Aragon: Relaxed Value-For-Money Ski Resorts -
Aragon is a region in northeast Spain characterised by permanent glaciers, rich pastures, and verdant valleys. It is comprised of the provinces of Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel.
The capital of the region is the city of Zaragoza with its Cathedral of San Salvador and the Moorish castle of Aljaferia. The region of Aragon is also home to the ski resorts of Astun, Candanchu, Cerler, Formigal, Panticosa, and Valdelinares. The Aragonese ski area is known for its relaxed, friendly resorts and inexpensive, good quality food and drink.
Formigal (1500 metres) is arguably the most popular resort in Aragon. It is a lively purpose-built resort with a relaxed atmosphere. Formigal is home to 57 kilometres of slopes (four green, 13 blue, and 24 red) and is particularly well suited to beginners and intermediates.
Although expert skiers may find Formigal's runs limiting, there is plenty of off-piste to explore as well as a slalom course and half-pipe for snowboarders. The town centre is well equipped with a ski school and good, cheap food and drink at a choice of bars and restaurants.
The purpose-built ski resort of Astun (1700 metres) is a little-known resort featuring 39 kilometres of pistes divided into 48 pistes for all levels for skier and boarder (three green runs, 14 blue, 22 red, and nine black). Skiers can hop on chairlifts or drag lifts to reach a maximum altitude of 2300 metres. It also offers a maximum vertical of 600 metres.
Astun is one of the most modern resorts in the Pyrenees and has a good choice of hotels, apartments, shops, restaurants, and a ski school and equipment hire shops. It is also connected to the neighbouring resort of Candanchu; a joint ski pass can be purchased.
Candanchu (1560 metres) is popular with advanced skiers for its 14 red runs and 17 black as well as its good range of cross-country trails. Beginners and intermediates can practise their skills on the nine green runs and eight blue. The runs are served by six chair lifts and 19 drag lifts.
Candanchu is also a hit with snowboarders for its snow park offering a ski jump and a half-pipe. Resort facilities include hotels, apartments, a ski hire shop, and ski school. The après ski scene centres round its cafes, bars, restaurants, spa, and disco.
The purpose-built resort of Celer (1500 metres) is surrounded by the highest peaks in the Pyrenees: Aneto, Monte Perdido, and Posets. The resort is home to 72 kilometres of pistes served by chair lifts and drag lifts. The 51 runs are divided into nine green, 16 blue, 17 red, and nine black.
Celer also offers 25 kilometres of cross-country trails and a half-pipe for snowboarders. The town centre is lined with restaurants and shops and there is a good choice of hotels and apartments. Many skiers prefer peaceful Celer to the nearby, more commercial, Baqueira-Beret.
Panticosa (1530 metres) is a pretty, old village dating back to the 16th century. It is a lively resort with plenty of traditional restaurants serving local Aragonese cuisine. Juxtaposed against its old centre, Panticosa offers modern ski facilities. Its 34 kilometres of skiing is spread over 38 slopes suitable for all levels (four green runs, 14 blue, 16 red, and four black). Slopes are served by a cable car, chair lifts and drags.
Valdelinares (1701 metres) is one of the smallest ski resorts in Spain with just eight slopes - two green, three blue, and three red runs. The town centre features a handful of cafes and shops. There is no accommodation within the resort itself.
The only international airport in Aragon is Zaragoza. Many airlines, including budget airlines, connect Zaragoza to European cities; RyanAir flies from the UK. There are also fast rail and road connections to Aragon from Madrid and Barcelona.