The Swiss Alps have long been the byword for luxurious European skiing, but those in the know are heading further north to Norway. This land of pine forests, towering peaks and deep fjords offers an abundance of varied terrain, making it perfect for mixed ability groups.
Despite Norway’s long cultural association with the sport – Norwegian Sondre Norheim is credited with inventing the first stable ski binding – it’s still a bit of a hidden gem. You can discover resorts that surprisingly few international visitors have been to.
For the quintessential experience, stay in a traditional log cabin. These can be found throughout Norway’s majestic mountains and have a rustic-chic ambience. You’ll find lodgings to suit all budgets, with plenty of luxury options boasting log fires, terraces with panoramic views and spa facilities.
Renowned as one of Europe’s most snow-sure resorts, Myrkdalen is a top destination for beginners and families. As well as designated pistes for those just finding their snow feet, the resort also hosts competitions for children throughout the school holiday season. They’re free to enter and everyone wins a prize: fantastic for boosting the little ones’ confidence on the slopes.
Child-free travellers will be impressed with the sheer variety of the 22 pistes. The three advanced black runs are sure to test experienced skiers, while the terrain park will keep adrenaline hunters on their toes. It’s a bit of a powder paradise, with an average snowfall of five metres and a season which stretches from mid-November until the end of May.
Norway’s largest and oldest ski resort, Trysil, is steeped in heritage: ski races have been held here for more than 150 years. The cone-shaped mountain provides a full 360 degrees of linked slopes, so sun-worshippers can follow it all day – or simply enjoy the peace of skiing through the shaded, tree-lined lower slopes.
Beginners and families will find a huge variety of pistes to play on, while experts should make a beeline for Høgegga, home to seven steep black runs and accessed by a high-speed chairlift.
As well as boasting a long season, with dry powder from November to late April, it also provides longer hours for those who want to maximise their time on the slopes. Three evenings a week you can try night skiing, with floodlit slopes creating a mystical backdrop from 5pm until 7:30pm. Early risers can hit the slopes at 8am three days a week, from the end of December until mid-April.
Listed as ‘one of the best ski resorts you’ve probably never heard of’ by The Telegraph, Beitostølen has two separate ski areas. Two of the slopes are lit during the evening, allowing skiers to continue their adventure after the sun has dipped below the horizon.
If you fancy something different from the usual Alpine skiing, you can try your hand at cross-country on the resort’s sprawling network of well-groomed trails, spanning more than 320km. This quiet resort, which is especially peaceful on weekdays, is an excellent choice for a family ski trip. Beginners will relish the opportunity to practice their moves on the uncrowded slopes, while parents can keep an eye on children even if they do zoom off in search of solo adventures.
Squeezed between two national parks – Hallingskarvet and Hardangervidda – Geilo benefits from some seriously exceptional views from its 39 varied pistes. Set in a valley, it has ski areas on both slopes and a regular bus to shuttle you from one side to the other. Snow-sure from mid-November to late April, this peaceful resort is renowned for its easy runs. While beginners and children firm up the basics, experts can bask in the sheer joy of practising full speed slalom turns and other advanced techniques on the wide, uncrowded slopes.
There are plenty of exceptional extra-curricular activities on offer, too. Guide a team of huskies on a dog sledding trip, go ice climbing on a frozen waterfall or enjoy whizzing through the powder behind a horse drawn sleigh.
Before and after
Add a bit of culture to your break by stopping overnight in Bergen, a UNESCO-listed medieval city famous for its colourful houses and Hanseatic history, or Norway’s verdant capital city Oslo. Both cities offer easy access to the country’s dramatic fjords, a mesmerising addition to any ski holiday.
Craig Burton is Managing Director of Ski Solutions. Ski Solutions is the UK’s original ski travel agent with over 30 years’ experience in delivering high-end ski holidays to Europe and North America.
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