Me and my friends rented a car and drove to Andorra after Christmas. We spent four days and three nights there. Andorra is a beautiful country located between Spain and France, it is the sixth-smallest nation in Europe and has about 78 000 inhabitants.
The drive from Barcelona to Andorra la Vella, the capital of Andorra, takes about 3 hours depending on the traffic. On our way there I thought that the traffic was bad since we had to queue for 45 minutes before crossing the border. However, on our way back to Barcelona I found out we hadn’t actually queued for that long, the poor people who were trying to get into Andorra to celebrate their New Year were experiencing a much longer waiting time than we did. The line was huge and barely moved forward! I highly recommend you to download as much music as you can if you are travelling by car during the holidays. Being stuck in traffic is not that bad if you are listening to a new album or updated playlist.
I also recommend not to drink too much water on the way because of certain situations you might face as a woman. I definitely didn’t have fun at some point due to the amount of water I had consumed…
City Center of Andorra la Vella.
This is how Andorra la Vella welcomed us. The day was cloudy and during the evening it started snowing. I was excited because that just meant fresh snow for the mountains. We dropped our luggage in our Airbnb and went out for dinner. After eating we had to do some last minute outerwear shopping since a few people in our group were not ready to face the snow at all. Then we decided just to relax and get a good night’s rest so that we would be ready to hit the slopes the next day.
I was surprised by how cheap Andorra is, we shopped at this supermarket called Andorra 2000, where you can get everything from clothes to food to cosmetics to hard liquor for a really low price.
The next day we drove to Grandvalira which is the most popular ski resort and the largest one in the Pyrenees, the weather was cloudy and I was hoping to see a little bit of sun but this time the weather wasn’t really on our side. Apparently Andorra is a really sunny place but during our visit the weather was cloudy, snowy and sometimes rainy. I will definitely have to go back to see the sunny slopes too.
When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, prices are average. A day ticket for one person costs around 49 euros in Grandvalira. The nice surprise was that renting equipment wasn’t that expensive. We rented two helmets, one pair of skis (with sticks included), one pair of skiing boots, one pair of snowboarding boots and a snowboard all together for 36 euros for the day. I think that’s a decent price for two people.
At around 5 PM the weather got really bad but luckily Grandvalira closes at that exact time so we were able to take advantage of our full day ticket. If you want to avoid traffic I recommend to leave the mountains just before closing time so that you don’t have to queue for a really long time. It took us an hour and a half to get back to the centre of Andorra la Vella since we left more than an hour after the slopes were closed. Also if you are renting a car make sure that you have snow chains for your tires and know how to put them on because it’s a long and boring process (at least for first timers).
Escaping the weather…
I hadn’t been snowboarding in a long time and being the whole day outside made me fall asleep on our way back to the centre. I have to say that in the end the traffic didn’t bother me that much but I can’t say the same for our driver. 😀
In the evening we went to eat in a restaurant called Pinosa. I will write about that beautiful restaurant later on because it deserves its own post.
On the third day our friend Fernando invited us to relax in this amazing spa called Caldea. As I had mentioned before I hadn’t been snowboarding in a long time and I was definitely feeling it in my legs so going to the spa was the perfect activity to rest our bodies. I have to say that I’m not that much of a spa person but this one was really impressive. As you can see from the picture below the spa building is massive.
My favorite feature at Caldea was the outside pool. It gave me such a surreal feeling because you can see the mountains and feel the cold air while you are relaxing in nice, warm water. I had to pinch myself to get back to reality because I couldn’t believe what I was feeling. There were also various hot rooms, saunas and cold pools to dip in. As a Finn I’m always missing the cold water and sauna combination so I was extremely happy to experience that again. Although I have to say that the sauna there wasn’t hot enough compared to the ones in Finland. 😀
Caldea was definitely a great experience and worth visiting. After melting in the spa for a while, we went for a walk in the city centre and spent the day just wandering around and eating frankfurts.
You shouldn’t touch it but…
Andorra la Vella’s main shopping street.
Finally it was time to go home. It would have been nice to spend more time there but I know we’ll be back soon since we live so close and our good friend Roger is from there. On our way back we stopped in a small city called La Seu d’Urgell. It is a cute city with funny trees! It’s also the place where the “prince of Andorra” lives. He is an old man who has the power to give advice to the Prime Minister of Andorra. There is also a cathedral that is a unique example of Romanesque art in Catalonia. That church has been there since 1110.
We went to see the cathedral, walked a bit and then continued our way back home.
La Seu d’Urgell Cathedral
The city hall of La Seu d’Urgell.
The Mexicans hanging around…
I was travelling with Mexican friends only, so after La Seu d’Urgell they wanted to stop at a place called Berga. As it turns out, that word means something totally different and inappropriate back in Mexico. So for them it was a lot of fun to visit such a place… 😀
I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed the whole trip back and forth, Andorra is a great place to visit if you love nature, sports and outdoor activities. The Pyrenees are a beautiful mountain range and I had a lot of fun snowboarding and exploring these slopes.
– Eeva –