The Daily Scandinavian team has explored the best ski resorts in Norway. Norwegians passion for snow sports makes the country a superb winter holiday destination, for beginners as well as seasoned ski enthusiasts. Here’s our One Stop Guide to Skiing in Norway.
Norway’s snow conditions are so reliable that many resorts offer a snow guarantee from November to May.
Oslo Winter Park
Half an hour by the tube from the Oslo City Center, you’re in winter wonderland. If you’re into sledge running, you can start with the city’s free-to-use 2km Corkscrew (Korketrekkeren in Norwegian). The sledge run starts near a tube stop, and the tube also brings you back to the start from the end of the run. There is also an off-piste 10-minutes thrilling stretch a bit from the station, from where you also can enjoy the stunning view of the twinkling lights from the city center and the glittering water of the Oslo fjord.
If you take the tube some more stops to Frognerseteren you’re in the middle of Oslo Winter Park with its 11 lifts and 18 slopes from 138 to 529 meters and 10.2 kilometers pistes. Enjoy skiing through snow-drenched trees, across frozen lakes, uphill and down.
Views of the illuminated Holmenkollen ski jump at night from downtown Oslo are almost as good as the other way around. The ski jump is not far from the Winter Park
Oslo Winter Park is open until 10pm most days.
Croos-country skiing in Norway is a cool sport. There are more than 2,600km tracks around Oslo, and plenty of opportunities both day and night (in lighted slopes).
About 110km drive by car or bus north-west from Oslo, you’re in the middle of impressive spa resort facilities in the ski area that hosted the Alpine ski events for the Oslo 1952 Winter Olympics.
The Norefjell spa resort is set on a tranquil forested hill overlooking the Lake Kroederen in the municipal of Noresund. There are slopes both above and below the hotel, which means guests can go skiing right from the entrance and glide to the nearest ski lift.
Here is also one of the greatest vertical drops (1,008m) in Scandinavia, and was in fact the Olymoic debut of Giant Slalom in 1952. The resort boasts being a part of the very first purpose-built ‘athlete’s village’ of the modern Olympic Games. Norefjell was voted Norway’s Leading Spa Resort in 2011.
There are three slopes for beginners, one reserved for children only. Located just below the mid-altitude resort village there’s a small terrain park, equipped with a basic selection of rails, jib modules and jumps.
Most of the slopes are surrounded by a sheltering forest of pine and birch, softening the landscape and providing useful points of reference in flat-light conditions. The most testing slopes are find at the mid sections of the lower sector runs, one of them reckoned to be the steepest black piste in Norway.
The uppermost sector is open and above the tree line and offers easy runs, except a couple of the area’s longest red runs.
Sleigh rides, dog-sledding, and go-karting or quad-biking on snow circuits are offered as excursions in the surrounding district. Floodlit night skiing sessions are also possible on a couple of evenings each week.
Norefjell has become a popular year-round conference and wedding destination as well as a stylish weekend retreat for Oslo urbanites, attracting as many non-skiing winter visitors as it does skiers and snowboarders. The resort facilities include indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools plus a range of hydro-massage pools. A wide range of wellness and beauty treatments are offered.
Evenings are very civilized and focused on fine dining in the restaurants in the resort’s two main hotels.
Set in the heart of southern Norway, halfway between Oslo and Bergen, Geilo is a resort bustling with life. In Norway’s oldest ski resort there are 34km of pistes, and plenty to entertain. The longest run is black with genuinely steep pitches leading down to Godt Brod Café where you are offered hot chocolate made with Belgian chocolate pellets.
With the arrival of the Bergen-Oslo railway in 1909, the area has grown and is to-day flanked by two ski areas with 20 lifts and 40 runs covering 35km.
Situated 1,065m above sea level, the resort is treeless and home to arctic foxes, northern Europe’s largest herd of reindeer and snowy owls in Norway’s largest national park, Hardangervidda, which is also the largest mountain plateau in Northern Europe.
Visitors can choose accommodation from five-star hotels to traditional Norwegian log cabins. Uncrowded slopes make Geilo well suited for beginners, families and intermediates.
The resort is quiet, especially during the week, so if you enjoy skiing on perfectly groomed, uncrowded slopes, Geilo is the place to be. And after a snowfall you don’t even have to leave the marked runs to get a taste of that fresh powder feel beneath your skis. However, Geilo us much lovelier during week-ends.
Activities in Geilo include husky safari, ice fishing – and the search for Santa. We recommend a visit to Langedrag nature park and mountain farm where you can see arctic foxes, lynx, fjord ponies, wolves, yak and reindeer.
Intermediately skiers can enjoy large terrain park built after the local 2013 X-games female ski gold medal winner Tiril Sjastad Christensen. The more challenging ones should try the off-piste Korken sector.
Scandinavian cuisine is world famous, and Geilo has its own celebrity chef, Frode Aga, whose Hallingstuene restaurant offers delicious dishes using local ingredients. There are, however, restaurants and eating places for everyone in Geilo.
We definitely recommend you to take the Bergen-Oslo train, one of the world’s most scenic journeys between the capital and Norway’s second largest city.
With the Bitihorn mountain as a backdrop, Beitostolen is an unspoilt village in the Valdres region, overlooking Lake Oyangen. The resort has two separate ski areas, one above Beitostølen and one at Raudalen, 10 minutes away by free shuttle bus.
Beitostolen is situated just under 40km north of the small regional town of Fagernes and around 150km drive west of Lillehammer.
The resort has 9 lifts, 21 pistes and a modest number of gentle slopes. The resort offers snowmobiling on a purpose-built track, a facility where you can slide down the slopes in a large inflatable boat, husky sledding and an extensive network (more than 300km) of cross-country skiing trails.
Beitostolen is a host venue for the Cross-Country World Cup and Biathlon World Cup, with a total of 320km of world-class cross-country trails to explore
The village center has a handful of basic shops and bars plus a couple of comfortable low-rise hotels surrounded by attractive traditional-styled cabins.
Beitostolen is more a “Winter Park” than a ski resort, with a surrounding terrain offering a wide range of outdoor activities for young as well as old, like ski-joering (horse-drawn skiing), airboarding and snow-rafting. The resort is very family-focused. However, more experienced skiers and snowboarders have a choice of a more challenging ski area reached by the shuttle bus.
There is also a dedicated kite-skiing zone on a long plateau above the main slopes.
Trysil, situated on the Swedish border and only about two hours north of Oslo, is Norway’s largest ski resort with 31 lifts and 75km of slopes. Even though it is Norway’s most visited resort, there’s a real sense of space and isolation here. Trysil is also steeped in ski history, in fact one of the first resorts known to have held a ski competition, ski jumping back in 1862. Trysil was voted the ‘best resort in Norway’ at the 2013 World Ski Awards.
The resort has four levels of terrain, from advanced black line via red and blue down to green for children and beginners. There are 31 lifts and 75km of slopes. The pistes are well maintained and bashed flat every day. There are three designated children’s areas. There is also good night skiing on six floodlit pistes.
Most of the accommodation in Trysil is located below the tree line. You can choose between luxury spa hotels and cozy cabins. Ski-in/ski-out is the trade mark of Trysil.
With its 24 lifts and 47km pistes, family-friendly Hemsedal has a broad appeal. The area is often called the Scandinavian Alps or Chamonix of the north because of its steep mountains. Some claim that Hemsedal has the best extreme off-piste terrain in Norway, with an impressive 800m vertical descent. However, a recently rebuilt state-of-the-art terrain park, donsidered one of Europe’s finest, is well suited for intermediate and expert freestylers alike. It has new design features to improve safety. A separate park next to it caters for beginners. Floodlight skiing on nine slopes several nights a week offer a different challenge.
A green route that snakes from the highest point of 1,497m down to the base at 640m has become an attractive feature, allowing confident beginners to travel from top to bottom.
Experts will probably prefer several of the black pistes or a lot of off-piste.
The resort has the biggest dedicated kids’ area in Norway, covering 70,000 sq m, hosting a special children’s event in April, the Donald Duck Winter Games.
Hemsedal is a relatively small ski area, located 3 hours from Oslo. Hemsedal is divided in two parts, the town center and the Ski center, a bus ride apart. Efforts have been made to integrate the two.
The area has 120km of prepared trails in the valley and another 90km at altitude. No doubt, that Norway is the home of cross-country skiing.
During week-ends, Hemsedal is a lively party place, with several bars and nightclubs.
Hovden is southern Norway’s largest ski resort, set in the Setesdal Valley and within easy reach of Oslo. Since the chairlift to the summit of 1183m Nos was constructed in 1968, Hovden has been offering classic Norwegian ski experience.
There is a total of 34.2km of groomed runs, a vertical drop of 420m, 2 four-person express lifts, five ski towns and one two-person lift, all serving 9,000 people an hour. There are some very challenging off-piste slopes.
The “Bukkerittet” terrain park is considered one of the best snowboard parks in Norway, offering a good range of rails and boxes as well as big jumps, funboxes and various other jumps.
“Tusseland” children’s area offers special children’s pistes, platter lifts and a magic carpet.
Other ski-activities include snowshoeing, ice skating and dog sledding. The area is also excellent for ice-climbing.
There are several restaurants and bars.
Lillehammer, around two hours by train northwards from Oslo, and host to the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, contains actually five ski resorts – Hafjell, Skeikampen, Kvitfjell, Gala and Sjusjøen. The five alpine centers mean that you can access 92 runs over 117km of varied terrain, but you need a car to make the most of the experience, since they all are between a 10-minute or a one-hour drive from Lillehammer center.
Hafjell, with 17 lifts and 31 runs, totaling 40.5km, is the main ski area, just 15km north of Lillehammer, served by a free ski bus. It offers a very passable 835m vertical descent.
Kvitfjell, with 29km of runs and a vertical of 854m, is 45 minutes north of Lillehammer. It includes an Olympic downhill run. The runs can be divided into 60% easy runs, 27% red and 13% black.
Skeikampen, with just 17 runs totaling 21km and just 350 vertical, is 38km north of Lillehammer.
Gala, boasts the highest summit of the dive at 1,148m), is 89km north of Lillehammer.
Susjøen, opened in 2003, is 20km north of Lillehammer and its six-seater express lift serves a network of downhill runs and trails.
Since Lillehammer offers five ski resorts it is unique in Norway, in that it can offers the trills of the hills by day and a full-blown urban experience in the evening, if you’re staying in the town. However, all the five centers have their own accommodation.
The main off-slope buzz in Lillehammer is the Olympic bobsleigh ride, which clocks up speeds of up to 120kph and 5G of gravitational pull. The Hunderfossen Winter Park with its fairytale theme, ice sculptures and Troll Walks, emphasizes how good Norway is for families.
The old lake-side town of Voss in south-western Norway is dominated by the 810m Mount Hangur. The ski resort is set amidst Norway’s stunningly beautiful fjord scenery and offers 40km of intermediate pistes, but is also renowned for its off-piste. Voss hosts several large international ski competitions and world cup events as well as the famous Extreme Sports Week.
The mid-sized regional center of Voss is a tourist destination, so it has a better selection of shops and après-ski venues than most Norwegian ski resorts. It’s easily reached by train from Bergen and Oslo, a great journey in itself.
The resort offers excellent nursery slopes as well as demanding terrain for the most experienced. Mount Hangur is easily accessible via a cable car running from Voss center, or from the lift at Bavallen car park, where instruction in alpine, snowboard and Telemark skiing is offered.
Voss has hosted many FIS World Cup Races, and there are several runs for advanced skiers, the most challenging being descents from Floytesteinen and Slettafjell.
Voss is a great place to get on a board for the first time as the cable car straight from the town to the nursery area at the top of the mountain means there’s no need to master a drag lift too early on in your riding career.
There’s also a small partner resort, Voss Fjellandsby Myrkdalen, situated in Myrkdalen, 15 miles from Voss.. A ski bus service operates between the two at weekends and during the holidays.
While you’re in Flam, don’t miss the Flam Railway taking you steeply up and down several thousand feet to Sognefjord amongst some truly spectacular fjord scenery. It’s easily accessible by rail from Voss.
East of Ålesund, on the north-west coast of Norway, you can ski on an UNESCO World Heritage site, and Stranda is the only place you can ski from mountain top all the way down to sea level.
Strandafjellet offers well pisted slopes for beginners with an average of 8m of snow every winter. Powder lovers should visit Strandafjellet.
A small but stunning ski resort in the fjords of Arctic Norway offers both on and off piste runs. Narvikfjell is renowned for having the best off-piste skiing in Scandinavia, as well as one of Scandinavia’s largest drop heights. However, one of the moist memorable aspects of skiing in Narvik is the view, since the slopes cross the side of the mountain overlooking the town and the fjord. Many claims that Narvik offers some of the best skiing views available in Europe. Best of all is that they are accessible for everyone, from beginners and up.
Narvik is also the start point of the Ofoten railway that runs from Norway through to Kiruna in Swedish Lapland. This iconic route is becoming popular with the winter crowd as it stops at 2 fantastic ski resorts in Sweden, but is also a great way to see more of the breathtaking rolling fells and snow-capped forests that dominate this region.
While being in Narvik, you will have the possibility to hunt Northern Lights, visit local wildlife or cruise on the fjord.
Your One Stop Guide to Skiing in Norway, compiled by The Daily Scandinavian Team
Feature image (on top): Skiers in Oslo. Photo: Odd Stiansen/VisitOslo