If you’re scoping out potential ski trips from the UK on the budget, most people will point you in the direction of Eastern Europe. Destinations such as Bulgaria and Slovenia are the first to pass people’s lips, but they forget there’s an affordable destination in Western Europe. Skiing in Andorra should be on your radar, if you’re not keen on breaking the bank for your next holiday.
Where to go skiing in Andorra?
Andorra is a tiny country with just three ski resorts clustered in the Pyrenees mountain range. However, what it lacks in landmass it more than makes up for in quality. Grandvalira, Vallnord-Pal Arinsal and Ordino Arcalís are all worth considering as potential ski holiday destinations. As the country is so small, all resorts are just a day-trip away from each other. So if you think you’ve exhausted the terrain where you’re staying, you can always hop on a bus and start exploring anew.
What is skiing like in Andorra?
Andorran resorts are an excellent place for beginners to hone their craft, thanks to the wide open pistes, and the fact they never seem get that crowded. Furthermore, the pistes aren’t particularly long, again favouring beginners. Finally, ski schools in Andorra are excellent – instructors speak English, and are a bargain compared to the Alps.
It’s also an ideal spot for intermediates, Andorra is covered in blue and red pistes ideal for cruising around. Advanced skiers may feel left out in the cold – steep blacks are somewhat of a rarity – but if you’re into backcountry skiing Andorra once again delivers.
Alps skiers have been jealously staring at the Pyrenees and its continuous excellent snowfall for a few years now. To keep abreast of up to date snow conditions in Andorra, be sure to download the OnTheSnow app (Android and iOS) save Andorran ski resorts as your favourites.
What’s après ski like in Andorra?
Andorra boasts a healthy après scene, although it’s not the most drinking obsessed culture. Instead, a convivial atmosphere reigns supreme, and socialising is encouraged, over delicious tapas. Obviously there are drinks too. If you’re focused on partying, we recommend Pas de la Casa. A few of the bars there have skis and snowboards attached to the ceiling. Rumour has it, that party animals used to be clipped in, and then try and down their drink in a gravity defying manner.
How to get to Andorra
Andorra is a tad unusual among skiing destinations, and countries in general in that it doesn’t have an airport of its own. Therefore you have to travel either via France or Spain to reach Andorra and its resorts. The nearest major airports are Barcelona in Spain and Toulouse in France, both roughly 200km from Andorra. There are regular bus transfers from both to Andorra’s ski resorts.
Another option is travelling via train. Andorra itself doesn’t have a train station, so l’Hospitalet près l’Andorre in the south of France is the nearest option. However, it’s an extremely useful station, as there’s a direct overnight service from Paris that arrives there every morning. From there it’s just 14km to the border. More details here.
Covid rules in Andorra for ski resorts
As you might expect, Covid has complicated travelling to Andorra. The small autonomous region itself doesn’t have strict covid rules – it just advises you practice social distancing, sanitise your hands regularly and wear a mask. You will also need to show a covid pass to enter eateries.
However, France or Spain, which you will need to travel through one of, are different cases. Travel through either is much more straightforward if you’re already vaccinated. Everyone aged 12 or over needs to be fully vaccinated to travel to Spain. France’s situation is rather more complicated. Adults need to be fully vaccinated but there are some exceptions made for teenagers. We’ve summed it up in our Omicron travel FAQs article. Essentially, if your child is over 12 and single vaccinated, you need to travel via France not Spain.
Which ski resort to pick in Andorra
Grandvalira – Andorra’s biggest ski resort is actually an amalgamation of a few different resorts, party central Pas de la Casa and the more refined Soldeu. Each resort has a gondola that will take you up into the expansive 210km ski area. Grandvalira can lay claim to Andorra’s best black piste, Avet, which runs right down to Soldeu. There are plenty of avalanche-controlled areas, along with much more beyond that if you’re properly trained.
Arinsal has to rank as one of the best family ski destinations going. Nursery slopes sit at a high altitude, so for once beginners are going to get just as much quality snow, as more experienced folk. Then there’s the fact that kids get free(!) lift passes. More experienced skiers can mosey on over to the Pal side of the mountain to take on its world of reds.
Boasting the best snowfall in Andorra (and that’s really saying something), Ordino Arcalís tends to attract the more advanced skiers and riders. Backcountry enthusiasts, this could be the spot for you. Ordino Arcalís is home to an annual stop on the Freeride World Tour, and if it’s good enough for the professionals, then surely it will suit your needs. However, such excellent off piste skiing does come at a price, the size of in bounds skiing is limited. To make up for that you can buy a ski pass that grants access to Grandvalira too.