ANDORRA TRAVEL GUIDE
Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, is a sovereign landlocked micro-state in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains. At only 468 km Andorra is the 16th smallest country in the world. Lying right next to Spain and France, this is the perfect place for you to explore when you get bored with the standard fare Europe has to offer.
Heavily influenced by Spain in its language and food and surrounded by jagged, high peaks Andorra will stun even the most seasoned traveller. For some reason, not many travellers find their way to Andorra, which means that you’ll have the added bonus of boasting about visiting a gem that most don’t even know about.
ANDORRA QUICK FACTS
- Capital: Andorra La Vella
- Currency: Euro (€)
- Area: 468 km²
- Language: Catalan (official), French, Castilian, Portuguese
- Religion: Roman Catholic (predominant and official)
- Electricity: 220, 50Hz (European plug)
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ANDORRA PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 6 January, Epiphany
- 14 March, Constitution Day
- 1 May, Labor Day
- 15 August, Assumption
- 8 September, National Day
- 1 November, All Saints Day
- 8 December, Immaculate Conception
- 26 December, St. Stephen’s Day
Also, Carnival, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Monday, and Whit Monday.
FESTIVALS IN ANDORRA
BEST TIME TO VISIT ANDORRA
The best time to visit Andorra depends on your personal preferences and what you plan to do during your trip. Here's a breakdown of what to expect during each season:
- Summer (June to August): This is the peak tourist season in Andorra, as the weather is warm and sunny with temperatures averaging between 15°C to 25°C. The summer months are ideal for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, and other outdoor activities. However, be prepared for higher prices and larger crowds.
- Autumn (September to November): The weather in autumn is generally mild, with temperatures averaging around 10°C to 15°C. The autumn months are perfect for hiking, as the leaves change color and the landscapes become even more beautiful. You can also visit Andorra's many festivals during this time.
- Winter (December to February): Winter is the peak season for skiing and snowboarding in Andorra, as the country is home to some of the best ski resorts in Europe. Temperatures can drop below freezing, so be sure to pack warm clothing. The ski season usually starts in December and lasts until April.
- Spring (March to May): The weather in spring is mild, with temperatures averaging around 10°C to 15°C. This is a good time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy Andorra's natural beauty. Spring is a good time for hiking and other outdoor activities, although snow can still be found at higher elevations.
Overall, the best time to visit Andorra depends on your interests and what you want to do during your trip. If you're interested in skiing, then winter is the best time to go. However, if you're interested in hiking and outdoor activities, then summer and autumn are the best times to visit.
ANDORRA WEATHER SYNOPSIS
Andorra has an alpine as well as a continental climate. Its higher elevation means there is, on average, more snow in winter, lower humidity, and it is slightly cooler in summer.
ANDORRA TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN ANDORRA
The snow sports season in Andorra can be as long as from mid November until late April. The best time is usually between December and March.
HIKING & CYCLING IN ANDORRA
The best time for outdoor activities in Andorra is during the summer months of June, July and August. May and September can also be pleasant, but significantly cooler.
BEACH OPTIONS IN ANDORRA
SURFING IN ANDORRA
KITESURF IN ANDORRA
Kitesurfing spot details and weather
HEALTH RISKS IN ANDORRA
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
ANDORRA TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to Andorra can vary depending on several factors, such as the time of year, the duration of your stay, your travel style, and your spending habits. Here are some estimated costs to give you an idea of what to expect:
- Accommodation: The cost of accommodation in Andorra can range from budget to luxury. A budget hotel or hostel can cost around €20-50 per night, while a mid-range hotel or apartment can cost around €80-150 per night. Luxury hotels and resorts can cost over €200 per night.
- Transportation: The cost of transportation in Andorra is relatively low. A local bus ticket costs around €2, while a taxi ride starts at €3.50. If you plan to rent a car, expect to pay around €30-50 per day.
- Food and drinks: The cost of food in Andorra can vary depending on where you eat. A budget meal at a fast food restaurant can cost around €8-12, while a mid-range meal at a restaurant can cost around €20-40. A beer at a bar costs around €3-5, while a bottle of wine at a restaurant costs around €20-40.
- Activities and attractions: The cost of activities and attractions in Andorra can vary depending on what you want to do. A ski pass for a day can cost around €45-55, while a guided tour can cost around €30-50.
Overall, a budget traveler can expect to spend around €50-80 per day, while a mid-range traveler can expect to spend around €100-150 per day. A luxury traveler can expect to spend over €200 per day. It's important to note that these are just rough estimates, and your actual costs may vary depending on your travel style and spending habits.
ANDORRA TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some travel tips for Andorra:
- Plan your trip ahead of time: Andorra is a small country, but there are plenty of things to see and do. To make the most of your trip, plan ahead and prioritize the activities that you want to do.
- Pack for the weather: Andorra experiences different weather conditions depending on the time of year, so make sure to pack appropriate clothing. If you're visiting in the winter, pack warm clothing, including a heavy coat, gloves, and a hat. In the summer, pack light clothing and sunscreen.
- Learn some basic Catalan: Catalan is the official language of Andorra, although Spanish and French are also widely spoken. Learning some basic Catalan phrases can help you communicate with locals and make your trip more enjoyable.
- Rent a car or take a bus: Andorra has a good public transportation system, but it can be limited, especially outside the peak tourist season. Renting a car or taking a bus can give you more flexibility and allow you to explore the country at your own pace.
- Visit during the off-season: Andorra can get very crowded during the peak tourist season, especially in the ski resorts. Visiting during the off-season can help you avoid the crowds and get a better deal on accommodation and activities.
- Try the local cuisine: Andorra has a unique cuisine that blends Catalan, French, and Spanish influences. Some local dishes to try include trinxat (a potato and cabbage dish), escudella (a meat and vegetable stew), and coca (a savory pastry).
- Take advantage of the outdoors: Andorra is known for its stunning natural scenery and outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. Take advantage of the outdoors and explore the country's many trails and parks.
- Respect local customs: Andorra is a conservative country with traditional values, so make sure to dress appropriately and respect local customs and traditions.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF ANDORRA
Andorra's main draw is still its magnificent mountainous landscapes, offering spectacular vistas in every season. At these heights, summers are cool, making for excellent hiking conditions through the green valleys. The Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley, Andorra's only UNESCO World Heritage site (only reachable on foot), is an undeveloped area important to wildlife sanctuary and consists of forest and fields, dotted with the odd shepherd's hut. In winter, snow covers large parts of the country, changing the Alpine character into an equally beautiful stage for various winter sports.
Andorra is divided into seven administrative regions, each with its own unique character and attractions.
- Andorra la Vella: This is the capital city of Andorra and the largest city in the country. It's known for its historic old town, which is full of Romanesque architecture and narrow streets. The city also has a variety of shops, restaurants, and museums.
- Escaldes-Engordany: This region is located just south of Andorra la Vella and is known for its thermal springs and spa resorts. It's a popular destination for those looking to relax and unwind.
- La Massana: This region is located in the northwest of Andorra and is known for its outdoor activities, including skiing, hiking, and mountain biking. It's home to the Vallnord ski resort, which has some of the best ski runs in the country.
- Ordino: This region is located in the northeast of Andorra and is known for its scenic mountain landscapes and traditional villages. It's a popular destination for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy nature.
- Canillo: This region is located in the east of Andorra and is known for its ski resorts, including Grandvalira, the largest ski resort in the Pyrenees. It's also home to the picturesque village of Soldeu.
- Encamp: This region is located in the center of Andorra and is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. It's home to the largest lake in Andorra, the Estany d'Engolasters, as well as several hiking trails and ski resorts.
- Sant Julià de Lòria: This region is located in the south of Andorra and is known for its historic Romanesque churches and scenic countryside. It's also home to the Tobacco Museum, which highlights the history of tobacco production in Andorra.
Overall, each region of Andorra has its own unique attractions and highlights, from outdoor activities and ski resorts to historic landmarks and cultural museums. Whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or culture, Andorra has something to offer.
Andorra's huge ski resorts with their family-friendly slopes are probably the main reason for Andorra's popularity among tourists, but the country has much more to offer. Most of the ski resorts were once small mountain villages which have grown over the years due to their popularity as a skiing destination. In recent years most resorts have joined together so that a ski pass will cover the neighbouring areas. As a result, two large alpine skiing areas known as Vallnord and Grandvalira have developed.
In the country's capital, Andorra la Vella may seem like just a place to shop but if you look a bit deeper you will find loads of history with the Romanesque Església de Sant Esteve, located in the old part of town a perfect stop during a city walk. A nice piazza and the historic parliament building make for other highlights in your city explorations. Barely 2 kilometers out of town, the church of Santa Coloma d'Andorra is even older, dating back to the 9th century. Also in Andorra La Vella, a must-visit is the famous Caldea spa/pool complex with its unmistakable glass spire.
Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Andorra:
- Explore the historic old town of Andorra la Vella: Take a stroll through the narrow streets of Andorra la Vella's historic old town and admire the Romanesque architecture and charming shops and restaurants.
- Visit the Casa de la Vall: This historic building in Andorra la Vella served as the seat of government for Andorra for centuries and now houses the parliament. You can take a guided tour to learn more about the history of the building and Andorra's government.
- Go skiing or snowboarding: Andorra is known for its world-class ski resorts, including Grandvalira and Vallnord. Hit the slopes and enjoy some of the best skiing in the Pyrenees.
- Relax in a thermal spa: Andorra is home to several thermal spas, including Caldea and Inuu. Spend a day relaxing in the warm waters and indulging in spa treatments.
- Hike in the mountains: Andorra's mountainous terrain offers plenty of hiking opportunities. Explore scenic trails, such as the Coma Pedrosa trail, which offers stunning views of the Pyrenees.
- Visit the Sant Joan de Caselles church: This historic Romanesque church is located in the village of Canillo and dates back to the 11th century. Admire the intricate carvings and frescoes inside the church.
- Explore the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley: This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a stunning landscape of mountains, forests, and lakes. It's a great destination for hiking and nature lovers.
- Try local cuisine: Andorra's cuisine is a blend of Catalan, French, and Spanish influences. Try local dishes, such as trinxat (a potato and cabbage dish), escudella (a meat and vegetable stew), and coca (a savory pastry).
- Shop for tax-free goods: Andorra is a tax-free haven, which means you can find great deals on luxury goods and electronics.
Overall, Andorra offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or culture, Andorra has something to offer.
WHAT TO EAT IN ANDORRA
Andorra was, until very recently, a predominantly agrarian society, and as expected locally-sourced meats and vegetables will feature on most restaurant menus. Andorra's cuisine is a blend of Catalan, French, and Spanish influences, with a focus on hearty, rustic dishes that are perfect for the mountainous terrain.
Although rarely exported, Andorra also produces some of its own wines. The wineries to look out for are Borda Sabaté 1944, Casa Auvinyà, and Celler Mas Berenguer. Remember that there’s no duty on alcohol in Andorra, so you might be able to splash on unusually fine wines.
Here are some of the top dishes to try when visiting Andorra:
- Trinxat: This is a traditional dish made with potatoes, cabbage, and bacon. It's usually served as a side dish or as a main course.
- Escudella: This is a hearty stew made with pork, beef, chicken, and vegetables. It's usually served during the winter months and is a great way to warm up after a day on the slopes.
- Cannelloni: This is a classic dish that's popular throughout Catalonia and Andorra. It's made with pasta tubes stuffed with ground meat and topped with a creamy béchamel sauce.
- Coca de recapte: This is a savory pastry made with a thin, crispy crust and topped with roasted vegetables, cured meats, and cheese.
- Truites de carreroles: This is an omelette made with wild mushrooms, eggs, and potatoes. It's a great option for a hearty breakfast or a light lunch.
- Grilled meats: Andorra is known for its high-quality meats, including beef, pork, and lamb. Try a grilled steak or a rack of lamb for a hearty and delicious meal.
- Crema catalana: This is a traditional dessert that's similar to crème brûlée. It's made with egg yolks, sugar, and milk, and is topped with a caramelized sugar crust.
- Turrón: This is a sweet almond nougat that's traditionally eaten during the Christmas season. It's a popular dessert in Andorra and throughout Spain.
Overall, Andorra's cuisine is hearty, rustic, and delicious, with a focus on high-quality meats, fresh vegetables, and flavorful spices. Be sure to try some of these traditional dishes when visiting Andorra to get a taste of the local cuisine.
LGBTQ IN ANDORRA
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Andorra may face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Civil unions, which grant all the benefits of marriage including adoption, have been recognised since 2014, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is constitutionally banned. However, same-sex marriage is currently not recognised in Andorra. A draft bill to legalise same-sex marriage was presented on 10 March 2020, which if enacted, will take effect on 1 June 2021.
Already in 2013, a survey showed that 70% of Andorrans were in favour of same-sex marriage, 19% were against and only 11% were undecided or had refused to answer. This shows a general LGBTQ acceptance in Andorra.
WHERE TO STAY IN ANDORRA
When visiting Andorra for the first time, it's best to stay in one of the main towns or villages that offer easy access to the main attractions and activities. Here are some recommendations:
- Andorra la Vella: As the capital city and the largest town in Andorra, Andorra la Vella offers a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hotels to luxury resorts. It's a great base for exploring the city's historic old town, shopping for tax-free goods, and visiting attractions like Casa de la Vall and the Church of Sant Esteve.
- Canillo: This charming village is located in the heart of the Pyrenees and is home to the Grandvalira ski resort, one of the largest ski areas in Europe. It's a great option for winter sports enthusiasts and offers a range of accommodation options, from cozy mountain lodges to luxury resorts.
- Encamp: This town is located in the center of Andorra and is a great base for exploring the surrounding mountains and valleys. It's also home to the Funicamp cable car, which takes visitors up to the ski slopes of Grandvalira.
- La Massana: This town is located in the northwest of Andorra and is a popular destination for hiking and mountain biking. It's also home to the Vallnord ski resort and offers a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hotels to luxury resorts.
- Ordino: This picturesque village is located in the northeast of Andorra and is known for its historic architecture and stunning mountain views. It's a great option for those looking for a quieter and more authentic Andorran experience.
Overall, there are plenty of options for accommodation in Andorra, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts. It's important to consider your interests and preferences when choosing where to stay, as each town and village has its own unique attractions and activities.
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