As a vacation destination, Andorra combines modern recreation and accommodation facilities with a pristine mountain setting. By the time you get to Andorra, you’re still in Europe but you feel like you’ve left the hectic hustle and bustle of everyday life.
That’s the reason that so many people choose our small principality for their annual holiday. From hiking to duty-free shopping to skiing, we have something for everyone in a relaxed setting. Every year, Andorra, a country of about 75,000 citizens, welcomes several million visitors.
Certain aspects of our size and geography mean that it pays to be a bit strategic about your travel plans. Getting to Andorra is a pleasant journey, but not necessarily as simple as just buying a plane ticket for a weekend getaway.
We’ll walk you through the top tips for getting to Andorra with plenty of cheer to spare for your vacation.
Snapshot of How to Get to Andorra
On average, Andorra is about 2,000 metres above sea level. There are options for getting here by air, rail and car, but some will require a transfer.
Luckily, from a government regulation standpoint, it is one of the easiest countries to visit. Tourists can stay for up to 90 days without a visa. As we’ll discuss further, you need to enter through France or Spain, which are part of the Schengen zone. That step should also be straightforward, especially if you hold a passport from an EU country or one on the visa-free list (like the US, Japan or Canada).
Is There an Airport in Andorra?
Andorra does not have its own airport. That’s partly for technical concerns related to elevation — the Pyrenees bring skiers, but also make operating an airport difficult. It’s also partly for reasons of space. A major international airport like the Dubai International (2,900 hectares) would take up about 5% of Andorra’s land area.
Recently, strides have been taken to find a creative solution to the question of where to put Andorra’s airport. La Seu d’Urgell, 10 kilometres across the border in Spain, had a disused airstrip, which had been used for regional hops to Barcelona. It was refurbished and renovated and has been renamed Andorra-La Seu d’Urgell Airport.
So far, startups like Andorra Airlines and Air Andorra haven’t found a way to attract enough traffic for this to be a mainstream option. Tickets tend to be very expensive, so it’s really only an option for the well-heeled traveller. Case in point: Sir Elton John landed here when he wanted a convenient way to get to a concert he was performing in Andorra.
What’s the Best Option for Getting to Andorra by Air?
Happily, there are two major international airports quite close to Andorra. Both have flight options for getting in and then various ways of continuing on to Andorra.
Fly to Barcelona
Barcelona’s El Prat Airport (BCN) handles over 40-million passengers a year. It’s a hub for Vueling and Level and has many flights by discount carriers like EasyJet and Ryanair as well as direct flights to North America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa. It’s the most popular (and possibly the easiest) way to get to Andorra by airplane.
From BCN to Andorra the best transfer options are either to go by bus or drive.
Bus options go from both terminals and leave several times every day for Andorra la Vella. The travel time is roughly 3.5 hours and the fare is about €33, each way.
There are plenty of options for renting a car at Barcelona’s airport and the drive takes less than three hours, in ideal conditions. Of course, you can also book a chauffeured shuttle. These tend to run at least €150 per person, each way, depending on how much space you need and luxury options.
Land in Toulouse to Get to Andorra
Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS) is across the border in France. It’s slightly smaller at about 9-million passengers per year. Most of the flights to TLS originate in European cities or Northern Africa.
A few options make it a straightforward trip from Toulouse to Andorra. The shuttle route that originates at Toulouse’s train station stops at the airport before continuing on directly to Pas de la Casa and Andorra la Vella. It runs two to three times a day (depending on season and day of the week). It costs about €36, each way and the trip takes roughly three hours.
As with Barcelona, you can also rent a car to get from Toulouse to Andorra. The drive is about the same time at 2:45. Private shuttle options also run from €150 per person, each way.
Other Options for Flying to Andorra
There are medium-sized airports in Carcassone and Girona that are slightly closer than the larger international options. Both have much more limited options for flights getting in and then transfers to get the rest of the way to Andorra.
Driving by Car to Andorra
Of the ten million people who come to Andorra every year, about two-thirds of them are on a day trip from France or Spain. The vast majority of them get here by car. Bringing your vehicle also makes it easier to transport a bike if you’re coming to Andorra for road cycling or mountain biking.
Getting to Andorra from Spain by Car
Whether you’re coming from Barcelona, Lleida or other points in Spain, the drive to Andorra is a scenic preparation for Andorra’s breathtaking views. All major routes join together in La Seu d’Urgell to become the N-145 for the rest of the route to Andorra. Most people do the trip from Barcelona in 2.5 to 3 hours.
Obviously, you’re driving through the mountains to get to Andorra, so this can go up in bad weather.
Most of the time, you’ll be waved through the border crossing into Andorra, but have your passport handy, just in case. You’re more likely to find the crossing back into Spain takes longer because customs inspectors will want to know what you’re bringing back.
From France to Andorra by Car
While not terribly difficult, the route from France is considered a slightly tougher drive. The N-20 from Toulouse makes several hairpin turns as it climbs the mountains before joining the CG-2 at the crossing into Andorra.
The route from Toulouse also takes about 2.5 hours by car and has toll sections.
Andorra’s border crossing with France is just as easy to get through on the way in. As with the one into Spain, you’ll spend more time with customs on the way out of Andorra. Note that this crossing can be quite crowded at the end of holiday weekends on during shopping high season.
Winter Driving and Other Tips
If you’re coming to Andorra for skiing you already know that it snows here. A lot. From early November to the middle of May it’s not out of the question to see some snow accumulation.
As a small country with lots of winter experience, Andorra does a very good job of keeping the main roads clear. But it’s still important to be prepared for dicey conditions. Andorrans are required to have snow chains for their car. As a visitor, you should definitely take the same precaution and also make sure you are driving on winter tires.
It’s also worth noting that gas is remarkably cheaper in Andorra. So, be sure to leave the principality with a full tank.
How to Get to Andorra by Train or Bus
If you plan to visit a few countries in Europe and don’t want to drive, the train (and sometimes a bus) is an excellent option.
Does it Make Sense to Take the Train to Andorra?
This question is a bit complicated. As with flying, your options are limited because there are no train stations in Andorra. The closest rail terminal is in l’Hospitalet près l’Andorre, France. An overnight ticket to here from Paris goes for as little as €20, one way. From l’Hospitalet there’s a bus connection into Andorra that costs €13.50, one way.
On the Spanish side, there isn’t a convenient train station as close to the border. You could take the train to Lleida, but then you’ve still got a long bus ride the rest of the way.
The rail option probably makes sense only if you’re coming from Madrid, Paris or somewhere further away and can get a discounted fare. The connection in l’Hospitalet needs to be made comfortably because if you miss it, you’ll be stuck in a remote, unmanned train station.
Bus as Another Option for Getting to Andorra
There are plenty of buses that travel on a regular schedule to Andorra. As discussed earlier, many connect with the airports in Barcelona and Toulouse. The trip generally takes around three hours and costs between €23-35, each way.
The Final Leg of Your Trip to Andorra
Once you’ve arrived in our country, probably in Andorra la Vella, it’s relatively easy to get around. Our public bus service connects most of Andorra with regular service during the day and a less-frequent night bus service between Andorra la Vella and major towns.
Located in Arinsal, Apartaments Sant Moritz is easy to get to and conveniently close to several activities, including the ski slopes and Arinsal’s vibrant nightlife. Parking can be difficult to find in Andorra, so you’ll be happy to hear that if you book with us, parking is included.
Now that you know how you’ll be getting to Andorra, take the next step and book your accommodation with us. We can’t wait to welcome you to Andorra!