Nordic winter guide: where to ski & stay in Norway, Finland and Sweden

A world apart from the Alps, the Nordic region's low-slung mountains offer a unique skiing experience with the chance to spot the Northern Lights, go dog sledding and take a snowmobile safari. We select five of the most magical resorts in the far north.

By Nick Dalton
Published 18 Nov 2022, 15:00 GMT
Kultakero, new self-catering apartments in Pyhä, Finland.

Kultakero, new self-catering apartments in Pyhä, Finland.

Photograph by Kyha Resort

Levi, Finland

This Lapland resort is packed with places to eat, drink and sleep, not least the party-popular Crazy Reindeer Hotel. Levi is one of Finland’s largest ski resorts and still growing: Levi West is its newest collection of bars, restaurants and slope-side hotels. And there have been plenty more new openings over the past couple of years, from high-tech lifts to new places to stay, such as the contemporary Design Hotel Levi, all sleek timber and stone. Skiing, which is very snow-sure, runs over two hills surrounded by fantastically flat, icy panoramas, where the slopes are illuminated in midwinter. Inghams offers seven nights B&B at Levi Design Hotel, from £1,949 per person including flights and transfers. 

Hafjell, Norway

Hafjell hosted the slalom events at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics and it’s still competing for every skier’s attention, with the smart mountainside ski-in, ski-out village, Favn which opened here last season. Set at the 2,670ft Mosetertoppen gondola top station, Favn offers panoramas across mountainous Langsua National Park. There are self-catering apartments to rent, Restauranthuset for lunch, apres-ski and dinner, and a handful of shops. There are also nearly 30 miles of slopes, making Hafjell a sizeable Norwegian ski area. Nearby, Lillehammer (home to the Olympic Museum) is the entry point, a two-hour train ride from Oslo. Three nights in a self-catering apartment in Favn, sleeping two costs from £650. 

Pyhä, Finland

Set on a low, tree-lined Lapland mountainside, Pyhä sees spectacular sunrises across the Pyhä-Luosto National Park and eastern flatlands. Its new offering, Kultakero, is a contemporary ‘fell village’ with the first of its two cool-looking, grey-timber apartment buildings opening this season, along with shops, restaurants and bars. It forms part of a new resort hub, near the existing ski-in, ski-out Hotel Pyhätunturi, which recently had a timber-topped makeover. The resort has just seven miles of runs, but they’re gorgeous ones, with off-piste and plenty of cross-country to augment them. Crystal Ski offers seven nights at Hotel Pyhätunturi for £692 per person, half board, including lift pass, flights and transfers. 

Åre, Sweden

Scandinavia’s biggest ski resort has 55 miles of piste. The mountain runs are impressive, as are the views of the old lakeside town below, filled with bars and restaurants. The main area is great for intermediates, while Åre Björnen at the far end is a family paradise, and Duved, a shuttle bus away, is the place for learners. Stay by the frozen lake or up on the slopes, connected by a funicular, for jaw-dropping panoramas — early winter might be dark but spring days are long and bright. Ski Safari offers seven nights at Copperhill Mountain Lodge, half board, from £1,999 per person. Alternatively, try its 10-night Åre and the Arctic trip with four nights in Åre, including one night on a sleeper train, three nights in Bjorkliden ski resort and two nights at the Icehotel in Jukkasjarvi, from £2,499 per person. Both packages include flights and transfers. 

Geilo, Norway

Midway between Oslo and Bergen on the edge of Hardangervidda National Park, Geilo has 21 miles of runs, sweeping views across the Hallingskarvet mountain range and good facilities for families. Two ski areas — Slaatta and Geilolia — are on either side of the valley, separated by scenic Ustedalsfjorden lake. During lockdown, the slopes were improved and restaurants revamped. Crystal Ski offers seven nights at a forest cabin with sauna, sleeping two, for £847 per person, including flights and transfers.   

Published in the Winter Sports 2022/23 guide, distributed with the December 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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