Hello everyone and welcome back. How you can imagine, today we begin our tour in Andorra and as always we can’t wait to undertake a new adventure. The first destination we decided to explore is the capital, Andorra la Vella. But before we start, what do we usually do? Such a simple question, of course a small presentation of the city we are going to explore
Andorra la Vella, as previously anticipated, is the capital of the Principality of Andorra as well as the highest capital of Europe. Located in the eastern Pyrenees (and precisely to the south-west of the Principality of Andorra, at the confluence of the two torrents Valira of the North and of the Valira Oriente) it is nicknamed the Capital of the Pireinei, Capital dels Pireneus (in the local language).
The main economic sector is tourism but it is also to consider an important center as regards the multitude of bank and companies. We can really say that all these aspects are made prosperous thanks to the Principality of Andorra that is a true tax haven. The State is not a member of the European Union, but in spite of this, it uses the euro.
The city has neither an airport nor a railway station, but don’t worry because reached the nearest station or the nearest airport there is a bus service that will bring your to your destination (obviously, being one of the few means of transport to reach the city, it is very efficient).
To know more (what to eat, where to eat, where to have fun, things to visit…) continue to read.
But now it’s enough with the presentations, we have a city that is waiting for us!
PLACES TO VISIT (MUSEUMS/THEATERS…)
Casa de la Vall
- Casa de la Vall: headquarters of the Consell General of Andorra (parliament) and the courthouse. The building has two floors and a small tower slightly detached from the structure, several wooden windows, a main door containing the emblem of Andorra, small buildings of mini towers (if we can call them like that) on the sides. It has just the conformation of a typical stone house. On the ground floor there is Tribunal de Corts (Court of the Courts), on the first floor there is the Sala del Consell, a chapel, the wardrobe of the seven keys (which once contained the keys of every Andorra parish) and in the end the Sala dels Passos Perduts where there are all the laws of Andorra. On the second floor there is a postal museum. We couldn’t start from a better place to get to know our destination.
- Church of Santa Coloma d’Andorra: it is the oldest church in Andorra that is part of the cultural heritage of Andorra. It has a rectangular shape with a bell tower next to it and is made of stone. The background is so suggestive as it seems to be very close to the mountains behind (in winter when everything is covered with snow, it is exceptional). The structure is not very large but has great value. Inside there are remains of some 12th century murals that now most of them are located in the exhibition hall of the government of Andorra. What else to say…go for it!
- Santuari de Nostra Senyora de Meritxell: the sanctuary is located in the parish of Canillo in Andorra and is dedicated to Our Lady of Meritxell who is considered the holy master of the nation. The interior of the sanctuary is really interesting, it is a mix of ancient and modern that creates a truly enchanting mix. But we have to say that it is worth visiting even only the outside because it is really very beautiful, we are sure you will like it. It is a path to follow to reach the sanctuary full of arches and high walls (in stone again), such a fantastic architecture. We only want to add that it has been awarded the certificate of excellence. Said that we think there is nothing else to say!
- Like the latter, an important church to mention is the Església de Sant Pere Màrtir which is part of the cultural heritage of Andorra. It is located near Escaldes-Engordany in a small square with a statue in the center. The particular thing about this church will be discovered only by raising your eyes (and moving away from the arcade where there isn’t the immediate view). On the main façade, at the top, around the large windows there are many religious-themed drawings that are very beautiful to see and above all is amazing understand their meaning. What about the structure? It is also in stone (from how you can understand most of the structure are like this, it is their characteristic).
- Two other small churches but with an inestimable value, so much to be part of the cultural heritage of Andorra are: the Església de Sant Martí de la Cortinada and Sant Miquel Engolasters. The interior of this beautiful little church is adorned with murals, paintings and so on and each with its own relics. The exterior, on the other hand, is the style seen so far and the landscape, well, always beautiful thanks to nature with the magnificent streams and mountains as a backdrop.
- Carmen Thyssen Museum of Andorra: this art museum, dedicated to the Baroness Carmen Thyssen, hosts temporary exhibitions, several paintings of artistic collections and of course the Carmen Thyssen collection (which is the main aim of the museum, or rather try to spreadthis kind of art). The variety of temporary exhibitions is really surprising, they include many mixed themes (cubism, expressionism, impressionism…) and often they are in collaboration with other museums from many parts of the world. There is also a lot of audiovisual material. As concerned the structure (among other things, very beautiful and characteristic, as the previous structure analyzed it is also in stone) is a tall tower composed of four floors, inside which there is also a small shop to buy some nice souvenirs or just take a look at it to see something typical.
- Centro de Arte de Escaldes-Engordany (CAEE): this art center hosts the Viladomat Museum in which there are models of Romanesque art, temporary exhibition, sculptures (located on the second floor) and there is also the permanent home of the works of the Catalan sculptor Josep Viladomat. This center offers a very interesting and perfect cultural program to learn about the art that goes around Andorra. In addition there are also many activities for the little ones. The exterior building, on the other hand, is a clear example of the typical architecture of Andorra seen so far, creating the usual contrast between “old” outside but modern inside.
- ARTALROC Sala de Exposiciones del Gobierno: let’s start from the appearance, the external environment. We can already see that the structure is different from all these that we visited or at least in part, let’s say that there is a nice mix between ancient and modern (made of stone and glass) creating a very welcoming environment. If you are an art lover you certainly can’t miss this place (among other things it is one of the largest expansive exhibition spaces in the country) which is a nice way to get to know the local artists of Andorra through the various exhibition halls and the occasion of being able to do so many cultural activities.
- Museu Casa Rull: this museum is a great opportunity to learn about an ancient rural house. There are so many different rooms that made up the structure (and there are not only bedrooms but much more, like the cantinola for example) with typical objects of that time. The visit can also be accompanied by audio; anyway you will know the story here, many curiosities (for example you will be told that parents often knew very well what the children were doing, being under their control as they had no doors that separated the rooms) the traditional activities of Andorra villages. A very interesting place!
- Museum of Electricity: this is the Andorra electricity museum. The aim is to allow all visitors to learn about the history of Andorra’s electricity through permanent and temporary exhibitions (so you have to love this kind of theme). These ones with an exhibition of objects explain what electricity is, where it comes from and how it is generated. It should be noted that it is a small but well-finished museum with exhibition rooms located mainly on the ground floor of the building. Furthermore the museum is very interactive you can touch the objects with your hands and experiment (so perfect for the little ones too). Being this place the center for the electrical energy of the country of course it is part of the cultural heritage of Andorra.
- Musée du Tabac: this particular museum, in traditional architecture of Andorra, is located inside an old tobacco factory. During the visit you will be told about the different phases followed by the making of cigarettes and cigars. You will know about the tobacco harvesting, the drying of it and the production process up to the packaging, all told through the vision of objects, photos, videos. If you want to see something different and unusual then this museum is what might interest you.
As for the theaters we have: Teatre Comunal d’Andorra la Vella and for something less formal there is this the “theater” La Fada Ignorant (La FI) where take place shows and there is live music.
Santuari de Nostra Senyora de Meritxell
We warn you, there is so much to do and have fun, so better start now!
- Parc Central: this is the city park of Andorra la Vella thats it is made up of different areas dedicated to people of all ages, from the youngest to adults. It is not vast but very long, as this beautiful green space is located all along a stream. It is a very clean park and it has a very nice aspect due to the many trees and flowers, in any season you go, whether it is autumn or spring, it will give you a great shows to be admired.
- There are so many beautiful things to do in Andorra la Vella. So let’s see: if you decide to go to Andorra la Vella in winter and you love skiing, this is the perfect place for you, it is one of the main destinations for practicing this activity. The ski resorts to reach are Pas de la Casa, Soldeu or Gran Valira. And if you were there during the summer, dont worry, there is also something for you. You can go trekking in the mountains or choose a mountain bike trail if you love cycling. But if your favorite “sport” is shopping we recommend the Illa Carlemany Center Comercial (which is home to designer shops). Not far away form there, there is another shopping center, the Leclerc (which sells mainly technological objects).
- Relax in Spa. Yes you read that right. Another option is represented by the most famous spas in the city: the Caldea Thermal Baths which (not by chance) are considered the most beautiful spas in the world and it is easy to understand why. From the beautiful structure you can have a taste. Its beautiful pyramid-shaped glass that allows you to admire the wonderful surrounding landscape, to mention is its super cozy interior structure too. We are sure you will never want to leave.
- One of the most beautiful places in Andorra la Vella is certainly the historic center that extends between the districts of El Pui passing through the Barri Antic. The streets of this city are narrow streets all connected to ech other and all this makes them fascinating. In addition to this, there are the characteristic dwellings, such a real cultural asset of the Principality.
- Ponte della Margineda: it is a medieval bridge and is built in stone. It is not very long but it is very beautiful to cross as it is built on a river, the Valira river, which it will lead you to a very wooded area (which reminds the entrance of a forest). The bridge is located near Santa Coloma.
- Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley: this is a real valley, like those that you see in movies or cartoons. It really is such a charm that it has the full title of UNESCO World Heritage. This natural area is very much appreciated and a destination for lovers of photography, trekking or those who simply love nature. Streams, mountains, lots of green, an absolutely perfect mix!
- Solá irrigation canal trail: this is a great path to do. It is a long route with many paths (which will also make you pass by the Margineda bridge that we saw earlier) all strictly accompanied with a view of the magnificent city for the upper part and magnificent vegetation for the lower part. There will be places where you can stop and rest for a while. It is an easy path (which also has “shortcuts” for the lazy ones) that we suggest to do because it is really a good experience (certified by excellence among others) for your eyes, for your mind and why not, even for your muscles!
- Lake Engolasters: this magnificent lake is located right near the city of Andorra La Vella and therefore if you love this kind of landscape you cannot miss such a view. This is the main attraction of the place where many legends are all to be heard. A great idea for a perfect stop.
- Puente de Paris: surely you will come across this small bridge being located in a well-known street of Andorra la Vella. It is a bridge that is both pedestrian and not, that gives at the city an extra touch of modernity in place. Below this bridge there is a stream and a path where you can decide to have a walk or you do some shopping. Anyway if you pass by there in the evening, well, you will see the beautiful lighting of the bridge!
- Another beautiful bridge to visit, considered the cultural heritage of Andorra, is the Pont d’Engordany. Also located on a stream, this small passage will fascinate you. It is located on a more hidden part among the various houses. Really nice!
- Then we want to tell you about the impressive and beautiful sculptures of Andorra la Vella. The nobility of time located in Placa de la Rotonda that shows some women and a watch. What does it mean? Eh this is up to you to find out (when you discover it tell us). The beautiful Calidea i la Dama del Gel, this sculpture impressed us so much. It is situated on a fountain and represents a knight and a horse and some water between the two characters. At night it is very bright and in winter it is even more beautiful because often due to the cold the water freezes creating an extraordinary effect. In front of the administrative building of Andorra la Vella, in the central parc, there are the 7 Poetes, some tall statues that represent the 7 parishes of Andorra. A gem and a peculiarity of these sculptures are that they light up with different colors at night. One word: magnificent.
- Andorra la Vella is a small state so you don’t need days to visit it and so it’s sure that you will have some extra time left. In this case you can include in your itinerary some of these villages that we are going to list for you: Canillo, Ordino, Encamp, Les Bons, Prats or Ransol.
But if you want to spend your free time in total fun you can go to Vall Nord in La Messena where you can play paintball, even if the real gem of this area is definitely the golf course. You can also go to Naturlandia located in Sant Julià de Lòria for a nice adventure to have fun on a quad.
Andorra is not a very large city and consequently doesn’t have a super lively nightlife ( comparing it to the big cities too). Often people have fun together at Plaça del Poble (where, among other things, there take place fairs, traditional festivals…).
More in detail among the main places we find:
- Iqos Lounge: long bar
- Monopol 80´s Andorra: disco
- La Bodegueta Andorra: disco
- La Sal: disco
- XO Lounge: longue bar
- EL RANA BAR: specialized cocktail bar
We have already gave a look at something from the menu (we could not resist, eheh!). Well dear travelers, yes, the food here is so good!
Given the Spanish and French influence, even the food has been influenced by this creating a wonderful mix. Being a mountain town among the typical dishes we find cheeses and meat; but let’s not forget that there is also the river that bathes the city and therefore another typical dish is the andorrana trout, a fish-based dish, caught in the river of course.
- Escudella: there anything to say, this is a typical Andorian salami. So tasty!
- Pa amb tomaquet: it is a slice of bread seasoned with tomato that is rubbed and then seasoned with olive oil and salt. Very simple but super good!
- Embutido: there anything to say, this is a typical Andorian salami. So tasty!
- Crema andorrana: it is a similar dessert if not identical to the Catalan cream and so you know what we are talking about if you followed us on our trip to Spain.
- Torrijas:it is a sweet (so good!).It is a sort of toast dipped in milk (sometimes in wine) and then fried.
Pa amb tomaquet
WHERE TO EAT (RESTAURANTS/CAFE’…)
We are not sure where to taste the delicacies just mentioned, we let you decide but we will give you a little help, listing some places where we can go.
- Kökosnot: Mediterranean, European and international cuisine.
- Restaurante El Crosto: Mediterranean, European, Spanish cuisine.
- 13,5º birreria: European, fusion cuisine.
- Restaurant Versailles: French, European, Spanish cuisine.
- Big Ben Restaurant: French, Mediterranean, European cuisine.
- Restaurant Ca La Conxita: Mediterranean, Spanish, vegetarian cuisine.
- Atelier By Aitor Estela: bar/café /pub.
- SOHO CHIC: pub with fusion cuisine.
- Eximi: French, Mediterranean, European cuisine.
- K L’IRINA: Mediterranean cuisine.
- Veggie’s World: vegetarian cuisine, vegan options, gluten-free menu options.
Our first adventure in the principality of Andorra over, but its knowledge has just begun, so don’t miss the next Andorran appointment.
Let us know your opinions about this place. If you liked it or not, if you’ve been there or you’re going to go there? What you liked the most or least? We’re curious to read your opinions.
A big kiss to everyone.
Below we will list the accommodations that you can find in Andorra la Vella.