Europe, once brimming with small principalities, now has fairly few micronations. Those that have retained their independence are unique and special places, often overlooked by tourists and the property market. Yet for the discerning buyer, one particular mini-nation has a multitude of benefits to uncover. Here's why to visit, and what to see in Andorra.
Measuring about 13 miles by 13 miles, with around 80,000 residents, Andorra is truly tiny. However, the once-poor nation has risen to new economic highs, mostly thanks to skiing, hiking and shopping, and now more than 8 million people visit Andorra per year. Tourists pour in from nearby France and Spain to buy luxury goods, electronics and designer items with the country’s appealingly low taxes. Andorra travel is easiest by car, it being only 200km from Barcelona. Due to its mountainous nature, travelling to Andorra by plane isn’t possible and the nearest airport, Andorra-La Seu d’Urgell Airport (LEU), only accepts private flights.
Any traveller would be delighted by Andorra’s claim to 300 days of sunshine and, for the ski-enthusiasts, the 300km of skiing in the resorts of Grandvalira and Vallnord. When not blanketed in snow, the mountains are still the prime reason to visit Andorra – it's defined by its nearly 3000m-high peaks. The hiking is lush and unspoilt – the hillsides are dotted with wooden chalets, and serene, lonely lakes invite you down to the valleys. Mountain bike enthusiasts can also find their fill of exciting terrain to tackle here. On a more relaxing note, surrounded by the stunning Pyrenees, the Caldea Thermal Spa in Escaldes-Engordany, claims to be the largest spa in Europe, with lagoons, a grapefruit pool, an Aztecan pool, bubble beds and much more to entice visitors. Speckled around the mountains, in pretty, quiet villages, there are also plenty of churches and fantastic examples of original, stone Romanesque architecture, not to be missed on an Andorra travel itinerary.
Since the peaceful country is so easy to fall in love with, it’s hardly surprising it’s an increasingly popular destination for second homes. Unemployment is low, and non-working residents need only spend 90 days of the year here. Additionally, the income tax is low (10 per cent at its highest rate), meaning it’s a well-considered investment. There's only 4% stamp duty to pay on second properties in Andorra, considerably lower than many of its neighbours, and there is no inheritance tax either. Most notably, there is no capital gains tax collected on properties owned for over 10years.
All things considered, a purchase in Andorra may be advantageous enough that you could simply use it as a holiday home and then lock it up and leave at the end of your preferred season, to later perhaps utilise the zero capital gains tax. However, given the popularity of the region for its outdoor pursuits, a second rental property here can also be a lucrative investment. Why not find out more about why Andorra is the property investor's dream?