“A country’s strategy is always based on a fundamental philosophical outlook. Discoveries made during the last hundred years have shown that liberalism is the best system to improve a country’s well-being. This is why Andorras strategy is based on a liberal way of thinking.” ~ Marc Forné Molné
Independent travel is by far our favorite way to go. We create our itinerary way before we book our flight, vehicle, and hotels. This way, it is easier for us to break down the route into pit stops and give us an idea of what to see and do on our route. We arrived in Paris and drove to Bordeaux the next day. After spending a couple of days in Bordeaux, France visit, we headed on towards Barcelona, Spain. But first, we had to make a pit stop in Andorra, La Vella. It was our first visit to Andorra, and we are so glad we did it even though it was just for a couple of hours.
What is Andorra?
Andorra, in the Pyrenees mountains, is an independent country. Its elevation is 3,356 feet above sea level and lies between France and Spain. Their population is less than 100,000, according to the 2020 census of the World Development Indicator (WDI). Also, it is the smallest country in the world by population and 16th smallest in the world by land, according to One World Nations Organization. The capital of Andorra is La Vella.
Picture Perfect Country
Andorra, La Vella is a beautiful city. In fact, out of all the places we have traveled to, I found Andorra, La Vella to be the most beautiful of all. You know the lovely small towns you see on a postcard or a Christmas movie? Ever wonder where they are at? Well, Andorra is that type of place. Possibly one place where some movies are filmed or depicted on postcards. Who knows?
Beautiful mountains surround Andorra La Vella making it the perfect place for skiing during the winter months and hiking during the summer and probably the rest of the year. During our visit in November, the mountain tops were peeking through the clouds, which were lower than the peaks themselves. It was chilly and drizzling but comfortable temperatures overall. The air you breathe is crisp, which surrounds you with positive, relaxing energy. It is a clean country—fresh air, clean streets, no graffiti—just perfect. People seemed relaxed and polite while driving, walking, or just sitting at a café sipping on their coffee or tea.
A Little about Andorra
As I mentioned before, our stop in Andorra was short—only about two hours. We enjoyed a walk through the city center, stopping to take a snapshot of the famous Andorra la Vella Paris suspension bridge that crosses the Gran Valira River and the famous Salvador Dali melting clock sculpture. Stores, restaurants, and hotels align with the streets that run alongside the river. The town is small, but everything is centrally located. Resident taxes are low compared to other countries. Sounds like the perfect place to retire—low personal taxes, duty-free on consumer goods, a safe place to live, and the serene atmosphere for a tranquil life. Did I mention you do not pay taxes for your purchases? Yes, Andorra is a tax-free haven! It is duty-free on all consumer goods, thus it attracts shoppers from all over Europe. However, as a European resident, what are the tax implications once you cross the border into your country? I don’t know. I can tell you the border patrol stopped us in Spain, but other than a couple of souvenirs, we had nothing to declare—no alcohol or tobacco products purchased in Andorra, which was what they inquired about. However, we had a few bottles of wine we bought in Bordeaux. Seriously, you cannot visit Bordeaux and not buy wine! Thankfully, we packed them so well that they were not visible when they opened the suitcases.
Where to eat?
We stopped for a quick bite at Lizarran Taverna Andorra at Av. Meritxell, 86, AD500 Andorra la Vella, Andorra. We ordered nothing spectacular, but just steak and French fries with a side of salad. It was good. After our lunch, we realized they had far better choices. But hunger blocked our senses to choosing something local and outside the box. Therefore, we opted for the fastest and easiest. If in the area, I suggest you try some of their other enticing dishes.
I loved Andorra, La Vella. It is the most beautiful country we have visited. A sure contender to revisit and possibly stay overnight, adding sights to see and more leisurely walks. I recommend you add it to your bucket list because to experience the tranquility we felt and to admire the beauty of this country is worth every penny.