Unlike the United States, where everything is bigger, in Andorra everything seems to be done in miniature.
In winter it is a popular destination for skiers who glide along the snow-covered slopes of the Pyrenees, but how is Andorra like during summer?
Things to see in Andorra La Vella
Here is the Valley of the Madriu Perafita Claror, recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site (the only one in Andorra). It accounts for almost 10% of the entire surface of the Principality. It is a glacial valley, now only inhabited in summer. There are two settlements, with 12 houses in all: Ramio and Entremesaigues. Only shepherds live there and during summer they live in the ancient bordas, stone huts with grassy roofs.
It is only possible to reach it through footpaths, and it is something that the Andorranians do not want to change, thus allocating the valley to a very limited tourism, to preserve its natural beauty.
The largest city is the capital, Andorra La Vella, and I found it unique and very special.
The first interesting thing is that the prices here are reduced, as there is no VAT… I just gave you the perfect excuse to go shopping! Maybe you can do it on Meritxell Avenue, the most famous street in the city and in the whole Principality full of shops of all kinds, but also bars and restaurants… and, like everything in Andorra, little! This road also has something special: it is completely different from the rest of the country. The lights, the signs, the colors are like in the liveliest street of New York. Nothing to do with the quiet of the mountain landscapes that can be seen all around. It hasn’t been placed here by chance!
In the historic center, however, everything is as it once was: buildings made of stone and wood, such as Casa de la Val, the seat of Parliament, and all the (few) churches.
It is amazing during summer, try to imagine it with the snow. This mix of ancient and modern, of green and concrete, is just wonderful.
Looking around is a constant amazement, and you don’t know if in turning the next road you will find yourself in front of a corner of the city or a glimpse of a mountain village.
Where to eat in Andorra La Vella
If you go to Andorra, you absolutely cannot miss a meal in the typical Borda, the old wooden and stone houses. Today there are only 25 in the whole country, most of which have become restaurants. Like real houses, there are of all sizes, from a few square meters to three-floored ones.
They inspire winter and Christmas atmospheres, especially because most of them are decorated with colored lights like at Christmas!
In particular, if you don’t know where to go, try the Borda Pairal. It offers a set menu at a good price, more than generous portions and typical dishes with an excellent flavor.
What do you typically eat in Andorra? The cuisine borrows a lot from the Catalan one, so expect to find Paella and Crema Catalana (a sort of creme brulee). Truly typical Andorran dishes are lamb cooked with wine, the formatge de tupì (fermented cheese with garlic and brandy) and the trinxat, a salad with cabbage, bacon and potatoes.
Everything to be tasted!
How to get in Andorra La Vella
For obvious reasons, Andorra has no airports. The only way to reach it is by motorcycle or car, if you feel like riding/driving many kilometers, or by bus. Daily rides depart from Barcelona or Girona in Spain and from Toulouse in France.