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If your idea of relaxing is spending the whole day flexing your credit card, then soothing your tired feet in award-winning spas then look no further. Andorra has long been known for a great shopping destination but combine that with some pure relaxation time and you have the perfect short break.
Benefiting from a low tax rate of just 4.5%, don’t let yourself get carried away with the various bargains that can be found. If window shopping is more your style, then you’ll still find plenty to entertain you either in the local shops of the old town or the international brands in the main shopping district.
Perfume, cigarettes and alcohol are all duty-free so the low-prices that you see will be similar to those found in airport departure lounges. You’ll make massive savings compared to high-street prices in the U.K, but just be aware of the strict limits you can take out of the country.
Here's our introduction to the variety of shopping options you'll find in Andorra. Of course, you'll find shops throughout the Principality, however the two main areas for shopping are the capital, Andorra la Vella, and Pas de la Casa.
The capital is where the best shopping is to be found. Along the main shopping street – Av. Meritxell – is where the majority of the large brand names are. Shops will stay open until around 2000 with no siesta during the day. You’ll find plenty of cosmetic shops along this street so if it’s perfume you are after, it’s always worth shopping round before you make a purchase just to check prices.
Situated in Andorra la Vella, there are two shopping centres both located on opposite ends of the Av. Meritxell. The Pyrenees is more of a department store, with different areas dedicated to a range of products. There is an excellent lunch buffet served in one of their restaurants upstairs which will be unlike anything you’ve ever had in a department store before and we’d highly recommend it. Illa, is more of a mall-type shopping centre with various shops all located in one building and free wi-fi throughout. It has a supermarket, food court and cinema all under one roof.
Even in the centre of the capital there are plenty of large supermarkets if you are looking to stock up on cigarettes, alcohol and chocolate – many of the brands you’ll recognise from France and Spain.
A little way out the centre (close to the Pyrenees shopping centre) you’ll find the old town. Here there are more local shops down smaller streets and attract a lot less tourists. Be mindful that they will most likely have a siesta during the day and have limited opening hours on the weekend but it’s well worth having a wander through the quaint streets just to have a look.
The resort of Pas de la Casa, just a few km from the French border also has a variety of different shops. It’s smaller than the capital, but if you are looking to explore the country then the views to get there from Soldeu are quite incredible.
The main attraction has to be Caldea spa situated right in the capital, Andorra la Vella. Located in a stunning, abstract building in the heart of town this is the largest indoor spa in Southern Europe. Drawing its water from the nearby Escaldes-Engordany, it hits the surface at 70°C there is an array of pools, saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs for you to switch between. Normal entrance is for three hours which is plenty to let your aches, pains, trouble and strife soak away into the thermal waters. Inuu is an adult’s only space where the facilities are replicated but can be enjoyed by over-18’s only. It’s well worth considering the upgrade as then you have access to all areas of the spa and the Inuu area can often be a lot quieter.
Set at 1800m in the resort of Soldeu, this facility is situated next to the incredible 5* Sport Hotel Hermitage and along with that, serves its sister hotels the Sport and Sport Village (4*). The spa is divided over 5 floors and covers an impressive 5000m2. Their spa circuit includes swimming pools at different temperatures, wide pool with hydrotherapy jets, a pebble way, underwater massage and direct access to two open-air hydrotherapy tubs, all with stunning mountain views.
If you like having spa facilities at your doorstep, throughout Andorra there are a number of excellent spa hotels, including but not limited to the Princesa and Diana Parc in Arinsal and the Park Piolets and in Soldeu. These hotels combine a luxurious stay along with being able to relax in their facilities. Outside of peak weeks, you can often find some great deals and really get the most out of your budget.