If asked, would you be able to find Andorra on a map? For some of us, it might be pretty difficult to do.
Andorra is a tiny principality, not even a part of the EU, located between Spain and France in the Pyrenees mountains. The principality is only 468-square-kilometers, but there is quite a lot packed into this small space.
If you're driving or taking the bus from Barcelona or Girona in the Costa Brava region of Catalunya, Spain, or Toulouse in France, here are some recommended things to see and do in Andorra.
Andorra is known as a tax haven, and duty-free shopping is found throughout the country. There are large duty-free shopping centers lining the roads into the country, some as soon as you cross the border from Spain or France. Even within the cities themselves, it is often easier to find duty-free shopping for goods produced outside of Andorra than the local products made within Andorra. Note, that while there is no tax charged on the goods, the base price of the item may be a little higher than outside of Andorra, so that may be a consideration when looking for high demand products that may find their way to the shops.
While there may be very limited checks on identification and imports when you enter Andorra, when you drive out of Andorra, you may encounter longer border control and customs checks on the goods you bring back into the EU.
Andorra la Vella is the capital city of the Principality of Andorra, and offers two sides to visitors both a new and an old. Andorra's tax-haven status makes it a home of the banking industry. You'll find a modern financial center within the center of the city, with high-end shopping and luxury goods nearby.
Alongside this modern district is Andorra la Vellas gothic quarter, with buildings dating back to the 11th century. Here you'll find many restaurants, taverns, and boutique shopping experiences. Be sure to check out the Casa de la Vell, the seat of government and courthouse built in 1580, and the Sant Esteve Church built in the 12th century.
One of the primary reasons travelers visit Andorra is for winter sports. Andorra is well known for its two alpine ski areas, Vallnord and Grandvalira, which have over 300 km of ski slopes between them. The ski resorts of Andorra cater to all levels of skiers and snowboarders, from families and new skiers, to experienced downhill expert skiers and snowboarders. Winter sports activities such as speed riding, heli-skiing, and ski-biking are also available.
Outside of the winter ski season, the slopes of Andorras Pyrenees Mountains are open for hiking and trekking. Most of the main hiking routes offer mountain huts where you can spend the night, and continue on for breathtaking vistas of the Pyrenees of Andorra, France, and Spain. Hiking in Andorra can even bring you to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. The main hiking trail in Andorra actually traverses the entire principality.
Have you ever been to Andorra?
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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