We love winter here in Arinsal. Ski season opening is one big reason for our passion. From hiking to cycling, there is plenty to do all year in Andorra, but we’re particularly happy when we can hit the slopes.
It's one thing to take in the stunning views on foot or from the saddle of your bike, but the experience is on another when you're actually skiing down the mountains.
Once you decide that an Arinsal ski resort vacation is for you, this guide will help you get the most out of your holiday.
Introduction to Skiing in Andorra
Andorra has grown into a world-renowned destination for skiing. And that’s not just because we have mountains everywhere we look. A concerted effort has been made, particularly over the past 10 years, to build the amenities and services that winter tourists expect.
Only a small percentage of Andorra’s land is flat — and that makes it very difficult to farm. Luckily, Francesc Viladomat had the bright idea in 1957 of installing the principality’s first ski lift on his family’s property at Pas de la Casa. Things have gone downhill since then!
Accommodating those on a ski holiday is a specialty for us. As a whole, Andorra is now the fourth-most-popular destination for Brits on a ski holiday.
Overview of Skiing Near Arinsal
Arinsal is a convenient home base for anyone visiting Andorra who wants to ski at Vallnord, the less-crowded and more interesting of Andorra’s two downhill ski resorts.
As Stephen Wood wrote in the Independent: “Vallnord has character, thanks in part to its wooded slopes. Even at its highest point there are trees, in a gladed area with the added hazard of moguls.”
Arinsal Ski Resort Stats by the Numbers
Pal-Arinsal in La Massana is the original foundation for the Vallnord resort. (Ordino-Arcalis was added later.) It’s an internationally-known ski resort because we have:
- A diverse collection of 77 slopes that total 90 km.
- The altitude of the runs ranges from 1,550 to 2,560 metres.
- Three ski schools that have a total of 250 instructors.
- A total of 44 lifts that can move approximately 55,000 people at any one time.
Who Will Enjoy an Arinsal Ski Resort Holiday?
There is a popular idea that Vallnord is a great place for beginners to learn to ski. And that’s definitely true — many of those 250 instructors are fluent English speakers. Also, because Arinsal’s nightlife scene is so active, there will be plenty to do if you’re just easing into the idea of skiing.
The bars and restaurants also means that couples and groups of friends will enjoy an Arinsal ski resort holiday.
That said, there is a great deal at Vallnord for intermediate skiers as well. When snow conditions are at their peak, the Arinsal ski resort has the longest on-piste run in Andorra from Pic Alt de la Capa all the way down 3,000 feet Cota 1550, where the chairlift goes from.
In the upper zones near Pic Negre and Pic Alt de la Capa, there are a few shorter red and black runs. If freestyle is your thing, there’s also a snowpark that includes many boxes, rails and jumps sorted into three difficulty levels, including for experts.
Season and Weather for Skiing at Vallnord
“Sunny with lots of fresh snow” is the short version of the winter weather forecast for the Arinsal ski resort area. Other details include:
- The ski slopes connected to Arinsal’s ski resort typically open in mid-November with everything fully underway by December 1.
- They stay open for, on average 135 days, before closing in April.
- In every year for the past decade, at least one winter month has seen more than a metre of snowfall.
- There are 400 snow cannons standing by in case nature doesn’t cooperate.
Pal-Arinsal vs. Ordino-Arcalis
Pal and Arinsal are connected by gondola. The former is the place to go with the family, has excellent ski schools for those just starting out and some challenging runs for the older members of your group. Arinsal has the closest connection between skiing and everything else — entertainment, apres ski options and great places to stay.
On the other hand — Arcalis is right next door in Ordino parish. Its 24 pistes, served by 14 lifts are on the north and northwest faces of the mountain. That means more fresh powder. It also means some truly glorious off-piste routes.
Prices for Ski Passes at Vallnord
The first thing to know is that lift passes come in two varieties:
- Local to just Pal-Arinsal or Arcalis-Ordino, or
- both combined.
Arinsal ski resort visitors will be happy to hear that the combined lift pass only comes at a small premium.
For the 2018-19 ski season, Vallnord has set the combined price for adults (16 - 64) at between €86 for two days up to €370 for ten. The separate Arinsal ski pass goes for €78 for a couple days to €330 for 10. The Arinsal lift pass also offers the opportunity for buying half- and single-day passes.
Ski passes can be purchased through Vallnord’s website and existing ones can also be recharged there.
Other Ski Pass Details
Other details you should know when planning your trip include:
- Those younger than six or older than 69 ski for free.
- Seniors (65 - 69) get a discounted rate of €19.50 per day.
- Multi-day passes don’t have to be used on consecutive days.
- Ski passes for 6 or more days (or ones booked through certain online brokers) use a touchless chip for easy access to the lifts. Others require you to scan a barcode.
If you are visiting the Arinsal ski resort and want to use the gondola or chair lifts without skiing, there are separate passes for these.
Package Deals for Passes
Especially if you book through one of the big online brokers, it can be fairly easy to find offers. These usually bundle some combination of ski hire, lessons and lift pass into a discounted price.
Vallnord also sells seasonal Arinsal ski passes, as well as ones that include access to Arcalis. These come in versions for families, at a discounted rate for repeat customers who book early and in combination mountain-biking season passes.
Extras for an Arinsal Ski Resort Holiday
If you’re keen on watching top-level ski competition, the calendar of events at Arinsal includes:
- The Font Blanca a premiere mountain-based cross-country event.
- Every January, the Borrufa Trophy offers fourteen to sixteen-year-olds the opportunity to compete at an international level.
- In March 2019, the FIS World Cup finals will visit Soldeu.
Nearby Activities for Off Days
Andorra is famous for combining snow on the ground with sun in the sky, but unexpected bad weather happens. And in extreme cases, the lifts and ski runs may be closed for safety reasons.
Also, we’re the ski resort closest to Andorra la Vella and the shopping Andorra if famous for. Even if you’re not forced to miss a day, taking some time off for duty-free purchases can be a welcome break.
As well, with everything from karaoke bars to high-end restaurants the Arinsal nightlife has a wide range of possibilities for how to spend your apres ski time.
Sant Moritz as a Base for an Arinsal Ski Resort Holiday
At Apartaments Sant Moritz, we are conveniently located close to the ski slopes. Our rental apartments are an easy two-minute walk to the gondola, so you can be out of bed and on the mountain in no time. As well, Esports Sant Moritz has a location right next door so ski rental pickup is a breeze.
Book your stay with us and be right in the middle of Arinsal's ski resort oasis.