Don't Miss Places In Andorra
Andorra is a small country that lies on the eastern slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains, between France and Spain. Crossed by the Valira River, it is a land of narrow gorges, calm lakes, snowy Alps and mountain passes. Many people live by processing tobacco, grazing sheep, or growing potatoes. Many visitors come to Andorra for winter sports and Ski resorts making tourism very important to the economy. Tourists come to see the beautiful scenery, the old churches, and to buy cheap goods in their low – tax stores. Native Andorrans are descended from a people called Catalans who have their own language. Catalans also live in the northern Spain and southern France.
These are the top ten not to be missed places in Andorra.
Grandvalira Ski Resort
The ski site at the Grandvalira is one of the best resorts in the Pyrenees that offer complete amenities and facilities at a good price. The ski tracks are in the Alps region and some are approved training grounds for the Winter Olympics. The lifts are also reasonably priced although some chairs need to be renewed. The tracks are varied and amateur or professional skiers can do a nice long descent up to the fun-ski area. The parking is spacious and free. All the ski areas are sign posted well to guide every visitor on what level they intend to train or try their skiing skills. When the snow fall is heavy, the car parks, walkways, and other cafes becomes a huge ice rink recreational complex.
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The ski resort area and its designated pistes are equipped with friendly staff that is attentive to every skier’s needs. The playground area for kids is good as kids enjoy a ride on the sleds. Even amateurs can learn to ski without difficulty. The wide slopes offer a huge field of pistes that is perfect for medium term stays. The strength of the area remains on its large variety of slopes and the long secured drives where skiers can fully enjoy more forms of skiing adventures as compared to other major alpine resorts in the city.
Santa Coloma Church
Andorra has a lot of Romanic art from their chapels or churches, bridges, and paintings to make a Romanesque lover’ passion well served. The Church of Santa Coloma is beautifully restored and a visit is mandatory. Located in the outskirts of La Vella, The building is of pre-Roman origin with a rectangular nave and a circular shaped tower. The ancient church is made of stone and wood but you can not visit the inside. The Carolingian bell is an exception in Andorra.
The whole structure shows its age but not the condition of the church that has an exceptional charm especially its tower. Andorra is dotted with small Romanesque churches of this type, some also have Gothic designed structures but the beauty of this non Roman Catholic church is different. The peculiarity of its shape and the round bell tower makes it very distinctive. The cultural heritage is of great importance as this ancient church is said to be established and created between the 10th and 12th century. The church can be admired for its unique façade and cultural importance.
Casa de la Vall
The building built as a family home in 1580 was acquired by the General Council that is now the seat of Parliament. Inside is an interesting cabinet with seven locks which has kept the most important national documents. The cabinet can be opened only by the simultaneous presence of the seven keys held by the directors (one for each parish in which the principality is divided), the building houses since 1930 some of the funds of the National Library of Andorra. The Tourist Office organizes free guided tours in French, Spanish and Catalan. The Casa de la Vall is small but very interesting for its simplicity. Visits are by appointment, but the guides are extremely helpful and are keen to welcome visitors even without an appointment.
This is one of the few historic and saved old buildings in Andorra and where one can still imagine something from the past. You need to register for the free tour to explore the Parliament seat and courthouse of such a small state. An English speaking guide will welcome you at the entrance and tour you to the meeting room, the chapel, the old courtroom on the first and ground floor. There is also a visit to the dormitory and kitchen that has been in this building since the sixteenth century. This old mansion is the best way to understand and learn about the colorful history of Andorra.
Soldeu el Tarter
The Soldeu el Tarter is one of the best places to ski in Andorra that has trails of varying complexity. They have good training and practice slopes for the advanced skiers and for those who are just starting to learn how to ski and snowboard. The ski resort has a large parking area and surrounded by ski schools, cafes, and thrilling ski lifts. The ski rental equipment is inexpensive and the service is high quality. The tracks on its well maintained slopes are very long but not technically difficult. Learn more about this place and its great diversity. You can appreciate nature, the cold weather, and the friendly mountain men called the “Andocinos”.
Soldeu is not only an ideal place for skiing during the cold winter months, you can admire more of its mountains in summer, to pick dandelions in the spring, and tread along its bike trails at the end of the summer season. Many hikes are more possible in winter and the Soldeu is an interesting starting point to reside and enjoy the slopes of the vast field. The slopes are surrounded by trees in an awesome spot within the proximity of the city plus a good view of the mountain. Most of the hotels are provided with a ski-in/ski-out access via chairlift. It is an ideal vacation getaway for families who love to ski along with their children.
Caldea Thermal Spa
The Caldea Thermal Spa is a remarkable structure in the Les Escaldes city and referred to as one of the largest Spa/Sauna in Europe. Upon paying the entrance you can have an access to the Thermal Area, located on the lower floor that consists of a large swimming pool (with an even outer space), within which there are different hot tubs. There is a huge indoor swimming pool, a bathroom with cold / hot water and a sauna where you can stay for a period of 3 hours. An additional fee is collected so you can have access to the upper floor area that is called the Wellness Area, where you can enjoy a dip in an Aztec inspired Jacuzzi / pool with a nice current of water with a rich man made vegetation. There is a nearby Zen area that is perfect for meditation and relaxation. On this area there is also a separate bathtub with floating grapefruits that help make the skin smooth.
The interesting experience is when they pay tribute to guests who paid the access ticket to the Wellness Area with 15 minutes of relaxation with a hot tub personnel in a private room and be treated with a whirlpool pamper to the whole body in a half light, relaxing music and the essence of orange dissolved in the water for ultimate relaxation. Afterwards, the polite and attentive staff brings the client to a heated water mattress to have a full rest in a private cubicle. The entrance ticket includes the provision of a bathrobe, towel, slippers, and a locker key. There is a restaurant where anyone can partake of buffet dishes, have coffee, ice cream or whatever they fancy.
The Juclar Lake is a huge lake that can be reached and explored at a little more than an hour at a leisurely pace. From the town center of Les Escaldes you must drive through the road that passes Canillo and the Madriu Perafita Claror Valley to make a good transit to the mountain or ride a mini electric bus or walk for about 3 kilometers to take the ascent of about 450 meters to arrive at the lake of Juclar. Once you arrive at the lake there is a shelter where you can eat something or have a cup of coffee, relax, and just admire the serene view of the quiet lake.
If you are daring enough you can wear a bathing suit and take a dip in the cold waters. For a much better appreciation of the place, you can spend a night in the provided shelter for a fee and immerse yourself in the paradise like atmosphere of the natural attraction. The lake at sunset time is beautiful and provides a stunning retreat away from the noise of the city.
Vallnord Ski Area (Sector Arinsal)
The Station Arinsal is a one of three stations that make up the Vallnord Ski Area in the valley of La Massana in Andorra. It is smaller than the ski areas in the Pal sector and as beautiful as the tracks to the Ordino-Arcalis sector. It is the least crowded of the three. The tracks here are affordable with long runways and long lifts. It may take you 15 minutes to arise if you ride the chairlift. It has a snow park area with great jumps and drawers for lovers of the jumps and stunts. You can take the cable car in just 10 minutes to reach the other tracks of this region and view everything on top at about 2000 meters.
The tracks are safely divided by color, blue for the less steep pistes and red for the more daring and adventurous. Vallnord also has bicycle trails and modern ski chalets that are Wi-Fi provided. They have many trails fit for all levels equipped with good ski guides and good facilities. For more adrenaline powered ski experience and idyllic views of the mountain and the white powdered slopes, the nearby Pal ski area can be reached by a cable ride called the Gondola de la Massana.
Sant Joan de Caselles
If you go on a trip to Andorra, you can not miss the church of Sant Joan de Caselles. It is located in the parish of Canillo on a small hill visible from the road which runs from Andorra la Vella to Pas de la Casa. It is one of the most popular examples of Andorran Romanesque religious architecture. It is a Romanesque church built between the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
The impressive part is its square bell tower and its gateway midpoint. It has excellent surroundings and an ideal location with an open parking area next to the chapel. Inside, carvings and original paintings are well preserved, although some external supports are still on its original timber and still in a good state of preservation.
Standing right at the foot of the Sant Joan Church is the Motorcycle Museum, where you can admire the history of the motorcycle from the early twentieth century. It's interesting to see the history of the two wheeled machine.
They are old but still well maintained classic bikes, scooters, Mopeds with great parts and accessories (helmets, gears, and protectors) that are well laid out in the exhibition hall. This is a small museum where you can see many types of motorcycle as well as the evolution of the bicycle from the oldest to the newer models.
Santuario de Meritxell
It is a sacred sanctuary in Meritxell city that is designed in art nouveau style and part Romanesque architecture. It is specifically located on the slope of a hill, surrounded by nature and where the views are truly spectacular. It houses the Virgin of Meritxell, the patron saint of Andorra. It is a new sanctuary with a very modern construction built by architect Ricardo Bofill Levi after the fire that affected the original shrine in the early 1970’s.
It has been totally restored and also serves as a religious museum. The interior is spacious and bright where the predominant color is white. The right part after a few side windows is dedicated to exhibitions, and the left part is for various traditional celebrations. You can drive up to the Shrine from the town of Canillo. Everything is well kept, clean, and conveys a nice sense of serenity and calm.