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Where to Ski Next Winter: Norway

In our occasional series we are looking at areas to ski next winter that offer something a little bit different. Norway is one of our favourites – the Scandinavian country is most certainly not the Alps, but that’s good.

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We can imagine the comments from the doubters.

  • There are no real mountains, they’re hills.
  • It’s not the place to go for downhill skiing.
  • It’s cold and dark.
  • It’s expensive.

Not all of the above are true and even if they are, they should be considered against the advantages.

  • You can ski in many Norwegian resorts from November to May.
  • The snow conditions are fabulous thanks to its latitude.
  • The slopes are quiet.
  • It offers a unique and genuine ‘winter experience’.

At PlanetSKI we are great fans of Norway and have missed our fix this winter.

It’s on our list for 2021-22.

Here’s a brief guide to some of the country’s main ski areas that come under the banner of Norway – Home of Skiing.

Beitostølen

Pronounced Bait-oh-stir-len, the resort is 900m above sea level and can usually boast snow from November to May.

There are two ski areas.

The village centre is suitable for children, families and beginners. The alpine centre at Raudalen across the valley has more challenging slopes.

Two of the slopes are floodlit.

There’s a snow park and 320km of cross country ski trails.

Everything in the village is within walking distance.

Beitostølen

Season: December-May

Nearest Airport: Oslo

Transfer time: 3.5 hrs

Ski lifts: 9

Ski runs: 21 (5% advanced, 35% intermediate, 60% beginners)

Geilo

Pronounced Yay-lo, there are 50 slopes and both large and small snow parks.

The slopes come right down into the town centre, which is at 800m altitude.

All facilities are close by and there’s a ski bus from the accommodation to the lifts.

It’s a family friendly resort with separate areas for youngsters.

Geilo

Children under seven ski free and the crèche takes babies from 6 months old.

There are a massive 550km of prepared and marked cross country tracks.

It’s a popular resort for well-being and spa facilities.

Season: December-May

Nearest airport: Oslo, Bergen Airport Flesland

Transfer time: 3.5hrs by car

Ski lifts: 20

Ski runs: 40 (6% advanced, 39% intermediate, 55% beginners)

Hafjell

The resort is 15 minutes north of Lillehammer and hosted the slalom and giant slalom races at the 1994 Winter Olympics.

There are wide open runs and some challenging slopes for experienced skiers on the Olympic runs.

There are also terrain parks for all abilities.

The snow conditions are fantastic.  As well as frequent early and continued snowfall throughout the winter, there are 200 snow cannons, covering 90% of the resort.

Hafjell

Hafjell is one of the most popular ski destinations in Scandinavia but, remarkably, it can feel empty on the slopes.

And the views are spectacular too.

We were last there in 2019 when we also visited Kvitfjell (see below).

There are three family areas – one at the base of the slopes, one at the top of the gondola and one at the top of the mountain.

At Mosetertoppen there is the Ski Movie arena: a slalom slope with real start gates, a timer and filming.

Season: November – April

Nearest Airport: Oslo

Transfer time: 2 hours

Ski lifts: 19

Ski runs: 30 (30% advanced, 40% intermediate, 30% beginners)

Kvitfjell

The resort was original developed to host the downhill alpine events at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics.

It still regularly hosts World Cup downhill and super G races and has slopes for all abilities.

Kvitfjell downhill start

There are three distinct sides that make up the ski area at Kvitfjell: the newly expanded Varden area, Kvitfjell Vest (west) and the original ski area of Kvitfjell itself – home to the Olympic downhill.

The lifts connect you to all three.

The Olympiabakken downhill course, which was designed by Bernhard Russi, is highly regarded among the world’s best skiers.

Children can try their own World Cup slope with start gates and timing.

There are wide slopes with easy lifts for kids and beginners and a beginners’ terrain park as well as a more difficult one with jumps and rails of varying degrees of difficulty.

Kvitfjell

Season: November-April

Nearest airport: Oslo

Transfer time: 3 hours

Ski lifts: 14

Ski runs: 33 (35% advanced, 40% intermediate, 25% beginners)

Myrkdalen

A modern resort good for beginners and the more experienced and a great place to go if you are a mix of novices and advanced skiers.

The piste area is small but for good skiers there is plenty of untracked off-piste and some of the best snow in Europe.

Myrkdalen is described as ‘blissfully uncrowded’ and is snow-sure from December to May.

Myrkdalen

It’s set in a region of fjords and frozen lakes and, although it has grown every year since it was born in 2003, it is still relatively undiscovered.

Most slopes are wide and open, so is a good choice for learning to ski.

If you fancy something to do off the slopes, you can learn to fly with indoor sky diving.

Season: December-May

Nearest Airport: Bergen

Transfer Time: 2 Hours

Ski Lifts: 9

Ski Runs: 22 (20% advance, 50% intermediates, 30% beginners)

Narvik

A year-round resort that should be on every skier’s wish list, Narvik is in the far north of Norway with incredible views of mountains and fjords and, if you’re lucky, the Northern Lights.

Northern Lights in Narvik – photo Jan Arne Pettersen

It’s perfect for off-piste adventures with the one of the largest vertical drops in Scandinavia and there are several technically-demanding slopes.

The cable car in Narvik was the first cable car in Northern Europe when it was completed in 1957. A new cable car was built and opened in 2019.

Nearest Airport: Narvik Airport Evenes, Harstad

Transfer Time: 1 hour

Ski lifts: 6

Ski Runs: 15

Narvik

Norefjell

It has a variety of slopes for all abilities and two snowparks.

It is the mountain area closest to the capital, Oslo.

It has the highest vertical drops of all ski resorts in northern Europe with 1,010 metres.

There’s skiing from the top at 1,188m almost all the way down to the lake.

There are views over eastern Norway and the lakes.

Norefjell

If you like your luxury and comfort, try the award-winning ski-in-ski-out Norefjell Ski & Spa at 800 metres.It has a heated garage for your car, a gym and swimming pool.

The Wellness Spa at Norefjell has also won awards.

Season: November-April

Nearest Airport: Oslo

Transfer Time: 2 hours

Ski lifts: 14

Ski runs: 30 (12% advanced, 27% intermediate, 61% beginners)

Norefjell

Voss

Voss is the largest resort in western Norway in the heart of the Fjords.

It  benefits from a short transfer from Bergen.

The slopes vary in difficulty and there are three designated children’s areas.

The accommodation includes modern apartments and self-service cabins.

Voss

Season: December-May

Nearest Airport: Bergen Airport Flesland

Transfer time: 1.5 hours

Ski lifts: 11

Ski runs: 24 (15% advanced, 45% intermediate, 40% beginners)

PHOTOS: Norway – Home of Skiing

Past PlanetSKI Visits to Norway

We have been skiing in Norway each winter for the past ten years or so.

Here are a few past articles from the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.

PlanetSKI in Norway 2018

PlanetSKI in Norway 2018

Beitostolen

Geilo

Hafjell

Kvitjjell

Myrkdalen

Norefjell

Skiing in Norway

Skiing in Norway

Coronavirus

Norway has done well in its battle with the pandemic and went into an early lockdown that was broadly respected and enforced.

It has seen 78,041 confirmed cases and 639 deaths, though cases are now rising and extra restrictions are being implemented in places.

It currently has 80 confirmed cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

A month ago it was around half that number.

We wrote about the county’s successful fight again the virus in February, ahead of the current rise.

Current Covid-19 Rules for Arrival into Norway

Here are the rules as reported in The Local – Norway:

Under current restrictions, everyone who arrives in Norway via air travel is tested with a rapid Covid-19 test, which takes between 15-20 minutes to deliver a result.

They will then have to quarantine for 10 days either at home or a quarantine hotel.

Just under one percent of the rapid tests at airports are positive, Peder Anker, medical manager at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport.

Passengers are also required to complete a registration form prior to crossing the border, which has to be presented to border control.

Foreign travellers must also present a negative test taken less than 24 hours before entry.

Those who already live in Norway, citizens, children under 12 and people who have had Covid-19 in the previous 6 months (confirmed with a valid lab test), or those who travel between Sweden or Finland regularly for work or study, and health care workers are exempt.

Those arriving from Great Britain, South Africa, Ireland, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Brazil are subject to additional rules, such as taking a more thorough Covid test.

This, however, could change under new rules where everyone would have to stay at a quarantine hotel regardless of whether they are a resident or a citizen.

“To ensure that the quarantine is maintained, we can do so by ensuring that everyone who has traveled and defied the travel advice, must go to a quarantine hotel. This is something we consider essential to be completely confident that quarantine is properly carried out”, Mæland said.

A requirement for all quarantine to take place at hotels could potentially be brought in to ensure quarantine is properly observed. 

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