- Accommodation & Hotels
- Ski Area
- Ski Lifts & Pass
- Activities & Things to do
- Restaurants & Nightlife
El Pas de la Casa is a ski resort (part of the Grandvalira resort), town, and mountain pass in the Encamp parish of Andorra, lying on the border with France. Best known for its cut-price stores and Club 18-30 atmosphere than for its skiing Pas de la Casa is both a ski resort and shopping centre.
Not only is Pas de la Casa the highest ski resort in the Pyrenees (it sits at a lofty 2100m), but it’s also the sunniest. The après ski scene is arguably one of the best in Europe, and the resort is also home to some of the best shopping in the country… so far, so good!
The first lift was installed by ski legend Francesc Viladomat in 1956, and the resort has been growing ever since. The village of Grau Roig was soon incorporated into the ski area, and when the resorts joined forces (and linked lifts) with Soldeu-el Tarter in 2003, they became known as Grandvalira, and formed the largest ski area in the Pyrenees.
Pas itself is physically very close knit- the main bars, restaurants and hotels are all located around a central strip making everything incredibly accessible. With low drinks prices, an abundance of free shots and late opening times throughout the resort, the après ski alone is enough to justify a visit.
In fact, the town’s architecture is one of the only areas in which Pas de La Casa is lacking, and appears to have been inspired by an art deco housing project. However, after a few free shots (which are often handed out like confetti) the visual appeal of your hotel is likely to become much less of an issue...
With such focus on the off slope attractions, it’s easy to forget about the skiing you’ll have access to. There’s a great selection of runs for all abilities - 210km in total served by 64 modern lifts which can whisk 100,700 snow lovers up the mountain every hour. The area includes Soldeu-El Tarter, Encamp, Grau Roig and Canillo as well as Pas alongside some fantastic freeriding, 3 well maintained snow parks, a permanent boarder cross course and 3 snow circuits for the kids.
All of this makes it a top destination for skiers on a budget or groups looking for a resort where there’s as much fun to be had off the slopes as on them. It might lack a little bit of the traditional ski resort charm but if you’re after an affordable and fun ski break, it certainly ticks all the boxes.
Best time to visit De La Casa
Whilst the snow here isn’t as guaranteed as in some of the larger European resorts, it is the best in the Pyrenees, and off the slopes you’re assured of a great time year round. Visiting over peak dates is a lot less stressful, expensive and crowded than you’d expect, and the resorts infrastructure easily keeps up with an increase in the crowds. The main holiday dates are always enjoyable in Andorra- New Year is especially well celebrated- so a visit during these times is highly recommended. The best snow conditions are during February and early March, so a cheap half term trip is certainly on the cards. Late season snow isn’t always the best, but with so many al fresco restaurants and bars you’re almost guaranteed to come home with a suntan.
Skiing in Pas de la Casa
The variety of terrain is apparent as soon as you leave the village- from the six seater Font Negre or the smaller Costa Rodonda you’ll be able to access one of the regions snowparks, the boardercross track, beginners zone and a freeriding area.
The beginners area at the base of the valley has a few incredibly gentle lifts and approachable nursery slopes and at the end of the day all levels of skier can ski right down into the village – the red/blue Tubs will take you virtually to the door of your hotel.
There’s more advanced terrain just over the mountain at Grau Roig- most of the runs here are red and black – though the gentle blue Pastora, which takes you down into the centre is the route favoured by the many intermediates on the way over to Soldeu.
Here, the two six-seater Pla de les Pedres lifts are amongst the most popular in resort and open up both sides of the mountain. The surrounding areas are an intermediates paradise, with a massive selection of red and blue runs- if you’re adept at reading piste maps you’ll be able to pick a route that starts at the peak of the Collada D’Enradort and winds its way all the way down to the village of Soldeu.
Advanced skiers and boarders will also feel at home over here, and will find the Snowpark El Tarter (expertly maintained by the staff at Coliflor freestyle), some technical mogul runs, and more designated freeriding areas. Overall there are four snowparks in the vicinity, and with some of the longest riding hours around (the parks are often open until well into the evening), unprecedented amounts of sunshine and fantastic park grooming, Grandvalira is a brilliant location for budding park skiers.
Snow conditions in Pas de la Casa
Activities in Pas de la Casa
Vallnord is not only synonymous with skiing and snowboarding, but also different forms of winter sports and snowbound fun! In addition to the classic winter pursuits like snowshoe hikes, sledding and winter walks, there are also a whole host of different activities you can try in the area. If you fancy riding the mountain on a more unusual piece of equipment, airboarding or ski-biking could be right up your street. Groups or families can even plough down the mountain together on the Snow Snake. If you’d prefer to reconnoitre the landscape with an engine underneath you, snowmobile and snow buggy excursions are also available. True adrenaline junkies can even try their hand at bungee jumping or speed riding – a combination of skiing and paragliding.
Families in Pas De La Casa
Despite the sometimes raucous après ski scene within resort, there’s a lot to be said for a family trip to Pas de La Casa. The relaxed atmosphere makes it a great place for a first time family trip, and with costs much lower than a more mainstream destination it’ll be much friendlier on the pocket as well.
Ski passes, equipment hire and tuition are all less expensive than many of the larger resorts, so if you’re not too sure how the kids will take to the snow it’s a safe choice of destination. There are plenty of family friendly restaurants to try out in the evenings as well, with most serving a range of European favourites, from fondue and raclettes at the La Gratinada to the more traditional Andorran delicacies on offer at Costa Rodonda.
The range of slopes is also ideal for families, especially mixed ability runs. The beginner area at the base of Pas de La Casa is perfect for anyone taking their first steps on snow, intermediates will have the whole of the mountain at their disposal thanks to a great network of blue and red runs, and any adventurous youngsters will soon be at home in one of the four snow parks or many freeriding areas.
Even during peak dates the airports aren’t usually too crowded, as don’t serve too many ski resorts so pick one of our packages including flights and transfers for the ultimate convenience. Though if you fancy adding a few days to the holiday, why not pick a self drive package? You’ll save a few pennies for when you get to the resort, and you’ll be able to make the journey itself part of the adventure!
Group Holidays Pas De La Casa
Pas de La Casa is without a doubt one of the best destinations in Europe for an all singing, all dancing group trip. There’s a fantastic amount of terrain to cover in the days- Grandvalira is the largest ski area in the Pyrenees- and off the pistes there’s enough entertainment to keep the party going for hours.
Any beginners will be heartened by the gentle blues just outside of the resort area, and those who have never skied before can easily find their feet on the beginner areas. Tuition and hire are relatively inexpensive as well, which makes it a great location for any first time skiers. Intermediates will be able to ski the whole area with ease- the routes from Pas de La Casa to Soldeu, via Grau Roig are packed with long blues and reds- whilst the group’s experts will enjoy the four snowparks and freeriding areas, not to mention the many groomed black runs.
There’s even more fun to be had off the slopes. The duty free drinks prices and late opening hours of the bars give you an idea of what to expect- the Kamikaze Surf Bar is often open until 3am and is actually on the slopes above the resort (!)- and many of the resorts visitors spend more time in the bars than on the slopes. You’ll be sure to end up in the Underground bar at least once or twice, though if you’re after a quieter night then you’ll feel right at home in Paddy’s Irish bar.
Après ski Pas de la Casa
Thanks to the affordable prices and the mainly young clientele, après-ski in Pas de la Casa is especially lively! Many popular bars and clubs in the resort lie only a stone's throw away from each other, making them easy to reach by foot. From rustic taverns to fancy bars and hot-spot clubs - everyone can party according to their taste in Pas de la Casa! For culinary experiences, countless restaurants provide marvellous sustenance, offering regional as well as international specialities.
For those who would like to stay active also outside of the pistes, numerous activites are available: from snowmobile or dog sled rides to paintball to snowshoe hiking or snow bike touring.
Transportation - Get In
To travel to the ski area, first drive to Narbonne via Zürich, Lausanne, Avignon and Montpellier. From there, head for Toulouse and then turn off towards Andorra shortly after Carcassone.
The two closest airports are Carcassone Airport in Pays Cathare in France and l’Alguaire Airport in Lleida in Spain. Both are around 155 kilometres from the ski area and offer public transport connections to the resort.
There are also regular to trains from the stations in Barcelona, Lleida and Toulouse.
Transportation - Get Around
It is served by the local bus (L5) up from Andorra La Vella about 3 times per day.
Based at an altitude of 2,100m, Pas de la Casa is the highest resort in Andorra. Its snow-sure local ski area has two distinct sectors: the Pas de la Casa sector rising from the western edge of the town, and the Grau Roig sector on the far side of the watershed Envalira ridge beyond.
The slopes closest to Pas de la Casa are busy motorway pistes which flow into the central base area in the middle of the resort, overlooked by a horseshoe-shaped sweep of hotels, apartment buildings, restaurants and bars; handy for lunch breaks and end-of-day home runs.
The principal pistes are graded red, although they are really mostly blue-equivalent in profile, with just a few steeper true red pitches spilling off the Envalira ridge. Absolute beginners are well looked after in a roped-off cluster of nursery slopes at the uppermost end of Pas da la Casa's main street, adjacent to the quieter blue pistes on that side of town; this quarter also houses a slopestyle course served by its own [slow] chairlift.
The Grau Roig sector is more extensive and offers a bit more variety in its terrain, but is also chiefly characterised by similar motorway pistes; this sector also links across to the Soldeu sector for onward routes into the heart of the Grandvalira domain.
Pas De La Casa Beginners
The Grandvalira region has a total of 18 green runs and 38 blue.
There are three gentle "beginner zones" just outside Pas de la Casa making it perhaps the most beginner-friendly of all the villages. Taking the TSD 6 Estanay into France brings you to Abellettes where there are two beginner zones. There's a small beginners' area with a button lift just across the L'Ariege stream, which officially divides Andorra and France.
Getting across the Coll Blanc and down into Grau Roig is possible for adventurous beginners if you take the TSF4 Solana lift followed by the TSF4 Costa Rodona and then take the "pastora" blue run down to Grau. There's a great sense of achievement for beginners in having made it into the next valley. Unfortunately there is no blue run back, but the Granvalira bus will return you or free on production of your ski pass.
Pas De La Casa Intermediate
The Grandvalira region has a total of 38 blue runs and 32 red of which six red runs and four blue are in the Pas de la Casa/Porte des Neiges region.
The Grandvalira route is new central government initiative that gives skiers the option to pretty much traverse Andorra on a combination of red and blue runs from its north east border to the very middle of the principality. The route needs improvement. At the moment you can get on a cable car at Encamp at the southern end of Grandvalira but you can't ski back to it. The whole sequence is oriented towards Pas de la Casa and Soldeu with Pas being particularly good for intermediates.
Pas De La Casa Advanced
The Grandvalira region has a total of 22 black runs of which 5 are in the Pas de la Casa/Porte des Neiges region.
There's good off-piste skiing from Pic D'Encampadana but getting there is a challenge. From Tossal de la Lossada take the blue run Llosada to where the pistebasher will tow you across the saddle to the Pic D'Encampadana. Alternatively, take three lifts up from Canillo.
The off-piste runs converge at Riba Escorxada from which there is a snowshoe route down to El Forn where you can take the TSD4 Portella ski lift back up to Portella and ski down the blue run "daina" to start again.
If you fancy clocking up as much as 193km in a single day there's the new Grandvalira tour itinerary which gives you the option to cover the whole resort from Pas de la Casa to El Forn and pretty much traverse Andorra from its north east border to the very middle of the principality, but the route needs improvement.
At the moment you can get on a cable car at Encamp at the southern end of Grandvalira right up to Collada D'Enradort (2,447m) but can't then ski back to Encamp - you have to ski down to El Tarter and get the Grandvalira bus back. The whole sequence is oriented towards Pas de la Casa and Soldeu.
Pas De La Casa Boarding & Freestyle
There is a freestyle area at Snowpark Pas (the others are to be found at El Tarter, near Soldeu, and Grau Roig between Soldeu and Pas de la Casa.
At the top of the Coma Blanca II button lift there is a freestyle area round the "portatella" blue run and further down next to the blue "clot" run.
The "tubs" slope which runs back down into Pas de la Casa is also designated a freestyle area though this can lead to some congestion on one of the busiest slopes in Andorra. Across the border into France take the TSD6 Estanay up to Abelletes and descend the "amateur" blue run for the only freestyle zone in the French part of Grandvalira.
Ski lifts & pass
Grandvalira’s main ski lifts have a numeric code as well as a name, with the numeric character denoting the number of riders per chair or car and the exception to this rule being button lift’s and T-bars which have no number code.
The four-person TSF4 Solana chairlift runs from the ski school meeting place opposite the Olympia shopping centre in Pas de la Casa, and from the top you can then ski down and ride the six-person TSD6 Font Negre cable car to the top of Coll Blanc. From Coll Blanc you can ski down to Coma Blanca III which has no number code, which means that it's either a button lift or T-bar.
Cortals (2,502m) and Tossal de la Llosada (2,560m) are the two peaks to aim for. From these you can get to most parts of Grandvalira. Cortals is served by two lifts and Tossal de la Llosada by three.
Ski passes in Pas de la Casa are as for the rest of Grandvalira, ranging from 28.50 (one day) to 187.50 (6 days) in High season (26.50 to 182.50 in low) Beginner rates for Pas de la Casa are 22 euros in all categories, regardless of season or age and restrict you to just the immediate area.
The cartel which runs Grandvalira is putting a lot of money into developing the lift system (spurred on by its rivalry with the people running Vallnord in the southwest of the country) so things are only likely to get better. There is a lot of money in Andorra and ski tourism is a major priority for the locals.
Lifts open at 9am in the morning and officially close at 5pm although some start closing from 4:15pm onwards so check last lift time to avoid being caught out when skiing late in the day.
|Grandvalira Lift Pass Prices|
|Non-Consecutive Lift Pass Prices|
|3 from 5||€139.50|
|5 from 7||€221|
|7 from 10||€309.40|
Activities & Things to do
While many visitors to Pas de la Casa come to party, you’ll find lots of other activities on offer as well.
Make the most of Andorra’s famous tax-free shopping by hitting the shops of Pas de la Casa. You can grab a bargain in the town’s stores, which sell anything from winter sports gear to spirits. The compact size of the resort makes it easy to stroll from the ski lifts to your hotel - and then off to the many shops.
If you’re travelling with kids – or you just need to soothe those aching skiers’ legs – a visit to the Pas de la Casa Sports Centre is a must. Here you’ll find a large swimming pool, a children’s pool, both indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, sauna and steam room. And there’s also a climbing wall, gym and squash courts if you fancy mixing up your sporting activities. Many of the resort’s hotels also offer indulgent spa facilities and massages, so why not treat yourself to some well-earned holiday pampering?
Head a little further up the mountain to the nearby resort of Grau Roig and you can try your hand at snowmobiling. There’s no more exhilarating way to explore this beautiful snowy landscape. Except perhaps dog sledding, which you can also try there! Groups can also let off steam with an action-packed game of paintball in the forest.
Families will love the ice rink at nearby Canillo. Hire some skates and enjoy an unforgettable winter experience together. Or test your bravery with a ride on the death-defying zip line. That should get your adrenaline pumping!
Head to another of Pas de la Casa’s neighbours, El Tarter, to see the spectacular Pyrenees mountain range from the skies. Here you can try tandem paragliding when the weather allows. Or keep your feet firmly on the ground with a wintery walk on snowshoes. There are plenty of scenic trails for snowy walks on the eastern side of Pas de la Casa.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Pas De La Casa Apres Ski
Pas de La Casa really comes into its own when it comes to the après scene, with locals and tourists alike taking liberal advantage of the duty free drink prices and late opening times.
Eating out is much cheaper than you’d expect in a ski resort as well- most of the restaurants serve a selection of family friendly European food, though you’ll be able to find some local Andorran specialties (such as the warming escudella stew) at Costa Rodona. There’s a McDonalds and a Burger King for the unadventurous, whilst El Gargantua is the place to go if you’re feeling like a fondue and at La Copa you’ll be able to enjoy steaks cooked over an open fire.
It’s the pubs and clubs that really set Pas apart from the competition. The Kamikaze Surf Bar is the first port of call for many- located on the slopes a short ski from town, the party gets going when the slopes close, and often doesn’t end till well into the night… you might want to regress to a snowplough to get home!
The pirate themed Perla Negra is a sure crowd pleaser. With decent pub grub served all day, live sports on the big screens (often with English commentary) and a nightly DJ, it never disappoints. At Deja Beer you can pull your own pints- there’s a different beer on tap at each table- and the nightly and weekly league tables on the big screens can often lead to things getting a wee bit out of hand… luckily they also serve some great tapas and delicious pizzas!
Underground is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a London Underground themed bar and is one of the oldest and most popular in resort. The party gets started here as soon as the slopes close and carries on well into the night- it’s often the reason you’ll see people still dressed for the slopes wandering the streets in the early hours!
Eating in Pas de la Casa
Eating out in Pas de la Casa is both affordable and varied. You’ll generally find food and drink is cheaper here than in the UK – and definitely much cheaper than the ski resorts in the rest of Europe.
Andorran food reflects its location with a delicious mix of French and Spanish flavours. Traditional dishes are simple but pack a punch. Think cured meats, lots of pork-based dishes, hearty seafood stews, tortillas, crepes and local cheeses. Pas de la Casa has plenty of eateries serving up regional classics, as well as some more international establishments.
For the best tapas in town, head to Cusine du Perigord for good value and creative dishes featuring many local ingredients. For low-key eats, you can’t beat Asterix Bar Restaurant or L’Husky Bar Creperie. Olympiades Inn is also a popular place to eat – and its convenient location means you can pile straight in off the slopes.
Pas de la Casa is renowned for shopping and receives a huge number of day trippers and holidaymakers looking for bargains, particularly cigarettes, alcohol & perfume.
Pas de la Casa is a shoppers paradise, due to it’s location on the French - Andorran border. Pas de la Casa is the first port of call for many bargain hunters looking to take advantage of Andorra’s low tax and duty free prices and because of this you will find a multitude of shops and supermarkets offering an array of goods, particularly alcohol (every kind you can imagine!) and cigarettes at low prices.
Almost every street in Pas de la Casa is filled with shops of some kind but most shops are to be found on or around Carrer de Sant Jordi, Avenida d’Encamp and Carrer Major. There are many well known perfumeries, such as Gala and Julia which have several branches around the town, jewellery shops, and for the dedicated followers of fashion amongst you some great clothes stores offering many well known brands such as Diesel, Mango, Roxy, Quicksilver and O’Neill to name just a few.
Electrical goods are also popular in Pas de la Casa and anyone looking to pick up a new digital camera or MP3 player for example will be spoilt for choice; again you can head to one of the large department stores such as Pyrenees or Hiper or choose from one of the many small independent outlets. If you haven’t already kitted yourself out in the latest ski, snowboard or sports gear for your trip then pop into one of the selection of sports shops including the large Olympia department store on Avenida d’Encamp.
Accessories for the slopes can be picked up in most sports and hire shops around town including Rentaski. Don’t forget to shop around to find the best price possible, especially if you are considering investing in something expensive such as your own ski or snowboard equipment as prices will vary from one shop to another.
Be sure to pack some extra spending money or your credit card for a stay in Pas de la Casa, but beware you do not exceed your luggage allowance or duty free limits, or it could end up being an expensive trip home!
Duty Free Allowances
Andorra has customs on both the French and Spanish borders with regular vehicle searches carried out. The main duty free allowances, as per the Andorran government in October 2015 are:
- Tobacco & Cigarettes - 300 cigarettes or 150 cigars (under 3g each) or 75 cigars (over 3g each) or 400g of pipe tobacco
- Alcohol - 1.5l of liquors over 22% (or 3l of liquors or aperitifs under 22% or sparkling wine) plus 5l of table wine
- Perfume - 75g of perfume plus 375 ml of eau de cologne
- Other Industrial Products- Up to a value of €900 per person or €450 if aged under 15