Our Guide to Nordic Skiing in Sweden

Our Guide to Nordic Skiing in Sweden

Skiing is woven into the fabric of Sweden in more ways than one. The word ‘ski’ has its roots in the Old Norse word, skíð, which literally means ‘stick of wood’. Both a strenuous sport and method of moving through the country’s winter wonderland, skiing is enjoyed by everyone in Sweden from families on holiday to professional competitors. There are several different types of skiing in Sweden, including downhill alpine skiing (which you might be more familiar with) and Nordic skiing, which leads you across the country’s snowy terrain. We don’t want to play favourites, but if weaving through wintry forests where the treetops glow in the sunlight sounds like your kind of activity, read on to learn more about Nordic Skiing in Sweden.


What is Nordic Skiing?

Before you pack up your snowsuit and don your most stylish skiing sunnies, we need to establish exactly what Nordic skiing is and how it differs from alpine skiing. Technically, the term Nordic skiing refers to any type of skiing where your heel can rise off the ski (as opposed to your entire boot being attached); it therefore encompasses cross-country skiing along with telemark skiing. However, ‘Nordic skiing’ and ‘cross-country skiing’ are often used interchangeably to mean a type of skiing where skiers rely on their own force to propel themselves forward across flatter snow-covered terrain. This is different from alpine skiing, where participants use lifts to get around before skiing downhill. Nordic skiing in Sweden was originally used as a means of transportation for travelling long distances in cold weather, but it’s now a popular way to stay fit in chilly Nordic countries.


When is Nordic Skiing Season?

Ski season in Sweden varies depending on where you are, but it generally runs between November and April. Resorts open after the first snow (usually in early November), but for guaranteed skiing conditions and longer, sunnier days, it’s best to travel between February and early April. If you’ve got your heart set on a Nordic skiing session outside of these months, however, fear not – higher altitude spots offer longer ski seasons with plenty of snow. In general, Northern Sweden (Norrland) has great Nordic skiing between November and April along with stunning scenery, just be prepared for icy temperatures. In Saxnäs, you can ski from November until late April or even May, while Harsa, located in the tourist town of Järvsö and situated 1,300ft above sea level, usually has snow from October, but bear in mind that you’ll need a headlamp to traverse these trails, as only around two of the 50 miles are floodlit.


How Can I Try Nordic Skiing?

Choosing the right clothing should be your number one priority when heading out to try Nordic skiing in Sweden. Although set in snowy surroundings, this activity can get your heart pumping, so multiple layers of lightweight, breathable clothing are best for creating insulation while giving you the freedom adjust your temperature if you work up a sweat. A light beanie or headband is a must, along with a pair of gloves. Bear in mind that alpine ski clothing is too warm and bulky for this activity, as are thick woolly hats. When you’ve got the right gear on, the next step is renting your skis, which you can do at your resort or in the town or city where you intend to ski. This should cost around 350SEK (£27). If you’re not a seasoned Nordic skier, we recommend you taken an introductory lesson to familiarise yourself with the sport and learn how to move through the snow like a pro. It’s also a good idea for first timers to stick to floodlit trails in areas with well-maintained and signposted trails.


Where to try Nordic Skiing

As we’ve already mentioned, Northern Sweden is the place to ski if you want a bit more flexibility in terms of time of year. Beginners should head to Funäsfjällen, which has multiple rest stations along with ample opportunities to take lessons; Åre, Sweden’s largest ski resort, offers family-friendly skiing along with downhill skiing and a lively après-ski scene. Dalarna, located in central Sweden, is a picturesque place to try Nordic skiing with plenty of location options. Head to Sälen for a family-friendly spot, or Orsa Grönklitt, a ski resort boasting 80 miles of cross-country skiing tracks. Dalarna is also the site of the world’s largest ski race: the Vasaloppet. This legendary 56-mile cross-country trail stretches between Berga and Mora, and the competition is held in March every year. If you’re up for the challenge, you can ski this route all winter. Beyond this, there are cross-country trails all over the country, including around Stockholm when the weather is just right. Sweden is your skiing oyster, but remember that the further south you go, the less reliable the snow conditions. Be sure to research them in advance of your trip to ensure your experience Nordic skiing in Sweden is (literally) as smooth as can be.