Grandvalira Ski Area
Looking for a ski holiday that’s a little bit different?
Andorra’s 216km Grandvalira ski area is the largest playground in the Pyrenees and ski holidays here offer stunning scenery, outstanding on- and off-piste action, comfortable accommodation, amazing apres-ski and brilliant value for money.
The varied ski terrain here features lots of fantastic blue and red runs for intermediates, high-altitude nursery slopes for beginners (much more pleasant than being stuck at the bottom of the lifts!) and many wonderful wood-lined runs set against beautiful mountain backdrops.
Grandvalira’s highly-rated ski areas include Pas de la Casa/Grau Roig, Ordino-Arcalis, and Canillo, while its five ski resorts share 286 marked pistes served by 66 super-efficient lifts. Popular resorts include Pas de la Casa, El Tarter and Soldeu, and the area sits at an altitude of 1710m, with skiing and snowboarding available up to 2640m and great snow reliability throughout the season.
Pas de la Casa sits at a heady 2100m, making it the highest ski resort in the Pyrenees, and as well as snow-sure skiing for all levels of enthusiasts, it boasts brilliant apres-ski and super shopping. In addition to the well-groomed pisted slopes, there are ample freeriding areas, three exciting snowparks and three kids snow circuits. Pas de la Casa also benefits from sunny days during much of the season, which makes the skiing and snowboarding much more pleasant.
El Tarter and its neighbouring resort Soldeu are situated at the foot of the Grandvalira ski area and are quieter and slightly more family-focused than Pas de la Casa. Several high-quality English-speaking ski schools here make it an ideal choice for novices keen to improve and free lift passes for children up to age 11 are a further fab attraction. There are also several hotels here of an exceptionally high standard available for reasonable prices, and a clutch of bars where you can chill out with a beer after a brilliant day on the slopes.
If you’ve been looking for an alternative to a French, Swiss, Austrian or Italian ski holiday, Andorra’s Grandvalira ticks all the right boxes!
Grandvalira’s ski history stretches back to 1956, when entrepreneur and former skiing champion Francesc Viladomat built the first ski lift in Pas de la Casa at the top of Coll Blanc. That first lift could carry 450 skiers an hour and the resort subsequently expanded at the rate of roughly one new lift per season. Soldeu got its first lift in 1963, various improvements such as a snow cannon system followed and by 2003, El Tarter, Pas de la Casa and Soldeu were all intimately interconnected to form Grandvalira as we know it today.
The skiing here is sublime ̶ here are a few highlights:
There are lots of long, wide, cruisy blue runs in Grandvalira, making it ideal for intermediate skiers who want to progress at a comfortable rate. If you’re based in Soldeu or El Tarter, you reach the Espiolets mid-mountain station via an eight-seater gondola or six-man chair lift, then ski across the nursery slopes to the Escola chairlift, which whisks you up to the main area. Access to the higher slopes from Pas de la Casa is also via the Espiolets station and is just as convenient.
There’s lots of powdery, rolling terrain on both sides of the tree line that’s fun and easy for snowboarders and skiers to explore, but the ski area is large and varied, so more challenging terrain is available too.
Facilities have improved even more recently, with the addition of a spanking new 10-person gondola running from El Tarter up the mountain.
If you’re yearning for off-piste adventures, carve your way through the trees, where fresh dumps of pow usually remain undisturbed for hours.
You can choose a partial or full Grandvalira lift pass ̶ pick the latter if you prize freedom and flexibility, but if you’re on a budget, the partial pass still unlocks enough diverse terrain to satisfy many skiers.
The nursery slopes are higher up the mountain rather than at the bottom of the valley, which creates a more scenic and inclusive learning zone for novices.
As well as the extensive network of blues and reds, advanced skiers can find challenges in El Tarter’s powdery bowl.
As you can see, Grandvalira really does have a little something for everyone when it comes to skiing!
Snowboarding in Grandvalira
If you like nothing better than grabbing your board and ripping up the slopes, Grandvalira’s got your back ̶ here are some highlights for riders:
The El Tarter Snowpark is regarded by many as the best in the Pyrennees and you access it from the Tossa Espiolets chairlift. The expansive park stretches just about the whole length of the face and here you’ll find some cracking cheese wedges and lines for all aptitudes of riders, with five sequential kickers recently added to spice things up even further.
Sunset Park near Soldeu is brilliant for snowboarders who prefer a bit of a backshift ̶ it opens mid-afternoon and closes at 10pm, meaning you can have a nice long lie-in without missing any of the action. You can reach this park via a T-bar and it isn’t yet linked to the main lift network, but if you dine at a local restaurant, staff will drive you back up to Soldeu. There are some superb jibs here, a big airbag for perfecting your jumps and it’s a friendly, sociable space frequented by lots of locals.
Snowpark Xavi is located behind Pas de la Chasa in the Grau Roig section and there are obstacles aplenty here, including lots of jibs, tables, rails and boxes. If you want to test your mettle and have lots of fun at the same time, Xavi is a good pick.
Pas de la Chasa has a dedicated freeride zone which you can easily reach via the Pic Blanc chairlift and you’ll find fresh powder and off-piste action in Grau Roig too, including cliff drops, gullies and more ̶ if you want to play safe, hire a local mountain guide to keep you right. There are also freeride trails descending from the Portella peak and you can hop off the Tossa chair into the Ski School bowl, where the off-piste is outstanding.
Snowboarders are in their element in Grandvalira ̶ hopefully you can join the awesome action soon!
Snow Conditions in Grandvalira
The ski season in Grandvalira usually lasts roughly from November through to March and a prime position in the Pyrennees plus a high-altitude setting means that snow conditions are usually very good. Plus, there’s now a huge arsenal of snow cannons which can be deployed if the natural cover needs topped up. Here’s a few facts about the latest seasonal snow conditions:
- In the most recent season, Grandvalira had 180cm total snowfall, 19 total snowfall days, 112cm average summit depth, 170cm maximum summit depth, 46cm average base depth, 80cm maximum summit depth and biggest snowfall of 40cm.
Apres Ski in Grandvalira
Grandvalira is a great place to chill out with a few friendly cocktails, chat with friends over fresh beers or completely let your hair down to banging tunes in bouncing clubs. Here’s the lowdown on Grandvalira apres-ski:
The Iglu Hotel Bar is one of the best places in the world to chill out with a drink ̶ this inspirational Grau Roig establishment is carved afresh from ice and snow every season and sipping your favourite drink surrounded by ice walls and intricate ice sculptures really is something special!
Gall de Bosc Nordic Lounge in Soldeu is a smart, Scandi-style bar comprising a laid-back lounge and outdoor terrace. With warm, wood furnishings, overstuffed leather sofas and low-fi tunes courtesy of the resident DJs, this is one of the hippest spots to hang out.
L’Abarset in El Tarter is one of the most popular apres-ski spots in Grandvalira and if you want to dance under the stars to a soundtrack from world-class DJs, this luxury nightspot will be right up your street.
Fat Albert’s (AKA ‘Fatty’s) is possibly the jewel in the crown when it comes to Grandvalira nightspots ̶ this Soldeu establishment is located in a converted cowshed and you’ll find everything from a downstairs bistro serving pasta, pizza and local mountain fare to the main bar and nightclub which is always bustling and friendly. With themed nights and fancy-dress parties throughout the season, this is one of the best apres-ski venues in the world for mixing and mingling.
IQOS Terrace in El Tarter brings beach club vibes to the Pyrennees, with fresh blue and white décor, comfy sofas and hammocks on its open-air terrace. Open Thursday to Sunday from 11am, you can enjoy beers and bar food during the daytime and cocktails, DJs and dancing as the evening kicks in.
L’Apres-Amelie at the foot of the Funicamp lift station in Encamp is a reasonably new venue that offers an alternative night out you won’t forget in a hurry ̶ there’s a roomy outdoor terrace, plush DJ booth, exotic cocktails and even fire dancers! The food is on the fancy side, with delicacies like oysters and salmon canapes as standard, and it attracts a mixed clientele featuring everyone from snowboarders fresh off the slopes to glam jet-set types.
As you can see, there’s a pub, bar or club to suit every taste in Grandvalira, with more variety on offer than in some small cities!
Facilities in Grandvalira
Grandvalira has made a sterling effort over the years to balance its hard-partying reputation with a more measured offering that attracts couples and families as well as youthful groups of friends, so it’s set up well for every type of snowsports enthusiast.
Ski hire in Grandvalira
There’s no shortage of ski hire shops in Grandvalira, but rather than go to the hassle of ordering your gear independently, let Erna Low take the weight off your shoulders and include it as part of your package. With established connections in the area, we can find the best equipment for every member of your party and have it ready for pick-up when you arrive.
Ski passes in Grandvalira
Whether you want Grandvalira ski passes that cover the entire area or a more restricted pass that unlocks your local area, contact Erna Low and we’ll roll it into your package. We often secure excellent deals on group ski passes, family passes and discounts for kids, so please ask us what’s on offer during your desired dates.
Spa & pool in Grandvalira
Resting those tired muscles in between sessions on the Grandvalira slopes helps you stay relaxed and injury-free, therefore spa and pool sessions are perpetually popular. Luckily, there are plenty of spas to choose from here, including the 5000 square metre Sport Wellness Mountain Spa at Soldeu, which sits at a lofty 1850m above sea level and boasts a Turkish bath, sensation showers, Finnish sauna and more. Alternatively, the Grau Roig Hotel Spa is a plush space decked out in natural stone and wood with lots of verdant plants and grass. It has a luxe swimming pool, steam bath, whirlpool, and massage area.
Shops in Grandvalira
Grandvalira is a great place to shop and as a visitor you can pick up brilliant bargains on high-end goods at virtually duty-free prices. As well as ski and snowboard equipment and fashion, you’ll find designer labels and technology, so it’s perfect for treating yourself to a present or picking up gifts for loved ones back home. In addition to these types of boutiques, you’ll also find regular supermarkets, bakeries and delicatessens where you can top up on provisions if you’re self-catering.
Facilities for Children in Grandvalira
Once the preserve of partygoers, there are now ample amenities and facilities in Grandvalira for kids, including a snow garden, creche, children’s school and ski circuits designed especially to entertain them.
Ski schools in Grandvalira
The Grandvalira Ski School has over 400 instructors and an international reputation for excellence. With ski and snowboard lessons available for kids and adults alike, you’ll learn at a steady but progressive pace amidst supportive peers and experts.
Children’s entertainment in Grandvalira
Away from the ski slopes snowparks and circuits, there’s plenty to keep kids occupied, including snowshoe adventures, husky dog sled rides and more. At the Grandvalira Mountain Park you can enjoy activities like snowmobiles, snow tubing, and the magical Kids Forest, which has ziplines, jumps and exciting trails ̶ it’s supervised and suitable for kids aged three to 12 years old.
On the slopes, there are several cool children’s circuits for all children up to age 12, where they’ll build confidence as they swish past fun obstacles and gradually improve their technique.
Childcare in Grandvalira
The childcare provision in Grandvalira is excellent. For starters, there are four nurseries for kids aged between 12 months and five years old, at Grau Roig, Soldeu, El Tarter and Canillo. Qualified childcare professionals are employed throughout, and buildings are warm, comfy and packed with all the toys and equipment necessary to keep them entertained for the duration. Combine these establishments with the ski school programme for children aged 3 and above and you can be confident that your young ones are well cared for when you fancy a day on the slopes in adult company or a rare romantic meal with your partner.
Accommodation in Grandvalira
Your ideal accommodation in Grandvalira will depend on the needs of your group and your personal preferences.
For instance, if you want to holiday independently with your family, mixing with other holiday makers as little as possible, a self-drive, self-catering Grandvalira ski holiday in an apartment might be your best bet. Travel guidance permitting, this option allows you to get from door to door at your accommodation feeling secure and once you’re there you can prep all (or most) of your meals in your apartment, which are well-appointed with all the mod con kitchenette features.
Alternatively, a Grandvalira ski hotel is a more sociable experience whereby you’ll still enjoy privacy in your own comfortable suite but dine in onsite restaurants and take advantage of other amenities like pools and spas. When you want to feel pampered, a hotel in Grandvalira might be preferable.
If you’ve previously holidayed in French, Italian or Austrian ski areas, Andorra’s Grandvalira is highly competitive when it comes to price and the quality of skiing and snowboarding is excellent too.
The next time you want to try a ski holiday in an underrated destination that’s delightful, talk to Erna Low about skiing in Grandvalira ̶ you won’t regret it.
Grandvalira Ski Area
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