Andorra's Soldeu-El Tarter ski area has long boasted the most extensive linked slopes in Andorra and it's home to a ski school rated as one of the best in the world. The village offers high-quality accommodation, excellent facilities, and a lively après scene.
Soldeu has worked hard to reinvent itself over the past few seasons to shrug off its old tag as a budget ski holiday destination for the 'young and lively' end of the market, and has now successfully established itself as Andorra's most upmarket resort, with a cosmopolitan clientele, and a popular luxury spa in the heart of the village.
Architecturally, the village is still not a looker, by any stretch. It's mostly just a strip of hotels, apartment blocks, shops and bars, stretched out along the sides of a busy through-road. Nevertheless, this is an outstanding spot for beginners and intermediates.
Nearby is the smaller centre of El Tarter, especially popular with families, it offers an excellent range of self-catering accommodation.
Soldeu is a key gateway into the vast Grandvalira ski area, which covers the linked sectors of Soldeu, El Tarter, and Canillo, combined with those of Grau Roig and Pas de la Casa, which stretch across to the eastern Andorran-French border. This huge domain ranks amongst the world's leading ski areas in respect of uplift capacity and the extent of pistes. Soldeu also plays host to top-level events, including the Alpine Skiing World Cup.
Soldeu - Ski Map & Pistes:
Soldeu's local and nearest neighbouring ski sectors are focused around spacious mid-altitude service areas and beginners' zones high above the villages, served by principal access-point gondolas. Confident novices can venture out around all the sectors on some wide blues, whilst intermediates and more advanced visitors can revel in the big mileage and will find plenty of terrain to keep themselves entertained.
The Soldeu slopes - amounting to pretty much half of the Grandvalira domain - are located on the far side of a deep ravine which runs parallel to the village, with two blue and two black pistes providing home-runs to the foot of the village via a wide, pisted suspension bridge above the river. Direct access to the ski area is provided by a gondola which departs from a large base-terminal complex in the upper end of the village.
The extent of the terrain is impressive and there's a great range of slopes to cater for all except the most demanding visitors: the centrally-located beginners' zone covers a spacious plateau directly in front of the upper terminal of the gondola. There are lots of long cruising blues and fast reds; a few black runs, including the Women's World Cup Downhill piste, Avet.
The network of lifts and pistes interlink smoothly with the neighbouring Andorra El Tarter sector, home to one of the biggest and best snowparks in the Pyrenees. The links north-east in the direction of Grau Roig for the Pas de la Casa sectors are also quite straightforward.
More than €1 billion has been invested in the overall Grandvalira area in recent years, offering improved lifts, new facilities and increased snow cannon coverage (now at 65 percent of the pistes), enhancing its reputation for snowsure skiing.
Soldeu - Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:
Grandvalira has recognised the thirst for off-piste and ski-touring among advanced skiers and currently has six signposted circuits which have been adapted to suit all levels of technical and physical aptitude. As well as masses of un-groomed inter-piste terrain there are also numerous lift-accessible freeride zones, offering different routes and lines adapted for both intermediate freeriders and experts.
The dedicated freeride team at the Grandvalira Soldeu Ski School specialises in teaching all levels of off-piste skiing, as well as offering a guiding service if you just want to make the most of what's here.
Soldeu - Restaurants, Bars & The Town:
The fabulous Sport Wellness Spa has secured Soldeu's position as Andorra's swankiest destination: facilities include a large leisure pool, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi, saunas, steam rooms, a well-equipped gymnasium, plus a lush range of beauty and massage treatments.
Soldeu isn't blessed with a huge array of shops, but Andorra's cosmopolitan capital is only 20km away and is easily reachable by bus or taxi for anyone craving more intense retail therapy.
A lively après ski scene has always been integral to ski holidays in Soldeu, Andorra, and although it has mellowed over the past decade or so, it still rocks. Live music and sports screenings are regular features at end-of-day gatherings in the Harp, Villager and Aspen bars, with plenty of the same later on in the evenings, along with theme events and dancing in late-night disco-bar venues such as Fat Albert's.
Soldeu - Ski Hire:
There are many good options for ski hire in Soldeu, including Sports Calbo in Soldeu itself, and Nordic Esports ski rental shop in El Tarter, two of the most established and well-located ski rental shops in the area.
Soldeu - Ski School:
Andorra has become renowned as a great place to learn to ski and snowboard and Soldeu has some fantastic English-speaking instructors. The Soldeu ski school office can be found at the top of the Soldeu gondola, and the El Tarter ski school office is located at the top of the El Tarter gondola.