How to Get to Andorra
Andorra is Europe’s sixth smallest state, nestled high up in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. It may be little, but the principality is blessed with impressive Pyrenean landscapes. You can see Romanesque churches teetering on cliff-edges and roads winding through tunnels and across bridges. Andorra also holds a surprising number of world records, including Europe’s highest capital city, with Andorra la Vella situated over 1000m up.
With all these mountains, getting to Andorra is an adventure in itself. Andorra has no railways and the ideal way to get around is by helicopter. However, if you want to try some of Europe’s best ski facilities, or breathe in the Pyrenean air, then you should add Andorra to your French or Spanish itinerary. If anything, Andorra is worth a visit for its uniqueness, a tiny country that has existed for over 7 centuries between 2 of Europe’s biggest.
Andorra Fast Facts
Land area: 181 square miles
Visa requirements: Andorra is not in the EU or the Schengen zone, but it has agreements with its neighbors, so depending on where you’re from, you’ll just need your Passport and existing visa to cross the border.
Governance: France and Spain are not just Andorra’s neighbors – they also jointly rule the country in a unique partnership between the Bishop of Urgell in Spain and the President of France. This partnership began in 1278! Only in Europe, eh?
Getting to Andorra
Andorra is (understandably) not accessible by rail. Getting to Andorra as part of your Eurail itinerary means traveling by road from either France or Spain.
The nearest train station is Andorre-L’hospitalet in France, connected to major French cities, such as Toulouse. From there, take a 20 minute taxi to Andorran border town, Pas de la Casa; then an hourly local L4 bus to the capital, which takes an hour.
From Spain, the nearest train station is Lleida Pirineus, connected with both Barcelona and Madrid by high-speed AVE trains. The Grup Montmantell buses then provide a direct connection to Andorra la Vella. You can take a bus at 10:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00, 19:45 or 22:00, and arrive in the principality just 2 1/2 hours later.
Getting Around Andorra
Despite its mountains, Andorra has a good public transport network. Domestic buses connect the capital to the main towns and often the more remote valleys. However, if you want to maximise your time and freedom to visit Andorra’s slopes, without splashing out on a helicopter, then the best option is to hire a car.
5 Big Experiences in Little Andorra
So, what should you do after getting to Andorra? For fast-paced city travellers, Andorra’s diminutive size means that you really can see the whole country in just 1 or 2 days. However, nature lovers and adrenaline junkies could spend weeks on the slopes of the Pyrenees.
Here are our 5 essential (and record-breaking!) experiences that you should try in Andorra:
1. Ski the best Pyrenean slopes
The Pyrenees are a hidden gem of European mountains, offering an alternative to the busy Alps, but with equally impressive peaks. In winter, Andorra is your best bet for Pyrenean skiing. The ski industry is big and the main ski resorts at Vallnord and Grandvalira are well-developed with modern infrastructure and vibrant après-ski scenes.
2. Hike across a country
In Andorra, you can cross the entire country on foot and still have time to spare. Do this by following a Gran Recorrido País trail.
Hiking in Andorra will take you to some of its 3 natural parks, home to eagles, vultures, wolves and bears. You can also discover some of the country’s heritage, including its distinctive Romanesque (not Roman!) churches, built from slate and stone.
3. Ride the world’s longest toboggan run
You may have heard about summer toboggans, or rodelbahn – but, you probably didn’t know that Andorra is home to the world’s longest toboggan run. At 5.3km long, the Tobotronc at Naturlandia adventure park is an unmissable experience. The ride takes a whopping 20 minutes to complete as you dash and loop through the forests above the town of Sant Julià de Lòria. With such a long ride, watch out for chases and pile-ups!
After you’ve finished sliding, check out some of Naturlandia’s other activities, such as high ropes, a zip line, Xtrem jump and tire slide. A single ticket gives unlimited access.
4. Relax in southern Europe’s largest thermal spa
The building of the Caldea spa in Andorra la Vella is an attraction in its own right, with its glass spire and shards channelling its Pyrenean setting. Within the glass cathedral, you will find a large indoor lagoon, many themed baths, such as Indo-Roman and Icelandic, and an outdoor lagoon overlooking the mountains. What’s more, the spa offers a diverse programme, catering to couples, families and groups of friends.
So if you fancy bathing in illuminated hot springs, underneath mountains, with a cocktail in hand… then spend your visit to Andorra at Caldea.
5. Go crazy in 1000 duty-free shops
Never mind stuffy airport terminals. Visit Andorra to do your duty-free shopping in the fresh mountain air. Since Andorra is outside of the EU, they are able to offer lower taxation on a plethora of products from fashion and perfume, to electronics and sports equipment. You can find the biggest selection of shops in Andorra la Vella. Border towns, such as El Pas de la Casa also have numerous duty-free shops, if you fancy a short shopping break from France or Spain.
The Andorran authorities have made shopping even easier, by allowing shops to stay open 361 days a year. But before you go crazy with the credit card, make sure to check the custom limits!
You could take this as a perfect opportunity to buy a DSLR or GoPro to save memories of your Andorran adventure and onward travel with Eurail…
Find out how to get to other European microstates:
- How To Tick Off Extra Countries On Your Eurail Trip
- How To Get To San Marino
- How To Visit Liechtenstein By Rail