travelling the seven parts of the world

Posts about Andorra


What, When, Why and How about Andorra


We spent 2 days in Andorra, mostly hiking and shopping. The trails in Andorra are nothing spectacular, they are just like the rest of the Pyrenees. We went on some of the more touristy bits, as we just didn't have the time. The city center also has a hot bath of sorts, which my brother tells me is spectacular, but we didn't go because the price was just too high (you can't go and do everything).

The shopping, however, is outta this world, or the EU, at least. Prices are more American than European, which means heavy discounts, especially on electronics and alcohol. I bought a 2x teleconverter for my camera cheaper than it was on I also bought at least a dozen bottles of alcohol, which were safely packed deep inside the back of the car under all camping supplies. The car was stopped at the border, and the border guard did check it, but as it was up-to-the-roof full with camping stuff (our sleeping bags weren't packed), and it was Sunday evening, and the guard was Spanish, we were allowed to pass through with no problem. I wouldn't want to go through that exercise again, especially if going in the direction of France.

How did it get there?

Andorra is one of the five microstates of Europe (Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican). It was land co-owned by a Spanish Bishop and a French Count, so when the borders of France and Spain stabilized where they are now, it couldn't really be incorporated in neither France, nor Spain. Andorra being a dirt poor mountain valley, nobody was too bothered about this, and so they've carved out a beautiful, independent country that is not part of the EU. Most of Andorra is a gigantic ski resort that turns into a shopping center in summer, but they've done a good job one decorating it all. The VAT does not exist, and the gasoline prices are cheapest I've seen since USA. I wouldn't be surprised if there were people in Spain who make a living by crossing the border daily to smuggle stuff across.