EXCURSIONS. The best thing to do in Andorra la Vella is drop your bags in a hostel and get out. Caldea-Spa, bordering Escaldes-Engordany, is the largest in Europe, with luxurious treatments and prices to match. (® 80 09 99. ‚25 for 3hr., plus fees for each service. Open daily 9am-11pm.) Housed within the Caldea-Spa complex is the KMicroArt Museum, which houses an amazing collection of Chi nese and Ukrainian miniature art. Using yogic breathing to steady his hand, micromaster Nikolai Siadristy created amazingly small, often microscopic objects, including the tiniest inscription ever made. A grain of rice has never been so enthralling. (Open daily 9am-9pm. ‚3.) If you have no patience for the minis cule, visit Canillo for some fun in the colossal Palau de Gel D’Andorra, a recre ational complex with swimming pool, squash courts, and an ice-skating rink (ice disco or ice-rink go-carts by night), which hosts ice-rink go-carts on Friday nights. (®80 08 40. Open daily 10am-ll:30pm; each facility has its own hours. ‚5.50-8 each. ‚12.20 for all in 1 day. Ice-rink go-carts F 10:30-midnight. ‚13. Equipment rental ‚2.30-‚4.50.) For shopping, check out one of the three-story supermarket monstrosities in nearby Santa Coloma, or the Grans Magatzems Pyrenees, Av. Meritxell 11, the country’s biggest department store, where an entire aisle is dedicated to chocolate bars. (Open Sept.-July M-F 9:30am-8pm, Sa 9:30am-9pm, Su 9:30am-7pm; Aug. and holidays M-Sa 9:30am-9pm, Su 9:30am- 7pm.) Nowhere is Andorra’s contrast of old and new better on display than at the Santuari de Meritxell, in Canillo, which incorporates medieval, Islamic, and ultra modern elements. The Santuari houses a permanent collection dedicated to the patron saint of Andorra: The Virgen of Meritxell. (® 85 12 53. Open Su-M and W-Sa 9:15am-lpm and 3-6pm. Free admission and guided tours July-Oct.)
HIKING AND THE OUTDOORS. The tourist office brochure Sports Activi ties has 52 suggested hiking itineraries, as well as cabin and refugios listings. La Massana is home to Andorra’s tallest peak, Pic Alt de la Coma Pedrosa (2946m). For organized hiking trips, try the La Rabassa Sports and Nature Center f® 32 38 68), in southwest Andorra In addition to refugio-style accommodations, the center has mountain biking, guided hikes, horseback riding, archery, and other field sports.
ESKIING With five outstanding resorts, Andorra offers skiing opportunities galore. (Nov.-Apr.; ‚30-40.) Pal (®73 70 00), 10km from La Massana, is accessible by bus from La Massana (5 per day, last returning at 5pm; ‚1.50). Seven buses run daily from La Massana to nearby Arinsal, the last returning at 6:45pm (‚1). On the French border, Pas de la Casa Grau Roig (®80 10 60) offers 600 hectares of skiable land, lessons, two medical centers, night skiing, and 27 lifts serving 48 trails for all levels of ability. Soldeu-EI Tarter (® 89 05 00) occupies 840 hectares of skiable area between Andorra la Vella and Pas de la Casa Free buses pick up skiers from their hotels in Canillo. The more horizontal La Rabassa (®32 38 68) is Andorra’s only cross-country ski resort, offering sleighing, skiing, and horse rides. Call SKI Andorra (a 86 43 89; www.skiandorra.ad) or the tourist office with any questions.
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