Cross-Country Skiing In Norway

The definitive guide to cross-country skiing in Norway! (inc. the top resorts)

Cross country skiing in Norway is an extremely popular local pastime, and a fantastic experience for visitors. Blessed with an abundance of snow-covered hills, mountains, and plains, Norway seems to be tailor-made for skiing excellence.

In Norway cross-country skiing is as popular as ever, and the landscape promises endless wonderful experiences for those with a passion for cold weather sports. You can try a spot of downhill skiing, or even look into the unique practice of Nordic skiing.

However, for many, Norway cross-country skiing will always be the biggest draw. After all, what better way to see the country than on a pair of skis?

Whether you’re a seasoned skier, or you’re new to strapping on a pair of skis, Norway is a great place to pursue life on the snow. The national sport of the country, skiing is loved, embraced, and taught in virtually every part of Norway.

Today, we’re going to be exploring everything you need to know about cross-country skiing in Norway, as well as where you can go to start your own adventure.

Is cross-country skiing popular in Norway?

All kinds of skiing has a unique appeal in Norway. Considered the national support of the country, skiing is something many locals look forward to all-year round. If you’re a fan of ice and snow, then Norway is definitely a good place to visit.

In fact, archaeological research has found Nordic countries have been using skis for more than 5000 years.

Throughout the winter, the entire country of Norway transforms into a dedicated skiing paradise, with a huge selection of well-groomed trails to choose from. Today, Norwegians see skiing as more than just a pastime, it’s a means of transportation, and part of the nation’s heritage.

Why is cross-country skiing popular in Norway?

There’s a common saying throughout some parts of the world, “Norwegians were born with skis on their feet”. In other words, the people of Norway were simply born to ski.

In Norway cross-country skiing is ingrained into the locals from a very young age, with many children learning how to ski from the moment they know how to run.

In terms of popularity, Norway stands as the number one destination for the love of skiing, followed by locations like Canada, Germany, Sweden, and Finland. While the Norwegians certainly have a love for a wide range of snow sports, it seems to be skiing with the biggest impact on the country.

According to professionals, Norway is also a fantastic place to learn how to ski. Things like cross-country skiing, which involves a lot of wide-open plains, can help to build confidence among people who haven’t found their footing yet.

Cross-Country Skiing In Norway

Is Nordic skiing the same as cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is commonly considered one of the most popular types of skiing in Norway. Because of this, it’s frequently confused with “Nordic skiing” — a specific skiing practice often present in Nordic countries.

The term “Nordic skiing” does refer to a type of skiing similar to Norway cross-country skiing, but there are some differences.

Nordic skiing is considered any kind of skiing which goes off-piste, or off-trail. Rather than following a specific slope, or path with your skiing, you allow yourself to explore the “Nordic terrain”.

Sometimes considered “touring” skiing, Nordic skiing takes you over a range of snowfields, valleys and mountains. It’s a kind of combination of telemark, cross-country, and alpine touring skiing.

Cross-country skiing is a little less challenging, because it’s not quite as “Off-road”. While you don’t follow a specific slope pattern, similar to Nordic skiing, you’ll usually follow groomed pistes, with a lot of parallel grooves in the pathways to help guide your skis.

How difficult is cross-country skiing?

The good thing about cross-country skiing, is it’s relatively easy to get into, no matter how much prior skiing experience you have. There are some challenges to consider.

For instance, only the toe of the boot is attached to the ski. You’ll also be moving over a lot of flat terrain, where you can go up and down hills, which has both its challenges, and its benefits.

In terms of difficulty, cross-country skiing generally has less of a learning curve than options like Nordic or downhill skiing. You get to use a lot of your natural movements, and you’re not going to be hurtling through the snow at top speed.

What to know before cross-country skiing in Norway

Before you go on a cross-country skiing trip in Norway, it’s best to do your research. We’ll be covering some of the best resorts for cross-country skiing in Norway below but remember to look into the place you’re going to be staying in advance to see if it’s really right for you.

One thing to keep in mind is no matter where you go in Norway, you’re expected to stick to the mountain code. This means following a specific set of rules to ensure you stay safe.

Some of the key points of the mountain code include:

  • Plan journey based on the abilities of the group and always include alternate routes.
  • Obtain current info about the weather conditions in the area before beginning.
  • Ensure you have the right skills and knowledge to complete the trips.
  • Respect the natural environment at all times.
  • Make sure you plan the trip properly in terms of timing.
  • Respect the weather.
  • Travel with others, and respect the skiers around you.
  • Be considerate of other hikers.

It’s also crucial to check for any avalanche warnings and be extra cautious of weather changes before you begin your journey. Dress appropriately for both the weather and the terrain and make sure you have all the equipment you need. Extra food and drink can even save lives if a trip takes too long.

Norway’s mountain code also recommends bringing high visibility vests on your journeys and packing wisely to help yourself and others you might notice in need of help.

Cross-Country Skiing In Norway

Preparing for Norway cross-country skiing

Preparing for cross-country skiing in Norway often requires a lot of planning. You’ll need to make sure you plan your route in advance and avoid terrain which might be prone to avalanches. It’s also important to ensure you always have a map and a compass to help guide you.

Don’t be afraid to turn around if you get to a point where you’re uncertain about the safety of yourself and your companions. Norway’s incredible landscape might be beautiful, but it can also be incredibly dangerous when you’re not properly prepared.

We’d recommend seeking out a tour provided by a professional team if it’s your first time with cross-country skiing.

Another bonus tip? Take a bag with you where you can store any trash you might create when eating on the trail. Norway requires all skiers to leave the natural landscape exactly as you found it. This means leaving nothing behind but your tracks in the snow.

Take only pictures and leave as small as a footprint as you can, with respect for the other people who come behind you.

The best resorts for cross-country skiing in Norway

In Norway, cross-country skiing is more than just a pastime, it’s a way of life. Fortunately, it’s also something Norwegians are more than happy to share with visitors.

There are a host of great cross-country skiing resorts in Norway, where you can sign up for tours, and discover all the ins and outs of the nation’s favorite sports.

While the perfect resort for you will depend on a number of things, we can help you find some excellent options to get you started. In most cases, the country’s top ski resorts are located throughout the Southern, Central, and Eastern regions of Norway.

Most offer a range of cross-country trails through picturesque landscapes, with no shortage of accommodation options.

Here are some of the best cross-country skiing resorts in Norway worth considering:

1. Gausta Skisenter

Gausta Skisenter, located in the heart of Telemark, provides Norwegian locals and visitors with an unforgettable alpine skiing experience. There are a total of 35 slopes to explore, as well as various off-piste opportunities for people looking into cross-country skiing in Norway.

The Gausta Skisenter is actually the product of a merger between the Gaustablikk Skisenter and the Gaustatoppen Skisenter. With the two lift systems maintained by the same group, everything is wonderfully well-connected, and snow production is better than ever.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out Gaustablikk Hytta for easy ski-in and ski-out access. The hotel has its own restaurant, licensed bar, and lounges with open fireplaces.

2. Raudalen Alpinsenteret

Raudalen Alpine center is the perfect destination for pristine mountain terrain and off-piste skiing. There are a huge of different skiing experiences to choose from, including mogul skiing, slopes, and more. You only need a single pass to access multiple locations too.

This resort is only a short distance from Lillehammer, and it hasn’t gained a lot of attention in the skiing landscape yet. However, experts agree while the resort may not be the best for all kinds of skiing, it’s ideal for cross-country adventures.

There’s a massive 320km trail where you can explore the beautiful landscapes of Norway at your own pace. You’ll also have access to a trail which leads to Jotunheimen National Park, which is a great spot to take some unforgettable photos. Check out Grønolen Fjellgard for a place to stay.

3. Sjusjøen cross-country arena

Comprised of two different ski arenas, Sjusjøen is widely regarded as a haven for skiing enthusiasts. Ideal for fun journeys and hard workouts alike, the Sjusjøen space has something for everyone. The two cross-country ski arenas available are even used for international competitions.

During the early skiing season, Sjusjøen usually hosts some of the biggest skiing names in the world, and it’s frequently used as a training camp too. While artificial snow is used in many places, you still get a wonderfully natural experience on the trails.

One of the most incredible places to stay when you’re searching for the best resorts for cross-country skiing in Norway, is at the Arctic dome. This unique glamping spot gives you access to open skies from a glass roof, as well as husky tours.

4. Hovden cross-country trails

Hovden plays host to 170km of cross-country trails in total, which are groomed on a daily basis, so you can expect an excellent experience. There are a host of different exploration options to choose from, including sheltered trails in the forest, and areas in the country.

One of the best things about Hovden, is how supportive it is of all kinds of skiing skill levels. You can access trails for beginners and children, as well as wide mountain expanses too. Hovden has a 10km network of floodlit trails, which are open until 11pm each night too.

If you get hungry during your adventure, you can stop for a bite to eat at one of the various picnic destinations available on the trails. For the easiest access to the whole trail, you can stay at Hovden resort, which comes with ski-in and ski-out access.

5. Oppdal Skisenter

Oppdal Skisenter is located in the snowy, and beautiful region of Trøndelag. For cross-country skiing enthusiasts, there are a host of beautiful trails to explore, spamming around 180km and running through five main geographical areas. This includes Gjevilvassdalen, and Nerskogen.

The trail follows the terrain naturally, so it’s a great place to get to grips with how cross-country skiing actually works. The center is connected by a variety of lifts and crossings, so you can combine high mountain skiing with trail cruising.

If you’re looking for an interesting place to stay during your adventure, you can hire an entire apartment here, with ski-in and ski-out support. This could be perfect if you’re going to be spending most of your vacation time on the trails.

Cross-Country Skiing In Norway
Credit: Graham Lewis

6. Geilolia-Kikut

Located in Hallingdal in Norway, Geilolia-Kikut is popular for its pristine trails and incredible natural beauty. There’s a huge slope available for those with a thrill-seeking personality. However, you can also find a range of beautiful cross-country skiing areas too.

The resort offers about 14km of market trails, and many stand out as being ideal for beginners who might not have a lot of skiing or cross-country experience. The area around Geilolia offers both simple and more challenging areas for different skill levels.

If you need a relaxing and beautiful place to stay, we’d definitely recommend checking out the Geilolia Hyttetun , or the phenomenal Ustedalen Resort Leiligheter.

Cross-Country Skiing In Norway
Credit: InvisiblePower

7. Hafjell

Easily ranked among the top skiing resorts in Norway, Hafjell has a lot of wonderful variety to offer for today’s avid skiers. The location is perfect for families and beginner skiers, thanks to the fantastic ski school on the resort.

There’s also a host of well-groomed trails and slopes for more experienced hobbyists and athletes too.

The trails begin at the mountain station, accessible by a gondola lift. There’s also the option to start a trail directly from the local ski resort. For cross-country trail access, you’ve got a huge amount of space to explore — up to 300km to be exact.

Conveniently, there’s also accommodation available right on the resort, and the rooms are phenomenal. You’ll get your own ultra-modern chalet, decked out with the best luxury, so you’ll never want to leave.

8. Kvitfjell

An amazing ski resort in Norway for all kinds of cold-weather sports, Kvitfjell was actually built for the Lillehammer 1994 Olympics and became one of the most modern resorts in the world at the time. Fake snow was used on around 80% of the pistes.

Today, the Kvitfjell resort offers a total of 23 pistes, including those for beginners, intermediate, and advanced skiing professionals. There’s also an all-terrain park, and a selection of cross-country pistes covering around 480km in total.

If you’re looking for beautiful Nordic views and a professional skiing experience, it’s hard to go wrong with Kvitfjell. Check out the local Kvitfjell Hotel located right beside the slopes, so you don’t have to travel to start your adventure each morning.

Cross country skiing in Oslo: trails and resorts

If you’re keen to become a Norwegian cross-country skier during your vacation, but you still want plenty of opportunities to check out wonders of Norway’s capital city, you’re in luck. You can find a range of fantastic resorts throughout Oslo, including:

1. Oslo Vinterpark

The number one family-friendly cross-country skiing resort in Norway, Oslo Vinterpark is a fantastic destination for beginners. The resort is located around 20 minutes outside of downtown Oslo, so you won’t be too far from city life.

Within the Vinterpark, you’ll discover a selection of 14 runs and 7 ski lifts, including a set of chair lifts to help you explore the trails. The longest run is around 1400m long and has a drop of about 381m. There’s also plenty of cross-country locations, boardercross runs, and slopes for cruising.

As an extra bonus, Oslo Vinterpark is floodlit at night so you can still find your way when it’s dark.

Cross-Country Skiing In Norway
Credit: Ivar Abrahamsen

2. Sognsvann — Ullevålseter

Located a little North of Oslo, the Sognsvann — Ullevålseter trail runs from Sognsvann to Ullevålseter and is considered a great place for cross-country skiing experiences. You can even choose a trail which generally gets less attention if you want a little peace and quiet.

The inland trail from Sognsvann — Ullevålseter is ideal for a lot of people, with just a few slopes to concentrate on. The last part of the trail does have quite a long 400m hill. Relatively straightforward and popular, this is an excellent trail for making the most of your cold-weather techniques.

Cross-Country Skiing In Norway
Credit: MOs810

3. Frognerseteren — Skjennungstua

The Frognerseteren to Skjennungstua trail in the forests of Oslo offers a beautiful roundtrip around one of Oslo’s most attractive regions. There’s also a restaurant on the trail so you can take a break for homemade sandwiches and cakes when you need to top up on energy.

The trail starts from the T-bane station in Frognerseteren and is situated on a hill with a stunning forest view. This trail is pretty popular, but you should be able to find a time when the crowds aren’t too significant, so you can take your time and choose the pace best for you.

4. Frognerseteren — Ullevålseter — Sognsvann

Another fantastic cross-country skiing option for visitors in Norway, this route combines some of the previous tours highlighted above. If you want to challenge your endurance, or develop some extra confidence on your skis, this could be perfect for you.

The route starts at Frognerseteren and ends at Sognsvann, after visiting Ullevålseter. There are a number of great views to check out along the way, and a host of floodlighting options available if you’re keen to visit the trail at night.

Becoming a Norwegian cross-country skier

Norwegian cross-country skiing, or “Jogging on skis,” as it’s sometimes called, is one of the most amazing things you can do to get an insight into Norwegian culture.

There are plenty of resorts to visit, lots of great places to learn, and the people are friendly enough too. You’re sure to get along with the locals if you learn about skiing legends like Petter Northug, Johannes Høsflot Klæbo and Marit Bjørgen before you go.

Remember to wrap up warm, do your research, and make sure you’re following the rules of the Norwegian mountain code before you begin your cross-country skiing adventure. While cross-country skiing in Norway is a lot of fun, it can also be dangerous if you’re not properly prepared.

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