Andorra is located in Southwestern Europe, bordered by France and Spain in the rugged Pyrenees mountains. Thanks to its alpine and continental climate, high snowfall and sunny and mild winters, Andorra is a popular location for winter sports, making it a fantastic ski destination. In fact, one of the most popular places for ski travel in the world!
Originally, Andorra was considered a low-cost location for skiing holidays, which, in combination with its status as a tax haven, attracted skiers from across the UK in their tens of thousands. This popularity helped Andorra build up its reputation as a great place for beginners to learn to ski, but also some of the negative aspects associated with being a budget venue, namely overcrowding and a drop in visitors seeking a higher quality, more exclusive experience.
Over the last decade, Andorra has been reinventing itself as a more luxurious destination, investing huge amounts of money into replacing and upgrading the resort infrastructure, building more lavish hotels and re-branding itself as a quality go-to location for the 21st century.
This change was a brave decision, with the move upmarket pricing-out many of the customers who had enjoyed Andorra in the past, seeing a significant drop in its ski holiday market share. This dip wasn't to last and the new, improved Andorra is now the fourth most popular ski location for British visitors, behind France, Austria and Italy.
What resorts can you visit?
Andorra has two large ski resorts:
In the past, Andorra's smaller resorts had started to overlap and so Grandvalira merged Soldeu El Tarter and Pas de la Casa into one of the world's biggest ski resorts. Grandvalira offers over 200km of skiable runs, 1013 snow cannons, covering 60% of the resort, 64 ski lifts and the capacity to transport over 100,000 skiers per hour.
The resort caters for many different winter sports and skills and can offer a wide range of snow-related activities, from mushing trails and snowmobiles to paragliding. It is also exceptionally child friendly, with facilities available for budding skiers as young as three years old on the snow gardens.
For those who like their winter sports more extreme, Grandvalira also boasts three snowparks for freestyle, which includes a half-pipe, wallride sections, illuminated tunnel and giant airbag for practising some daring tricks.
The resort features several four and five-star hotels and even the Iglu-Dorf igloo village if you want to experience an accommodation experience that is slightly more out-of-the-ordinary.
Like Grandvalira, Vallnord was created when three smaller resorts joined together: Pal, Arinsal and Ordino. Although it doesn't have the same scale as Grandvalira, Vallnord still offers plenty to do. Over 16,500 skiers per hour can be transported to the various facilities, including 25 ski runs, two ski trails, a freestyle area, woodpark and a circuit for children.
Again, Vallnord is family-friendly, with two snow gardens and two baby clubs to keep little ones amused. For beginners of all ages, there are three ski schools with over 200 qualified instructors.
The more adventurous could embark on snowmobile rides, tracked vehicle excursions, speed riding (a combination of skiing and paragliding), heli-ski, bungee trampolining and more.
What else could I enjoy in Andorra?
While skiing will take up much of your time, there is still plenty to do when you are away from the slopes. Andorra offers high-class shopping (made all the more tempting with the duty-free prices), swimming and health spa experiences, with an indoor sports centre to broaden the choice of leisure activities.
Holidaymakers to Andorra have always liked to party, and this is one of the few things that hasn't changed over the years. Sometimes referred to as "Ibiza on ice", you'll be able to find plenty of bars and even more eager revellers looking to enjoy themselves. Andorra has also been chosen as the home for a number of music festivals, including the Snowboxx, Andorra Red Music festival, Electrosnow and Pas Rocks.