APRÈS SKI & NIGHTLIFE
After the ski lifts close, the emphasis shifts to the social side of the snowsports experience, and the reason for Andorra's reputation as the ‘Party Principality’ then becomes clear. The excesses of the 1980s & '90s have mellowed considerably, but Andorra's resorts still cater very well for those for whom the clink of ice in a glass is just as important as the swish of snow on the slopes.
Canillo and El Tarter have a smattering of local bars with their own relaxed vibe, and El Tarter is beginning to build quite a cool late-night bar & weekend club scene, but Soldeu is still this area's main focus for après ski & nightlife.
Most bars stay open until 03:00hrs and there is always some live music or themed event going on. Just remember though, if you're too wasted to hit the hill the following day, that's over 15 per cent of a 6-day lift pass & riding time wasted too!
Throughout the season, all resorts arrange a calendar of events for major national holidays and local festivals. Expect open-air live music performances and fireworks.
The Palau de Gel (Ice Palace)
sports complex in Canillo houses Andorra's only full-sized ice rink, which often hosts important international ice-hockey matches.
The rink is open every day; skate hire and footwear lockers are available on-site.
Tel. +376 800 840
The only public swimming pool in the area is at least a proper Olympic-sized facility, located at the Palau de Gel
sports complex in Canillo: this also houses a children's pool, a gymnasium, saunas, and an indoor climbing wall, as well as a full-size international-standard ice rink.
A few of the larger hotels also have their own indoor swimming pools and fitness facilities, some of which are open to non-residents.
Soldeu's stunning Sport Wellness Spa
has secured the village's position as Andorra's most luxurious resort destination. Facilities include a large hydromassage pool, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi, saunas and hammam steam rooms, plus a gymnasium; a wide range of beauty and massage treatments are also available in the spa's dedicated beauty suites. The establishment is part of the Sport Hotels complex, but is open to non-residents.
General entrance fee permits three hours access to the main hydromassage/relax facilities and gymnasium; beauty and massage treatments are priced separately and must be prebooked. 3- and 5-day passes are also available.
NB: flip-flop type footwear is obligatory (available from the spa boutique).
Children under 14 are not admitted.
More extensive ‘wellness’ facilities are available at Andorra's famous Caldea Spa
located in Escaldes-Engordany (on the northern outskirts of Andorra la Vella).
Other than a few snowsports boutiques and small supermarkets, there aren't any serious shopping facilities in any of the resort villages, although duty-free tobacco and booze are available almost everywhere.
Soldeu has a fair number of sports shops, all offering snowsports equipment and related apparel/accessories; alongside a couple of small supermarkets and souvenir shops; a bank; a post office; a hairdressing salon; and a pharmacy.
El Tarter only has a couple of sports shops and one small supermarket, although there is a huge duty-free outlet just 750 m (½ mile) beyond the village, down the main road in the direction of Canillo.
Canillo has the widest range of shops, but even here it's very limited: with just a few basic souvenir shops; three small supermarkets; a butcher and fishmonger; three banks; a post office; and a pharmacy.
If it's proper retail therapy you crave, then the glitzy commercial attractions of the cosmopolitan capital Andorra la Vella are only 40 minutes away down the valley, easily accessible by bus or taxi.
Soldeu and Canillo have centrally located high-street ATMs, as do all of the larger towns throughout the Principality of Andorra.
English-language instructions are quick to find and the user-interface is usually as straightforward and familiar as your own bank's machines back home.