We decided to include Andorra as a part of our European trip this past August. It is still a quite unknown destination even for well seasoned travelers.
We have heard before of the great sports opportunities and the beautiful outdoors, but beyond that, our trip was a total discovery of a fascinating little country, we were astonished by all that we discovered in this ancient land.
We drove from the French coast toward the mountains, the scenery is amazing, the roads are narrow but well maintained. One really feels like arriving to a last frontier. From Perpignan in France it took us a little more than two hours. The last half hour was packed with dramatic beauty and many opportunities to stop along the way and breathe the fresh air.
The Border control post is located in a narrow passage between mountains -like almost everything else in Andorra- We keep saying that it is a small country but it is a concept that can be easily misunderstood. One can perfectly drive around for some hours and discover mountains, rivers, lakes, natural parks, historic landmarks and much more.
Andorra offers the feeling of a well developed and organized country. Good driving skills are important since almost all the towns and surroundings are located on the slopes of huge mountains, such skill is even more critical during the winter months.
Spanish, Catalan, French and English are widely spoken by almost everyone. This is a country where tourism is very important. There are many good opportunities for visitors during all the seasons of the year. Locals are very active and one immediately notices how many people practice all kind of outdoor sports from biking, hiking and other activities during summer. There are as well many winter stations ready to receive visitors during the cold months to practice skiing and snowboarding.
The tourism infrastructure is first class, there are excellent hotels, and delicious international and local restaurants. We stayed at the Anyos Park hotel where we enjoyed a beautiful apartment with impressive views of the mountains and the first class spa facilities.
We had abundant opportunities to explore the hiking trails, there are many and very well kept trails, just beware that even what the locals consider a trail for beginners can easily be seen as very advanced in other places.
The capital Andorra la Vella is a vibrant town and a shopping paradise that attract shoppers looking for the tax free deals. A good recommendation is the department store Pyrenees Andorra, they have several floors of the best clothing brands, home accessories and an excellent grocery store. Of course it is impossible to go to the capital and not to visit Caldea, the biggest spa of Europe.
Andorra is overall an affordable country, a destination worth to be included in the list of any traveler, a nation that has a lot more to offer than what people normally expect.