Andorra Travel Guide
Why You Should Go
What’s Cool: Fine ski resorts, automobile museum in Encamp, pre-Romanesque churches, trout-fishing in mountain streams, clean mountain air, Caldea spa center, duty-free shopping, scenic mountain passes, no tipping, no airport and no taxes.
What’s Not: Expensive, unattractive development and heavy traffic in the capital, lots of tourists, no parking, no street signs, no airport, reckless drivers, long lines at border passes and marauding boars!
When to Go
Andorra has a typical mountain climate with cold winters and mild summers. It’s the sort of place you go skiing in if you can’t afford the Alps.
May to September is the best time to visit with warm, sunny weather, but July and August can be crowded.
Autumn (September to November) has the most rainfall.
Winters (December to February) are invigoratingly dry and chilly yet sunny, and the skiing season runs from November to April.
Getting There & Away
Andorra does not have an airport and the main points of entry are by road or rail from France and Spain. The main road cuts through the country from south to northeast, while a couple of secondary roads may be closed in winter. Buses and minibuses link towns and villages. Taxis are available in the larger villages, but you’ll have to phone ahead.
Health & Safety
Winding mountain roads and an oversupply of tax-free booze may well be the main safety risks in this tiny nation. Most incidents are a result of winter sports and off-piste skiing is highly dangerous. Health concerns are few, but beware of rabies in remote areas.
Food & Hospitality
Eating out in Andorra is enjoyable, inexpensive and filling, with mountain-like portions. Apart from traditional Catalan restaurants and those with a more international flavor, Andorra boasts restaurants serving a wide range of cuisines including Japanese, Mexican and Greek. Most hotels and lodgings cater to summer visitors and skiers, while mountain refuges offer cheap and basic accommodation for hikers.
A long weekend should be enough to see the highlights of this tiny country.
One day to see la Vella and do some duty-free shopping.
One or two days relaxing in the spa town of Escaldes-Engordany.
One or two days in Encamp for its museum and 12th century churches
Two or three days chilling in the spa town of Caldea, Europe’s largest recreational spa.
Two or three days to scale Coma Pedrosa, Andorra’s highest peak – not difficult, but tiring.
Three or four days at a ski resort. Soldeu is the main resort with a good variety of slopes.
Old Town in la Vella: has remnants from the time when the capital was just a village. In fact is stills seems like one for some.
Plaça del Poble: occupies the roof of la Vella’s modern government office building, affording romantic views of the valley and mountains.
Encamp: is home to the National Automobile Museum, exhibiting old cars, antique motorcycles and bikes. The 12th century Església Sant Romà de les Bons is nearby.
Església de Santa Coloma: is Andorra’s oldest church with its tall, free-standing 12th century bell still intact and Romanesque murals from the same era.
Soldeu-El Tarter and Pas de la Casa-Grau Roig: these winter resorts offer some of the best skiing in Andorra.
Cultural sightseeing: is a must, with all the lovely churches and landmarks, beautiful scenery and intriguing history.
Skiing: at the many ski resorts, with excellent facilities and a broad range of slopes as well as a season that lasts six months.
Shopping: for electronic wares, luxury goods, alcohol and cigarettes – all duty-free.
Spas and health treatments: in Caldea, Europe’s largest spa town.
Mountain climbing and hiking: on Coma Pedrosa, Andorra’s highest peak.
Festivals & Events
Andorra is a Catholic country, and it also appreciates music. Here are some of the best events to get to.
May: the world’s only International Women’s Clown Festival in la Vella.
July: International Jazz Festival in Escaldes-Engordany is Andorra’s premier cultural event.
July, August and September: is when many Andorran towns and villages hold lively three-day festivals of Catholic origin.
September: Mare de Deu Meritxel Festival has hundreds of Christian Andorrans on a pilgrimage to worship the Virgin Mary.