Arinsal Ski Holidays
Arinsal is a charming village located in the Vallnord ski area, it is probably one of the most welcoming ski villages you will ever visit, the down to earth atmosphere, alongside the friendly locals is one of the reasons many visitors return year after year. Arinsal is very popular with beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders, it is also a fantastic option for families with young children due to the compact layout of the resort and a fantastic, highly rated ski school. The Vallnord ski area also includes the neighbouring sectors of Pal (directly linked to Arinsal by cable car) and Arcalis (accessible by free bus) both of which offer more of a challenge for intermediate and advanced skiers. It is also worth noting the excellent snow park in Arinsal, which is great fun for freestylers of all levels. If you're looking for a budget friendly resort with a fantastic ski school and a village which is cosy, welcoming and fun then Arinsal is a great choice.
Approximate Transfer TimesBarcelona - 3hrs 45 mins | Toulouse - 3hrs 45 mins | Lleida - 2hrs 45 mins
Skiing in Arinsal
Arinsal is one of three ski resorts that forms the forms the Vallnord ski area, the other resorts being Pal (La Massana) and Ordino-Arcalis. Arinsal is linked directly to Pal via a 50-person cable car and Ordino-Arcalis is a 40-minute free bus ride away. In general Vallnord is a very well-maintained ski area, with good grooming and a fairly modern and efficient lift system, long queues for lifts are rare and getting around the mountain is pretty straightforward.
Local Ski Area - Arinsal
The local ski area in Arinsal is a great base for beginners and improvers, the main slopes are located along a narrow open bowl, which keeps the layout compact and easy to navigate, great for families and groups who may want to do their own thing but not stray too far from each other. There are some nice cruisy blues and easy reds where you can build confidence and perfect your technique, all within striking distance of the main facilities and ski school. The upper part of the slopes offers some more challenging red runs as well as a couple of steeper blacks (which can be weather dependent) for more confident skiers and snowboarders. One of the nicest slopes in Arinsal however has to be Les Marrades, a long and twisty tree lined run which leads all the way back down to the top of the village, it’s a picturesque blue run, but with plenty of nice spots where you can cut off-piste and enjoy the powder (weather permitting of course). Arinsal has a dedicated beginner area, with an undercover magic carpet, as well as an excellent snow park for freestyle enthusiasts of all levels. We would highly recommend Arinsal for beginner ski holidays and family ski holidays alike.
Wider Ski Area - Vallnord
It’s very easy to ski from Arinsal across to the neighbouring resort of Pal, the resorts are linked by a 50 person cable car which is situated at the top of the Port Negre lift in Arinsal and runs across the valley to Coll de la Botella in Pal. Once in Pal intermediates and more confident skiers will find a more diverse and spread out ski area to explore, still mainly made up of blues and reds, but a greater selection of more challenging reds than you will find in Arinsal. There are also some lovely tree lined runs in Pal and on a powder day if you cut down between the trees you'll find some easily accesible and fun off-piste, great for those who are competent but not quite ready to hit the more serious terrain yet.
Families and groups of mixed ability can easily split themselves between Arinsal and Pal, meeting up later in the day for lunch or a beer on one of the sunny terraces.
The lesser known sector of Ordino-Arcalis is a favourite amongst locals in Andorra and quite rightly so, there is no resort town or hotels here, just a great, unspoilt ski area with arguably the best skiing and conditions in the region, it’s one of Andorra’s best kept secrets. Ordino-Arcalis regularly hosts a stage of the Freeride World Tour and with the right weather conditions off-piste and freeride opportunities are abundant. During the week it’s generally a peaceful spot, away from the hustle and bustle of the busier resorts, with some great panoramic views across to France from the top of the Creussans lift. Intermediate and advanced skiers will find plenty to keep them happy for the day here, it’s definitely worth the bus ride!
Ski Extras in Arinsal
In Arinsal you have a choice between a local area lift pass or a full area lift pass.
A local Pal-Arinsal lift pass - Gives you access to the linked areas of Arinsal and Pal but does not include Ordino-Arcalis.
A full area Vallnord lift pass - Gives you unlimited access to all three sectors of Arinsal, Pal and Ordino-Arcalis.
Group ski lessons start on Mondays and Saturdays. For weekday lessons choose either three, four or five days, with three hours on your first day to ease you in gently followed by 4 hours per day for your remaining lessons. Weekend group lessons are three hours per day, Saturday and Sunday. All ski or snowboard lessons in Arinsal are provided by the official Vallnord ski school.
You can collect your rental ski equipment from any of the three Esports Sant Moritz shops in Arinsal when booking with Destination Andorra, plus you can collect your equipment the afternoon before your rental starts.
Ski Extras Saver Packages
It's always cheaper to choose a saver package if you need a lift pass, lessons and equipment rental. We have various combinations available and are happy to guide you in what to book.
Arinsal Resort Overview
Arinsal is a lovely little ski village, traditionally Andorran in appearance, it's quaint and charming with a pretty river running through the centre. Upon arrival in Arinsal you'd be forgiven for wondering where the skiing is, as the village centre is located at the end of a steep valley some 450m below the main ski area. However, the mountains climb dramatically either side of the village (located at 1500m) up to the main ski base at 1950m. The ski station is accessed easily and quickly by a six-seater gondola from the village centre, or alternatively, from the top of the village by a fast six-man chairlift situated next to the Hotel Patagonia, this is also the base of the Les Marrades slope, the only run that comes right down to village level.
Arinsal is a very down to earth place, it's relatively small but has a great vibe that keeps many visitors returning year after year. A ski holiday in Arinsal can be as relaxed or as lively as you make it, given the compact layout of the village, it's easy to get around and doesn't feel overwhelming or too busy, it's quite a cosy place. That said, the locals are a sociable bunch and some of the bars can stay lively well into the early hours.
You'll find all of the necessary amenities and creature comforts in Arinsal, there are around 15-20 bars and restaurants, plus a nightclub, a couple of small local supermarkets, cash points and a laundrette, plus plenty of shops selling ski and snowboard gear. Accommodation options are varied, from value for money two-star options such as the Hotel Micolau, right up to the five-star Diana Parc Spa Hotel.
Restaurants & Bars
Eating out in Arinsal is a fairly international experience, there is a good, varied selection of eateries, mainly centred around the main hub near the gondola, but also a couple of noteworthy places at the edge of the village too. Cisco's is a long-standing and popular Mexican restaurant built into the mountainside, there are also a couple of excellent Argentinian steak houses (thanks to Andorra's sizeable Argentinian population), El Xalet (at the Hotel Montane) has a great reputation and is a good spot for a special occasion and Restaurants 360 and El Moli offer a wide range of international dishes. You'll also find a pizzeria, sushi restaurant and a Chinese restaurant (Bambu Chinese restaurant is situated at the edge of the village in the Hotel Palarine).
Some local Catalan cuisine can be found in resort; however, if you venture slightly out of the village (just down the road in Erts) you'll get a truly authentic experience in some of the local, traditional Andorran Bordas.
Popular bars and night spots include The Derby Irish Pub, which is busy at après ski and has regular live music, as well as Cisco's, an atmospheric bar in a cave like setting, which attracts some quality DJ's. Other popular bars include Hunters Sports Bar, El Moli for cocktails, El Cabin après ski bar and Surf nightclub.
Arinsal offers a good, fun après ski experience, it's generally a very family friendly vibe throughout the afternoon and into the early evening. Later on, some of the bars get a little livelier with live music and party nights, as well as the infamous table football scene (table football is practically a national sport in Andorra and often the source of some serious competition and antics amongst the locals).
As well as a warm welcome from the locals, the other big draws of Andorran après ski are the cheaper prices and generous measures, après ski in Arinsal is generally good value for money and your budget will most certainly stretch much further here than in most parts of The Alps.
The Hotel Princesa Parc has a bowling alley and a great games room which is open to the public and appeals to kids of all ages. You'll also find a spa located at the Princesa Parc with Jacuzzis, saunas, hammam, a hot marble caldarium and wide choice of treatments.
If you take the short trip down to the capital Andorra La Vella, you can take advantage of Andorra's duty-free shopping or visit Caldea, Europe's largest thermal spa.
Arinsal has a limited offering for non-skiers, but if you have a car or are prepared to make use of the efficient local bus service, then you can certainly get around and fill a few days with other activities.
There is a choice of excellent spas nearby and some fantastic shopping opportunities in Andorra La Vella. The small but pretty village of Ordino is well worth a lunch stop and is also home to a well equipped leisure complex. There are numerous small (and somewhat quirky) museums throughout Andorra (check the opening times in winter). Naturlandia adventure park is approx. 40 minutes away and home to a number of outdoor activities, including Tobotronc, the longest nature toboggan in the world at 5.3 km.
In summer Arinsal offers fantastic opportunities for mountain biking and hiking amongst other outdoor pursuits.
Map of Arinsal
Our resort map of Arinsal will be coming soon (summer 2018).
Who is Arinsal Suitable For?
Arinsal has long been a favourite with families and beginners, the village and the slopes are easy to navigate, the atmosphere is unpretentious and down to earth, and the ski school is highly regarded. Intermediates and improvers will enjoy exploring the wider area including Pal and Arcalis. Arinsal also offers great value for money, the cost of eating and drinking both on and off the slopes is reasonable, the ski area is very well maintained and there are plenty of affordable accommodation options.
Arinsal is a beginner’s delight, with an outstanding ski school and compact, beginner friendly slopes, there are few places that can match Arinsal’s credentials as the perfect place to start your skiing or snowboarding journey.
Arinsal ski and snowboard school is held in very high regard and is one of the first ski schools in Europe to be BASI approved. There are a high proportion of native British instructors who return year after year to teach on the slopes of Arinsal, the quality of instruction along with the welcoming nature of the instructors and locals is re-assuring for first timers.
The local ski area of Arinsal is easy to navigate and the chances of getting lost or caught out on an unexpected black run are slim. Around fifty percent of the local slopes are blues and greens, with plenty of wide open, cruisy runs where you can practice your turns. Improvers will find plenty of easy-going reds where you can step up and progress at a steady pace. Once you hop on the cable car over to Pal the area opens out and becomes more diverse but exploring the whole of the Pal-Arinsal ski area on blues and easy reds is very achievable, provided you pay attention to the piste map.
The atmosphere on the slopes and in the village is fun, welcoming and not at all pretentious, beginners love the area and many who started off here still return years later.
Here at Destination Ski we have a passion for helping beginner skiers plan their first trip to the slopes, we’ve guided countless first timers through the process, many of whom have gone on to become ski or snowboard addicts returning year after year. Contact our team to let us help you today, you’ll be skiing like a pro in no time!
Families ski in Arinsal for several reasons. Firstly, convenience, both the resort centre and the slopes are fairly compact, it's pretty difficult to get lost as the slopes all end up back at the same place and the resort centre runs along one easy road, if you want a resort where it's easy to keep everyone together and everything is close by, then Arinsal is a good choice.
The other key driver for families is the ski school, children can enter ski school in Arinsal from 4 years old and there are a number of different options for little ones. The kinder classes are specific classes run by the ski school for the youngest skiers (4-5 years old), from 6 years old they will join the main children's ski school groups. If you would like to put your children in childcare but don't feel they are ready for the full ski school experience yet, you can take advantage of the Snow Garden; this is a purpose built facility based up on the slopes, where children from 4-8 years old can enjoy the outdoors and take part in fun snow-based games and activities, whilst taken care of by specialist instructors. The snow garden is a gentler first introduction to the world of skiing.
The smallest members of the family (1-4 years) can be taken care of at the baby club / nursery service, a more traditional nursery type setting where children enjoy playing with a wide range of toys and taking part in workshops led by childcare professionals.
Finally, most restaurants and bars in Arinsal are very family friendly, particularly during the earlier après ski hours, so socialising with the family is a fun stress-free experience.
Arinsal Weather Forecast
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