Ski an entire country – and a duty-free one at that! This small, landlocked principality has not one but two honorary heads of state – the Spanish Bishop of Urgell and the President of France. Nestled in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, this undiscovered gem provides an often cheaper alternative to the alpine resorts.
With an abundance of snow-capped mountains, great pistes, challenging runs, a modern lift system that benefits from continual investment, an excellent snow record and dazzling nightlife, Andorra has all the ingredients for an unforgettable winter break. Snow is virtually guaranteed, thanks to over 1,300 snow cannons and excellent grooming.
The largest ski area is Grandvalira, which connects the resorts of Soldeu – a popular haunt for snowboarders, Canillo, Grau Roig, Pas de la Casa and El Tarter into a 210 kms ski domain with 118 runs. The smaller Vallnord ski domain is no less interesting to skiers of all abilities, the principal resorts being Arinsal, Pal and Ordino-Arcalis.
The cuisine has a strong Spanish influence, as you might expect. Swap vin chaud and a raclette for sangria and tapas. Be sure to try escudella during your stay – a one-pot meal of chicken, pork, potatoes, pasta, beans and vegetables – guaranteed to build your strength up after an exhilarating day on the slopes. All the usual après-ski delights are available, including plenty of lively bars and great value restaurants, but in addition you can pick up some bargains in one of over 2,000 shops.
Andorra is also an increasingly popular summer destination, and offers a range of outdoor activities including hiking, cycling, canyoning and zip-lines. Play golf on Europe’s highest course or enjoy some reinvigorating spa treatments with the rugged though beautiful Pyrenees as your stunning backdrop. Andorra la Vella, the capital of the principality, is a bustling hive of activity, with plenty of tempting bargains.