It's one of the Pyrenee's highest resorts and also one of it's newest - and when you get there, you'll know why someone said, "Let's put a ski area, here!"
Set in a high glacial cirque(2625m/8600'') at the far end of Andorra, Arcalís is Vallnord's extreme mountain. This means, Heli-skiing, ski-riding, freeride competitions and some of the best downhill chutes in Iberia. But, just barely in Iberia, as you can ski into France from the back of Creussans if you're not careful...
There are some disadvantages: This is a National Park, so slopeside lodging is not an option and the local villages are distant and undeveloped. Largely. For me, this is a plus. For others...well, they're off to Pas de la Casa for some shooters and karaoke contests. The other downside is the sheer distance the resort is from the rest of Andorra. Even sister resorts Pal/Arinsal require a lengthy, albeit, free shuttle ride. The access road is well-built, but quite steep at a few intervals, making driving in snowy conditions a hair-raising experience.
Save this, it's worth it. Period. No crowds, gorgeous vistas, cheap passes and some off-piste that'll make a man outta ya. Well, I shouldn't be saying any of this, come to think of it.
IT'S AWFUL. STAY AWAY!!
Equipment: If you're going off-piste, you might want to buy the insurance with the forfait/pass. For ski tuning/waxing/rentals/et al, Carving Esports en Arans is your place. This is the best shop I've encountered in Spain/Andorra, with knowledgeable staff, top notch demos and professional service. And, one of the first that didn't give me sh*t about having 185cm freestyle skis. I'm a longboarder, b**ches!
Alpine ski and snowboard are common winter sports in Andorra, among other kinds of snow sports that also share the landscape of the country...
There's plenty of ski resorts and facilities, try this page and don't get confused: there's not only four, but many grouped into big spaces like Grand Valira. Each slope has its own beauty, so I can't recomend one, but depending on the weather and the kind of snow you like, you usually choose between East (Grand Valira), with lots of slopes and valleys, packed with facilities, and West (specially Arcalís, the coldest one and where snow usually accumulates to 2m thick and lasts longer in spring, with good freeride areas)
Equipment: If you ski, of course, some ski dress (better a good one if it's a cold or hot day), and the usual: boots, gloves, sticks and, not to forget, skis :-) (or just boots, gloves and a board...)
If you only have one day for skiing I would recommend looking at the Arcalis ski area.
It's proabably the most scenic with a good mix of black, Red & blue runs. Eating options are somewhat limited as there is not a village at the skiing area.
Andorrans seems to be proudest of this resort - perhaps because it is publically owned ?
Equipment: Renting equipment is cheap in Andorra.
Find a place on the way up if you are driving.
Alternatively , to buy new, look round the supermarkets in the capital for some bargains
Skiing and snowboarding in Andorra is incredible. I went to Grand Valira ski resort which has lots of ski slopes together and you can get up from different towns. It is full of snow and there are three snowparks to have fun in and in addition you can listen to music. To get into the snowparks you need a helmet, but not in the beginner one where you can learn your first tricks.
There are lots of shops where you can buy snow clothes and equipment, and also you can rent them.
Equipment: Snow clothes and equipment. There are lots of shops where you can get both of them, and the prices are quite low.
[..cont from tip #1]
Cuando la pista pierde su caracteristico pendiente vemos, a la izquierda, las antenas que marcan el punto mas alto de la cresta, la cima de El Bony de les Neres. Poco mas de 50m antes de la cima hallamos un desvio (km 11.35) que sigue por la linea de cresta en direccion SW.
-- When the road looses its current characteristics, to the left is the mountain peak. A little more than 50m before which, we take the path along the ridge in SW direction (km 11.35). At this point your legs are hating you and you probably can't feel anything below your waist except for your pounding heartbeat.
Tomamos esta pista, que pronto se convierte en un sendero tecnico y, en algun tramo, intransitable, pero que seguro que recordaremos como uno de los descensos mas tecnicos y divertidos de nuestra carrera. Avanzando siempre por la cresta alcanzamos el collado de Beixalis, donde nos desviamos a la deracha por una pista en muy buen estado.
-- Here the road quickly decends into one of the most technical downhills of the course. Always stay on the path following the crest. Take this until the path dumps you on the Summit of Beixalis. At this point, you should have already noted how stupid it was to ride down the hill without body armor. But I survived and will do it again... but thankfully my legs regained feeling, but I traded that for sore forearms of the downhill and braking.
Hallamos un desvio (km 20.78), donde tomamos el camino de la derecha hacia L'Aldosa. Al llegar al pueblo de L'Aldose, lo cruzamos y descendemos hasta el fondo del valle. A la derecha por la carretera principal, llegamos al punto de partida.
-- A right turn at km 20.78 which will take you to L'Aldosa, take another right and return to the point of origin. At the summit, you should pay attention to the sides of the road. Just like the last 2km of downhill, there will be downhill portions through the woods identified with Yellow painted markers.
Equipment: see tip #1
Although tiny, Andorra offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the Pyrenees. The skiing season lasts from December to mid-April.
I was in Andorra at the beginning of May. So, I didn't ski but my Polish friends were in Andorra in March 2006 and they were very satisfied about skiing and weather (a lot of sun and only one foggy day during 10 days) in Pas de La Casa - Grau Roig skiing station (over 30 ski lifts and over 50 ski trails for everyone) in eastern Andorra. They were skiing in T-shirts as the temperature was often about 20C. They stayed in Pas de la Casa and it was less expensive than in the Alps. They were surprised to meet apart from skiers from Spain, France and Germany, quite many Russians and no Poles. They warned me that ski trails marked red are very difficult (as black ones in Poland) and those marked in black are for very, very experienced skiers, diffucult to survive (read: not for me :-). Shortly they told that they had the best skiing vacation ever. Well, they were skiing in Italian Dolomites as well as a few times in Austrian and French Alps before. The only disadvantage was the distance from Poland to Andorra which shortened their vacations by a few days (they drove by own car) and added some costs. But they visited fairy-like Carcassone in France on the way to Andorra and had a lot of sun on a beach in French Riviera on the way back.
Five days Andorra ski pass (valid for all stations) for season 2006/2007 costs 157,5-168 euros. Follow the link below for up-to-date info.
In summer hiking, mountain biking, and stunning alpine scenery is the main attraction for Andorra visitors.
Equipment: My friends had own skiing equipment as it's always less expensive for them skiing every winter many times. But they told me that they may buy some new equipment in Andorra next year as it was cheap at the end of season (30-50% off at the end of March).
For those of you with more gusto (or shallower pockets) and do not wish to pay for the ticket to go up the cable car (telecabin), I suggest that you go to a sports store and pick up a decent Alpine Edition / Excursion Map.
I did the trails at Vallnord, and decided to try a few of the MTT (mountain bike) routes suggested in my excursion map/guide. If you are an advanced rider in good shape, I recommend the following route:
Origininal spanish black (my translations for spanish in blue & comments in green)
De Ordino a El Bony de les Neres
23.8 km / Dificulty : alta (high) / Disnevel 935m
Iniciamous el itinerario en la rotonda de la entrada del pueblo en su acceso por el S. A su deracha nace la carretera del collado de Ordino y Canillo, tal como indica un cartel. Seguimos esta carretera, que gana altitude de manera constante.
-- We start at the rotonda of the town. Take the direction of Ordino & Canillo. On this road you will gain altitude constantly. Yeah, what they forgot to tell you is that constantly means 7%+ for 9km
Casi 700m mas elevado, en el punto quilometrico 9.75, y justo antes del de llegar al collado, parte a la derecha una pista que se adentra el el bosque. Tomamos este camino que, en algun tramo, debido a su fuerte pendiente, nos obliga a bajar de la bicicleta.
-- After 700m vertical climb, at 9.75km, just before the summit, on the right is a meadow. Take the path to the right, through the meadow. You will need to pedal strong. Again, as if 10km of a climb did not tire you, you know have another ~2km of a climb, this time in dirt.
[continued on tip #2]
Equipment: Obviously a bike, helmet and plenty of water are a must.
Depending on the trail you choose, additional safety measures may be required.
Hiking and mountain biking are two of the best summer activities in Andorra.
Some of the ski areas offer one-ride and day passes up the mountain, which allows you to access numerous x-country trails as well as downhills.
The La Massana Gondola costs 18 Eur for all day (12 Eur child). Reduced rates are available for multiple days.
The Vallnord Bike Park is a good place to ride for all levels of riders. The park is free of charge, only cost is the cable car.
The web page below offers very good maps and descriptions of the trails. Language is Spanish, English, Catalan.
Equipment: If you need equipment, Viladomat in La Massana is worth a stop.
Andorra is great place to do some winter sports, they have lovely high mountains you to ski or snowboard. In the summer time you can go hiking there and enjoy some breath taking views. They also have some luury spas over there.
Equipment: You can hire skiing equioment from many places
We stayed in Pas De La Casa. The lift pass gives access to about 6 different resorts and is really good value. You could spend weeks exploring the huge amount of runs! There are also a number of boardercross and freestyle areas.
Equipment: There are lots of ski hire shops in the town.
A great place to learn to Ski. the nursery slopes are fun and the groups are a great laugh. Its good for a return to continue your advance course. As we did 2 years on the trot. We stayed in Arinsal which is the better place as the snow doesnt get slushy there, and they have excellent Aprie Ski.
Snow boarding is very popular there and they have there own snow boarding park, away from the skiiers so's to keep everyone happy.
An altogether fun place to stay, for all ages.
Equipment: We hired our equipment there but its also cheap to buy there as its tax free.
the equipment though is very good for both beginners and advance skiiers.
Andora is a great, inexpensive place to try out a snow holiday - if you like it then great but if not then you haven't spent a fortune finding out!
Any of the Andoran locations are pretty much typical of most European resorts, if a little smaller than some. Generally good cheap food and drink to be had in pretty locations.
Soldeu & El Tarter are very pretty locations and a little quieter than their neighbor Pas de la Casa where the skiing is more varied but the landscape a bit like landing on the moon.
Equipment: If necessary you can kit yourself out with pretty much anything you will need when you are in the resort. Obviously the best idea is to rent equipment until you know if it is for you.
Andorra, being up in the Pyrenees, has set itself up as a skiers mecca. Lookign up from any part of the town, you can see the lits, and in some cases, the skiers. We didn't ski, but it can't be hard to find.
Many people ski the Alps, but why not consider Andorra? There are 5 major ski areas, which are all different and beautiful in their own unique way, and none of them are far away from each other. Better still is that there is something called the Ski Andorra Pass, which is valid at all 5 resorts. I highly recommend a visit to the website called Go Ski for detailed information about Andorra´s ski conditions and resorts. Click here to go there.
I have never been in this station, but I can tell you few things as my friends sometimes go there.
It is far away from Andorra la Vella. It is better to book a room in a hotel over there as the roads are not very good to drive up and down.
The station is very high from 1950 meters to 2600 meters.
For a relax time go ski there.
Salvia hotel is very good located. Even the hotel is a 3 star the looby seems a 4 or 5 star....more
Carretera General d'Arinsal, Arinsal, AD400, Andorra
Good for: Solo
My friends, passionate skiers, following my suggestion went to Andorra for skiing in February 2006....more