Andorra is a small landlocked country located between the Pyrenees Mountains, sandwiched between Spain and France. With a population of 80 thousand as of 2023, Andorra is one of the six smallest countries in Europe (Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City, Andorra) with an area of 468 km².
This country, which can be visited in all seasons, is known as a perfect destination for ski and snowboard enthusiasts in winter, as well as being famous for its natural beauties, adventurous activities and spas. In addition to all these, medieval villages, churches and old mines bring the country’s past to the present day. And of course, let’s not forget the shopping centres!
In this article, I will give you information about the places to visit and the foods to eat in Andorra.
How to get to Andorra?
There is an airport in Andorra but apparently as the country is so mountainous that they could not find a flat area to build an airport. So that the airport is indeed in La Seu d’Urgell in Spain, 12 km away from Andorra, is used on behalf of Andorra. Since this airport is very small, there are no flights between countries or cities. There are only regular flights between Andorra and Madrid on Fridays and Sundays. Therefore, you need to come to Madrid or Barcelona first. You can fly to Barcelona and from there you can go to Andorra by bus or rent a car. It takes about 3 hours by car between Barcelona and Andorra. Another option is to come to Andorra with a 3-hour journey from Toulouse, France.
You can go to Andorra by using FlixBus, Alsa, Andorra Direct Bus companies from Barcelona. The journey takes 3-3.5 hours. Ticket prices are around 30 Euro one way. These buses depart from Sants and Nord Stations in Barcelona.
Getting to Andorra by Car from Barcelona
We set off with our car from Barcelona around 8 in the morning and arrived in Andorra la Vella around 11. If you think like us that there is probably a motorway between the two countries, you are wrong. Most of the time the road is one lane each way and the speed limit is 80 KM (we only used free roads). As you approach the border, the density increases and the speed decreases. There was a long queue at the border crossing. It is known that many Spaniards flock to Andorra for weekend sightseeing and cheap shopping. Although they do not check every vehicle at the border, you lose time due to the density.
Transport in Andorra
You have travelled to Andorra by bus but you don’t have or don’t want to rent a car. Then don’t worry, you can also get around Andorra by bus. These buses depart every 20 minutes or every hour, although departure times vary depending on the distance. You can plan your trip well according to these buses and avoid wasting time. You can get information about bus services and times by clicking here.
Important Facts to Know About Andorra
- Andorra is neither in the European Union nor in the Schengen Area. You still need a Schengen visa to go here if you are already not from EU.
- The official language of Andorra is Catalan, but Spanish and French are also spoken. Since the majority of the population is Spanish, you can usually hear Spanish on the streets.
- Andorra is one of the few countries in the world with two heads of state. The Archbishop of Urgell in Catalonia and the President of the French Republic are jointly known as Co-Princes.
- The country consists of 7 parishes. These; Andorra la Vella, Sant Julia de Loria, Escaldes-Engordany, Encamp, Canillo, Ordino, La Massana.
- The currency is Euro. Credit cards are accepted everywhere as we have seen.
- Andorra’s air temperatures are low in summer and winter. So check the weather forecast before you arrive. But just in case, even if you are coming in summer, bring a thin coat or cardigan with you.
- There is a control at the border crossing from Spain to Andorra. So have your passports and ID cards ready. However, they do not check every car. They did not check us at the entrance and exit.
- We have a warning for yhose who live in Spain/Europe. You cannot use your line in Andorra as you are in European Union countries. Check the conditions and coverage on your operator’s website. For example, you can get 3 GB of internet for 9 Euros at Movistar.
- If you are coming with your own car, you may consider filling up the fuel here. There was a 20-25 cent per liter difference compared to Barcelona.
Where to See in Andorra
We organised a day trip to Andorra. We started our trip with a view point and one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. Then we visited 3 villages/towns and ended up in the capital Andorra la Vella.
Andorra is a country famous for its natural beauty and historical richness, and the town of Canillo offers one of these beauties. This charming town, located at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains, is one of the favourite spots for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts and offers us an ideal environment for hiking trails, cycling routes and nature walks. In addition, scenic spots such as Mirador Roc Del Quer (viewpoint) and Pont Tibetain (Tibetan Bridge), located at the top of the Pyrenees Mountains, are excellent options for those who want to see the magic of nature up close.
Unique Views in Canillo: Mirador Roc Del Quer and Pont Tibetain
You can reach these two points by car or by taking the free buses that leave from the tourist information point in front of Canillo. These buses leave every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on weekends. The first departure time of these buses is 09.30 both on weekdays and weekends.
The bus first stops at the beginning of the road leading to the bridge (there is a 15-20 minute walk from there) and then goes to Mirador Roc Del Quer. If you are going by car like us, you can first check if there is a car park on the side of the road leading to the bridge. There is space for 10-15 cars at most. If it is full, no problem. First go to the viewpoint, leave your car in the free parking area, see the viewpoint and go to the bridge by bus.
I recommend you to come here with your trainers. As the road is not very good, you will have difficulty with slippers or sandals. Also don’t forget to take your hat and apply sun cream. We got burnt like crazy while travelling.
Mirador Roc Del Quer
Mirador Roc Del Quer is a viewpoint located in Canillo. This scenic platform is built on a rocky outcrop and is perfectly situated for a bird’s eye view of Canillo and the mountainous beauty of Andorra from a height of 500 metres. 12 metres of the 20-metre platform rests in space.
Since we could not catch the bus on the time, we went directly to Mirador by car. We took our car to the free car park there. We reached Mirador with a 3-5 minute walk from the car park. Since we bought our ticket online before we arrived, they can scan the QR codes at the box office. If you do not have a ticket, you can get your ticket from this box office. The entrance fee to Mirador Roc Del Quer is 5 Euros. You can buy your ticket here.
The real view point is a few stairs down to the first view point next to the box office. The most striking thing here, apart from the view, is the famous statue made by Argentine sculptor Miguel Àngel González. The statue, which is known with this place, relaxes you with its relaxed demeanour 🙂 You can take very nice poses from this point. A few glass windows on the floor in the extension make those with a fear of heights a little more nervous 🙂
There are cafes and toilet(free) facilities close to the road.
After completing our trip here, we decided to wait for the bus to go to Pont Tibetain, our next stop. When we wondered where we would wait for the bus and if it had left, we took a sigh of relief when we saw a few people waiting in front of the covered stop under the car park. A few minutes later the bus arrived and after a 5-10 minute journey we reached the road leading to the bridge.
Pont Tibetain (Tibetan Bridge)
This impressive bridge is located more than 1,875 metres high in the Vall Del Riu valley and is one of the longest bridges in the world, measuring 603 metres long, one metre wide and a dizzying 158 metres above the ground.
To reach the bridge from where the bus leaves you have to walk a distance of 900 metres (15-20 minutes). We scanned our QR code at the entrance and entered the bridge.
It’s a ‘shaking’ experience at times and we were a bit nervous at first. As we progressed, we relaxed more and more and realised that 600 metres can be quite long than we thought. I walked the bridge with some fear and felt dizzy. Those with vertigo and fear of heights should be careful.
It takes 10 minutes to go one way on the bridge. When you cross to the other side, there are benches to sit and an area where you can take photos. There were also those who continued walking forwards. There are trekking routes everywhere.
Entrance to Pont Tibetain is 13 Euro. It is also possible to buy your tickets from the box office, but considering the possibility that there are no tickets left, it would be better to buy your ticket online. If you want to visit both the view point and this place, you can buy a package of both for 15.5 Euros(2.5 Euro discount).
After we reached to Canillo, our visits to Mirador Roc Del Quer and Pont Tibetain took 2.5 hours. Make your plan accordingly!
First of all, we should tell you that although there are many towns and villages to visit and see in Andorra, not all of them are places that you will fall in love and spend a full time. Are they looking nice? Yes, they are, but that’s it… Ordino was a place we enjoyed and would recommend to visit. It is more lively than the other places we visited.
We left the car in the car park over there. Free for up to 1 hour. If you do not enter the museums or grab a coffee/beer, you can visit the town in less than 1 hour.
We entered the town via Carrer Major and there were various fair stands around. There is Sant Cebrià Church just on the left of the road. Even if you don’t go inside, it is a Romanesque church that looks nice from the outside. A little further on the right is the Tourist Information Office. You can get maps and information here.
Ordino has an important artistic heritage. Among the places to visit, the Museo d’Areny Plandolit and Casa Rossell stand out. If you want to learn a bit about the history of Andorra and you have time, you can visit these places.
There are also the Miniature Museum and the Postal Museum in this charming town. The Miniature Museum houses micro miniatures made by hand by Ukrainian artist Nicolai Siadristy. If you visit the Postal Museum, you will have the chance to visit an exhibition of 50,000 stamps issued in Andorra and see how the stamps were made and printed.
This is a tiny village. Apart from the medieval church of Sant Serni and a few beautiful flowered houses, there is not much thing to do except trekking.
This village is historically famous for its iron mine. You can reach the mine by crossing the road from the village, going down to the river bank and following the road to the left. You can also see with your own eyes how iron gives red colour to the soil in several places along the road(the photo on the right above). At the end of the road you will see the Llorts Mine Museum. If you are interested, there are guided tours in English and they last around 20 minutes. You can also enter the 30-metre long mine. The guided tour was already fully booked when we were there. The nearest availability was 2 days later. Therefore, it is necessary to make a reservation in advance. You can find more information by clicking here and make a reservation from the e-mail address.
Iron Route (Ruta del Ferro)
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, the extraction, processing and export of iron ore became an important activity in Andorra. Andorra has created the Iron Route (Ruta del Ferro) to commemorate these activities. Along the 4.2 km route, which can be walked with the family, you can enjoy the nature and see various artistic artefacts made of iron. You can also get extra information by scanning the QR codes at the information points placed at intervals. The start of the route is the Mining Museum in Llorts.
Nestled in the lap of the Pyrenees Mountains, this village is characterised by its medieval historical buildings and traditional Catalan-style architecture. The village’s narrow streets and stone houses are a delight to the eye. The 11th century Sant Climent de Pal Church is located in the centre of the village and stands out with its Romanesque architecture. Since the village is small, you can visit it in a very short time. But what makes it special is its proximity to the famous ski resorts of Grandvalira and Vallnord, making it a great destination for ski and snowboard lovers. Pal Arinsal, located in the Massana valley and a 10-minute drive from Pal, is recommended for skiing. Those who want to go, those who are curious and those who want to do research beforehand can take a look here. This centre, which is open 10 months of the year, stands out not only with its ski trails but also with its bicycle track.
Tamarro: Myth or Reality?
Do you believe in elves? If you believe in them, you will believe in the Tamarros. Half myth, half fantasy, these fast and mischievous beings live in their own world…
There are 7 of them and they represent the 7 regions of Andorra and each one protects its own region. Nilo Canillo, Enko Encamp, Dino Ordino, Massa Massana, Andy Andorra la Vella, Lau Sant Julià de Lòria and Caldes Escaldes.
Here you can access the Google Maps link where you can see all Tamarro points and nearby car parking areas.
And what do the Tamarros protect?
Their main task is to protect nature. Their enemy is Brutícia, an evil troll who does everything possible to damage and destroy everything of value in the mountains, lakes and forests of Andorra.
If you decide to go in search of Tamarros, you should first visit one of the tourist offices and get a Tamarros Passport. Then you have to find Tamarros made of wood placed in 7 different places and mark them in the passport. After finding and marking all the Tamarros, you will receive a small gift(like domino) from the tourism offices. It should be noted that it is not easy to explore these 7 points and find the Tamarros. Since each Tamarro is located at different parishes, you need to do travel and trekking. It might be quite difficult to complete in one day unless it is your only purpose.
Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella is the capital and largest city of the Principality of Andorra. Tucked between the Pyrenees Mountains, Andorra la Vella is also the highest situated capital city in Europe.
One of the places where you can best feel the historical and traditional atmosphere of Andorra la Vella is the old town. This area, full of narrow streets, stone houses and local shops, stands out with its medieval texture. You can start your trip from this area.
Another historical place you can see in this area is the Casa de la Vall building. This building served as the former parliament building of Andorra and contains historical details from the Middle Ages. Although today Andorra’s legislature has moved to its new building, Casa de la Vall stands out as an important stop for visitors to Andorra La Vella.
From here you can go to Plaça del Poble. This is a square that keeps the pulse of the city life and there are cafes, restaurants and shops around it. St. Esteve Church, located right in the square, was built in the 12th century. The semicircular apse and bell tower have Romanesque influences. The church can be visited free of charge.
Since the city is small, you can easily visit the city on foot. After visiting the church, you can visit Noblesa del temps. This is a very iconic sculpture and when you look at the pictures of Andorra, you will definitely see this place as a priority. This sculpture by Salvador Dali is also known as “The Nobility of Time” or “The Dali Clock”. On the clock, which wraps around a tree trunk, is a crown that, according to the artist, represents the dominance of time over humanity.
Just behind this clock is the Paris Bridge (Pont de Paris). Like the Dali Clock, this bridge is one of the iconic structures of the city. The bridge was built over the Valira River and is an important connection point in the city. Paris Bridge stands out with its simple and functional design. When we visited, the bridge was illuminated in the evening. There was a light and water show on the bridge.
After seeing these places, you can go to Meritxell Street for shopping.
City Full of Shopping Centres: Andorra La Vella
Tucked between the Pyrenees Mountains, this small country is not only characterised by its nature, winter sports, adventure sports and spas. Andorra la Vella, which is famous for its low tax rates (4.5%), wide range of products and various shops, is frequented by tourists from Spain and France. These people, who shop as if there is a shortage in Spain, come with empty cars in the morning and return with full cars in the evening.
Meritxell Street, which is the main shopping street of the city and known as the Street of Shops, has local shops as well as famous brands lined up one after the other. You can find clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics and many other products on this street. Illa Carlemany Shopping Centre, Pyrenees Shopping Centre and CCA Shopping Centre are also located on Meritxell Street. There are many more that we do not know the name of.
Cosmetic shop chains such as Gala Perfumery and Julia Perfumery have a zillion branches here. Prices were very reasonable compared to Spain. Even the normal price(63 Euro) for the same size of the 100 millimetre perfume I bought in Barcelona for 75 Euros with a 50% discount in May was cheaper than the discounted price in Spain. Apart from that, the 16-litre Kanken bag, which was not less than 100 Euros in the shops in Spain, was 85 Euros. Except for perfumes, you should not expect a dramatic discount. However a discount in 10-30% range would not be a surprise.
You can buy chocolate and alcohol at affordable prices at Duty Free on Meritxell Street.
Apart from that, electronic goods are affordable since VAT is low. However, it should not be forgotten that the spending limit for these products is 900 Euros per person. For children under 15 years of age, this limit is 450 Euros.
Foreign tourists coming to Andorra do not need to declare their purchases unless the total amount does not exceed 300 Euros. Furthermore, tourists from the European Union can claim back VAT if the total amount of the purchase is more than €90.
Furthermore, you can read the information on the quantities and types of goods you can take back from Andorra by clicking here.
Bonus: If you are tired after sightseeing and want to take a breather, you can go to Caldea Spa in Escaldes-Engordany, one of the largest spa centres in Europe. We will make our next trip especially for the spa and shopping.
Food Recommendations in Andorra
Andorran cuisine is inspired by Catalan and French cuisine. Among the traditional dishes of Andorra, flavours such as “Trinxat” and “Cunillo” stand out. Trinxat is a dish made with cabbage, potatoes and pork, while cunillo is a soup made with local mushrooms.
There are many restaurants to check out, but you should know first that Andorra follows Spanish dinner time routine. That means only after around 8-9 pm the restaurants are open.
Our recommendation for dinner would be Eric Marty, a chef restaurant. The ambience was nice and the waitress was very attentive. Mr Chef went around the tables for a while and asked how the food was. We paid 90 Euros for two people but we were as full as a tick.
I list the restaurants that are on our list but we have not tried below for you:
La Tapeta, Minim’s Restaurant, Restaurant Les Closes, La Clota, Chester Burger, K L’Irina, Quarantuno Pizzeria.
This was our day trip to Andorra. Andorra is a great spot for a weekend getaway and mix the nature vibes with shopping.
Have a good trip there!