Andorra’s ski resorts ring in near the top of most global lists of alpine destinations. This is a well-deserved ranking because the best Andorra ski resorts offer a variety of impressive runs, plenty of modern facilities and all the amenities you want.
All of that comes with sunny skies and reliably snowy slopes.
Our guide will help you plan a visit to an Andorra ski resort that will be the holiday of a lifetime. We’ll give you an insider’s perspective on the practicalities of coming to Andorra for skiing and can help you find a great place to stay.
Overview of the Best Andorra Ski Resorts
With nine sectors for downhill skiing divided between two resorts (plus a 10th sector for cross-country) Andorra’s ski resorts have plenty of options.
History of Skiing in Andorra
Francesc Viladomat is the grandfather of Andorra’s ski resort industry. Over 60 years ago, his frustrations with the difficulty of farming on his family’s mountainous property spawned a brilliant investment. He installed Andorra’s first ski lift.
Since the mid-’50s, technology has advanced progressively and there are many more options for holiday makers in Andorra.
Over the past 10 years, the industry has consolidated into the two familiar resort groups, Grandvalira and Vallnord. The focus has also shifted to emphasizing quality and everyone has flourished together.
How to Catch the Best of the Andorra Ski Season
For the 2018-19 ski season, Andorra’s ski resorts are both scheduled to be open by December 1. The Andorra ski season will wrap-up by the third or fourth week of April.
That means that skiers in Andorra will be able to hit the slopes two weeks earlier than many of the major resorts in the Alps.
Last year, Grandvalira enjoyed about 325 cm of snowfall. That combines with more sun than almost any other ski destination in Europe, makes Andorra particularly attractive.
Picking your time partly depends on what you value most. Snowfall is most dependable in late December and January, but by April you’re more likely to get one of those rare days when you can ski in a t-shirt.
Andorra is especially popular with British skiers so, if you can, it makes sense to avoid their school holidays. (In 2019, they are the week between Christmas and New Year’s, a week in late February and two weeks in April.)
How Does Andorra Stack Up Against Other Ski Destinations?
Andorra has the most ski lifts per square metre of any country in the world. All those lifts have a total capacity of 160,000 skiers per hour.
If the Alps are Europe’s best-known range for skiing, the Pyrenees are the most popular alternative. Compared to competitors in Switzerland or France, Andorra’s ski resorts tend to be less crowded and benefit from Andorra’s mild winter weather.
Andorra Ski Resorts Map
With ski resorts that spread over so much territory, maps can be a helpful tool for navigating a ski holiday in Andorra.
As you can tell from this Andorra ski resorts map, the entire Grandvalira ski resort is lift-and-piste integrated.
By comparison, Vallnord is split into two sections.
As well, a special Andorra ski resorts map is helpful for understanding the freeride options available at Ordino-Arcalis
Vallnord as an Andorra Ski Resort Option
In both of the past two years, Vallnord has won the World Ski Award as the best ski resort in Andorra. Our article about the Arinsal ski resort will take you through all of its particulars, and we’ll highlight some of the best bits here.
Who Will Enjoy Skiing at Vallnord?
As a ski resort destination, Vallnord will appeal to:
- Beginners who want to learn to ski from one of the roughly 250 instructions, many of who speak English.
- Those who want a vibrant, apres-ski nightlife like the one we enjoy here in Arinsal.
- Freestyle skiers who will take advantage of the state-of-the-art ski park.
- Those who want to experience the natural beauty of off-piste skiing, a specialty at Ordino-Arcalis.
Differences Between the Ski Resort Areas at Pal, Arinsal and Arcalis
Vallnord is comprised of three different ski areas that include 77 runs for a total 90 km. They are all modern, world-class facilities, but to some extent, they have separate specialties:
- Arinsal has a wide variety when it comes to run difficulty and the most in-town location.
- A gondola connects Arinsal to Pal where families will find things are geared to their needs.
- Arcalis is more quaint and the least crowded of the three, especially once you leave the runs behind for a freeride.
Introduction to Grandvalira, One of Andorra’s Best Ski Resorts
Grandvalira is Andorra’s largest ski resort and one of the biggest and most modern in the world.
Grandvalira is one of the dozen or so largest ski resorts in the world. Andorra ski reviews point to it as a world-class competitor with 210 km of pistes over 1,926 hectares all serviced by 62 total lifts.
Access to one of Andorra’s best ski resorts comes at a relative discount to what resorts in the Alps charge.
Who Will Enjoy Skiing Here
With such a large and modern resort there’s no surprise that there is a piste option for everyone. For instance, a roughly equal percentage (about 16%) fall into both the green and black categories.
There are plenty of amenities here including a sophisticated ski school that offers classes for both children and adults.
Variations Between Ski Areas at Grandvalira
As the ski areas of Andorra grew and were further developed they ended up bordering on each other. All of the areas of Grandvalira are connected but they do have some variation:
- Pas de la Casa has a wide range slopes, so is good for groups of different skill levels. The town has some of the best shopping in Andorra and an active nightlife.
- El Tarter and Grau Roig both have a snowpark for snowboarding and those who prefer freestyle skiing.
- Canillo has a Family Park and approachable hills — this is the area for those with kids.
- Soldeu is right in the middle of Grandvalira and has particularly wide runs and the famous Avet slope.
Special Ski Competitions Held at Grandvalira
As Andorra has established itself as a top destination with some of the best ski resorts in the world it has also set out to host major ski events.
For 2019, the Riberal slope in Grau Roig has been selected for the final two trials in the Speed Skiing World Cup. If you want to see some of the world’s fastest skiers in action — and maybe another world record again this year — plan your visit for between April 10 and 13, 2019.
The even more exciting news is that between March 11 and 17, Grandvalira will host the 2019 finals of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. This extremely prestigious event will be spread over several slopes, including the instantly recognizable Avet slope in Soldeu and El Tarter’s Àliga slope.
Details of Planning a Ski Holiday to Andorra
Andorra is a fantastic option for a ski holiday. A few details make it slightly different than destinations in other parts of the world. Here are some specific tips that might help.
Getting to Andorra
Our comprehensive guide on getting to Andorra has all the ins and outs of visiting our mountain. The short version is that with the exception of a few chartered flight options, you’ll have to go through Toulouse or Barcelona. And that means tacking a three-hour bus or car trip on to the end of your trip.
When big plus of getting to Andorra is that you (almost definitely) won’t need a visa. Our government allows tourists to visit for 90 days without one.
When to Book
If you’re particular about a flight time or hotel booking, it really is best to have your Andorra holiday booked by the end of August. If you’re less choosy, you might find a better deal by waiting until the fall and there are sometimes last-minute deals.
What to Bring and What to Rent
In Andorra, ski resorts have a sophisticated system of amenities, including many options for ski equipment rentals. For instance, Esports Sant Moritz has outposts in all three of the Vallnord ski areas. As well as renting and selling skis and snowboards, they also sell all the accessories and other equipment you might need.
Helmets aren’t mandatory but it is recommended that you seriously consider bringing or renting one.
Andorra is famously sunny, so take that into account with skin and eye protection against the rays.
Options for Accommodations at Andorra Ski Resorts
Andorra skiing reviews commonly note how much money has been invested in accommodations over the past decade. That means a wide variety of options for where to stay in Andorra that range well into five-star territory.
For instance, near Grandvalira, the Sport Hotel Hermitage and Spa offers premium luxury in Soldeu. If you’re looking for a boutique-style option, there is the Grau Roig Hotel.
Stay at Apartaments Sant Moritz for your Andorra Ski Holiday
If you’re looking for centrally located accommodation with a convenient and flexible apartment-style setup we have just what you need.
Here in Arinsal, we’re right in the middle of Vallnord and are an easy drive to both Grandvalira and Andorra la Vella. Book now for the best rate on your next Andorra ski resort vacation.