Advantages Scenery, perfect for a winter holiday
Disadvantages Longevity is low due to small size of country and lack of alternative activities
--- INTRODUCTION ---Andorra is one of the smallest countries in the world with only 181sq. miles of territory in which 60,000 people live. It is a landlocked country 'sandwiched' in the Pyrenees between France and Spain. It has recently taken on democratic methods of rule, but its heads of state are the French President and the Bishop of Urgel in Spain. It has adopted the Euro, but is not a fully fledged member of the EU, the mainstay of the economy is tourism.
Andorra is currently going through a building boom with most of the buildings in Andorra not over 25 years old (as only 30 years ago it was a relatively poor country by European standards). This happened by taking advantage of the money injected into it by tourists of which it receives 12million a year. Most of the small communities along the main trunk roads are having at least one or two properties built if not more. Despite this it did not feel like a building site (too much) as there was hardly any work going on due to the coldThe people are a mix of Spanish and French, although some see themselves as Andorran, but I found they spoke more often than not Spanish. This was slightly confusing as when you encountered a local you weren't sure if they were more French or Spanish and you could end up insulting them.
The land is all mountainous with peaks up to 3000m, and the bottom of the valleys are where the main urban areas are. The country also seems very small because so much of it is inaccessible. Winter is cold and allows for good snow for Skiing, in the summer it is dry and warm and the forests and flowers flourish.--- HOW TO GET THERE ---
From the UK flights can be taken to major airports nearby in Spain and France, primarily Toulouse in France and Barcelona in Spain. I personally flew to Toulouse (approx 1.5hr journey time) and then got a coach to Andorra (approx 3.5hr journey time). The journey itself is interesting as you get to see a bit of France and then the stunning scenery as you wind your way up through the Pyrenees, going through gorges and having giant mountains on either side with small communities clinging to the side.When there traveling around isn't too difficult (if a bit limited to where you can access). Many tour companies offer free buses around the country and especially to the ski slopes. Private car hire and taxi's are available at a reasonable price. The traffic and driving conditions can however be treacherous. Getting lost isn't too much of a problem as there are very few roads in Andorra and most towns only have one main road going through the centre.
--- ACCOMODATION ---There is a wide range of accommodation available from apartments, hotels, hostels to campsites and 5star deluxe residences. It was strange to see people camping when it was snowing and their tents were covered in it. Most places usually always have facilities and a view nearby (shops, restaurants etc)
--- ACTIVITIES ---Snow activities are the overwhelming reason most people go to Andorra and they are certainly well equipped for it. They have numerous high quality slopes served by excellent facilities which cater for all tastes and abilities. Other snow activities include snowmobiles, trekking (by foot or horse) and climbing.
Another main reason for visiting is the duty free shopping in the capital (Andorra La Vella). There is a superb range of shops (electrical goods, perfumes, cloths, food, tobacco, alcohol etc), but be careful to compare the prices to your own countries prices as I didn't find it as cheap as perceived by others.Other activities include ice skating, the Spa's (sauna, massage etc) after a bruising days skiing. The nightlife was adequate and friendly, but if you want some heavy tunes try elsewhere. The food wasn't amazing, but neither disgusting and catered for many tastes. Asian and European cuisine is available, the best food I had was at an Indian place run by a British couple.
--- PRICE ---Although good value, it was not as cheap as I had been led to believe by brochures and the media. The exchange rate with the Euro obviously matters, but the tax free heaven it was made out to be didn't exist in reality. I feel with their new found wealth they are promoting themselves more and more to the richer markets. Tax free shopping saved a bit, but not legendary amounts, the food, drink and accommodation were probably the best value followed by transport and paying for access to the slopes.
--- CONCLUSION ---Because of Andorra's size I would only recommend it for skiing trips and I thought a week was enough to ski and see all Andorra. However if you’re a skiing nut you could presumably stay forever. Against this thought I didn't see it in summer and so couldn’t give you its advantages and disadvantages for then.
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