6 Surprising Places Where You Can Ski

Skiing conjures up images of chalets nestled in the Swiss Alps or the snowy slopes of the French Pyrenees.

However, there’s a world of unique and surprising locations where you can delight in winter sports.

Let’s venture beyond the conventional and uncover six surprising and unusual ski destinations worldwide.

1. Sierra Nevada, Spain

Spain, the country known for flamenco, paella, and being Europe’s sunny getaway, also happens to boast Europe’s southernmost ski resort in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

On a map, you may be forgiven for thinking it’s the hottest part of Spain, and it may well be at sea level, but it’s also positioned next to snow-laden mountains.

Nestled at elevations ranging from 2,100 to 3,300 meters, Sierra Nevada offers over 100 km of diverse ski runs, welcoming both novices and proficient skiers. Esquiades’ Sierra Nevada skiing holidays have resorts that are predominantly sunny weather but offer the unique experience of skiing with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea too. 

On exceptionally clear days, you can even see the distant coastline of Morocco. Once you’ve had your fill of snow, a short 27 km drive will take you to Granada, a city pulsating with Moorish history and brimming with tantalising tapas culture.

Sierra Nevada also enjoys the advantage of proximity to Malaga airport, just a two-hour drive away.

Sierra Nevada, Spain

2. Oukaimeden, Morocco

Speaking of seeing Morocco’s coastline… it’s perhaps even more surprising that heading further south to the desert sands of Morocco also has the option of snow-capped peaks.

Morocco houses an unexpectedly rich skiing culture in the Atlas Mountains. Oukaimeden Ski Resort, perched at a staggering 2,600 meters, is the highest ski station in Africa, conveniently located just a 90-minute drive from the vibrant city of Marrakech.

While Oukaimeden lacks some of the fancier facilities of its European counterparts, it brims with a unique cultural aura. You might find yourself sharing the slopes with donkeys ferrying ski gear or taking spontaneous ski lessons from locals.

The Marrakech Menara airport, a hub for several international airlines, is the closest to this distinctive skiing destination, making it a high-altitude adventure that’s within easy reach.

3. Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Hawaii, a place synonymous with surfing, hula dancing, and tropical beaches, offers an unconventional winter sports destination at the top of Mauna Kea. This dormant volcano, standing at an imposing 4,200 meters, occasionally sees a dusting of snow, enabling a unique skiing experience.

This isn’t your typical ski resort; it lacks the trappings of groomed slopes, ski lifts, and luxury lodges. After all, it’s usually not suitable for skiing. However, when the opportunity presents itself, the adventure of skiing down a volcano, with panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean, provides an adrenaline rush like no other. 

The unique geographical juxtaposition allows you to go from skiing on a volcano to sunbathing on a tropical beach on the same day. 

Sunset view from Mauna Kena, Hawaii, USA

4. Mallin Alto, Argentina

Nestled near the charming city of Bariloche in Argentina, Mallin Alto provides a secluded skiing experience. This backcountry skiing haven replaces traditional ski lifts with snowcats, transporting skiers to untouched snow at altitudes of over 1,500 meters.

This is raw, untamed skiing at its best, allowing you to carve your path through the wilderness, with the majestic Andes serving as the backdrop.

The day’s adventure can be perfectly rounded off with Argentina’s celebrated Malbec wines and renowned beef, lending a unique flavour to your après-ski experience.

Snowboarding at Cerro Catedral, Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina

5. Ski Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Imagine a winter wonderland in the heart of a desert metropolis. That’s Ski Dubai for you, nestled within the bustling Mall of the Emirates.

Okay, this isn’t a natural mountain ski resort, but the indoor ski resort provides five runs of varying difficulty, a freestyle zone, and even a chairlift, making for an out-of-the-ordinary skiing experience at a chilly -1 to -2 degrees Celsius.

Adding a touch of whimsy to the snow-filled escapade, Ski Dubai is also home to a group of King and Gentoo Penguins. Visitors can witness these playful creatures during their daily march, offering a delightful spectacle in this artificial winter paradise.

This remarkable resort is a mere 30-minute drive from Dubai International Airport, one of the busiest airports globally, making it the ultimate skiing getaway for convenience.

YouTube video

6. Mount Hermon, Israel

There are some opinions about natural skiing in the Middle East, however. Mount Hermon, situated in the Golan Heights, is a skiing hotspot that overlooks the arid landscapes of the Middle East.

As Israel’s only ski resort, this location creates a striking contrast between snow-filled fun and the surrounding desert vista.

The resort caters to various skiing skill levels with around 45 km of ski runs. Depending on snowfall, the skiing season here can stretch from December to March.

Situated only a two-hour drive away from Tel Aviv’s bustling Ben Gurion Airport, Mount Hermon provides an easy-to-reach, truly unique skiing destination that’s worth adding to any winter sports enthusiast’s bucket list.

Mount Hermon, Majdal Shams, Israel
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