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A Vacation in the Pyrenees: Andorra’s Top 7 Ski Resorts

Ski resort in Andorra
Photo taken by Travel On Spot.  Ski resort in Andorra

Andorra is one of the greatest countries for skiing enthusiasts. Even if you’ve been to the Alps, the Tatras or the Carpathian Mountains during winter, you’ll find the Pyrenees no less exciting. Here’s a list of Andorra’s 7 tiny ski resorts fit for both pros and beginners, young and old.

1. Andorra (Andorra La Velja) (1409 m)

Ski resort in Andorra
Photo taken by Travel On Spot.  Ski resort in Andorra

The capital of Andorra is located at a stunning confluence of three rivers – Gran Valira, Valira d’Orent and Valira d’Norte. It’s the country’s largest city. Here you’ll find the highest concentration of urban entertainment venues, cafés, restaurants, discos and shops. The villages of Escaldes, Engordany and Santa Coloma are all part of the resort. Andorra and Escaldes are considered to be the country’s commercial and cultural centres.

Andorra la Vella
Photo taken by Travel On Spot.  Andorra la Vella

While the capital itself does not have any lifts, the distances to the nearest tracks are fairly small. The Funicamp lift of Encamp is located just 5 km away. A city bus leaves Andorra every 20 minutes, and in the mornings and after skiing you can use the free transportation of Gran Valira. The other ski resorts are also quite close: 7 km to La Massana, and 15 km to Pal-Arinsal.

Arinsal
Photo taken by Travel On Spot.  Arinsal

The city exudes a medieval atmosphere. Andorra’s historic centre – Barri Antic – is filled with ancient buildings. The most spectacular of these are the medieval churches, several of which were built in 10-12th centuries.

Andorra
Photo taken by Depositphotos.  Andorra

The so-called House of the Valley (Casa de la Vall), which has been home to the national government for many years, is another jewel of the capital. The building of Seth Panis, also called the Trunk of Seven Locks, is also worthy of your attention. For a long time, the building served as the repository of government documents that only the governors of Andorra’s seven districts had access to.

The main square is called Plaza la Poble. It’s an excellent place for taking a walk, and the background of many celebrations and evening stage performances. The city has a lot of different shops – from small kiosks to luxurious fashion houses. Many Europeans come here not only for skiing and the beautiful views of the city, but also to shop on the cheap.

2. Escaldes (1050 m)

This town is somewhat an extension of the capital, formed just 30 years ago. Even though, on the map, both resorts are marked separately, most people hold them to be a single unit, for as soon as one of them ends, the second one begins. The resort is characterised by the requisite tourist infrastructure, quality tracks and excellent bars.

The town’s main point of pride is its mineral water and springs. The thermal water centre Caldea is one of the largest SPA centres in the whole of Europe. The name of this resort comes from the ancient Roman word caldea, which means “warm water springs”.

3. Encamp (1260 m)

Encamp town in Andorra
Photo taken by shutterstock.  Encamp town in Andorra

Located 5 km northeast of Andorra’s capital is a small, yet extraordinarily cosy resort of Encamp. This resort, the country’s geographic centre, and found to be highly convenient by most tourists, is made special by its Funicamp lift. It is a 6-km-long cable track that carries 32 closed cabins, each of which can fit 24 people at any one time. Funicamp helps people reach the most important and popular track in mere 15 minutes. Half-way up, beginner skiers will find a skiing school, located in the Cortals Valley (Vall deis Cortals). Encamp’s free transportation makes rounds every 15 minutes and takes the hotel-dwelling tourists to the lift.

While in Encamp, you might also want to visit the National Automobile Museum, where you’ll find over 240 transport vehicles, many of which are up to 50 years old. The town also has the country’s highest clock, tilted to the side by 50 cm and located at a elevation of 23 metres.

4. Canillo (1500 m)

Canillo
Photo taken by Travel On Spot.  Canillo

Canillo is a small and fantastically cosy resort, located in the region of Gran Valira, 6 km away from Encamp and 5 km from Soldeu-El Tarter. It’s considered to be one of Andorra’s oldest cities – its name was first mentioned way back in 839.

From Canillo, you can ascend up to El Forn, where you’ll find a skiing school and a kindergarten, where children as young as 3 years old are taught the basics of skiing.

From El Forn, mountain skiing enthusiasts are transported to Pie de la Portel, which has several skiing tracks. The hotels are arranged near lifts so that guests can reach the tracks as quickly as possible. Canillo is an ideal resort for novice skiers and families with small children.

The main cultural attraction here is the Ice Palace (Palau de Gel). This excellent skating rink with visual effects and music leaves no visitor cold. Tourists are also encouraged to try the exotic game curling.

5. Soldeu (1800 m)

Soldeu resort
Photo taken by Travel On Spot.  Soldeu resort

Located near the French border and around 30 min. from Andorra’s capital is one of the country’s most attractive and well-visited resorts – Soldeu. 1964 is held to be the year of its founding, when three local families came up with the idea of building a large winter entertainment complex. At first, it had only one lift and one bar – 40 years later, however, the resort has grown quite substantially, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Currently, Soldeu has 35 tracks: 6 green, 14 blue, 8 red and 7 black. There are 17 lifts in total. The resort’s large team of instructors is ready to help both skiing and snowboarding beginners. The latter are especially fond of Espiolets, as it has relatively uncomplicated tracks.

The resort should be enough to occupy seasoned mountain skiers, too – the icy mountain slopes of the red and black tracks are sure to leave one with the taste of adrenaline in his or her mouth. This was also the setting of the 2012 Women’s Skiing World Cup.

Upon arrival, many are quite taken with Soldeu’s slightly unusual tracks, many of which stretch along wood arrays, wide slopes, and enchant visitors with their fantastic landscapes. The resort also has a health centre and a lively night life.

6. El Tarter (1710 m)

El Tarter
Photo taken by shutterstock.  El Tarter

El Tarter is located just 3 km away from Soldeu. Several of the mountain skiing slopes and tracks of both resorts come together in one large space. Thanks to the lovers of extreme sports who flock to it, this resort is the liveliest and noisiest place in the whole valley. These people all congregate at the Snowpark El Tarter, which is one of the most popular freestyle skiing places in the Pyrenees. Here you can also slide down a mountain slope – a real treat for adrenaline fiends.

The terrace of the L’Abarset Restaurant, located at the foot of a slope, is an important meeting place of the Apres Ski. This resort has a skiing school, whose instructors know many languages, including, of course, English and Russian. Here you’ll also find new or restored lifts. Andorra has invested a lot of money into the El Tarter, so that the quality of its infrastructure would match that found in the best Alpine resorts.

7. Pas de la Casa (2050 m)

El Pas de la Casa
Photo taken by shutterstock.  El Pas de la Casa

This resort is located in the old Pyrenees, near the border with France. It’s the country’s best-known, largest and highest mountain ski resort. Its high class is attested to by the fact that even the French, many of whom are spoiled by their winter resorts, are eager to come here. Pas de la Casa came to prominence only after 1953, when Andreu Claret, a man from Catalonia fleeing the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, dug through a large pile of snow with a snowmobile, thus opening the way to this place. It gained wider recognition in 1957, after the building of its first lift.

The lower part of resort has a night slalom track. After trying your luck there, you can dive right into the city’s bars, of which there are many. Pas de la Casa seethes with night life, and the parties of Apres Ski are extremely noisy, which helps the resort attract young people.

Those who prefer other sports can take to the special complex that offers ping-pong tables, courts of various sports, saunas and Jacuzzis. The town centre also has a small skating rink. Snowboarding enthusiasts can choose from a wide variety of excellent spaces, such as a 40-metre-long half-pipe where they can do tricks to their heart’s desire. Pas de la Casa is known not only for its large variety of skiing services – it’s also a great place for shopping. Here you’ll find lots of luxury clothing and jewellery shops, offering goods at very reasonable prices.

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