Awaken your body doing cross-country ski in Andorra
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Where in Europe can you cross-country ski? Andorra might not be the first destination that comes to mind, but that’s part of what makes it so special. It’s a lesser-known destination that once visited, you’ll be torn between sharing and keeping all to yourself!
Nestled between France and Spain, high in the Pyrenees, Andorra is small in size but big in natural wonder. It’s an unspoilt country blessed with clear alpine air and sparkling pure snow in winter. Away from the ski slopes, you can truly immerse yourself in spectacular mountain and forest landscapes on a skiing trek. This very accessible activity takes you right into the heart of nature adorned in her winter clothes. Tempted to find out more?
What is cross country skiing?
Also known as Nordic skiing, after the place of its origin, this activity is the oldest form of this exercise. Its roots lie in the practical necessity to traverse snowy landscapes. Now, it is an Olympic sport and a popular winter activity that is relatively easy to learn, making it ideal for even newcomers to snow-based pursuits. It’s suited to a wide range of people, from the young to those not up to the more physically demanding winter sports.
Cross country skiing takes place on flat or undulating ground, in contrast to Alpine or downhill skiing which is practised on a slope. Using poles and skis, you rely on your own physical efforts to propel yourself across the snow – making it a fantastic form of cardiovascular exercise! Cross country skis are lightweight and longer and thinner than downhill skis. The heel of your foot is left free so you can make the right movements for self-propulsion. Without the need to use ski lifts, you can just strap on your skis and go!
A particular pleasure of skiing cross country is that you can explore the quieter areas around the resorts, away from the pistes. Out in the snowy wilderness, you can leave behind your day-to-day cares and soak up nature’s beauty. Nordic skiing is a pastime that is at once both physical and mindful!
Andorra cross-country skiing
The diminutive size of Andorra (just 468 square kilometres) means you can enjoy a taste of all its winter resorts, as the distances between them are relatively short. But where to start?
You can’t go Nordic skiing in Andorra and not visit Naturland! This 800-hectare eco and adventure park, in the parish of Sant Julià de Lòria, has 15km of dedicated cross country trails. Situated 2000m above sea level, there are routes suited to varying levels of ability. If you are new to this sport, you can take lessons or join an excursion with a guide. If you're more accomplished, buy a pass and independently explore the trails through the breathtaking forested snowscape at your leisure.
The most expansive of Andorra’s ski resorts, Grandvalira – divided into seven sectors – offers a wide array of activities that you may be tempted to try. Grau Roig sector is particularly renowned for its uncrowded slopes and jaw-dropping scenery. Hit the cross-country routes here and you’ll be out in a magnificent mountain wilderness, amid pine forests and glistening lakes. There are more trails in the sectors of Encamp, El Tarter, Soldeu and Pas de la Casa, giving you miles of track to follow.
Skimo circuits at Naturland
Naturland also has 3 marked circuits and differentiated by levels where you can practice this activity. On the one hand you have the easiest circuit, marked in green that reaches the Roca de Pimes mountain refuge; on the other, the blue circuit blue, of medium difficulty, which reaches the bunkers; and for the most expert skiers there’s the Red circuit, which ends with the ascent to one of the most spectacular peaks in Andorra, Pic Negre, located at more than 2,600 metres. You will cover an uphill distance that varies between 3 and 7 kilometres, while enjoying the spectacular views over valley of Sant Julià de Lòria.
Your next European winter holiday
Think Europe in winter, think Andorra! This pristine Pyrenean paradise simply demands to be explored. An energetic and immersive way to enjoy the fresh alpine air and sun-soaked, snow-cloaked mountains is on a cross-country ski. Start planning your visit today!