Skiing Baqueira Beret is not like skiing the Alps. That might be obvious since it's a whole different mountain range, but the differences go way beyond the slopes. As European ski resorts go, this is at the 'individual' end of the spectrum. Here you’ll find exquisite Catalan and Aranese cuisine, served in a countless bars, cafes and restaurants; authentic mountain villages; and a warm, welcoming culture, with its own very-much-alive Aranese language, houses built of stone, slate and wood, and beautiful Romanesque churches.
Take a look below to find out more about this hidden gem...
Where is Baqueira Beret?
Surrounded by peaks reaching up to 3,000m, Baqueira Beret ski resort lies at the head of the beautiful Val d'Aran, near Vielha, in the Spanish Lleida Pyrenees and also covers terrain in the adjoining Valls d’Àneu (Pallars Sobirà). It’s a three-hour drive from the nearest Spanish hub, Barcelona Airport. But fly into Toulouse Airport on the French side of the Pyrenees, and it’s little more than one hour’s drive away.
Its location is unique
The Val d’Aran is a valley unique in the Spanish Pyrenees in that it faces north, with its back to Spain and facing towards France. This is significant as it means the resort is unique in having an Atlantic climate that ensures the best snow and plenty of it throughout the long ski season.
Baqueira Beret is the largest ski resort in Spain
With 170km of slopes, and having celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, Baqueira Beret is the country's premier ski resort. The skiing is spread over four very different major zones: Baqueira, Beret, Bonaigua and Baciver and offers a total of 111 runs for downhill skiing and snowboarding, plus 7 kilometres of circuits for Nordic skiing, and a snow park, and boardercross. The resort level at Baqueira is 1,500m and the ski area's highest point is 2,610m at Cap de Baciver.
The main village, tastefully purpose-built in wood and stone rather than concrete, is on the main road leading up to the high Bonaigua Pass. It's also fit for a king – literally – being the ski resort of choice for the Spanish royal family who have their own winter home here.
The skiing in Baqueira Beret is more varied than you might expect
Baqueira Beret skiing is as extensive as it is varied, offering great snow conditions, a wide range of different runs for every level and some serious distance from one end of the resort to the other. There are easy greens, difficult black runs, superb off-piste powder, near vertical couloirs and mogul runs to test even the best advanced and expert skiers. Everything is very easily accessible - no need to hike for ages to find good off-piste. Queues, if any, are kept to a minimum thanks to the ultra modern and efficient ski lifts which can carry more than 30,000 people per hour. Heli-skiing is also on offer here.
The four zones:
Baqueira: the original
The resort's first ski lift was installed in Baqueira in 1964. Since then, the resort has seen many improvements and much expansion. Despite this, Baqueira remains the favourite area for many, thanks to its ease of access to the slopes. However, this section is not the largest of the BB domains, although it is the busiest and has the most runs — a total of 41 runs covering 45km. For expert skiers, it's not without its challenges: it has 8 black and 17 red runs, including the Cara Nord.
It also has an easy area at 1800m with a multitude of gentle slopes for learning. It has an additional 13 blue and 3 green runs.
Three of Baqueira's most noteworthy slopes are the Luis Arias, Pales der Arias and Tubo Nere, not to mention the Escornacabres - which translates as 'the place where the goats die!' – an iconic off-piste run. The cherry on top for expert skiers is the Passarells, the last black diamond to be added to the skiable area and probably the resort's most demanding.
Beret: the family zone
The Beret section is generally reckoned to be the most laid-back and family-friendly. This peaceful environment is down to the expansiveness of the Pla de Beret. Over an incredible 70km of skiable area, skiers can enjoy a total of 37 pistes, including 20 blues and 12 reds. Its soft slopes and spacious runs are ideal for beginners, families and children, and it includes areas dedicated entirely to teaching winter sports. It has 2 green runs and only 1 black diamond. It also hosts the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup, and has an alpine competition stadium that bustles with activity throughout the week and a Funpark that keeps the emphasis on fun.
Bonaigua: fuelled by adrenaline
Bonaigua is all about endless runs and long descents with routes that, according to experts, put the terrain somewhere between challenging and fun. The Bonaigua section has more than 38 skiable kilometres spread over 27 runs. It has 8 black runs, 8 reds, 10 blues and 1 green with a highly accessible beginners area in the Port of Bonaigua.
Baciver: all about the descents
The highest point in the resort. Compared to the size of the other sections, Baciver might have just been a footnote were it not for the 100 metres of slope that has been added to the top of the resort, bringing it to a maximum height of 2,610m. The area has a strong character and features views of the massive walls of the Cara Nord de Baqueira. Here, you'll find 6 reds totalling 8.5km in terrain that was once only been accessible by mountain skiers.
The après-ski is on a whole different level.
Yes, you can find your traditional après-ski entertainment at the slopeside bars. The resort has 24 restaurants, and five are themed restaurants on the slopes. Alongside the slopes, especially at Baqueira 1500, you’ll find a DJ or live music every weekend, or a more chilled atmosphere at the Moët Winter Lounge. So far, so expected. It's when you step away from the slopes themselves, that you get a true appreciation for the difference in character Baqueira Beret offers.
Just 14km and a 20-minute taxi ride away is Vielha, the Val d’Aran’s pretty main ‘city’ of 4,000 residents. In the summer this is a hub for a huge range of mountain activities that take place in this wild landscape, from hiking to mountain biking, and climbing to white-water rafting. It has a couple of museums, pretty churches and a river running through the centre. It also has the best tapas, served in proper tapas bars – the ones where all the dishes are ranged over the bar and you take what you want, saving the skewers so your bill can worked out at the end. Fresh, spicy, tangy and surprisingly cheap – there’s no better way to eat.
Aranese cuisine has its own personality and is strongly influenced by the climate in the Aran valley. The winter cold in the mountains calls for soups and stews, with the best example being the famous olla aranesa (Aranese pot) – flavoured with haricot beans, chickpeas, ham, pork and chicken.
Baqueira Beret is the place to be for ski competitions and epic freeride
Every weekend there are competitions at the Alpine ski, snowboard or Nordic ski resort, such as Spanish championships or other national races. However, the main and most international event is the Freeride World Tour that will be held for the third consecutive year in Baqueira, on 27 January 2024, as well as the Qualifier and Junior version.
With more than 500 ski instructors working in Baqueira Beret, it's well worth hiring a local guide to get essential tips and guidance on how to get the most out of the surprisingly big Baqueira Beret ski area. If you like to spend your time off-piste, take a look at when we sent snowboarder Jenny Jones to blaze some trails in Baqueira Beret.
Go to baqueira.es for more information about skiing this fantastic resort.