The Principality of Andorra
, the 'Country of the Pyrenees', is an independent state with an area of 468 km², a population of less than 80,000 and more than a thousand years of history tucked between Spain and France. With 65 peaks over 2,000m high, the country is known internationally for its ski resorts, yet the rugged landscape, mountain lakes, steep valleys, and sub-Mediterranean climate make Andorra an ideal summer activity destination. It's a nature-lover's paradise with 90% of the total land mass covered in forest incorporating three nature parks: The 'Parque Natural Comunal Valles de Comapedrosa', comprising Andorra's highest peak, the Comapedrosa at 2,942 m, the Sorteny Valley Nature Park with over 700 species of flora and fauna, and the Madriu-Perafita-Claror, a UNESCO World Heritage glacial valley.
How to get there and away
Andorra has several international airports at less than 125 miles away: Barcelona, Toulouse, Girona, Reus and Lleida.
From the UK in the summer, Toulouse and Barcelona are the best options, both of which are served by airlines from multiple UK cities several times a day. Monarch, Jet2, easyJet, British Airways and Vueling Airlines fly to Barcelona from all major UK airports (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, East Midlands, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Belfast and Cardiff). British Airways and easyJet fly to Toulouse from London and Bristol.
There is a regular shuttle bus service to Andorra from both airports with a transfer time of around 3 hours and with several stops in Andorra.
Shuttle bus prices:
- From Barcelona Airport to Andorra La Vella - €54 return
- From Toulouse Airport to Andorra La Vella - €62 return
Andorra's spectacular Pyrenean backdrop offers some of Europe's most beautiful walks at varying difficulty allowing walkers of all levels to enjoy the mountains. Gentle trails, such as through the picturesque Incles Valley, perhaps Andorra's prettiest, follow routes past wallflower displays, colourful mountain flora and lush meadows where cattle and horses graze. More demanding hikes can encompass rough terrain and often lead to a mountain lake from where panorama views of the Principality can be enjoyed. At almost 3000m, the summit of Comapedrosa offers great views into both neighbouring France and Spain. Along the routes lie 'refuges', traditional mountain huts providing shelter and accommodation to hikers, many of which are free.
Exploring the country by bike is another popular summertime pursuit thanks to numerous dedicated cycle circuits, thrilling downhill routes and two bike parks in Vallnord and Soldeu. The mountain bike trails are of varying grades and suitable for beginners through to professional riders and a unique way to see the mountains, nature and Andorran culture.
In addition to hiking and cycling routes, the amazing scenery offers a host of other mountain sports, including via ferrata, climbing, canyoning, zip wire and horse riding excursions.
Activity adventure companies offer mountain guides for walking and cycling, as well as other active tourism programmes. See a list of local activity adventure companies
Those that prefer to do it alone can find hiking
routes on the Visit Andorra website, or download the Active Tourism Andorra app.
After all the strenuous active tourism, visitors can relax at Caldea
, the largest Thermoludic Centre in Europe, with a variety of pools, hot tubs and saunas. Natural thermal springs keep the sulphur and mineral-rich water heated at a constant 32°C. Caldea is open to children over five years old.
With more than 1,000 years of history, the Principality of Andorra has a rich cultural heritage made up of beautiful Romanesque churches, houses bearing witness to former ways of life, museums, thematic routes and millenary traditions that have past through the ages.
Each of the country's seven parishes offers its own cultural circuit combining local history, nature and Andorran culture. The most popular route follows the old iron route of Andorra in Ordino Valley and discovers the country's old iron mines and mills.
More information on culture in Andorra
There are two national vacations in addition to Christmas and New Year's Day: Constitution Day on 14th March and The Festival of Meritxell, the patron saint of Andorra, on 8th September. During the summer, festivals take place across the country celebrating folklore, local cuisine, music and dance, while Andorra's museums offer special summer evening programmes that include theatre, candle-lit tours, music and astronomy.
Foodies will enjoy the several traditional fairs and markets that take place across the year, usually to coincide with a religious festival. The Andorra La Vella Fair for example is held during the capital's public festival over the first weekend in August and is a demonstration of the country's craft and local products.
More information on cultural events and festivals in Andorra
Wildlife and nature
Andorra is home to some of Europe's rarest and most colourful flora, as well as a variety of wildlife typical of alpine and sub-alpine regions. The three beautiful protected areas of Andorra's national parks are an excellent place to discover the rich biodiversity, with different species found in each one.
The plants and animals in the Comapedrosa Nature Park, where Andorra's highest peak sits, have adapted perfectly to the high mountain climate, such as the pallars lizard, the Eagle and the bearded vulture among the wildlife, and flora including Pyrenean yellow gentian and Alpine violet.
The diamond-shaped Sorteny Valley Nature Park in the north is of great botanical and ecological interest, home to more than 700 species of flowers and plants, over 50 of which are native to the Pyrenees. These can be seen on a visit to the botanical gardens, although there are numerous walking routes of varying grades to explore nature.
The Madriu-Perafita-Claror glacial valley, declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2004 for its natural and cultural wealth, is in the south of the country and covers 10% of the territory. The valley has a particular "o" shape due to its glacial origin, and has pastures, meadows and large extensions of forests. Mountain huts, 'bordas', paths and the remains of ancient forges are reminders of the high Pyrenean mountain resources used by the inhabitants of Andorra for more than 700 years. Given the importance of this area, it is the only valley in the country in which vehicles may not enter.
Aside from these protected areas, many other valleys offer a wide range of ecotourism trails, including the glacial Incles Valley, the Enclar Valley, part of the Anella Verda (Green Ring) route, the Pessons Cirque and the Camins dels Oficis (Old Trades Route) and are ideal for discovering Andorra's natural heritage.
For more information on Andorra's Nature Parks
From mountain biking and hiking to canyoning and horse-riding, the variety of activities on offer make Andorra an ideal destination for a multi-active family break, where parents and children alike can try their hand at new sports and explore the mountains together.
Families love the adventure circuits in Segudet and Engolasters forests, which consist of passing from one tree to another over different obstacles, such as wooden platforms, rope riding, monkey bridges and a wall fitted out with iron railings. The forests of Scots pine are up to 20m in height with unbeatable views and suitable for children over seven years old.
More information on adventures in the trees
Family parks in the mountain resorts also offer a multitude of leisure activities suitable for all ages: Family Park Canillo offers slides, ball pools and bouncy castles in its children's area, while older visitors will enjoy activities such as archery, tubing, canoeing and donkey rides. Vallnord Mountain Park has a dedicated area for those aged from 18 months to 11 years, while the BMX courses and entertainment area will keep the older ones amused. Narurlandia is a multi-activity theme park where Tobotronc, the world's longest alpine slide in natural surroundings, and Airtrekk, the longest sky trail in Europe, are among the highlights. Naturlandia's Animal Park is one of Andorra's newest attractions and is open 365 days a year.
More information on Andorra's mountain parks
Andorra has a good selection of hotels, as well as a wide range of apartments, aparthotels and campsites. Choose from centrally located accommodation in the capital Andorra La Vella, in the mountains, or at the foot of the lifts. For avid hikers, Andorra offers a network of mountain huts, or 'refuges', which offer a place to rest in very basic accommodation along most walking routes. Andorra's campsites are a good option for getting close to nature and many offer wooden bungalows and swimming pools.
More information on accommodation in Andorra
Getting around in Andorra
Andorra has an excellent public bus network covering the whole country and typically running from 7am until 9:30pm, passing between every 20 minutes to an hour. A night bus runs until 3.30am on Fridays, Saturdays and Public Vacations. A bus ticket is around €1.60.
Cost of living
Prices in Andorra are similar to those in Spanish cities, A two course meal and wine in a standard restaurant will cost around €25 - 40. A beer is around €2, a coffee around €1.50 and a sandwich around €3.50.
See all our Andorra vacations