This post was promised quite a few weeks ago when I got back from Andorra but, unfortunately, life got away from me a little bit! The next few weeks are packed full too but sadly not with travel (well except a quick getaway to Gran Canaria!) but with exciting work things.
Sometimes, like a work opportunity, a country can come along at just the right time and heighten the experience even more for you. That’s what Andorra was for me. It meant a lot after so many months of not being able to travel (or leave Malaga much) that, if I’m honest, I probably would have had a good time no matter where I ended up. Andorra also had the pleasure of being my first new country in nearly two years (so close, why didn’t I think of this before?) and the 26th country I’ve visited (#30before30 could still happen!!!). So without further ado, here are my top 5 things about the tiny nation of Andorra!
- Mirador del roc de senders
Anyone that knows me well knows that when I travel, I love a good viewpoint and especially one of mountains. With Andorra being a country in the heart of the Pyrenees, it’s full of spectacular places where you can get a good panoramic of practically the entire country! I had an eventful start to my trip to this mirador as I missed my bus and then proceeded to cry on a bench in the middle of Andorra (drama queen I know). I decided I was so desperate to see the views and join my tour that I asked a taxi driver to catch me up and he happily did so. We sped up to one of the highest points in Andorra (made me a little WOAH in the car even though the roads are perfect) and I joined my group. It was definitely worth the taxi fare as you can see from the photos!
2. Passeig del Rec del Sola / Irrigation Sola Canal Trail
This trail can be accessed from many points in the capital city of Andorra la Vella. There’s a little climb up which shouldn’t be a problem for anyone with a decent level of fitness. Once you get to the trail, it’s relatively flat and you can enjoy great views of the cities and of course, more mountains! It passes by the entire city carrying on to the next town. It was relatively peaceful except for a few keen early morning walkers and dog-walkers.
3. The 7 Poetes of Andorra
As you arrive in Andorra la Vella, you will see these statues on the way (they looked like Buddhas to me from afar!). It wasn’t until I was told of the story behind them that they really caught my interest. The 7 statues of the poets are built in front of the administrative building and they light up at night- forever changing colours to the point where you cannot predict which one will go which colour next. My tour guide was very passionate about the meaning of these statues- 7 for each of the parishes (towns) in Andorra that sit and contemplate life’s great questions. They also reflect nicely against the reflective walls of the adminstrative building (another fun fact from my tour guide). I really enjoyed seeing these statues at night. There was something about the colours against the dark backdrop of the cloudy and moody mountains that I absolutely loved.
4. Lake Engolasters
A great way to see Andorra in summer without a car is by taking the government- run tours that leave every day from the capital- each day has a different itinerary. I decided to visit the lake one Friday with one of these tours and ended up being the only one on the trip (Covid-affected tourism). I was driven around Andorra on a 60- seater coach by a driver and a tour guide and then joined by another guide from the electric museum. After a private tour of the electric museum (more interesting than it sounds!), we headed to the lake which is where Andorra makes 50% of the electricity (check me out remembering my tour statistics). It was a cool experience to go under the dam in my hard helmet (no pictures unfortunately/ luckily) and then take a walk around the lake with my two tour guides / personal photographers. The lake is beautiful and the surrounding area has a lot of walks you can do and, of course, it is pretty high up so that’s right, another panoramic view!
5. Andorra Free Walking Tours
I couldn’t write a blog post about Andorra and my favourite things without mentioning this tour. I decided to do a walking tour of Andorra la Vella on my final day to fill in the gaps and questions I had about the country. I was really intrigued by its history- how did it come and still continue to be a country?? Who runs it? What’s it like to live in Andorra?
I booked a three-hour walking tour with Xarli. When I went to meet my group, it turned out that I was the only person who showed up (yes this happened a lot that week- Covid times!). Remember just because a walking tour is free, doesn’t mean you should just not turn up without sending a whatsapp- people do wait for you! The fact that I was the only person did not deter Xarli at all. He was an incredibly knowledgable tour guide and his passion for his job was clear to see. He told me so much about the history of Andorra and inspired me to take a night walk before I left to check out Andorra la Vella at night. If you are interested in the history and culture of the cities you visit, walking tours are the way to go! You learn so much from local people. I even ended up visiting a part of the city I hadn’t seen before despite having been there for a week.
Andorra is an absolutely enchanting country and has become one of my favourites. Of course, it’s famous for skiiing in winter but in summer it is a beautiful country full of mountains and … views! The people were so welcoming and accommodating and the capital is easy to explore. Of course, if you don’t have a car things can be more complicated but if you go at the right time like I did, you can check out the tour bus which will allow you to see the main sights of the country. Because Andorra usually has a lot of international tourists, I felt like I was the only one there at the time with covid restrictions in place, which allowed me to get a lot of private tours and check out the unspoilt scenery!