The Pyrenees is the mountain range that divides Spain and France. Nestled in those mountains is the little country of Andorra, an independent principality. Andorra attracts visitors to its ski resorts and boutiques for duty-free shopping. Barri Antic (the ancient quarter), houses a picturesque church with a circular bell tower.
Andorra is not in the European Union. However, the country does use the euro as its currency, the same as Spain and France. The official language is Catalan.
Andorra has border controls between itself and both Spain and France. There are two border crossings one from France (Pas de la Casa) and one from Spain (Farga de Moles). Both are open 24 hours a day. Usually crossing the border is quick and easy, but you can never rule out delays.
How to Get to Andorra from Barcelona
There are no trains to Andorra, so you'll need to come by road. Be careful when using search engines for working out your routes and times, as there is also an Andorra in Spain. It will usually be called 'Andorra, Teruel' on these sites.
By Bus: The journey takes between three and a quarter hours and four hours by bus, with the ALSA Bus Company.
By Car: It takes around two and three-quarter hours to get from Barcelona to Andorra by car, traveling mainly on the C-16 road. Note that there are tolls on this road.
Andorra by Guided Tour
A very popular tour is the Three Countries in One Day - Spain, France and Andorra tour from Barcelona, which takes in the French town of Mont-Louis, the Spanish village of Baga and visits Andorra. It would be very difficult to fit so much into your day under your own steam (and impossible by public transport.)
But if it's just mountains you want to see and you want to make it all the way to Andorra, there are also tours of the Pyrenees to consider.
How to Get to Andorra from Lleida and Girona
Lleida is slightly closer to Andorra than Barcelona is, so the buses are a little quicker; some make the journey in just two hours and 25 minutes, but most take around three hours. Again, book your trip with ALSA.
There are no buses from Andorra to Girona.
What to See in Andorra
Andorra is the only country in the world where Catalan is the first language, although Spanish, English, and French are widely spoken. The country is excellent for skiing and shopping for reasonably priced electronics and jewelry due to the tax-free status of the country.
Since shopping is one of the reasons people visit Andorra, the department stores, and small boutiques, are open late into the night and are open all week and on many holidays. Stores close only four days a year and are open until 8, 9 or 10 in the evening, depending on the day of the week and the season. And, yes there are customs regulations that may affect some of your purchases.
You can learn more about the principality and the history by visiting the museums. And after all that shopping a relaxing treatment at a local spa may be in order. Touring the older section of Andorra to see the church and 12th-century bell tower is a must.
There are several points of interest outside of Andorra too. The mountain town of Vic, the stone-built village of Queralbs and of course all the lovely scenery.