As I have already mentioned in my earlier post about Andorra and its geographical situation, the one thing which makes it little complicated for non-EU citizens to visit Andorra is the visa requirement. Please find my article about the visa requirements and the process of getting the visa. (THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF HAVING AN INDIAN PASSPORT).
How to get there:
There are no train or air transport facilities available in the country. The only way to go in and out is by road. There is only one road in and out of the country- one through the Spanish Border and the other through the French border. Following are the best options available.
By Car: 218 Kms i.e. an approximately 3-hour drive. The road is great and there is no requirement for any major stoppage in between. Check the schedule of Andorra and if there is to be any major delay at the border, it would be because there is only one road to the country and it could be closed for any reason.
By Bus: Barcelona is the closest airport to take a bus from. There are regular sleeper buses available from the Barcelona Bus station. You will be required to show your visa while buying the ticket at the bus station. There is no further checking at the border.
Expenditure: 27 Euros (£20)
Distance: 218 Km (3 and a half hours drive without any traffic.)
By car: 186 km i.e. an approximately 2:30-hour drive from the city of Toulouse. An amazing drive through the mountains given that the weather behaves well. Check the schedule of the Andorra border before leaving, to avoid any special delays at the border.
By Bus: Toulouse (France) is the closest airport to get to Andorra. Buses are available from the Gare Matabiau (Toulouse) to Andorra La vela on a regular basis. More details can be found here. You can buy tickets at the bus station or online.
Expenditure: 36 Euros (£26)
Distance: 186 Km (3 hours drive without any traffic.)
Couch surfing: If you are not one of those who think that living in luxurious hotels is an important part of a holiday trip, you can try finding a local host within the country. The people of Andorra are extremely friendly and social and it is likely that you will be able to find a kind host without much trouble.
Airbnb: Airbnb is a great way of finding a grand place to live in within an affordable price. It provides an excellent opportunity to meet the locals and have an authentic experience within the city.
Hostels: Not many options are available in terms of hostels within the country, but some hotels operate as B&B and can be found here.
Hotels: Andorra is famous for its ski stations and mountain sports. Plenty of hotel options are available in the capital. The cost depends on the availability and the season. In winters, the cost can go up because of increase in tourist activities in the valley, especially for skiing. Hence, advance booking would be a good idea.
Andorra might be small in size and population but when it comes to food, you can find almost any cuisine from all over the world in its most authentic way.
The ones I tried and would surely recommend are:
Restaurant L’ensegur : Located in the Ordino state of Andorra, facing the Mountain L’ensegur, this restaurant was my firststop. A beautiful restaurant with amazing people, this should be on your ‘Must Visit’ list in Andorra. Just like the country itself, the restaurant offers a good mixture of Spanish, French and Andorran cuisines.
Restaurant El Japo: No matter which part of the world I am in, Sushi always remains on the top of my food list. This restaurant is based in the centre of Andorra La Vella. A must try if you are a lover of the Japanese cuisine.
Restaurant Mama Maria: Located right in the centre of the Andorra La Vella main street the restaurant has great variety of food, great view of the street and good ambiance overall.
Mon Bohemi: Located in the La Mansana state of Andorra this bar is not easily visible if you already don’t know about it or you are not with someone local. But if you can find the place on your own then treat yourself with amazing beer and local crowd. You will notice 99% people in the bar are young and locals its great place to hang out.
LA BIRRERIA: As I mentioned in my article here, this place got the great collection of beers from all over the world. More than
500 types which we counted that night which I remember. Small place and totally worth visiting for all the beer lovers. If you don’t like beer don’t go in (that’s what the board outside says –>> )
Apart from these two all the restaurants mentioned above also got the pretty nice bar.
Being a tax-free country, you will be amazed at how cheap Andorra is when it comes to shopping. One can easily spot plenty of French and Spanish crowds who come into the city just to shop and return home in the evening. Alcohol and Tobacco is the most famous cross -border products there. Andorra is a lucrative place for affordable shopping. The centre of the capital is the main shopping hub within the country.
Things not to miss:
- Vallnord Ski Station (The stations are a must visit during the summer season as well!)
- The Tobacco Museum
- Santa Coloma Church – the oldest church in Andorra
- Sant Cristofol d’Anyos Church
- The Centre of Andorra La Vella
Caldea Spa Complex: After experiencing all the above-mentioned points, you definitely deserve a splendid relaxation therapy and chill massage. Caldea is the place not to be missed. It is Europe’s largest Spa and the main attraction of the Centre of Andorra La Vella. A VIP ticket to the spa costs £30 only.
The Indoor and outdoor spa & Jacuzzi with a view of the magnificent mountains right in front of you is a priceless experience.