Discover the best things to do, places to stay and spots to eat and drink in this guide to Andorra, a ready collection of bookable travel ideas inspired by what you love.
Skiing is one of the main reasons millions of visitors flock to Andorra each year. It sits right in the heart of the Pyrenees, boasting high-altitude ski resorts with excellent snow conditions, not to mention plenty of traditional Andorran restaurants and bouncing après-ski bars. There’s a range of hotels, too, that promise peace, pampering and heart-stopping views across the valley. Here’s our guide to making the most of your time on a ski trip to Andorra.
Pas de la Casa and Grau Roig sit on the other side of the Grandvalira ski area, next to the border with France. They also give access to all of the 210km (130mi) of slopes in Grandvalira, and all the various levels of runs.
Facilities: Although they sit right next to one another, Pas de la Casa and Grau Roig are polar opposites. Pas de la Casa has a great shopping centre and a buzzing après-ski scene – its main strip is made up of underground clubs, themed pubs and dive bars with live music and DJ sets. Unsurprisingly, the crowd is young, and the area is particularly popular with snowboarders. Grau Roig, on the other hand, is very peaceful and has no commercial centre. It’s home to one luxurious hotel and spa, and also offers an Imaginarium Circuit through the forest that is specifically designed for toddlers.
Soldeu el Tarter sits at the centre of the vast Grandvalira ski area, one of the largest in the Pyrenees, with over 210km (130mi) of runs. Essentially, Soldeu and el Tarter are two small villages, both with direct access to the slopes. They’re both upmarket ski resorts with pricey passes, but give access to some of best pistes in the Pyrenees, with excellent snow conditions.
Facilities: The villages give access to 16 green runs, 51 blue runs, 42 red runs and 19 black runs, meaning that they’re ideal for beginners, intermediates and more advanced skiers. Both resorts also have a number of ski schools, snow gardens and nurseries, while El Tarter is home to the El Tarter Snowpark, which is perfect for snowboarders and has a children’s snow circuit. Between them, Soldeu and El Tarter have a good range of accommodation and nightlife options, with a variety of hotels and self-catering apartments. El Tarter is a little more laid-back than Soldeu, and is probably better for families; it also has a hostel for those who are travelling on a budget.
The Vallnord ski area is smaller than Grandvalira, but still overs over 90km (56mi) of slopes and top-notch ski conditions. It’s located in the west of the country, and Pal-Arinsal resort can be found on its western edge. There are great high-speed ski lifts and gondalas that connect the two neighbouring resorts. Facilities: Arinsal is a ski-in, ski-out resort, meaning that you can ski right from your hotel without having to take a lift. Here, you’ll find seven green runs, 15 blue runs, 16 red runs and four black runs, meaning it’s best for beginners and intermediate skiers. It’s also a great place for free-riders and snowboarders, and offers a good range of nightlife options. Pal, on the other hand, is closest to the commercial centre of Andorra la Vella, and is ideal for family skiing. It also offers other winter sports such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, mushing and sledging.
Sequestered among traditional stone houses in La Massana, Secret Spot Hostel is just a short walk from the gondola – ideal if you’re looking to avoid those juddery heel-to-toe treks in your clunky ski boots. Inside, you’ll find bike wheels doubling as light fixtures, skateboards crafted into benches and dedicated rooms for storing bikes, snowboards and ski gear – a handy perk considering the adventure-filled surroundings. Affordable rooms range from shared six-bed dormitories, with clusters of silver birch trees at the end of each bed to create a sense of privacy, to sprawling suites with hydromassage tubs tucked into the corner.
Behind its storybook facade of stone walls, wooden tangerine-coloured balconies and vibrant flower beds, Xalet Bringué Hotel’s interior is sleek. White leather furniture and slate grey walls are found throughout – matching the snowy mountains outside – while the spa baths are decked out with creamy mosaic tiling, a classical Roman-style mural and heated ceramic loungers. If you’re looking for some extra indulgence after a windswept day on the slopes, book in a holistic semi-precious stone treatment or unwind with an après-ski cocktail and smooth jazz in the Lounge-Bar.
Built in the 1950s, Grau Roig started life as a small mountain refuge in the Andorran Pyrenees and evolved into a luxury hotel just a snowball’s throw from the Grandvalira ski lifts. Wake up to the icy swoosh of early-bird skiers and sprawl on the fluffy pillows of your oak bed before venturing down for the complimentary breakfast where you can tuck into homemade cakes, pastries and freshly squeezed juice. Be sure to make the most of the hotel spa which has a heated swimming pool, sauna and Turkish baths, and book a tasting in the atmospheric Wine Theatre – the crimson walls and moody lighting will make you feel as if you have stepped inside a bottle of Malbec.
Discover the secrets of high-altitude wine and meet local grape connoisseurs on this intoxicating walking tour. You’ll get the opportunity to sample some famous Catalonian cava with its pearl-like bubbles and fragrant notes, and have an exclusive tasting session where you’ll try a rare, award-winning Andorran wine and peruse an extensive collection of fine vintages. There will also be olives and cheese to complement – and soak up – the vino, as well as a final stop at an idyllic restaurant, where you can dig into some moreish tapas and sip oaky reds recommended by a sommelier.
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ActivitiesAndorra La Vella Instagram Photoshoot by Local Professionals
If you’re sick of scrolling through your photos to see blurred limbs, half-lidded eyes caught mid-blink and the distinct lack of one family member – AKA the designated photographer – this experience is for you. A professional photographer will turn up at the location of your choice for a one-hour photo shoot, snapping shots of you and your loved ones against the dramatic backdrop of snow-smothered mountains and fir trees. Then the top 35 images will be professionally edited and sent as digital copies so you can post them to your Instagram or Facebook feed.
Where to eat
Restaurant, Pub, European, $$$
Borda Raubert, hidden behind towering, snow-dusted pines with smoke billowing from the chimney, seems torn from the pages of Hansel and Gretel. Take shelter from the alpine winds and head inside to sit beside a roaring fire. Cobblestone walls are decorated with antique sleighs and hand-stitched tapestries, shelves are stacked with well-thumbed cookery books and old wagon wheels have been repurposed as rustic light fixtures. The food is traditional Andorran fare, including authentic dishes such as escargot and tender roast lamb, not to mention a selection of homemade cheeses and wines from local vineyards.
Restaurant L’Ensegar sits in the charming village of Llorts, offering a front-row seat to the rolling meadows and valley below. When you’re not gazing out of the window, you’ll be admiring the rustic-meets-alpine decor – think antique skis and poles, gingham tablecloths and a small straw pig dressed in a trilby. The dishes include Spanish tapas and traditional Andorran mountain fare, made with tender meat cuts and fresh vegetables that are either grown in their own garden or foraged from the surrounding forests. Each one is creatively served with delicate tangles of salad, artistic drizzles of honey or curled wafers.
Refugi del Llac de Pessons, an Andorran staple for more than 25 years, is found at an altitude of 2,350m (7,710ft) overlooking a lake of the same name. Whether you’re swooping in on your skis in a spray of powdery snow or striding up in your mud-flecked walking boots, the doors will be open, enticing you in with the aromas of traditional Catalan stew, grilled wagyu beef and trinxat – an Andorran speciality consisting of potatoes, cabbage and bacon fried into a hash-style pancake. Rest up your trembling ski legs on the sun trap terrace and treat yourself to some bubbly while taking in magical mountain views that change throughout the seasons.