Squashed in between the giants of France and Spain, Andorra may be small (the 17th smallest country in the world, in fact), but that doesn’t mean you won’t find plenty to do here. Here’s our list of the top 20 must-visit attractions in Andorra, from museums and ski resorts to shopping complexes, churches and spas.
Soldeu Ski Resort
One of Andorra’s best and most upmarket ski resorts is Soldeu, set on a steep slope and overlooking a wide valley. The resort features 200 km (124.27 mi) of pisted slopes, consisting of a good number of blue and green slopes for beginners, as well as more challenging red and black runs for advanced skiers, and even snow gardens for the kids. The resort is also home to the Sport Wellness Spa for relaxing the muscles after a day on the slopes.
The largest ski area in the Pyrenees is the Grandvalira Ski Area, home to 210 km (130.5 mi) of slopes, as well as ski schools, over 40 restaurants and cafés and even kindergartens. Partly covered by artificial snow, it has almost guaranteed ski conditions and is actually the only place where Alpine winter sports competitions can be held within the Pyrenees.
Vallnord Ski Area is located in the northernmost valley of Andorra and consists of the three ski resorts of Arcalis, Arinsal and Pal. Arcalis has a total of 25 ski runs – mostly blue, green and red – so it’s perfect for beginner or intermediate skiers. Meanwhile, Arinsal and Pal have 63 km (40 mi) of slopes, with plenty of red and black runs ideal for more advance skiers. The area is also home to three ski schools, with over 250 ski instructors in total.
One of Andorra’s newest museums is the Carmen Thyssen, part of the Carmen Thyssen collection of art, which also has branches in Madrid and Malaga. Having only opened in March 2017, this is a chance to see amazing works by some of the world’s top artists, from William Turner to Wassily Kandinsky.
Fans of motor sports and Formula One will love the World Champions Museum by 99, where they can see a range of items from the private collection of racing driver Jorge Lorenzo. Among the various pieces of racing memorabilia are objects belonging to some of the most famous racing drivers, such as Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton.
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One of the most important monuments in Andorra, Casa de la Vall, located in the capital of Andorra la Vella, was built in the 16th century for the Busquets family. From 1702 to 2011, it served as the seat of the Andorran parliament, makes it the seat of the oldest and most continuous parliament in Europe. Inside, visitors can see the assembly room, meeting rooms and even the criminal court.
Casa d’Areny-Plandolit is Andorra’s only example of a stately or noble home. It was originally built in the 12th century for the family of Don Guillem d’Areny-Plandolit, a wealthy Andorran and prominent figure in the country’s history. Today, visitors can tour the property to see luxury items and pieces of furniture which once belonged to the family.
Casa Cristo, home to the country’s Ethnographic Museum, is a traditional old Andorran home in the village of Encamp. It was inhabited by labourers up until the 1940s and has been set up to show visitors how it looked during the 19th century and how local Andorrans lived at the time.
One of the most unique museums in Andorra is the Perfume Museum (Museu del Perfum), where visits can enjoy a whole sensory experience. Hundreds of types of perfume are on display here as well as audiovisual exhibits and a detailed history of perfume through the ages. One of the best parts of the museum is the Olfactory Room, where visitors can even create their own perfume by mixing different scents.
The Museum of Miniatures (Museu de la Miniatura) is located in the village of Ordino and features the tiny, exquisite works of Ukrainian artist Nicolai Siadristy. Most of the works are painted on grains of rice, seeds or tiny flecks of precious metals and are even too small to see with the naked eye. Many of the items depict religious crosses or tiny Russian dolls, which require a microscope to see.
The largest Natural Park in Andorra, Madriu-Perafita-Claror covers 10% of the whole country of Andorra and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Bisected by a large river valley, it is home to many different species of flora and fauna. One of the best ways to explore the park is to hike the GR7 or GR11 footpaths that pass through it or to stay overnight in one of the five old shepherds’ cabins here.
Europe’s largest mountain spa, Caldea is housed in a futuristic-looking mirror-covered tower. Heated by geothermal energy, the water here has natural health-promoting properties and has become a leading resort for health and wellness tourism. Swim under waterfalls, enjoy massages from hydro jets or relax in bubbling Jacuzzis.
Andorra is home to many unique stone Romanesque churches, and one of the most important is Church of Saint Stephen (Sant Esteve d’Andorra la Vella), located in the capital of Andorra la Vella. Though originally built in the 12th century, it has been changed and renovated many times over the years.
Built between the 11th and 12th centuries, the Church of Sant Joan de Caselles (Església de Sant Joan de Caselles) in Canillo is one of the best examples of Andorran Romanesque architecture, complete with the typical Lombardian rectangular bell tower. Inside, visitors can see various murals depicting scenes from the Bible, as well as a stunning 16th-century altarpiece.
The National Automobile Museum (El Museu Nacional de l’Automòbil) is one of the most important automobile collections in Europe and can be found in the village of Encamp. It displays not only cars but also motorbikes and bicycles. The oldest car in the museum dates back to 1886, and the most modern is from the 1970s.
Shopping is a top draw for tourists to Andorra, particularly because it enjoys a tax-free status. Many top luxury and designer brands are available for bargains here, and one of the best places to get them is the Commercial Centre Pyrenees Andorra. The large shopping complex has two branches in Andorra, one in Andorra la Vella and one in Pas de la Casa.
The Natural Park of the Valle del Sorteny covers 1,080 hectares (2670 acres) and is home to over 800 species of plants and animals, including wild boar and roe deer. The park is dedicated to education and runs many different workshops, guided hikes and tours throughout the year. The tours are based around various themes such as wetlands, birds or forests.
The Museum of Sacred Art (Museu d’Art Sacre) can be found next to the church of Santa Eulàlia in the village of Encamp. It’s filled with all kinds of artworks, from gold and silver work to textiles and paintings, collected from churches across the country; two of the highlights are a Baroque wrought-iron chandelier and a 14th-century bronze censer.
It may be surprising to learn that Andorra is home to a Tobacco Museum (Museu del Tabac), but in fact, tobacco was one of the country’s main sources of income before tourism and winter sports took over. Housed in an old tobacco factory, the museum details the role of tobacco in Andorra’s economy and as well as how cigarettes are made.
Inside the Escaldes-Engordany Arts Centre (CAEE) is the Viladomat Museum, dedicated to the works of Catalan sculptor Josep Viladomat. His sculptures can be seen across the country, such as the one outside the Casa de la Vall (below), and the museum houses around 140 of the artist’s sculptures, which often depict human figures moving or dancing.