3 Interesting Things Learned After Visiting Andorra

Traveling to Andorra poses some challenges as it’s reachable only by car, nestled between France and Spain among the southern Pyrenees peaks. It takes around three hours from Perpignan, France, or Girona, Spain. During our 10-day holiday in Côte Vermeille and the Pyrenees, we seized the opportunity to explore Andorra.

Historic centre of Andorra La Vella

Andorra, famed for its tax-haven status, invites visitors with duty-free shopping. Andorra la Vella, Europe’s highest capital, serves as a retail hub for goods from Europe and Asia. It’s not just a shopping haven; Andorra is also a popular skiing destination. But what else sets Andorra apart?

After exploring Andorra, we unearthed three distinctive features that set this small mountainous country standing out:

  • Historic Centre with the smallest parliament in Europe, Casa de la Vall
  • Two Postal Systems serving around 20 thousand inhabitants
  • Numerous signposted hiking trails with breathtaking mountain views
Shopping street in Andorra la Vella

Historic Centre with the smallest parliament in Europe, Casa de la Vall

Casa de la Vall, one of the oldest parliament in Europe

The charming historic center of Andorra la Vella showcases monuments in traditional Andorran architecture. Notably, from 1702 until 2011, Casa de la Vall served as the former parliament, earning the distinction of being the smallest parliament and one of the oldest in Europe. Reflecting Catalonian influence, this architectural gem, dating back to the 1500s, resembles a small castle complete with towers, turrets, high walls, shuttered windows, and narrow slits, inviting visitors to step back in time.

New parliament building

In 2011, the new parliament building, inaugurated by the Co-Princes of Andorra in 2014, proudly stands beside its historical predecessor. Strategically positioned, the modern structure opens to reveal captivating views of the surrounding valley, seamlessly integrating contemporary governance with Andorra’s natural beauty..

Casa de la Vall; Visiting Andorra
new parliament building in one of the smallest states in Europeof Andorra

Church of Sant Esteve

In the city’s centre, the Sant Esteve church boasts a Romanesque semicircular apse and an imposing bell tower. While the original frescoes that adorned the apse now reside in the Art Museum of Catalonia, the church’s interior showcases a beautiful wooden beam from the same period and exquisite baroque altarpieces. Undoubtedly, it stands as one of the city’s most significant landmarks..

Shops and restaurants

The charming historic centre features an array of shops, offering items like jewellery, watches, perfumes, electronics, fashion, and accessories. Among these shops, a variety of restaurants entice visitors with a mix of traditional local dishes and international cuisines. Enjoy game dishes featuring ingredients like wild boar or hare, expertly stewed with wine and chocolate. During mushroom season, the restaurants showcase an enticing selection of delectable mushroom-based recipes.

Church of Sant Esteve
Historic centre; Visiting Andorra

Two Postal Systems serving around 20 thousand inhabitants

The only country without its postal system

You’ll notice two post boxes side by side, each displaying distinctive shapes and colours. These boxes symbolize the presence of two postal systems—Spanish and French—in Andorra. Although it’s an independent state without its postal service, Andorra stands out as the only country globally with dual postal systems.

A unique postal code system

Running concurrently, the postal code system implemented in July 2004 features a unique format distinct from Spain or France. Andorra’s postal code comprises the letters AD, succeeded by three digits. Both postal services in the country provide similar advantages and services as any post office in Spain or France.

Unique designed stamps

Both postal administrations issue distinctive postage stamps for use in Andorra with unique designs. However, these stamps are not valid in Spain and France. Additionally, these stamps only apply to international correspondence, as the postal service within Andorra is free.

two post boxes, one from Spanish system and the other from French system

Numerous signposted hiking trails with breathtaking mountain views

The breathtaking mountain views

Situated in the Pyrenees mountains, Andorra comprises a cluster of mountain valleys with a glacial landscape, steep valleys, nature parks, and open pastures. As we drove back to France along the main road CG-2, we made several stops to capture photos of the rolling mountains and lush greenery. While facing the breathtaking mountain views, the desire to spend a couple of days hiking there.

Well signposted hiking trails

Andorra is a haven for hiking enthusiasts, with signposted trails winding through natural spaces that encompass 90% of its territory. For detailed information on the primary hiking routes, including maps, duration, difficulty, elevation gain, and mountain shelters along the trail, you can visit this Andorra website.

Two easy trails around Andorra la Vella

The duration of the hiking routes in Andorra varies. If you find yourself in Andorra la Vella, you might consider trying the CAMÍ DEL SERRAT trail. This short stroll takes you through various plants and trees, all within the confines of Andorra la Vella.

The Tristaina Lake Trail, located not far from Andorra la Vella, is another easy-to-take hiking option. This 4 km loop walk takes you through mountain lakes, scenic spots, and even a good restaurant.

The Pyrenees' mountain view
Centre of Andorra La Vella; Visiting Andorra

Visiting Andorra travel tips

Where to stay

In Andorra la Vella, two hotels receive positive ratings, Acta Arthotel and Centric Atiram Hotel.

For the nature holidaymakers, the following hotels are good choices, Hotel & SPA Bringué in the pretty town Ordino and Font D’Argent Canillo next to the skiing area.

How to get there

  • From Barcelona, you can join a tour to discover three countries in one day. (Spain, France and Andorra)
  • The nearest airports, like Toulouse in France and Barcelona, provide minibus or coach services to Andorra.ra.
  • If you prefer driving, it takes about three hours from cities such as Barcelona and Perpignan.
  • The French rail operator SNCF operates trains to Gare Andorre L’Hospitalet just outside of the country. You can then connect via  Andorra Bus.
  • Spanish rail operator RENFE offers connections to Lleida. From there you catch a connection bus with Andorra Bus.


One comment

  1. My trip to Andorra was a dream come true. The country’s picturesque mountain landscape and excellent ski resorts left a lasting impression on me. The capital city, Andorra la Vella, was charming and offered plenty of shopping and dining options. I would highly recommend a visit to Andorra to anyone.

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