What to do and where to eat in Andorra

We take a tour of the gastronomic offer of Andorra, while enjoying all that the Principality has to offer.

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In winter there is also time for exciting getaways with which to live unforgettable adventures in destinations that will arouse your curiosity. And one of those beautiful destinations that is not too far away to go as a couple, family or group of friends is Andorra la Vella, capital of the Principality of Andorra (78,235 inhabitants). This small state (468 km2), nestled in the middle of the Pyrenees mountain range, between France and Spain, is considered one of the greenest and healthiest landscapes on the planet. It also has one of the highest rates of museums per square kilometers in the world. Among them, the Carmen Thyssen Andorra, the Art Center of Escaldes-Engordany or the new Espai Columba, located a few meters from the pre-Romanesque church of Santa Coloma.

Skiing, shopping and gastronomy

There are many reasons to travel to Andorra and, in these winter dates, much more, as it is one of the favorite destinations to experience nature, hiking and snow sports like never before. Here you will find some of the best ski resorts in southern Europe, such as Grandvalira (215 km of slopes), the largest in the Pyrenees, which has slopes for all tastes and categories; Pal Arinsal, with 63 km of ski slopes to suit all tastes; and Ordino Arcalís, the northernmost of Andorra, which has 30.5 km of slopes to suit all levels of skiing.

But if your passion is shopping and you want to indulge yourself, it is an essential destination. It has a wide range of options for shopping in its streets and avenues, especially in Meritxell Avenue, the main shopping street of the Principality and the busiest, with several shopping centers, stores of all kinds and a wide variety of world-class brands, where you can find the best deals and promotions. Another advantage is that the Principality has a low taxation policy, which is reflected in the prices: you pay a tax of only 4.5% while in Spain it is 21% VAT.

The other strong point of Andorra is its wide gastronomic offer (the reason that has brought us here), heir to a secular tradition linked to the aromas and flavors of the high mountains, to the local and seasonal products, with a wide variety of high level restaurants.

How to get to the Principality

The easiest way to get to this Pyrenean country is by car or plane. From Madrid you can do it with the airline Air Nostrum, which operates the route Andorra-La Seu d’Urgell and you get there in just 1 hour and 20 minutes. We chose to leave by car from Barcelona, and after 2 hours and 30 minutes on the road we arrived at the Hotel Serras 5 *, where we stayed during our stay in the Principality. This establishment, located in the heart of the Incles Valley (Crta Gral 2, Incles, Soldeu), at 1800 meters altitude, with the postcard photo as the main witness of the magnificent snow-capped mountains of Grandvalira.

A historic façade of stone and wood gives way to a completely renovated, cozy and modern interior, where its splendid terrace and its restaurant Bruna stand out. It is an informal gastronomic space, stylish but casual, where its Michelin chef, Marc Gascón, offers an honest and natural cuisine that pays homage to local produce and high mountain cuisine. Outstanding are the rustido cannelloni with foie béchamel, roast juice and truffle; the black rice with cuttlefish, monkfish and anchovy aioli; the steak tartare of knife-cut Pyrenean beef fillet on grilled marrow; or the escudella with carn d’olla and its galets.

Restaurante Bruna.

The only Michelin-starred restaurant in Andorra

As we were in Soldeu, we took advantage of the morning to take a tour of the surrounding Grandvalira mountains and, when we finished, we went to the Ibaya restaurant, the only one in Andorra with a Michelin star, located in the Sport Hotel Hermitage & Spa 5*.

Its chef, Francis Paniego, proposes a cuisine full of identity and good taste in its two tasting menus, which change according to the season (Tierra 7 ideas or Tierra 11 ideas). Some of the star dishes are: green asparagus with imperial caviar and perrechicos mayonnaise; Echaurren croquettes; fluid meatball on creamy aligot; or the warm toast of idiazabal, apple and sour milk ice cream.

One of the best ways to experience the Andorran capital is through its restaurants

To discover Andorra la Vella in depth, there is nothing better than letting yourself be carried away by its streets. And one of the best plans to get closer to its spirit is to walk along the popular Meritxell Avenue. In this artery you will find everything you are looking for in its 10 kilometers of streets of stores and shopping centers. And, if you feel like discovering charming gems, nothing like a visit to the old town, which has a marked historical and cultural personality.

Here we find La Casa de la Vall, from the 16th century, former seat of the Andorran Parliament, which has its origins in the organization of the Consell de la Terra, from 1419, and is considered one of the oldest parliaments in Europe. In this area also draws attention the Church of Sant Esteve, dating from the twelfth century, a building of Romanesque origin (The Principality has no less than 44 Romanesque churches) or an ancient medieval dungeon. The old town is also an obligatory stop for any lover of gastronomy, with a quality and varied offer. Through its cobbled streets you reach MINIM’S, a charming restaurant, tiny and very cozy, which prioritizes Andorran recipes very well prepared with an original approach that greatly satisfies the customer. Among its dishes include snails Andorran style; beef carpaccio and cheese Tou dels til-lers; or Andorran beef brisket stewed at 7 o’clock.

Continuing in the old town we find the restaurant El Crostó, an intimate space, with the decoration of a mountain bistro. Mediterranean and Spanish cuisines are part of its menu, in which dishes such as foie ravioli, melon carpaccio with Iberian ham, or its tasty lamb or beef stand out.

Can Manel is a sign of identity of Andorra la Vella that you can not miss, as it offers a high mountain cuisine. It has an open room divided into three large and cozy spaces overlooking the kitchen. Its chef and owner, Carles Flinch, has managed to combine tradition and innovation with local and seasonal products as the main protagonist. Excellent game meats, civets, lamb, “voulets”, risottos…

Diamant Espai Gastronòmic, known as the gastronomic space of Andorra La Vella, by chef Nandu Jubany, is a boutique establishment where you can, if you wish, take home what you eat at the table. You must try Nandu’s truffled cannelloni; the sea urchins au naturel, au gratin with caviar; the Duroc pork rib lacquered with honey and soy; or his famous Oblea Diamant dessert, made with cookie and cheese and nocilla ice cream.

One of the best kept secrets in Andorra la Vella is Celler d’en Toni, a restaurant that combines creativity and traditional flavors of the land. You will find a product menu with local meats and fresh fish that arrive every day. You must try the Celler’s cannelloni; the kid’s shoulder cooked at low temperature; or its exquisite red shrimp tartar and trout caviar with brioix.

A date in the heights

We ended our trip in Arinsal, at the foot of the Comapedrosa Natural Park, La Massana. We have put on our snow boots to climb to 1,250 meters above sea level, where the restaurant El Moli dels Fanals is located, a rustic stone house of the nineteenth century with a traditional and quality cuisine. It has a large terrace where you can enjoy a wide variety of tapas, snacks and vermouth. A mixture of varied flavors, whose cherry in its best version is reflected in the grilled meats, the mountain rice, the snails to the llauna (in season) and the homemade croquettes. Special attention should be given to the homemade dessert trolley in the style of the good restaurants of yesteryear.