Situated in the heart of the Pyrenees and bordered by Spain and France, the Principality of Andorra is one of the smallest countries in Europe with a surface area of 468 km2 from which only 8% is urbanised and cultivated. The official language is Catalan, however other languages like English, Spanish and French are also spoken due to the diversity of nationalities among the tourists visiting the country each year. The official currency is Euro but payment cards are widely accepted.
Interesting facts about Andorra:
• Andorra is a co-principality
• Andorra is one of the highest countries in Europe
• Andorra does not require visa for any nationality
• Andorra does not have an army, it relies on France and Spain
• There is no airport or train station in Andorra
• Commerce and tourism represent 60% of the economy
How to get to Andorra:
As we mentioned above, there is no airport or train in Andorra which leaves only one option: by road, either through Spain or France. We took the bus from Sants train station after we spent 3 days in Barcelona and a few hours later we were in Andorra, surrounded by mountains, lakes and fresh air.
To get around inside the country, you can either drive your own car without the need of an international driving licence, take the bus or hire a taxi. We wouldn’t recommend the latter option for long distances as it can get very expensive.
Accommodation in Andorra la Vella:
Finding a place in Andorra will be easier than you think if you are not going during high season. We booked Exe Prisma on Booking and we were not disappointed, we had a queen size bed, a sofa and a bathroom in the main room plus another room with two single beds and another bathroom. They also serve an amazing breakfast for less than 7 euros where you can chose from a diverse buffet, mainly prepared from a mix of Spanish and French food. If you are visiting during ski season, we recommend you book in advance as the hotels tend to get full.
Things to do in Andorra:
If you were wondering what to do in Andorra, rest assured that this little country has plenty of activities to offer all year round for everyone to enjoy it. We would love to return during summer to spend more time hiking and discovering the wonderful places hidden across the country but also during winter to enjoy a few days of skiing on the slopes during the day and relaxing at the thermal centre during the night.
Andorra has more than 54 marked hiking trails and if you are interested to know more about it, the guide “Trails of Andorra” is available to buy from any tourist office for only 5 euros. We bought one copy and we picked the trail through Maiana Pass which is one of the most spectacular routes in the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley. Along the route there are a few refuges in good shape if you want to spend the night over. The hike was not easy, it was supposed to last 5h20, however we did it in 7h30, mainly because we stopped for pictures along the way as the views were gorgeous and well worth the pain.
Chris went the next day for another half-day hike, this time to Erts. The weather was considerably worse than the previous day, being cloudy and rainy. He took some shots from the trail and from the top, before returning by bus to Andorra la Vella.
One place you cannot miss is Caldea, the largest thermal centre in Southern Europe which offers a wide range of activities to enjoy in just one place. The main attraction at Caldea is the indoor lagoon where the spring water remains around 32-34°C but what’s more interesting is that this is connected with the outdoor part via a flowy river. Other places where your stress can drift away are Icelandic bath, Indo Roman bath, hammam, saunas, jacuzzi, aqua massage, sirocco bath and many others.
Relaxing on the bubble bed while we enjoyed the mountain views was our favourite spot here at the thermal centre. Sitting outside in the Jacuzzi at night while we watched the moon light hiding behind the mountains and experience the contrasts of temperature was also amazing.
One ticket will give you a 3 hours admission. If you have enough time, we recommend you to go both during the day and night as we did because these are two different experiences that you don’t want to miss. In case you do decide to return at Caldea, don’t forget to ask for a return voucher at the ticket desk so you can save some money on your return.
Stroll around the streets
As you might know, for us strolling around the streets remains the best way to discover a new place and Andorra la Vella was no different. The town itself is not big, you can walk around for a few hours while you enjoy the fresh mountain air and the breath-taking landscapes all around you. One of the attractions in Andorra not to miss is the Salvador Dali sculpture from the main square, the “Nobility of time” which was donated to the Andorran government.
If you like shopping, you are in the right place because Andorra is known as the shopping paradise where all the prices are lower due to the lowest VAT rate in Europe. There are plenty of boutiques, stores and shopping centres to chose from regardless of what you are looking for, be it clothes, shoes, watches, jewellery, food or alcohol.
Eat and Drink in Andorra la Vella
Andorra’s gastronomy is mainly composed from Spanish and French cuisine but they do have their own local dishes. We picked for dinner L’enoteca using TripAdvisor where we had beaf entrecote with peppers and secreto iberico steak with mashed potato accompanied with a red sangria, the best I ever had so far.
We couldn’t skip dessert so we tried crema de catalan which is a kind of custard served with a hard caramelised sugar topping and cranberry cheese cake.
- Wear proper shoes for hiking and don’t forget the sunblock, regardless of the season.
- When you pass by a sheep herd on the mountain, be aware as there might be dogs around as well.
- If you don’t have a GoPro, buy a waterproof case for your phone so you can take pictures at Caldea.
- Caldea ticket can be extended by 2 hours if you eat at one of their restaurants.
- If you want to return to Caldea in 30 days, ask for a return voucher.
If you like it, pin it!