Nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains on the border between France and Spain is the sovereign landlocked microstate of Andorra. Andorra is a popular destination amongst tourists who want to test their skills up on the pistes, as it has some great ski slopes, including the largest ski domain in the Pyrenees, Grandvalira, where several World Cup races have been held. Andorra is a location which is not just for skiing though, as it boasts mild weather and some stunning scenery during the Summer months too, making it a top destination to visit all year round. If you book a rental apartment in Andorra you'll have a wide selection to choose from, for couples, families, group holidays, those on a budget, or something a bit more luxury for a really special getaway.
Andorra la Vella – Andorra's Buzzing Capital
Make sure you don't miss a trip to Andorra la Vella during your stay in the private Andorra holiday lettings of your choice. The capital city of Andorra is located high up in the Pyrenees (at 13,356 ft to be precise), in the south west of the country. It is in fact the highest capital city in all of Europe and it has an oceanic climate, with mild summers and snowy winters. The name Andorra la Vella also refers to the parish surrounding the city, and not just the capital itself, so it is quite a large area which has many self catering rental properties available for booking. Nightlife here is not hugely busy, but it does have its share of pubs, bars and clubs if you want to let your hair down at the end of the day. A lot of the bars here open at around 8 and don't close til 4, so you really will have the whole night to make use of! One of the most popular places to go out dancing is Satel.lit with its spacious dancefloor, but there are also other bars such as the Buda Bar, Quo Vadis Pub, and more relaxed, quieter venues such as Gatsby's Bar & Hotel, or if you're a beer fan and fancy tasting something different, head to La Birreria Andorra for a great seletion of hundreds of different beers from all over, including Japan! If you want to see Andorra but would prefer to stay somewhere a bit quieter, how about the village of Escaldes-Engordany in the neighbouring parish, which is only a very short journey away from the capital. Some of the tourist attractions in Andorra la Vella include shopping - thanks to the low taxes here, things are cheaper here than in other European countries; and there are many interesting buildings such as churches which are worth a view – the Romanesque Church of St Stephen , for example, or the history-filled Casa de la Vall, the town hall. The old town, or barri antic, is also a nice area to visit, with its traditional twisting, narrow paths and cute cobbled streets.
Andorra Skiing and Other Snow Sports
Andorra has become a much-loved destination for skiing, as well as other snow sports, and many people wanting to go on a snowsport adventure book holiday homes in Andorra. One of its most popular ski resorts is in the village of Soldeu in Canillo, where you will find the biggest and the best of the Pyrenean slopes. This is also an excellent place to go snowboarding. There are many pistes of varying difficulties, and a ski & snowboard school here with many instructors who will teach anyone from the very beginner to those who are more advanced, making it a perfect place to come for a family ski or snowboard holiday, as the children will be able to take lessons if they've never skied before. There is also a kindergarten available for the very little ones (ages 1-3). Not only can you do traditional winter sports like skiing and snowboarding here, but there is also the possibility to try something new and exciting, like skidoos and dog-sledding, or you can learn how to build an igloo!
The weather in Andorra is pretty much what you'd expect from a moutainous country. It experiences dry, fairly cold winters and mild summers, with a low average of rainfall, the most of which falls between September and November. Thanks to the high elevation of the country, it is prone to get more snow during the winter months (making it perfect for a ski holiday!), it is not as humid, and also has an average of 300 days of sunshine every year. The wettest months of the year are usually may, August and September and the driest are between January and March. However, there can be quite a difference in weather depending on the location of your rental property within the country, as the altitude plays a large role in the weather conditions. The best time to go for the ski season is bewtween December and April, as there are heavy snowfalls in the winter leaving the best conditions for snow sports.
Andorra Holidays During the Summer
Many people think that the only attractions available for tourists who rent holiday homes in Andorra are winter activities, but in actual fact, Andorra boasts plenty of things to keep visitors busy during the summer months, too. Between the months of May and September, the days are longer and the weather is warmer, offering the perfect conditions for activities such as mountain biking, walking, cycling and dog sleds. This is a great time to take the children on a summer holiday, as you can experience the great outdoors and once you've climbed to the top of the mountains you'll be rewarded with a breathtaking view. At the foot of 9,652 ft Coma Pedrosa is where most hikes begin. Possible treks include Pic de Médécourbe, Pic de Coma Pedrosa, Camí del coll de les Cases and Montmantell lakes and the Pic del Pla de l'Estany, all of which offer stunning views of Andorra and its neighbouring countries. Other Summer activities are riding down the Tobotronc (the longest alpine slide in the whole world!) horse riding, frisbee gold and adventures in the trees, and there are many more activities perfectly suited for a family vacation, as there is a family park in Canillo, the Vallnord Mountain Park and also Naturlandia Adventure Park (this is where you'll find the Tobotronc) and Animal Park which specialises in species from the Pyrenees.
The Andorran Population – Locals, Language and Life
Andorra is a small country with a population density of 168.55 people per km2 (as of 2013), made up of a mixture of different nationalities, with Andorrans forming only around a third of the entire population. Perhaps its thanks to the tax free living, the central location within Europe, the wonderful weather and scenery or something to do with the fresh mountain air, but the Andorran's must be doing something right, as they have one of the highest life expectancies in the world! Over 80% of the country is rural wilderness, and many people suffering respiratory problems come here to reap the benefits of the alpine air. The official language of Andorra is Catalan, with almost 40% of the population speaking this as their first language. Due to the country's proximity to the countries as well as through historcal links and immigration, many inhabitants also speak Spanish, Portuguese and, less often, French. Most Andorran citizens are able to speak another of these languages as well as their native Catalan, but English is not as widely spoken as it is in many other popular tourist destinations. However, it tends to be understood in the bigger tourist restorts.
Getting to Andorra and Transportation Within the Country
There are no tranlines, train stations, or aiports in Andorra due to its size and mountainous landscape, so to travel to this destination, you have to fly to one of the nearby airports in France or Spain and then arrive via one of the two main roads that enter Andorra (there are frequently operating buses travelling on a daily basis which can get you to your destination). The nearest airports to Andorra are Perpignan, Lleida, Toulouse and Barcelona. If you're planning on renting a holiday letting in Andorra la Vella and you don't plan to travel anywhere else during your stay, you probably won't need any transport. Most things are accessible by foot, but there also are about 6 public bus lines running from 7am to 10pm or two car rental companies available for you to use, in case you want to travel around at all within the country. Due to its close proximity to both spain and france, it would also be easy for you to do some travelling to regions such as Languedoc-Rousillon in the sunny South of France, or to the northern parts of Spain, such as the Costa Brava during your stay in one of the Andorra holiday homes available in this small but beautiful microstate. Enjoy your holidays!