly basis and private one-on-one lessons. One of my favorites is BeMountain, whose owners are sports teachers and certified at a high level for ski training. Other places offering classes include Edelweiss, Camp Base, Masella Team or the Masella ski school, where you can sign up for ski lessons on the spot.
Prices and Equipment. Rental places at the bottom of the resorts offer equipment, from basic to expert level professional equipment. In Masella, Xtot offers medium to high range equipment. In la Molina there are several ski rental locations at the bottom of Pista Llarga.
One day of skiing in Masella or La Molina costs approximately 45€ for adults and 40€ for kids over 7 years old, plus insurance. If you plan to ski frequently, it may be more cost effective to get an insurance ski pack for the family, like the one offered by RACC.
For Non-Skiers. If you are not into skiing, La Molina may be a better option if you’re traveling with skiers. Unlike Masella, La Molina offers areas for sleighs, tubbing, Segway trails and many other activities.
Lodging. For overnight stays, both of the ski resorts have limited lodging. Masella has just one basic hotel, Alp Hotel Masella, that currently is under renovation. La Molina has more offerings, including the conveniently located Hotel Guitart, which is just a few meters from the slopes.
For extended trips, you may prefer to be in the valley. The hotels in the valley are farther away, but offer more variety and cater to all styles and budgets.
- Villa Paulita, 5 star hotel located near the lake, perfect for couples and families
- Hotel del Llac, 3 star hotel near the lake, cozy and perfect for families
- Torre del Remei, 4 star hotel located at a 1910 mansion, close to the golf course
- Bernat de Só, 3 star hotel located at a very charming home in the center of LLivia has rooms for families
- Mas Farners is for adults only, so it makes for a great couple’s getaway.
- L’Ermitatge de Quadres (near All). This hotel is located near a 12th century church, has comfortable rooms, and a good restaurant for couples and families alike.
- Hotel Fontanals Golf is near Alp and very convenient for Masella.
- Chalet del Golf is located at the Cerdanya Golf and offers family rooms for those traveling with children
Food. There are many restaurants in la Cerdanya which offer local food, comida ceretana (food from the Cerdanya region), as well as mountain specialties and grilled meats. In Llivia, 20 minutes from Masella, one of the prettiest villages in the area and home to the oldest pharmacy in Europe, there are several exceptional restaurants. Ca’l Cofa offers exceptional meat and has extensive opening hours, Ca’n Ventura, located in a charming building, is very cozy and could be a good destination for a romantic dinner. La Formatgeria de Llivia is well-known for its raclettes and fondues, while the Trumfes menu includes seasonal dishes with an innovative touch. In Alp, just at the bottom of the road to Masella, my family likes Ca’n Eudald, which offers a great mountain rice. All of these restaurants are suitable for families, and many have private rooms for big groups.
Even the busiest ski aficionado in Barcelona can get to the slopes for a day or weekend trip from Barcelona. The second part of this article will explore longer trips to Andorra and the Pyrenees.
Guest Author: Maria Gonzalez is a Mallorca born citizen of the world. She has studied and worked around the world, but decided to settle in Barcelona eleven years ago with her Barcelona-born Norwegian-Argentinean husband. When she is not at work as the country manager for PaySafeCard, a fintech company, she is a ski and sports mom for her eleven year old son.