Top 5 ski destinations in Norway

When talking about the nation’s favorite sport in Norway, there’s only one truly correct answer – skiing! With pristine snow, thousands of kilometers of trails and slopes, and an unwavering nationwide obsession, the country is tailor-made for any kind of skiing. Here we’ll look at the nation’s top 5 skiing destinations, both for cross-country skiing and alpine skiing!

1. Sjusjøen

In a country where skiing enthusiasts are already spoilt for choice, Sjusjøen is the top cross-country ski pick for many. Located 178 km north of Oslo and a mere 20 km to the east of Lillehammer town, Sjusjøen boasts world-class cross-country trails which attracts both the recreational skier (the likes of the Susjøen Rundt and the Gjesbusåsrunden are great for family trips and novices, while the Birkebeiner trail is a good option for the more seasoned cross-country skier) as well as the international elite professionals, many of whom use Sjusjøen as a training base.

If you prefer alpine skiing or snowboarding over cross-country skiing, Sjusjøen facilitates for this too, with slopes at all levels at Sjusjøen Skisenter.

The area plays host to many hotels and hostels – and of course cabins, for the true Norwegian experience – making Sjusjøen a very attractive destination for all.

Photo by Jack Church

2. Norefjell

Another great option, if you want to combine cross-country and alpine skiing in one trip, is Norefjell. Norefjell lies just 130 km northwest of Oslo, and the long season and close proximity to the capital make Norefjell a winter favorite among Norwegians. The area is situated within the Scandes mountains and is noted for its largely hilly terrain and the sprawling 26 km of alpine slopes. It also has the highest vertical drop of any ski resort in northern Europe – a massive 1010 m! However, Norefjell is well-known as a family-orientated area, and a big draw is the Norefjell ski-and spa ski school which offers a selection of activities off piste as well as top-class lessons for budding skiers.

If you rather want to go cross-country skiing, Norefjell offers 200 km of trails, for all levels. If you manage to make it all the way to Høgevarde, you will be rewarded with one of Norway’s most spectacular views!

3. Oslo Marka

‘Marka’ is the term used for the forested areas surrounding Norway’s capital, Oslo, and is a favorite among locals for activities such as fishing, hiking and of course cross-country skiing. The area is vast – a massive 2600 km of skiing track awaits you! Again, there are different difficulty levels of routes to appease both novices and veterans, and the biggest draw may be the nearly 100 km of ‘lit’ trail, which provides a stunning, atmospheric ski in the evenings. There are cabin cafes all along the routes – some of them only open during the night tours – where you can stop to take in the gorgeous nature around you or snack on a warm pastry.

4. Geilo

Geilo is roughly equidistant between Oslo and Bergen (little over 230 km from each) and is on the rail line between the two cities making the town easily-accessible. Famous explicitly for its skiing scene, there is 550 km of cross-country ski tracks. Cross-country isn’t the only variety of winter activity on offer here either – dog sledding and ski-kiting are also hugely popular in these parts! Geilo also serves as the gateway to both the Hallinskarvet and the Hardangervidda national parks, both of which are home to animals such as reindeers and arctic foxes.

For alpine skiing, you may choose between 39 slopes, ranging from children’s’ slopes to the more challenging “black slopes”. With a total of 35 km of slopes and 3 ski parks, SkiGeilo offers great variety.

As you can see, a small town with so much to offer, you’ll never get bored in Geilo!

Photo by Willem de Meyer

5. Hovden

Last but not least on our list is the winter village of Hovden – the largest ski destination in southern Norway. Located south of the aforementioned Hardangervidda national park, the village sits in the Setesdalsheiene mountains making it a natural draw for skiers. Hovden Alpinsenter boasts 33 alpine slopes, a total of 42,5 km. For cross-country skiing, Hovden offers 180 km of trails, suitable both for adults and kids. Away from the trails, you may be lucky enough to spot one of the herds of wild reindeer that roam the mountains.

Photo by Daniel Frank