Church of St Coloma, Andorra la Vella

The little church of St Coloma, just outside Andorra la Vella.

London to Andorra La Vella by train...

A French count and a Spanish bishop disagreed over who should rule a small rural enclave high up in the Pyrenees.  They decided to rule jointly, and the result was the Principality of Andorra, the only country in the world whose official language is Catalan.  Today it's no longer rural - its spectacular scenery is home to more ski resorts and duty-free perfumeries than you can shake a stick at.  But if you look hard enough, the odd bit of historical interest remains...

Andorra has no rail station or airport, but it's easy to get there by Eurostar from London to Paris, Intercités de Nuit overnight train from Paris to l'Hospitalet près l'Andorre (the station just outside Andorra) and then a bus ride across a spectacular mountain pass into Andorra.  It's cheap too:  If you book online in advance, London-Paris starts at just £69 return, Paris-l'Hospitalet by overnight train starts at just €20 (£18) one-way in a reclining seat or €35 (£33) in a couchette, then it's just €9.50 for the connecting bus to Andorra. That's centre-to-centre.

Train times, fares & tickets...

  London to Andorra La Vella by train

  Andorra to Barcelona

  Useful country information

  Hotels & accommodation in Andorra

  General European train travel information

  Luggage   Taking bikes   Taking dogs


Useful country information

Bus operator in Andorra:

There are no trains in Andorra, but buses link it with France. 

See www.andorrabus.com

 

To check train times and fares in France and book online: www.loco2.com or www.capitainetrain.com. To check for any disruption affecting trains in France (SNCF website, in French only), www.infolignes.com.  Eurostar times & fares.  Buses Andorra to Barcelona: www.autocarsnadal.com.

 

Railpasses:

Beginner's guide to European railpasses    Buy a rail pass online

 

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

 

Dialling code:

 

+376

 

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.15 euros  Check current exchange rates

 

Tourist information:

www.andorra.ad  Tripadvisor Andorra page  Hotels & accommodation

 

Page last updated:

12 September 2014.  Train times valid 15 June to 13 December 2014.

 

London to Andorra La Vella

Option 1:  By overnight couchette train...

The direct overnight couchette train between Paris and L'Hospitalet for Andorra used to run every day all year round, a simple message to give prospective passengers.  Unfortunately, since 2013 it has run on an apparently random dog's dinner of different dates, thanks to French Railways obsession for running a different train service every day and cutting back on 'quiet' departure dates, resulting in a timetable that it is impossible to convey to travellers in any coherent way.  I'm surprised even the French locomotive drivers know which dates to stay in the canteen and which dates to get out and drive it!  So if it's running, here's the easiest and most time-effective way to reach Andorra from London or Paris, you'll just have to check whether it's running on your date of travel using www.loco2.com or www.capitainetrain.com.  If it isn't running, use daily daytime trains as shown in option 2.

London ► Andorra

Andorra ► London

What is the Intercités de Nuit overnight train like?   Watch the Intercités de Nuit video

The train has air-conditioned couchette cars and a reclining seats car.  Couchettes are flat padded bunks, each provided with a clean pillow and (on these French overnight trains) a special lightweight sleeping-bag, a welcome change from the traditional sheet and blanket.  2nd class couchettes have 6 bunks per compartment (upper, middle and lower on each side of the compartment), 1st class couchettes have 4 bunks (upper and lower each side).  There are washrooms and toilets at the end of the corridor.

Formerly branded Lunéa, French overnight trains are now branded 'Intercités de Nuit', and each couchette passenger gets a small bottle of mineral water, earplugs (if you really feel you need them), and tissues.  There's a security lock on the door which cannot be opened from outside, and staff are on hand if you need them.  Only passengers with tickets and reservations are allowed on board, and there are minimal stops between midnight and 06:00 to ensure a safe and smooth journey through the night.  Men and women share the same compartments in couchettes, as you don't normally fully undress, but on French night trains, women travelling alone can ask for a place in a ladies-only compartment.  The train also has reclining seats, but a couchette allows you to sleep properly and is recommended.

Overnight train from Paris to Andorra   Couchette

The intercité de nuit overnight train from Paris to L'Hospitalet has 1st class 4-berth & 2nd class 6-berth couchettes, each with lightweight sleeping-bag & mineral water...

Andorre-L'Hospitalet station

Into the Pyrenees to Andorre-l'Hospitalet.  For the last hour of the journey from Foix onwards, the train climbs into the Pyrenees, in summer when it's light this is a really scenic ride.  Pictured above left, l'Hospitalet station on a snowy December morning.  You can see what the scenery is like on the last hour into l'Hospitalet in this video, although it was taken from a daytime local train on the same route.

The bus from l'Hospitalet  to Andorra...

The bus to Andorra...   The bus to Andorra climbs into the mountains...

The bus ride across the Pyrenean mountain passes into Andorra is spectacular, although a new tunnel cuts off part of the original road over the pass.  Get the front seats for the best views...  www.andorrabus.com for bus times.

How much does it cost?

 1.  London to Paris

 by Eurostar:

 From £39 one-way, £69 return 2nd class.

 From £107 one-way, £189 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior fares 

 

 2. Paris to

 l 'Hospitalet

 by overnight train:

In a 2nd class

reclining seat:

In a 2nd class

6-berth couchette:

In a 1st class

4-berth couchette:

 Cheap Prems fares:

From £18 each way

From £33 each way

From £57 each way

 Regular fare:

£78 each way

£104 each way

£147 each way

 

 3. l'Hospitalet to
 Andorra by bus:

About €9.50 (£8.50) one way, buy tickets from the driver on board the bus.

 

 

How to buy tickets...

Buy tickets online at www.loco2.com...

Or buy online at www.eurostar.com & www.capitainetrain.com...

Alternatively, you can buy tickets direct from the relevant train operator websites as follows:

How to buy tickets by phone or in person...


Option 2:  By daytime trains...

This option runs daily all year round.  In the outward direction, it's not possible all in one day, so an overnight stop in Paris is required, but in the return direction you can get from Andorra to London the same day.

London ► Andorra

Andorra ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

TGV trains at Paris Montparnasse   1st class on a TGV Atlantique

TGVs to the Toulouse, waiting to leave Paris Gare Montparnasse...

 

1st class on TGV Atlantique, showing semi-compartments.  Courtesy Rafal Tomasik.

2nd class seats on the TGV   TGV cafe-bar car

2nd class seats on the TGV.  Most are unidirectional, some are in bays of 4 like this.  See panorama photo

 

The café-bar car, serving drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  See a typical menu here...

 

The modern 'TER' regional train from Toulouse, arrived at l'Hospitalet station...

 

The smart interior of the regional train from Toulouse to l'Hospitalet.

Watch the video:  Toulouse to Latour de Carol...

The video shows a journey by TER regional train from Toulouse to l'Hospitalet & Latour de Carol, and by Spanish local train on to Barcelona.


Moving on from Andorra...

Andorra to Barcelona...

 
 

Right:  The Petit Train Jaune from Perpignan/Villefranche to Latour de Carol...

If you are heading on to Spain, the bus connections back to l'Hospitalet do not work well with the local railway to Barcelona.  However, there are regular buses between Andorra and Barcelona taking about 4 hours, see www.autocarsnadal.com.  There are trains from Latour de Carol to Barcelona, see www.renfe.com (the Barcelona-Latour de Carol route is classed as a Barcelona suburban service, so ignore the main journey planner, leave the site in Spanish mode, and look for the 'Cercanias' link below the main enquiry form on their home page.  Select the Barcelona suburban area).

Andorra to Perpignan:  Le petit train jaune...

If you don't mind paying for a taxi between Andorra and Latour de Carol (there's now no bus service), the scenic narrow gauge petit train jaune runs from Latour de Carol through the Pyrenees twice-daily in winter, much more frequently in summer, connecting with a standard gauge service at Villefranche at the eastern end of the line into Perpignan.  This makes for a very scenic and interesting alternative route into/out of Andorra.  The 'petit train jaune' is run by the French national train operator SNCF, so train times, fares and online ticketing for the petit train jaune can all be done through the SNCF website, www.voyages-sncf.com.  For info of the Petit Train Jaune, see www.trains-touristiques.sncf.com/region.asp?menu=1&train=jaune&lang=fr.  For train times between London and Perpignan, see the London to France page.


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Click to see sample.  Buy online for €13 + €5.50 postage worldwide at www.treinreiswinkel.nl/railway_map_of_europe.

 



Find hotels in Andorra

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without insurance from a reliable travel insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash (up to a limit) & belongings, and cancellation. An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, though, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including all of the EU, the USA, Australia & South Africa.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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