Andorra - The Principality in the Pyrenees
The charming Principality of Andorra between Spain and France has held its own for over 1,000 years. The attractive travel destination lies in the middle of the stunning mountains of the Pyrenees and offers breathtaking ski-runs as well as excellent shopping facilities.
Geography - The second biggest European microstate
In the middle of the Pyrenees between France and Spain you find the Principality of Andorra. The small landlocked country is the second biggest microstate in Europe and is divided into seven communities, called parishes (parròquies): Canillo, Encamp, Ordino, La Massana, Sant Julià de Lòria, Escaldes-Engordany and the parish surrounding the capital of Andorra la Vella. The latter is the place with the most inhabitants in the country as well as the biggest city. Andorra's climate is temperate and it is warm in summer. In the peaks of the Pyrenees, alpine climate prevails, while the valleys have Mediterranean weather.
Nature - A beautiful mountain panorama
As the small principality lies in the middle of the Pyrenees, it is very mountainous by nature. Both in summer and winter the Pyrenees offer an impressive mountainous landscape with deep gorges, narrow valleys and green forests. Thick spruce and oak forests are home to chamois and golden eagles. Andorra contains 60 peaks which are over 2,000 metres high. The highest one is Coma Pedrosa (2,946 m). The exciting rock formations are very popular with mountaineers. In addition, there are four rivers and numerous beautiful mountain lakes. In winter, the snowy mountains open the annual skiing season.
Natural sights - Wonderful mountain lakes in the Pyrenees
Nature plays a major role regarding tourism in Andorra. Mountain hikes to the top of Coma Pedrosa in the west of the country or hikes through the Vall dels Cortals are popular activities in summer and winter. Travellers who want to take in the unique mountain panorama should visit the small village of El Serrat. The view you have from here is beyond description. Visitors should not miss out on the country's glistening mountain lakes in the warm summer months. Boat tours and bathing facilities are offered at many lakes now.
Culture - The historical principality
Andorra is one of the world's oldest states as it was founded on the 8th of September in 1278. As a principality and a state, the small country shows several special features. Despite its position between the powerful neighbours of France and Spain, Andorra was able to preserve its independence for over 1,000 years. In addition, it has a worldwide unique diarchy by the Bishop of Urgell on the one hand and the current President of France on the other. Since the end of World War II, the principality's economy has been growing. Today Andorra is one of the most important financial centres in Europe. Unemployment simply does not exist. The country is also a tax oasis. Its population is relaxed and very hospitable. The official language of Catalan is spoken everywhere but Spanish, French and Portuguese are common as well.
Cultural sights - Andorra la Vella
Andorra is crossed by a wide main road, at which you find most of the country's towns. They present a rural idyll. In addition, the capital of Andorra la Vella emits medieval charm. It lies between the mountains near two mountain rivers. Worthwhile sights are the Romanesque bridge of La Margineda, the Council building of Casa de la Vall with the historical courtroom and the old town with the church of Eglésia de Sant Esteve from the 11th century. However, you do not only find historical buildings in the small capital. Modern office buildings are part of the cityscape too. The UNESCO was most impressed with the region of the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley (Vall del Madriu-Perafita-Claror) and declared it a World Cultural Heritage site. Truly authentic sights are offered by scenic mountain villages such as Pal with the Church of Sant Climent and the bell tower. Some villages are almost completely built of slate. The wooden balconies, which are decorated with flowers in summer, are typical of the region.
Experience - Shopping in the mountains
The Andorran cuisine is very similar to Catalan cooking. Of course, there are many influences from France too. Fried rabbit and grilled lamb are common dishes. During the cold season, vi calent e cremat (a flambé wine speciality) is served. Thanks to the low value added tax, Andorra is known as a shopping paradise. Products such as fashion, jewellery and cosmetics are sold at favourable prices here. The region of Sant Julià de Lòria and the capital have best prepared for shopping tourism. Andorra also fascinates with excellent spa resorts such as Caldea, which are located in the middle of the mountainous landscape. The evening programme and nightlife are relaxed. Visitors can end their day in a bar, restaurant or disco.
Activities - A winter sports paradise
Climbing and mountaineering are popular activities in the Pyrenees. Hikers and cyclists get their money's worth in the breathtaking mountainous landscape. In summer, travellers can go bathing in the mountain lakes but the country is most lively in winter when it is covered in a powdery white blanket of snow. Andorra is one of the most beautiful winter sports regions in the whole of Europe and it is considerably less crowded than Switzerland or Austria. One of the best ski resorts is Soldeu with over 280 kilometres of pistes. Both beginners and professionals can dive into winter adventures here. The season lasts from November to Easter.
Andorra can be travelled at any time of the year but most tourists arrive during the skiing season in winter and spring. The small principality has neither an airport nor a railway network. Holidaymakers best reach Andorra by car using the motorways from France or Spain.
Andorra is a beautiful country in the Pyrenees between Spain and France. Winter sports fans will lose their hearts here and the idyllic principality is also a great shopping destination.