As we’ve said in the past, heading to the slopes pre-peak (November/December) or post-peak (March/April), is a fantastic idea.
Andorra, a microstate locked between Spain and France in the Pyrenees mountains, is arguably the best budget ski trip in Europe. Liam, our content man, has been twice and come up with six good reasons why.
1. You don’t pay proper taxes!
Andorra’s relationship with tax is not dissimilar to Gary Barlow’s relationship with tax – favourable.
The VAT rate of 4.5% is much lower than that of France (20% ) and it’s also a duty-free zone.
Some Andorran supermarket soundbites:
“Have you seen how cheap that bottle of (insert alcoholic drink here) is?”
“I didn’t know how little things cost without tax”
“This basket is really heavy”
“Fancy moving here?”
2. Great snow
According to worldsnowboardguide.com, snow conditions have been “exceptional over the past few winters, often surpassing those of Alpine resorts at certain times of year.” The slopes are kept in fantastic condition by the groomers who care for each one individually.
3. Miles and miles of piste
Andorra’s best resorts recently joined forces to form the Grandvalira region. The 210km of piste includes three terrain parks, a huge halfpipe and plenty of off-piste powder. At €203 for five days, this is roughly the same price as elsewhere in Europe but we don’t begrudge this as other things cost much less.
4. You might just live longer
There’s something in the air: Andorrans have the seventh-highest average life expectancy in the world (82). The tax situation probabaly helps.
5. It’s really friendly
All of the resorts are small which means you’ll bump into the same friendly faces often. Look out for revered snowboard instructor ‘Dreadlock John’. He is a local legend on and off the slopes. He has dreadlocks.
6. Brilliant Airbnb options
This obviously isn’t exclusive to Andorra, but we secured an awesome ski-to-the-door chalet for a fraction of the price you would pay in France. Get stocked up at the supermarket on tax-free food and drink (that’s the last time I’ll mention it, I promise) and you’ll be done for the week.
7. Crazy (and very cheap) Apres Ski
InTheSnow.com recently placed Andorran resort Pas De La Casa at No. 1 in their list of The Planet’s 10 Best Apres Ski Party Resorts. The bartenders in the likes of Underground and Paddy’s Irish Bar are frivolous with their duty-free measures and look after people who stay there for the night. i.e give out free shots.
Total for a 5-night trip, per person:
Lift pass: €203.75
Return flight to Barcelona: €118
Ski/snowbaord and boot hire: €60
Return coach from Barcelona (http://www.andorradirectbus.es/en/): €49.50
Airbnb in Pas de la Casa for 5 nights: €125pp
Food and drink: €200 (Very comfortably but as always, could spend more)
Total: €756 which, if you had swapped from GBP with us today would have cost £590.
So there you have it: last-minute ski trips can happen on a normal salary. If you’re especially prudent, you could shave £50 off the food and drink allowance by eating at your chalet and taking out packed-lunches.
Unlike other budget locations, the quality of piste in Andorra is top-class. This is, in my opionion, Europe’s best budget ski holiday.
Adios, Au revoir (both work in Andorra).
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