Make for the mountains: where to stay & ski in petite Andorra
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Wedged between France and Spain in the Pyrenees, tiny Andorra* has much to offer skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Over the years, it's been moving upmarket and constantly improving its facilities, making it much easier to zoom up and down the sunny slopes.
As you would expect from a country known for its duty-free status, the shopping is also superb. And don't miss the chance to wallow in the thermal waters of Caldea Spa in Escaldes-Engordany near the capital, Andorra la Vella; it's one of the largest spa complexes in Europe.
Ski Andorra: the resorts of Andorra are easily reached with ski expert Neilson. Check out the latest online savings on ski breaks with Neilson to Andorra* today.
Andorra's three main ski resorts are spread around the Grandvalira and Vallnord ski domains, which offer more than 300km of slopes. Here's our guide to the top resorts in this minuscule mountain principality.
Soldeu & El Tarter
The best-known of Andorra's resorts, Soldeu* takes up most of Grandvalira's 210km of pistes, making it one of Europe's biggest ski domains.
Although the name Soldeu translates as "sun god" in Catalan, the resort's sunny slopes still manage to have an excellent snow record. Many of its slopes are above the treeline, where you can take in sweeping views of the surrounding mountains.
Set within a long wooded valley, Soldeu's main slopes start at Espiolets, which is where you'll find the extensive beginners' area with a highly rated ski school and easy, wide pistes that are perfect for novices. Children are very well looked after too, with nurseries for babies and ski schools.
Soldeu has also become one of the best places in the Pyrenees for snowboarders, helped by three terrain parks. Intermediates have plenty to keep them busy over a holiday with varied terrain that you can progress to easily as well as more challenging runs.
Once experts have tried all the black runs, explore the vast off-piste terrain above Riba Escorxada, there's even heliskiing.
Off the slopes, there are lots of ways to enjoy the snow. Take a wintry safari in a snowmobile or try dog-sledding through the valley in the shadow of the snow-covered mountains. Fly down the slopes on a giant rubber inner tube and, afterwards, luxuriate in the five-floor spa at the Soldeu Sporthotel*.
In the village, you'll find a good selection of smart hotels, many of which have spas where you can indulge after a day on the mountain.
It's just as pleasurable discovering the region's restaurants, which combine local Catalan cuisine with French and Spanish dishes. The après-ski is also a hoot with a combination of busy bars and live music.
If you're looking for a more laid-back location, Soldeu's sleepy neighbour, El Tarter, is an appealing place to base yourself.
A couple of blue runs lead right to the village as well as a black run that's used in professional downhill ski racing. There's also a nursery area above El Tarter at Riba Escorxada.
Soldeu & El Tarter snow report (ski season)
Pas de la Casa
Tucked beside the French border on the Grandvalira's easternmost side, Pas de la Casa* is the highest resort in the ski domain. It's also the place to go if you want buzzing nightlife and where the party goes on long after other resorts have closed for the night.
As Pas de la Casa is on the same lift pass as Soldeu, and the two resorts are linked via fast ski lifts, you can easily flit back and forth.
There's also the mini-resort of Grau Roig, connected to Pas de la Casa, and between the two of them you have pistes for everyone from novices to experts, plus terrain parks in each sector.
If you're a beginner and have mastered the slopes of Pas de la Casa, you can try the longer runs in Grau Roig to gain more confidence. Intermediates and experts will love the ridge above Grau Roig, especially if you want to go off-piste. Parents can leave kids at nurseries in either Pas de la Casa or Grau Roig.
Once the pistes close, head over to Sunset Park Peretol above Grau Roig for some freestyle fun. It's the only floodlit snowpark in the Pyrenees and there's music to add to the spirited atmosphere. There's also a floodlit slope at Solana for some night-time skiing magic.
If you want to get your kicks elsewhere, spend the late afternoon snowmobiling or snowshoeing. Alternatively, check out the leisure centre and its swimming pool in the village.
Pas de la Casa has a good range of accommodation as well as a secluded hotel in Grau Roig. As in Soldeu, you can dive into the full range of Catalan and Pyrenean cuisine in the resort's restaurants.
Pas de la Casa snow report (ski season)
Beginners love the friendly resort of Arinsal* and its 93km of pistes in the Vallnord ski domain, not least because the resort has a highly regarded ski school.
The wide nursery slopes make learning how to ski a doddle and there are some great runs to progress to. Once you're confident enough you can tackle the varied terrain in the Pal sector of the mountain.
Experts will love hurtling through the trees at Pal and the whole resort has a very good snow record thanks to its altitude above 1,950m. Freestylers can fly through the air in the huge terrain park, which also has a zone for beginners.
For more snowy fun, rent a toboggan or a snow bike, or let a team of dogs pull you through the woods. If you want a truly unforgettable experience, try paragliding on skis or taking a helicopter ride.
Those in need of more relaxing activities can take the bus to the Caldea Spa in Escaldes-Engordany and feel thoroughly pampered in the bubbling thermal waters.
Once you're revived, soak up the animated vibe in the village bars, which are nearly as lively as the ones in Pas de la Casa. But you'll still find some chilled-out bars if you want a more mellow night out.
The hotels in Arinsal have some stylish bars and restaurants, not to mention well-equipped spas.
Arinsal snow report (ski season)
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