The Ski Slopes Of This Small European Country Are A Budget-Friendly Hot Spot

When it comes to planning a vacation to Europe, obvious nations such as historic Italy, romantic France, and the aqua-blue waters of Greece tend to always be considered as potential destinations. However, there are plenty of tiny European countries that travelers tend to forget about. Landlocked San Marino provides stunning mountain views, Monaco is a playground for the rich and famous, and Liechtenstein is a hiker's paradise. Exploring these countries is an opportunity to add another destination to your travel list, and it always feels like an off-the-beaten-path adventure.

For those looking to embark on winter sports, one tiny European nation does it better than the rest. Move over, Swiss Alps — the small, mountainous nation of Andorra is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after European ski destinations. Located between France and Spain, Andorra's weather conditions between December and April have made it a perfect destination for avid skiers. Boasting 215 ski runs, 7,600 acres of downhill slopes, 123 ski lifts, and affordable packages and passes, it's hard to find a reason not to put Andorra at the top of your skiing bucket list.

What makes Andorra prime for skiing?

Andorra is conveniently located within the Pyrenees mountain range. Far less known than the popular Swiss and Austrian Alps, the Pyrenees feel like a hidden gem in all things winter sports. The Pyrenees also span over France and Spain, so combining your trip to Andorra with a proper country-hopping European venture is certainly something to consider.

So, what makes Andorra such a spectacular ski destination? For the first time in history, Andorra has added resorts to the Ikon Pass, a well-known pass amongst avid skiers and snowboarders that gives access to some of the most iconic mountains in the world. These resorts are Ordino Arcalís, Pal Arinsal, and Grandvalira. Alternatively, you can purchase an Andorra Pass to visit several ski resorts, with prices starting at around $50 a day. For an even better deal, avid skiers can opt for the Nord Pass, which gives access to two of the tiny country's top ski resorts, Ordino Arcalís and Pal Arinsal. Best of all? It's less than $40 per day.

You might assume skiing in Western Europe is an expensive feat. While that might be true if you choose popular destinations like Zermatt, Switzerland, or even the Italian Dolomites, Andorra tends to fall on the cheaper side, all things considered. Shopping aficionados will particularly love that Andorra is a tax-free shopping destination.

Tips for visiting Andorra

Andorra–La Seu d'Urgell Airport (LEU) is the only airport in Andorra, but many travelers prefer the freedom of having a car. Andorra is located approximately 122 miles from Barcelona, Spain, which equates to a drive that is a little under three hours. The drive is generally considered scenic, as it leads into the Pyrenees.

The official language of Andorra is Catalan, but don't fret if you don't speak the language. Since Spain and France are neighbors, it's not unusual to hear people communicating in Spanish, French, and English.

The national dish of Andorra is escudella, which is a great winter dish to fuel up both before and after a long day on the slopes. It consists of various meats, such as chicken, sausage, veal, and even pig snout and ears. The meats are cooked in a broth, creating a fragrant stew with pasta and vegetables. For a proper après-ski libation, sip some authentic Andorran anis liquor. You might know that Spain and France are a must-visit for wine lovers, and with Andorra being smack in the middle, the country is no exception for being a great place to sip vino. If you want to choose locally, your options will be slightly limited since Andorra only has five wineries: Borda Sabaté 1944, Casa Auvinyà, Casa Beal, Celler Mas Berenguer, and Casus Belli.