Of the 10 million visitors who come to the principality every year, the vast majority arrive when the mountains are covered in snow. Skiing is the main go-to but there is a wide range of other activities to enjoy.
Today, we’ll cover Andorra’s winter activities from snowboarding to shopping and from dog sledding to zip-lining. Use this article as your guide to an awesome vacation and we’re sure you’ll enjoy your stay in our mountain paradise.
What’s Andorra Like in Winter?
You’re likely to find colder weather and snow here from late November through to the end of April. The peak winter tourism season kicks off when schools let out (and ski resorts open) in December and continues through March.
On a chart of ski destinations, this place sits right at the sweet spot between undiscovered (the crowds are much thinner than at better-known spots in the Alps) and well developed.
What Are Andorra’s Best Winter Activities on the Mountains?
Forgive us for stating the obvious, but Andorra is mountainous. The average elevation is just shy of 2,000 metres and there are about 20 named Andorran peaks over 2,500 metres.
Obviously, the millions of visitors who come here can’t help but take part in alpine pursuits.
Where to Ski
We have two world-class ski resorts. Here in Arinsal, we’re at the heart of the Vallnord ski resort group. We have a full primer on Arinsal’s ski resort, but here are some highlights:
- Pal has excellent facilities for the whole family and those learning to ski.
- The 77 runs (over 90 km total) include the 3,000-foot Cota.
- Nightlife options in Arinsal are diverse and suited to all types of après ski moods.
- Arcalis has a reputation for a quieter vibe with less crowded lifts and runs, plus untamed off-piste options.
Grandvalira is the larger of Andorra’s ski resorts. Its particulars include:
- 62 lifts for the 210 km of runs that are spread over almost 2,000 hectares.
- A wide range of options from the family-friendly runs in Canillo to the world-famous runs in Soldeu and El Tarter.
- Slopes within easy reach of great shopping in Pas de la Casa.
Ski resorts here have plenty of ski school options, for both children and adults learning to ski.
Skiing sometimes grabs more of the headlines but this is also a great place for snowboarding.
The youthful vibe and energetic après scene make Arinsal a favourite with snowboarders.
Snowpark El Tarter is one of the most popular in the region and attracts both snowboarders and freestyle skiers. The 1.3-km run has features, from rails to jumps, that are excellent for snowboarders of all levels.
Also in Grandvalira, Soldeu has a particularly well-regarded snowboard school.
Other Activities on the Andorran Mountains
Sometimes going down a mountain isn’t about carving the tightest corners or picking the best route through the trees. For all out downhill fun, nothing beats a sunset tubing experience.
Arinsal and Soldeu both offer guests the chance to go tubing after the runs close. At El Planell in Pal you’ll find a tubing run that is perfect for kids.
Experience Andorra at Its Best
Equally, you don’t necessarily need to be going down a hill to have a great time when there’s snow on the ground. Here are the highlights that you should consider adding to your itinerary.
Some of our favourites are:
- A handful of operators run helicopter tours that are the best way to see the panoramic scenery.
- Mushing behind a team of sled dogs is one of the off-mountain activities organised by Grandvalira.
- Just as we love hiking during the summer, some trails are also open for the winter. Be especially careful of changes in the weather and consider renting snowshoes to handle deep snow.
- If you’d rather speed down the trails at a much faster clip, a snowmobile is the way to go.
Indoor Winter Activities
In every group of friends who go on a skiing holiday together, there is always someone who would rather skip the slopes in favour of the spa or shopping. This part of the guide is for them.
Spas and Relaxation
Whether you’re looking for a deep-tissue massage or just a relaxing soak in hot springs, these are Andorra’s best spa options:
- The Sport Wellness Mountain Spa gets top reviews for the service, slope-side views, world-class facilities and Michelin-starred food.
- Grau Roig’s only hotel is a boutique property with an integrated spa that has a top-notch indoor pool.
- Caldea, in Escaldes-Engordany, is both the tallest building in Andorra and Europe’s largest spa facility. It’s a family-friendly experience that goes well beyond just the thermal baths.
Après-ski Eating and Drinking
Because Andorra is so compact and served by a comprehensive system of roads, pretty much every town is within reach of a good restaurant or an exciting bar. But if apres-ski is your winter activity of choice, you might want to plan your trip around Arinsal and Pas de la Casa where there are the most options.
Here in Arinsal, it’s easy to find apres options. For a memorable experience head to:
- From morning coffee to evening drinks Polar Bar is the on-slope choice in Arinsal, especially for its outdoor patio.
- El Cabin Bar and Restaurant features live music including popular styles like American classic rock in an intimate space. Before the band goes on, they’re also a great spot for a carefully-prepared, casual meal.
- The South American-style steakhouse is a staple in Arinsal with options like Pampa Arinsal, Ruta 40 and Hunters Sports Bar & Grill.
Also, if you want to enjoy the weather in winter from inside a restaurant, there are a few remote, on-mountain dining options. These will take some getting to, but the view from perched on a mountain makes the trip worthwhile:
By the time the snow is on the slopes, the big shopping festival in November is over. But there is still plenty in the stores, including some great Christmas shopping options.
Have a look at our full Andorra shopping guide. The short version is that many of the top stores will be in Andorra la Vella or Escaldes-Engordany (a short drive from us in Arinsal).
Guide to Andorra’s Weather
We get 300 days of sunshine a year and many of them come when there is snow on the ground! What else do you need to know about Andorra weather in winter?
Here in Arinsal, an average year sees new snowfall on half the days for a monthly total of around 75 cm in January, February and March. In good years, like 2018, we get several metres over the season and enjoy fresh powder on two out of three days.
Picking the best time to visit depends a bit on what you want. January and early February are the most dependable for snow, but temperatures will be below freezing. If you don’t like the cold, March and April are decent bets for snow and the chance of catching a very mild day.
Activities for Kids
The past fifteen years have seen Andorra transform as a winter destination. We went from a good option for budget-conscious skiers to the full package, including many family-friendly things to do.
Your top choices are:
- The zip-line at Mon(t) Magic is great for older kids (it has a minimum 35 kg rider weight) and parents alike.
- Tobotronc at Naturlandia is the world’s longest toboggan run.
- Canillo’s Palau de Gel offers indoor go-karting on ice — a great option for the rare days when the weather makes skiing impossible.
Many of Andorra’s ski schools also have nurseries with fun activities for young kids.
Book Accommodation at Apartaments Sant Moritz for Your Winter Trip
Located in the heart of Arinsal, we are the ideal spot to stay during your holiday. Skiing is our specialty and the slopes of Vallnord are in our backyard, everything from shopping to snowshoeing is also conveniently close.
Get in touch to book now for the best rates on your stay.