Winters in Arinsal are an absolute treat. It's safe to say that ski season has a lot to do with this, with thousands of tourists flocking to Andorra to enjoy this time of the year. From hiking to cycling, there is plenty to do all year in Andorra, but we’re particularly happy when we can hit the slopes.
It's one thing to take in the stunning views on foot or from the saddle of your bike, but the experience is another when you're actually skiing down the mountains.
If you're looking to make the most out of your ski holiday in Andorra, this guide will answer everything you need.
Introduction to Skiing in Andorra
Andorra has grown into a world-renowned destination for those who love to ski. And that’s not just because we have mountains everywhere we look. A concerted effort has been made, particularly over the past 10 years, to build the best amenities and services that winter tourists expect.
Only a small percentage of Andorra’s land is flat — and that makes it very difficult to farm. Luckily, Francesc Viladomat had the bright idea in 1957 of installing the principality’s first ski lift on his family’s property at Pas de la Casa. Things have gone downhill since then!
Accommodating those on a ski holiday is a specialty for us. As a whole, Andorra is now the fourth-most-popular destination for Brits on a ski holiday.
Overview of Skiing Near Arinsal
Arinsal is a convenient home base for anyone visiting Andorra. From here you can easily visit Vallnord — the less-crowded and more interesting of Andorra’s two downhill ski resorts.
As Stephen Wood wrote in the Independent: “Vallnord has character, thanks in part to its wooded slopes. Even at its highest point, there are trees, in a gladed area with the added hazard of moguls.”
Arinsal Ski Resort Stats by the Numbers
Pal-Arinsal in La Massana is the original foundation for the Vallnord ski resort. It’s an internationally-known ski resort because we have:
- A diverse collection of 77 slopes that total 90 km.
- The altitude of the runs ranges from 1,550 to 2,560 metres.
- Three ski schools that have a total of 250 instructors.
- A total of 44 lifts that can move approximately 55,000 people at any one time.
Who Will Enjoy an Arinsal Skiing Holiday in Andorra?
There is a popular idea that Vallnord is the best place for beginners to learn to ski. And that’s definitely true — many of those 250 ski school instructors are fluent English speakers. Also, because Arinsal’s nightlife scene is so active, there will be plenty to do if you’re just easing into the idea of skiing.
That said, there is a great deal at Vallnord for intermediate skiers as well. When snow conditions are at their peak, resorts in the area have the longest on-piste run in Andorra from Pic Alt de la Capa all the way down 3,000 feet Cota 1550, where the chairlift goes from.
In the upper zones near Pic Negre and Pic Alt de la Capa, there are a few shorter red and black runs. If freestyle is your thing, there’s also a snowpark that includes many boxes, rails, and jumps sorted into three difficulty levels, including for experts.
Season and Weather for Skiing at Vallnord
“Sunny with lots of fresh snow” is the short version of the winter weather forecast in Andorra. Other details include:
- The ski slopes connected to Arinsal’s ski resort typically open in mid-November with everything fully underway by December 1.
- They stay open for, on average 135 days, before closing in April.
- In every year for the past decade, at least one winter month has seen more than a metre of snowfall.
- There are 400 snow cannons standing by in case nature doesn’t cooperate.
Pal-Arinsal vs. Ordino-Arcalís
Pal and Arinsal are connected by gondola (cable car). The former is the place to go with the family, has excellent ski schools for those just starting out and some challenging runs for the older members of your group. Arinsal has the closest connection between skiing and everything else — entertainment, après ski options and great places to stay.
On the other hand — Arcalís is right next door in Ordino parish. Its 24 pistes, served by 14 lifts are on the north and northwest faces of the mountain. That means more fresh powder. It also means some truly glorious off-piste routes.
While Ordino Arcalís is geographically close to the Vallnord resort, it is now part of the Grandvalira Resorts group and, as such, requires separate passes to ski at for the day. However, a Valls del Nord season pass does exist for those looking to ski at the both Pal-Arinsal and Arcalís for more than a few days. Setting non-resident adults back €652 for the 2020/21 season, it gives pass holders unlimited access to all the slopes and lifts of both Pal-Arinsal and Ordino Arcalís.
Prices for Arinsal Lift Pass at Vallnord
The first thing to know is that these passes come in two varieties:
- Singular, multi-day and season ski passes, or
- Skimo/snowshoeing passes.
For the 2020-21 ski season, Vallnord has set the price for adults (16 - 64) at between €42 for a single day up to €435.50 for eleven days.
Ski passes can be purchased through Vallnord’s website and existing ones can also be recharged there.
Other Arinsal Ski Pass Details
Other details you should know when planning your trip include:
- Those younger than six or older than 69 ski for free.
- Seniors (65 - 69) get a discounted rate of €19.50 per day.
- Multi-day passes don’t have to be used on consecutive days.
- Ski passes for 6 or more days (or ones booked through certain online brokers) use a touchless chip for easy access to the lifts. Others require you to scan a barcode.
If you are visiting the ski resorts and want to use the gondola or chair lifts without skiing, there are separate passes for these.
Package Deals for Passes
Especially if you book through one of the big online brokers, it can be fairly easy to find offers. These usually bundle some combination of ski hire, lessons, and lift pass into a discounted price.
Vallnord also sells seasonal ski passes, as well as ones that include access to Arcalis. These come in versions for families, at a discounted rate for repeat customers who book early and in combination mountain-biking season passes.
Other Things to Look Out For
Taking a break from a day packed with snow-filled activities is always welcome. If you’re keen on watching top-level ski competition, the calendar of events includes:
- The Font Blanca a premiere mountain-based cross-country event.
- Every January, the Borrufa Trophy offers fourteen to sixteen-year-olds the opportunity to compete at an international level.
- In March 2019, the FIS World Cup finals will visit Soldeu.
Nearby Activities for Off Days
Andorra is famous for combining snow on the ground with sun in the sky, but to be honest unexpected bad weather can strike anytime. And in extreme cases, the lifts and ski runs may be closed for safety reasons.
Luckily, we’re very close to Andorra la Vella and the shopping Andorra is famous for. Even if you’re not forced to miss a day, taking some time off for duty-free purchases and exploring the Andorran markets is always fun.
Of course, shopping isn't all that Andorra has to offer its many tourists. If you're looking to wind down after a long day on the snowy slopes, drop by at your local bar and pub for a drink or two. From high-end restaurants to buzzing karaoke bars, the nightlife here has a wide range of possibilities for how to spend your après ski time.
Sant Moritz: The Perfect Base for Your Arinsal Holiday
At Apartaments Sant Moritz, we are conveniently located near both the snowy slopes and the après ski resorts. Our rental apartments are an easy two-minute walk to the gondola, so you can be out of bed and on the mountain in no time. To make things even better, Esports Sant Moritz has a location right next door so ski rental pickup is a breeze.
Book your stay with us and be right in the middle of Arinsal's ski resort oasis.