This post is long overdue. I have been meaning to write up about our trip to Andorra just after Christmas. This trip didn’t take much planning and it was something that we and our friends have decided at the last minute.
The idea came up when I mentioned to my friend about how my youngest really miss playing in the snow, more so as the festive holiday approached. It’s been over 3 years since he’d played or seen snow. So we thought it would be a great idea, along with our friends who also have kids, to take a short break after Christmas in the beautiful country of Andorra.
Of course, it wasn’t only for the kids! I’ve heard that the duty-free shopping is something to get excited about too! The idea of taking a road-trip somewhere new to do some shopping is always a good idea to me! And with those valid reasons, we all agreed. Let’s go!!!
We found and booked our accommodation using Airbnb for two nights for the 27th to the 29th of December. There were 9 people including 4 children in our group, and even though our chosen house stated that it can only accommodate 6 people, our host, was more than willing to add extra beds. For €260.00, this was a super cheap find since we booked only a few weeks before.
ROAD TRIP: VALENCIA TO ANDORRA
The drive from Valencia to Coll de Nargó took about 6 hours. We gathered that staying somewhere just before the border would be cheaper than staying in Andorra at this time of year.
We left Valencia at 13:00 and arrived at around 19:00 taking a couple of breaks in between. Six hours IS eternity for a kid, so in-car entertainment and supply of snacks is a must! Well, at least, it will tide you over until the next ‘Are we there yet?!’ question. You can just imagine!!!
Cala Pruna is an old farmhouse located in the town of Coll de Nargó in the Alt Urgell, situated in the Lleida foothills and about 35-40 minutes drive to Andorra. Surrounded by orchards, fields and mountains this rural town still retains its traditional charm with old buildings and narrow streets. Just a few metres away from the house also stands the romanesque church of Sant Climent. It’s very easy to imagine what life would have been like here many years ago. An ideal place to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Our host lived about 50 metres away from our place, so she was able to welcome us and tell us what’s what around the area. We found the locals very friendly they spoke mainly Catalan but didn’t mind speaking Spanish either. The town itself is small but full of character with a handful of shops and bars. It has everything you need for a short stay and within walking distance.
The accommodation is located on the first floor of the farmhouse. Narrow stairs on the side of the house lead up to the main entrance which opens up into an open plan living, kitchen and dining room. The kitchen has all the essential equipment if you prefer to self-cater, but since we were only staying for a few days, we went out to bars and restaurants for our meals instead.
The house was clean and had been modernly refurbished to a good standard but it also has kept its traditional stone walls and high beams. There is also an estufa where you can burn firewood and central heating is also available when it gets very chilly! Cosy & comfortable. :)
There are two bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs. The main bedroom is spacious with a double bed and a wardrobe. The second room had two single beds and the third one downstairs had bunk beds. There are two bathrooms, one downstairs and upstairs both have showers. Towels and bedsheets were also included.
The house is ideal for short stays and if you have older children. The house is situated on the upper floor, accessibility and safety can be a problem if you have a disability or very young kids. For us it worked well, we had somewhere convenient, cheap and comfortable to stay in for a few nights.
ANDORRA LA VELLA
Andorra is a tiny country with just over 85,000 inhabitants and sits in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. It has an altitude of 3,000 feet and it’s the highest capital city in Europe. The best thing about the drive from Valencia to Andorra was going through towns, villages, mountain ranges and winding roads with 1,000-metre cliff drop enough to make your heart stop!
Getting to Andorra from Coll de Nargó didn’t take too long. We left just before 10:00 am so we arrived at the border in good time avoiding the queues. Once we got to the city, parking was straight forward and we found somewhere to leave our cars for €13.00 for just over 5 hours.
Shopping made me dizzy!!! There were so many shops that I wanted to go to, but with kids in tow, it WASN’T a productive shopping trip (my wallet thanked me for that). With one shopping venue for every 40 Andorrans, I’m not surprised that an estimated 10 million tourists visit annually to enjoy Andorra’s lively shopping scene. From Armani to Zara. Perfume, tobacco and electronics at duty-free prices, no wonder this place is shoppers paradise!
Just after lunch, we headed off to the mountains to FINALLY see snow! The kids have been looking forward to this! Snowman and snowball fights! It’s been a while, and we’re very lucky to be able to make this possible for the children with just a few hours drive away.
We found a nice ski resort in Pal-Arinsal about 35-40 minutes drive from the city. The view of the sunset from the Pyrenees was pretty awesome. I think even the kids appreciated it too. As the sun went down, there was something calm and peaceful about it and even though I could hardly feel my toes, none of that mattered. I was here, lucky to be on top of the world and it was enough to give me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside… I just wish we were staying for longer.
SO ARE WE GOING TO VISIT ANDORRA AGAIN?
Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s been a short but memorable experience. The kids have thoroughly enjoyed it, so a big thumbs up from everyone. If we could change anything for next time, we would like to stay within Andorra. Maybe in a hotel, resort or even those cabins, I saw along the way. Whatever your interests are, whether it’s skiing, something romantic, a rural retreat, family time, spa or a summer break, Andorra certainly ticks all the boxes!
This trip was first published at Ohla Living