Andorra is a European microstate, a tiny country wedged into the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. Tourism dominates Andorra’s economy – with a population of only 80,000 it receives 9 million visitors per year! Most of those visitors are drawn there by the well-developed ski industry, and due to the low taxes and prices Andorra is known as a more budget-friendly alternative to skiing in the Alps.
Travel to, from, and within Andorra overland
Andorra has no airport and no railway; all travel is by road (or helicopter). There is basically one major road running through the country from the border crossing with France to the border crossing with Spain (less than an hour’s drive from one to the other). If travelling to Andorra, you’ll be arriving at one of these two points. You can take buses to Andorra from Toulouse (France) and Barcelona (Spain), and from various other Spanish cities; most ski visitors arrive via bus transfer from Toulouse airport (as I once did). There is actually a train station located just on the French side of the border, so if you’re overlanding around Europe on a rail pass you can still get to Andorra – take the train to L’Hospitalet station in France, and from there it’s a short shuttle bus to Andorra.
Things to do in Andorra
Get drunk on absurdly cheap alcohol… my first ever ski trip was actually more of a drinking trip, and we (a bunch of excitable 19/20 year old Brits) spent more of the week boozing and being hungover than we did learning to snowboard. Bottles of absinthe – at that point still unavailable in the UK – were no more expensive than a pint of beer in a British pub. Once we realised that, we were pretty much doomed – drunken highlight of the week was one of our party passing out in a pile of frozen dog shit after drinking half a bottle of absinthe. The same individual also lost (and had to replace) his rental snowboard when we tried to snowboard drunk on our first night… he couldn’t get the bindings on, kicked the board in frustration, and told it to fuck off. It proceeded to do exactly that, fucking right off down the mountain at high speed, and was never seen again; thankfully no-one was injured, but he sure felt the pain in his wallet!
Resources and Useful Links For Visiting Andorra
Official website for the Interrail pass
Official website for the Eurail pass
Winter sports cover with World Nomads travel insurance – especially useful if you’re already overseas and need to purchase cover, as most travel insurance companies won’t cover you (I found this out the hard way in Bangkok when my camera got stolen)
My review of the Pas de la Casa / Grandvalira ski area
Seat 61 has the details for London to Andorra by train
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