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Visit the Tiny Country That Is Andorra for Great Skiing & Endless Shopping

Andorra is an unusual country with less than 500 square kilometres of land mass, mostly mountainous and jammed between France to the north-west, and Spain to the south-east.

The country lacks arable land, so almost all of the food available from the sumptuous menus at local restaurants is imported. This doesn’t seem to matter much because neither Spanish nor French food produce lacks taste. The range of restaurants here is suitably impressive.

Gaining access to the principality from France in the north was extremely difficult until most recently when better access was made available. Access south from Spain has always been much easier. As a result, Andorra has a distinctly Spanish flavour to it with Catalan being spoken and Spanish food selections like tapas being popular in town.

Andorra La Vella

Whilst the capital of Andorra, more of a town than a city, it is notable for having the highest elevation of any European capital, standing at 1,023 metres. It is not picture-postcard perfect, but nonetheless it does cast its own unique spell. Narrow streets with bustling restaurants and cafés, and stores of every description. Much is crammed into every nook and cranny here to make the most of the space available

The capital also gets distinctly busier not only during peak skiing season, but also with Barcelonian’s who like to skip out of town for the weekend to take in the clean mountain air and spectacular views.

Don’t Miss The Scenery

With the Pyrenees mountains seemingly on all sides, the scenery outside of town is quite spectacular. In the summer-time, the lush green landscape is dramatic, but in winter the snow-capped mountains perhaps offer some of the best views of the Pyrenees Mountains. Different sites can offer you a range of hotels with stunning views in immaculate surroundings – perfect for summer mountain walking or après ski relaxation

Shopping

With a ski resort town with over 2,000 different stores for almost endless shopping opportunities. The larger problem will be fitting all the purchases in the car for the overland journey back out of the country again. There are mountain cafés offering brews to rival any Starbucks, lovely snacks or hearty meals in between skiing trips down the mountain.

Dining Out

There are many different types of restaurant to choose between. Up on the piste, you will spoilt for choice with no lack of quality places to eat at back in town you’ll have a hard time deciding where to dine out. 

For Spanish tapas, you cannot go wrong with Restaurant Don Denis near the centre of town, which has played host to numerous celebrities and sport champions over the years.

Staying Connected 

The Andorra WiFi is a town-wide and Escaldes -Engordany connected service for visitors and residents alike. The free service provides access to digital information about local stores, with Google Street View and business images available to help visitors locate businesses in town. There is also a paid service with some internet access which starts at E1.90 for one hour, rising to 9.90 Euros for a week.

Skiing and Snowboarding

With skiing, perhaps the main attraction here, there are two ski locations. Vallnord up in the north-east offers blue and red courses that long run. For the more accomplished skier, they may prefer the black pistes in Grandvalira for more of a challenge. For the truly adventurous, husky sledding is also available in El Tarter if you prefer to mix dogs and fast speeds together for the ultimate sled ride.

Getting There

There are several international airports in France or Spain that are within 200 kilometres from the principality (Andorra itself lacks an airport). Toulouse in France and Barcelona in Spain are good places to fly into with good access points. From each airport, there is a choice of taking a train, a bus or hiring a car for the winding three-hour plus journey.

The best of this journey is the view along the way, especially if returning towards Barcelona at dawn’s early light. The mist which comes up from the lakes around the mountains creates an unforgettable vista while travelling back.

Once inside the border, transportation by car or bus is only done via one of two main roads which connect France and Spain, and lead inwards into the main town, Andorra La Vella. The aforementioned town is the capital, but also it’s the only town in this tiny country.

Holiday Tips

The country operates using the Euro, so anyone living in the Euro-zone doesn’t need to change currency before visiting. EU visitors are able to visit using their European ID or passport.

The Visit Andorra official tourism site has a travel app for Andorra.  This includes the best mountain routes and activities on the mountainside. The app is available for the iOS and Android platforms and is suitable for both smartphones and tablets.

 

 

 

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