10.2 Million Visitors to the Pyrenees? Why?
Every Year 10.2 Million Visitors
Arrive in Andorra.
What are they finding there?
At right is the view from the stunning and widely acclaimed Hotel Montané just across from the ski-lift in Arinsal, Andorra.
World famous as a winter ski playground, high in the Pyrenees mountains, we wanted to know what kept visitors going back – and especially what they’re doing when the slopes are no covered in white.
Arinsal is about 2.5 hours drive from Toulouse, 3 hours from Barecelona or a little more from the Girona-Barcelona airport. You just can’t build an airport high in the mountains, and the Pyrenees are always spectacular. A drive like this is almost worth the entire trip.
With an acclaimed restaurant, a fantastic wine bar and plenty to see and do, getting to the Hotel Montane is just a crowning finish to your drive, where ever you’re coming from.
And at but 27 rooms, it’s not the biggest hotel in the Royal Holiday collection. In fact, this one is just a little more exclusive.
With flat screen TVs, Sky, Canal+ and all the WiFi you could need, it’s a break from everything, but you don’t need to totally unplug.
So, what’s there to do in Arinsal?
- Bird watching, flower picking and hiking?
Well, we’ve encountered worse things to do. But Andorra has been striking – sometimes other worldly – and utterly famous since at least the 12th century. Likely it was all those things before, too. It’s famous for:
- The Vallnord bike park. It’s still not the easiest place to bicycle, but the Vallnord bike park takes some of the mountain out “mountain biking.” With family classes, stunt arenas and woodland trails all over the place, it’s perfect for beginners and world-class bikers just the same.
- Caldea (pictured at right) is the largest recreational health spa in Europe with warm thermal waters and serious packaged single-day and multi-day programs. Despite the freaky 80s exterior, there’s a lot on offer. You can even schedule wellness treatments in advance.
- There’s a whole variety of micro-museums, guided tours and sight-seeing. That’s right. The surrounding countryside is spiked with Romanesque and Baroque churches and museums are tiny, focused and intense.
- A 2 hour drive back into France to the Cathar castle at Montségur may be right up there with the experience of the summer.
- Just driving the winding mountain roads is worth your while, and the rest of Andorra pays off with one vista after another.
- Schedule your horse-back riding before your spa visit. Aldosa is just about 10 minutes from Arinsal and there’s plenty of creative packaged lessons and trail riding expeditions.
- Don’t let us forget. Helitrans will give you a guided tour of the entire Arinsal valley, and then some, leaving from right in the village. If you’re still wondering where you are, this is the single best way to find out!
All of that’s in addition to the quiet of the mountains in summer, the bird watching and the flowers. There are all kinds of places to see and the Montane Hotel is always full up with visitors from every corner of the world.