Andorra -a tiny country sandwiched between the mighty France and Spain which houses approximately 70,000 locals. A destination that is not talked about much by tourists. A country that is not a part of the European Union but still uses Euro as its currency. The only country in the world to have Catalan as its official langauge. A country that owns no army and that is known for being peaceful. Let us take you through our most recent holiday experience in this beautiful Pyrenean country. This blog post will give you complete details on things to do in Andorra.
Languages spoken- Catalan, Spanish and French. Eventhough we know neither of these langauges fluently, we were still able to manage coversing in English at the shopping mall/local cafes/bus. And can we say that some sign language also helped?
Who can travel to Andorra?
Visa and Passport requirements- Like mentioned before, Andorra is not a part of EU or Schengen Area but the country has established some free movement agreements with their neighbouring countries- Spain and France. Find out about the entry requirements below depending on your citizenship and passport status.
- For EU CITIZEN – Adults: Identity card or passport, Children accompanied by their parents: Identity card or passport + family record book, Children accompanied by third parties: Identity card or passport + permit to leave the country issued at a police station.
- For Citizens of Non Eu Countries that do not need a Schengen Visa to travel to Europe – Valid passport.
- For Citizens of Non-Eu Countries that do need a Schengen Visa to travel to Europe –Valid passport and Schengen multiple-entry visa.
If you are in Barcelona then read below to know more on travel options.
Barcelona to Andorra- Travel options
If Barcelona is on the cards, then try to squeeze in Andorra too into your itenary. You can take the bus, car or train to reach Andorra from Barcelona. A good website you can check out is GoEuro.We decided to travel by Bus as it was the easiest and most economical way to get there. We booked our tickets from AndorraDirectBus. It costed us 50 euros per person for a round trip from Barcelona to Andorra. We boarded the bus at Barcelona Sant Station and got off at Andorra la Vella, which is the capital of the Principality of Andorra.The bus journey was approximately 3 hours. Since our trip was a very short one, we decided to spend two full days only in Andorra la Vella exploring the capital city and its beautiful attractions.
How to travel within Andorra la Vella ?
Take the bus. Bus tickets can be bought on boarding the vehicle and costs 1.80 euros for a one way trip. Carry enough change with you for the bus journeys. You can also take a taxi if you prefer but it can be quite costly so we were better off with the bus option.
Things to do in Andorra
Honestly Andorra is a very underrated tourist destination. We feel there is just so much to see and there are so many things to do in Andorra. During our trip, we were able to visit only Andorra la Vella because of time constraints and trust me we mean it when we say that there is just too much to see and several things to do in Andorra.
Top things to do and see in Andorra la Vella
- Casa de la Vall – Most important historic building in the whole of Andorra primarily because it is the old centre of Government and Courts. You can visit the inside of the building if you book a tour oragnised by the Tourist office. The tours happen in several languages every hour all through the day and last for about a good thirty minutes. Prior reservations are a must for the tour and you must initimidate the tour operator atleast a day ot two in advance. A visit to Casa de la Vall will give you a great insight into the history of Andorra.Esglesia de Sant Esteve – A fascinating stone building church that has plain white walls and stunning stained glass windows as the interiors. Definitely worth visiting to see the altar. The slate like roof reminded us of the german houses we have seen in Velbert.
- San Joan de Caselles– Undoubtedly one of the jewels of Romanesque Architecture.This beautiful church dates back to the 11th century and is made of wooden roof, has a semi circular apse and Lombardian style bell tower. It is situated a few kilometeres away from the city centre so we highly recommend taking a bus ride. When we arrived, the church was closed and hence we were left with no option than to just enjoy the structure from the outside. It is highly recommended you arrive early in the morning so that you can avoid others photobombing your frame.
- Place del poble – simply translates into the ‘People’s Square’. The plaza would give you splendid views of the whole region. Great place to chill especially in the evening. While you are here,you are sure to spot an interesting basketball court which showcases several flower baskets which serve the purpose of the basket for the game. This concrete park may be a disappointent for some but we loved it for the views we got .
- Barri Antic – Get lost in the narrow cobbled streets that echo the charm and beauty of this old quarter. Quite a busy area with lots of tourists walking around, shopping and eating at small local restaurants and coffee shops. This area is flanked by some beautiful stone houses.
- Visit the monuments of the 7 poets by Jaume Plensa -Situated close to Casa de la Vall, are the 7 sculptures of human figures that quite resemble Buddha. Apparently the statues symbolise the 7 parishes that form Andorra. Its quite a delight to see both in the day and in the night time. After sun down you will be surpirsed to see how the figurines change colours !
- Visit la Noblesse du temps by Salvador Dali – One of the things to do in Andorra is to pay a visit to the popular artist – Salavdor Dalis much talked about art work which symbolizes the passing of time. At the top of the “melting” clock a crown represents the dominion of time over humanity. You must visit this place and photograph the art work and also check out Puente de Paris which is just a stones throw away.
- Sant Serni de Canillo– The church of Sant Serni sits in the heart of the old quarter of Canillo, surrounded by the most singular and historic houses in the village. The statue of Christ the King that you would see in the interiors of the church is done up in Gothic style. Also the water fountain that you see in the picture below has the freshest and cleanest water you can imagine. After Jose gulped a few mouthfulls to quench his thirst, we walked a few steps ahead to realise that the water from the fountain is supposedly the “holy water”.
- Grandvalira Ski Resort – A popular resort visited by tourists for its winter sports options, food and drinks. Highly recommened if you are an adventure junkie.
- Caldea Spa Complex -Did you know that the biggest spa in the whole of Europe would be cradled in a teeny weeny country called Andorra? It is a very touristy thing to visit this spa but we think its worth it cause its one of a kind in the whole of Europe. It would be a great idea to indulge in some theraphy/ relaxation after a hike in the mountains. A superb way to disconnect from the world. Definitely one of the top things to do in Andorra.
- Visit the historic ensemble of Meritxell– There are two buildings to visit- The old santuary and the new. What is quite interesting to know is that the old bulding- a chapel dedicated to Saint Mary was greatly destroyed by fire and then was later on restored to what it is today. We were fortunate to have attended the sunday mass in the new bulding after which we got our pilgrimage passport stamped at the church office. And not to forget, Pope Francis granted the Santuary the title of a Minor Basilica. Besides its religious significance, the Santuary of Meritxell is a representative example of the Andorran architecture of the end of the 20th century.
What you MUST do while in Andorra
- Go hiking – 90% of Andorra is comprised of forest and the Andorrians also have three National parks to their credit – making it the perfect place for a hike if you are a nature lover and like to discover the natural wealth of the Pyrenees by foot. There are 50 plus hiking routes laid down for you by the Tourist office, so make sure to grab your free map and discover the adventure that is waiting for you. This is again one of the top things to do in Andorra
- Get your passport stamped – You can get this is done at the border if you are travelling by road. Saldy the tourism office will not be able to stamp it for you as they are not authorised to do so.
- Shop like crazy as it is a shoppers paradise – Being a tax haven, one must surely take advantage and flock to purchase clothing , electronic and luxury goods. You would be surpirsed to see that the prices are really really low when compared to other EU Countries. However ,remember to keep those bills safely after the purchase as you may be asked to show proof for your purchases whilst leaving the country at the border by the police. There is a limit to which you can shop- So make sure you dont go above the 900 euros limit.
- Another top thing to do iIndulge in some winter sports at the Grandvalira Ski Resort
- Click a picture at the Puente de Paris -We guarantee you a picture that looks straight out of a postcard.
- So now that you are all set to make a visit to Andorra, do check out our post to know more on how to PLAN YOUR PERFECT TRIP.
- Have you already been here before? According to you what are the top things to do in Andorra? Let us know in the comments below.