Tourist Places To Visit In Andorra
A heaven of valleys and mountains and a haven of duty free shopping, Andorra is a small country in Europe, sandwiched in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. The country is so small and beautiful, with a slow, languid pace, that it has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. From its capital city Andorra la Vella to the stunning winter ski destination of Vallnord, from the meadows of Valira d'Orient Valley to the Roman town Les Escaldes, Andorra has many a tourist places to stun you for a lifetime. Here are our favourites, listed for you.
Andorra la Vella
Located on an elevated part of the eastern Pyrenees mountains, Andorra la Vella is the capital town of the country. It is a very touristy place and one of the highest capitals of the world at 1,029 m above sea level. You can walk the streets with the mountain peaks in the backdrop, go shopping in the never ending line of boutiques and brands, enjoy the art galleries, cafes and hotels that redefine luxury. Some amazing sites here include the seat of Andorra Government - the 15th Century Casa de la Vell, public square of Plaça del Poble and the Sant Esteve Church that goes back to the 12th Century.
Vallnord is a winter wonderland, a winter destination that is renowned for its skiing opportunities in the Pyrenees. Some fine snow, thick and even, spread over Europe’s best slopes make Vallnord highly coveted among the adventure circles. Some of the best ski resorts here are Arinsal, Pal and Arcalis. Beginners, mid-level experts as well as seasoned skiers can all practise on different routes and special equipment is also rented. Other than skiing there are also cable-car rides, gondola rides between La Massana and Pal as well as sledding and snowmobiles for tourists. The newly opened Vallnord Bikepark attracts summer tourism here with its mountain biking tracks.
The town of Encamp is literally camped in the heart of Andorra. With a small population of 12000, Encamp is an all-year destination. It has one of the prettiest market squares and the downtown is breathtaking, with river Valira d’Orient cutting through the cute old buildings and cafes. Encamp is best for hiking, summer outings, swimming, mountain biking and relaxing in Europe’s finest landscape. Skiing is also widely indulged in winter here, with the slopes of Pas de la Casa and Grau Roig very famous tracks.
Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in this country. A small settlement, it looks right out of a fairytale meadow, with its glaciers and flowers and animals and forests, interspersed by rolling pastures with grazing sheep. The whole road journey spent reaching Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is one great experience in itself. You can go hiking here, explore the small villages and townships, visit mountain huts where people still live like in the old times, and enjoy the valley that has been settled for more than 700 years.
Les Escaldes is only a few minutes' drive away from Andorra la Vella and is dotted with hot springs, nitrogen and sulphur thermal lakes and Roman buildings. These springs, now turned into luxury spas, are the highlight of the town and have been known for their medicinal properties since the Roman era. Also worth visiting here is the Viladomat Museum that holds displays of Josep Viladoma, explore the Pont dels Escalls bridge for stunning views of the Old Town and enjoy a day out at Capilla Sant Roma fortress. There is also the brilliant Thyssen Museum with its private collection and Centre d'Art d’Escaldes-Engordany.
La Cortinada is surrounded by mountains, small villages, rolling meadows and a blissful environment. It is a small village itself, known for its quaint quality of life coupled with ancient structures like the 12th-century Sant Martí de la Cortinada church. The nearby village of El Serrat is also a great day trip for hikers and bird watchers during summer and downhill skiing, sledding, snowmobiles etc during winter.
After all the times an Andorran village was called pretty, Ordino would really end up being the prettiest. It is located on high ground, almost 1300 m above sea level, and is built of cute little stone buildings and huts, painted in whites or pastels with slate grey roofs that slant with chimneys and wooden balconies on the side. If you don’t do anything else here and just walk around the village, Ordino would be worth it. The Casamanya Mountains forms a magnificent backdrop to Ordino and you will see this giant from anywhere in the markets or the houses. Visit the old churches, idyllic cafes, shops, boutiques and the famous Casa d’Areny-Plandolit here. Also, don’t miss the Postal Museum of Ordino, with its vast collection of stamps.