In the last blog, I told you how my first impression of Andorra was of one big, crowded ski resort. After spending a day exploring the country (it does not take long since the country is roughly 13 miles by 14 miles big) I can tell you that Andorra still did not meet my expectations, but I am glad I visited.
Andorra is a mountainous country and there are basically two main roads working up the valleys. The first goes from the Spanish border in the southwest to the French border in the east. The second branches north from the capital, Andorra le Vella, which is about a third of the way from the Spanish border. At first glance, it seems like Andorra is one big city stretching up the valley along the first road, but it turns out that there are a dozen little villages strung out along this valley.
As you can image in a mountain community there are a lot of hiking opportunities and Andorra is no exception. You can find things from 30 minute easy walks all the way to full day extreme hikes all over the country (on a side note, here is what to do if you sprain your ankle). The most famous place to hike is the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. This area is a World Heritage Site because it offers a view into the way people have harvested the resources of the high Pyrenees over the last 1000 years. It has dramatic landscapes of cliffs with open pastures and wooded valleys and you can find summer settlements, terraced fields, stone tracks, and evidence of iron smelting.
Even though Andorra has boomed with ski resorts and other tourism since World War 2, you can still find a bit of history here and there. You have to remember this area has traditionally been an impoverished, rural up in the mountains and rather cut off from there outside world. With that said most of the historical building as stone churches from the 9th-12th century that each village built.
Other than that, you will want to check out Casa de la Vall, which is a 16th century manor house used for parliament meetings the last 300 years. As far as museums go, Andorra has a wide range including motorcycles, cars, perfume, miniatures, and comic books, but my favorite was the museum about Rural Life.
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I even found places to get away from the crowds. Head north to the village of Pal and you will be walking around with locals and maybe another couple or two. They have a beautiful little stone church (as do most of the villages) and amazing mountain vistas. Speaking of no
crowds and great views, you should take the drive over the mountain between Ordino and Canillo.
Even though Andorra was more crowded and hectic than I expected, I did find places to relax and take in the views. I am glad I visited here, but three days is plenty of time in my opinion…..unless it is ski season. ????