Despite seeming uncontrolled growth, the country’s primary attraction is its beautiful alpine scenery, which provide breathtaking views in all seasons. Summers are cool at higher elevations, allowing for ideal trekking through the beautiful green valleys. On much higher terrain, challenging day-long treks may be undertaken that will take you through really spectacular landscapes. Don’t miss Andorra’s sole UNESCO World Heritage site, the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. This unspoiled region, only accessible by foot, is an important animal sanctuary and comprises of woodland and farmland, interspersed with the occasional shepherd’s house. In the winter, snow blankets vast areas of the nation, transforming the Alpine character into an equally stunning backdrop for a variety of winter activities.
But there’s more to this small nation than meets the eye. There are many charming ancient towns with centuries-old homes and medieval Romanesque cathedrals and shrines along cobblestoned lanes. Ordino, Santa Coloma d’Andorra (home to the country’s oldest structure, a 9th-century church), and Sant Julia de Loria are also good locations to get a taste of culture. The shrine of the country’s patroness, Our Lady of Meritxell, is located between the villages of Canillo and Encamp. The original statue was destroyed in a fire in 1972, but the superb copy serves well as a substitute. Les Escaldes is a great location to see traditional dancing.
Andorra la Vella, the country’s capital, may seem to be a congested and crowded area at first glance – and it is. However, if you dig a bit further, you’ll discover the 11th century Església de Sant Esteve, a Romanesque church dedicated to St. Stephen. Other highlights of your city excursions include a lovely plaza and the ancient parliament building.