A Pedacito of Andorra
Updated: Jun 10, 2021
Andorra is a small country on the border of Spain and France. The currency is the Euro, they speak Catalan and Spanish and often French, however it is not a member of the European Union. It is known for having favorable tax rates for residents and tourists. These rates included a low value-added tax, no sales tax, and a low personal income tax. People visit Andorra just to make purchases for this reason, much like people in Massachusetts who cross the border into New Hampshire for no taxes. The people are quite friendly and it is a fun getaway whether you are visiting southern France or staying in northern Spain.
The most popular activities to do there are hiking, skiing in the Pyrenees Mountains, and visiting the famous Caldea Spa. Packages at the Spa start for as low as 35 Euros. A reservation is recommended if you plan to go to the Spa since it is one of the most visited places in the country.
Andorra is 2 hours and 45 minutes driving north of Barcelona. I flew into Barcelona and rented a car and drove there right over the border. There are two very safe routes, one with tolls and one with no tolls. I took the toll route there and the non-toll route back. Both take the same amount of time and the toll route cost me over 20 Euros. One thing to note about Andorra is there are many roundabouts to drive through. But, the cool thing about them is that each roundabout has the name of the town, or a symbol or a statue, and is great for taking pictures, even if you have to go around the roundabout a couple of times.
I recommend taking the scenic route up to Lake Engolasters which is more than 5,302 feet (1,616 meters) above sea level. You can drive up starting in the town of Encamp and take route GR-11all the way up the mountain. There are various places to stop along the way in which you can take scenic photos overlooking the valley, which are totally breathtaking. The air is so fresh and clean.
Andorra has a mixture of Spanish and French culture since it borders Spain and France. The food resembles more Spanish culture with ham, cheese, and other tapas styles. Andorra is very reasonably priced. It is chilly most of the year with an average temperature of 65-75 (18-24 C) in the summer and fall and cold, rainy, and snowy in the winter. I visited there in April, and it was very rainy, cold, and damp.
I stayed right in the city center of Andorra la Vella at a nice comfortable hotel called Magic Andorra for $55 a night. It had 4 stars on Booking and had the most amazing buffet breakfast included. I could walk to all of the sites in the city and it was surrounded by beautiful mountains. Andorra la Vella is also known as KM 0 because it is the end of Spain.
If you do rent a car, I recommend that you rent a small one. I rented a compact Fiat and was grateful due to all of the roundabouts and hills. Andorra does have a small airport if you wish to fly. The most famous skiing places are El Pas de la Casa and Soldeu. I recommend doing a long weekend in Andorra as you do not need more than a couple of days to see the whole country.
Want to know more? Are you interested in becoming a contributor for Pedacitos? We'd love to hear your stories! Send me a message and I will get back to you!