7 things you need to know before going on a ski holiday in Norway
With its towering mountains, long ski season and the stark contrast to city life, Norway is an ideal destination for your ski holiday. However, when traveling abroad, the practical considerations can sometimes feel overwhelming. That's why we've gathered 7 of the most important things you need to know before embarking on a ski holiday in Norway, to make sure that you have the best trip possible.
1. Book your ski gear ahead of time
One common question that arises is where to rent ski or snowboard equipment. While many have their own gear, there are excellent options if you prefer to rent. You can rent equipment at the ski resort or local sports stores in the area. Surprisingly, several Norwegian sports stores offer rental services, which are often cheaper than resorts, but potentially less convenient.
To enhance your experience:
- Book your equipment ahead of time. Not only does this guarantee availability, but it's also cost-effective.
- Explore package deals combining equipment and lift passes, often offering slightly cheaper options.
- Inquire about waxing services, especially if you are new to cross-country skiing. This will without a doubt enhance your experience and ensure that your family has a good time.
2. Understanding local grocery stores
The opening hours of Norwegian grocery stores are longer than in some countries, but are closed on Sundays. Additionally, regulations vary in mountainous regions, so it's wise to check the opening hours of local grocery stores ahead of time.
Leaving your cozy cabin to go grocery shopping during your trip can sometimes distract from the tranquility of the mountains. Yet, there are advantages to buying locally. Here are a couple of tips for your trip:
- Bring a cooler and shop in advance. It's not only cost-effective, because the prices are often higher in the mountain regions, but it also allows you to enjoy the peace of the mountains uninterrupted. If you are traveling from abroad, it might be cheaper to buy certain things at home, but if you do shop in Norway you won’t regret doing it before reaching the mountains.
- Local stores offer regional delicacies, such as jams, flatbreads, and game meats, providing unique culinary experiences.
3. Enroll the kids in ski schools
Every Norwegian ski destination prioritizes children and the family experience, which means that you and your family will have a lovely time regardless of where you go. Many places even offer dedicated areas and lifts for children, along with ski schools.
To optimize your experience:
- Research the options before you go, this might help determine your destination.
- Check what languages the instructors speak and what age groups kids are divided into, your kids might benefit from being in different groups.
- Explore whether you can combine the ski rental with the ski school, often a more economical choice.
- Book the ski school ahead of time, especially during peak seasons like New Year, the winter holidays, and Easter.
4. Transport to your cabin and ski resorts
Visiting Norwegian cabins in the winter is vastly different from exploring the mountains in the summer, and there are some elements to this that are essential for both your comfort and safety. We have therefore collected some of the most important aspects, so that you can make sure your winter adventure goes to plan.
- Public transportation is limited, making traveling by car highly recommended.
- Consult your host about access to the cabin. In the winter you might not be able to drive all the way to the cabin. Your host will have tips and tricks on how they themselves solve potential challenges.
- Be prepared for steep roads, sometimes necessitating four-wheel drive or snow chains. Enquire about this, as well as information on toll roads, from your host or the ski resort. In Norway, heavier cars are required by law to have snow chains available. If you’re unsure about whether this applies to you, you can read more here.
- Research parking options, some ski destinations offer free parking, and some provide shuttle buses. Plan your logistics ahead of time for a stress-free trip.
5. Enter the mountains with a full tank
The distances in mountainous regions can be considerable, and the nearest petrol station might be farther than expected. You will often pass a sign letting you know you are about the pass the last petrol station before going into the mountains, but don’t count on them.
The most important things you can do is:
- Find out where the nearest petrol stations are from your cabin and the ski resort, which you can easily find on a map.
- Fill up your tank before heading into the mountains.
- Refuel when possible, avoiding waiting until the tank is nearly empty.
6. Alcohol regulations and purchases
Alcohol purchasing regulations in Norway differ from other countries, and it’s easy to assume that you can just buy what you want when you get closer to the cabin. This is not true in Norway. Because not all small towns or mountain villages will have a state-run liquor store, so planning is essential.
- Beer and cider can be bought at grocery stores, but within limited hours (usually 9-18, with local variations). Inquire in your local store if uncertain.
- Identify the nearest Vinmonopolet (state liquor store) on the map beforehand.
- Consider bringing your own alcohol from home to simplify the process.
- Be aware of the strict alcohol import quotas when traveling from abroad. Read more about it here.
7. Clothing and staying warm
Depending on the cabin you are visiting, the cabin might be warm and cozy when you arrive or ice cold. Ask your host about heating options before arrival, so that you know what to expect and have warm clothes easily accessible in the car if a fireplace is the only source of heat in the cabin. This is the case for many Norwegian cabins, but do not let this deter you from choosing one. Embrace this cozy aspect of Norwegian cabin culture and make cocoa, light a fire, put on your wool sweaters, hats and socks, and cozy up under blankets together in front of the roaring fire.
A few tips on heating your cabin during your stay:
- Air out the cabin daily before lighting the fire, ensuring good indoor air quality without excessive heating.
- If the cabin uses electricity, be mindful of energy consumption, considering both the environment and your host.
- Prepare the fireplace before bedtime, providing yourself a more pleasant start to the day.
- Discuss fire wood availability and heating settings with your host, ensuring a comfortable stay in line with their knowledge about the cabin.
Winter adventures are just better on skis, and we have collected some tips to keep you warm and comfortable on a day outside in the snow:
- Layer your clothing, allowing adjustment for changing weather conditions and preferences.
- Bring extra mittens, they get wet easily which is not super fun.
- Wear wool as the innermost layer, providing warmth throughout the day.
- Ensure ski or snowboard boots aren’t too tight, this can make your toes very cold and uncomfortable. Allow space for thick socks and wiggle room for your toes and remember to consider this when booking equipment.
Remember, your hosts are goldmines when it comes to hidden gems in your local area, and they're more than happy to share their tips with you.
Have a fantastic trip!