Nestled away in the Eastern Pyrenees, Andorra has quietly come about as one of Europe’s top skiing destinations. The Grandvalira is the largest ski resort in the Pyrenees and is acquiring more and more global competitions which has steadily brought tourism to Europe’s 6th smallest country. Comparatively different to other travel experiences with the pig, 5 lads set flight to Barcelona in the hope of getting some of Andorra’s finest pow. Here’s an overview of what your trip could be like here.
We used Air BnB as we found it best value for money. It also meant we could cook our own meals, which was joint responsibility of yours truly and my pal. The apartment could sleep 8 technically, although that was really pushing it & was £140 each for 5 nights. A 10 minute walk from the slopes and bars, albeit at an inclined gradient, we really had nothing to complain about.
Be warned though, make sure you don’t leave your key in the room… A Mission Impossible break in into our own apartment ensued after a few too many tipples and let me tell you, climbing a balcony half cut is not fun!
One of the major perks of the Grandvalira pass is you can pay marginally more (literally a few euros) and have the added bonus of lunch on the piste every day. Yes these were generic, sandwiches, pizza and chips but who cares?! The veal and chicken sandwiches in particular were bloody scrumptious. In the evenings we ate in and rustled up some gems, although we had a pizza night in Soldeu which was blooming grand! Gets decent reviews for a cheaper, takeaway pizza and was full of locals when we were there which we always take as a good sign.
Plenty of restaurants are dotted around the resort however and the majority of hotels have their own restaurant if you’ve got the $$ to spare.
Pre – skiing We had another great time here too. We hired a car from Barcelona airport which turned out to be £30 each. All was fine and smooth until the last day, where we were hit by a blizzard and had to run to catch our flight! There were plenty of options at the airport to choose from, so don’t fret. The drive from the airport took us approximately 3 hours, where we stopped in a lovely Spanish village along the way and got a Spanish omelette sandwich (eggs and potato), had an Aldi pit stop for alcohol (seriously, 99 cents for wine is asking for trouble) and took the opportunity to throw melon at each other at the side of the road before finishing our journey.
During skiing – In between the Grandvalira resorts is a connecting bus that runs regularly and only takes 20 minutes or so from one side of the resort to the other. It’s a nominal charge and you can deposit your ski gear in the hold. Even the bus drivers are friendly!
I mean it’s a ski resort, so this one is fairly self explanatory. Open your window, take a deep breath & gaze at what those tectonic plates created all those moons ago! Other sites from this trip include a lot of empty bottles, sweaty ski gear and semi naked men.
I think for the nature of the holiday this is worth adding. Pas De La Casa in the Grandvalira is known as the Ibiza of the slopes. I don’t know if it’s us a group becoming a bit older but it was grubby and more like a knock off Benidorm! We went to a couple of bars in Soldeu and an apres bar in El Tarter called Abarset. It’s a ABarSet on the slopes so those wee Andorran’s are clever with their naming.
In Soldeu, we got the vibe that it was a close community of locals and seasonnaires and that gave the bars a great ambience. Live music, cheaper drinks than what you’d expect in ski resorts and loose people entailed for a belter of a time. Fat Albert’s, Aspen, The Harp & Popi’s Disco. Nothing more deserving than a cold beer after a day on the snow.
Of course, the most important aspect of any ski holiday! We were flabbergasted by the quality of the piste throughout. Even when the weather was tropical and you could cook eggs on the snow, the next day the piste was maintained to perfection. The Grandvalira is one of two resorts in Andorra, along with Vallnord and the difficulty, distance and variety is expansive.
There are two snow parks, a great blend of beginner to advanced slopes and very efficient chairlifts, which if aren’t working correctly can really ruin your day. The weather, although highly unpredictable at the best of times, tended to have a shower of murky mist and snow followed by glorious sunshine.
For more information on the Grandvalira area, please consult their website.
For specific information to Soldeu, please consult their website.
Happy Winters guys! Peace!