Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Bruin Steve

Andorra or elsewhere from Barcelona as a pre-cruise?

Recommended Posts

I am anticipating moving our cruise from this July (that was just canceled) to one next year that starts in Barcelona...

This will be our tenth visit to Barcelona...so, we are very familiar with the town...and we have also visited Girona and Figueras on a couple of occasions...

We always like to arrive a few days early...to accustom ourselves to the time change and to do a little independent sightseeing where we are not just on a cruise port stop...

 

So, I was thinking of what to do when we arrive in Barcelona...

One thought that came to mind was to go visit Andorra...First, it's a country we haven't visited and my wife likes ticking new countries off her list...AND, it appears to be less than a three hour drive from Barcelona...

 

I've come up with a couple of possibilities thus far:

1)  We could just stay in Barcelona, as a base, and I have seen tour companies that offer private and/or small group 12 hour tours to Andorra with pick-up at Barcelona hotels...or...

2)  We could rent a car and spend a few days...Drive to Carcassonne, then Toulouse, then on to Andorra and then back to Barcelona before the cruise...

 

Anyone have any other thoughts/recommendations?  Any other places within driving distance not to miss?  Any other great day tours using Barcelona as a base?  Any recommendations as to tour companies?

 

This is all in the very early planning stages--we don't even have the cruise solidified yet, yet alone flights/number of days...So, we are wide open...Any thoughts are appreciated...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last year we went to Pamplona and Saragossa.  It was a bit of a drive from Barcelona. But, we were there the week before the running of the bulls.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could fly to Madrid; if you've already visited there rent a car and drive to Bilbao then drive through Basque country (Pamplona, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port) to Andorra, then to Barcelona to drop the car.  Or stay in Madrid and environs then take the AVE train to Barcelona.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were in Pamplona four years ago for the Running of the Bulls...We were on a cruise that circled the Iberian Peninsula--or sort of circled it--from Barcelona up around to Bilbao and back to Barcelona...There were two days in Bilbao--July 6 and 7...and we did a Celebrity shore excursion for which we had to depart the ship in Bilbao at 4:00 am on July 7 for the long ride to Pamplona (the Running starts early!)...They had a suite with a few balconies for us on the second floor right on the main square where the thing starts...pretty amazing, but don't blink or you miss it...

 

I've also spent some time many years back in San Sebastian...and have also done a cruise that stopped in Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Bilbao...So, we've covered much of the Basque country...Have also visited Madrid three times, the last two for full weeks--one prior to a cruise and one post cruise (that same aforementioned Iberia cruise four years ago)--also have visited Toledo (twice), Segovia and Avila from Madrid...And I've been to Seville three times, Grenada twice, Santiago de Campostela twice (went to Lugo last time there)...

 

This cruise will also stop in Valencia and at Ibiza (We visited Mallorca while on the Jewel of the Seas three years ago)...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've driven from Barcelona to Andorra - out on the N-260 taking in a tiny corner of France, then back on the C-16. Total about  260 miles,  6hrs 30mins driving.

 

For much of the day the scenery was excellent, but the roads are slow, twisty and tortuous - even if you take the fastest route.

Andorra is very pleasant & laid-back, but has nothing special to offer (other than duty-frees). 

If, like us, you drive for the journey it's worthwhile, though if you drive back in the dark it's no fun at all .

If you drive for the destination, it's not worthwhile - especially if you dislike driving.

 

BTW - if you use GPS, make sure you enter Andorra as a country

There's a village in Spain called Andorra - about the same distance but in a totally different direction.  :classic_wink:

 

JB :classic_smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

We also have been to Barcelona before and looked into the day trip to Andorra for a precruise adventure this August. One of the pax on our cruise lives in Barcelona & said it's a very long & somewhat boring ride for only a short time in Andorra. We never made the decision to go as we cancelled our 2020 cruise but rebooked in September 2021. We'll think about it, but it's a very long day for a short visit. I don't think we would want to drive it especially returning in the mountains in the dark.

Edited by dabear

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 5/27/2020 at 7:13 PM, Bruin Steve said:

I've come up with a couple of possibilities thus far:

1)  We could just stay in Barcelona, as a base, and I have seen tour companies that offer private and/or small group 12 hour tours to Andorra with pick-up at Barcelona hotels...or...

2)  We could rent a car and spend a few days...Drive to Carcassonne, then Toulouse, then on to Andorra and then back to Barcelona before the cruise...

 

There are a lot of good suggestions above for driving trips out of Barcelona.  But, if you are really set on seeing Andorra, I would recommend your option 2.  It's a little over 3 hours to Carcassonne, then over an hour to Toulouse and about 3 hours to Andorra.  It would be great if you have 4-5 days for the trip.  Say 2 nights in Carcassonne, 1 in Toulouse and 1 in Andorra.  Plus there are interesting places in France along (or not far off) the route - Perpignan, Béziers, Castres, etc.

Edited by marazul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, marazul said:

 

There are a lot of good suggestions above for driving trips out of Barcelona.  But, if you are really set on seeing Andorra, I would recommend your option 2.  It's a little over 3 hours to Carcassonne, then over an hour to Toulouse and about 3 hours to Andorra.  It would be great if you have 4-5 days for the trip.  Say 2 nights in Carcassonne, 1 in Toulouse and 1 in Andorra.  Plus there are interesting places in France along (or not far off) the route - Perpignan, Béziers, Castres, etc.

Our time is still unstructured, but, basically, time is not a constraint until we set our flight reservations...

We've been to Carcassonne before, but it has been quite a number of years, so we wouldn't mind returning...

I  have family in Perpignan...but I am not sure whether I am going to to tell them we are coming.  One time we had arranged to visit them while in Barcelona, but had a snafu with the rental car and had to cancel last minute.

 

The attraction to Andorra is mostly that it's another country to tick off the list...and we've been so close so many times...So, I guess it really comes down to whether we want to spend a shorter time on the pre-cruise and keep it simple and just do the "tour" and relax more before the cruise...or whether we want to extend the trip on the front end and put a little work into going to a lot of places over a number of days...

 

The trip, in general, will be fairly long...After whatever pre-cruise time in and around Barcelona, we'd get on a 7-night cruise ending ion Civitavecchia, then spend two nights in Rome, then return to Civitavecchia for a second 7-night cruise on a different ship, ending in Venice...Then we'd either spend a couple of nights in Venice before flying home...or...rent a car and drive to Innsbruck, Lucerne, Lauterbrunnen, Lugano...and fly home out of Milan.

 

The trip we were supposed to take THIS summer--before Covid canceled everything--was set to fly into Milan and drive to Lugano for a night, Lucerne for two nights, Lauterbrunnen for two nights, then down to Portovenere and the Cinque Terre for three nights, then to Civitavecchia for a night before the back-to-back cruises...Next year's cruise stops in La Spezia, so we'll visit that way...but, we're thinking of that post-cruise to make up for the missed visit from this summer...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Bruin Steve said:


..or...rent a car and drive to Innsbruck, Lucerne, Lauterbrunnen, Lugano...and fly home out of Milan.

 

The trip we were supposed to take THIS summer--before Covid canceled everything--was set to fly into Milan and drive to Lugano for a night, Lucerne for two nights, Lauterbrunnen for two nights, then down to Portovenere and the Cinque Terre for three nights

 

IMHO this sort of trip is far far more worthwhile than Andorra.

Especially if you take the very scenic and traffic-free old Alpine passes used only by locals & tourists (for example the Grimsel Pass, Furka Pass, and the St Gotthard Pass rather than St  Gotthard tunnel) instead of the modern fast super-slabs which involve lots of tunnels and are great for trucks and folk who need to get quickly and easily from A to B, but not great for the Alpine scenery. And the Italian lakes, esp Maggiore, are glorious, with miles of lakeside driving.

If you want to tick off another country, Lichtenstein can be en-route to Innsbruck.

But the Alpine passes are snow-bound for 7 to 8 months, so it depends on your dates.

 

We've only been to Cinque Terre once, and never again. Even though this was mid-week in late September, everywhere - including villages, trains & ferries - was grossly over-crowded. Roads were quiet - trippers don't drive because the village roads are only for those with permits, and parking is pretty impossible. Very attractive - sadly for us it was TOO attractive to be enjoyed.

 

JB :classic_smile:

Edited by John Bull

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Madrid.....and then train to Barcelona....Andora is also a good thought....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were in Spain for a hiking trip, and spent a night in Andorra afterward for the simple reason of being able to say we went there before carrying on to Barcelona.  It's beautiful, and we stayed at one of the nicest hotels I have ever been in - the Hermitage Sport Hotel and Spa.  It's a ski resort, so got a fabulous deal for a summer stay - cheaper than our Barcelona hotel. We had a huge room with a large patio overlooking the mountain behind us.  The tasting menu at the restaurant there was amazing, and they have a great spa on the bottom 2 floors.  It was completely worth the drive, which was easy.  Had we had time, I would have tried out some of their jeep tours or other summer activities they were offering.  I know I sound like I'm raving, or running out of adjectives, but everything there really exceeded our expectations.  On top of that, we practically had the entire place to ourselves.  We were there the second week of June.

 

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g190404-d638418-Reviews-Sport_Hotel_Hermitage_Spa-Soldeu_Canillo_Parish.html

 

If you enter from Spain, the first half of Andorra is fairly unexciting.  Lots of car dealerships and shopping.  The second half is the prettier, more resort looking area.  We stopped at the mirador Roc del Quer, which is a lookout at the top of one of the mountains.  It's an amazing view, a real birds eye view of the valley.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andorra seems very cute little country and we did a great liqueur shopping there 😂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • SPECIAL EVENT: Q&A with the Quark Expeditions Team!
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...