Andorra in summer - why you need to go - Mundana



The tiny principality of Andorra is wedged between France and Spain in the Pyrenees. For a small place it punches well above its weight. In winter it’s a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts but a growing number of people are discovering its warm weather attractions too. For those who come simply to add another country to their list, they’re often pleasantly surprised by what they find. If you’re wondering whether to visit Andorra in summer, here’s why you need to go and what you need to know.


Why you need to go

The scenery

As you’d expect from a mountainous nation, the scenery in Andorra in summer is first-rate. While the architecture in its larger settlements isn’t likely to win any awards, its charming villages litter the beautiful countryside. Many of the oldest buildings, such as quaint little chapels, make considerable use of the local stone, and some feature roofs made from curved slates. But it’s the abundance of mountains and rivers that make this place a true gem. Jagged granite peaks and ridges give way to forested slopes and lush grazing. The clear water of mountain streams tumbles over boulder-strewn beds in its hurry to travel downhill. Though summer thunderstorms sometimes follow sultry afternoons, under a blue sky the views are dazzling. Ride one of the country’s gondolas to get up high with minimal effort, then hike or bike down.

Julia Hammond

The sights

Andorra’s major sights can be ticked off in a few days, particularly if you’ve chosen to rent a car to cover the ground more quickly. One of the most beautiful small towns is Ordino, which has a well preserved historic core with a centuries-old church and the Casa d’Areny-Plandolit, a restored manor house that’s now a museum. Travel a little further up the valley to see some of the evidence of past mining. The Ruta del Ferro loosely follows the river and is an easy yet scenic hike. Further east, travel to Canillo which is the closest town to the Pont Tibeta Canillo. It spans the Vall del Riu more than 1875 metres up. Crossing all 603 metres of this gravity-defying structure is not for anyone without a good head for heights but the views are extraordinary. Team it with the Mirador Roc del Quer if you can’t get enough of those high altitude overlooks. For something completely different, book a session at Caldea in Andorra La Vella. This fabulous spa is not only a local landmark – you can’t miss the spire – but also offers pampering treatments and warm, mineral-rich water for a luxuriating soak.

Julia Hammond

The duty free

Andorra isn’t part of the EU, unlike both its neighbours. Its tax free status lures people across the border to take advantage of savings on everything from tobacco to electronics. You don’t need to venture far down the main shopping street if Andorra La Vella to find large stores full of discounted goods, and indeed such stores aren’t limited to the capital city. But if you are here to shop, don’t limit yourself to duty free goods. There are plenty of independent boutiques that are worth a browse, while you’ll also find souvenir shops selling traditional handicrafts. Everything is priced in euros but credit cards are widely accepted.

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Pixabay/David Peterson

What you need to know

Getting there

Andorra doesn’t have an airport. The reason for this – a lack of anywhere flat enough to put it – will become obvious almost as soon as you arrive. Most visitors who arrive by air do so via either Barcelona in Spain or Toulouse in France. Convenient and efficient shared shuttles operate from both places to Andorra La Vella. But it’s also possible to arrive from places such as Carcassonne. If you aren’t driving, consider taking the Train Jaune from Villefranche de Conflent. If the sun is out, you’ll enjoy the journey in open top carriages as you wind your way through the French Pyrenees. From the final stop, Latour-de-Carol, you’ll need to carry on to L’Hospitalet-Pres-l’Andorre or backtrack to Bourg Madame where a taxi can take you across the border.

Julia Hammond

Where to stay

If you’re planning to visit Andorra in summer, you might at first be tempted to base yourself in Andorra La Vella. There’s no shortage of high end, well located hotels there if you do. But the traffic can get a bit wearing, so consider staying in one of the resorts or outlying villages instead, such as in Ordino, Arinsal or Canillo. These have a good selection of accommodation, often in the form of aparthotels. Aparthotels are an especially good choice for families as they can offer additional space and facilities for children. Note that some resorts, such as Arinsal for instance, spread out along a steepish road. When you couple this with the altitude, some will find it challenging. So if mobility is an issue, check out the lie of the land and opt for somewhere flatter. Mundana’s experts can help you find the accommodation that’s best suited to your needs.

Pixabay/Carmen Carbonell

When to come

Summer season is relatively short up here in the mountains. To give yourself the best chance of good weather, time your visit for between mid June and mid September. Note that Andorra offers guided day excursions by bus and there’s a set programme each day. However, these typically run only in July and August and can be booked locally through the nearest tourist information centre. If you’re on a self drive itinerary, you’ll be more flexible. Although, note that if you’re planning to go up the mountain, most gondolas and chair lifts run to seasonal timetables and these can vary from place to place. Again, confirm locally to be sure that the one you plan to use is running – if not, there’s likely to be another nearby.

How about putting together an Andorra in summer trip for this year or next? The Mundana team are waiting for your call and will be delighted to help you with your itinerary.

Andorra in summer – why you need to go

written by Julia Hammond

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