Travel

Skiing Scandinavia – our guide and best tips

Go north for your next ski trip. Why? Because “fjellet” is fantastic, the skiing is awesome, the light is wonderful, and it is all about being together and “hygge“.

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By Lene Spang Dyrberg         Pictures: Åre Ola Mattsson/Skistar.com/VisitNorway Terje Rakke Nordic Life

Find your next Scandinavian ski destination in our complete guide to the most spectacular ski resorts in Norway and Sweden.

Below you will find a guide and review to three great resorts in Norway and two in Sweden. Now is the time to book if you want to go for Christmas or during the winter holiday in 2020. You can of course also opt for shorter stays during the low season.

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Norway: Three great but different resorts – Trysil, Hemsedal and Hafjell.

Trysil Ski Resort

Okay, I admit I have fallen in love with Trysil in Norway. Actually, so deeply in love that my family and I have bought a cabin there.

And why is that? Well, first of all, Trysil is Norway’s largest ski destination, it is family-friendly, and it has large children’s areas with varied skiing on long, wide slopes as well as challenging black slopes. There really is something for everyone.

In the morning, you can decide to be near the children’s area and the black slopes, and in the afternoon, the family can ski around Trysilfjellet – a round trip for the whole family – remember to stop for hot chocolate.

I have been skiing in Trysil for many years now and, despite this, our family still finds new ways to ski the area every year. During wintertime there are always many activities apart from just skiing: go sleigh riding or dog sledding, enjoy the great free entertainment in the kids’ area, participate in fun competitions and why not try out cross-country skiing as well?

Trysil offers truly great cross-country skiing and this form of skiing is an excellent break from alpine skiing. But consider yourself warned: once you’ve tried it, you will be hooked. In and around Trysilfjellet you can enjoy 100 km of cross-country trails. At www.trysil.com, you can download a trail map which gives an overview of both short and longer trails so that you can make a selection depending on your mood.

Insider-info: Do as the Norwegians do: bring a backpack with a thermos full of hot chocolate or coffee (or both) and a chocolate bar and say “Hei” (“Hello”) to everyone you meet. When you go cross-country skiing, you have the option to choose a tough physical training trip or a more relaxed family trip. The relaxed trip enables you to take the time to enjoy the wonderful surroundings.

Prices: When it comes to shopping, you have to remember that this is Norway. It is expensive and it is hard to buy a beer or a glass of wine for less than NOK 60 in the bars and hotels.

On the other hand, it is actually possible to buy lunch on the mountain for a fair price and you can buy very cheap hot chocolate near the children’s ski areas.

Trysil has a wide range of small restaurants scattered across the mountain. My personal favourites are “Knettsetra” where you have to sit near the fireplace in their Vaffelstua and try the waffles. To get there, take “Sindretrekket”, “Fjellekspressen” or “Knetta” ski lift.

Another great place is the “Skihytta” with a stunning view, good food and aprés ski with music (take note that at the peak hours around noon it can be difficult to find seating.) To get there, take “Fjellekspressen” or “Lieekspressen” and ski left.

Accommodation:
You have the opportunity to rent a cabin (you can also rent large cabins for more than one family) or stay at one of Trysil’s two fantastic resort hotels: Radisson Blu Resort, Trysil, and Radisson Blu Mountain Resort & Residences, Trysil.

I have stayed at the Radisson Blu Resort in Trysil several times and I highly recommend it. The resort offers a wonderful spa, fitness room, indoor pool and a great restaurant.

Of course, staying in a cabin is something quite special and when you come home to your cabin after a long day of skiing, it is just great to make some hot chocolate and play a board game while you sit near the fireplace (almost mandatory in all cabins); you’ll never want to leave!

Whether you choose a hotel or a cabin, the good thing about staying in Trysil is that almost all accommodation is located right next to the slopes. If you want to stay in Trysil town instead of near the slopes, it is possible to stay at the reopened Trysil Hotell where you can stay overnight for a fair price. The hotel also has a restaurant and a wonderful bakery.

Top Tips:
Check out www.trysil.com and www.skistar.com (select destination “Trysil”). On these two homepages, you will find all the information you need about accommodation, ski schools, events and restaurants. Good to know: if you decide to call about information the staff is very nice, fluent in English and will help you out in any way possible.

How to get there:

Flying: Book a ticket to Gardamoen (the airport close to Oslo – the capital of Norway). If you book your ticket in advance, you can get quite cheap tickets. Right outside the terminal, you take “Trysilexpressen” – a bus that will take you on a two-hour drive to Trysil. A ticket costs approximately DKK 240. Book your ticket and check out the time schedule at www.norway.no. The bus takes you directly to your destination.

Driving: Trysil is about a 2.5-hour drive northeast of Oslo – quite close to the Swedish border. Use Google Maps to find the shortest distance. From Denmark, it is an eight to ten-hour drive.

Extra info:
Consider spending your next Christmas or New Year’s Eve in Trysil. It is absolutely astonishing and relaxing. If you check out the destinations right now, you get a discount for booking your Christmas holiday in advance. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the small town of Trysil, where you can find ample shopping such as sports shops, supermarkets, and a pharmacy. This small town is indeed very “hyggelig”.

Trysil is also great fun in the summer. It’s great for mountain biking, climbing, fishing and hiking. As the winter season is the most important season, you will find that accommodation is much more affordable in the summer and you can find great deals at the Radisson Blu Resort, Trysil in the summer.

Hemsedal

Another favourite place; not as big a resort as Trysil, however Hemsedal is known as the “Scandinavian Alps”.

Hemsedal offers skiing at all levels and has a wide range of slopes. Some of the slopes are perhaps a bit more challenging than in Trysil.

Three summits surround the ski resort and one of my favourites is the Roni summit, which offers excellent skiing for the whole family. As in Trysil, you can also find great places to eat on the mountain. Check out your piste map to find the restaurants. My favourite is Fjellkafeen. Take the Holvin Express to the top, ski right and then you find this lovely restaurant with breath-taking views and easy access to Fjellheisen, – the lift that will bring you close to the peak Tinden.

The great thing about Hemsedal is the easily accessible off-piste skiing and this makes the destination very popular amongst experienced skiers and snowboarders.

Prices: Still in Norway, eating, drinking and skiing comes at a price.

Accommodation:
In Hemsedal, you also have the opportunity to rent cabins or to stay at Hemsedal’s hotel in the middle of the ski-area, the Alpin Lodge. There are a few more hotels in Hemsedal, which you can find on the website. I have stayed at Alpin Lodge a few times and when you are a family, it just works.

Alpin Lodge consists of apartments with modern architecture and large windows, and it is situated right next to the children’s ski area. The Alpin Lodge has a reception, grocery store, ski rental, ski shop, restaurant and bar. Whether you choose a hotel or a cabin, almost all accommodation is located right next to the slopes.

Top Tips:
Check out www.hemsedal.com and www.skistar.com (select destination “Hemsedal”) and you will find all the information you need about accommodation, ski schools, events and restaurants. Again, if you decide to phone for information, the staff is very nice, fluent in English and will help you out in any way possible.

How to get there:

Flying: Book a ticket to Gardamoen. Right outside the terminal, you can take the transfer bus to Hemsedal. Take note, the transfer bus only runs on two days per week and you have to book in advance.

Driving: Hemsedal is located between Norway’s two largest cities, Oslo and Bergen. Use Google Maps to find the shortest distance. From Denmark, it is an eight to ten-hour drive.

Hafjell

If you prefer smaller ski resorts, you should consider Hafjell.

Hafjell is situated 15 km north of Lillehammer. The Lillehammer region is well known for hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 1994. Have you ever watched the Netflix series “Lillyhammer”? There you go; go there in person and experience the Lillehammer region.

In Hafjell there are plenty of opportunities for both cross-country and alpine skiing, even if Hafjell is known especially for its cross-country skiing. If you ride the Gondola to Mosetertoppen, you reach the beautiful Øyer mountain plateau, which offers a scenic view and gives you access to great tracks.

If you prefer alpine skiing, two lifts and a gondola will take you around the mountain and from there you can pick your favourite from the 16 slopes. Hafjell has several ski areas only for kids and it offers varied skiing on long, wide slopes as well as challenging black slopes.

Accommodation:
It is very easy to find accommodation in Hafjell, just check out www.hafjell.no. Apartments and cabins are scattered all over the mountain. Hotels: Scandic Hafjell and Hafjell Hotel. Again, almost all accommodation is located right next to or on the slopes.

How to get there:

Flying: Book a ticket to Gardamoen. From there you can take the train or bus to Lillehammer, and from Lillehammer take the bus to Hafjell (a 20-minute drive). Check timetables at www.lillehammer.com.

Driving: Hafjell (Lillehammer) has a central location in Norway as it is located along the E6, approximately 180 km north of Oslo and is easy to reach by car. Use Google Maps to find the shortest distance.

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Find here our guide to Sweden’s two great ski areas are Åre and Sålen

Åre

If you want to combine skiing and shopping, you should choose Åre in Sweden. Åre is often called “Northern Europe’s cosiest and trendiest mountain village”. Maybe you will recognise some of the pistes from the televised broadcasts of the World Cup competition. The ski destination consists of three areas:

Åre village:
Often called “The big city in miniature form”, this area offers northern Europe’s greatest vertical drop. The area consists of both challenging off-piste skiing and mile after mile of ski trails and pistes. In the village, you will find cosy mountain restaurants and great shopping opportunities. During the winter season, the village is buzzing with different nationalities and during the darkest months, you can enjoy night skiing as well.

Duved:
The Duved area is located 10 km west of Åre. The ski slopes are perfect for long rides and the pace is somewhat slower than in Åre Village. It is important to know that the area’s lift system is connected with Tegefjäll and the area therefore offers varied skiing on mainly green, blue and red pistes.

Åre Björnen:
5 km east of Åre village is Åre Björnen. This area is focused mainly on families with children and you will find a lot of beginner and children’s slopes. Åre Björnen is connected to the rest of Åre’s ski system.

Accommodations:
As in Norway, you can choose between great hotels, apartments and mountain cabins – just choose the area where you want to stay.

Most of the places are situated close to restaurants and offer ski in/ski out. It is very easy to find good restaurants and places to eat on the mountain. When in Sweden, you have to try “Kanelbullar” (cinnamon buns). They are absolutely delicious after a long day’s skiing! Remember, if you book your stay early – well ahead of the season – you will get a good discount.

Top Tips:
Check out www.skistar.com (select destination “Åre”) and you will find all the information you need about accommodation, ski schools, events and restaurants.

How to get there:

Flying: There are two airports located within a comfortable distance: Trondheim Airport Vaernes and Åre Östersund airport – the latter is closest to Åre.
If you choose to fly to Åre Östersund, there are convenient transfer buses to take you the 80km to the Åre region.

Driving: If you choose to drive, you should prepare yourself for a long drive to Åre. From Copenhagen, it is approximately 1,200 km but the roads are normally in good condition. Use Google Maps to find the shortest distance.

Train: There are direct night trains from Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg, all of which are easy to reach by day trains. The night train from Malmö via Stockholm is designed to fit in with changeover days (Thursdays and Sundays) and runs from Christmas until Easter.

Sälen

Sälen is the largest alpine skiing destination in Sweden and is very family friendly. Sälen consists of four ski areas: Lindvallen, Högfjället, Tandådalen and Hundfjället, which together offer varied skiing on over 100 runs. In Lindvallen, you will find Experium: a water park, indoor surfing, 3D cinema, bowling, shopping, good food and a relaxing spa. There is also a gym and a playground. In all the ski areas, you are close to supermarkets and restaurants.

Accommodation:
In Sälen you can choose between great hotels, apartments and mountain cabins – just choose the area where you want to stay. If you stay in Lindvallen, I can recommend the hotel Ski Lodge or Hotell Bügelhof – high quality and close to the ski area and, as with the other ski destinations mentioned in this article, most of the places are situated close to restaurants and offer ski in/ski out. The four ski areas cover a large territory and buses run daily during the winter season between Hundfjället and Lindvallen. The buses are free if you have a Ski Pass. Sälen is located close to the Norwegian border and is only a 30-minute drive from the Trysil ski area.

Top Tips:
Check out www.skistar.com and select destination “Sälen”. Here you will find all the information about the ski areas.

How to get there:

Flying: You can choose to fly from Helsingborg (Ängelholm) in Skåne and an hour later you will land at Mora airport. From there, take the transfer bus from Mora to Sälen. The transfer takes approximately two hours.

Driving: Sälen is a two-hour drive northeast of Oslo and five hours from Stockholm and is very close to the Nowegian border. From Denmark, it is an eight to ten-hour drive. Use Google Maps to find the shortest distance.

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Join your local Danish ski club

Skiing in Scandinavia is a truly unique experience. If you want to make it even more fun, why not join one of your local ski clubs in Denmark? As a member you get the benefit of highly skilled ski instructors, the possibility of ski-fitness classes together with other members (hard work and good laughs!!) and, during the winter, they often arrange one-day trips to Vallåsen in Sweden (a one-hour drive from Copenhagen). It’s a great way to make new friends and do something fun. The ski clubs also arrange skiing trips during the season (winter holidays/Easter/long weekends).

Pictures below:Visitnorway.com/Foap/Tejre Rakke/Nordic Life