From spa lovers to shoppers, foodies to night owls, an Andorra ski trip offers super skiing and so much more.
I went on my first ski holiday 23 years ago, it was an Andorra ski trip for New Year with a group of friends, and we still talk about it when get together. The skiing was great and the apres ski was even better – I recall many a night in Fat Alberts till the small hours, but we always made it in time for ski school each day!
It was amazing how quickly we progressed during ski school and I still recall that feeling when I skied down the mountain on our last day – I had certainly caught the ski bug.
Since then I have been fortunate to visit many ski resorts, but when Topflight, Ireland’s multi-award winning ski specialists, invited me to return to Andorra, I jumped at the chance.
I had a fabulous few days skiing on the slopes in Soldeu and Pas de la Casa, as well as exploring the highest capital city in Europe, Andorra La Vella. We enjoyed tasty tapas on the mountain, dined in some top quality restaurants and of course got to revisit some of my favourite après ski bars.
Andorra is a ski destination that suits people of all ages, and I am testament to that. It offers top-quality skiing for groups, couples and families. If you still need convincing, check out 10 reasons why you should book an Andorra ski trip below.
1. Andorra boasts the largest ski area in the Pyrenees
Nestled between France and Spain, this tiny principality certainly punches above its weight. It is just 468 square kilometres in size yet boasts the largest skiable area in the Pyrenees, with over 300km of slopes.
There are nine Andorra ski resorts, and six of these, Encamp, Canillo, El Tarter, Soldeu, Grau Riog and Pas de la Casa are part of the Grandvalira ski area, which won Andorra’s Best Ski Resort at the World Ski Awards last year. The beauty of having the resorts linked is that the Grandvalira lift pass will allow you access 64 lifts and 139 slopes in all six resorts.
The Ordino Arcalis resort boasts off-piste areas which you can also access with your Grandvalira ski pass.
Vallnord is another ski area in Andorra which has two ski resorts, Pal and Arinsal with 63km of pistes. This is a popular area with families and skiers looking for a quieter, more relaxed ski experience.
2. Andorra is suitable for all skiers and has award-winning ski schools
While Andorra ski holidays may be popular with beginners, Andorra offers quality skiing for intermediate and advanced skiers too.
Andorra is regarded as having some of the best ski schools in Europe. Our Topflight instructor Jon Doel was invaluable on the slopes. He helped me improve my skiing over the short visit, as well as taking time to help me get the best photos!
There are specialised ski instructors to cater for children too. The ski kindergartens and snow gardens have seven kids’ themed circuits in Grandvalira alone.
Advanced skiers are not overlooked either, with a specialised instructors to teach you freestyle in three snowparks in Grandvalira, one of which opens at night, as well as Ordino Arcalis, an area for expert skiers that has 30km of marked slopes and 120 off-piste itineraries.
3. Andorra has great restaurants and Tapas bars
Andorra’s location between France and Spain is perfectly placed to offer the best of both cuisines. Tapas bars and gourmet restaurants are found in most resorts. I had a delicious Paella at Terrassee Lucien overlooking the slopes in Pas de la Casa.
Wine & Meat by Jean Leon is a must visit if staying in Soldeu. This is located on the mountain, beside the gondola and as the name suggests, you can expect charcuterie plates and magnificent meats accompanied by delicious wines.
However, don’t miss authentic Andorran cuisine in one of the ‘bordes’ on the mountains. These were once traditional Pyrenean buildings made of stone and timber that were used to store hay and farming tools – they are now transformed into cosy restaurants beside the ski slopes.
For the ultimate fine-dining experience, try the tasting menu at Casino Unnic in Andorra La Vella. You don’t need to gamble in the casino to enjoy its stunning decor and extraordinary food.
The shrimp tartare and brioche dessert were delicious, but the award for the most unique dish was the venison with coffee and cocoa – and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even drink coffee! I recommend you opt for the Experience menu, it literally is a feast for the senses.
4. Andorra has Duty Free shopping
Skiing holidays are an expensive hobby, so choosing a country that has duty free status is a huge bonus! Andorra’s capital Andorra La Vella is a Mecca for shoppers with 2000 shops including high street favourites such as Mango, Timberland and Superdry stores, as well as designer shops, electronics and perfumes.
Androrra La Vella is located just 15 minutes drive from Arinsal, and 30 minutes from Soldeu or Pas de la Casa, making shopping in Andorra a great choice for a day trip or evening excursion.
5. You can ski from December to April
Although the Alps are the highest mountains in Europe, the average height of the Andorran mountain range is still very high, at 1996 metres, and because Andorra faces the Mediterranean, it is one of the snow destinations with the most days of sunshine. We were able to ski in tee-shirts in March, it was bliss!
Investment has been key to its success and we found that out first hand. We visited during March and despite Andorra’s strong snow record, snow had not fallen for weeks before our visit. However, the network of ski lifts and snow canons meant that we were able to enjoy top class skiing in Andorra, in both Soldeu and Pas de la Casa. The 2023 Alpine Skiing World Cup was held during our visit which is testament to this.
6. There are resorts to suit families, groups and couples
Andorra boasts a wide range of resorts and over 300 accommodation options to suit everyone.
Pas de la Casa is the best choice for party-goers. It may not be pretty, but this purpose built resort offers great skiing, with the added advantage of having accommodation and ski lifts right in the centre of the village.
Arinsal and El Tarter are popular choices for couples and families as they offer a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere. You can also find 21 different restaurants there and family amenities such as a zip line, rope park and virtual ski simulator.
I stayed in Soldeu on both of my visits to Andorra and this would be my resort of choice. It has a pretty village with easy access to the slopes and just the right balance of après ski.
There are plenty of chalets and hotels in Andorra to suit all budgets but if you are looking for a luxury hotel, I can recommend the contemporary Park Piolets Mountain Resort & Spa. The location at the top of the village is excellent, and the rooms are spacious and extremely well equipped – there were face wipes, full size L’Occitane products and even a hair straightener in the room!
You can enjoy fabulous views of the slopes from your balcony or the front garden of the hotel, which serves up fabulous cocktails beside an outdoor fire pit. You can also enjoy views from the outdoor hot tub, although even residents need to pay for the privilege.
7. Andorra has great après ski
I have already mentioned the great variety of dining options, but Andorra has some super bars and clubs too. There is nothing like a cold beer after a day’s skiing, and Andorra has plenty of bars on and off the mountain to provide it.
You will find live music in many bars in Soldeu, with everything from large rock bands to soloists with an acoustic guitar. There are two Irish pubs: the Villager is a good choice straight off the mountain as it is located beside the gondola, while the Harp Bar has live music seven nights a week.
Wherever you start, you will most likely end up in Fat Alberts. This is set in a 300 year old barn and has live music and a DJ until the small hours.
Arinsal is more family focused but offers plenty of après ski bars with live music.
Don’t miss L’Abarset, in nearby El Tarter. This modern outdoor venue attracts international DJs and attracts crowds from Arinsal and Soldeu.
Many ski schools in Soldeu and Arinsal video you on the mountain, and it can be fun seeing yourself and your friends on TV in the bars in the evening.
Pas de la Casa is one of the liveliest ski resorts in Europe, where bars and clubs stay open until the early hours. Skiers and snowboarders have been known to go straight to the slopes, so if you are looking for more lower key après ski, then Soldeu or Arinsal may be your best bet.
Top Tip: Check the happy hour times in your resort – they are not always at the same time. Visit lots of different pubs to get the best value and to sample a variety of après ski.
8. There are lots of things to do in Andorra for non-skiers
As well as skiing and duty free shopping, Andorra excels at Wellness Tourism. You will find Spa and Wellness Centres in many top class hotels, and the Caldea in Andorra La Vella is the biggest thermal Spa in Europe.
There are four Spas here – the largest thermal baths are suitable for families and friends, the the more intimate Inúu is an adult-only Spa that focuses on relaxation, Origens feature exotic baths around the world, and there is a dedicated children’s spa for children aged 3 – 8 years.
You will also find Olympic swimming pools, an ice-skating rink, biking trails and plenty of adventure activities in Andorra. The Magic Gliss Mountain Slide has a 555 metre toboggan descent which you can enjoy with 3D glasses, and there are snowmobiles, tubing and lots more activities available.
Another must visit in Andorra La Vella is the newly opened Casino Unnic. You don’t have to be a gambler to appreciate its stunning decor and choice of dining options – see more about its restaurant in point 3 above.
9. There are daily flights to airports near Andorra
Although Andorra doesn’t have its own airport, it is bordered by France and Spain and is accessible from many airports. We flew into Barcelona (208km from Andorra La Vella), and the transfer time to Soldeu was three hours. It is slightly less to Pas de la Casa and slightly longer to Arinsal.
Perpignan is closer, 163km from Andorra La Vella, while Toulouse is 185km away, with similar transfer times to Barcelona.
10. There are great value ski package holidays to Andorra
Andorra is not only popular because of the top quality skiing it offers, but also because it offers lower prices than what you will find in many ski resorts in France, Austria and Italy.
Topflight offer great value Andorra ski holidays from Ireland, with prices from €659 per person including flights from Dublin to Toulouse, seven nights in a 4-star hotel on a half board basis, return airport transfers, checked baggage and resort manager services.
Ski bundles including lessons, ski and boot hire, and a Grandvalira lift pass are available from €426 for beginners and €447 for Improvers – these are approximately 50% lower than what you would pay in Austria or France.
Topflight’s expert resort managers will ensure you have everything you need for a fun filled skiing holiday in Andorra, and offer invaluable advice on and off the slopes. One such person is Lynsey Mackay, Topflight’s country manager for Andorra, who has worked with Topflight for 11 years in both summer and winter destinations.
A big thanks to Topflight for inviting me back to the place where I fell in love with skiing! I hope this post will inspire you to book an Andorra ski trip soon, and who knows, maybe you will catch the ski bug too!
While every effort was made to ensure accuracy, services and attractions are subject to change.