Tucked among the peaks of the Pyrenees, there is a small nation that is rapidly gaining fame as Europe’s wellness destination. Andorra , the sixth smallest country in the world, is a natural paradise for lovers of a healthy lifestyle. With 300 days of sunshine a year, beautiful mountains and zero taxes, Andorra is attracting more and more visitors seeking outdoor adventure, relaxation and recharging.
Andorra, The Principality Hidden Between Spain and France
Andorra, is (unexpectedly) a true wellness paradise. Despite being only 468 square kilometers in size, it does in fact offer a multitude of opportunities to relax, rejuvenate and have fun.
Between mountain walks, spa, spas and healthy cuisine focused on local and organic products, Andorra is an ideal year-round destination capable of satisfying every need: more than 300 km of slopes, the best and most modern ski resorts southern Europe, luxury housing, tax-free stores, Europe’s largest spa And a postcard landscape. Everything you need for an unforgettable vacation.
Andorra: skiing and sports
The ski complex Grandvalira Resorts Andorra , created from the union of the resorts of Ordino Arcalís, Pal Arinsal and Grandvalira, is the largest ski area in the Pyrenees and one of the largest in Europe. With a single ski pass, you can enjoy unlimited access to lifts and activities throughout the country, both in winter and summer.
But Andorra is not just about skiing: in Grau Roig you can go snowshoeing, build igloos and, for an adrenaline rush, try driving a snowmobile.
In the area of Canillo is starring on the Mon(t) Magic Family Park, a spectacular high-altitude amusement park suitable for the whole family where you can fly hanging from a “zipper line.” Dive with the sled, try the adrenaline-pumping rollercoaster ride Mágic Gliss or get excited about the Màgic Quest, a descent on the Màgic Gliss luge wearing a virtual reality viewer.
In Tarter it is possible to go snowshoeing or on a “sk imo” (ski touring) trail and dog sledding. Grandvalira also offers activities especially designed for families in Soldeu. Here you can go sledding, gliding on the Snake Gliss, or snowshoeing as a family.
Ordino Arcalís, on the other hand, is a freeride paradise. Its location and north-facing slopes make it the perfect place for this form of skiing. With more than 20 zones and 130 off-piste trails, it is a world center for the sport and hosts major international events such as the Freeride Word Tour.
They are called “Moments: wellness walks” and they are short, easy-access walks designed to allow everyone to disconnect from the daily routine and stress of the hectic pace in the beautiful nature of Andorra.
Designed so that you can interact with your surroundings in an organized way through questions, exercises, training and various other activities, they are carried out with the help of a chaperone or guide and also include basic signage on the route to avoid getting lost.
There are three currently available (but more will be added as they are added), each with a specific focus:
Moments: “Som Bosc” (“We are the forest”) is located in Canòlich, a little-visited hilly forest but known to the residents of Sant Julià de Lòria because of its proximity to the Shrine of Our Lady of Canòlich, patroness of the parish. It is an individual route, but with a guide available to users to make it easier to cross the forest. The goal is self-awareness through moments of personal introspection immersed in nature.
Moments: “Som Tartera” (“We are Tartera”) , on the other hand, is a course specifically designed for “team building, “ teams or groups that want to work on the process of achieving goals. The setting is that of the little-known but stunningly beautiful Enclar Valley in Andorra la Vella.Accompanied by an interpretive guide, teams will take advantage of the various natural resources to enhance the team dynamics necessary to achieve corporate or shared goals.
Moments: “Som Muntanya” (“We are Mountain”) is finally a trail designed for families with children ages six to 12 years old that takes place in the Rialb Valley, located next to the Sorteny Valley Natural Park in the Ordino district. The goal is to work on developing positive emotions such as well-being, enjoyment, gratitude and empathy through seven symbolic places that represent values and emotions.
“We are the Forest” can be booked at the tourist information offices in Sant Julià de Lòria and Andorra la Vella.
“We are Tartera” can only be booked at the Andorra la Vella Tourist Office.
“We are Mountain” can be booked at the Ordino Tourist Office and at the Sorteny Nature Park information booth.
Andorra wellness: spa, spa and relaxation
Andorra is synonymous with wellness: not only because of the quality of life in this microstate, but also because the Principality is home to a number of spas and thermal centers that can offer a unique wellness experience. The region’s mineral-rich thermal waters have healing and relaxing properties to offer treatments such as massages, mud baths and hot water pools.
Caldea, the largest spa in southern Europe
The Caldea spa is the flagship of Andorra‘s wellness offerings, with sulfurous hot waters, saunas, steam baths and more. This huge spa complex (the largest in southern Europe and one of the largest ever) offers more than 80 attractions.
Its zen gardens and rooftop terraces invite tranquility. Caldea also has a spa area where you can try Ayurvedic treatments, massages and face masks, as well as Likids, a very special spa dedicated to children ages 3 to 8.
The water comes from ancient hot springs discovered in 1975 and rich in healing minerals. A real treat for lovers of relaxation.
However, Andorra is also one of the first destinations to have believed in medical tourism, creating Andorra Health Destination. Through the association of various health companies composed of a number of professionals from around the country, the Principality is able to offer comprehensive and rejuvenating health experiences, including regenerative medicine, sports medicine and biomedical treatments, as well as holistic therapies. AHD’s motto is “take care of your mind and body, keeping them in harmony.”
Shopping in the streets and alleys
Andorra is synonymous with shopping: thanks to a special tax regime that makes it extremely convenient to buy products of any kind, boutiques and shopping centers are everywhere. For a break from relaxation, the streets of Andorra la Vella and Escaldes-Engordany invite shopping.
Stores offer products of all kinds, with major international brands, allowing you to shop in a relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps the high life expectancy of Andorra’s population also depends on this: all that gratifies us is well-being, after all.
The Local Gastronomy Of Andorra
Andorran cuisine is strongly influenced by its location between France and Spain. Traditional dishes include a variety of salads, cheeses, meats and sauces. The mountain climate determines the use of ingredients such as potatoes, beans and winter vegetables with a prevalence of local produce.
5 overnight dining experiences not to be missed in Andorra
L’Ovella Negra: a romantic dinner by the river.
For a romantic experience in the mountains,Ovella Negra is the ideal place. This delightful restaurant, located at the end of Incles Valley, is surrounded by nature and offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Wood and stone walls and soft lighting create an intimate and warm atmosphere.
Ovella Negra’s menu features typical Andorran dishes prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Among the most popular are escudella, a soup made with meat and vegetables, and coca de recapte, a savory pie with vegetables, cheese, and meat.
Ovella Negra can be reached by car in the summer season, or bysnowshoeing or ski touring in the winter. However, if you prefer a more comfortable and fascinating experience in the winter season, you can opt for a transfer on a heated snowcat.
Borda de la Coma: a traditional dinner at the foot of the slopes
For a traditional mountain dinner, Borda de la Coma is the perfect option. This lodge, located at the foot of the Ordino Arcalís slopes, offers a cozy, family-friendly atmosphere. Wooden walls and warm lighting create a warm atmosphere, while the menu features typical Andorran specialties prepared with local ingredients.
Popular dishes at Borda de la Coma include crema catalana, a delicious caramelized lemon cream.
Borda de la Coma can also be reached by car in the summer season, or with snowshoes, skis or a comfortable heated snowcat in the winter season.
Borda Sorteny: a dinner in front of the fire in the Nature Park
If you are looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, Borda Sorteny is the “place to be.” This lodge, located in the heart of Sorteny Nature Park at 1,965 meters above sea level, offers dinner lit only by the light of a bonfire in a magical setting.
Borda Sorteny’s menu features typical Andorran dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients. Popular dishes include trinxat, made with potatoes, cabbage and white beans, and escudella, a typical soup made with meat and vegetables.
Borda Sorteny cannot be reached by car; snowshoeing, downhill skiing, or off-road vehicles are required to get to the hut. As this is a fairly impassable route, we recommend that you rely on a mountain guide.
Vodka Bar: an exclusive après-ski experience
For an exclusive “après-ski,” nothing beats the Vodka Bar. This lounge bar and restaurant, located in the Grandvalira ski resort, offers an elegant and refined atmosphere. Wooden walls and soft lighting create an intimate atmosphere, while the menu features cocktails and gourmet dishes prepared with high-quality ingredients.
The Vodka Bar also offers a variety of après-ski activities, including snowshoeing or ski touring, mushing and driving a snowmobile.
The Abarset: a modern setting for eclectic dining
Eclectic, at the foot of the El Tarter ski slopes, theAbarset offers a chic, modern setting. The stone walls and colorful lights create a lively atmosphere, while the menu features traditional Andorran dishes with a modern twist.
The menu at L’Abarset is constantly evolving, but some of the best-known dishes are the duck carpaccio with figs and walnuts and the salmon tartare with avocado and guacamole.
However, Abarset is also one of the best “après-ski” in Grandvalira, an elegant club where music, entertainment and fun are staged every night. DJs of international level perform with always different musical proposals, indie, pop, rock, mainstream, house to fully experience the Andorran “movida.”
UNNIC, Haute Cuisine, Show Dinner and Entertainment
Top of Andorran entertainment, UNNIC is an iconic food & leisure complex in the heart of Andorra offering an exclusive range of entertainment, leisure and dining options. Two entire floors are dedicated to the best live performances, and each floor is in turn divided into different areas where you can enjoy a cocktail in the Music Bar or a delicious dinner with live music in the Show Dinner space. Then when night comes, the two areas merge into one creating ahuge dance floor that hosts an exciting music and light show, all surrounded by an internationally renowned Casino .
Instead, the top floor of the building is reserved for the gourmet cuisine of star chef Nazario Cano in an elegant setting.
Where to Stay in Andorra
In the small principality it is possible to stay in unusual places fully savoring the beauty of nature with all five senses: the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, the wonderful aroma of wood burning in the fireplace after a long day in the snow, the view of the snowy valley from the window, all accompanied by a delicious mountain dish…
Domo Lodge: sleeping at an altitude of 2,350m
Imagine exclusive accommodation just for you at 2,350 meters. Imagine a wild, white, magical landscape. Above you the sky, snow all around, and in the background the peaks of the Pessons cirque glacier. A silence broken only by the sound of the wind, inside a warm and comfortable “bubble.” It is Grau Roig’s Domo Lodge, a spherical lodge design similar to traditional Inuit igloos , reachable only on skis for an incredible experience.
Staying in a broadside
In Andorra it is possible to stay in a mountain “borda,” a traditional building beautifully transformed into a resort in which to relax and take a break from the routine and stress of daily life.
Its splendid location in the mountains makes it possible to enjoy a spectacular natural environment at any time of the year.
For mountain lovers, equipped mountain huts are an oasis where they can find shelter and regain strength after a long day of hiking. Among the more than 20 shelters distributed throughout the territory of Andorra, there are four (rifugio de l’Illa, Juclar Refuge, Comapedrosa Refuge, and Sorteny Refuge) that allow you to enjoy a unique stay with a special range of services, including food and lodging, both in winter and summer.
Perched high in the mountains and surrounded by wilderness, mountain huts offer a warm welcome, whatever the weather. In the cold season in particular, eating and sleeping in one of these shelters becomes anunforgettable experience.
Andorra’s lodges (otherwise known as “cabins”), open year-round, offer a different form of lodging in the heart of nature, in wooden buildings in the forest.
Comfortable environments in which to enjoy the sunset, the starry night sky and the first light of dawn, all accompanied by a silence broken only by the whispering of the wind brushing against the trees and the lodge. The stay includes meals based on Andorran products and various activities of your choice, all accompanied by experts.
All information about nighttime experiences in Andorra is available at this address .
Resort Spa, pampering for the body and spirit
For a vacation of relaxation and well-being, the best accommodations are located in Andorra La Vella: The Grand Plaza Hotel & Wellness, in the heart of the town and a short walk from Meritxell Avenue (the shopping street par excellence) is a “museum hotel” with numerous works of art scattered among common areas and rooms.
With 90 elegant rooms and a top-notch spa, the Grand Plaza is the ideal choice for experiencing the beating heart of Andorra and the Caldea spa, just a few hundred meters away.
Also in the city center, the Termes Carlemany Spa Hotel is a historic building from the 1930s that has been modernly renovated and features a spa fed by the hot thermal waters of Escaldes-Engordany. The real treat is a private spa hot tub with a bottle of sparkling wine included.
More decentralized in the scenic area,Andorra Park Hotel, Suites Plaza & Wellness Andorra, andActa Arthotel are three excellent choices for a wellness vacation. The former, in particular, is a luxury retreat established in 1957 nestled in the quiet of a park and equipped with a spa, massage center, and yoga school.
6 places you absolutely must visit in Andorra
Andorra is even more beautiful when everything is covered in snow. So here is a fairy tale itinerary through some of the most beautiful places in Andorra to discover the eight must-see locations.
Canillo, with its viewpoint and Tibetan bridge
Canillo is one of the largest localities in the principality by area. Here you can visit the church of Sant Joan de Caselles: renowned for its unique Romanesque artifacts, it is the only church in the country with a Lombard-style bell tower. The other two must-sees are at the top of the mountain: the Roc de Quer lookout, one of the most impressive in the country, and the longest Tibetan bridge in Europe.
Auvinyà, a medieval village in Andorra
Entering this wonderful village, it feels like stepping back in time: cobblestone streets, medieval buildings, handmade street lamps… Auvinyà is an idyllic place just 5 minutes from Sant Julià de Lòria. What is most surprising, however, is that although this village appears to date back to the Middle Ages, it is actually just a beautiful reconstruction of a medieval village made in the 21st century.
Churches and Romanesque in Pal
Continuing on our journey of discovery in Andorra, another place to get lost in is the village of Pal. It is located in the municipality of La Massana, which has the distinction of being one of the best-preserved Romanesque sites in the country. This charming village is home to one of the oldest churches in the Principality, the Church of Sant Climent de Pal, which dates back to the 11th century and is the only one in the country with twin windows.
La Cortinada, a picturesque postcard village
As soon as you enter the village of La Cortinada, it is impossible not to fall in love with its picturesque image: the snow-capped mountains, the smoke billowing from chimneys, and the quiet life of a mountain village make everything very “Instagrammable.” The tour begins by visiting the Cal Pal Social and Cultural Space, which dates back to 1347: it is a manor house that has adapted to the passage of time.
Crossing the road, you reach the old part of the village and find yourself in front of another architectural gem, the Romanesque Church of Sant Martí de la Cortinada. Its Romanesque architecture and the wall paintings preserved inside make it unique.
In Santa Coloma between relics and technology
The striking thing about the village of Santa Coloma is the perfect fusion of two different and contrasting styles: history and modernity. The first stage is proof of this: the Church of Santa Coloma, located in the historic center, is fascinating for several reasons, but the most important is that inside you can see a video mapping of the church’s paintings made in the 20th century, the originals of which are preserved across the street in theEspai Columba.
Ordino is undoubtedly one of the most unique areas in the country. The interaction between man and nature is a special feature of the Ordino area and over time has produced an identity that has been preserved to this day.
This identity was recognized internationally in 2020, when UNESCO officially designated the municipality as a biosphere reserve, making Ordino a UNESCO mountain protected area. In addition, last October the village of Ordino was recognized as the best tourist village by theWorld Tourism Organization.
More info at: www.visitandorra.com
Image: © Visit Andorra @andorraworld