Yes, almost everyone have heard of this tiny country locked between France and Spain, but how much do you really know about Andorra? Around 10 million people visit Andorra each year, so why shouldn’t you? Having second thoughts? Check out our top 5 reasons why pick Andorra as your next destination!
1) Ski on the slopes of the Pyrenees
Being a mountainous country for the most of its part, it’s only natural to expect very well developed skiing tourism in Andorra. The largest ski resort in Andorra is Grandvalira and it boasts 128 slopes of all levels, from those for beginners to steep and challenging slopes for ski experts. Just to give you an impression of how big actually is this area, there are almost 210 kilometres of ski runs in total, three freestyle snowparks (including a night snowpark, the only one in the Pyrenees) and 6 ski school centres with more than 400 instructors. Children will be amazed with themed ski areas – Mont Magic, Bababoom Circus and Circuit Imaginarium. The Vallnord ski area is much smaller than Grandvalira, but it still offers a lot of top-notch ski runs, high-speed ski lifts and it has excellent summer programme with numerous outdoor activities.
2) Explore tiny picturesque villages
Although the majority of happenings and touristy stuff is to be found in the capital, Andorra la Vella, the real beauty hides in small Andorran villages. The most popular among them is Ordino. This medieval-looking village is located at an altitude of 1300m on the northern part of the country. The architecture in Ordino is truly impeccable as the locals care about presenting their place in the best light. That’s why you’ll see a lot of flowers and plants strolling down the streets of Ordino and stop in one of the local restaurants and try dishes such as trinxat (mashed potato and pork meat dish) or delicacy like cargols a la llauna (oven-roasted snails). Canillo is the main gathering spot for the visitors of Grandvalira ski area. Since it it located 1562m above sea level it is often one of the coldest places in the country and snow can sometimes last up to five months. The same goes for Pal, lovely, photogenic village which combines the best of Romanesque Pyrenean architecture and fairytale-like landscape.
3) Shop at low prices – only 4.5% VAT
This may be the most unexpected thing about Andorra. With only 4.5% VAT, Andorra positioned itself as the country with lowest value added tax in entire Europe. When compared to Hungary’s staggering 27%, it is no wonder that shopping in Andorra is a dream come true. That means that the most of clothes, electronic devices and groceries cost 15-20% less than in neighbouring France and Spain. To be more precise, for example, you’ll pay around 2.50€ for a bottle of olive oil which is pretty cheap. Coffee in a bar will cost you around 1€, while a bottle of beer won’t cost more than 2€ or 3€. Although the prices are low in Andorra, don’t waste too much of your time wandering around shopping malls. The deals on the alcohol and tobacco may be amazingly low, but the magical landscape is what will stay in your memory forever.
4) Hiking paradise
Considering the fact that Andorra has so many ski resorts, it is logical to assume that during summer those same ski resorts become hiking paradise. With so many options to choose from, it can be a tough decision for nature lovers. One of the best places to go exploring nature is Siscaró Lake. In fact, the entire area is filled with lakes. There’s the big one, Siscaró, and thirteen smaller ones where you can swim and enjoy splendid view. Vallnord Mountain Park is perfect for those who like mountain biking and a bit more extreme hiking. Grandvalira in summer is as entertaining as it is during winter. At Mont Magic Family Park Canillo you can enjoy various activities with your friends or family and try over half-kilometre long zip-line! Cool, right?
5) Relax at Caldea natural spring complex
After tiring hiking and climbing mountains there’s no better “medicine” than a spa. Andorra may be a small country, but it is well known for its spa and wellness centres. It even got the perk of having the largest mountain spa in Europe. We’re talking here about Caldea spring complex in Andorra la Vella. It is a resort which uses thermal water to restore body’s balance. Natural waters in Caldea are rich in sulphur, sodium, calcium and other mineral elements. Several indoor and outdoor lagoons are featured in Caldea, each with a different theme. From Icelandic bath to Turkish hammam, complete body relaxation is guaranteed. Besides lagoons and baths there are also jacuzzi, geyser and a solarium for those who want to get some bronzing tan.
Andorra – Q & A
Q: When is the best time to visit Andorra?
Any time of the year actually. That’s why Andorra is a perfect destination for any type of traveller. The climate of Andorra is not a typical mountain climate since it has influences of Mediterranean mild climate which means that winters are cold, but the temperatures rarely go under -5 °C, even in the coldest places. The ski season lasts from December to April, while summer months are perfect for hiking because the average temperature is between 25 and 30°C. Overall, it doesn’t matter which time of the year you choose, but you might avoid beginning of spring and autumn because those are the periods with the highest frequency of rainy days.
Q: Who needs a visa to enter Andorra?
Though Andorra isn’t part of the European Union or the Schengen area, their government does not require visa as long as you are a citizen of the EU. To enter Andorra you basically need only passport or ID. If your country is not a part the EU but does belong to the Schengen area, you will have to carry valid passport (e.g. Sweden, Norway, Iceland). If you are travelling from a non-European country, whether you need a visa or not depends on your country. Countries like USA, Canada and Australia don’t need a visa as long as they won’t stay longer than 90 days. Others will need to apply for 60€ Schengen visa.
Q: Where is Andorra airport located?
Andorra does not have an international airport (or any airport at all to be honest), so Andorran citizens and tourists use airports in France and Spain. The closest airports in Spain are Barcelona El-Prat and Girona and if you are coming from France then the best solution would be Toulouse Airport.
Q: How to get to Andorra from Barcelona?
Since Barcelona El-Prat Airport is the busiest airport of all above mentioned, the majority of tourist opt for this airport as their starting point to Andorra. There are several daily departures of direct bus line from El Prat to Andorra but if you want to explore Barcelona first and then pay a visit to Andorra, then the best option is to catch a bus from Barcelona Nord (bus station) to Andorra La Vella.