Andorra la Vella

by Ucman Scher
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Solo Trip Guide to Andorra la Vella

Andorra la Vella is the highest and one the tiniest capitals in Europe with a population of only 22,000 people but this is in no way reflective of what this place has to offer. Andorra la Vella is located in a valley surrounded by giants of the Pyrenees with some stunning views.

Read my country guide about Andorra to find answers to all your questions for a comfortable trip.

The city is so small you can easily walk from one end to the other in an hour and see it all but it has some tricks up its sleeves that can keep you grounded for weeks. Don’t believe me? For a population of 84,000, the country hosts more than 10 million visitors a year, go figure…

The biggest attraction for people in Andorra is skiing, then shopping but the biggest reason I fell in love with this tiny country and its capital is clean fresh air, stunning views and the freedom it offers…

Learn how to become a solo traveller.

Andorra la Vella and Escaldes- Engordany

Toulouse to Andorra

As you know Andorra doesn’t have any airports or train service, you can only come in through the road from Toulouse or Barcelona. It might seem like an equal match but coming from Barcelona is much easier than coming from Toulouse with more busses available than its French counterpart. If you are posh enough they also have a Helipad and you can come in with a Helicopter.

The best way is to book your tickets in advance through Andorrabybus which we used on the way back. There is another slightly risky option which is carpooling service BlaBlaCar which we used on the way to Andorra.

The bus is more like a shuttle service and takes roughly 3 and a half hours, it is more expensive (€37 ) versus carpooling which can be as little as £12 (€15) but you need to book the carpool closer to time and it also takes less time. (We arrived in El Pas de la Casa in roughly 2 and a half hours).

Check out all the different modes of transportation you can use in a new city.

A few minutes’ drive outside Toulouse and you will start seeing the Pyrenees mountains and roughly 45 minutes later the mountains with snow-clad peaks will start appearing and finally, it will all be snow around with trees and tiny patches of grass peaking through.

From Toulouse, the first stop is always the border city of El Pas de la Casa. The guys I was driving with dropped me in front of the Tourist office at the beginning of the town and inhaling the fresh cold air of Andorra got in to find out how to get to Andorra la Vella.

The guy in the office was very helpful, he explained about the public Wifi system and gave me access to office network and then explained how to take bus L4 from right outside the Tourist office to Andorra la Vella which was standing ready right outside as if waiting for me to drive away.

I think it has something to do with the mountains but people in mountainous regions are always much more sincere and helpful (I am from a very mountainous region originally ;)). The driver was very helpful again and told me when my stop arrived.

Learn more about all the ways you can use to explore a new city.

I got off outside Plaza Rotunda in Andorra la Vella in roughly 30 minutes which has another Tourist office and after another 30 minutes inside I was ready to check in to my apartment and was sorted for my stay in terms of what-to-do.

On the way back to Toulouse, things were slightly different and we got to see the most beautiful and fiery sunset ever Toulouse with the sky Red and Orange.

Andorra la Vella Old Town

We stayed at the edge of town almost in Escaldes – Engordany and after a quick check-in and a shower, we didn’t waste time sitting inside and went to check out the town which was glittering with all the Christmas lights with a lot of people happily going around with loads of shopping bags.

Check the guide to find the best accommodation in a new city.

The city is divided into roughly two parts, the new parts with the malls or the shopping district and the old town. From Rontunda Plaza you take the Av. Maretixell until you reach Av. Princep Beniloch. You will see the Church of Saint Stephen there at the entrance of the old town. It is a beautiful stone-built church in Romanesque style with a simple but elegant interior. It was decorated for Christmas but the highlight was happening behind the church in Placa Del Poble with its small Christmas market. We walked there and almost shouted with excitement. They had actual REINDEERS and CAMELS and you could touch them and feed them and look at them for as long as you wanted. I was the happiest man alive at that moment.

Read about staying safe during solo travelling.

It was my first time seeing a live reindeer and their skin was so soft and beautiful and their horns so long and twisty it was amazing. I almost felt like a child and to make things better Santa’s elves were handing out some grains you could feed these beautiful creatures and whilst all this was happening we heard the choir singing the Christmas carols in Catalan which sounded even more amazing within this beautiful valley. My heart just melted despite the -1 degree centigrade temperature around. Everyone just stood in a trance listening to the music and in that instant, I realized why music has no language, the connection and ethereal, I can still feel goosebumps.

Towards the edge of this platform like a plaza, you can see the beautifully lit Government building. Andorrans really know how to capture your attention even for a mundane government building.

The government building..

An hour passed being a kid with so many kids around and we started getting hungry. The old town is full of beautiful restaurants and we chose one ‘L’Arrosseria’ which was recommended by our host. The menu looked amazing; it was all Spanish and after a heart meal of fish, Garlic prawns and Catalan burnt cream (Catalan version of Creme Brulee) we set out to explore the rest of old town which is quite small.

The houses are all built of stone and most of the ground floors have been converted to restaurants or bars but there are still small beautiful squares that just bring the whole place together and give it the feel of a town.

A few drinks later, we headed back to our apartment through the town and got ourselves ready for Grandvalira and the cable car adventure next morning.

Caldea

After a morning in the gorgeous mountains in Grandvalira and Solanelle, we took the bus back to Andorra la Vella which dropped us close to Caldea. The building has quite a few claims to fame. At 6,000 square meters, it is the largest spa in Europe as well as the tallest building in Andorra with 18 floors.

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