Where to drive in Andorra
This independent principality nestled in the Pyrenees mountains is a great spot for a weekend road trip when visiting the south of France or northern Spain.
Spanning an area of just 468 km² and with a population of around 71,700, it is the sixth smallest country in Europe, meaning that most of its sights can be seen over two or three days. There is no airport here and the country is only accessible by road so it’s essential to have a car.
Capital Andorra La Vella – which holds the title of the highest capital city in Europe at an elevation of 3,356 ft - is renowned for its tax-free shopping, with numerous malls centred around Meritxell Avenue and Avinguda Riberaygua.
But this historic location is also home to more modest attractions including Santa Coloma Church, which dates from the 8th century and the beautiful Church of Sant Esteve which stands in Barri Antic -the old quarter of the city - next to notable buildings including the old parliament Casa de la Vall, built in 1508, and the houses of the renowned Guillermo, Molines and Cintet families.
If you want to learn more about the Romanesque art and architecture that dominates in Andorra, it’s possible to join trips and excursions or to undertake a solo sightseeing to the 40-odd churches dotted around the country, where you’ll find fine examples of historic stained glass, frescoes and sculpture.
Fans of skiing and snowboarding will find plenty to enjoy in the country with areas Grandvalira and Vallnord offering a variety of resorts with open and tree-lined runs suitable for beginners up to experienced skiers. Ski season usually runs between December and March each year. Andorra’s mountainous terrain and warm weather also makes it a popular spot for hiking, mountain biking and climbing.
Routes including The Coma Pedrosa, Estanys de Tristaina and Pic de Casamanya will take hardy walkers on an unforgettable journey through valleys and past lakes, taking in spectacular national parkland and high-altitude views.
In summer, Andorra’s ski resorts turn into biking parks, the most famous being the Pal-Arinsal ski resort, which becomes Vallnord Bike Park when the snow melts away. Then there is the Soldeu Bike Park at Grandvalira, which offers a great introduction to biking for beginners and families, as well as more challenging tracks for experienced cyclists.
Outdoorsy types will also enjoy Naturlandia, where visitors can hire segways, bikes and buggies to tour animal enclosures of native species including wild goats, bears, lynx, deer and wolves. The park also offers trampolines, zip lines, bouncy castles and night time snowmobile adventures.
Other attractions in Andorra include Europe’s largest spa complex, the futuristic Caldea Spa Complex. This natural spring complex boasts indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzis and hydrotherapy sections all laid out over 18 floors in Les Escaldes, not far from Andorra de la Vella.
With so much to see and do, you’ll be glad you hired a car to see as much as possible during your visit to Andorra.