Andorra’s easy to miss on a map. It’s the sixth smallest country in Europe and there’s no doubt that a lot of people would be hard-pressed to point to it on a map. However, for anyone who’s been there, it’s an experience they won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Nestled in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, this is a gorgeous principality that has breath-taking landscapes tucked away between one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the continent. But what is there to do there?
Reaching new heights
Of course, when you go on a mountain holiday to places on the Alps or the Pyrenees, the first thing you’re going to think about is those mountains. There’s no disappointment to be had here, either. Some of the most popular Andorra holidays packages are naturally those for the skiers, particularly those who are trying out their very first ski holidays. The Grandvalira and Vallnord offer slopes that range from beginners to intermediate with tree-lined routes that make you really feel like you’re throttling down through the wilderness. However, there’s plenty to see outside of skiing season, too. There are thousands of trails for hikers of all levels of fitness and expertise. One of the most popular of these is the Tristaina Lake Trail, exposing isolated pockets of beautiful blue water surrounded by dramatic rises on all sides.
Isolated, but not alone
Until recently, it was actually rather hard to access Andorra from any route but the south. From its southern border with Spain, its inherited a lot of Iberian culture, the primary language of the country being Catalan. But a lot of time, money, and effort has been put into turning Andorra a location that hits all the sweet spots for tourists. There are plenty of great hotels, a thriving nightlife, and some shopping that’s not only offering luxury brands but at a discount price. Thanks to the fact that Andorra is a tax haven, it’s a place where anyone can experience a little luxury on the high streets of Meritxell and Carlemany in the capital, Andorra La Vella.
More to explore
For those who really like exploring a destination, history and culture are just as important a part of the trip as those splendid mountains. As small as it is, Andorra has been independent since 1278, when it was named as a “march state” by Charlemagne against Moorish invaders from the south. It carries a lot of that history in some of the richest architecture in Europe. Cathedrals like the Sant Joan de Caselles offer a trip right back to the middle ages, with that particular building standing since the 11th or 12th century. There’s plenty of modern culture, too. In particular, the food is a must-try experience with authentic-Spanish influenced eateries like the Taberna Angel Belmonte offering a fresh take on traditional meals like trinxat. In the winter, you’ll definitely want to try some of the hearty, warming stew, escudella, which you will find just about anywhere.
Whether you decide to take advantage of the country’s fantastic ski-season liveliness or enjoy a quiet retreat when green settles across the valleys, there’s rarely a moment in Andorra that isn’t picturesque. Beyond the natural beauty, there’s a lot of history to explore in this near-800-year-old country and a lively, friendly culture that’s one of the most welcoming to tourists in all of Europe.