Skiing’s a sport – no one’s denying that. It’s exercise, and it can be tough and it can be tiring. No wonder then that after a hard day on the piste, après-ski has become almost as competitive as the main event. Resorts the world over fight it out to be crowned Top of the… Pubs?
Back in 2016, we crowned Borovets, Bulgaria as Europe’s top après hotspot. Now though, we’d like to put forward a new contender.
Now the Pyrenean principality’s hardly a new name on the Euro-skiing hit list, but it is maybe a little bit further down some people’s lists than it deserves to be.
While Bulgaria is undoubtedly winning in terms of sheer number of drinking establishments per km2, we all know there’s something to be said for quality over quantity, no matter how thirsty you are.
What Andorra brings to the table then is a little bit more après authenticity, while maintaining all of Bulgaria’s impressive bang-for-your-buck. More than just Irish pubs and cheesy clubs – don’t worry, there’s still plenty of those around – you can find proper Alpine-esque après bars, serving all your mountain favourites. You’ll also find that drinks come with just the right dose of Austrian Euro-pop and all the Folie-style table dancing you can handle.
Pas de la Casa in particular has been called ‘Ibiza on snow’ and even had its own ITV2 reality TV show. And while the reigning champ Borovets might be able to boast £1-a-pint price tags, Pas is more than capable of serving you up a drink for less than £2.
All that great value doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the skiing, either. Arinsal is a smallish ski area which exists almost entirely in a big mountain bowl. Despite its size though, the resort does boast Andorra’s longest vertical descent – from the top of its highest chairlift to the bottom of its valley the run measures just over a full kilometre in altitude – as well as the country’s longest and steepest run – the black La Devesa.
Arinsal is linked to neighboring area Pal by gondola. On this side of the hill you’ll find a stark shift from Arinsal’s mostly tree-less landscape. Mostly West-facing, Pal holds up better to heat and sunshine; an abundance of trees helps shelter the piste and keep conditions better for longer. There’s also a greater variation of skiing available on this side of the mountain, with a much higher number of challenging red runs available to those who’ve mastered Arinsal’s blues.
With some of Europe’s highest resorts, Andorra tends to get great snow, and folks around the office have called the 210km Grandvalira ski area ‘the most underrated ski area in Europe.’
Sounds pretty good to us.
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Words by Tom Ransome-Jones.