Help Wikitravel grow by contributing to an article! Learn how.
New users, please see Help or go to the Pub to ask questions.

Difference between revisions of "Andorra"

From Wikitravel
Europe : Iberia : Andorra
Jump to: navigation, search
(By car: This is no airport. Who wrote this rubbish?)
(ch km squared (quite misleading!) to km w/superscript)
Line 15: Line 15:
 
| calling code=+376
 
| calling code=+376
 
}}
 
}}
'''Andorra''' [http://www.andorra.ad/en-US/Pages/default.aspx] is a small (pop. 73,100, size 464 km squared), mountainous country in the [[Pyrenees]] mountains in [[Europe]], and is on the [[Iberia|Iberian Peninsula]], on the border between [[France]] and [[Spain]], in Southern Europe.
+
'''Andorra''' [http://www.andorra.ad/en-US/Pages/default.aspx] is a small (pop. 73,100, size 464 km<sup>2</sup>), mountainous country in the [[Pyrenees]] mountains in [[Europe]], and is on the [[Iberia|Iberian Peninsula]], on the border between [[France]] and [[Spain]], in Southern Europe.
  
 
==Cities==
 
==Cities==

Revision as of 05:08, 4 December 2010

[[File:noframe|250px|frameless|Andorra]]
Location
[[File:noframe|250px|frameless]]
Flag
[[File:An-flag.png|108px|frameless]]
Quick Facts
Capital Andorra La Vella
Government parliamentary democracy
Currency euro (EUR)
Area 468 sq km
Population 71,201 (July 2006 est.)
Language Catalan (official), French, Castilian, Portuguese
Religion Roman Catholic (predominant and official)
Electricity 220/50Hz (European plug)
Internet TLD .ad
Time Zone UTC +1

Andorra [1] is a small (pop. 73,100, size 464 km2), mountainous country in the Pyrenees mountains in Europe, and is on the Iberian Peninsula, on the border between France and Spain, in Southern Europe.

Contents

Cities

Andorra is arguably a city-state and has no distinct cities as such.

  • Andorra La Vella -- capital city (pop. 23,300) of Andorra, and the main shopping destination.

One thing that this charming beautifully set high mountain capital city does not have is a lot of room.

Imagine a steep gorge in the mountains and now cram into it a whole capital city complete with roads, restaurants, souvenir shops, services, hotels and transport system, and you have Andorra La Vella. That's not much room for nearly 24,000 citizens plus a vast number of tourists. It also doesn't lay the way for middle of the road prices and fast service. You need patience in Andorra La Vella and you shouldn't complain if the simplest business has made room for a couple of cars and charges you for it.

Parking before or after the city and using public transport is very definitely an option and a must if you didn't cover the excess (CDW) 100% on that hire car.

Towns

Principat d'Andorra (67'159*) is divided into parishes-administrative divisions named (population* in brackets):

- Bordering on Spain: Sant Julia de Loria (7.785), Andorra La Vella (20.724) and Escaldes-Engordany 15.528.

- Bordering on both France and Spain: La Massana (6.660) and Encamp 10.772

- Bordering on France: Canillo (3.205), Ordino (2.485)

Population * figures of = 2002

Other destinations

Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley

Understand

Andorra map.png

For 715 years, from 1278 to 1994, Andorrans lived under a unique co-principality ruled by the French chief of state and the Spanish bishop of Urgel. In 1993, this feudal system was modified with the titular heads of state retained, but the government transformed into a parliamentary democracy. Long isolated and impoverished, mountainous Andorra achieved considerable prosperity since World War II through its tourist industry. Many migrant workers (legal and illegal) are attracted to the thriving economy with its lack of income taxes.

Economy

Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounts for roughly 80% of GDP. An estimated 9 million tourists visit annually, attracted by Andorra's duty-free status and by its summer and winter resorts. Andorra's comparative advantage has recently eroded as the economies of neighboring France and Spain have been opened up, providing broader availability of goods and lower tariffs. The banking sector, with its "tax haven" status, also contributes substantially to the economy. Agricultural production is limited -- only 2% of the land is arable -- and most food has to be imported. The principal livestock activity is sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture. Andorra is a member of the EU Customs Union and is treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods (no tariffs) and as a non-EU member for agricultural products.

Electricity

Electricity is supplied at 220 to 230V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" or the compatible, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types.

Get in

Due mainly to the mountainous nature of Andorra, there is only one road entering Andorra from France, and only one widely-used road entering Andorra from Spain. Almost all entry into the country happens at one of these two points.

Visitors from outside the EU should note that Andorra is not a Schengen member, and exiting France or Spain into Andorra will (theoretically) terminate a single-entry visa. In practice, though, immigration does not enforce this.

By plane

There are no airports in Andorra - however there are daily coach services from the airports in Barcelona in Spain and Toulouse in France to Andorra.

The nearest airports are: Perpignan (France) 128 km to the east, no coach connections but you can take a Yellow train to La tour de Carol and further to l'Hospitalet. Toulouse–Blagnac (France) 196 km (121.8 mi) to the north Barcelona (Spain) 202 km (125.5 mi) to the south (From airports to Andorra by car: 3 hours)

By helicopter from the above airports, up 4 places, 35 minutes.


Andorra heliport [2] 2007-05-14

  • An airport for Andorra has come a step closer with the announcement that the Catalan Government has bought the land at Seu d'Urgell to develop an airport, for 8 million Euros.
  • Andorra will pay for the building of the airport, just ten minutes from the Andorran capital. With the opening due in 3-4 years, this will impact property prices and encourage more ski holiday visitors.

By train

There are no train lines or stations in Andorra, and none close to the Spanish border. The nearest rail stations are:

  • L'Hospitalet (France) 3 km/1.85 mls from the Andorran border. With SNCF to L’Hospitalet. From L’Hospitalet to Andorra by bus (regular service)
  • Puigcerdà (Spain) 80 km/50 mls from Andorra


That said, the French railway company, SNCF, operates a daily bus service (TER Midi-Pyrénées line 22 Toulouse/Foix/Latour-de-Carol) connecting the train station of L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre (also called Andorre-L'Hospitalet-SNCF or simply L'Hospitalet) to the first town after the Andorran border, the supposedly shoppers paradise Pas de la Casa, from where it's possible to take frequent buses to Andorra-la-Vella — every 30min with Cooperativa Interurbana (+376 806 556, line 4) or cia Hispano-Andorrana (+376 807 000, [3]).

From L'Hopitalet to Pas de la Casa, the journey with the SNCF bus costs 2,90€ full fare, and all the regular SNCF discounts apply. For the scenic journey between Pas de la Casa and Andorra-la-Vella, the price is 5,60€.

Alternatively, Hispano-Andorrana bus company runs services twice a day from the L'Hospitalet train station directly to Andorra-la-Vella, also calling at some other stops, for ±8€.

As of October 2010, reaching Andorra by train is only cost-effective for holders of SNCF discount cards such as Carte 12-25 or those coming with the sleeper train from Paris; other travelers would be better off taking a direct bus service from nearby cities like Toulouse. In any case, everybody under 26 years-old traveling off-peak hours with SNCF is entitled to the "Découvert 12-25" discount.

Caution: one should bear in mind that the L'Hospitalet train station is located in a deserted area, is often unmanned, and its rooms have restricted open hours, so it's important to match connections well. If you need assistence, you may want to call the Toulouse train station at +33 8 91 67 76 77.

By car

Roads in Andorra are generally of a good quality. Entering from the Spanish side is a relatively straightforward drive; however entering from France is a more stressful affair involving many hairpin bends. Border control officers at both sides are generally fine. Entering Andorra, you generally do not need to even stop, but you must slow down and be prepared to stop if requested. When leaving Andorra, you must stop and be prepared for delays during busy times . Be sure your car is in good condition, since Andorra is very high.

Also beware of black ice and snow drifts as the temperature in Andorra can be much colder than at sea level.

The approach from the French side passes through the 2.9km long Tunel d'Envalira which requires a credit or debit card for payment of the fee. The amounts are: winter (remainder of year)

  • Cars €5.60 (€4.80)
  • Others €16.70 (€10.70)

Winter is from 1st December to 31st March


Car rental The usual car hire companies operate from locations such as 'down town'; the desks are sometimes quiet and unmanned so it may be a good idea to book in advance online, your rates should still be good value.

  • From December to March, is recommended to have winter tires and/or snow chains to hand in the car.

Taxi Taxi Josep provides a Mercedes Benz car and speaks many languages Tel: 376 323111; Taxi Domènec Segura provides a van but does not speak English or French tel: 34 636 490 685. Taxi Josep can arrange the ride with Taxi Domènec Segura if you absolutely need a van. Payment must be in cash.

Taxi Barras 376 323743 provides local service.

By bus

There are many coach services operating into Andorra. From France there is a coach service, Novatel [4] from Toulouse downtown at the bus station (Matabiau) as well as from the Toulouse–Blagnac airport. Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure as the driver will leave once everyone who was waiting has boarded. The Novatel bus is easily identified by its name in large letters on the side. The bus stop at the Toulouse airport is close to where the fire truck is parked. A second coach service operates via L'Hospitalet and La Tour de Carol. From Spain, coaches to Andorra can be caught from a variety of locations, such as Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Lleida and Valencia.

There are at least 2 bus companies operating daily service from Barcelona airport. Eurolines goes from outside the door of Terminal B, but you must be early and quick because the driver has a habit of arriving early and driving off if no-one is there. Also you don't pay for the ticket at the airport, but travel to the Barcelona Sants and have to get off to buy a ticket. Service is slow. One should also remember that you will need to show your passport here. Trip time is about 3.5 to 4 hours.

The bus company Alsina Graells has eight trips a day from Barcelona. The trip takes 3.5-4 hours and costs €23 one-way and €40 round trip.

Novatel also operates a service from the Barcelona airport.

Bus or shuttle services between Andorra and:

  • Barcelona Airport and Barcelona, Toulouse Airport
  • Madrid, Valencia, Alicante, Castellon, Zaragoza, Lleida, Tarragona.

Get around

If you have a few days in Andorra, then you can easily visit most of the main villages by the local bus service called the Cooperativa Interurbana Andorrana, S.A. [5]

There are 8 main bus lines or 'linies', and all of these pass through Andorra La Vella. The fare is anything from 1€20 to two or three euros depending on how far you are going. Drivers will provide change. For the towns nearest to Andorra La Vella, the service is very regular, and as frequent as every 30 minutes during the day. If you are travelling to the outlying places like El Serrat, Arinsal and El Pas del la Casa, there are only 2 or 3 buses per day.

The lines are:

  • L1 Sant Julia de Loria - Escaldes-Engordany
  • L2 Andorra la Vella - Encamp
  • L3 Andorra la Vella - Encamp - Canillo
  • L4 Andorra la Vella - Encamp - Canillo - Soldeu
  • L5 Andorra la Vella - Encamp - Encamp - Canillo - El Pas de la Casa
  • L6 Andorra la Vella - La Massana - Arinsal
  • L7 Andorra la Vella - La Massana - Ordino
  • L8 Andorra la Vella - La Massana - Ordino - El Serrat

Talk

Andorra's official language is Catalan, but almost everyone speaks Spanish. French and Portuguese are widely spoken too. English is also spoken by those involved in the tourism industry.

Buy

Euros are used throughout Andorra. Andorra La Vella is a good destination to buy all kinds of cheap goods, due to the country's status as a "tax haven."

See

Do

Ski Resorts

Most of these resorts were once small mountain villages which have grown in recent years due to skiing. In recent years the resorts have all joined together so that your ski pass covers neighbouring areas. As a result there are now just two areas known as Vallnord and Grandvalira.

Vallnord covers Arcalis and the Arinsal-Pal ski area. Arcalis is quite distant away from Arinsal-Pal but the latter have been joined up in recent years by a cable car connecting the two ski areas. The Arisnal-Pal ski area is directly accessible from La Massana right from the middle of the town. 93km of pists.

Grandvalira covers Soldeu and Pas de la Casa. The Soldeu ski area is also accessible from Encamp and Canillo. This quite cleverly has opened up these areas to cope with the influence of visitors without putting all the strain on Soldeu. About 400km of pists.

  • Pas de la Casa -- skiing resort located right on the French border.
  • Soldeu -- skiing resort
  • Arcalis-- ski area located at the head of the valley from El Serrat
  • Arinsal -- skiing resort part of the Arinsal Pal ski area. Also known as Vallnord which means Valley North in English
  • Pal -- skiing resort part of the Arinsal Pal ski area.
  • Arinsal-Pal -- Actually two skiing areas connected by cable car. See Arinsal and Pal.

Hiking and Trekking

If you would like more information on the mountain huts in Andorra, go to Mountain huts in Andorra [6]. A good way for hiking and trekking in Andorra is staying at the Himàlaia Hotel in Soldeu [7], that has its own Hiking team of guides who go every day with their guests to walk and discover a lot of interesting hiking routes around the country.

Mountain stream during Summer, Andorra

Andorra is a great place for hiking. The point of departure is the town of Arinsal at the foot of the Coma Pedrosa (2,942 m) and the Pic de Médécourbe (2,914 m).

  • Treks from Arinsal (1,500 m) - Pic de Sanfons (2,888 m, 4h45, climb 1,310 m, medium until the hut, difficult on the ridge). View on the Coma Pedrosa, the valley of Tor, the lakes of Baiau in Spain as well as on the Pallars mountains. Mountain hut and lake on the way. Parking at Torrent Ribal 1,580 m.
  • Pic de Médécourbe 2,914 m 4h30, climb 1,335 m, medium until the hut increasing to difficult on the ridge). A classic! Mountain hut half-way up, lakes and a breathtaking view over the valley of Arinsal, Boet and Vicdessos (France). Parking at Torrent Ribal 1,580 m.
  • Pic de Coma Pedrosa 2,942 m 4h30, climb 1,370 m, medium until the lake, difficult on the ridge). The highest mountain in Andorra. Mountain hut half way up, lakes. Beautiful view of the surrounding summits, the valley of Arinsal and to the West, the Maladeta and Ecantats massifs. Parking at Torrent Ribal 1580m.
  • Montmantell lakes and the Pic del Pla de l'Estany 2,859 m 4h20, climb 1'280m, medium). Mountain hut half-way up, lakes, magnificient view over the Ariège mountains in France and over Andorra. Parking at Torrent Ribal 1580 m.
  • Arinsal - Percanela - les Fonts - Pla de l'Estany - Arinsal circuit 2'055m 4h30, climb 670m, medium) 2 mountain huts. Very pleasant circuit which one can do either way. Lovely views of the Coma Pedrosa via the imposing natural amphitheatre of Les Fonts. A few bordas (farm houses) on the way, some renovated, some in ruins. Parking at Arinsal 1,466 m.
  • Camí del coll de les Cases 1,950 m 1h40, climb 490 m, medium)

Panoramic view over the Ordino mountains and la Massana. Ideal picnic and meditation site. One can continue along the GR11 to Arans (parking at Mas de Ribafeta 1466m) but transport back to Arinsal must be provided.

Eat

Drink

Sleep

  • Hotel Himàlaia Soldeu (Ski and Hiking Hotel) carretera general s/n, Soldeu Tel. 376 878515 [8] [9]
  • Pension la Rosa, Antic Carrer Major 18, just south of Avenue Princep Benloch, Andorra la Vella, +376 821 810.
  • Hotel Oriol, Plaça Co-Princeps, 4, +376 821 105. 39 Euros.
  • CyberAndorra, Els Refugis Ed. Claror b31, +376 323 391, [11]. Book online to reserve your Andorra hotel and activities


Out of town

  • Hotel El Tarter, +376 80 20 80, [12]. EL TARTER (1844m), half way from Andorra la Vella (17km) and El Pas de la Casa, SOLDEU -EL TARTER ski station is 50 m. away. 3 km from sport complex of Canillo (Ice-skating, swimming pool, gymnasium, squash, tennis). Beautiful, skiers dream location and very fair rates.


Seasonal

  • House.ad, [13]. Find a House in Andorra for the ski-ing season

Learn

Work

To work in Andorra you are supposed to have a work permit issued by the government. If you are on business for only a few days then this would not apply.

Stay safe

There is not much threat from other people in Andorra, but keep safe on mountains. Don't go too high without knowing what you are doing. See Altitude sickness for more.

Drivers are warned to avoid crossing back into France if the Spanish side of the Pyrenees has enjoyed beautiful warm sunshine all day and the road temperatures drop considerably towards the evening - there is danger of black ice from ice melt. The weather in the French Pyrenees is frequently vastly different than that of Andorra and the Spanish Pyrenees. Stay overnight if necessary, as cold morning temperatures are more apparent and less treacherous than sudden evening icing.

Stay healthy

In Andorra La Vella there is the famous Caldea to visit which is a spa / swimming pool complex. This is very popular. It is located up the top end of Andorra-la-Vella and you cannot miss it because it is the large glass spire structure which is quite an attraction on the skyline itself.

The main hospital in Andorra is the Merixtell (pronounced merichai) Hospital (+376 871 000).

Contact

Internet Andorra is a well-connected country, and has accepted the Internet with open arms. Almost as many people subscribe to the Internet as own landline phones.

Postal Service Andorra relies on the Spanish and French postal systems. The main office for both are located in Andorra La Vella.

The French post office (CORREOS FRANCESES) located at Carrer de Bonaventura Armengo AD500 Andorra la Vella, Andorra [14] is usually open from 8:30AM - 2:30PM Monday - Friday and Saturdays from 9:00AM - 11:59AM Tel: +376 820 408

The Spanish post office (CORREOS ESPAÑOLES) is open from 8:30AM - 2:30PM Monday - Friday and Saturdays from 9:00AM - 1:00PM Tel: +376 820 257.

Get out

  • Latour-de-Carol - first stop on the scenic descent for Perpignan with the open-top Yellow Train (fr: Petit Train Jaune) is reachable with the same TER train line 22 that serves L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre.





This country guide is usable. It has links to this country's major cities and other destinations (and all are at usable status or better), a valid regional structure and information about this country's currency, language, cuisine, and culture is included. At least the most prominent attraction is identified with directions. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Variants

Actions

Destination Docents

In other languages

other sites