Norway is well known for its long, cold winters and heavy snowfalls. Its many mountains are covered with snow from early autumn to late spring making a long season for Norwegian ski holidays. But did you know there are 5 different types of skiing in Norway to try?
The saying goes that Norwegians are “born with skis on”, so they know how to take advantage of the long winters. They have been skiing for more than 4,000 years, and it is here skiing first became a sport, rather than just transport!
Almost half (44 per cent) of the country consist of mountains and open terrain. And with just 15 inhabitants per km2, Norway has the second lowest population density in Europe. All the better to get out into the wilderness and enjoy the winter as there is plenty to do. Have a look at the Petit Futé tips for travelling to Norway for ideas beyond skiing.
Norwegian ski holidays mean different things to different people. Of course you can just ski how you normally do on vacation, but why not try one of these different types of skiing instead?
Cross-country skiing, also called Nordic skiing, is the traditional Norwegian style of skiing. All across the country you can find trails in forests, over frozen lakes and in mountains, where you are as likely to pass a three year old as you are an eighty three year old.
Lillehammer is popular with more than 1,000 kilometres of trails just two hours away from the capital, Oslo. It’s busy around Easter when trails are full of people on cross country skis. People rest along the way, often outside their cabin, cook hotdogs on bonfires and sip hot coffee from flasks. Of course not everyone takes it at a relaxing pace.
Alpine skiing incorporates all the common downhill disciplines you’ll see on Ski Sunday. It is also the recreational sport that most people get involved in.
There are roughly 200 ski resorts in Norway. These vary in size, from Gjøvik ski club in Oppland County with only one 35-meter slope. To Trysil in Hedmark county with 32 lifts and 69 slopes open from the end of October through till May. And from remote to city based as Winterpark Oslo is on the edge of the capital and easily accessed.
If you are a beginner or looking for a family holiday, Hemsedal ski resort offers great opportunities to learn on its 51 slopes. Hafjel near Lillehammer is great for more advanced skiers with some steep blacks into the resort. Myrkdalen in the Fiordland gets a lot of snow so is great for off-piste, it also has good snowparks for freestylers.
Telemark skiing is a type of downhill skiing developed by Norwegian Sondre Norheim. The sport got its name from Telemark County in the southeast of the country, where the inventor lived in the 19th century.
Telemark skis differ from alpine as the binding only connects to the front of the boot, leaving the heels free. This makes it easier to use skins to ski uphill. A lot of Telemark skiers choose to go ‘off-piste’ as in powder the turning using a lunged knee feels a little like snowboarding.
If you want to explore where there are no slopes and no lifts, only great mountains with lots of snow, then Telemark is a great option. Popular places are the small mountain village of Beitostolen in east and the mountain area around Lyngenfjorden up north. Also the Lofoten Islands are great for backcountry Telemark skiing.
Like the idea of hiking up the hills for backcountry lines but don’t want to learn a new form of skiing? Then get involved in ski touring. It is essentially skiing in the alpine style, but usually with lighter kit, where you attach skins to your skis to walk uphill. As with Telemark your heels are free but you reattach them for the downhill fun.
There are many great places to ski-tour in Norway. But ski touring holidays in the Lofoten Islands, Lyngen Alps and Fjord are incredible. The mountains rise sharply from the water and you can often ski right down to the sea. To Freeride the Fjords, Vatnahalsen, which can only be reached by train, is also a great place for Norwegian ski holidays dedicated to touring.
When going to Norway don’t miss a trip to the famous Holmenkollen ski jump in Oslo. It is regarded as being among the three most famous ski jump arenas in the world, and is one of Norway’s most visited tourist attraction. The start house is about 60 metres above the ground, so jumping is restricted to the experts.
But, if you’re wondering what it feels like to ski jump, you could instead have a go on the ski jump simulator. Or you can start small and train your way up to a proper ski jump at Lysgårdsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena in Lillehammer.
So which of the different types of skiing in Norway will you try? If you can’t make your mind up, you can combine alpine with touring and cross-country very easily. Most of the alpine resorts offer cross-country trails and you can always tour from the top of lifts to get into the backcountry a little easier than from the bottom.
When skiing in Norway, pack your backpack like the locals do, with hotdogs and oranges. And always make sure you have got the right type of skis on!
We hope you found this guide to the different types of skiing in Norway to try useful. If Norwegian ski holidays are not for you then check out other options for adventure holidays in Noway.