When I was first invited on a ski trip to Andorra I was a tad apprehensive. But after a quick Google I discovered that skiing in Andorra is PERFECT for all levels of skier, from beginners (like me) to pros.
In this article I’m going to tell you all about my Andorra ski holiday. From the different Andorra ski resorts to what to do when you’re not skiing, I’ve got you covered. Let’s hit the slopes.
Skiing in Andorra – A Guide
How to Get to Andorra
Most people choose to reach Andorra by flying into Barcelona airport. From there the transfer time is around 4 hours.
Andorra can also be reached from other airports such as Toulouse. The transfer time from Toulouse is 2-3hours.
Transfers are normally included as part of your ski holiday if you book through a ski specialist travel agency.
Andorra Ski Resorts
There are plenty of different ski resorts in Andorra and they all have their pros and cons. I’m going to focus on Soldeu, Pas de la Casa and Arinsal as they are the ones I skied (or attempted to) and spent my time in.
Skiing in Soldeu
Soldeu is part of the Grand Valira ski resort. Grand Valira is the largest ski resort in the Pyrennes with over 200km of runs and 128 slopes, connecting Soldeu and Pas de la Casa.
Grand Valira lift passes start from €30 for a morning pass or €51 for a day pass. You can see the full list of prices here.
Soldeu has been named one of the best budget ski destinations in Europe. It is also a great ski resort for beginners and it’s more family-friendly than other resorts such as Pas de la Casa.
For both of the above reasons Soldeu is very popular with Irish and English tourists and most people in the area speak English.
The lift up to the slopes in Soldeu is a bit of a longer walk than some of the other resorts. This is always my least favourite part of skiing because I feel like Robocop trying to walk around in the ski boots.
I visited in January so there was pretty much no queue for any of the ski lifts at any of the resorts. I imagine around the February half term it’s probably a very different story altogether.
During my time in Soldeu I took two ski lessons. My group had an instructor called Liam who, in his spare time, plays in a local band. He was a funny and encouraging.
However, we did two 2hr lessons and halfway through the second one I had had more than enough. I called it quits and heading back down to dump my rented ski gear (from Shus Ski Rental) and have a shower.
Knowing when to quit is VERY important when skiing. I mean, it’s really about the après-ski anyway, right?!
Out of the three Andorra resorts that I’m reviewing here I think Soldeu is the best for beginners. There is a button lift and rope pull on the beginner slopes which I definitely prefer to the carpet lifts and the beginner slopes are not too steep or icy (or they weren’t when I was there in January).
Between lessons I had lunch at the La Cabana Espiolets restaurant which is right by the nursery slopes. It is a sort of cafeteria situation where you choose what you’d like and it’s dished out to you. The portions were hearty and the food was tasty.
Not everything is about the slopes and skiing. So, what about the actual town of Soldeu?
I stayed at Hotel Himalaia in Soldeu. They have a very decent breakfast with omelette/fried egg station that will keep you going until lunch time on the slopes. They also have a sauna, Turkish bath and hot tub on site – prefect for relaxing after a hard day on the slopes.
The rooms are cozy with modern Alpine design. My room had a balcony overlooking the main street which was nice for the views but also got a bit noisy when people were out partying in the bar across the road.
There’s not too much to do in the actual town of Soldeu apart from eating, drinking, a spot of shopping and relaxing in the spa.
When it comes to food there are some great places to eat in Soldeu. La Cort del Popaire is a beautiful little restaurant in a stone building where you can watch them cooking your meal over the grill.
Pessons Lake Restaurant or Refugi del Llac de Pessons, though not actually in the main town, serves up a delicious meal in an incredible setting. You can ski to this restaurant during the day or you can book an evening meal where you take a snowcat to the restuarant.
Taking a snowcat up to Pessons Lake Restaurant was one of my favourite experiences during my stay at Soldeu. The restaurant itself was beautifully decorated in full mountain lodge style. The vegetarian options were wonderful and the dessert was spectacular, highly recommend!
Overall Soldeu is perfect for a quieter family ski trip. You can read more about the resort and ski packages to Soldeu HERE.
Skiing in Pas de la Casa
Pas de la Casa is a younger, more vibrant ski resort where people like to party. It’s still nowhere near as wild as the party resorts of Austria and France, but for Andorra it’s as wild as it gets.
Pas de la Casa is also part of Grand Valira so the lift pass prices are the same as I mentioned earlier.
The ski lift is a bit easier to get to than the one in Soldeu, but the beginner slope is a bit of pain because there are two carpet lifts (no one likes a carpet lift). The area in front of the lifts in Pas de la Casa can get a bit crowded, I wouldn’t like to see it in February or March to be honest.
That being said I really enjoyed my time in Pas de la Casa. We had two lessons there and Yann, an actual Andorran, was our instructor. He’s a fishing guide during the summer. I liked him a lot. He was very straight to the point, no frills and broke down the techniques really well.
We did a green and blue slope all the way to the bottom and it was so much fun. It was an awfully long chair lift to the top of it, but it was very fun on the way down.
The après-ski at the nursery slopes was wild. There was rap blaring from the speakers, people dancing and drinking. I’ve no idea how those people drinking managed to make it down to the bottom at the end of the day.
We had lunch up at the top of the slopes. It was just a baguette and some crisps but the hot chocolate was delicious. It’s definitely not the best place for beginners because you have to ski down. I’d stick with the bar at the nursery slopes if you’re not a confident skiier.
SIDE NOTE – Always be careful when you have your skis off and are walking around the bars/restaurants. It can get a bit icy and a slip could be dangerous.
We used Rent a Ski rental shop for our equipment. There was a puppy there during our visit, I can’t guarantee that for your visit but you never know.
If you’re feeling homesick then make sure to check out the local Irish bar, Paddy’s. There’s a snowboard and set of skis strapped to the ceiling. If you’re up to the challenge you can be lifted up, strapped into the snowboard/skis and fed copious amounts of alcohol as you hang upside down. FUN TIMES.
You can read more about Pas de la Casa and ski holidays to Pas de la Case – HERE.
Skiing in Arinsal
Arinsal is part of the Vallnord ski area which consists of Pal-Arinsal and Arcalis. There are 93km of runs for skiers to take advantage of.
Vallnord (including Arcalis) lift pass prices start from €86 for a 2 day pass. Pal-Arinsal lift pass prices start from €35 for a half-day pass. You can view the full list of prices HERE.
Personally, I loved the town of Arinsal, but very much did not enjoy the skiing. The nursery slopes were steeper than Soldeu and Pas de la Casa and they were incredibly icy when we visited. Of course, that was January – I’m sure they’re better in Feb/March.
The nursery slopes have carpet lifts, which, as I’ve mentioned, are not great. Our instructor, Kayleigh (or Ceilidh) was very positive and supportive. Though I 100% ended up in tears and hyper ventilating because I did NOT love the green/blue slopes.
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Of course, that was just my experience. The more experienced skiers in my group really enjoyed Arinsal.
Arinsal is a very picturesque little town. During my time there I stayed at the 4* Princesa Parc Hotel. The rooms are bright and modern and they have a lovely spa. It’s also very close to the cable car and ski slopes.
We had lunch in Restaurant 360 and it was probably my favourite meal of the whole trip. The restaurant has a lovely outdoor terrace and a very veggie-friendly menu.
If you want a fun night out then head to the Irish bar, Derby Irish Pub, and it’s only a 5 minute walk from the Princesa Parc Hotel.
You can read more about Arinsal ski holidays – HERE.
Things to do in Andorra When You’re Not Skiing
Caldea Thermal Spa
If you want a bit of R&R head straight to Caldea Thermal Spa. It is absolutely perfect for relaxing those muscles after a hard day on the slopes. Even if you haven’t been skiing it’s just the perfect place for a bit of self care.
They have all sorts of facilities from a pool full of grapefruit (refreshing!) to a lazy river. There are saunas, steam rooms and hammams, which should warm you up after being out in the cold.
Jacuzzis are absolutely everywhere, even on the roof. The outdoor heated pool on the rooftop is definitely my favourite part of Caldea Thermal Spa as it has jacuzzi chairs and incredible views.
Best let’s talk practicalities. The spa provides robes, towels and slippers if you have bought a ticket for Inúu. Otherwise you can rent them for a small fee. So really you just need to bring swimwear. There are lockers where you can store your valuables too.
Inúu is the adults only space and the other spaces (Thermoludic and Likid) are open to children and adults.
You can buy tickets to Thermoludic from around €33 per person. Tickets to Inúu start from approximately €60 depending on the time of day and year. If you buy entrance to Inúu you also have access to Origins and Thermoludic.
You can buy 3 day passes to Inúu or Thermoludic which work out cheaper. The 3 day Inúu pass brings the daily rate down to around €50/day. It might seem pricey but honestly you feel like incredible afterwards. It is truly relaxing.
I HIGHLY recommend a visit to Caldea Thermal Spa. You can read more about it on the website –HERE.
Shopping in Andorra la Vella
Shopping in Andorra can yield great bargains. Perfume, cosmetics, alcohol and tobacco products are what people usually go for. I got myself a large bottle of Captain Morgan’s for €10.
The VAT on these items is lower in Andorra than most other European countries, so you can definitely save money buying your favourite items while in Andorra instead of at home.
Some goods are only subject to 4.5% tax in comparison to 19% in most of Europe.
However, there are limits on how much of certain items that you can take out of Andorra. For example, 5 litres of wine, 1.5 litres of spirits, 75g of perfume, 150 cigars etc. You can read the complete guidelines HERE.
Book Your Ski Trip to Andorra
I visited Andorra with DirectSki who organised pretty much everything for me. All of their ski packages include return flights with 20KG luggage allowance, return transfers from the airport to the resort and back, accommodation and in-resort Rep service.
In terms of cost Andorra is one of the more budget-friendly destinations for a ski trip. At the moment ski holidays to Andorra for January 2020 start at around €400 per person. You can check out all the deals HERE.
For best prices see www.directski.com. Package holiday prices include return flights from Dublin with 20kg luggage allowance, return transfers, accommodation for 7 nights on a half board basis, taxes and rep services in resort.
One final thing before you book yourself a ski trip to Andorra (or anywhere) – make sure you have insurance!! Skiing cover is usually an extra add on to travel insurance so make sure to read the fine print and be sure that you’re covered. Safety first!
My trip was hosted by Direct Ski. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. This article was not paid for.