Grandvalira

Grandvalira

Overall Rating

Grandvalira

Grandvalira3.5/54
Grandvalira3.5 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
  • Recommend
    75%
  • Would Revisit
    75%
Europe Tours

Andorra Ski Resorts

Ordino Arcalis
Pal Arinsal

     Grandvalira Ski Trail Map
  • Grandvalira Ski Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,710m – 2,640m (930m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    5 - 7m
  • Lifts (70)
    6 Gondolas
    28 Chairlifts
  • Opening Dates & Times
    December to late April
    8:30am to 4:30pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs - 210km
    Longest run - 6km+
    Advanced - 18%
    Intermediate - 36%
    Beginner - 46%
  • Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 20/21
    Adult - €51 to 52
    Child - €34.50 to 35.50
    Child u/6yr - Free

    Valid at Ordino Arcalis

    Grandvalira East Trail Map
  • Grandvalira East Trail Map
    Grandvalira West Trail Map
  • Grandvalira West Trail Map

Grandvalira - Reviews

Grandvalira - Reviews

Utopian Fantasyland?

06/12/2020

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Telemarker
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    March
  • Admin Rating
    5

Utopian Fantasyland?

06/12/2020

Arriving in Andorra from France, you will notice the difference immediately. Better roads, new hotels & apartments, plus super-cheap fuel, booze, cigarettes & food (would you like a complimentary bottle of vodka with that?). Half the country seems to be a ski resort (Grandvalira), the other half equally impressive mountains but without the ski lifts. In the valleys, the shopping provides a bevy of the world’s finest & most affordable vices. Sounds like utopia. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t? But the skiing ….? Well it may not be everything to everyone, but it provides the kind of bizarrely unique experience requiring it (and the other two Andorran ski resorts) to be firmly placed on everyone’s ’check this out’ list. To help smooth the deal, loads of people from around the globe choose to live in Andorra, so you may well feel right at home too!

Encompassing a vast portion of south-east Andorra & with 210km of trails, one could rightfully expect Grandvalira would provide opportunities for all snow-riders to fully enjoy the experience. Indeed, going by the stats, Grandvalira should rate as ‘impressive’. Many (maybe most) visitors LOVE it, and you can see why - there is a lot to love! The expansive lift & trail network provides more love than many other world class resorts combined. But the reality for an advanced/expert skier is that Grandvalira rates as barely a ‘good’. Meaning for freeriders hoping for the next best thing, you best curb your expectations.

But its not all doom and gloom. Everywhere has its strengths & hey, Grandvalira is in snowy mountains, has loads of terrain & everyone is on holiday. Grandvalira is wonderful for improving beginners and intermediates whose preference is sticking to the piste trails. In fact, it may be the perfect paradise away from the Alps. Aside from the long, advanced valley descents into El Tarter & Soldeu, they will even be able to tick off all the black trails, as they rank amongst the least intimidating we have ridden in many, many years (with a nod to Perisher in Australia!). The on-mountain restaurant scene can also be superb if you know where you are going. And as far as shopping for fuel, booze, cigars, cigarettes & sweets goes, Andorra is heaven sent - a veritable hotbed of the world’s best & most affordable vices!

To clarify, we skied Grandvalira during some shoddy weather. Fresh snow that fell was immediately ripped away seemingly to fall at Ordino Arcalis ski resort (take note - we skied powder there in between skiing Grandvalira!). On the piste, the ski terrain is generally insipid for experts but even worse given the snow & wind conditions. For advancing beginners & intermediates, the skiing here is more of a mellow cross-country ski tour on lifts, pleasing for most but potentially mundane for others. There are exceptions, but in the prevailing lamentable weather, it was hard to get the ’woohoo’ & ’yee har’ vibe going.

Regarding the freeride off-piste opportunities, sadly the wind had stripped much of the resort of its goodness during our visit. What was available lacked any length & fall line. The designated freeride zone off the Pic Blanc was closed due to the wind. Even we were not prepared to –‘chance our arm’ giving what we had already seen and skied. It does look to have some interesting chutes further out along the ridge, but we cannot vouch for their rideability. There looks to be some quality backcountry accessible from the lifts into the high alpine bowls backing onto to the resort.

From a culinary perspective, there are several absolute gems, most at the higher end of the mountain dining scale (but at Andorran prices). In Grau Roig, the Restaurant dels Pessons near the boutique hotel is the standout. Further away but still in the Grau Roig sector the Restaurant Refugi del Llac dels Pessons is lovely. One super affordable & delicious exception, but not actually on the mountain, was the recently opened ‘The Boss’ an absolute beauty in the base area at El Tarter. Cheap BBQ meats, beer and accoutrements to sooth the savage beast after a particularly challenging day. Numerous small bars dot the landscape, perfect for a quick beverage if the sun is shining.

Anyone hoping to stay in an authentic Andorran mountain village near the ski resort will be sorely disappointed. To the casual visitor, it is as though nothing existed here before 1990! The ski resort village bases all seem to be homogeneous & a touch drab, which is fine, just not what we expected. Pas de la Casa is the exception and not in a good way! It is just an unsightly mix of old & new slapped up near a high mountain pass with little regard for aesthetics. Makes a lot of questionable high-altitude French ski resort villages look positively gorgeous. Pas de la Casa does however have decent snow & lift access but just isn’t to our taste. A lost opportunity for sure! Soldeu has some massive, high quality, holiday resort style, ski-in ski out hotels cunningly integrated around the gondola base station and an amazing, massive ski bridge spanning the river valley opposite the main slopes. Encamp is the most affordable of the villages, mainly due its lack of a valley trail & distance from the ski terrain.

Speaking of which, the lift & resort facilities ARE generally impressive at Grandvalira, with a great example at Encamp. The Funicamp gondola base area is as modern a ski facility as one will see anywhere in the world. Integrated into the gondola station are ticket offices, cafes, lockers, gear rentals, undercover car parking (costs a few €) & the Bar Amelie with its colourful interior bar & pumping outdoors après ski bar on the deck after dark. Beers before 6pm cost only €1 – how so very Andorran AND exciting! And at Soldeu, the lift base integrated into the roadside resort hotel complexes is as spic & span as anywhere in the world. Likewise, the lifts out of Pas de la Casa, El Tarter & gondola out of Conillo, quickly indicate that a load of cash has been invested in moving skiers & boarders comfortably up the hill with minimum fuss from accommodation or a day car park.

We do have questions over the lack in consistency of snow in Andorra and the Pyrenees in general. Too often, long periods of warm, clear weather impact the snowpack in January and February. If wanting to visit, do it on spec when there is a base on the ground and ample snow in the forecast.

Our last day at Grandvalira ended ingloriously with lifts going on wind-hold. You can’t change the weather in the mountains, it will do what it is going to do, but you can choose where you go skiing. Choose wisely!

You can see our thoughts on the pros and cons on the Grandvalira overview page and also see our European ski resort ratings page regarding how we score it compared to other skiing areas.

Over-Rated

Cranky J
04/12/2020
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    2

Over-Rated

Cranky J
04/12/2020
Maybe my expectations were too high for Grandvalira & the disappointment slapped me in the face a little harder than it should, but his is far & away the worst of the Andorran ski resorts. With a guest composition the polar opposite of the freeride friendly Ordino Arcalís, Grandvalira suffers from pushy, obnoxious tourists (countries of origin will remain nameless), surprisingly lame terrain & uninspired villages combining to create mega-sized skiing dross at its absolute finest.
To some people, Andorra & Grandvalira is a fake - not sure of itself & aside from the stone cladding on the buildings, lacking any sort of authenticity. To others, it is a snow & ski heaven where dreams do actually come true. Come and decide for yourself which it is. I know what I think!

Loved it!

16/05/2019

Ken Williams MD

Ken Williams MD

  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    N/A
  • Rider Level
    N/A
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Month Visited:
    April

Loved it!

16/05/2019
Spent a week in El Tarter and skied Grandvalira. Absolutely loved it!

I was there the last week of the season and the snow up top was great...a bit slushy lower down especially in the afternoons. Would definitely go back earlier in the season. Only drawback was getting there from a major airport. Flew into Barcelona and drove to the area. Still, it was a great drive through Spain, France and up into the mountains of Andorra. Not crowded at all and GREAT value.

Very Good

sveta
06/01/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Intermediate
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    March

Very Good

sveta
06/01/2019
We were skiing in Andorra in March and were very lucky with the snow. The pistes were full of fresh snow, extremely wide and perfect.