Andorra is definitely a lesser known European destination. It’s a relatively tiny landmass which compares to the likes of Liechtenstein and Luxembourg in Europe. Nevertheless, similar to these other countries, Andorra is packed full of beautiful nature.
Given that, Andorra is a great European getaway for hiking enthusiasts. For such a small country, you will get fantastic bang for buck here. All within a small distance of one another are breathtaking hikes, miradors, lakes and even some waterfalls! Indeed, Andorra has some of the best hikes in Europe.
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Andorra: Two Day Hiking Guide
This Andorra hiking guide will detail how to complete the best trails on offer in under 48 hours! Because there are many trails to choose from, we’ll focus on the absolute best ones to do over a weekend. This guide will also detail the best miradors, waterfalls and the famous Caldea Thermal Spas. Just so you don’t leave Andorra without experiencing the best that this tiny country has in store. If you enjoy being active and exploring less frequented destinations, then this is the trip for you!
Best Time of Year to Hike in Andorra
For hiking, it’s May-September: Andorra is better known as a winter destination. It particularly has a good reputation for skiing. So the far majority of tourists will visit at that time. However, we can guarantee that you won’t regret visiting Andorra outside of the skiing season. The same slopes and mountains that people ski down become a ramblers dream once the snow melts. That’s why, specifically for hiking, it’s best to visit in the warmer months from May to September.
We actually visited in early October which was a fantastic time to be there. There were literally only a handful of people on the trails whilst we were blessed with gorgeous weather. Additionally, travelling outside of summer was cheaper. Although this holds true for travelling all of Europe outside the peak season. Depending on the weather conditions, a trip in October is possible. But keep an eye on the weather in case the snow arrives early. That’s why you may want to book your trip for September. The weather is very likely to still be great. Plus it falls outside the peak season.
Other Highlights of Andorra
Andorra Hiking Guide – Day One
1. Estanys de Tristaina
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 9.2km
- Time: 3.5-4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 721m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Ordino Arcalís Resort
All trails in this guide are rated by the Andorra Tourism Board
An epic hike. After a nice breakfast in the town of Canillo, we headed to our first speed hike of the day. Park at the Ordino Arcalís resort beside the La Coma restaurant. There are several different hiking routes from there. They are all based around the beautiful Tristaina lakes. The main two lakes seen on this route are Estany del mig and Estany des més amut.
WHAT’S SPEED HIKING? It’s about cranking up the speed from your usual walking pace. One of the benefits of speed hiking is increasing the demand and challenge on your cardiovascular system which can help improve your overall fitness levels.
The Estanys de Tristaina itself is essentially a high mountain bowl where these lakes are situated. It’s an epic amphitheatre surrounded by jagged mountain tops with the majestic lakes plonked on the ground floor. Above all, the views from the peak of Port de L’Arbella (2,601m) and Pic de Tristaina (2,878m) mountains are absolutely breathtaking. Ascending these peaks will give you those truly mindblowing views of the lakes. It’s an unforgettable moment seeing Estanys de Tristaina from those vantage points.
So ensure you include hiking to these peaks as part of your route. To reach these heights, the hiking is fairly strenuous. Some points on the rocky terrain are mildly technical at the peaks of Port de L’Arbella and Pic de Tristaina, but nothing too challenging. The terrain throughout this route is mostly rocky underfoot, especially as you surge the peaks. Otherwise, hiking by the lakes and the trails lower down are more of a dirt trail, sometimes traversing grassy areas.
So What’s the Best Route to Do Then?
We combined Circ de Tristaina with the Port de L’Arbella and Pic de Tristaina trails. On its own, Circ de Tristaina is an approximate 5km loop going around the lakes. This trail more or less stays on ground level alongside the lakes. However, if you add the hike up to Port de L’Arbella and Pic de Tristaina for the amazing aerial views, you’re looking at around 9-10km.
Basically, once you are approximately halfway around the Circ de Tristaina loop, so halfway around the lakes, you will begin to see signs pointing towards Port de L’Arbella or Pic de Tristaina depending on which direction of the loop you go. Going in either clockwise or anti-clockwise direction is fine.
Either way, your relatively easy speed hike will become a more challenging affair as you slow your pace to hike up steeper loose rock towards the peaks. It was the most exhilarating feeling to reach these peaks, out of breath, but distracted by the majestic views of the lakes nestled at the bottom of the mountains. In total, the combination of trails took us around 3.5-4 hours. For precise directions, we downloaded a digital map using this specific Wikiloc.
Once we had reached the higher viewpoints, the clouds quickly began to consume our views of the lake. It made for some epic photography. But do be alert of the weather suddenly changing for the worse. In that case, ensure you are hiking with a decent waterproof/windproof jacket. Overall, this route exceeded all expectations. It was a highlight of the weekend trip. Perhaps, reaching Pic de Tristaina will be your favourite moment!
2. The Mirador Ro del Quer
Andorra is packed full of amazing miradors. None more so than Mirador Ro del Quer. Otherwise known as Mirador de Canillo viewpoint. The fact that Andorra has many lookouts is not a surprise given its magnificent mountainous landscape.
This stop on the itinerary is a fairly quick one. Parking at the mirador is easy to find and fairly spacious. It only takes around five minutes to reach the 20 metre balcony walkout. The last 12 metres of which, seemingly extends out into the scenery itself. Immersed in this epic scenery of the Pyrenees is certainly aweinspiring. In total, the mirador platform is 400 metres from the car park and involves descending around 70 metres on a mostly paved trail.
Again, you’ll experience an amphitheatre of luscious tree infested mountains. They encircle a valley consisting of a river stream winding like a snake through the forest around it. It’s a very cool spot for a photo. Visiting Mirador Ro del Quer is on the way from Estanys de Tristaina to our next hiking destination detailed below. So it’s a nice little stop to break up the drive. Expect this attraction to be a tad busier compared to hiking Andorra’s best trails.
Oh and what’s with the sculpture of the bronzed man sitting on the edge of the platform? The sculpture is called The Ponderer. It was created by Catalan artist Miguel Angel Gonzalez. What’s he pondering? Assumedly the fantastic views that are afforded at this popular mirador.
Keep in mind , that there are MANY amazing miradors throughout Andorra. Without listing them all, just be prepared to stop regularly to check them out. Most are just a quick stop on the side of the road for the most incredible views!
3. Estany de Cabana Sorda
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 5.5km
- Time: 2.5-3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 470m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Incles Valley Road
Luckily, you should be able to squeeze in an afternoon hike as well. For information on parking, see Google Maps here. This is a lightly trafficked out and back 5.5km trail that took us about 2.5 hours speed hiking. The trail is rateds as moderate difficulty. This must be due to the persistent gentle steepness that can be physically demanding. But otherwise, the trail is fairly straightforward without any technical hiking.
Although this hike starts by the roadside, quickly enough you’ll feel immersed in the true beauty of your surroundings. You’ll pass by more pristine lakes and rivers in this subalpine region. Hiking this trail will take you through multifaceted landscape. You’ll hike through forest and climb up some mountainous hillsides to reach the endpoint of the trail. Cabaña Sorda Lake (2,290m) being the endpoint. Metres away is Cabaña Sorda for those camping there for the night.
The hike isn’t as epic as the one from this morning. But it’s certainly worth the time and effort. At the trails’ final destination, there is still some amazing scenery. We recommend skipping some rocks to make your way on to a luscious patch of land situated in the midst of the lake. The green coated rugged rocky terrain that surrounds you is sure to impress.
Because it isn’t the longest of trails, it’s a good one to do in the afternoon. Admittedly, our day had started with blissful sunshine. However, the weather turned for the worse throughout the day. We were very happy to have waterproof hiking boots. See our five hiking essentials below.
4. Caldea Thermal Spa
The famous Andorran spas are the largest of its kind in Southern Europe. After a day of speed hiking, we looked forward to a relaxing spa. The Caldea Thermal Spa is one of Andorra’s most well known attractions. Being able to visit at night suited us down to the ground. It meant we could hike all day and spa all night! Well, at least for two hours. The two hour night ticket was about £32/person (€36.50/$39.50USD). It also included light shows for free.
Honestly speaking, the light shows were quite poor. These so-called light shows were just going on in the background as we swam in the pools. It was simply the changing of colours of the weak lights as they flashed above and around the complex. We thought they were a bit tacky and unnecessary. Nevertheless, the pools are a fun experience.
Other than the largest central pool, there are smaller offshoot spas at different levels to immerse yourself in. There are even separate zones and special rooms that you can line up for. These areas had slightly warmer water but none of them were totally outstanding in warmth or experience. The main pool also forges a path to a connecting thermal pool outside. It was a cool experience to swim in the warmish outside pool as it bucketed down. Admittedly, we didn’t stay in the outside section for long. But whichever way you enjoy the pools, it’s certainly a good way to unwind at the end of the day.
Andorra Hiking Guide – Day Two
4. Cami del Toll Bullidor
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 1km
- Time: 0.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 70m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Les Molleres Bridge
Waterfall chasing. Considering Beck and I would fly back to London later that night, we got off to an early start. Your first stop for today is a waterfall. It’s actually Andorra’s best waterfall! The Cami de Toll Bullidor is an easy 1km out and back stroll through some forest. Overall, you’ll descend about 70 metres on mostly leafy terrain.
SIDE NOTE: Admittedly our legs were a bit sore from the previous day’s hikes. But this was actually a nice and easy trail to get the legs moving. Fairly soon after starting though, we set into our usual speed hiking pace. Besides, we would need to be at our speed hiking best for the afternoon’s tough hike!
You’ll only need an hour or so to see the waterfall. The trail itself leads to a prominent viewing platform which provides the best view of the waterfall. There is a small set of wooden stairs with metal railings to descend to this lookout. You’ll be above the waterfall so you get a real sense of its movement and power. The sound of the waterfall racing through the air and crashing into the pool below is constant and mesmerising. We appreciate that it’s not the largest of waterfalls. But it certainly packs a punch. Plus, it’s such little effort for such a big reward!
Admittedly, finding parking is a bit tricky. We found a good spot that leads you off the road onto the trail almost immediately. But there are only a handful of spaces there. To avoid disappointment, try to arrive here early. By doing this, you might even have the trail to yourselves. Find our Google Maps here for help with parking.
5. Cascada de Moles
Do go chasing waterfalls. Before tackling the day’s main hike, there is one more waterfall to stop at. There is no trail for this one though. It’s actually casually situated on the side of the road. Simply park your car and within a minute or so, you’ll arrive at the base of the falls. You can quickly explore the base or climb the small set of stairs to a wooden viewing platform.
This waterfall doesn’t have the power of Cami de Toll Bullidor. It’s also slightly smaller in height. The water cascading gently down the smooth cliff face certainly doesn’t demand the same attention. But again, it’s only a quick stop requiring no more than 10-15 minutes. So it’s worth checking out. This stop has all the typical elements of the great outdoors here. Expect your trip to this waterfall to be filled with mountainous forest surroundings with the road behind you.
Because this stop is very easily accessible, expect a few more people around. Just be careful navigating the rocks at the base of the waterfall. As expected, they’re slippery.
6. Circ de Pessons
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 12km
- Time: 4-5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 707m
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Trailhead: Cubil Car Park in Grau Roig
The final hike is Circ de Pessons, otherwise known as the Pessons lake circuit. Andorra has to be one of the most underrated hiking destinations in all of Europe. This hike exemplifies the beauty and serenity of the small nation and its epic Pyrenees mountain surrounds. The hike is around 12km and takes around 4-5 hours to complete.
There is also an option to complete a loop around the lakes. We opted for the same out and back route because that seemed simpler at the time. It was sensational in its own right. The trail is rated difficult for good reason. Not only is the hike quite physically demanding but the combination of trails can be tricky to follow at times. However, there is no technical hiking to conquer.
How to Get There?
To complete this hike, you’ll need to find the Cubil car park in Grau Roig. Another great skiing destination turned hiking trail! See Google Maps here for directions.
From there, take the forest track westwards to reach Estany Primer. This is the first lake you’ll come across on this trail. Also, there is Llacs del Pesson; a mountain hut restaurant. Afterwards, follow the lake to your right and head south. Follow the GR7 route which is made up of red and white lines. Once again, we recommend using Wikiloc to guide you. Basically, you will continue to head south, passing by a few lakes on your way to the endpoint lookout.
The Epic Viewpoint
Eventually, you’ll arrive at a very steep and rocky zig-zag trail heading to the peak. Prior to this, the terrain is varied with grassy and rocky sections. You’ll presumably reach this last section already low on energy. Personally, even though I was buggered, I was also absolutely pumped to get to the top. Full of adrenaline, I pushed on. It was tough. I reached the top completely out of breath. With my efforts to reach the peak, Beck hadn’t arrived yet. But that meant I could get some nice photos of her as she neared the top.
The effort is oh so worth it. This final peak you will hike to is called Pic Dels Pessons. The views of all the lakes you had just passed in combination with the mountainous background were out of this world! If not for Circ de Tristaina and the Port de L’Arbella and Pic de Tristaina peaks, Circ de Pessons would have definitely been the highlight of the trip. Make sure you have some warmer layers packed as it can get very cold and windy at the top.
For more epic photography, find yourself a rock to safely stand on and allow yourself to be the subject of a droolworthy backdrop. Even without photography, you’ll be transfixed and engulfed by the beauty of the Pyrennes mountains and the many lakes littered below.
Andorra Two Day Hiking Recap
As you have probably gathered by now, Andorra is a beautiful country jam packed with serene nature and stunning mountainous surrounds attributed to the Pyrenees. This two day Andorra hiking guide covers the most amazing trails, plus the best of the rest in terms of natural attractions and activities.
Although Andorra deserves more than a weekend, sometimes that’s all we can manage. But even if you only have a spare couple of days, don’t question whether visiting Andorra is worth the time and effort. As shown in this guide, it certainly is!
Getting to and From Andorra
Flights: Andorra doesn’t have an international airport. If you are flying from London, you basically have 2 options. You can either fly to Barcelona and therefore enter from Spain. Alternatively, you can fly to Toulouse and consequently enter from France. Both are approximately a three hour drive from Andorra. We based our decision to fly to Toulouse purely on costs. Flying to Barcelona was around three times the price. So flying to Toulouse was an easy decision.
We booked our return flights about 6 weeks in advance and paid £80/person (€91/$99USD). Using Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights, we then booked directly through Ryanair. We flew out of London Friday night and were back by Sunday night. However, flights can be much cheaper if you book in advance. According to Jack’s Flight Club, we’ve seen return flights from London to Toulouse for as low as £40/person (€36.50/$40USD) in October.
Alternatively, Andorra-la Seu d’Urgell is an airport 10km south of Andorra that opened in 2015 for commercial flights. But from 2016, Andorra Airlines began to fly to and from Madrid, Porto, Palma de Mallorca and Paris from that airport. So this is also an option if applicable to you.
Getting Around Andorra
Car hire. For this Andorra weekend hiking guide, we recommend doing the long three hour drive from Toulouse upon arrival. This ensures you can get the most out of your weekend trip. Admittedly we arrived in Andorra at the silly time of 1am. But it meant we could hit the ground running with speed hiking the next day. We don’t like to waste any time! There’s nothing a coffee in the morning can’t fix anyway!
Using Rentalcars.com, we hired a manual car for 2 days through Enterprise Rent-A-Car for £99 (€113/$123USD). The car hire company had no issues with us crossing borders. Petrol for the weekend came to around £50 (€57/$62USD). Additionally, public transport wouldn’t be suitable for this trip as getting to a lot of the rails requires a car.
Accommodation in Andorra
Booking.com. The accommodation on offer at Booking.com often has very reasonable free cancellation policies. We booked Vista Canillo Apartments for £73.50 (€84/$91USD) for 2 nights for 2 people. Feel free to use our link. Be mindful that you will need to pick up the keys from a close by hotel. But that wasn’t an issue. The apartment was very nice. The place has had over 600 reviews and has a solid 7.6 rating. We personally rated it closer to 9.
As you can see, Andorra isn’t exactly a budget destination. But we are sure that if booked further in advance than six weeks, that you could very likely get cheaper accommodation. Look out for possibly cheaper options on Airbnb. At the time of booking, we couldn’t find private accommodation that was cheaper than Booking.com.
Buying Local Supplies in Andorra
Food costs here were fair. Given how multicultural Andorra is, there are different cuisine options available. So we managed some relatively cheap meals and coffee from bakeries serving a mixture of French, Portuguese and Spanish pastries. However for the weekend, we mostly bought groceries and ate out for one breakfast. So for two people, you’re looking at around £15/person (€23/$25USD).
Five Hiking Essentials For Andorra
- Merrell Moab 2 Mid Goretex hiking boots – the weather can turn very quickly in Andorra, so you’ll want to be wearing waterproof gear. These hiking boots have a fantastic waterproof gore tex layer.
- The North Face TKA Glacier snap fleece jacket – pack warm layers for your hikes. It can be very cold at the top of the mountains you climb in Andorra.
- The North Face Venture 2 waterproof/windproof jacket – another waterproof hiking essential.
- Columbia water repellent convertible hiking trousers – a light, breathable and water-resistant pair of hiking trousers.
- Waterproof over trousers – in case it’s pouring, chuck these over the top of your hiking trousers.
You’ll definitely want GPS trail navigation for Circ de Pessons and for the combination of trails at Estanys de Tristaina. Downloas a GPS guided map before you set out. We recommend Wikiloc or AllTrails. For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during the hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.
- Wet weather: Andorra is situated in a mountainous location. That’s why the weather can change suddenly and unpredictably at any moment. We had glorious sunshine followed by a hail storm on the same day. So be prepared if hiking. Make sure you also have a waterproof bag cover.
- Book in advance: If you live in the UK, use Jack’s Flight Club to monitor cheap flights. Keep an eye on return flights to Toulouse. They can be very cheap! In fact, the lowest we’ve seen is a London to Toulouse return flight for £32/person (€36.50/$40USD).
- Language: The national language is Catalan. However, 1/3 of the country converse in Spanish, while 15% speak Portuguese and 7% speak French. So, if you forget what language, dialect or pronunciation to use when saying thank you when buying a coffee, then we don’t blame you!
Who’s your hiking buddy for Andorra? Share this post with them to let them know you’re down with hiking Andorra with them!