By Regina W. Bryan in Barcelona—Barcelona is not known for its harsh winters. As I write this, it is 6 degrees celsius out – or about 43ºF – not exactly beach weather but also not a typical cold winter wonderland. However, it’s easy for Barcelona visitors who are in the mood for frolicking in the snow to find it without looking too far: Just head north to the Pyrenees Mountains.
Vall de Nuria is the place to go if you want snow and nature, but aren’t fussy about skiing. This is more of a sledding sort of place popular with hikers, snow shoe enthusiasts, and families with children.
To get to Vall de Nuria you have to catch a zipper train from Ribes de Freser, which can be reached from Barcelona on the RENFE train. There are all sorts of package deals to be had at Vall de Nuria, making it the perfect winter escape. For example, the zipper train, two nights at the lodge, and a guided tour start at €125.00 per person. Family ski packs start at €85.00 a person.
Hard-core skiers and snowboarders will want to head to Andorra. It takes some work to get to Andorra from Barcelona and you will either want to rent a car, or get tickets a day or so ahead at the Barcelona Nord bus station.
Andorra is a tiny country and largely supports itself on ski and snow tourism. Look for skiing options at Grandvalira, Naturlandia, Parador Canaro and the Vallnord ski stations.
One of my favorite winter activities is taking long dips in the earth’s hot waters. I dislike the cold, and nothing warms my toes better than a hot swim in a hot spring. Most of the hot springs, and there are many, in Catalonia are built up. The exception to this rule is Dorres, which is on a snowy hillside this time of year, right on the Catalan-French border.
I also highly recommend a couple days soaking at the Balneario Vichy Catalan, or the newly opened Rocallaura. Both use hot mineral water in their water works areas and baths. They are more expensive than Dorres and you’ll need a car to get to these steamy retreats.