Snowboarding

Snowboarding in Norway is good.

No, really it is.

I never thought I’d type that sentence after ten years snowboarding in the Alps and only in the Alps, but yes, snowboarding in Norway is good.

Now I know what you’re thinking, you don’t believe me, so allow me to answer some of your questions.

5th Feb Snowboarding

Where did you go?

We spent five days in Hafjell as part of an extended tour of Nordic Europe. Hafjell is one of a handful of resorts in the fells (or fjells) just north of Lillehammer. You can easily get to Hafjell from Oslo via a speedy and comfortable train to Lillehammer that takes just under two hours and a comfortable coach from just outside the station.

What are conditions like?

We were there at the beginning of February. This means that it is cold, really cold (up to -20 celsius with wind chill). Did I mention that all that snowboarding I did in the Alps was mostly at the end of the season when the sun was shining and a panda eyes goggles tan was obligatory by the end of a week boarding in T-shirts? Yep, I’m one of those fair weather snowboarders.

So yes, I had to wrap up a little more than I’d like (seven layers should be about enough) and think more about keeping warm than posing under the sun. But there was snow and tons of it. While this year has been a good season for most resorts across Europe, Norway will pretty much always have good snowfall and I also spotted the tell-tale signs that they’re prepared for worst case scenarios too with snow cannons dotted along the piste strategically.

But it was a good experience. With daylight hours increasing almost noticeably by day, there was a sense of urgency about getting up on the mountain – well, fell –  and getting as many hours in as you can before the sun’s had enough and is setting again.

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What are the pistes like?

Good. They are varied, well-connected and long enough to build up a bit of muscle ache. Of course, this is not an Alpine resort. It doesn’t have the height or the variety of a mountain range that is over 2000 metres high. But there are nice relaxed runs lined with trees, there were a few “poo your pants” blacks and lots of decent reds for messing around on, which is mostly my favourite way to spend a day on the snow. We were also pleasantly surprised to find a huge jam park complete with a collection of giant “I’m never doing that” kickers and jumps. Instead we stuck to finding the kid-friendly boxes and rails dotted along the pistes in random places. I tell you, I can ride a box as good as any six year old.

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What’s off-piste like?

Off piste was good too with lots of opportunities to snake through the trees and  find little pockets of powder. The only thing I would say is don’t go too far off piste at the top of the fell as there is a tendency for drops to flatten out, which when you’re dealing with over half a metre of powder can make for a big dig out and a long walk home. Because that’s exactly what we did. Oops.

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Where do I stay?

In a hotel! We found the Quality Hotel & Resort reasonably priced – which for Norway is a huge bonus – very comfortable, wonderfully warm and had an excellent breakfast buffet. I also loved dipping in the swimming pool after a day of snow and then sitting by the open log fire in the bar area.

What about eating?

Ach. Okay, here’s where it gets a little tricky. Eating and drinking in Norway is notoriously expensive. This was perhaps reflective in the fact that there weren’t that many restaurants in Hafjell and so we mostly ate at our hotel restaurant (which was very good but not cheap) ordered room service or pizza from the take away across the road. Or we had a big meal for lunch up on the slopes. However, we did hear good things about Fjøset, an upmarket restaurant, again very close to Quality Hotel and Ilsetra, a mountainside restaurant with stunning views. Here’s some more information about restaurants in Hafjell. And another tip – do phone ahead to find out when they are open as don’t assume the restaurants are open every night of the week.

In terms of eating on the slopes, we mainly stuck to eating ginormous home made cinammon buns or chocolate muffins at Skavlen restaurant found at the top of the gondola. It’s newly opened, stunning inside with lots of natural light flooding in. The tea and cakes was first class too.

What about apres ski?

If you’re a party goer with a skiing or snowboarding problem then perhaps Hafjell isn’t the resort for you. While most slope side restaurants serve alcohol and at the base of the resort there is a collection of bars, including Woodys a British pub run by ex-pats, this is not a resort that is going to rival Tignes or Chamonix for the apres scene. However, if you don’t mind toning it down a little you can be reassured that there will still be atmosphere and there will still be beer in Hafjell.

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When should I go?

See, I knew you’d come around to my way of thinking. Well, now is a good a time as any. The sun is higher in the sky, the snow is still on the ground and the season has still got just under a month to go. For more information go to Hafjell’s website. Happy snowboarding, yes, in Norway!

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frankie-in-ljubljana

This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.