Will be in Barcelona for 5 days in Feb. 2023. Wondering about going to Andorra for a day. We don't ski. Does anyone have any experience or recommendations? If it were summer, spending a couple days there would not be a question, but I'm not sure if it's worth the time and effort in the winter.
I would not visit Andorra in winter or summer, unless I wanted cheap cigarettes and cognac, the town has basically become the world's largest duty free store.
If you want an authentic escapade into the Pyrenees Mountains from Barcelona, instead I would recommend taking the regional R3 train to the Pyrenees mountain town of Ribes de Freser and then switch to the rack railway up to the Vall de Núria. The Vall de Núria is a sacred valley in the high Pyrenees, there is a holy sanctuary and old 1930s hotel at the top, plus a small lake and plenty of hiking trails for all aptitudes and even skiing. Very picturesque and popular with local Catalan families, although unknown to foreign tourists.
You can read more here: https://www.valldenuria.cat/en/winter/resort/
Also a good source for snow globes and t-shirts
Regardless of the season I would not spend precious time in Andorra. Barcelona has a huge menu of opportunities to explore. If you desire visiting a natural Hugh, then try Montserrat.
Andorra is best seen passing between France and Spain only. As you pass though one sees what Carlos mentioned. I wouldn’t make a special trip there.
One day in Andorra from Barcelona is a no-no. Too short.
Besides, buses would take you to Andorra la Vella, its capital city, which is -as mentioned above- sort of a sizeable duty-free mall.
I, however, disagree with previous assessments regarding the rest of the country. Andorra's countryside offers breathtaking natural beauty, with its rolling hills, towering mountains, and verdant forests. It's a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering plenty of opportunities for activities such as hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. One of the main attractions is the Val de Sorteny National Park, which boasts a diverse range of flora and fauna, and is home to several rare species of plants and animals. Visitors can also take a scenic drive through the Pyrenees Mountains, stopping at charming villages along the way and sampling the local cuisine. Whether you're looking for adventure or simply want to take in the stunning scenery, Andorra's countryside is not to be missed.
Note though that the Principality of Andorra is best experienced over a long weekend and by car (not by bus!).
HAVING SAID THAT,
If you're just spending 5 days in Catalonia, I wouldn't waste them by travelling to Andorra. There are a lot of things to see and do in Catalonia -besides its capital city Barcelona
It's funny now...
We planned a family adventure in 2011 that included driving from Barcelona to a village in western France with a stop in Andorra. Mainly we wanted to add the tiny country to our 'visited' checklist. Our flip phones in those days had no GPS so we pre-printed maps for each day's drive. First, we got turned around leaving Barcelona and had to pay a toll three times at the same crossing before we got going the right way. As we approached Andorra, we tried to follow signs pointing the way, except the signs contradicted each other! We drove back and forth on the same 20 mile stretch of highway utterly confused. When we stopped for gas the shop owner asked the same questions: "Why do you want to go to Andorra? It's just all duty-free shops, cigarettes and perfume, the same as the airport."
Finally, we gave up and drove on to France, where we missed getting in to see the prehistoric cave paintings by 30 minutes. Probably the most frustrating travel day of my life (that wasn't in an airport). At least the mountain scenery was gorgeous!
Thanks. Great advice from everyone. Decided to pass on Andorra
Reporting back after my trip in case this info is helpful to future travelers.
I decided to skip Andorra. My traveling companion was intent on checking off a country from his list and he was staying longer than I was, so took the bus to and from Andorra. Not sure he did much except ride the bus, walk around the downtown area with duty free shops and ride the bus back. Glad I passed.
Instead of Andorra, took the train to Girona for half a day. Highly recommend.
And Barcelona was spectacular. 10/10