Andorra La Vella

The capital city of Andorra – Andorra la Vella


Visited the pint sized country of Andorra which is sandwiched between France and Spain.  Mainly stayed in the capital city of Andorra la Vella.

Time of Visit:  November 2023

Duration of Visit:  Three Nights


Andorra is a small country sandwiched between Southern France and Northeastern Spain.  The people mainly speak Catalan Spanish.  The currency is Euro but it is neither part of the EU or Schengen.  However, to reach Andorra, you will have to go through France or Spain which are in the Schengen area and therefore a Schengen visa would be needed (if you are a citizen of a country that requires one). 

Andorra is in the heart of the Pyrenees mountains.  Its average elevation is almost 2,000 meters (6,660 feet) above sea level.  The highest peak in Andorra is Comapedrosa at 2,942 meters (9,650 feet). The area is of outstanding natural beauty and offers numerous outdoor leisure possibilities.

There was already snow on the mountain peaks and the temperature ranged from the low 50’s and mid 40’s during the day.  This limited our outdoor activities to basically in the city of Andorra de la Valle where we stayed.  

Besides sharing our experience, this article has information taken from a printed brochure obtained from the tourist office at Andorra la Vella.  From the printed brochure, it appears you would need more than three days in Andorra if you visit during the summer as outdoor activities abound. 

Getting to Andorra


AndBus stop at Toulouse Airport

We took the AndBus from Toulouse, France to Andorra la Vella.  Our round trip bus tickets were purchased on-line and it was fairly simple.  We boarded the bus at the Toulouse Airport and the bus driver came at least 10 minutes early but did leave on time. There were already passengers in the bus that were picked up from the Toulouse train station. 

The trip took about three hours.  Its first stop was the border so that foreign passport holders like us could get stamped.  The next stop was El Pas de la Casa before finally ending up at Estacio National D’Autobusos (main bus station) which is at Andorra la Vella, the largest city in Andorra.

Visitors can access the Andorra la Vella’s historic district from the parking garage’s elevators. The garage is a couple of blocks from the main bus station.

At the time we booked our bus tickets, we did not know if we would walk uphill to our accommodation from the bus station.  So we paid an extra 5 Euros per person to be dropped at Hotel Pyrenees which is in the historic part of the city of Andorra la Vella.  Later we found out that all we had to do was walk about three minutes to the parking structure and take the elevators to its rooftop which serves as an access point to the historic part of the city.  Just press floor 7 to get to the rooftop.


We passed toll booths on our return trip to Toulouse.  The toll booths are between the border and El Pas De La Casa.  The posted fee was 7.5 Euros for cars.

The streets of Andorra la Vella are narrow and street parking is almost non-existent.  One of the recurring gripes of people that reviewed hotels in Andorra was that parking was an additional charge and not cheap.

The Weather

There was snow on the mountain tops.  Temperature was in the high 40’s to low 50’s during the day and 30’s during the night.  We got one cloudy day of the three days we were there.  It drizzled once but not very long, only enough to get the roads wet.

According to the printed brochure, the country has hot summers and cold winters with frequent snowfalls.  The average minimum temperature is -2 deg C and the maximum temperature is 24 deg C.  Most of the rainfall is between October and May.

The Landscape

The mountain landscape on the way to the border crossing of Andorra and France

Andorra is very mountainous.  We climbed in elevation as we approached the border.  Past the border, we were greeted by towering mountains with the snow capped peaks that contrasted  beautifully with the blue sky.

The brochure states Andorra has 80 peaks, some of which are over 2,000 meters high.  The country also has more than 80 lakes and a network of rivers.  One of the lakes noted in the brochure is the Circ de Passons which is surrounded by peaks nearly 2,800 meters above sea level.

Activities in Andorra


Pedestrian only shopping district in Andorra la Vella

We read from on-line articles that people from Spain and France go to Andorra to shop because it is cheaper there.  Well that depends on where you go.  At Andorra la Vella, for the most part, the prices of goods in grocery and department stores were about the same in France, if not a little higher.  The only item we found that was significantly cheaper was beer which was almost half the cost. 

We talked to a couple of locals and found out that they go shopping at Hiper Pass in El Pas De La Casa.  El Pas De La Casa is a small community a few kilometers from the border with France.

Visit Other Towns and Villages


There are other small towns and villages in Andorra. We did a half day trip to the town of Ordino, about 30 minutes by bus from the capital city. Ordino has charming stone buildings built on the mountainside. It was such a pleasure to walk its quiet cobbled streets while admiring the scenery around it.


The following, except for Rec Del Sola, was taken from information provided by the Tourist office at Andorra la Vella.

Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley

“The Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on July 1st 2024 in the category of cultural landscape, which is defined as the joint work of man and nature that forms a coherent unity for its aesthetic, historical or cultural values.  It is a unique natural and cultural site, which can be accessed from several points.”

The Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley can be reached by taking the E bus from Andorra la Vella.  Bus E is free to ride according to the Tourist Information Center.

The site is approximately 6 x 10 kilometers at its longest dimensions.  There are no roads within the valley.  WIth such a substantial area, there is a network of trails that passes through natural and cultural attractions.  There are also five refuges located within the site, four of which are situated at 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) or higher.  There are also a few alpine lakes near its eastern border.  The access to the valley is located at its western end so reaching these lakes would require traversing its entirety.

Rec Del Sola

Climbing up to Rec Del Sola
Heading east on Rec Del Sola

Rec Del Sola is a cobbled pedestrian footpath located on the south slope of the mountain to the north of Andorra la Vella.  The footpath is approximately five kilometers long and constructed along a small irrigation canal built in 1880’s.  The footpath is fairly level but located about a couple of hundred feet above the city.  So it entails a lung bursting ascent through a series of steps to reach the cobbled footpath.

We accessed the Rec Del Sola through the access point just behind the Hotel Pyrenees.  Upon reaching the footpath, you can either turn left (head west) or turn right (head east).  If you turn left, you can reach the end of the footpath in about 15 minutes. This part has fewer trees and rooftops.  If you turn right, the views of Andorra la Vella are sometimes obscured by trees and rooftops.  However there are a couple of spots where it opens to be able to take photos of the city with the mountain backdrop.

More Hiking

The country has the Gran Recorregut Pais (Grand Tour of the Country) or GRP for short.  It is a trail 100 kilometers long that has refuges along the way.  The GRP is split into seven stages,  between 12 and 20 kilometers.  It can be further split into 10 stages if a less demanding approach is desired.  The GRP has been designed so that anyone can do it, with none of the sections being too difficult and with the option to do it at your own pace.  

Another hiking agenda is the Cornallacs that allows hikers to enjoy amazing panoramic views.  The route crosses high mountain terrain, divided into five stages ranging between 13 and 22 kilometers.  The average stage is 18.4 kilometers.  There are four high mountain shelters where hikers can spend the night. 


Andorra is the perfect destination for snow lovers. You can do alpine, Nordic, cross country skiing, snowboarding and freestyle.  For pistes (ski run of compacted snow), there are:

  • Grandvalira is a ski area in the valleys of Canillo and Encamp has 210 kilometers of pistes, 
  •  Arcalis Grandvalira Resort in the valley of Ordino has 30.5 kilometers as well as 422 hectares of off-piste area, and 
  • Pal Arinsal Grandvalira Resort in the La Massana Valley having 63 kilometers of pistas.

If you fancy Nordic skiing, Naturland has 15 kilometers of slopes in the Rabassa forest in Sant Julia de Loria.  It is the perfect place to do sports and at the same time enjoy nature.  Here you will find the Tobotronc, the world’s longest alpine slide at 5.3 kilometers long.  There are also snowshoeing, snowmobile and quad routes.  


There is both outdoor and indoor dining at Minim’s
Minim’s first course

We normally do not write about gastronomy as we are not food connoisseurs.  But we have to let you know of this small but classy restaurant in historic Andorra la Vella.  Its name is Minim’s and is less than a 10 minute walk from the main bus station.  You do have to take the elevator at the parking structure described earlier.

Just like Spain, some restaurants in Andorra have a menu del dia.  Minim’s is no exception.  However, they only offer their menu del dia during weekdays.  Typical menu del dias have the first and second dishes, drink and dessert.  Minim’s is a little different.  Their first dish is six tapas sized plates consisting of bread, salad, soup, fried calamari, quiche and penne pasta.  The second dish was a choice from either salmon, grilled steak, lasagna and another dish we could not translate.  The food was excellent.

Besides the great food, they gave us an entire wine bottle (750 ml) instead of just a glass normally given by most restaurants.  They also gave us an entire bottle of water to wash it down.  All this wonderful experience for 16 Euros per person.


Andorra is a small nation in the middle of the Pyrenees mountains.  Its average elevation is just under 2,000 meters.  Summer activities include hiking its network of trails while winter activities include pretty much the entire gamut of snow activities.  The Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site dotted with hiking trails and mountain refuges.

Besides outdoor activities, people come to Andorra to go shopping.  However, we found that not all goods have a good price.  It also depends on where you shop to get that good bargain.

Having a stronger Spanish influence, there is no shortage of restaurants offering menu de dia.  Who knows what you will discover in your gastronomical quest just like how we discovered Minim’s at Andorra la Vella. Bottom line is that Andorra is not one of those destinations that are high on any tourist radar.  However, this country, though small, does have a lot to offer such that a short three day stay would not be enough.