This article is divided into to sections. The first section contains general information about Andorra and the second part contains information about all the cities I have been to.
General information about Andorra
Andorra is a small, landlocked mountainous country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. Andorra was ruled by the count of Urgell until 988, when it was transferred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Urgel. The present principality was formed by a charter in 1278. It is headed by two co-princes: the bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain and the president of France. It's capital and largest city is Andorra la Vella. Andorra is the sixth-smallest state in Europe, with an area of 468 square kilometers and a population of approximately 79,034.
The Andorran people are a ethnic group of originally Catalan descent. Andorra is the world's 16th-smallest country by land and 11th-smallest by population. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 meters above sea level.
The official language is Catalan, but Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken. Tourism in Andorra brings an estimated 10.2 million visitors to the country annually. Andorra is not a member state of the European Union. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993.
The origin of the word Andorra is unknown, although several hypotheses have been proposed. The oldest is one put forward by the Greek historian Polybius The Histories III, who describes the Andosins, an Iberian Pre-Roman tribe, as historically located in the valleys of Andorra and facing the Carthaginian army in its passage through the Pyrenees during the Punic Wars. The word Andosini or Andosins may derive from the Basque handia, meaning "big" or "giant".
The Andorran toponymy shows evidence of Basque language in the area. Another theory suggests that the word Andorra may derive from the old word Anorra that contains the Basque word ur (water). Another theory suggests that Andorra may derive from Arabic Romanized: al-darra, meaning "the thickly wooded place".
When the Arabs and Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula, the valleys of the High Pyrenees were covered by large tracts of forest. These regions were not administered by Muslims, because of the geographic difficulty of direct rule.
Other theories suggest that the term derives from the Navarro-Aragonese "andurrial", which means "land covered with bushes" or "scrubland". The folk etymology holds that Charlemagne had named the region as a reference to the Biblical Canaanite valley of Endor or Andor (where the Midianites had been defeated), a name bestowed by his heir and son Louis the Pious after defeating the Moors in the "wild valleys of Hell".
Andorra's official language is Catalan; however, Spanish is the dominant language of communication among people of different linguistic backgrounds. French is widely spoken, especially in Pas de la Casa. Portuguese is the native language of 13% of the population. English is widely spoken by those involved in the tourism industry.
Andorra's huge ski resorts with their family-friendly slopes are probably the main reason for Andorra's popularity among tourists, but the country has other things to offer. In terms of landmarks and culture, the many churches and shrines are the main sight. The famous statue of Our Lady of Meritxell was destroyed in a 1972 fire, but a nice replica is still on display.
In the country's capital, Andorra la Vella, you'll find the Romanesque Església de Sant Esteve, located in the old part of town and therefore a perfect stop during a city walk. Just 2 kilometers out of town, the church of Santa Coloma d'Andorra is even older, as it dates back to the 9th century.
Andorra is a well-connected country that has accepted the internet with open arms. Almost as many people subscribe to the internet as their own landline phones.
Andorra maintains a small but modern and well-equipped internal police force, with around 240 police officers supported by civilian assistants. The principal services supplied by the corps are uniformed community policing, criminal detection, border control, and traffic policing. There are also small specialist units including police dogs, mountain rescue, and a bomb disposal team.
Travel to Andorra
Due mainly to the mountainous nature of Andorra, there is only one road entering Andorra from France and only one widely-used road entering Andorra from Spain. Almost all entry into the country happens at one of these two points.
Andorra is not a member of the EU, EEA or Schengen Area. However, Andorra is a member of the EU Customs Union and is treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods (no tariffs) and as a non-EU member for agricultural products. Andorra has no visa requirements and requires only a passport or European Union national identity card for entrance. However, in practice, as entry is only possible through Schengen countries, one must satisfy the conditions of entry into Schengen.
Visitors from outside the EU should note that, as Andorra is not a Schengen member, exiting France or Spain into Andorra will (theoretically) terminate a single-entry visa. In practice, though, immigration does not enforce this, seeing as one must re-enter the Schengen Area in order to travel onwards. A souvenir passport stamp may be available at the border on request.
There are many coach services operating in Andorra. From France there is a coach service from Toulouse, Andbus, from the bus station adjacent to Toulouse Matabiau train station, and from the Toulouse–Blagnac airport . It is 35 euro one way or 65 for a round trip. The bus company Alsina Graells has eight trips a day from Barcelona. The trip takes 3.5-4 hours and costs €23 one-way and €40 round trip.
The Spanish bus-company Alsa has daily trips between Barcelona and Andorra. In Andorra, buses arrive at the new bus station (centrally located) where you can buy tickets, credit cards accepted; the building has a small waiting area with about 30 seats, two vending machines, and free WIFI.
Travelling within Andorra If you have a few days in Andorra, then you can easily visit most of the main villages using the local bus service, called the Cooperativa Interubania Andorra. There are 8 main bus lines and all of them pass through Andorra La Vella.
Whilst visiting Andorra don't go too high (in altitude) without knowing what you are doing. See Altitude sickness for more. Drivers are warned to avoid crossing back into France if the Spanish side of the Pyrenees has enjoyed beautiful warm sunshine all day and the road temperatures drop considerably towards the evening - there is a danger of black ice from ice melt. The weather in the French Pyrenees is frequently vastly different than that of Andorra and the Spanish Pyrenees. Stay overnight if necessary, as cold morning temperatures are more apparent and less treacherous than sudden evening icing.
Places to sleep
There are many types of tourist accommodation, ranging from hotels, pensions and rented villas. You may use i.e. hotels.com, booking.com or hostelworld.com to find somewhere to sleep.
If you want to rent a private home Airbnb.com is somewhere you could check out.
Money and banking
Andorra has the Euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money. One euro is divided into 100 cents.
While each official euro member (as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican) issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse, as well as all bank notes, look the same throughout the eurozone. Every coin is legal tender in any of the eurozone countries.
Andorra La Vella is a good destination to buy all kinds of cheap goods, due to the country's low VAT. However, do compare the base price with that in your own country or region. Tax-free does not necessarily bring you net lower final expense. If you don't just want to buy new releases of brand-name luxury goods, whose base prices can be very different from the "just arrived" category, Andorra is not the right place for you. Just wander around then, it is also very enjoyable.
Vaccine and health
If you live in another country that is member of the European Union be sure to bring your European Health Insurance Card along with your travel insurance.
The main hospital in Andorra is the Meritxell Hospital (+376 871 000).
Andorra is a member of the Schengen Agreement and there are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Immigration and Customs at the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks.
Travel between a Schengen member and a non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks. Note that regardless of whether you are travelling within the Schengen area or not, many airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport. Crime There is not much threat from other people in Andorra, but keep safe on the mountains.
Places I have been to in Andorra
Andorra la Vella is the capital in Andorra. The nature in Andorra is amazing and I have not been to many places with such magnificent nature. This is because it is situated in the eastern part of the Pyrenees mountain range.
Andorra is looked upon as a "tax free heaven" but during my visit I discovered that it was not as cheap as I thought it would be. When I was in Andorra I where looking for Dior aftershave which turned out to be 20 Euro cheaper on the airport in Lisbon than in Andorra. If you have planned to do some tax free shopping I recommend you not to be uncritical of what you buy. The only way to visit Andorra is by bus or car. If you are going to travel by bus from Spain you have to travel from Lleida or Barcelona. You may find the timetable at the homepage of Alsa.es. Caldea is a very popular spa/swimming pool complex which is located up at the top end of Andorra la Vella. You can't miss it because of its unique glass spire structure.