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A Mountain Break That May Surprise You

Lake Engolasters, Andorra

Lake Engolasters, Andorra

Andorra is a fantastic place to stay for a cheap weekend break. I thought I’d get that out of the way because Andorra seems to have such a bad reputation. Perhaps people judge the whole mountainous principality by dreary, concrete Pas de la Casa, the frontier town with France. Perhaps there’s another reason, I’m not sure. 

However, Andorra offers the beauty of the mountains, outdoor adventure, tax-free shopping and an incredible thermal spa that even cynical blokes enjoy.

Make the Most of the Hiking

 
Fresh pine, snow-capped peaks, lakes and paths. What’s not to like? Farmers shepherd goats through cobbled streets, cats stretch out on flagstones and Romanesque churches decorate the horizon.

A Weekend in AndorraFor serious walkers, GR7 passes through Andorra. For holiday hikes, pick up a pamphlet from the tourist office in the capital Andorra la Vella. The circuit around the Engolasters Lake is a gentle, scenic route. The path past the intriguing Meritxell Sanctuary is a little tougher. Always check with the tourist office first, however, as changing weather conditions can close off some routes.

Feeling More Adventurous?

Then try canyoning, climbing, archery, horse-riding or quadbiking.

 
Unwind in Andorra’s flagship Caldea Spa

Bubbling flumes transport you from the spaceship atrium inside to a series of interconnecting whirlpools in the fresh mountain air, with the stars visible through the steam. Caldea welcomes both couples and families and its size means that it’s still possible to find your own space – and relax….

Tuck In

Andorran SausageAndorra doesn’t have the most sophisticated reputation for food, I’ll admit, but what it does, it does well. This tiny principality specialises in seasoned pork sausages – either dried or grilled over a flaming hearth while you watch.

For fine dining in the capital, try the Taberna Angel Belmonte. For the traditional Andorran experience, visit La Borda de l’Avi (reservations recommended.)

 
Getting Around

Andorra doesn’t have an airport, so most people fly to either Toulouse or Barcelona, hire a car and drive up the winding mountain roads (approx 2 hours from either city.) Having a car is a great help for travelling between Andorra’s valleys, although buses do connect the towns.

For accommodation – try to stay in one of the smaller towns like La Massana or Soldeu for a more atmospheric trip.

3 Responses to A Mountain Break That May Surprise You

  1. Steve August 31, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    Grand Valira is a much better ski resort than it’s reputation would suggest too. Don’t forget to take snowchains if you’re driving up between December and March

    • weekendbreaks August 31, 2009 at 7:56 pm #

      Good point. You can buy snow chains in the big supermarkets in Toulouse if you need them. Practice putting them on somewhere warm and dry before you have to do it for real amid a howling blizzard…

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