Skiing in Norway
Get the best of the white stuff in Norway
Breathtaking natural scenery, challenging mountainous terrain, gentle slopes for families, and guaranteed snow at many resorts: A ski trip to Norway is a great choice for winter sports fans, and it’s about to get even better.
While not as commercial as some of Europe’s more famous skiing countries, Norway’s resorts nevertheless offer world-class slopes and accommodations.
The benefits of skiing in Norway
First things first, Norway enjoys a long winter season from early November until April in most of the resorts. Slopes are generally quieter with shorter queues than in the more famous resorts. Even during the holiday periods, the country’s biggest resorts are surprisingly quiet and very family friendly.
And, of course, Norway also offers a whole heap of benefits beyond the slopes, from the incredible natural beauty of the fjords to the fascinating range of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
If you’re travelling with your family, Norway as a ski destination is hard to beat. Norwegian society prioritizes children, so all vacation facilities are well prepared to welcome families, with most ski resorts offering great facilities for budding young skiers. Norwegians are, after all, born with skis on their feet! Norwegian resorts also offer a wide variety of other winter activities, from dog sledding to ice climbing, so there are plenty of options to add some variety into your itinerary.
The best ski resorts
Norway’s largest skiing area is just a two-hour drive northeast of the Oslo Airport. Trysil offers three children’s areas, two snow parks, and a total of 68 slopes in operation during peak season.
The mountainous resort at Hemsedal is another favorite among Oslo residents. A three-hour drive northwest of the capital, the family-friendly resort has a high standard of accommodation and a real alpine feel, thanks to its location, which offers guaranteed snow December through April every year.
The best choice for those reliant on public transport is Hafjell, which has its own railway station on the Oslo-to-Trondheim line. The self-contained village has everything you need for a complete vacation but is also just 20 minutes away from Norway’s winter sports capital, Lillehammer.
More adventurous skiers should head north to the city of Narvik. The Narvikfjellet resort is a haven for off-piste fans with spectacular views, Scandinavia’s largest vertical drop, and the chance to ski from mountaintop down almost to fjord level. A trip here can be combined with a northern lights safari or a road trip on the Lofoten islands.
An exciting new venue from 2019
The world’s largest indoor ski center is set to open near Oslo in 2019, bringing year-round skiing to the Norwegian capital.
Under its roof, SNØ at Lørenskog Winter Park will offer a 505-meter-long alpine slope, a terrain park, and a 2-kilometer cross-country skiing loop with four parallel lanes. Frustrating queues should be kept to a minimum with modern ski lifts that will move up to 5,000 people per hour.
Managing Director Bård Windigstad explains that top athletes will not be given priority in the hall: “Everyone who plays tennis, for example, on a hobby basis knows how hard it can be to secure time. Many indoor courts are fully booked by clubs, so most of the available capacity is given to the most dedicated. It is difficult to just meet up with a friend and play a couple of matches. When the ski hall is completed, we will turn this approach on its head. The ski slope must always be ready for visitors, regardless of skill level. It will be a natural retreat for families with children, friends, businesses and tourists.”
Cross-country trails around the country
Norway is known as a ski-loving country, but it’s the cross-country variety that really gets the nation’s juices flowing. During the winter, visitors will find groomed trails that crisscross the entire country. These are prepared and maintained by a horde of willing volunteers, such is the love that Norwegians have for their national sport.
A diverse range of cabins can be found across the trails, varying from fully staffed accommodations with hot meals to unstaffed wooden huts designed purely for shelter.
During the winter months, it’s fairly easy and cheap to rent cross-country skis, bindings, and boots from ski resorts and sports stores in most major towns. Those interested in arranging their own multi-day cross-country vacation should contact the Norwegian Trekking Association (www.dnt.no) to learn about the trails and process for staying in the cabins.
Last but not least, complete your Norwegian skiing vacation with a trip to the nation’s most famous sporting arena. Overlooking the city, Oslo’s Holmenkollen arena features a beautiful world-class ski jump, biathlon and cross-country ski arena, ski simulator, and the national ski museum.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 15, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784.4617.