Around the world in 80 days: why visiting Andorra is a must?
The population of the Principality of Andorra is just over 70 thousand people, but more than 8 million tourists visit Andorra annually, which made it, according to the World Bank, “the most visited country in the world in terms of the number of tourists per inhabitants in 2016”.
The Principality of Andorra is a country, along with Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino, which is referred to as one of the “midget states” of Europe, and is in fact the largest out of this group. The area of the Principality of Andorra is only 468 sq. km. Andorra is located in the southwest of the Eurasian continent, between Spain and France, in the eastern part of the Pyrenees Mountains. The country has no access to the sea as the majority of the country is in a mountainous area, at an altitude exceeding 900 meters above sea level. The capital of Andorra is Andorra la Vella – the highest capital in Europe, situated at an altitude of about 1100 metres.
The beauty and uniqueness of the country’s landscapes and resorts, mountain skiing, thermal springs, trade, low tax system and no trade excise, the absence of crime, excellent ecology, and the low cost of living in comparison with neighboring France and Spain all contribute to attracting about 8 million tourists a year.
The legacy of ancient Roman art can be traced throughout the nation and is reflected in many preserved small churches and medieval bridges. Most festivals and popular traditional holidays coincide with religious events and natural cycles of the Earth.
Around the world in 80 days: the main reasons for visiting Andorra.
1. Andorra is the 14th oldest state in the world. The first settlements on the territory of modern Andorra can be traced back to the ice age. However, people settled down in these places after the retreat of the glaciers. Archaeological excavations show that in 3500-2000 BC small groups of people lived in the Valley of the River Valira and in mountain caves.
2.Andorra is one of the safest countries for tourism and living.
3. Andorra can be found on the list of the TOP 5 cheapest countries in Western Europe for tourism. The main reason is that it has the lowest VAT rate in Europe (4.5%). For example, according to the ratings given by the majority of online hotel booking systems, in 2016 Andorra was in 10th place for cheap hotels in Europe. It is worth noting that all the other hotels in the top ten are all located in Eastern Europe – Bulgaria, Albania and Romania. Andorra was the only country in Western Europe that was on the list.
4. The low VAT rate and the absence of excise taxes on many goods and foodstuffs make Andorra the center of European shopping. Therefore, more than 4 million Spaniards and French come to Andorra for shopping tours.
5. With low costs, Andorra is 12th in the world in terms of living standards, according to International Living Standards.
6. Andorra in winter is, first of all, the ski resorts – Grandvalira and Vallnord. According to the World Ski Awards, Andorra’s resorts are included on the list of the TOP 15 best resorts in the world. Moreover, the resorts in Andorra have the largest concentration of ski lift systems per square meter.
7. In summer Andorra offers more than 250 km of hiking trails through the magnificent Pyrenean Mountains.
8. Summer in Andorra also sees many visitors taking advantage of the highest-altitude golf course in Europe as well as the many fishing lakes situated at an altitude of over 2000 m above sea level. Trout fishing is a must.
9. Andorra is one of the largest European cycling centers with numerous routes of different complexity available for both road and mountain bikes. Key stages of races such as the Tour de France and the Vuelta of Spain have taken place in Andorra previously.
10. Throughout the year Andorra offers the opportunity to visit the thermal SPA with Caldea INUU – the largest SPA center in Southern Europe. Each year, Caldea hosts almost 400,000 tourists.
11. Andorra’s countryside contains a lot of Romanesque and PreRomanesque architecture, preserved much better than in neighboring Spain and France. It is a unique open-air museum of more than 25 monuments (some dating back to the 9th century) of architecture concentrated in a small area. With only 1 -2 days you can see all the Roman art masterpieces.
12. Andorra has almost 20 museums, the number of which is increasing every year. In particular, 2017 has seen Baroness von Thyssen relocate part of the collection from her museum in Madrid to Andorra, as well as the world champion of MOTO GP, Jorge Lorenzo, open a museum dedicated to the world of motorcycles and Formula 1.
13. More than 30% of the territory of Andorra is a national park, and the largest park Madrid-Perafita-Claror is under the protection of UNESCO.