Andorra is one of the smallest countries in Europe. It is located in the Pyrenees, which explains why it receives so many visitors from Catalonia and the south of France. Most of them come in search of nature, but also wanting to buy cheaply, taking advantage of the fact that VAT is 4.5% (1% on essential goods and services).
Its capital, Andorra La Vella, is undoubtedly the most important city, but it is worth knowing other towns in this country of about 80,000 inhabitants that is organized in the seven parishes that I mention below.
Andorra la Vella
It is the most important city in Andorra, as well as being the most populated parish (about 25,000 inhabitants) and the smallest of all. There you can buy in many establishments, since there are supermarkets that sell very cheap food and there are many perfumeries and electronics stores.
It is very close to the confluence of the Valira del Norte and Valira de Oriente rivers, at an altitude of 1,022 meters above sea level, which allows us to say that it is the European capital located at the highest altitude.
One of the most visited spots in Andorra La Vella is Caldea , a great thermal spa where you can disconnect and relax. In addition, they have created the world’s first spa for children.
It is the second by population, since about 16,000 people live there. It is in the center of Andorra, right where the Valira del Norte and Valira de Oriente rivers converge. It has two urban centers and numerous attractions for tourists, such as the Church of Sant Miquel d’Engolasters , the Josep Viladomat Museum, the Matrioshka Museum or the Romanesque Bridge d’Escaldes-Engordany, which is of medieval origin.
Photo: Andorran metamorphosis
It is 1,300 meters above sea level and has a population of about 13,000 inhabitants. It is worth visiting for the beautiful landscapes and for its Romanesque and pre-Romanesque churches, such as the Church of Santa Eulalia de Encamp. There are also museums such as the National Automobile Museum or the Casa Cristo Ethnographic Museum, which allows you to get an idea of how families lived in Andorra more than 70 years ago.
This other parish, in which barely 10,000 people live, is home to the typical Pyrenean mountain town where many skiers want to stay. It is only 5 kilometers from Andorra La Vella and its inhabitants live mainly from the restaurants, hotels and leisure activities that are organized. The Church of Sant Climent , in Romanesque style, is one of the most recommended places, as is the Casa Rull Museum, which shows how one of the most affluent families in the parish lived in the 19th century.
San Julià de Lòria
To the south and east it borders Spain. The parish is located at an altitude that ranges between 850 and 2,600 meters depending on where you are. Its population is around 9,000 inhabitants and its star attraction is a supermarket, the Punt de Trobada . It is the largest in the country and is usually visited by those who want to return home loaded down.
Despite being the largest parish in Andorra, it is also the least populated with just over 4,000 inhabitants who make a living from tourism, since there is Grandvalira, a ski resort that has snow throughout the year. It is also advisable to visit the sanctuary of Our Lady of Meritxell or the Ice Palace of Andorra, which has more than 8,000 square kilometers of extension and an ice rink of Olympic dimensions.
Photo: Hotel Font d’Argent Canillo
With just under 5,000 inhabitants, Ordino is the second largest parish in Andorra. The parish is about 1,300 meters above sea level and is made up of towns such as Ansalonga, Arans, El Serrat, La Cortinada, Llorts, Ordino, Segudet and Sornàs. The Church of San Martín de la Cortinada is one of the places of interest in the area.
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