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Introduction to Andorra
The Principality of Andorra (officially known as the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra) is the sixth smallest nation in Europe and it is not a member of the European Union. Located in the eastern Pyrenees, bordered by Spain and France, it is governed jointly by the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell (Catalonia, Spain). Andorra’s estimated population of 83,888 in 2009 benefit from a favorable tax structure, making it a haven for many wealthy internationals. Its capital is Andorra la Vella and the official language is Catalan (Spanish, French and Portuguese are also common).
Passports & Visas
Passports are required to enter and leave Andorra. Visas are not required for US citizens for visits of less than 90 days. For longer visits, contact the nearest embassy.
Obtaining a US passport
The US Government Website is where to start.
The Barcelona Consulate Provides consular assistance to U.S. citizens
Culture and History
This site provides a concise history of Andorra
Andorra Tourist Information
Currency in Andorra
Andorra’s main currency is the Euro. Euro (€) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2, 1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.
Andorran banks and bureaux de change (exchange counters) will exchange foreign currency.
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted.
Mon-Fri 9:00am 1:00pm and 3:00pm-5:00pm, Sat 9:00am-12:00pm.
Driving in Andorra
For information on laws, speed limits and safety, see: All Andorra
Electricity in Andorra
Electrical Sockets: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Lighting: 125 volts AC. Andorran sockets take the continental two-round-pin plug (standard throughout Europe).
Emergency Numbers in Andorra
Any emergency: 112
Etiquette in Andorra
When introduced, expect to shake hands. Many men use a two-handed shake where the left hand is placed on the right forearm of the other person. Male friends typically embrace and pat each other on the shoulder. Female friends kiss each other on both cheeks (starting with the left). If invited to someone’s home, it is customary to bring a small gift such as chocolates, pastries, or cakes; wine, liqueur, brandy or flowers.
Remain standing until invited to sit down. Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists (not elbows) resting on the edge of the table.
Do not begin eating until the hostess starts. The host always gives the first toast, but an honoured guest (male or female) should return the toast later in the meal. If you have not finished eating, cross your knife and fork on your plate with the fork over the knife. Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel on your plate, tines facing up, with the handles facing to the right.
Andorra Time Zone
Andorra is in the Central European Time Zone – CET/CEST
CET = Central European Time = UTC (GMT) +1 hours
CEST = Central European Summer Time = UTC (GMT) + 2 hoursPublic Hours
The majority of banks, post offices and shops in Andorra are open Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with one to two hours off for lunch. Certain places have extended hours.
Tipping in Andorra
A service charge may be added to your food bill at a restaurant, but at least a 10 percent tip on top of this is expected. Taxi drivers typically receive a 10% tip; bellhops and doormen, €1.25-€2.50; movie ushers, coat & washroom attendants, €.50-€1.50.
Weather in Andorra
In the summer season (May-September), day temperatures will be in the 70s-low 80s F (23-30 C), with nights ranging from 40-65 F/(5-19 C). During ski season (November- April), temperatures range between 36°F to 59°F (2°C to 15°C) .
Getting Around in Andorra
Traffic drives on the right. Minimum driving age is 18. Seatbelts are compulsory in both front and rear. Children aged under 10 (unless over 1.5m/4.9ft tall) must travel in the rear. Speed limits are 40kph (25mph) in towns, 70kph (44mph) on major roads.
A good road runs from the Spanish to the French frontiers through Sant Julià de Lòria, Andorra la Vella, Escaldes-Engordany, Encamp and Canillo (about 40km/25 miles between frontiers). There is a road to El Serrat, and a secondary road from Ordino to Canillo, which is usually closed in winter.
The trip from La Tour de Carol takes 2 hours 20 minutes. From L’Hospitalet the service takes 2 hours 40 minutes and runs early enough to permit a day-return trip from France. A seasonal service runs from Aix-les-Thermes in France and Seo de Urgel in Spain. Eurolines (tel: 0870 514 3219, in the UK; website: www.eurolines.com) serves destinations in Andorra. Daily services from Toulousse, Lleida (Spain) and Madrid are available for coach trips to Andorra. There are also a variety of buses and minibuses linking Andorra’s villages.
Andorra does not have an international airport. The closest international airports are Barcelona (BCN) in Spain, 225km (140 miles) from Andorra and Toulouse (TLS) in France, 180km (112 miles) from Andorra.
Routes from Perpignan, Villefranche, Toulouse and Barcelona go to La Tour de Carol, 20km (12 miles) from Andorra. The nearest station is L’Hospitalet, but buses run from both L’Hospitalet and La Tour de Carol (see Road below). Routes from Madrid (Spain) go to Lleida and then a connection by coach leads to La Seu d’Urgell. Routes from Barcelona (Spain) go to Puig Cerda and then a connection by coach leads to La Seu d’Urgell.
No permit is required to carry medication in your luggage. However, you should pack your medication in its original containers and/or have your doctor’s prescription with you. Customs officials will have to be satisfied that you are not importing more than would be necessary for your personal use, taking into account the drug type and length of stay (for no more than three months).
Lodging in Andorra
Andorra offers every type of lodging from couch surfing, to hostels and agritourism , to 5-Star resorts.
The town of Encamp is located between the capital and the French frontier and home to a medieval church and stone houses. The Madriu valley , is a glacial valley in a U-shape and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The capital, Andorra la Vella, is located at the junction of two mountain streams. Main sights include a 12th-century church and the Casa de la Vall, the ancient seat of government. The spa town of Escaldes-Engordany is adjacent to the capital and features Romanesque architecture and hot springs.
Popular activities in Andorra include the Andorran local festival in honor of the Virgin of Meritxell (in early September), downhill skiing at Soldeu , cross-country skiing at La Rabassa, and hiking in the nearby mountains.
Public Holidays in Andorra
1 Jan New Year’s Day.
6 Jan Epiphany.
14 Mar Constitution Day.
22 Apr – 25 Apr Easter
1 May Labour Day.
2 Jun Ascension.
13 Jun Whit Monday.
24 Jun St John’s Day.
15 Aug Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.
8 Sep National Day.
1 Nov All Saints’ Day.
4 Nov St Charles’ Day.
8 Dec Immaculate Conception.
24 Dec Christmas Eve.
25 Dec – 26 Dec Christmas.
31 Dec New Year’s Eve
In July, August and September, parishes have their own public holidays, during which festivals are held.
Telephones in Andorra
Public phone booths are conveniently located in Andorra. Coin-operated phones are quickly being replaced with ones that accept only credit cards and telecards, available at most newsstands, post offices, and major train stations.
Dialing Procedures in Andorra
Telephone numbers in Andorra are six digits, with fixed line numbers beginning with the digits 8 and 7 and mobile telephone numbers with the digits 3, 4 and 6.
All calls to Andorra, including France and Spain, require the usage of the +376 country code.
Useful Country Codes:
USA and Canada 1
Returning to the US
Customs,VAT & Duty Free
Value Added Tax (VAT or IVA) Refund Information
If you are a U.S. or Canadian resident, you may qualify for a personal exemption which allows you to bring goods of a certain value into the country without paying customs duties, excise taxes, or Value Added Tax. You can be reimbursed for the VAT you pay on large purchases throughout your trip. Save your receipts from large purchases and be sure to visit the VAT office at the airport for refund forms and information.
Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for EuropeUpClose.com