Why Andorra? Okay so you’re either asking me why or what as you start reading this. If you’re asking what, Andorra is a tiny country sandwiched between Spain and France in the Pyrenees Mountains. Nothing crazy ever happens there that would make national news and it is often left off of world maps. And I’ll admit, I really only learned about the country 4-5 years ago. And ever since, I’ve been fascinated.
So Nina, tell me more!
Oh I’m so glad you asked. Andorra is actually a principality and the only country where Catalan is the official language (Catalan is also spoken in parts of Spain, parts of France and one community in Italy. It is very similar to Spanish but is considered it’s own language. Think like Spanish and Italian … both different languages that share a lot of similarities). However Spanish and French are also widely spoken, as well as some English. I spoke Spanish my entire time there because I figured most people were more likely to be comfortable in Spanish over English (and because I hate being “that” American who asks for English everywhere).
This country is tiny. The total population is around 85,000 and it is only 179.8/km2 in size. The principality that currently exists was formed in 1278 and is governed by two co-princes: the President of France and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell in Spain. So you definitely find a mixture of both French and Spanish culture in the country. Fun fact: Andorra remained neutral during WWII. While they use the Euro, it is not an official member of the European Union. This means that all the shopping is tax-free, making it a shopper’s paradise. There’s amazing skiing as well, although we did not ski. This also means that the people of Andorra will forever be well-off as long as people like to ski and shop.
And so now, let’s get to my reasons for why Andorra has my heart
4. It’s just so chill
I remember searching things about Andorra online before my trip and coming across a blogger who hated his Andorra experience. And I must say that that makes me a little sad. I’m going to start right now by saying that if you’re looking for a trip full of old, historic buildings, Andorra will not deliver. However all I wanted was relaxation. And man, did I get that.
The people are nice and down-to-earth. The views are breath-taking. And I cannot think of a place where you would feel safer than in Andorra.
3. Caldea Spa
When I first started reading about Andorra, I came across Caldea Spa. It is located right in Andorra La Vella, the capital of the country and where we spent our two nights in the country. So of course we had to go.
These next two are my befores and afters. Unfortunately they recommend you don’t bring your phone with you (you are spending lots of time in water after all). But basically, Caldea spa is broken up into an adult section and an everyone section. If you pay a little extra, you get access to both plus your own towel, robe and flip flops. So we opted for that and were glad we did.
The spa is basically a series of pools, hot tubs, arab baths, saunas and other such relaxing things. You can get a wellness massage and there are several restaurants.
We all know that I like to shop a bit. Andorra, especially when we went (right after Christmas but before the 3 Kings Day that they also celebrate just like Spain), was full of rebaixes (sales in Catalan. It’s rebajas in Spanish … see how similar). I was good though and only bought one new dress. You can see it right here:
I would recommend leaving some room in your suitcase because you will find some great deals. I wish I had more room in mine but alas … lessons for next time.
1. The beauty
At one point during our wanderings, we ended up taking this uphill path. We walked about halfway up and took some photos. You are surrounded by the mountains everywhere you look.
How to get there
We took a bus from Barcelona, Spain. You can also take a bus from Toulouse, France. Here are several bus companies that will get you there: Andorra By Bus, Alsa (runs Barcelona-Andorra but didn’t see Andorra-Frace) and Andorra Direct Bus. We thought it would be fun to take a bus into Andorra from Barcelona and then another Andorra-Toulouse so we could check off another city. Toulouse is also amazing.
Where to stay
The majority of accommodation seemed to be hotels. You have a wide range from 5-star to lower end, more budget places. We, however, used Airbnb. Our host was fantastic!
So if you live in Europe and have service for Vodafone like I do, you might have the plan that includes roaming in EU countries. It came in handy in both Scotland and France. However since Andorra is not a part of the EU, it is not included in that. So I just turned my data off as roaming would have been crazy expensive. Our Airbnb host told us the apparently there’s one cell phone company in the whole country and they are not that great. I suppose in a country that tiny, you can have a monopoly. However many places had wifi, which was nice.
Have you been to Andorra?