Andorra is a tiny, mountainous country located in the Pyrenees between Spain and France. Because of its location and size, its interactions with other nations have historically been confined mainly to its relations with Spain and France, and the rest of the world has been largely unaware of its existence.
This has changed in recent years, as the Andorran tourist industry has seen considerable development and the country has become known internationally as a skiing center. Today, thanks to the enthusiastic reviews of thousands of travelers, Andorra is famed for having the best ski slopes in the Pyrenees. Increasing numbers of travelers flock here every year to enjoy the skiing, the world-class hospitality and the great shopping.
Andorra: A Small, Quiet Corner of the World
Travelers arriving in Andorra could be forgiven for thinking they had entered another time, since the country has no airports or railways. This is not a problem, since both Spain and France have these facilities near the border, and coach services will take travelers from there to any point in Andorra. The roads are good and driving into the country is an option, but roads are sometimes closed due to snowy weather.
Once you’re in Andorra, your ski holiday can begin. The only city in the country is the capital, Andorra la Vella. Travelers looking for lively nightlife after their days of skiing should seek accommodation here, as the city boasts many bars where a “party hardy” attitude prevails.
While the ski resorts have their share of bars and nightclubs, these tend to be rather low-key compared to the ones in the city. To get the most out of their holiday, travelers should choose their accommodation in the place where the night scene suits their tastes.
A Skier’s Paradise
There are two skiing regions in Andorra, Vallnord and Grandvalira, each of which has excellent resorts. Vallnord has nearly 100 km of high-altitude skiing. Here there are two resorts, Arcalis and Arinsal, both large regions encompassing multiple ski areas.
In Arinsal, travelers will find the Pal area, starting point for many ski groups. There are lots of blue runs here, and one can ski all the way to the far end of the valley on them. Both the experienced skier and the novice can find plenty of safe, enjoyable runs in this area. The gorgeous trip through the valley leads to Arcalis at the far end, where the village of Cota is located. Some skiers stop here, but those willing to venture further afield can find many short blue and red runs in the vicinity of the village.
Grandvalira is larger than Vallnord, comprising some 200 km of ski slopes. Here can be found five popular ski resorts, Soldeu, Pas de la Casa, Canillo, El Tarter and Grau Roig.
Beginners will be delighted with the nursery and beginners’ slopes at Soldeu and Grau Roig, which provide a safe area for skiers of all levels. Soldeu offers an abundance of blue runs allowing skiers to go from below the resort all the way to its greatest altitude at 2,550 meters. Grau Roig has fewer choices for novices, but does offer some possibilities in the direction of Soldeu or Pas de la Casa.
Grau Roig has many runs for more experienced skiers, who can start at the ridge top and head toward Pas de la Casa. It is a convenient point of departure for many ski groups, but the slopes are generally quite steep here and should only attempted by more experienced skiers. There are six freestyle areas included in the lift-pass and many other challenging runs for those who can handle them.
All the Comforts
Considerable investment in the Andorran ski industry in recent years has made this area into a state-of-the-art ski paradise. All the resorts are linked by a single system of ski lifts, so ski enthusiasts can roam freely from one area to the next. Villages in Andorra cater to the ski trade by offering fine eating, nightlife, world-class shopping, geothermal baths and many other attractions. This is one of those rare places in the world where travelers can find truly unspoiled, spectacular ski country alongside modern accommodation with full amenities.