THE PRINCIPALITY OF ANDORRA ATTRACTS DUTY-FREE SHOPPERS, SKIERS AND PEOPLE WITH MONEY TO STASH AWAY:
Andorra is the sixth smallest country in Europe with visitor numbers that many tourism officials would kill for. It does not have any significant monuments or places to see, so why are visitors flocking to Andorra?
We had a one-day stop in Andorra on our Principalities of Europe tour. When we arrived in town, Giovanni our driver had a task in steering our large coach to the Hotel Fenix in the centre of Andorra la Vella, where we stayed for a night.
A Peculiar Place
The Principality of Andorra is a peculiar kind of place. Yes, it is a principality, but ladies, you won’t find any prince charming here! Due to events in history, it is co-administered by two co-princes – the Spanish Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell and the King of France. Since present-day France is a Republic, the President of France has the title of co-prince of Andorra. Catalan is the main language spoken here.
Andorra is not in the EU, but the Euro is the defacto legal tender here and the principality enjoys special privileges in the EU.
Nothing Much to See
When I was doing a quick research on Andorra, there wasn’t anything of real interest that was listed as a “must see” and yet each year 10.2 million visitors come to Andorra.
As Andorra is known for its tax-free shopping, we went into a few shops to check out prices. Generally, we didn’t think that the branded perfumes and cosmetics are really cheap, except for those items that they have on specials. What’s cheap are alcohol, cigarettes and skiing equipment.
The clothing shops are disappointing as the clothes are neither fashionable nor from the current season.
Andorra Thrives as a Tax Haven
Some of Andorra’s visitors must be people with plenty of money as its tax haven status contributes substantial revenue for its economy.
Skiing and Après-ski
Andorra is a very popular ski destination, especially for younger skiers, and is known for its rowdy après-ski. Skiing is cheaper here as are the costs of ski equipments. It also has a reputation for its wild après-ski, which is not surprising given that alcohol is cheap here. On the way out of town, we drove past a cluster of ski lodges.
We thought that Andorra felt a little tacky with its abundance of fast food joints and shops selling cheap products. For us there isn’t anything that would bring us back here too quickly. The only thing interesting is a Dali melting clock sculpture in the old town.
For convenience, this post is listed under Spain — sorry Andorra.