There are so many things to talk about when it comes to Andorra that we hardly know where to start. Well, first of all, let us tell you that its main focus industry-wise is tourism, so it is bound to satisfy you in all possible ways. With a population of just over 22,000 and 40,000 along with its satellite towns/villages, Andorra la Vella is both the largest city and the capital of the Principality of Andorra, the microstate located between France and Spain high up in the Pyrenees. Located at an elevation of 1,023 metres, it has been recognised as the highest capital city in Europe. Oh, and let us not forget about the fact that Andorra, as a country, recognises Catalan as its official language (this is interesting because it is the only country in the world that does so). This, however, does not mean that it does not recognise Spanish, French and even Portuguese as regional languages. If you dabble in any of the aforementioned tongues, we recommend that you try and speak them for the locals greatly appreciate foreigners making an effort to please them. Also, we absolutely have to draw your attention to actually how friendly the locals are. If hospitality had to be described via a country, Andorra (and its fine capital, of course) would most indubitably take the prize.
Andorra la Vella, interestingly, has an oceanic climate according to the Köppen climate classification system. Although Andorra in general has nothing to do with the ocean, its elevation provides it with the necessary temperature fluctuations for it to adhere to the standards of the aforementioned category. Summers are warm whilst winters are cold to freezing (although temperatures rarely drop below -5 degrees celsius). The hottest month is July with a record high of 39 degrees Celsius (and daily means around 18.8 degrees) and the coldest one is January with an average of -2.5 (this is interesting because the record-low of Andorra la Vella was recorded in November and it was -19.5 – average temperatures, however, give the prize to January).
Andorra la Vella is served by the Andorra-La Seu d’Urgell Airport which is in fact located in Eastern Spain (within the bounds of the municipality of Montferrer i Castellbò). Primarily serving the Spanish city of La Seu d’Urgell, it is located 12 kilometres south of Andorra, thus becoming its main air-based gateway. Most flights happen from Spain and France and they are affordable. Operated by the Aeroports de Catalunya, it serves as a hub for the Air Andorra and the Andorra Airlines.
Now, let us get down to the facts as to how you can enter Andorra. First, you must understand that the Principality is neither a member of the European Union, nor of the Schengen Area. Yet do not fret, for an international passport or an ID from the European Union will easily grant you passage (there are no further visa requirements). Since there are no train lines in Andorra, one must travel there on four (or two) wheels. There are two main roads that lead into the country: a more traffic-heavy one coming from France and a more mitigated one from Spain (the Spanish road isn’t the only one of its kind but it is the most used one). The reason for such a lack of thoroughfares is that Andorra is located between two hefty mountain ranges. Yet in spite of these apparent difficulties, the country and its fair capital see more than 9 million tourists annually (and growing).
SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES:
When we talk about Andorra la Vella, we cannot isolate it from the other unparalleled sights that are close to it. For this particular reason, we are going to talk about sights that are located but a few kilometres away as well.
If you are visiting Andorra la Vella, you might have already heard about the marvel that is called Església de Sant Esteve (the Church of Saint Stephen). Situated proudly on Plaça del Príncep Benlloch (one of the main squares of the old quarter of the city) right next to the parliament building, it was declared a member of the Cultural Heritage of Andorra list. Built in the 11th-12th centuries and adhering to the standards of the Romanesque architectural style, it was significantly modified in the 1900s. Definitely a must-see!
Next up, you should hop over to Andorra’s most prominent museum, the Casa d’Areny-Plandolit. Situated at a close proximity to the capital (the centrepiece of the village of Ordino), it is one of the most thematic historical mansions of the country. Also a part of the Cultural Heritage of Andorra list, it was built in the 12th century (and renovated a few times along the thread of history, of course). You can find 1-hour guided tours there for 25 people per tour that function in the following languages: Catalan, Spanish, French and English.
Churches are prominent landmarks when it comes to Andorra and the Església de Sant Joan de Caselles (the Church of Sant Joan de Caselles) proves this point firmly. Dating back to the 16th and the 17th centuries, it is one of the most lurid examples of Andorran Romanesque. Located near the road as one would go towards France, the church is one of the prime attractions along the trail of the Andorra Tourist Bus route 1. If you are up for these trips, you might as well tag along (wink).
Andorra la Vella (and the entirety of the microstate, for that matter) is a fine place to visit if you are looking for relaxation, beautiful vistas and people that are beyond hospitable. Be one of the 9 million travellers who breach its borders and experience the Andorran zenith. Safe travels!