The Best Attractions and Hiking Hotspots in and around Ordino, Andorra

View of Andorra la Vella on the way back from Ordino

photography by: The Browns

Pic de Casamanya, part of the Pyrenees mountain range, marks the center of Andorra, Europe's sixth smallest state. On its foot-slopes lies Ordino, Andorra's most northerly parish. In summertime, the 9km hike there from Andorra la Vella is a worthwhile adventure in itself and once there this little haven is worth taking the time to explore more thoroughly. From medieval churches to a fascinating museum of miniatures, give yourself at least 2-3 hours to fully appreciate all this mountainside town has to offer.

Hiking in Andorra

Andorra is famous for its ski season, attracting over 7 million tourists every year. However, Andorra hides a summertime secret – its myriad of hiking trails catering for all levels of ability. The hiking infrastructure in Andorra is world class – trails are well marked with signposts and kilometer markers along the routes. Main roads are avoided so there is no danger from oncoming traffic and the paths themselves are well maintained and fenced off from curious cows. There are many trails with detailed maps readily available online (www.visitandorra.com).  The Andorra la Vella to Ordino trek is among the best options for a number of reasons: it is readily accessible as a day hike; the gradient is not too steep; and the town of Ordino is a hidden gem that merits further exploration.

Well-maintained paths along the Camí Ral trail

photography by: The Browns


Hiking from Andorra la Vella to Ordino

Most tourists arrive into Andorra la Vella and if you’re travelling on a budget, this is where you will find the cheaper options for accommodation. Luckily, the hike to Ordino and back, 9km each way, can easily be done in a day with enough time to explore the town if you start out early. There are a number of places you can join the trail if you are starting from Andorra la Vella so I suggest asking your hotel reception and they can direct you towards the nearest path. The trail from Andorra la Vella starts as the Rec del Solà trail and turns into the Camí Ral trail. You don’t need to worry too much about the trail names though as the signs also list the towns so it’s always clear which direction you are going.

Signposts along the trail

photography by: The Browns


Sights along the Trail

The hike itself slopes gently uphill from Andorra la Vella to Ordino so it is very manageable, with solid terrain so that it is easily done without hiking boots. Along the way you will see quaint stone bridges, beautifully restored churches and many types of vegetation in the surrounding forests.

Quaint stone bridges like these can be found along the Camí Ral trail

photography by: The Browns


The Church of Sant Antoni De La Grella, restored in the 20th century, can be found along the trail that formerly connected the parishes of La Massana and Escaldes-Engordany

photography by: The Browns


Hiking essentials and alternatives

We went to Andorra in mid-May and the day we arrived, it was 23 degrees and sunny; the next day it was 8 degrees and raining. Also, because you are in a valley, the weather forecast is not particularly reliable. If you’re planning to hike, your best bet is to come with both water-resistant clothing and sunscreen. If the weather is inclement or you have less time, the L6 bus travels between Andorra la Vella and Ordino regularly, every 15-20 minutes. Tickets can be purchased on board starting from €1.30 one way.

Peaceful riverside walks on the trail

photography by: The Browns


Exploring Ordino

There are a number of churches and museums in Ordino but if you only have a few hours there, the top three things to do in Ordino are:

 

1. Visit the Museum of Miniatures to marvel at microscopic art

2. Enjoy the serenity of the Church of Sant Corneli and Sant Cebrià in the town square

3. Wander the stone streets and soak up the rustic atmosphere

Forested slopes just outside Ordino

photography by: The Browns


The Museum of Miniatures

This fascinating little museum was a real gem and a highlight of our Ordino trip. The museum houses art collections from Nikolai Syadristy, a Ukrainian engineer who specializes in micro miniatures, art so small that you need a microscope to see it. Some of the most impressive works on display include a caravan of camels passing through the eye of a needle and a still life in gold sculpted on a sugar crystal. The museum also has many collections of Matryoshka dolls, with the smallest of these being less than the size of a fingernail yet somehow still retaining the detailed decorations of the larger dolls. Some of the incredible miniature paintings of Liu Shouben are also showcased in the museum.  Entry fee is 7 euro as for May 2022, and it is located at the roundabout in the center of the town.

Nikolai Syadristy’s miniature art, seen through a microscope

photography by: The Browns


A collection of Matryoshka dolls in the Museum of Miniatures

photography by: The Browns


Liu Shouben’s miniature paintings inside glass bottles

photography by: The Browns


The outside of the Museum of Miniatures

photography by: The Browns


The Church of Sant Corneli and Sant Cebrià

This beautiful stone building is a parish church, built during medieval times and significantly modified and restored between the 17th and the 19th centuries. Among the church’s more remarkable features are its 5 Baroque altarpieces and a tiny (44cm tall) Romanesque polychrome wood bust of Our Lady from the late 11th / early 12th century. Entry is free.

Church of Sant Corneli and Sant Cebrià in the town square

photography by: The Browns


An example of the Baroque altarpieces in Church of Sant Corneli and Sant Cebrià

photography by: The Browns


Wander the streets

Ordino’s stone streets lend a rustic charm to the town that can only really be appreciated by wandering around them. There are narrow little alleyways and stone staircases that look like pathways into another world. All this is complemented by the lush greenery and views of Pic de Casamanya from just about anywhere in the town. Grab a cold drink at a café and take in the atmosphere for a little while before heading back on the return hike.

Ordino’s stone streets and winding passageways

photography by: The Browns


Lush greenery surrounding Ordino

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Things to do in Andorra la Vella

You’re likely to be staying in Andorra la Vella so here are some of the best things to do while you’re there.


Caldea

Andorra la Vella is home to Caldea, Europe’s largest spa. Entry fees vary depending on which part of the spa you are visiting: Thermoludic (open to all over the age of 5) or Inúu (16+ only). It’s cheaper if you go within the last 3 hours before closing.

Caldea spa at dusk


Dali's Sculpture

Dali's Sculptures in Andorra la Vella

photography by: The Browns


Shopping

Given its duty-free status, you’ll find high street goods at a cheaper price here. It’s not much cheaper these days but if you’re a big bargain hunter, you’re likely to find something for you. Alcohol and cigarettes are vastly cheaper here but beware of limits going across the borders – immigration can and will check your bags to see if you’re above the 1.5L limit on spirits.

An example of duty-free alcohol prices in May 2022

photography by: The Browns


Getting to Andorra la Vella

Andorra has no train station or airport.  The best mode of transport if you do not have a car is by bus from Barcelona.  Regular buses run from Barcelona-Sants and Barcelona Nord stations to Andorra la Vella. We booked with Direct Bus but Flix Bus and ALSA also travel to Andorra. The bus takes 3 to 3.5 hours and costs around €30 each way.


About us

We are Sinéad and Adam, an Irish couple with an insatiable appetite for travel.  After 6 months exploring South America in 2012, we subscribed to the corporate world for a few years to replenish our travel funds.  In 2019, we packed our lives into backpacks once again and we travelled around South East Asia and Turkey extensively, including an 8 month stay in the Philippines at the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.  While the world was locked down, we focused on building our savings to give us the freedom to travel again and in 2022, we are focusing on seeing as much of Europe as we can before hopefully heading further afield later this year. Always up for an adventure!

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photography by: The Browns