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Once known chiefly for its duty-free shopping, the mini-state of Andorra – Europe’s sixth-smallest country, at just 468km2 (181 square miles) – is now a superb year-round destination for activity and wellness fans alike.
Located between and co-ruled by France and Spain, its Pyrenean slopes feature top-notch and very cheap skiing holiday resorts during winter, before morphing into a walking and cycling paradise during summer. Meanwhile, Andorra’s thermal waters, which reportedly soothe aches and pains, are available year-round.
Andorra boasts arguably the best Pyrenean ski slopes, which is why skiing and snowboarding fans flock here faster than you can say “après ski!” year after year.
Most skiers congregate at Grandvalira, the largest ski resort in the Pyrenees. It has the widest selection of black pistes, plus the added boon of a 6km (4 miles) gondola lift known as the Funicamp. The resort’s main villages are Pas de la Casa, Soldeu, El Tarter, Canillo and Encamp.
Vallnord, made up of ski resorts Pal Arinsal and Ordino Arcalís, is quieter and specialises in long blue and red runs. Between the two resorts there are 22 blue and 27 red runs, and Vallnord offers combined entry fees which cover all its slopes. The common denominator is pristine, forested scenery, while terrain parks, low prices and comparatively small crowds to the Alpine destinations also impress. For non-skiers, you can try snowmobiling or enjoy a cable car ride in La Massana.
For cross-country fans, the Naturlandia ecopark in southern Andorra is the place to go. A day pass costs as little as €12, so cross-country skiing in Andorra is cheap as chips – and it even gets cheaper on the second day. You can also try snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and dog sledding here, and after a day full of activities there are restaurants and hotels within the park to get a bite and rest your head.
It's older than you might think, skis are just the beginning of the fun and... what's North Korea got to do with it? You may be a a pro on-piste but we bet you didn't know these ten facts.Read more about 10 things you probably didn't know about skiing
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