Road trippin’ around mountainous Andorra

posted in: Andorra | 29

Andorra, one of the smallest countries in Europe which is sandwiched between Spain and France high up in the Pyrenees is one of the top destinations for hiking, skiing and low tax shopping for visitors but for me it was the drive. Yes, I do love a good old hike but when I come to Andorra I usually go for day trips. Usually I hire a car in the nearby city of Barcelona (a three hour drive away), come up for a drive and explore this amazing country. Having already visited and driven around three times already, here are my top places which I have discovered in this stunning location.

Andorra

Shopping on the cheap in the capital – Andorra la Vella for me is like a small town with not much to do as it’s mostly business here. I would only recommend briefly stopping here if visitors want to do some shopping on the cheap or find a place to eat. There is an underground car park here but I think I stayed for a total of two hours before heading into the country. There are plenty of places to buy cheap cigarettes, watches and perfumes (but read my notes about customs at the end of the post).

Andorra
The capital – Andorra la Vella

Another place to go shopping is in El Pas de la Casa, where there is plenty of shops here which sells the same sort of goods. It is a better idea to go shopping here instead of the capital as there is plenty of parking but also it’s located in a ski resort so there are mountain views. The whole point of coming to Andorra is to check out the mountains…right?   

Andorra
El Pas de la Casa
Andorra
El Pas de la Casa

The CG-2 road – this road runs between the capital Andorra la Vella and El Pas de la Casa on the eastern border. This is the main road which goes through the country but also goes up and down mountains, so in places there are some tight corners to take on. The road itself is actually one of the best kept alpine roads I have driven on. It’s all smooth and the lanes are pretty wide. There are a couple of places to stop on the way to take in views or even park up and go for a short hike. Most of the ski resorts are found up here in places like Soldeu where in the summer the bar and restaurants are still open.

Andorra
The mountains of Andorra
Andorra
The mountains of Andorra
Andorra
The mountains of Andorra
Andorra
The mountains of Andorra
Andorra
The mountains of Andorra
Andorra
Soldeu – one of Andorra’s ski resorts

Eating Andorra’s sausages – after all that driving and exploring the country, don’t forget to check out the local meats. Sausages seem to be the main thing around here and I had a great chance to try out a plate full in a restaurant called L’Era d’en Jaume in a village called Llorts (north of the small town of Ordino). This quiet alpine restaurant is surrounded by the smaller mountains in this part of the region and along the fast flowing river. I highly recommend this place as most of the items on the menu have the local sausage. At the time I couldn’t decided what to have so I decided to try a whole plate full of sausages, all different types, sizes and tastes.

Andorra
Time to eat some sausages
Andorra
Andorran sausages
Andorra
The restaurant in Llorts

After a plate full of sausages I decided to take a walk around the village just to burn off the food a little bit and also to take in the beautiful views surrounding Llorts.     

Andorra
Llorts
Andorra
Waterfalls in Llorts

Points to know for doing a road trip to Andorra…..

I hired a car from Girona airport but as the Costa Brava in Spain is a popular tourist destination, there are plenty of other car rental places to hire vehicles from such as Barcelona’s El Prat airport or even Perpignan airport in France.

Allow yourself time to get there and back, it’s not a short drive as the country is located high up in the Pyrenees mountains. From Girona or Barcelona, I would allow between three to four hours (especially if taking in the beautiful scenery and taking photographs on the way).

I would say summertime is the best time to go as there is more sunlight hours in the day. I have done this in the winter time but I felt I was rushing my trip that day. It is best to depart early in the morning and leave about ninety minutes before the sun completely sets as it isn’t funny driving in the mountains in the dark (and it’s even worse when it’s heavy rain or snowfall).

There are two ways of doing a road trip to Andorra and a circular trip can be done. For example, starting from Girona, head west to the town of Vic before turn northwards at Manresa and then follow signs to Andorra and this enters the country at the southern entrance. Then when leaving the country, exit on the eastern side near Pas de la Casa and follow signs for Prades and Perpignan (which are in France) and then travel south on the A9 into Spain and this will land up going pass Girona and Barcelona (or if you like, carry on and end up in beautiful locations like Valencia or even Malaga which is over 1000km away!). However on that A9 highway, it is a toll road so make sure you have some cash or a credit card nearby.

At the country entry and exit points there maybe custom checks in place so when seeing the police vehicles, be prepared to stop and get out and show them what items you have. Andorra is a tax haven (as we call it in England) and the price of goods is a lot cheaper than in Spain and France.

Andorra uses the Euro currency but is not part of the European Union, so make sure you are carrying your passport just in case (if it helps, the country is also in the Schengen agreement).

Andorra
Beautiful scenery through the Spanish Pyrenees

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Andorra

29 Responses

  1. This looks like an awesome experience! If/when I do this, I’ll definitely go in the summer as you’ve suggested so I am not rushing around trying to see it all before the sun sets. I’m a veggie so I’ll have to settle for the bread and olives 😛

  2. Oooh how beautiful! I love self-drive exploration, so this appeals to me. And sausages are one of my favourite foods – I blogged an ode to them just recently! I’m adding this to my wish list.
    Kavey Favelle recently posted…Travel Fears, Scary Stories and Safety Tips from Travel Bloggers

  3. Andorra is such a beautiful place! Great photos and post 🙂

  4. This place looks amazing! I would love to do a road trip through here. The scenery is gorgeous.
    Nathan recently posted…Jewish Cuisine Walking Food Tour of Budapest with Taste Hungary

  5. I’ve passed through Andorra very briefly but never taken the time to explore so this was really interesting. I didn’t realize that they were known for sausages, looks tasty! What is your favourite time of year to visit?
    Susan R recently posted…10 of the Best Jamaican Food Dishes You Need To Try

  6. Ahhh this is what we did last year and I loved it! I really enjoy nature trips and the scenery is just gorgeous
    karlaroundtheworld recently posted…Spencer’s Gastro Pub in Best Western Plus Subic Launched a New Menu

  7. Can’t believe you are in the snow with shorts and a T! Andorra looks charming and should be more on the Europe trail :).
    Katherine recently posted…The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Warsaw

  8. I didn’t know this small country existed! Now I do I want to visit. The views are spectacular & your photos make Andorra look beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  9. One of my first ski trips was to Andorra. I visited pas de la casa and have memories of having to slide down one of the slopes on my ass because it was far too hard for me! Lol
    Anne recently posted…Discover The Pros and Cons of An Ayurveda Retreat

  10. As someone living in a tropical country, snow-capped mountains always leaves me in awe. I heard only a little about Andorra and this post has made me want to visit this small country for nature tripping.
    Jing recently posted…Prado Farms: Pampanga’s Whimsical Ecoresort

  11. American alert American alert! LOL….I never knew Andorra was a country 😉 Goodness gracious. This from a world traveler too. Thanks for dropping the 411 Danik and thanks for the lovely images and for the sausage share too. I’d be a hungry camper after making my way thru such a mountainous region. Sausage refuel time.
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…How To Develop Blogging Posture (Amazon eBook)

  12. I love being in shorts or short-sleeves in the snow! That’s how we were hiking in Glacier National Park. To be honest, I don’t know much about Andorra but now it’s on my list of places to get to! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Andorra is on our list and reading this post convinces me more about it. The landscape looks so unlike any other mountainous region in Europe. And those sausages are huge!

  14. Cheap cigarettes, watches, and perfumes…sounds vaguely familiar for us in Panama driving over to the Costa Rican border. Our list is more like cheap cigarettes, liquor, and electronics. LOl Looks interesting. I had not head of Andorra before. Pretty pictures and that food…yum!

  15. Andorra is a small but beautiful country. Isloted too, so like yourself you really need to make an effort to get there. Driving around is so easy and you gave some good tips on a days excursion. Love the look of those meaty sausages. I bet they went down well with the beer 🙂
    Dave (Silverbackpacker) recently posted…Tabaco City | An Escape to Oras Falls

  16. Thank you so much for this post! I’d never heard of this country and it looks beautiful. I’d love to check it out its small towns and eat those super tasting looking sausages. 🙂

  17. This sounds amazing! We love a good road trip and did a few in Switzerland a couple of years ago! Andorra looks so stunning, would you recommend spending the night there just so you have more time to take in the scenery?
    Nic recently posted…Visiting the majestic, mystical and sacred Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda) that teeters on the edge in Myanmar!

  18. Perfect place for a road trip. The food and the view is all I need. The tips at the end are also pretty handy.
    Gokul recently posted…Jakarta – A City of Contrasts

  19. I remember our family trips (many many moons ago) to Andorra to buy butter, sugar, chocolate and some alcohol but your trips to Andorra look more fun 😉
    Maybe renting a car from Girona (only 1.5hrs to Andorra) would be easier? There are direct flight connections to Girona Airport with Ryan Air (plus Girona is a gorgeous city).
    Those sausages are called “botifarres” in Catalan and usually are eaten with “mongetes seques” (white beans) and all-i-oli
    Cool picture btw 🙂
    elisa recently posted…Carrières des Capucins: locals’ alternative to Paris Catacombs

  20. Beautiful shots and narration. I felt as if I was right there.

  21. wow I honesty had no idea that there is a country called Andorra and its in Europe 😀 I love visiting Barcelona so I am gonna have to check out the road trip next time when I am there. It looks so beautiful! I love mountains landscape ! Weren’t you cold in those shorts in that snow? 😀

  22. Andorra looks like a place which is not yet a tourist sensation amd clearly it’s a plus point for everyone visiting currently. The landscapes are so stunning and untouched. I would love to hike through the mountains or maybe try skiing 😊.

  23. I lived in Spain for a little bit of time but have never made it to Andora. A girlfriend of mine went there recently and talked it up so much it went high on my bucket list. Your photos look amazing.
    Ania recently posted…MY FIRST TIME VISITING COPENHAGEN

  24. What a great road trip! And seriously how good are those mountains – those mountain photos of the snow (in summer?!) make me want to jump on a plane tomorrow. Beautiful. And it looks relatively uncrowded too.
    Juliette | Snorkels to Snow recently posted…A Guide To Night Skiing In Queenstown

  25. The surprising fact for me was that Andorra is not a part of EU, didn’t know about that! It seems like a quite and beautiful small country to explore, and the mountains are gorgeous. I never considered visiting Andorra, but your post made me kind of curious 😉

  26. I remember first learning about Andorra in school, and seeing that little blotch on the map, thinking “I’m going to go there one day”. Looks lovely 🙂
    Chiera recently posted…Women Who Wander: Solo Travel and the Kindness of Strangers

  27. Cool shot next the Andorra sign, I always try get pics with or of the Europe signs and Andorra is a rare one! I arrived from France, late evening so didn’t realize there was so much beautiful scenery around.
    Only By Land recently posted…Bratislava to Budapest by bus

  28. I’ve never visited Andorra but I’ve heard it is very good for the hiking. What I didn’t know is that it had decent sausages too – errr HELLO! I’m already there!

  29. I haven’t visited Andorra yet. It seems interesting place for visiting shopping and sightseeng conbined. Thanks for useful tips.

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