April 19, 2024

Andorra Travel: 6 Tips You Need to Know

Andorra is a small, independent country sitting in between Spain and France in the Pyrenees.  It may not be the first country you think of when planning a European holiday; however, it does have a lot to offer to tourists.  In fact, Andorra travel is ramping up and the country is almost entirely geared towards tourism.  Numerous ski resorts have opened up over the past few years, and the tax free shopping is a huge draw for many.

Despite being just a small mountain territory, it’s still worth planning ahead for your visit, however.  And this means being aware of the cultures, customs and risks.  While Andorra is, on the whole, safe, here are some tips to keep in mind before you travel.

Be Respectful

There is very little crime in Andorra, and this could possibly be put down to the country wanting to entice tourism.  However, it’s got a lot to do with Andorran culture as well.  The Andorran people are friendly and welcoming to all who visit them.  And, with the second highest life expectancy in the world, and the beautiful countryside surrounding them, it’s not really any surprise.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that Andorrans are very proud of their culture.  While much of this is heavily influenced by Spain and France, it is very important not to refer to them as such.  Doing so could strain their sense of hospitality.

Know That You May Be Charged Tax Upon Exiting Andorra

While Andorra is a tax haven, there are strict controls on what you can take across the border without having to pay any tax.  Similar to an airport duty free, you can take 350ml of perfume, 300 cigarettes, 5l of wine and 1.5l of spirits without paying tax.  Food is also controlled, so make sure not to take too much back with you.

If you are planning on transporting a lot of goods, it’s best to arrive at customs outside of peak time.  Congestion can be bad during the weekends.

Pay Attention to Ski Reports

There are dozens of different ski slopes in Andorra, and this can make it hard to keep up with any potential dangers and slope closures.  This means you need to pay special attention to ski condition reports.  There are a number of websites that can help you with this, including Snow Forecast and On The Snow.

If you plan on skiing off piste, rather than at one of the resorts, make sure to take a map with you.  Ideally you should follow a signposted trail as well, or hire a guide.  The vast amount of trails means it’s relatively easy to get lost.

Bonus tip: If you’re planning on doing a lot of skiing on your Andorra holiday, invest in a Ski Andorra Pass.  These can be purchased from the Grandvalira website and will give you access to over 280km of runs at a discounted rate.

Andorra Travel

Get a Fishing License

Trout fishing in Andorra’s rivers and lakes is a popular pastime and many tourists are joining the locals and getting in on the action.  If you want to give fishing a go, it’s important, however, to get a fishing license.  These can be picked up from tourist information centres and tackle shops in all of the main towns and cities.  The shop owner will also be able to provide you with information about the best sites to visit, and the opening dates – this is dependent on the amount of snowfall.

While travelling to a fishing spot, do be careful on the terrain.  While many of the summer hiking routes are well marked, the sheer climbs and rugged trails aren’t the easiest to navigate.  Making sure you are well prepared and have let someone know where you are going is key.

Be Wary of Wild Boar

When walking around the Andorran shops, you may be surprised by the amount of heavy weaponry on display.  Everything from submachine guns to sniper rifles can be found stacked next to tins of beans and postcards.  The reason for this is the strong hunting tradition in Andorra.  The official hunting season begins in September, and brings thousands out to the valleys.  Native deer and wild boars are the most common targets.

The reason we’ve added this tip in is because, even if you aren’t hunting, it pays to be wary of wild boar.  They can be seen during all seasons in the Andorran forests, and their numbers haven’t dwindled despite being hunted.  While most wild boar will run away upon hearing humans, some may attack, especially if they are defending their young.  If you feel in danger, don’t run.  Instead, climb the nearest tree and wait for the threat to abate.

Leave the Car Behind

One of the few frustrating things that tourists encounter in Andorra is the traffic.  The only way into and out of the country is through the narrow valleys.  And, with icy conditions being common, you’ll want to have some experience of winter driving behind you.

With commuters, tourists and locals all using the same narrow passes, congestion can be bad.  Parking can be just as much of a nightmare, and you don’t want to ignore the restrictions as the parking inspectors are surprisingly dedicated.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however.  There’s really no need to take a car into the country at all.  Regular buses travel into Andorra from the nearby airports of Girona, Barcelona, Carcassone, Perpignan and Toulouse.  Much of the accommodation in the country also offers airport transfers.

Andorra is a fantastic place to visit for a holiday, but it’s well worth keeping the above tips in mind.

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