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Andorra sits between France and Spain in the eastern Pyrenees, just west of Perpignan. With a population of just 85,000, perhaps it’s difficult to believe that it’s the fourth most popular destination for British winter sports enthusiasts – beating Switzerland and North America. In fact, the population is matched by the number of package holidaymakers and last minute ski deal hunters each year, as skiers and snowboarders alike flock to the snow-sure slopes, more often than not getting better value for money than they would in comparable Alpine resorts. The resorts are exceptionally popular with families looking to take advantage of numerous English speaking ski schools, ideal beginners’ areas and well groomed slopes. Most package holidays include UK flights to Toulouse, the closest major airport to Andorra, and coach transfers up to resort. Sit back, relax and enjoy the majestic views of the Pyrenees on the way up to resort.
There are two main ski areas in Andorra. The Grandvalira is the larger of the two, and comprises several linked resorts. The Grandvalira boats 193km of pisted runs, enough to keep even the quickest skiers occupied for their week’s visit. The area features mostly blue and red graded pistes, so is perfectly suited to beginners and intermediates. Advanced riders will still find plenty to do in the snowparks and the black slopes above Grau Roig (pronounced ‘rosh’).
The main areas of the Grandvalira boast a great snow record that rivals even the most famous French resorts. Pas de la Casa sits at the dizzying height of 2100m, with its neighbouring village of Soldeu at 1800m. Pas de la Casa certainly offers the liveliest nightlife in Andorra, with a large number of bars and several clubs. Drinks are cheaper than you’ll find in Austria and France, with many bars running generous offers during happy hour. Milwaukee Bar has live DJs, drinks promotions and live sport throughout the week. Another favourite is Paddy’s Bar, serving (as the name suggests) Guinness and showing live sport on a number of TV screens. Pas de la Casa is popular with the French, and tends to attract a younger crowd than other resorts in Andorra.
Soldeu is a relatively attractive village and is becoming increasingly popular with families. It is not quite as rowdy as Pas de la Casa, but still has some lively bars to suit all tastes. Soldeu is unquestionably one of the best resorts in Europe for beginners. The snow-sure ‘Espiolet’ nursery area is fantastic, with various easy slopes nearby to progress onto. Most of Soldeu’s slopes are north-facing, and there is a good natural snow record. If needs be, 40% of the pistes have snowmaking facilities.
The second main ski area is the Vallnord, with 91km of pistes. Arinsal is perhaps the most Brit-dominated of Andorra’s resorts, and about half of all these visitors are beginners. Arinsal and its neighbour, Pal, both have great nursery slopes, while intermediates will find better variation of slopes in Pal. There are excellent ski schools here, very much geared towards the English market. There are some very lively bars in Arinsal, such as Quo Vadis, Rocky Mountain and the Derby; Arinsal’s Irish pub. If anyone wants to take advantage of the country’s duty free shops, Andorra La Vella is a mere half hour away by bus.
In summary, Andorra offers excellent, affordable skiing for beginners and intermediates, with fantastic ski schools and English speaking instructors. In good snow conditions, the more experienced will not be disappointed by the easily-accessible off-piste, although could find pisted runs limiting. The resorts all have lively après-ski, without the price tags you’ll find elsewhere in Europe.
Highest ski lift (m):
Total piste (km):
Full of traditional architecture and a lot of character Arinsal is one of the most attractive villages in Andorra. It is part of the Vallnord ski resort which takes up much of the northern half of the small principality of Andorra. Arinsal has a reputation for offering family friendly skiing...
Altitude (m): 1710
Highest ski lift (m):
Total piste (km): 193
A few miles down the road from Soldeu, the skiing holiday resort of El Tarter has grown over recent years and now offers high quality accommodation options conveniently located around a recently-built modern gondola and chairlift which access the Grandvalira area (offering almost 200km of pistes...
Altitude (m): 2100
Highest ski lift (m): 2570
Total piste (km): 193
Pas de la Casa is a lively purpose-built resort situated on the French border, at the foot of Andorra’s largest ski area. The large nursery area is right in the resort centre, whilst intermediate skiers will delight in the wide variety of well-groomed pistes and long cruising runs. Pas also...
Altitude (m): 1800
Highest ski lift (m): 2560
Total piste (km): 90
Soldeu is a lively and friendly little village very popular with British skiers. The ambiance is relaxed, more Catalan than French in character, with great après-ski. For its size, Soldeu is incredibly well served with busy bars, clubs and restaurants and its facilities have been greatly...