Saturday, 5 August 2017

ANDORRA: Visit Andorra, Country With Not Its Own Currency And Not A Member Of EU But Enjoys Benefits

Andorra is a small, mountainous country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain.

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra , also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra is a sovereign landlocked microstate in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. Created under a charter in 988, the present principality was formed in 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a diarchy headed by two Co-Princes – the Catholic Bishop of Urgell in Spain, and the President of France.

Andorra is the sixth-smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 km2 (181 sq mi) and a population of approximately 85,000.Andorra is the 16th-smallest country in the world by land and 11th-smallest country by population. Its capital Andorra la Vella is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres (3,356 feet) above sea level. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.

Andorra's tourism services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually.It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the official currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993.In 2013, the people of Andorra had the highest life expectancy in the world at 81 years, according to The Lancet.

The origin of the word Andorra is unknown, although several hypotheses have been formulated. The oldest derivation of the word Andorra is from the Greek historian Polybius who describes the Andosins, an Iberian Pre-Roman tribe, as historically located in the valleys of Andorra and facing the Carthaginian army in its passage through the Pyrenees during the Punic Wars.

The word Andosini or Andosins may derive from the Basque handia whose meaning is big or giant. The Andorran toponymy shows evidence of Basque language in the area. Another theory suggests that the word Andorra may derive from the old word Anorra that contains the Basque word ur (water).

Another theory suggests that Andorra may derive from Arabic al-durra, meaning The forest. When the Moors colonized the Iberian Peninsula, the valleys of the Pyrenees were covered by large tracts of forest, and other regions and towns, also administered by Muslims, received this designation.

Other theories suggest that the term derives from the Navarro-Aragonese andurrial, which means "land covered with bushes" or "scrubland".

The folk etymology holds that Charlemagne had named the region as a reference to the Biblical Canaanite valley of Endor or Andor,where the Midianites had been defeated, a name also bestowed by his heir and son Louis le Debonnaire after defeating the Moors in the wild valleys of Hell.

Andorra has an alpine climate and continental climate. Its higher elevation means there is, on average, more snow in winter, lower humidity, and it is slightly cooler in summer.

Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounts for roughly 80% of GDP. An estimated 10.2 million tourists visit annually,attracted by Andorra's duty-free status and by its summer and winter resorts.

One of the main sources of income in Andorra is tourism from ski resorts which total over 175 km (109 mi) of ski ground. The sport brings in over 7 million visitors and an estimated 340 million euros per year, sustaining 2,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs at present.

Andorra is a mountain destination that has been able to make full use of the richness of its natural surroundings to create local produce of the highest quality. Our local producers invite you to visit them and learn about their products, but more importantly... that you try their goods!

The quality meats of Andorra are a renowned gastronomical achievement thanks to the best kept secret of Andorran livestock farming: tradition. Look for beef and horse meat with the “Andorran Meat Quality Control” seal.

Local medicinal and aromatic plants and herbs, of which nine varieties, including mint, hyssop, wild thyme, oregano and lemon balm, are sold for culinary use or to make infusions.

The organic fruit preserves of El Rebost del Padrí or Casa Gendret, made according to traditional recipes and using only local produce like wild berries, strawberries, raspberries or various types of currants.

Nectum is the ideal dressing for salads, white meat or cheeses. This natural syrup made from the pine cones of the European silver fir has a honey-like texture and is used to make a variety of sauces and fruit preserves.

Andorran wines are the fruit of the labour of wineries like Borda Sabaté, Casa Beal, Mas Berenguer and Casa Auvinyà that have learned how to make the most of our harsh terrain. Riesling, Pinot noir, Sauvignon blanc, Albariño, are some of the varieties used in their winemaking.

The beers Alpha and Boris are examples of recent creations brewed using traditional methods. Pilsen and dark lagers are among the varieties of beer that can be sampled at the Cervecería Alpha or the Era Bauró.

Ratassia de la Carmeta is a traditional liqueur distilled from medicinal plants and walnuts. The recipe has been handed down from generation to generation by the women of this family.

What do you feel like trying? Whatever you choose, you will be surprised by the flavours of our local products.

The banking sector, with its tax haven status, also contributes substantially to the economy,the financial and insurance sector accounts for approximately 19% of GDP. The financial system comprises five banking groups,one specialised credit entity, 8 investment undertaking management entities, 3 asset management companies and 29 insurance companies, 14 of which are branches of foreign insurance companies authorised to operate in the principality.

Agricultural production is limited—only 2% of the land is arable—and most food has to be imported. Some tobacco is grown locally. The principal livestock activity is domestic sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture. Andorra's natural resources include hydroelectric power, mineral water, timber, iron ore, and lead.

Andorra is not a member of the European Union, but enjoys a special relationship with it, such as being treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods,no tariffs and as a non-EU member for agricultural products. Andorra lacked a currency of its own and used both the French franc and the Spanish peseta in banking transactions until 31 December 1999, when both currencies were replaced by the EU's single currency, the euro. Coins and notes of both the franc and the peseta remained legal tender in Andorra until 31 December 2002. Andorra negotiated to issue its own euro coins, beginning in 2014.

Andorra has traditionally had one of the world's lowest unemployment rates. In 2009 it stood at 2.9%.

Andorra has long benefited from its status as a tax haven, with revenues raised exclusively through import tariffs. However, during the European sovereign-debt crisis of the 21st century, its tourist economy suffered a decline, partly caused by a drop in the prices of goods in Spain, which undercut Andorran duty-free shopping. This led to a growth in unemployment. On 1 January 2012, a business tax of 10% was introduced, followed by a sales tax of 2% a year later, which raised just over 14 million euros in its first quarter.

On 31 May 2013, it was announced that Andorra intended to legislate for the introduction of an income tax by the end of June, against a background of increasing dissatisfaction with the existence of tax havens among EU members.The announcement was made following a meeting in Paris between the Head of Government Antoni Marti and the French President and Prince of Andorra, François Hollande. Hollande welcomed the move as part of a process of Andorra bringing its taxation in line with international standards.

The population of Andorra is estimated at 85,458 (2014). The population has grown from 5,000 in 1900.

Two-thirds of residents lack Andorran nationality and do not have the right to vote in communal elections. Moreover, they are not allowed to be elected as president or to own more than 33% of the capital stock of a privately held company.

The historic and official language is Catalan, a Romance language. The Andorran government encourages the use of Catalan. It funds a Commission for Catalan Toponymy in Andorra (Catalan: la Comissió de Toponímia d'Andorra), and provides free Catalan classes to assist immigrants. Andorran television and radio stations use Catalan.

Because of immigration, historical links, and close geographic proximity, Spanish, Portuguese and French are also commonly spoken. Most Andorran residents can speak one or more of these, in addition to Catalan. English is less commonly spoken among the general population, though it is understood to varying degrees in the major tourist resorts. Andorra is one of only four European countries together with France, Monaco, and Turkey that have never signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities.

The population of Andorra is predominantly (88.2%) Catholic.Their patron saint is Our Lady of Meritxell. Though it is not an official state religion, the constitution acknowledges a special relationship with the Catholic Church, offering some special privileges to that group. Other Christian denominations include the Anglican Church, the Unification Church, the New Apostolic Church, and Jehovah's Witnesses. The small Muslim community is primarily made up of North African immigrants.There is a small community of Hindus and Bahá'ís and roughly 100 Jews live in Andorra.

Cities Of Andorra

Andorra la Vella - Capital of Andorra

Santa Coloma -South of Andorra La Vella towards the border with Spain

Sant Julia de Loria -South of Santa Coloma towards the border with Spain

Escaldes-Engordany -This is really an eastern suburb parish of Andorra La Vella

Encamp - Parish to the NE of Andorra La Vella between Engordany and Canillo on the road to France

La Massana -- small town and parish about 5 miles north of Andorra La Vella. You can access Arinsal - Pal ski area from it directly

Ordino - Northernmost and least populated parish but almost the largest

Canillo - Northeasternmost parish on the main road and border to France

Arinsal - Small village in the north west

Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley

Andorra is a parliamentary co-principality with the President of France and the Catholic Bishop of Urgell (Catalonia, Spain) as Co-Princes. This peculiarity makes the President of France, in his capacity as Prince of Andorra, an elected reigning monarch, although he is not elected by a popular vote of the Andorran people. The politics of Andorra take place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democracy, whereby the Head of Government is the chief executive, and of a pluriform multi-party system.

The current Head of Government is Antoni Martí of the Democrats for Andorra (DA). Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both government and parliament.

The Parliament of Andorra is known as the General Council. The General Council consists of between 28 and 42 Councillors. The Councillors serve for four-year terms, and elections are held between the 30th and 40th days following the dissolution of the previous Council.

Half are elected in equal numbers by each of the seven administrative parishes, and the other half of the Councillors are elected in a single national constituency. Fifteen days after the election, the Councillors hold their inauguration. During this session, the Syndic General, who is the head of the General Council, and the Subsyndic General, his assistant, are elected. Eight days later, the Council convenes once more. During this session the Head of Government is chosen from among the Councillors.

Candidates can be proposed by a minimum of one-fifth of the Councillors. The Council then elects the candidate with the absolute majority of votes to be Head of Government. The Syndic General then notifies the Co-Princes, who in turn appoint the elected candidate as the Head of Government of Andorra. The General Council is also responsible for proposing and passing laws. Bills may be presented to the Council as Private Members' Bills by three of the local Parish Councils jointly or by at least one tenth of the citizens of Andorra.

The Council also approves the annual budget of the principality. The government must submit the proposed budget for parliamentary approval at least two months before the previous budget expires. If the budget is not approved by the first day of the next year, the previous budget is extended until a new one is approved. Once any bill is approved, the Syndic General is responsible for presenting it to the Co-Princes so that they may sign and enact it.

If the Head of Government is not satisfied with the Council, he may request that the Co-Princes dissolve the Council and order new elections. In turn, the Councillors have the power to remove the Head of Government from office. After a motion of censure is approved by at least one-fifth of the Councillors, the Council will vote and if it receives the absolute majority of votes, the Head of Government is removed.

Andorra maintains a small but modern and well-equipped internal police force, with around 240 police officers supported by civilian assistants. The principal services supplied by the corps are uniformed community policing, criminal detection, border control, and traffic policing. There are also small specialist units including police dogs, mountain rescue, and a bomb disposal team.

The Grup d'Intervenció Policia d'Andorra (GIPA) is a small special forces unit trained in counter-terrorism, and hostage recovery tasks. Although it is the closest in style to an active military force, it is part of the Police Corps, and not the army. As terrorist and hostage situations are a rare threat to the nation, the GIPA is commonly assigned to prisoner escort duties, and at other times to routine policing.

Until the 20th century, Andorra had very limited transport links to the outside world, and development of the country was affected by its physical isolation. Even now, the nearest major airports at Toulouse and Barcelona are both three hours' drive from Andorra.

Andorra has a road network of 279 km (173 mi), of which 76 km (47 mi) is unpaved. The two main roads out of Andorra la Vella are the CG-1 to the Spanish border, and the CG-2 to the French border via the Envalira Tunnel near El Pas de la Casa.Bus services cover all metropolitan areas and many rural communities, with services on most major routes running half-hourly or more frequently during peak travel times. There are frequent long-distance bus services from Andorra to Barcelona and Toulouse, plus a daily tour from the former city. Bus services are mostly run by private companies, but some local ones are operated by the government.

There are no airports for fixed-wing aircraft within Andorra's borders but there are, however, heliports in La Massana (Camí Heliport), Arinsal and Escaldes-Engordany with commercial helicopter services and an airport located in the neighbouring Spanish comarca of Alt Urgell, 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) south of the Andorran-Spanish border.Since July 2015, Andorra–La Seu d'Urgell Airport has operated commercial flights to Madrid and Palma de Mallorca, and is the main hub for Air Andorra and Andorra Airlines.

Nearby airports located in Spain and France provide access to international flights for the principality. The nearest airports are at Perpignan, France (156 kilometres or 97 miles from Andorra) and Lleida, Spain (160 kilometres or 99 miles from Andorra). The largest nearby airports are at Toulouse, France (165 kilometres or 103 miles from Andorra) and Barcelona, Spain (215 kilometres or 134 miles from Andorra). There are hourly bus services from both Barcelona and Toulouse airports to Andorra.

The nearest railway station is L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre 10 km (6 mi) east of Andorra which is on the 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)-gauge line from Latour-de-Carol (25 km or 16 mi) southeast of Andorra, to Toulouse and on to Paris by the French high-speed trains. This line is operated by the SNCF. Latour-de-Carol has a scenic 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) metre gauge trainline to Villefranche-de-Conflent, as well as the SNCF's 1,435 mm gauge line connecting to Perpignan, and the RENFE's 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 21⁄32 in) -gauge line to Barcelona.There are also direct Intercités de Nuit trains between L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre and Paris on certain dates.

The official and historic language is Catalan. Thus the culture is Catalan, with its own specificity.

Andorra is home to folk dances like the contrapas and marratxa, which survive in Sant Julia de Loria especially. Andorran folk music has similarities to the music of its neighbours, but is especially Catalan in character, especially in the presence of dances such as the sardana. Other Andorran folk dances include contrapàs in Andorra la Vella and Saint Anne's dance in Escaldes-Engordany. Andorra's national holiday is Our Lady of Meritxell Day, 8 September. American folk artist Malvina Reynolds, intrigued by its defence budget of $4.90, wrote a song "Andorra". Pete Seeger added verses, and sang "Andorra" on his 1962 album The Bitter and the Sweet.

Andorra is famous for the practice of Winter Sports. Popular sports played in Andorra include football, rugby union, basketball and roller hockey.

In roller hockey Andorra usually plays in CERH Euro Cup and in FIRS Roller Hockey World Cup. In 2011, Andorra was the host country to the 2011 European League Final Eight.

The country is represented in association football by the Andorra national football team. However, the team has had little success internationally because of Andorra's small population.Football is ruled in Andorra by the Andorran Football Federation founded in 1994, it organizes the national competitions of association football (Primera Divisió, Copa Constitució and Supercopa) and futsal. FC Andorra, a club based in Andorra la Vella founded in 1942, compete in the Spanish football league system.

Rugby is a traditional sport in Andorra, mainly influenced by the popularity in southern France. The Andorra national rugby union team, nicknamed "Els Isards", has impressed on the international stage in rugby union and rugby sevens.VPC Andorra XV is a rugby team based in Andorra la Vella actually playing in the French championship.

Basketball popularity has increased in the country since the 1990s, when the Andorran team BC Andorra played in the top league of Spain (Liga ACB).After 18 years the club returned to the top league in 2014.

Other sports practised in Andorra include cycling, volleyball, judo, Australian Rules football, handball, swimming, gymnastics, tennis and motorsports. In 2012, Andorra raised its first national cricket team and played a home match against the Dutch Fellowship of Fairly Odd Places Cricket Club, the first match played in the history of Andorra at an altitude of 1,300 metres (4,300 ft).

Andorra first participated at the Olympic Games in 1976. The country has also appeared in every Winter Olympic Games since 1976. Andorra competes in the Games of the Small States of Europe being twice the host country in 1991 and 2005.

As part of the Catalan cultural ambit, Andorra is home to a team of castellers, or Catalan human tower builders. The Castellers d'Andorra, based in the town of Santa Coloma d'Andorra, are recognized by the Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya, the governing body of castells.

For 715 years (1278 to 1994), Andorrans lived under a unique co-principality ruled by the French chief of state and the Spanish Bishop of Urgell. This system was modified in 1993, with the titular heads of state retained but the government transformed into a parliamentary democracy. Long isolated and impoverished, Andorra achieved considerable prosperity through its tourist industry after World War II. Many migrant workers legal and illegal are attracted to the thriving economy and its lack of income taxes.

Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny economy, accounts for roughly 80% of GDP. An estimated 9 million tourists visit annually, attracted by Andorra's duty-free status and summer and winter resorts. Andorra's comparative advantage as a tourist destination has eroded recently as the economies of neighboring France and Spain have been opened up, providing broader availability of goods and lower tariffs.

The banking sector, with its "tax haven" status, also contributes substantially to Andorra's economy. Agricultural production is limited only 2% of the land is arable and most food has to be imported. The principal livestock activity is sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture.

Electricity is supplied at 220 to 230V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" or the compatible, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types.

Due mainly to the mountainous nature of Andorra, there is only one road entering Andorra from France and only one widely-used road entering Andorra from Spain. Almost all entry into the country happens at one of these two points.

Andorra is not a member of the EU, EEA or Schengen Area. However, Andorra is a member of the EU Customs Union and is treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods,no tariffs and as a non-EU member for agricultural products.

Andorra has no visa requirements and requires only a passport or European Union national identity card for entrance. However, in practice, as entry is only possible through Schengen countries, one must satisfy the conditions of entry into Schengen. Visitors from outside the EU should note that, as Andorra is not a Schengen member, exiting France or Spain into Andorra will theoretically terminate a single-entry visa. In practice, though, immigration does not enforce this, seeing as one must re-enter the Schengen Area in order to travel onwards.

A souvenir passport stamp may be available at the border on request.

There are no airports in Andorra. The nearest airports are:

Perpignan (France) 128km to the east, no coach connections but you can take a Yellow train to La Tour de Carol and farther to L'Hospitalet.

Carcassonne (France) 130km to the North North East. 2 hours by car, depending on weather. Ryanair offers cheap flights to Carcassonne from limited European airports.

Lleida (Spain) 157km to the south, Lleida-Alguaire Flights from the UK only during the ski season, chartered by Thomas Cook Airport is 2.5 hours away from Andorra by bus. This airport was chosen in 2011 by the UK-Based tour operator "Neilson" to cater to tourists visiting the ski resorts. Flights arrive/depart on Sundays. For independent travelers, getting to Andorra from Lleida Airport can be difficult, as Montmantell bus company will leave you in Lleida town, a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport.

Toulouse–Blagnac (France) 196km to the north. You can pre-book a coach or a taxi from Toulouse Airport to all the resorts in Andorra with Andorra Airport Transfers.

Barcelona (Spain) 202km to the south. There are frequent connections to Andorra from Barcelona.

From airports to Andorra by car: 3 hours

An airport for Andorra Catalan Government developed a Pirineus - la Seu d'Urgell airport (also known as Pirineus-Andorra airport) at Seu d'Urgell but there are no scheduled flights there.

From Andorra la Vella, La Massana or Arinsal to airports, the journey for a maximum of 5 passengers takes around 30 minutes and costs €2,500.

There are no train lines or stations in Andorra, and none close to the Spanish border. The nearest rail stations are:

L'Hospitalet (France), 3 km (1.8 mi) from the Andorran border. Served by SNCF trains from Toulouse, in addition to a sleeper service to/from Paris.

Puigcerdà (Spain), 80 km (50 mi) from Andorra.
That said, buses operate daily from L'Hospitalet to Pas de la Casa, the first town after the Andorran border, from where it's possible to take frequent buses to Andorra la Vella — every 30min with Cooperativa Interurbana line 4 or cia Hispano-Andorrana (+376 807 000, .

The Hispano Andorra Bus departs Andorra la Vella at 5:45 and Pas de la Casa at 6:40 and arrives in L'Hospitalet at 7:10, departing L'Hospitalet at 7:45 and arriving in Pas de la Casa at 8:15 and in Andorra la Vella at 9:10. The evening bus departs Andorra la Vella at 16:45 and Pas de la Casa at 18:15 and arrives in L'Hospitalet at 18:50, departing L'Hospitalet at 19:45 and arriving in Pas de la Casa at 20:10 and in Andorra la Vella at 21:00. Oneway fare from Pas de la Casa to L'Hospitalet is 4,50 €. Buses run every day except December 25th.

Reaching Andorra by train is only cost-effective for holders of SNCF discount cards such as Carte 12-25 or those coming on the sleeper train from Paris; other travelers would be better off taking a direct bus service from nearby cities like Toulouse. In any case, everybody under 26 years-old traveling off-peak hours with SNCF is entitled to the "Découvert 12-25" discount.

Caution: One should bear in mind that the L'Hospitalet train station is located in a deserted area, is often unmanned, and its rooms have restricted open hours, so it's important to match connections well. If you need assistance, you may want to call the Toulouse train station at +33 8 91 67 76 77.

Roads in Andorra are generally of a good quality. Entering on the main road from the Spanish side is a relatively straightforward drive; however, entering from France is a more stressful affair involving many hairpin bends. Border control officers at both sides are generally fine. Entering Andorra, you generally do not need to even stop, but you must slow down and be prepared to stop if it's requested. When leaving Andorra, you must stop and be prepared for delays during busy times. Be sure your car is in good condition - Andorra has many steep roads at high altitude.

Also beware of black ice and snow drifts as the temperature in Andorra can be much colder than at sea level.

If entering from France, one can pass through the 2.9km long Tunel d'Envalira, which requires a fee payable by cash or credit/debit card. The amounts are: Winter (remainder of year)

- Cars €6.60 (€5.80)

- Others €16.70 (€10.70)

- Winter is from 1 Dec-31 Mar

Car rental The usual car hire companies operate from Andorra la Vella / Santa Coloma. The desks are sometimes quiet and unmanned, so it may be a good idea to book in advance online.

From November to April, it is prudent to have winter tires and/or snow chains available for your car. In very snowy road conditions, cars without winter tires or snow chains may not be allowed to drive. This is often enforced at police checkpoints on access roads to the ski resorts and on mountain passes such as the CS-311 and the road above Pas de la Casa.

Drivers are considered to be at fault in fatal accidents, and are always prosecuted and usually imprisoned.

Taxi Taxi Josep provides a Mercedes Benz car and speaks many languages, Taxi Domènec Segura provides a van but does not speak English or French. Taxi Josep can arrange the ride with Taxi Domènec Segura if you absolutely need a van. Payment must be in cash.

Taxi Barras provides local service.

There are many coach services operating into Andorra.

From France there is a coach service from Toulouse, Andbus , from the bus station adjacent to Toulouse Matabiau train station (departing at 10:30 am, 3:00 pm (May-November), and 7:30 pm) and from the Toulouse–Blagnac airport (departing at 11:30am, 3:30 pm (May-November), and 8:00 pm). It is 35 euro one way or 65 for a round trip. The entire trip takes 3 1/2 hours, leaving you just one hour in Andorra la Vella if you decide do a day trip. Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure as the driver will leave once everyone who was waiting has boarded.

Andbus is easily identified by its name in large letters on the side. Tickets can be purchased online, at the ticket counter in the bus station (closed on holidays!), or you can pay the driver directly. The bus stop at the Toulouse airport is close to where the fire truck is parked. A second coach service operates via L'Hospitalet and La Tour de Carol.

From Spain, coaches to Andorra can be caught from a variety of locations, such as Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Lleida and Valencia. There are at least two bus companies offering daily service from the Barcelona airport. Eurolines departs from outside the door of Terminal B, but you must be early and quick because the driver has a habit of arriving early and driving off if no one is there. Also, you don't pay for the ticket at the airport, but rather have to travel to the Barcelona Sants and get off there to buy a ticket. Service is slow. One should also remember that one will need to show one's passport here. Trip time is about 3.5 to 4 hours.

Andbus also operates a service from the Barcelona airport, outside Terminal 1 and 15 minutes later outside Terminal 2. €33 one-way or €56 for a round-trip (as of June 2017); tickets available on the official website or on the bus. Be wary of a late flight however; their sales team say you can take the next bus but their drivers will state otherwise.

Autocars Nadal also travels between Andorra and Barcelona and its airport.

The bus company Alsina Graells has eight trips a day from Barcelona. The trip takes 3.5-4 hours and costs €23 one-way and €40 round trip.

Alsa has daily trips between Barcelona and Andorra.

If you have a few days in Andorra, then you can easily visit most of the main villages using the local bus service, called the Cooperativa Interurbana Andorrana, S.A.

There are 8 main bus lines and all of them pass through Andorra La Vella. The fare is anything from €1.20 to two or three euros depending on how far you are going. Drivers will provide change. For the towns nearest to Andorra La Vella, the service is very regular, and as frequent as every 10 minutes during the day. If you are traveling to outlying rural places like Canolic, there are only 2 or 3 buses per day.

Andorra's official language is Catalan; however, Spanish is the dominant language of communication among people of different linguistic backgrounds. French is widely spoken, especially in Pas de la Casa. Portuguese is the native language of 13% of the population. English is widely spoken by those involved in the tourism industry.

Andorra has the euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money. These 24 countries are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (official euro members which are all European Union member states) as well as Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican which use it without having a say in eurozone affairs and without being European Union members.

Together, these countries have a population of more than 330 million.

One euro is divided into 100 cents. While each official euro member,as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse, as well as all bank notes, look the same throughout the eurozone. Every coin is legal tender in any of the eurozone countries.

Andorra La Vella is a good destination to buy all kinds of cheap goods, due to the country's status as a "tax haven."

However, do compare the base price with that in your own country or region. Tax free does not necessarily bring you net lower final expense. If you don't just want to buy new releases of brand-name luxury goods, whose base prices can be very different from the just arrived category, Andorra is not the right place for you. Just wander around then, it is also very enjoyable.

Andorra's huge ski resorts with their family-friendly slopes are probably the main reason for Andorra's popularity among tourists, but the country has other things to offer. In terms of landmarks and culture, the many churches and shrines are a main sight.

The famous statue of Our Lady of Meritxell was destroyed in a 1972 fire, but a nice replica is still on display. In the country's capital, Andorra la Vella, you'll find the Romanesque Església de Sant Esteve, located in the old part of town and therefore a perfect stop during a city walk. Just 2 kilometres out of town, the church of Santa Coloma d'Andorra is even older, as it dates back to the 9th century.

Most of these resorts were once small mountain villages which have grown in recent years because of the skiing industry.

The resorts have all joined together so that your ski pass covers neighboring areas. As a result, there are two large alpine skiing areas known as Vallnord and Grandvalira.

Vallnord covers Arcalis and the Arinsal-Pal ski area. Despite the considerable distance between Arcalis and Arinsal-Pal, the two ski areas have been connected by cable car in recent years. The Arisnal-Pal ski area is directly accessible from La Massana the middle of the town. 93km (58 mi) of pistes.

Arcalis -- ski area located at the head of the valley from El Serrat

Arinsal -- skiing resort part of the Arinsal Pal ski area. Also known as Vallnord, which means "Valley North" in English

Pal -- skiing resort part of the Arinsal Pal ski area

Grandvalira covers Soldeu and Pas de la Casa. The Soldeu ski area is also accessible from El Tarter, Encamp and Canillo. This quite cleverly has opened up these areas to cope with the influence of visitors without putting all the strain on Soldeu. It has 210km of ski slopes between 1710-2640m. The area of Grandvalira is about 1,926 hectares, and it's divided into 6 different sectors.

Pas de la Casa -- skiing resort located right on the French border with a good sized town that has plenty of duty free shops, hotels and restaurants.

Grau Roig -- skiing resort only with a large car park and a hotel

Soldeu -- skiing resort in a small town with hotels, restaurants and shops

El Tarter -- skiing resort in a small town with hotels, restaurants and shops

Canillo-- skiing resort accessed by gondola from a medium sized town with hotels, restaurants and shops

Encamp -- a large town with hotels, restaurants and shops connected to the Grandvalira ski slopes by the 6.1km Funicamp gondola - was the longest in Europe but maybe surpassed now.

La Rabassa is a cross-country (Nordic) skiing area in southern Andorra above the town of Sant Julia de Loria.

If you would like more information on the mountain huts in Andorra, go to Mountain huts in Andorra. If you are afraid of sleeping in a tent because of wild animals and night sounds ("demons"), a good place to stay while hiking and trekking in Andorra is the Himalaia Hotel in Soldeu, which has its own team of hiking guides who go every day with their guests to walk and discover a lot of interesting hiking routes around the country. Be sure to bring something other than sandals for your feet and a purse for your cellphone.

Mountain stream during Summer, Andorra

Andorra is a great place for hiking. The point of departure is the town of Arinsal at the foot of the Coma Pedrosa 2,942m (9,652 ft) and the Pic de Médécourbe 2,914m (9,560 ft).

Treks from Arinsal (1,500m) - Pic de Sanfons (2,888 m/9,475 ft, 4h45, climb 1,310 m/4,298 ft, medium until the hut, difficult on the ridge). View on the Coma Pedrosa, the valley of Tor, the lakes of Baiau in Spain as well as on the Pallars mountains. Mountain hut and lake on the way. Parking at Torrent Ribal 1,580 m (5,184 ft).

Pic de Médécourbe 2,914m (4h30, climb 1,335m/4,380 ft, medium until the hut increasing to difficult on the ridge). A classic! Mountain hut half-way up, lakes and a breathtaking view over the valley of Arinsal, Boet and Vicdessos (France). Parking at Torrent Ribal 1,580m (5,184 ft). The peak is the western tripoint international boundary of Andorra, France, and Spain.

Pic de Coma Pedrosa 2,942m (4h30, climb 1,370m, medium until the lake, difficult on the ridge). The highest mountain in Andorra. Mountain hut half way up, lakes. Beautiful view of the surrounding summits, the valley of Arinsal and to the West, the Maladeta and Ecantats massifs. Parking at Torrent Ribal 1580m.

Montmantell lakes and the Pic del Pla de l'Estany 2,859m (4h20, climb 1,280m, medium). Mountain hut half-way up, lakes, magnificient view over the Ariège mountains in France and over Andorra. Parking at Torrent Ribal 1580 m.

Arinsal - Percanela - les Fonts - Pla de l'Estany - Arinsal circuit 2,055m (4h30, climb 670m, medium) 2 mountain huts. Very pleasant circuit which one can do either way. Lovely views of Coma Pedrosa via the imposing natural amphitheatre of Les Fonts. A few bordas (farm houses) on the way, some renovated, some in ruins. Parking at Arinsal 1,466m.

Camí del coll de les Cases 1,950m (1h40, climb 490m, medium) Panoramic view over the Ordino mountains and la Massana. Ideal picnic and meditation site. One can continue along the GR11 to Arans (parking at Mas de Ribafeta 1466m) but transport back to Arinsal must be provided.

Lamb is the main meat; different French and Spanish cuisines and cheeses are used as well. You can enjoy French and Spanish cuisine in the same area.

As Andorra is not in the European Union, virtually citizens of all countries require a work permit. Usually with an employment offer signed by your prospective employer it is relatively easy to get an Andorran work permit. More information is available in this article on how to find a job in Andorra

There is not much threat from other people in Andorra, but keep safe on mountains. Don't go too high without knowing what you are doing. See Altitude sickness for more.

Drivers are warned to avoid crossing back into France if the Spanish side of the Pyrenees has enjoyed beautiful warm sunshine all day and the road temperatures drop considerably towards the evening - there is danger of black ice from ice melt. The weather in the French Pyrenees is frequently vastly different than that of Andorra and the Spanish Pyrenees. Stay overnight if necessary, as cold morning temperatures are more apparent and less treacherous than sudden evening icing.

Caldea is a very popular spa/swimming pool complex which is located up at the top end of Andorra la Vella. You can't miss it because of its unique glass spire structure.

The main hospital in Andorra is the Meritxell (pronounced merichai) Hospital .

Andorra is a well-connected country that has accepted the internet with open arms. Almost as many people subscribe to the internet as own landline phones.

Andorra relies on the Spanish and French postal systems; the main office for each is located in Andorra la Vella.

The French post office (CORREUS FRANCESOS) located at Carrer de Bonaventura Armengol AD500 Andorra la Vella, Andorra is usually open from 8:30AM - 2:30PM Monday - Friday and Saturdays from 9:00AM - 11:59AM

The Spanish post office (CORREUS ESPANYOLS) is open from 8:30AM - 2:30PM Monday - Friday and Saturdays from 9:00AM - 1:00PM.

Visitors should note that since Andorra is not part of the EU/EEA, using mobile phones may be a lot more expensive than in France or Spain.

In Andorra, mobile and fixed telephone and internet services are operated exclusively by the Andorran national telecommunications company, SOM, also known as Andorra Telecom (STA). The same company also manages the technical infrastructure for national broadcasting of digital television and radio.

By the end of 2010, it was planned that every home in the country would have fibre-to-the-home for internet access at a minimum speed of 100 Mbit/s,and the availability was complete in June 2012.

There is only one Andorran television station, Ràdio i Televisió d'Andorra (RTVA). Radio Nacional d’Andorra operates two radio stations, Radio Andorra and Andorra Música. There are three national newspapers, Diari d'Andorra, El Periòdic d'Andorra, and Bondia as well as several local newspapers. There is also an amateur radio society.Additional TV and radio stations from Spain and France are available via digital terrestrial television and IPTV.

At Andorra Estacio, there are regular buses to Barcelona and Toulouse. To get to Toulouse, take Andbus (departs at 5:00 am, 10:00 am, and 3:00 pm). The bus drops makes stops at Pas de la Casa, Toulouse Airport and Toulouse Matabiau train station. It costs 35 euro.

Latour-de-Carol - first stop on the scenic descent for Perpignan with the open-top Yellow Train (fr: Petit Train Jaune) is reachable with the same TER train line 22 that serves L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre.

Tourism Observer
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