25 Dec Your complete guide for family skiing in El Tarter, Andorra
El Tarter is located in Andorra less than half an hour by car from its capital, Andorra la Vella. It is a small town of less than 700 inhabitants at 1,700 meters high. It is part of the parish (= province) of Canillo.
It is a charming town surrounded by mountains and nature. There are no masses of people or huge buildings. It is an ideal place to go skiing as a family.
It has all the basics such as a small supermarket, ski shops, bars (après-ski) and several restaurants. And what is not available, can be found in the nearby town of Canillo with a wide range of shops and supermarket or in Soldeu.
Ski in El Tarter
In winter practically everything in El Tarter is related to skiing. It is part of Grandvalira, a ski resort of 210 km skiable areas. There are 6 areas in the ski resort; Encamp, Canillo, El Tarter, Soldeu, Grau Roig and Pas de la Casa.
We went with a group of friends with different ski levels from beginners to experts and we all enjoyed the ski area of El Tarter. Why?:
- There is a special area for young children and beginners
- It has its own Snowpark El Tarter. It has a length of 1.3 kilometers and offers long rounds with modules and zones for all levels of freestylers
- The Grandvalira ski resort is ideal for everyone because with its 210 km there are slopes for all levels
- From the village there is easy access to the slopes
- A stupid thing of mine, but I love skiing betweeb trees. In El Tarter there are many … Really beautiful!
- On the slopes, in the town and surroundings there is a great and diverse offer of restaurants and bars.
- We don’t need it anymore but there is a nursery for children from 1 to 4 years old
- One can arrive skiing to the town what is obviously a bonus
Skilifts in El Tarter
From El Tarter there are two lifts:
El Tarter cable car. This is the main and very confortable skilift, you do not even have to put on your skis. Specially for beginners it is an easy way to get to the area of Pla de Riba Escorxada where classes begin and where you can find the debutants area is. From here, there are also many other ski lifts for connections with other sectors. For those who want to go up without skiing, it is also a good solution. You can meet the skiers in the restaurants on the slopes with ease.
Telesilla Tarter: very comfortable too, specially for those who already know how to ski.
From most of the accommodations you can walk to the ski lifts. But, there is also a large parking next to the ski lifts.
I was surprised that there is only one ski school in El Tarter (we are used to being able to choose between several schools). We went during Easterbreak and although we didn’t have the feeling of too many people, the classes were almost all fully booked, at least the private ones. I would advise booking in advance if you go in high season because some days we couldn’t book any classes for our son.
You can book online, but be careful and go through the conditions because some classes can’t be canceled afterwards (important if you want to cancel your trip because of bad weather).
Beginners El Tarter
I think El Tarter is an ideal area to start practicing ski. Through the Telecabina El Tarter, there is easy access to the beginners area where the ski school is also located. For the younger skiers, they have enabled the Circuit Bababoom Circus; an easy and fun ski slope with a circus theme. It is full of small obstacles and tests.
Charming accommodation in El Tarter
In general the offer of accommodation in El Tarter is simple and the hotels are a little outdated, or at least from my point of view.
We were a group of 4 families and most of them booked at Hotel El Tarter for its location. But I wasn’t at all convinced to stay at that place. As always, I prefer my little house with a fireplace.
Tarter Mountain Suites
I found the Tarter Mountain Suites for our family (I link to Booking because the website of the apartments is not worth much). We chose a modern apartment with a fireplace, one bedroom and the children slept in the living room. For us it was perfect, but if you prefer that nobody sleeps in the lounge, they also offer apartments with more bedrooms.
Why did I choose these apartments?:
✅ A nonnegotiable point in the rental of a winter house is the fireplace, and ours had. We used it every day
✅ They aren’t luxurious but they are cosy. They interior is decorated in a simple and practical way but with cozy details with their cheerful cushions and warm blankets.
✅ At a 5 minute walk are the ski lifts
✅ We had a covered parking space in the basement of the building included in the price
✅ You have your own kitchen; basic but practical
✅ At a 2 minutes walk from the building you will find all kinds of services as a small supermarket (perfect to buy your breakfast)
In addition, from our apartment we had a nice direct view of the mountains and the slopes.
Some afternoons we gathered the whole group at home to drink a glass of wine in front of the fireplace. Another night we ordered pizza for the kids who stayed in the apartment and the adults went out to dinner. A perfect plan!
If you decide to rent an apartment from Tarter Mountain Suites, I recommend the following:
Ask if you have ski and skiboots storage, our apartment did not. In the end the rentalcompany rented and paid for one at a ski shop next to the slopes (even better). It’s a general recommendation for lazy people like me, rent a skilocker next to the slopes. So in the morning you walk comfortably to the lifts, and right there you put on your boots and grab your skis.
Be sure where your apartment is located. Ours was situated in Residence II Sant Pere del Tarter within walking distance of the ski lifts. But there are others that are further away on a hillside, but they offer free transfer to the slopes.
Spectacular apartments in Soldeu; Hermitage Mountain Residences
©Hermitage Mountain Residences
Are you looking for something more spectacular to stay? 5 minutes from El Tarter is the village of Soldeu. Here you can find the Hermitage Mountain Residences; they are absolutely stunning with exclusive apartments of between 120m2 and 500m2. The largest has 8 bedrooms joining 2 apartments of 250m2. Each one is designed with elegance and warmth through the use of materials such as wood and iron. Obviously they all have a fireplace.
The Residences is located in a wonderful natural enclave and in a perfect situation for the practice of skiing, since it has direct access to the ski lifts of the Grandvalira ski resort. In the afternoon you can ski back home.
You have access to the Sport Mountain Wellness Spa of 5,000m2 and there are 2 restaurants of high gastronomic level, the Restaurant Origin and Restaurant Koy Hermitage (only open in winter).
I have not had the privilege yet to rent these apartments because they opened just last year, but I intend to go sometime. They are perfect to book as a group.
Restaurants and bars El Tarter and surroundings
Between El Tarter, Soldeu and surroundings there is a wide range of restaurants. I want to distinguish between restaurants that are more suitable for lunch on the slopes and those for dinner.
Restaurantes El Tarter on the slopes:
Sol I Neu Pizzeria: for me this is number 1 in the area, not specially because of the food but because of the place itself and it’s views. The wooden terrace has unbeatable views of the Vall de Soldeu. There is a menu of pizzas and snacks. In the afternoon they offer a fantastic après ski with DJ. It is part of the Soldeu Sports Hotel Resort & Spa. From El Tarter you arrive skiing quite fast.
Clicquot Snow Club Grandvalira: This chic cool space is installed on the Gall de Bosc terrace in the Soldeu Grandvalira sector. For champagne lovers an ideal place to take a break during the ski day. They also offer some tapas to accompany your glass of Veuve Clicquot.
Arrosseria Pi de Migdia: The arrocería (rice restaurant) is located at 2,100 meters high. For those who do not ski, you can walk from the Telecabina El Tarter. It owes its name to a famous pine found in the Plan de Riba Escorxada, near the restaurant. The restaurant has a modern, warm interior and a large terrace. We ordered all rice and ate very well and very comfortable. They also have other gourmets dishes on their menu such as oysters, Joselito ham, etc.
Make your reservation in the morning or the day before because the place is not huge.
Restaurante La Trattoria: For those who enjoy Italian cuisine with traditionally prepared pizzas, and fresh pastas. An informal place to enjoy with family or friends. While you wait, you can enjoy the showcooking as they prepare the dishes in view of the customer. Also near the El Tarter Skilift in the Riba Escorxada Plan. We liked their pizzas. It gets quite busy so I recommend making a reservation in advance.
Après-ski El Tarter
Escenario de L’Abarset: Our skiing days ended in the afternoon with a good après-ski on the terrace of L’Abarset. It is next to the parking lot of El Tarter just below the slopes. There is a great atmosphere and in general there is a DJ on the outside terrace. There is also the possibility of having some snack.
Another cool option is the aforementioned Sol i Neu in Soldeu.
Restaurants for diner El Tarter
‘Las bordas’ are old stables of Andorra that nowadays have become mesons where the typical plates of the zone are served.
Enclosed an article (in Spanish) with recommendations for Bordas in Andorra.
We had diner in the Borda La Llar de L’Artesa in Soldeu. A very warm, rustic and super cosy interior carefully decorrated with embroidery and many authentic details of the area. On the first floor you see how they are preparing the meat in a huge fireplace. Really worth the visit!
Llop Gris: One night we were looking for a place to have a cheese fondue. A ski holiday isn’t a real one without a fondue or a raclette (we are quite some cheese lovers). We found it in the Llop Gris, El Tarter. What happened is that it did not seem like a very special place. But I noticed that in the back of the bar area where you can also dine, they had a fireplace. They prepared us a large wooden table right there and we had a great fondue by the fire.
Restaurant La Tofana: Located in Soldeu next to the Sport Hotel. It is an Italian restaurant with a modern and at the same time cosy design. The place is informal and ideal to go with children.
Obviously there is a wider selection of restaurants, but from where we have been, these are the ones I recommend.
Things to do in el Tarter and surroundings
🛷 Mushing: who doesn’t want to enjoy a beautiful winter landscape on a sled pulled by dogs? I want…..!!! But unfortunatly everything was booked … Bad luck. So if you want to enjoy this activity, book in advance. It is easy to get there talking a walk from the El Tarter skilift.
🌲 Hiking: In winter, the best way to enjoy nature, snowy paths and frozen lakes is to go on snowshoe excursions. From El Tarter you can hike with or without a guide.
💦 Caldea: Caldea is the most famous spa in Andorra and probably between the best ones in Europe. For sure it is one of the largest. For the whole family from 5 years old you enter a world where you enjoy all the states of water (ice, steam, liquid …) in interior, exterior, hamam, etc. Better visit their website to have a complete idea of all their facilities and schedules. It is 25 minutes by car from El Tarter.
🛍️ Shopping in Andorra la Vella: Andorra is famous for shopping. Since prices are not subject to VAT, obviously they are more attractive. Although nowadays with so much offer online, the difference is maybe not that big anymore. Also do not expect to find charming neighborhoods to do your shopping. Beware, there are limits on the quantities of products that can be passed through the border.
⛸️ Palau de Gel (ice) Andorra: Bad weather and you want an alternative plan? Less than 10 minutes drive from El Tarter there is a covered ice rink in Canillo. Here they offer different activities such as ice skating, karting on ice or curling. Look at the schedules well in advance.
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