Ski the peaks of the Pyrenees in Andorra – a tiny principality between France and Spain that covers just 181 square miles and actually has more piste than road. It’s especially known for having excellent beginner slopes and après. Plus, it’s great value too. Find the right resort for you from these top picks…
Best for beginners: Arinsal
For a beginner ski holiday, the 63km Vallnord ski area above Arinsal is hard to beat. It’s got an excellent ski school – one of the first in Europe to be approved by the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) – and the nursery areas are at the top of the mountain, so you can ski with great views and snow cover from day one. The wide slopes are perfect for building confidence on, especially the gentle blues on either side of the snow park. Do a few loops to practise the basics, with breaks to watch others show off tricks and jumps in the park. Or if you fancy giving it a go, there’s a beginner area with mini boxes and jumps.
When you’re ready to progress, your ski instructor can take you over to the Pal side of the mountain, to try out longer blues and reds. And most of them are lined with snow-dusted trees so the views are beautiful too. Then you can round off the week by testing your stamina on the longest run in the area, a 7km blue from the Arinsal peak to the lift station.
At the end of each day, head to one of the bars down in the resort to listen to live music or unwind over a quiet drink with friends. The town’s fairly small but there’s range of places to stay, from 2-star to 5-star, so you’re bound to find something to suit your style and budget.
Best for après & groups: Pas de la Casa
Nicknamed ‘Ibiza on snow’, Pas de la Casa is the party capital. The town is packed with bars and clubs for every kind of après-ski – whether you want live DJs and dancing or just a chilled-out chat. Plus, drinks are much cheaper in Andorra than in the Alps.
Kick off by skiing straight to the slopeside terrace of the Aparthotel Olimpiades. Then in the evening, move on to Bar Street to keep things going in Club Mojito and Paddy’s Irish Pub. If you prefer something a little more laid-back, grab a drink and a bite to eat in the Red Lion sports bar or Underground.
Speaking of food, most of the accommodation in Pas is self-catering apartments, so you’ll have plenty of chances to try out the local restaurants. There’s everything from fondue to fine dining on offer, as well as lots of classic tapas – and just like the après, eating out is easy on the wallet.
But of course, the bulk of your days will probably be spent on the slopes. The 210km Grandvalira area is the biggest in Andorra and the runs range from rolling blues to blacks, so your whole group will be sorted. And since most of them are high-altitude, there’s usually good snow cover whenever you go.
Best for families & luxury: Soldeu
Families and those looking for a little luxury should choose Soldeu. It’s a peaceful town with one main street lined with pretty stone buildings and high-quality hotels, many of which have their own spas, pools and kids’ clubs. All of the accommodation is close to the main gondola, but for the best access, stay in one of the Sport hotels – they’re all actually connected to the lift station.
The gondola whisks you straight up to the ski school and nursery areas. And if you’re more experienced, you’ll love being right in the middle of the Grandvalira’s network of blues and reds. You could even try skiing from Pas de la Casa at one end of the area, all the way to Canillo at the other. Families should make a beeline for the Baba Boom Circus route in the El Tarter sector, which has colourful obstacles for kids. Then at the end of the day, you can ski back down to Soldeu on the Bosc Fosc blue or the World Cup black run, Avet.
There are plenty of other snowy activities here too. Don’t miss having a go at Snake Gliss, where you’ll join up with a group to whizz down the slopes on a train of linked sledges.
Say ‘hola’ to Andorra and check out our latest deals to ski somewhere new this winter.