First things first… I promised Marsi (3) to sleep on a rocket to go to the space and moon and I always keep my promises, so as my word has a lot of value I searched for the rocket and I found it in Andorra! So we drove from the French Pyrenees to Andorra, and 5 hours later we checked in at the Holiday Inn Andorra and we got in the rocket! You can’t imagine Marsi’s and Mercuri’s faces when we opened the room’s door! They both exclaimed “WOW” and that made it worth it!
The Holiday Inn Andorra is very well located place to stay, it is a family friendly hotel, they even have a playground with a ball’s pool underground which we found amazing ! We stayed 8 days and we ate every single meal at the hotel and the variety of the meals was different and wide each day, the staff at the hotel and restaurant are amazing, the food is very good in the buffet and when there is not so many people the main courses are “a la carte” and the presentation is worth a classy restaurant! If you stay in the Holiday Inn you will be a 5 minute walk to Andorra la Vella (Andorra Old Town) which you can go up by a lift from the central parking building or walk up if you prefer to, we took the lift as with a double stroller we prefer not the take the whole sidewalk.
In Andorra la Vella you can find many cool restaurants and coffees where you can stop by either to eat or just have a drink, you can see from the outside the Casa de la Vall and if you want to visit it you must book it beforehand.
In the Plaza del poble there are two amazing playgrounds for kids and you can let your little ones have a blast in the games!
You have many shopping options but if are more into shopping go up to Av Carlemany and you will find many clothes shops which can be a little bit cheaper than in the rest of Europe but no that much cheaper, you can also find perfumes all along this avenue and this , it is in general a lot cheaper than in the rest of the world, and if you are looking to buy alcohol and cigarettes (which is why Andorra is famous for) it is a lot cheaper but be careful not to buy to much as there are limitations, crossing the border we got stopped twice, once in the border Andorra/Spain and once in the border Spain/France and they do check your stuff and they can make you open all of your luggage if they wish to, we had bought only a couple of t shirts and they did ask us to show them to them… so bear in mind to respect the law if you do not want to get in trouble.
Andorra is a dream land for cyclist, well, let me be more precise, it is a dream land for cyclist with some level and endurance… you DO NEED both to be able to enjoy the climbs Andorra has for you, during the week we were in we went up the most famous ones, we did of course La Gallina (with some percentages up to 19% and bear in mind that one way is only 1 sense so if you go down be careful with the cars because they will not be expecting seeing bikes cycling down) , La Rabassa (a very long hill where you can do a loop), Els Cortals (be prepared to a hard first 5km start).
Ordino (one of the easiest one of the region and you can go up both ways) and if you wish to make a stop on the top you can visit the Roc del Quer,
a flying bridge where you can see through its floor! It was funny to see how adults got scared and didn’t even want to step on the clear floor and kids where happy just looking down and running around!, Arcalis de Ordino (one of the most famous climbs being the one with 3 Tour de Frances stages, Bexalis (also a famous and hard one), and if you want a really easy one (for the region) go up La Comella and Engolasters, you’ll get a rest in between both and be able to speed up at the end, although I have done many cool thing on my bike like cycling from Lisbon to London (2099km in 9 days) , Tijuana to Cancun 4500km in 18 days, and have a World record on the velodrome, I am not an expert in cycling, so if you want more advices or tips for cycling in Andorra do not hesitate to contact FTC SPORT.
On the top of La Rabassa you’ll find Natrulandia (I will try to be as accurate as possible without hurting nobody’s feelings but trying to help other families make the best decision when hesitating on going there), we got invited here by the park and we are very grateful because seeing the prices of the entries I don’t think we would have gone, there are two different areas, on the very top you’ll find the zoo built directly on the lands of the mountain with just some adaptations to try to let animals live as “wild” as possible our kid’s favorite animals in there where the Pyrenees bears, the lynx and the wolfs which we got the chance to see when they were eating winch made it easier for Mercuri (1) to spot them in between the trees.
The second section of Naturlandia is a little bit lower in the mountain, it is kind of an attractions park for the family (for kids over 3 years old) , Marsi got lucky and did a pony ride and Mercuri was the one who was pulling the pony, then Matt, abuelo and I got to try to tubotrunk (a 5.3km long mountain luge), if you go up make sure you can go down without any problem because going down at a speed (even if you break) can cause some agitation to your head and heart, so make sure you can go down a long way fast and “shake” without problem because from the bottom you’ll think it is a short ride and it last around 20 minutes!
Airtrekk is a different experience, it’s a wooden structure where you climb and feel the vertigo looking down, you must go to the second level to reach the stairs to go up the 180m zip line and then you can fly down! They also have buggies which kids can enjoy with an adult , they have archery zone for adults, and an extreme jump as well for adults, we went in June, all of the activities had timetables and while some where opened others were closed , this I understand it is to keep it to a minimum of staff required to keep the park going, I have red many comments about unhappy people saying it is a waste of time and money and I understand their feelings of paying too much for so little, especially when you are a large family , I compare it to many other parks (on that price rage) in the world and they have much more to offer for people from 1 to 99. Maybe having more activities for kids, no closing times and a lower rate would help getting the park more active and more people coming to it because it is a nice place but to get a buggy and pony ride it is quite expensive.
After walking for hours shopping or after a hard day cycling all you want is to relax , and there is not a better place to do this in Andorra than in Caldea, actually I cannot comment on Caldea because when we were there it was closed but we got the chance to go to Inuu, a part of Caldea , they welcome you with a bath robe, a towel and sandals, the building is amazing and my dad as an engineer got to appreciate all the unions of the big structure, they have many inox parts in the pools and it is a restricted area for 16 years and older, there is sauna, hammam, hot marble walls, hot beds, water beds , and all the thermal water areas, pools and Jacuzzi are great, they have different features, different sort of water massage areas in the pools and you can spend some time relaxing in there, we were welcomed with an orange juice , then we got shown all the installations and got explained all the areas, they have a lot of staff watching you are ok which is important in the case of an accident like my husband did, there was a (misplaced and broken) lamp in the Jacuzzi step and when my husband got in the jacuzzi he stepped on it and he got a 5cm cut on his heel, he started bleeding a lot and luckly as I said there was an emergency staff from Inuu and they took care of him. If you wish you can also get a massage in there and they also have dark rooms to take a nap without being disrupted, before you leave you can take a shower and they provide you shampoo, shower gel and even conditioner, after you leave Inuu you feel relaxed and full of energy for the next day to enjoy beautiful Andorra.
I can see Andorra loves kids and takes care of them a lot, outside of Caldea there are more playing grounds and we spent a couple of hours playing in them, they have some very high toboggans and Marsi (3) insisted on going up, so I did go with him and it was pretty cool although the first time he hit his head and to help him relieve his fear we went up again and the second time I covered his head with all of my body and I realized that if you are not old enough you cannot control the movements of your head at that speed, so be careful if your little ones want to go up.
We were very lucky because on the week we were there they had a touristic event and they had some animals in the central park as well as a horse’s carriage giving 1euro tour rides around the park, so the 5 of us went up and enjoyed a beautiful 5 minute ride on beautiful French horses.
It was our first time in Andorra for the 5 of us and I can say we absolutely LOVED Andorra and we cannot wait to be back!
Thank you ANDORRA!