The tiny principality of Andorra nestles at the eastern end of the Pyrenees between Spain and France. Just 468sq km (181sq mi), Andorra has the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell, Spain, as co-princes, largely honorific titles.
Its seven parishes - Andorra la Vella, Canillo, Encamp, Escaldes-Engordany, La Massana, Ordino and Sant Julià de Lòria - are home to 76,000 people. While tourism is the principal industry, Andorra is, like Monaco, a tax haven. It may be no coincidence that Andorrans have the highest life expectancy in the world.
The Pyrenees may lack the soaring peaks of the Alps, and its gentler slopes are ideal therefore for families and less-experienced skiers. Andorra has two ski areas. Vallnord covers Arcalis and Arinsal-Pal and Grandvalira covers Soldeu and Pas de la Casa.
Away from the slopes, Andorra has several other tourist attractions. Caldea, for example, is one of the largest health spas in Europe. It is fed by thermal springs with more than 6,000sq metres of lagoons, saunas, pools, baths and bubble beds.
There are no direct Andorra flights as there is no airport, but there are daily coach services from Barcelona and Toulouse airports to the principality.
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Andorra is a mountainous country, with cold winters and mild summers. The climate can vary with the altitude. There are plenty of sunny days to enjoy and little rain. You’ll get the wettest in the autumn. Plentiful snow in the winter makes for good skiing and popular ski resorts. The average temperature ranges between -2 and 24 degrees Celsius.
When to fly to Andorra
Andorra's ski resorts are at their best mid-December when snow is plentiful and skiers and snowboarders alike come to take in the slopes. The season lasts through mid-April, thanks to the help of man-made snow. Hiking season begins once the snow has melted and continues through October.
Getting around Andorra
The best way to get in and out of Andorra - and the only way - is by car. Andorra has only three major roads that all connect with the Spanish and French borders.
Those travellers heading to Andorra from France can take the train from Toulouse to L'Hospitalet where daily buses pick up passengers for the drive to Andorra.
Andorra insider information
- Take a break from the slopes and put the pedal to the metal. Andorra's parish of Encamp is home to the Museu Nacional de l'Automòbil (The National Automobile Museum) which exhibits about 100 cars dating from 1898 to 1950. The museum also features antique motorcycles and bikes.
- Andorra La Vella is capital and its largest town. It's a great place to pick up bargains in electronic goods, cosmetics and alcohol. As Andorra is not a member of the European Union it is able to sell such items at 20-30 per cent less than they would cost in France or Spain. Like France and Spain, however, the euro is the currency.