Category Things To Do
Andorra's picturesque lakes complement mountain scenes nicely.
If there is one thing that people know about Andorra it’s that it is one of the smallest countries in Europe. The second is probably the whole country is perched high in the mountains. Those two characteristics have a distinct effect on all of the principality’s geography, including Andorra’s lakes.

It seems difficult, in theory, to imagine tiring of Andorra’s expansive mountain views. But as well as offering their own recreation pursuits, the Andorran lakes also add some variety to the scenery.

What Makes Andorra’s Lakes Attractive?

There is a fascinating visual contrast between a craggy, rustic and soaring mountain and a flat-as-glass lake at its foot. There are few sights in the world quite as breathtaking as looking down as on a sheet of azure water. Falls colours and spring’s explosion of green are all the more impressive when reflected off a lake’s surface.

Many of Andorra’s lakes are isolated high-mountain lakes. These can be glacier- and rain-fed and separate from the river systems that connect most of the world’s lakes. This isolation means that if it weren’t for human intervention, some high-mountain lakes would be free of fish.  Fish have been introduced to Andorra’s lakes but getting a firsthand look at such an unusual ecosystem – plants evolve in remarkably different ways when they aren’t also fish food – is a rare experience.

Free-ranging horses graze beside a lake in Andorra.
Free-ranging horses graze beside a lake in Andorra. Image: Wikimedia.

The high elevation, so far removed from heavy industry and intensive farming protects lakes in Andorra from the worst types of pollution. So many of the world’s lakes can look great in photos, but their dirtier side becomes apparent in person. In Andorra, the unspoilt lakes are the genuine article, even up close.

Climbing a mountain and going for a walk can feel like one in the same in Andorra and that’s mostly a good thing. But the paths and trails that run around the edge of Andorran lakes tend to be relatively flat and the public parking and other services make lake hiking an accessible pursuit for all members of your family.

Activities for Visitors to Andorra’s Lakes

Lakes are fairly evenly distributed across Andorra and are an integral part of the beautiful scenery. But, by their nature, lakes also offer several distinct activities. These include:

  • As discussed above, hiking trails around lakes tend to be flatter and more manageable for the younger and less active members of the family.
  • On warm summer days, swimming is a great reward after a long hike.
  • Scuba diving is a hobby that seems to reach all corners of the world and Andorra is no exception.

Scuba diving in Andorra’s high-elevation lakes is so unusual that the company who pioneered it won an award for tourism innovation. As a post on the Scuba News says, “In Andorra, you are surrounded by beautiful mountains, enclosed lakes with pristine waters and all the kick that diving with a dry suit has to offer.” Diving Andorra is the established authority on running diving trips in Andorra.

Read on for details that will help plan your trip to Andorra’s lakes or speak to one of our friendly staff at Apartaments Sant Moritz for help planning your excursion.

The Tristaina Lakes Are Some of the Best Known Lakes in Andorra

The area around Andorra’s Tristaina Lakes is a popular hiking destination for visitors. The hike up from the car park is a good balance between postcard-worthy views and the right amount of difficulty to ease into mountain hiking.

Looking down on the beautiful Tristaina Lakes is a breathtaking scene.
Looking down on the beautiful Tristaina Lakes is a breathtaking scene. Image: Wikimedia

Tristaina’s trio of lakes is located in the extreme northwest of Andorra, in Ordino and adjacent to the border with France. In fact, from the peaks around the lakes it’s easy to see into France and catch a view of some of the famous summits there.

A walking trip to see them starts in the carpark next to La Coma restaurant in the Vallnord ski resort. From there, the circular route around the three lakes is a manageable, three-hour excursion.

The easy connection to nature is one of the route’s most attractive features. An impressive array of mountain wildflowers (like rock jasmine) put on a colourful show and free-ranging Percheron sometimes often make an appearance at the water’s edge. If flora-spotting is your thing, this is a great opportunity to add to your life list of wildflowers.

In the summer, the Tristaina Lakes are a special draw for avid swimmers. It’s not often that you get the chance to take a break from a 4.5-km hike to swim in a deep-blue lake that sits over two kilometres above sea level.

Lake Engolasters is Another Popular Lake Destination in Andorra

Lake Engolasters, in Encamp, is the closest lake to Andorra la Vella, Andorra’s capital city. This lovely piece of nature comes with a dark fairy tale to explain its origin. The legend goes that a poor stranger was turned away from every house but one and that the lake was a flood sent to punish the uncharitable villagers who closed their door to the stranger. (The area also the legendary setting for midnight meetings of witches and warlocks.)

The Engolasters lake region is an excellent setting for a relaxing picnic.
The Engolasters lake region is an excellent setting for a relaxing picnic. Image: Wikimedia.

To get to Lake Engolasters on foot, the trail from Pardines is unusually easy. In fact, Hola Andorra says:  “If you are looking for a place to take a peaceful stroll with the family, the Pardines path is perfect.”

The post goes on to note the presence of a restaurant and picnic area near the lake. Generally, it is a great place to ease gently into hiking in Andorra.

The area around Lake Engolasters doesn’t have the same sweeping views as other parts of Andorra but green meadows and densely packed pine trees do make for a verdant setting here.

Other Worthwhile Lake Trips in Andorra

In addition to Tristaina and Engolasters, Andorra has plenty of other attractive lakes for travellers to visit.

Estany de la Nou is one of the most picturesque and secluded lakes in Andorra.
Estany de la Nou is one of the most picturesque and secluded lakes in Andorra. Image: Ferran Llorens (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Particularly good ones are:

  1. In the Incles Valley, Estany del Juclà is Andorra’s biggest lake. One of the lakes here is home to the Pyrenean newt. This threatened salamander species only lives in particularly pristine water.
  2. Moreno Lake, in Encamp, is less popular with visitors and can be a bit of a challenge to find but the secluded scenery makes the trip worthwhile.
  3. The challenging climb to Coma Pedrosa, Andorra’s tallest peak, passes within sight of several beautiful high-mountain lakes, including Estanys de Baiau across the border in Spain. This trail begins within walking distance from our apartments in Arinsal.
  4. Though not the easiest to get to, Estany de la Nou is possibly Andorra’s most photogenic lake. Surrounded by idyllic scenery, it is a bit warmer than other lakes because it is fed by groundwater.
  5. Estanys de l’Angonella, in Llorts, offers another opportunity for a challenging hike with tranquil views of bright blue lakes.

Practicalities for Trips to Andorra’s Lakes

Andorra is as its warmest in July and August. Air temperatures, including in Ordino in the northwest, can get to 20°C in May and June and water temperature can stay relatively warm into early September. High in the mountains, including around Andorra’s lakes, the weather can change quickly, so it’s best to be prepared for a range of circumstances.

Andorra's lake hikes range from pleasant introductions to challenging feats - in all cases be prepared for the weather to change quickly.
Andorra’s lake hikes range from pleasant introductions to challenging feats – in all cases be prepared for the weather to change quickly. Image: Wikimedia.

From mid-March to mid-November, fishing is legally allowed in Andorra’s lakes. Brown, brook and rainbow trout are what anglers here are after.

In common with most jurisdictions, Andorra requires those participating in the pastime to buy a fishing licence. These are available in several varieties (including catch-and-release, seasonal and daily) from tourism offices and several authorized sports shops. Conveniently, this is also the best place to find the gear to try your hand at the fly fishing that is so popular in Andorra.

Captivating and natural scenes are right outside just about every window and door in Andorra. Outdoor pursuits are so easy to jump into here that some of the details or unusual opportunities might slip your mind. Keep in mind that:

  • Andorra is warmest in July and August, but our guests regularly enjoy pleasant weather from May through early October.
  • The weather can change quickly in the mountains. It’s best to carry a weatherproof jacket and a bottle of water.
  • Let someone know about your plans and when you plan to be back before you head out.
  • A fishing licence is required in Andorra.
  • Lake Engolasters is a protected preserve and no swimming, fishing or boating is allowed there.

Staying with Apartaments Sant Moritz for Your Trip to Andorra’s Lakes

Tranquil blue and pristine lakes are the perfect complements to soaring mountains.  As well as rewarding the casual hiker they also are an attractive backdrop for your vacation photos.

Our staff at Apartaments Sant Moritz are always happy to help guests plan an excursion to the beautiful lakes of Andorra. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you book one of our vacation rental apartments for your Andorran adventure!

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