Skiing in Arinsal

Part of the Vallnord complex, Arinsal’s immediate ski area is to be found up a steep slope above Arinsal in one of several glaciated hanging valleys that feed eventually into the Valira del Norte and flow down to Andorra La Vella.

Arinsal Ski Area Overview

Of the two sectors in Vallnord, the Pal-Arinsal sector (just 5km from Andorra la Vella) is the larger of the two with 63km of runs among 770 hectares of skiing and around 1,000m vertical from base up to 2,560m. With 4 green, 16 blue, 16 red and 5 black runs, the Pal-Arinsal ski area is best for beginners and intermediate skiers and riders and includes designated areas for freestyle, free ride, slalom and bumps.

Skiing out of Arinsal begins at the main car using the Telecabine Orriols. This quickly transfers you to the main ski base from which it’s possible to take a sequence of four further lifts to the very top of Pic del Cubil for an exhilarating descent.

At the top of this relative plateau rises the Pic del Cubil (2,358m) one of the tallest skiable mountains in Vallnord. Near its summit, a 70,000 sq m artificial lake has recently been constructed to feed the snow guns on the lower slopes, with 371 artificial snow cannons in Pal-Arinsal covering around 19km of the 63km ski area.

Above Arinsal itself, there are 2 green runs and a snow playground, 9 blue runs, 6 red runs and 3 black runs. On the Pal side of the Pic del Cubil (but still accessible from Arinsal) there are a further 2 green runs and a snow playground, 8 blue runs, 10 red and one black.

Arinsal is the dominant partner in the “piste marriage” with Arcalis where there are only 25 runs – 6 green, 6 blue, 11 red and 2 black runs – and just 26km of on-piste skiing among 442 hectares with 74 artificial snow cannons covering 12km out of 26km on-piste skiing. To be fair Arcalis does have the edge when it comes to off-piste skiing (around 310 hectares suitable for off-piste) but Arinsal is the best place to base yourself in Vallnord until you’re ready to go off-piste.

All the pistes have a name and number making piste maps easy to follow. The lifts are also numbered and navigating the ski area is easy. Besides skiing and snowboarding Vallnord has gone out of its way to promote other winter activities including snowmobiling, mushing (dog sledding), ski bikes, snowshoeing, panoramic flights by helicopter or hang-glider and horse riding.

Beginner Skiing in Arinsal

In the Pal et Arinsal sectors (immediately above Arinsal) there are 5 green beginner runs and 2 jardines de neiges (snow parks).

The area at the bottom of the Arinsal Valley (turn left when you reach Comallempla) has a sequence of short runs for novices – El Cortal, L’Escola I and L’Escola II – served by conveyor belt and chairlift that are good for building confidence. Moreover, there’s a children’s snow park here and a handy restaurant El Refugi d’Arinsal for when it all gets too much.

There’s also a good series of beginners’ slopes around the restaurant La Borda at La Caubella which can be accessed directly from La Massana if you take the Bus Neu down that far.

Intermediate Skiing in Arinsal

In the Pal et Arinsal sectors (immediately above Arinsal) there are 17 blue runs and 16 red runs for intermediate skiers.

This is very much intermediate country and if you’re careful you can complete a circuit across the twin peaks (Pic del Cubil and Pic D’Enclar) and get back down to Colle de la Botella primarily on advanced blues and with just a hairy moment or two on the red run La Serra that descends between Del Cubil and D’Enclar. There’s a real sense of achievement as you then ski gently down to Comallempla and take the lift back to Arinsal.

Advanced Skiing in Arinsal

In the Pal et Arinsal sectors (immediately above Arinsal) there are 5 black runs, including La Comellada which descends rapidly from almost the top of Pic del Cubil (2,358m) to El Fontanals 350 feet below. The route takes in the highest freeride (off-piste) zone in the Arinsal area and carves a path through the forest.

Some of the best freestyling in the Vallnord area is to be found above Arcalis by taking the Chairlift La Basera from the main car park up to Les Portelles skiing down the La Balma red run down as far as the draglift La Tossa. There are then 4 free ride (off-piste) zones that extend most of the way back down to Arcalis.

Boarding & Freestyle Skiing in Arinsal

At the moment there is only one freestyle area in Vallnord – not a good state of affairs for boarders and freestyle skiers – which is to be found at the top of the Els Planells drag lift above Comallempla.

To start take the cable car from Arinsal main car park up to Comallempla and then the Les Fonts chairlift to the Xina Igloo bar and freestyle back down to the draglift Els Planells which will take you back up to Xina Igloo which, fortuitously, serves great Chinese food.

Freestyle skiers may want to spend a day on the other side of Andorra la Vella in Grandvalira where there are eight freestyle areas.

Arinsal Mountain Restaurants

Above Arinsal, there are several eateries owned by the ski station. Xina Igloo offers Chinese food, Mexicobelix (Mexican) and Panoramix (British pies and chips).

Over in the Pal sector of Arinsal just below La Caubella peak (1,950m) is Pal La Borda (Tel: +376 737 000) which specialises in Andorran cuisine (Borda is the name for a traditional Andorran mountain inn). La Borda also offers a doughnut bar known as DonkiNauta and an independently owned sandwich bar known as Frankfurt Joan’s. There’s also a bar, buffet and a self-service restaurant up here, a children’s playground and a ski jump.

La Borda isn’t easy to get to unless you take the cable car up from Massana, however, it makes an ideal stopping point for lunch if you’re making a day of taking in the twin peaks (Pic del Cubil and Pic D’Enclar).

El Refugi (Tel: +376 836 767) at the bottom of the green runs and next to the children’s snowpark is the only privately owned mountain restaurant in the Arinsal Valley.

Above Coll de La Botella near the husky mushing circuit, Far West has an outdoor barbeque on the slopes of Pic del Cubil and if you ski down to Pla de la Cot there is Italian food at Bella Italia. Both can be contacted through the Pal Ski Station (Tel: +376 737 000).

Arinsal sector
Xina Igloo (Chinese)
Mexicobelix (Mexican food)
Panoramix (British food)
Snow Bar
Self-service Arinsal
Buffet Arinsal
Mountain Shelter of Arinsal

Pal sector
La Borda (Andorran cuisine)
Bar-Terrace-Barbecue El Planell
Cafeteria Caubella
Self-service El Planell
Open buffet La Caubella
Bella Italia (Italian food)
Itinerant points of sale

Seturia sector

Far West (with outside barbecue)

Ordino-Arcalis sector
Els Planells
La Coma
Snack bar Les Portelles


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