Andorra is a superb setting for some of Europe’s best hiking — the combination of pleasant temperatures and stunning vistas is almost unrivalled. Whether down in the valleys where trails tend to be easy or up in the mountains where there is more of a challenge for the seasoned hiker, Andorra is a prime destination for hikers.
Our guide to hiking in Andorra will help you plan a memorable and adventurous itinerary with Apartaments Sant Moritz as your base.
The Advantages of Hiking in Andorra
For outdoor activities, Andorra is an ideal destination, brimming with majestic views and unexplored paths. Those that live in Andorra regularly rank hiking as one of their favourite pastimes. It’s no wonder why.
Even though fewer than 80,000 people live here, about 10 million tourists visit every year — many of them for a pleasant, mountainside break from city life. Some of the reasons why you should include hiking in your vacation plans are:
- Andorra gets, on average, 300 days of sunshine, and the high elevation means the humidity is low and the days tend to be slightly cooler than other nearby destinations.
- Outdoor exercise can reduce the effects of jet lag. Getting out in the sun, soon after arriving in a new time zone helps your body set its rhythms to a new clock.
- Hiking allows you to immerse yourself in new surroundings and move at a pace that your curiosity can keep up with.
- With the 300-km trail network, a good chunk of Andorra is accessible to hikers.
- Especially on more challenging mountain trails, hiking offers a chance to stay in shape while vacationing.
- With almost no environmental impact, hiking is one of the greenest ways to get around while travelling.
Practical Considerations for Hiking in Andorra
Similar to mountain biking, the season for hiking in Andorra runs from April to October, depending on the weather in a particular year.
Especially in the spring and fall, hikers can experience a wide range of weather in one day out on the trails. Keep this — and the effect elevation will have on temperature — in mind and pack lots of layers. Visit Andorra recommends only doing the hiking routes that are above 1,700 metres between the end of June and the end of September.
Andorra is pretty much all mountains (average elevation is about 2,000 metres above sea level) so you’ll find a number of hiking trails that cross through the country. A few can be quite challenging; pick one that matches your level of experience and fitness.
Keep safety in mind before and during your Andorran hike. In case of an emergency that requires you to send your location to rescuers, it’s a good idea to download the Alpify app to your phone before setting out.
A truly adventurous hiking excursion could include an overnight stay in one of the shelters that make up Andorra’s extensive mountain refuge network. While some are modest huts, others are guarded and housed in converted bordas — the iconic stone barns of Andorra.
For equipment, Esports Sant Moritz sells some of what you’ll need for a trekking adventure. Viladomat, Intersport and several other stores in Andorra la Vella are also good sources for packs, poles, boots, and other sport necessities.
Sites and Starting Points
This country may be small in size but it is divided into seven parishes that group, roughly, into three areas: northwest, northeast, and south.
In the southern area, Andorra la Vella, Escaldes-Engordany, Sant Julià de Lòria — all under 30 minutes by car from Sant Moritz — are excellent places for joining one of the many hiking trails.
The Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley makes up one-tenth of the principality and the surrounding natural park (with its own UNESCO designation) offers characteristic mountain views and interpretive walks. This valley starts at Escaldes Engordany, and goes till the Glacial circus of Pessons in Grau Roig. It makes for a long and enjoyable hike with plenty of scenic landscapes and wildlife to spot.
Western Andorra has La Massana and Ordino as bases for hikes in this part of the country. Itineraries could include visiting the lush Sorteny Valley with its educational nature parks. As well, Coma Pedrosa is the tallest peak here and offers an inviting challenge to experienced and skilled hikers.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Ordino’s Tristaina Lakes are one of the most popular and accessible hiking destinations here. Trails here are easily reached from the road and, especially the ones that run close to the edge of the lakes, can be suitable for beginner hikers and veterans who want an easier warm up.
Encamp and Canillo are two good starting points in eastern Andorra. Venture this way to see the glacial lakes in the Incles Valley. While there are many trails to explore in the area, the Cabana Sorda Lake Trail is one of the best reviewed in Andorra and, as well as a moderately difficult hike and the scenic views, it offers the opportunity to bathe in the waterfall and lake as an end goal.
Via Ferrata: Combining Hiking with Climbing
Via ferrata combine climbing and hiking in Andorra for the more adventurous. Metal rungs make the cliff-scaling part a bit easier and wire bridges allow hikers to cross spans safely. This is one of the only places in Europe that offers free access to their via ferrata that are spread all over the country. For safety’s sake, you’ll need to use a full set of rock-climbing gear, including a helmet and harness.
Near Canillo, Via Ferrata Roc del Quer is one of the most popular examples, taking hikers to the popular lookout of the same name. As is common for this type of activity, an intermediate level of fitness is recommended for the route, but it is definitely not just for athletes.
Resources and More Information
There are plenty of additional resources with helpful information about hiking in Andorra:
- Visit Andorra has produced hiking trail maps and one for the longer-distance routes (including GRs) and hut network.
- They also have an app (iOS only) called Active Tourism Andorra that can help plan hiking trips to Andorra.
- Wikiloc has lots of downloadable maps that are great for planning a hiking trip.
- Dig into this informative blog post from All Andorra that gets into specific details like the differences between the long-distance routes.
And if all the planning seems like a bit too much, there is always the option of going with a guide for your vacation.
Highlights of a Hiking Trip at Apartaments Sant Moritz
While still relatively undiscovered, Andorra attracts many tourists all year round for skiing, mountain biking, hiking, or just to bask in all the wonders this quaint town has to offer.
If you’re someone who enjoys sunshine and fresh air on your holidays, but can’t imagine sitting still on a beach for a week, hiking in Andorra might be for you. The main reasons for choosing to travel here are:
- Andorra has a sunny and warm climate, in the summer at least, that is ideal for hiking excursions.
- All parts of Andorra offer hiking trail options that range from beginner to advanced and Sant Moritz is conveniently located in the centre of the action.
- Hiking is a relaxing and environmentally-friendly way of getting to know Andorra and take in its stunning scenery.
Hiking is a relatively low equipment activity, but we can still help you find the right boots or pack for your hiking treks. Our staff loves getting outdoors just as much as our guests — and we’re always happy to help you plan your hiking excursions.
Book your stay with us today for a mid-year getaway full of exciting summer activities, viewing spectacular vistas and discovering breathtaking scenery while hiking in Andorra.
Feature Image: Grandvalira