Andorra has long been popular with British skiers and snowboarders looking to avoid the crowds in Austria or the expense of ski holidays in France. In recent years Andorra has also been strengthening its summer offering, making it a destination that's worth visiting year-round. There are no direct flights to Andorra, but the principality is served by the Seu d'Urgell airport just across the Spanish border. It's also easy to combine a holiday in Andorra with a city trip to Barcelona, which is just three hours away by bus. Here are ten must-do activities in Andorra.
The sprawling ski area of GrandValira boasts 210km of pistes that are perfectly set up for a ski holiday with a group of friends, while the slightly smaller Vallnord has around 100km of pistes. A nice variety of easy and challenging slopes, a wide selection of mountain restaurants, and the opportunity to spend each day skiing near a different village make Andorra a popular destination with local and international skiers and snowboarders alike. Grandvalira also offers kids' programs and themed circuits for the little ones.The endless Grandvalira ski area is perfect for day trips
Andorra has long been known as a tax-free haven and a mecca for stocking up on alcohol, tobacco and other products. Although Andorra has been pressured to increase its taxes in the last few years, it's still worth a visit to the shops. Plus, it's an excuse to stroll around the charming Andorra la Vella - if you visit around Christmas the streets will most likely be decorated.
Have you ever golfed on a ski piste? This is your chance! In summer, the vast ski area of Grandvalira is transformed into a massive golf course. Take the cable car up to a field with 9 holes (par 33). Designed by British architect Jeremy Pern, the golf course spans 16 hectares and is 2.5km long - and all this at 2250m above sea level, making it the highest golf course in Europe!Grandvalira mounts a golf course every summer on the ski slopes (Photo: © Anna Cervera)
Welcome to the longest zipline in the Pyrenees! Clocking in at 550 metres and reaching speeds of 80 km/h, this is a breathtaking way to get a bird's-eye view of the beautiful winter landscapes and the Llac del Forn, a gorgeous lake. This is the first year the zipline will be available in winter so it's the perfect activity to combine with a ski holiday!
Andorra in the summer is downright gorgeous. Get your fill of greenery with a walk through Canillo or Encamp, or book a guide to show you all the hidden secrets. There are plenty of marked trails so you can explore the mountains when they're covered in green, not in snow! If you're more the adventurous type, Grandvalira also has a via ferrata and an outdoor climbing wall where you can test your amateur mountaineering skills. In the winter, switch to snowshoes and explore the magical winter wonderland on foot.
Andorra has 35 natural hotsprings and one of the biggest thermal spas in Europe, the Caldea Spa, offers the chance to relax and rejuvenate in natural mineral waters with a maximum temperature of 70 ºC. Rich in sulphur and other minerals, these waters are anti-allergenic and have a host of other health benefits. The perfect way to soothe your muscles after a day of skiing or hiking!
Travelling with the kids? The newly opened Mon(t) Magic Family Park in Canillo offers an endless array of activities for all ages including toboggans, inflatable castles, trampolines, mini-golf, archery, tubbing, pony rides, water scooters and much more. Within the Mon(t) Magic Family Park you'll find the Màgic Gliss, a toboggan ride about 700m long that reaches speeds of up to 40km/h.The mini-golf course with the best views ever! (Photo: © Anna Cervera)
Experience the magic of speeding through the forests of Grandvalira pulled by our furry four-legged friends! Dogsledding is available in El Tarter for adults and children, and you can choose to partake in a 2km, 3km or 5km ride.
At the lofty height of 2350m above sea level is the Hotel Igloo, in the Grau Roig sector of Grandvalira. Built entirely out of snow, the Hotel Igloo boasts a bar-restaurant, 2 jacuzzis, a sauna, a terrace, and shower facilities. The rooms are spacious and well-equipped, perfect for couples or small groups. Get to the Igloo by snowcat and enjoy a welcome drink before heading out for a snowshoe tour. After supper, relax in the spa and then head back to your room to catch some winks. In the morning, you can ski down or take the chairlift to PULKA for breakfast. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!Celebrating a successful day on the slopes in Grandvalira
There are plenty of options for après-ski in Andorra, including the Derby Irish Pub in Arinsal which puts on live music and serves Guinness on tap. Alternately, keep your ski gear on and ski straight up to one of the parties at the foot of the slopes, where you'll find a warm welcome even in the chilliest weather.
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
|5 Dec||11 tips for a family ski holiday at the Skicircus|
|28 Nov||Must-try local specialties during your ski holiday in the Skicircus|
|16 Nov||Facts & figures: Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn|