A mini country tucked between France and Spain. When we think about Andorra we think about cheap booze, fags and endless duty free bargain bucket shops. This is true if you stay on the main trade route but wander off up the twisting roads and you discover a beautiful unspoilt country with charming stone villages, endless walking trails and great views over the mountain peaks of the Pyrenees. We were pleasantly surprised by the country’s incredible history, breath taking scenery and of course, its cheap booze.
- Time of visit: Summer 2015
- Our average daily spend: €21.83
- Official language: Catalan
- Emergency phone number: 112
- Medical emergency – 116
- Police – 110
- Fire brigade – 118
- Currency: Euro
Food & Groceries
We didn’t do much ‘true’ shopping in Andorra other than scourer the huge duty free retail parks. As you would imagine the retail parks are just a huge concrete jungles full of day shoppers grabbing as much booze and fags as possible. Are they cheaper? Yes, significantly cheaper and with real bargains to be had but be were of copy cat goods.
Driving through it was clear supermarkets chains such as E.Leclerc, Andorra 2000 and Monoprix are the most popular in Andorra. Parking can be a bit hit and miss especially in the capital as some stores have height barriers and some parking lots are underground.
In the smaller villages, cafes and restaurants were present but out of ski season and not much open or on offer.
Andorra is only small and has a number of small campsites and camping areas, some are open all year. The campsites located near the main resorts tend to be busy and expensive. Aires are not popular in Andorra but there are a number of small villages that offer overnight motorhome parking for a limited timeframe. These tend to be part of municipal parking or sports complexes. As we visited Andorra outside of ski season we were able drive up the steep, twisting roads and park on ‘closed for summer’ hotel car parks.
The majority of motorhomer’s park overnight in the car parks on the French or Spanish borders before passing through Andorra for the day.
It is a nightmare unless of course you head off the beaten track. With thousands of visitors just passing from France to Spain through the Pyrenees or people nipping in for cheap duty free goods all takes it toll. In contrast to vast valleys of the Alps the valleys in Andorra are relatively narrow, so simple roadside parking is not an option either. However, we found a number of village sports complexes that permitted motorhome overnight parking.
Thus Andorra and especially its capital city suffers shortage of parking space, heavy traffic in rush hours and air pollution below the city skyline.
City parking is usually limited to underground parking lots with height restrictions, so be cautious when following parking signs in the capital, Andorra la Vella.
You must be 18 years old and have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents in order to drive in Andorra. If you don’t own the vehicle you’re driving, you should get written permission from the registered owner.
There are customs checkpoints at both the French and the Spanish borders. At the French side you should slow down, and stop if indicated, both on the way in and out of Andorra. The same applies to entering from Spain, however on the way back in to Spain it is compulsory to stop and open your boot.
You need to carry 2 x warning triangle and reflective jacket.
Driving regulations: we use AA or RAC for up to date driving regulations & restrictions.
It’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle, spare bulbs and reflective jacket. Snow chains in snow covered roads and regions. GB stickers are required even if you have a euro number plate.
In-car radar detectors and satellite navigation systems warning of the presence of speed cameras or radars are illegal.
You drive on the right hand side of the road and all speed limits are shown in kilometres. In Andorra there are no motorways, no toll roads and the speed limits vary between 50km to 90km and are usually well signposted. There is one main highway that runs through Andorra that is constantly gridlocked. All other roads tend to be smaller but less congested.Andorra is a small country and land is a premium, so you should also keep your eye out for signs indicating parking restrictions as if you are caught parking illegally you can be given an on-the-spot fine!
You can buy from a supermarket station or fuel station and the price is pretty much the same because they all offer cheap, low priced fuel. On average fuel prices are around 10% cheaper than Spain and 20% cheaper than France, so worth filling up.
Your tank must be EN1949 European Standard compliant. To fill your cylinders you will need a dish connector. LPG is readily available across Andorra and we never had a problem finding it at most fuel stations.
Andorra has some of the most technologically advanced hospitals in Europe, and is similar to the French healthcare system. Public health is linked to social contributions. The government passed an act meaning that emergency care is free for everyone, including those without state health insurance. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid in Andorra, so you might want to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.