Andorra, Grandvalira ski resort
Yes, that is the short answer. Andorra is the winter destination for the skier who has seen it all.
Or, in more detail: What is good enough for professional skiers is probably good enough for you. This is, after all, the location for the world cup speed skiing finals. With 210 kilometres of skiable area, a la carte restaurants, hotels on the slopes, snow parks, comfortable soft seated chairlifts, daycare, cross-country pistes and children-designated areas, the Grandvalira resort offers something for everyone.
Andorra for skiing
The slopes in Andorra consist of six connected areas: Pas de la Casa, Grau Roig, Soldeu, El Tarter, Canillo and Encamp. It is possible to ski from one area to another via pine-framed paths. When the trees wake up early in the morning, you get a hint of Christmas scent. The capricious peaks of the Pyrenees surround the ski area.
An app (MyGrandvalira) shows your location, keeps track of the route and tells you your maximum speed.
That leads to all sorts of new insights:
“Mummy, Mom, according to the app, I went 84 kilometres per hour.“
“No, it is not dangerous to ski so fast along the cliff edge because there are safety nets in place.“
Enjoy winter sports in Andorra
Strategically on the slope, terraces make a perfect location to calm down after the heart attack caused by your brood’s comments. Whilst sipping champagne and eating oysters (yes, seriously), enjoy all that surrounding beauty and rest your legs well.
Which, incidentally, does not necessarily have to be better than ‘junk food’ because I’ve eaten the tastiest burger ever on one of the slopes of the Grandvalira.
All in all, rather pleasant because after ten seasons on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada, I was ready for some ‘fresh snow’. I am the first to admit it. I am spoiled! As Europe’s most southern ski resort is charming indeed.
Only here, in Andorra, everything is a size bigger. On a given day, one does not have to do the same slope twice during a day of skiing.
Pistes Grandvalira, Andorra ski resort
The size of the ski resort is also a disadvantage because getting back to the starting point takes quite some time, mainly because the connecting lifts between the different areas can be a bit of a bottleneck on busy days.
That means starting early to return to your point of departure. Count on a few hours for your return trip, depending on your experience and knowledge of the area.
If you are too late, take the ski bus back to your departure point. These run every half hour during the winter. That will not be a big problem for most winter sports enthusiasts, but if you, like me, rather be lazy than tired, try to avoid being late to take the last lift.
What will a skiing holiday cost you?
A family skiing holiday is never cheap, but it does not have to break the bank.
- To rent a flat will set you back from 25 euros per person per night.
- Prices in regular supermarkets are comparable to those in the rest of Western Europe. Try to avoid the corner shop as you will likely pay twice the regular price.
- A ski pass costs 51 euros per day. With a ‘ski pass plus’, you get a discount from day two and only pay if you ski on that day. Family discounts and children’s rates apply. The passes must be arranged online in advance.
- Winter sports insurance costs 2.50 euros per person per day, which must be organised before you hit the slope.
- The hiring of equipment: (skis, shoes, poles, helmet), depending on the quality of the equipment, costs around 15 – 30 euros per day.
- Parking at the gondolas is free (El Tarter) or costs a few euros daily.
Andorra is not part of the EU
Euros are used as the currency. However, Andorra is not part of the EU. This is important for several reasons:
- The tax rates are much lower than in most of the EU. So, if you’re into booze, cigarettes and other addictive drugs, this is the place to go shopping.
- To avoid unpleasant surprises after the holiday, consult the rates for roaming in Andorra.
- Check your health and travel insurance. Take out additional insurance if necessary; click here to obtain a quote.
Andorra La Vella
Andorra la Vella is the capital of this little microstate at the crossroads of Spain and France. The official language is Catalan, but you also come a long way with French, Spanish, and English.
It is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, but there is not much to do otherwise lovely. Andorra la Vella has some nice old buildings, and you can shop well.
On days with lousy skiing weather, visit the Caldea spa, an 18-storey glass building in the city’s centre.
- Some areas offer the possibility of storing skis in a locker overnight.
- A ski bus runs every half an hour in winter between the different starting points.
- Although it is not necessarily necessary to go by car, it is helpful if, for example, you want to go shopping in a different location.
- If you go in the winter by car, bring snow chains.
- The nearest airport is either Barcelona or Toulouse.
Grandvalira ski resort
- The highest point is 2815 meter and lowest 1710 meter
- Total pistes 210 km: green 16% 34 km, blue 38% 79 km, rood 30% 62 km, black 16% 35 km
- Lifts: gondolas 5, chair lifts 30, towing lifts 22
More Winter Activities
Snowshoeing The winter wonderland of northern Italy is a great place to relax. On the snow-covered mountains, life doesn't get much better. But while it is 20º C on New Year's Day in the Swiss alps (source), I wonder how long I can, in good conscience, continue with...
Val Gardena in South Tyrol lies between rugged mountains, the Dolomites. Well-maintained slopes have guaranteed snow due to the altitude and snow cannons.
The Black Forest in the South West of Germany is an ideal winter destination for families. A ski holiday combined with other in- and outdoors activities.