Andorra is rather an unusual country, not because it has gone through a few different currencies in its time, but because it doesn’t have an official currency of its own. Instead it uses the euro, despite the fact the country isn’t part of the European Union.
All the coins and notes in use in Andorra are the same as you’d expect to find in any other country that uses the currency. The coins start with the one cent coin and go up through the 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins. In addition there are two further coins which are worth one and two euros apiece.
There are several banknotes in circulation but the higher-valued ones are not often used because of the fear of forgery. These are the 100, 200 and 500 euro notes. Aside from these you will be able to use the 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro notes while you are in Andorra.
It’s somewhat surprising to learn Andorra uses the European single currency since there is no real reason for it to do so. It is not part of the EU but it was decided that Andorra would start using the currency in 1999. When the decision was made, the euro replaced the currency that was in use at that time. This was the Andorran franc. As such the franc was yet another currency that was consigned to the history books upon the introduction of the single currency.
Since the euro can be used across a variety of countries you can use any euros you might already have from previous trips to places such as Spain and France. It also means it is superbly easy to get hold of some euros before you go to Andorra. Simply find the best value bureau de change offering a convenient exchange rate, order your currency and remember to pick it up before you go.
Traveller’s cheques are also good to have if you want another convenient method of getting hold of some cash. Again it’s best to pre-order these in euros so you know you won’t have any problems exchanging them.
You shouldn’t have any problems making card payments for things either. Credit cards and those featuring the Mastercard or Visa logos are pretty much accepted wherever you go.
You may already be familiar with the euro and how much your own currency is worth against it (even if only roughly). However if you want a more up-to-date figure you can use any currency converter, since all of them should provide the euro as one of the standard currencies included. This won’t take into account any fees or charges that could be included when you convert your currency to the euro, but at least you’ll have a rough idea.
There doesn’t seem to be any information on an Andorran embassy within the UK. However if you want updated information about travelling to Andorra you can get it from the official website for the UK government. The relevant page is at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/andorra.
Andorra receives thousands of visitors on an annual basis. There isn’t really much concern as to safety in the country which is good news, but according to the UK government you should be careful when drinking in the country. This isn’t so much a general warning as guidance on avoiding drink if you head up higher into mountainous regions.
As far as crime is concerned there is really not too much to be concerned about. Petty crime does happen, as is the case in many countries, but not to a great extent. However it doesn’t pay dividends to relax and not worry about crime at all. It makes sense that criminals will pick the easiest targets, and they typically look for people who don’t mind their bags properly or flaunt cash or other valuables in front of others. If you avoid doing all these things and use your common sense, you shouldn’t run into any problems. You’d be incredibly unlucky if you did.
Andorra is in the south-western portion of Europe, hence why it has decided to adopt the euro despite not being part of the EU. Its proper name is the Principality of Andorra and it’s actually known as a microstate rather than a country. It sits right on the border between France and Spain, effectively dividing that portion of the border in two as each one goes around Andorra itself. If you look at a map and find the border you might have to look closely to see where the relatively tiny country sits in relation to France and Germany!
Its capital is a place called Andorra la Vella. This has the advantage of being quite a tightly-situated town, so you can happily explore it on foot. As with many towns and cities across Europe it has an older historic section that exists alongside the newer parts. Make sure you explore both as each area has its own charms.
One of the highlights of visiting the capital is the chance to see the Bridge of la Margineda. This is actually medieval which might come as a surprise, since it still looks rather impressive today in the 21st century. There are many signs of how Andorra looked in the past, since there are other buildings that are many centuries old here as well.
Elsewhere in the capital you can visit the town square. This is ideal if you want to take a moment out of exploring to simply sit and appreciate where you are. The square offers up some great views as well so it’s worth visiting for that reason alone. Another place to go for great views is the rather unlikely destination of the Parliament Building. There is roof access here that offers a superb view of the valley.
Let’s move out of the capital now and see what the rest of this rather small country has to offer. Lake Engolasters is a popular spot for tourists and it’s not far from the capital either, so you might want to roll the two spots into one. In fact you may even decide to stay near the lake since there are many hotels here that cater for tourists from all over Europe. The lake also offers a number of activities to try both in and out of the water. There are some good shore walks to try out, not to mention the opportunity to try a spot of fishing if you think you have the skills!
It may surprise you to learn that Andorra is quite a popular place for skiers too. Its position by the mountainous region of the Pyrenees means you can gain access to Vallnord, a resort that caters for both skiers and snowboarders throughout the winter. There are several distinct areas available to use at Vallnord, so you can choose the most appropriate ones according to how experienced a skier you are. Of course you may simply wish to pay a short visit to marvel at the scenery, perhaps take a walk or visit one of the restaurants here.
While we are on the subject of mountains, the Pyrenees are not actually home to the highest mountain in Andorra. That particular accolade goes to Coma Pedrosa, a mountain with an elevation of over 9,600 feet. If you love a spot of mountain climbing you’ll be pleased to know this particular one seems to be rather popular, so you may want to give it a try. As with most mountains there is more than one way to crack this particular one, with some routes proving to be easier than others. Don’t underestimate the challenge though. And remember, if you’re not keen on going all the way to the top you can still head partway up to get some good views before heading back down again.
Finally, and just to demonstrate how mountainous this tiny country actually is, we must mention Pic de Medecourbe. This is a little lower than Coma Pedrosa but not by much, reaching a height of around 9,560 feet instead. If you get a chance to explore the Vicdessos Valley you should definitely do so, because this gives a wonderful view ahead to Pic de Medecourbe sitting prominently at one end. As you can see, even if you’re not a mountain climber you can still enjoy some sensational experiences while exploring Andorra.
So you know you’ll be using the more familiar euro rather than an obscure currency of some kind, but really, the best thing about visiting Andorra is the scenery. Between the old parts of the capital and the mountains that have been there for who knows how long, you can really fall in love with Andorra in so many different ways. In fact once you’ve been once you may be tempted to go back time and time again.