People may tell you Andorra’s nothing but skiing and shopping. They might add that Andorra la Vella, its capital and only town, is a fuming traffic jam bordered by palaces of consumerism. (Fact: Andorra has over 2000 shops – more than one for every 40 inhabitants). They’re right to a point, but also way off course. Shake yourself from Andorra la Vella’s tawdry embrace, take one of only three secondary roads in the state and discover some of the most dramatic scenery in all of the Pyrenees.
This minicountry wedged between France and Spain offers by far the best skiing in the Pyrenees, like in Canillo & Soldeu or Arinsal & Pal. In the last five years, its resorts have invested over €50 million in mountain cafés and restaurants, chairlifts and gondolas, car parks and snow-making machines. And once the snows have melted, summer activities are to be had in Ordino & around. There’s great walking in abundance, ranging from easy strolls to demanding day hikes in the higher, more remote reaches of the principality.
A warning though: this may not be the case a few years from now. Greed and uncontrolled development risk spoiling those side valleys. Already the pounding of jackhammers drowns out the winter thrum of ski lifts and threatens the silence of summer.