When Norway and winter coincidently end up in the same sentence, you will immediately think – skiing, snow, darkness, cold, and occasionally Northern Lights. And you are right. It is dark, it can be a lot of snow, it can also get freezing and you might or might not see the Northern Lights depending on where you are going. All of the above sounds so not inspiring.
Speaking of Northern Lights, have you ever been to Greenland? Well, no? Then I urge you to check out this article on Northern lights in Greenland.
Ok, back to Norway. Norwegians love all sorts of skiing, but there are approximately 50% of us who don’t ski.
Would that mean we never go to ski resorts in the wintertime? Absolutely not! We do, and if you read on, I will show you a side of one of the best skiing resorts in Norway that doesn’t involve skies in any way.
There are quite a few great ski resorts in Norway. Only 4 hours away from Oslo you will find one of the best ski resorts Norway has to offer – Beitostølen. Beitostølen is a mountain village with perfectly prepared cross-country ski trails, beautiful downhill slopes in every degree of difficulty, mighty mountains to admire, and the most amazing and dramatically colorful sunrises and sunsets. BUT, there are at least a dozen other things to do at Beitostølen that do not require skies.
If you are visiting Norway in winter, you don’t have to bring your skies to explore Beitostølen. If you love skiing, you can rent all the gear you need on the spot, and if you are a non-skier, you can explore this winter paradise by walking.
BUT if want to experience the real winter in Norway you should visit Northern Norway.
Getting to Beitostølen
If you are confident about your winter driving skills, you can hire a car. However, the most convenient and cheapest way to get to Beitostølen is to take a bus. Valdresekspressen will get you there in 4 hours in their comfortable coaches with wifi and toilet onboard. Take the bus from Oslo Bus Terminal located 5 minutes walk from Oslo central station. Valdresekspressen runs every day all year long. I suggest you book your ticket online to avoid an extra charge, which you will get if you buy your ticket on the bus. Two-way ticket for one adult will cost you 400 NOK. You can pre-book your tickets here The bus stops at the Radisson Blu Mountain Resort Beitostølen located in the heart of Beitostølen.
Where to stay in Beitostølen
You can always rent a cottage and experience the real coziness and authenticity of the Norwegian way to spend time in the mountains. Most likely it will be more expensive than staying in a hotel where you will be served breakfast, can have dinner and you don’t have to clean your room before leaving. But imagine dragging your luggage on snowy and slippery roads to get to the cottage, buying and preparing your food, and even bringing your sleeping bag. Well, it’s up to you 🙂 However, if you decide to rent a car and do a self-drive, I would recommend the cottage option.
Check the offers below if you would like to book a cottage
Visiting Beitostølen for a few days, I would suggest booking a room at Radisson Blu Mountain Resort Beitostølen. Remember to ask for a room with a view. The hotel has just renovated its rooms, which are spacious, have plenty of closet space and good size bathrooms. If you want to try downhill Radisson Blu Beitostølen is located just across the downhill center where you will find gear rental, cafes, and lifts. If you’re going to hire the equipment and instructor, you can check availability at Beitostølen.com
The hotel offers a package of breakfast and dinner which also includes a sort of picnic package that we call “niste.” Before you leave breakfast, you can pack a few sandwiches to bring with you, for free.
Radisson Blu Mountain Resort Beitostølen offers its guests free access to the pool, gym, and squash quarts. If you would like a spa treatment, you can book it directly with their spa center. The hotel has a Lounge bar on the reception level, which is a nice place for a pre or after-dinner drink, and a disco/nightclub at a lower level. The restaurant serves buffet or 3 courses depending on the day of a week. If you have any allergies, just let your waiter know, and they will provide you with an alternative without any hassle. Check availability and prices for Radisson Blu Mountain Resort Beitostølen
Beitostølen mountain village is not very big, but it is one of the few mountain villages in Norway that has quite a few shops and 13 restaurants and cafes.
5 things to do in Beitostølen that do not involve skies
Nothing beats spending time in winter in the mountains when the weather is nice. In January, believe it or not, it can be little snow. It is enough for skiing, but it might be only barely. The weather can be anything from +6C and almost stormy winds to -10C and beautiful sunshine. February and March have probably the most stable weather in the mountains in Norway.
Beitostølen is located in an area called Valdres which is a valley that stretches all the way to Jotunheimen national park. Jotunheimen national park has the most 2000m picks in the whole of Norway. During summer season you can drive through Beitostølen and Valdresflye to Jotunheimen and West Norway, but during the winter season, this national tourist route is closed. Winter is the only time of the year you can walk on this route. The name of the route is Valdresflye, and it opens again in April. If you want to go on a road trip in Norway and want to experience driving in a snow tunnel, this is the route to take, but do it before the snow melts in May. AND if you’re going to hike one of the most famous and beautiful hikes in Norway (during summer only) – Besseggen – you have Beitotstølen as your base.
1. Walk to Garlia and Valdresflye
Valdresflye is the route to Jotunheimen National Park and is closed during winter. It takes about 40 minutes to walk up there from the hotel. The road is for pedestrians, it is wide and strewn, and an easy walk with beautiful views along the path. If you want to see Norwegians going cross-country skiing, this is the place to do it. On your way, you will walk by some stunning privately owned cottages on your right-hand side, views to lake Øyangen on your left-hand side, and Bitihorn before you, which with its 1607m marks the entrance to Jotunheimen.
2. Horse Sleigh Rides
Try sleigh rides during the day time or evening which are driven by Torgeir from Fjellrittet. We did an evening tour, and it was absolutely amazing! We were two couples in a sleigh that could take up to six people. The farm where the tour starts is located about 5 kilometers out of Beitostølen, but Torgeir can come and pick you up if you can’t get there by yourself. Now imagine this:
You sit under the warm sheepskin and your body comfortably following sleigh’s rocking movements. Deep dark woods lited up only by the lights from two torches on the sled. The silence is broken only by the crackling snow, and the jingling bells on the horses as sleighs’ rocking motions take you further into the woods. The stars in the dark winter sky shine bright making you think all the wonderful thoughts and feel in peace with your self. And then half the way through the sleigh will stop, and you will get the most tasteful (at that time) black currant and cinnamon toddy (non-alcohol). Torgeir might tell you a story or two from his horse riding tours over the valleys and hills during summer, and you suddenly would wish that you were a decent horse rider and could spend your summer vacation on the back of a horse, in the mountains, spending nights in a tent and making your food over a bonfire.
The sleigh ride takes about an hour and is an enjoyable and different experience that I recommend with all my heart. Check Fjellrittet for prices and availability.
3. Lyskapellet – Chapel of Lights
This little chapel has a slightly particular history that I am not going to bother you with but get in touch with me if you want to know more. The Chapel of Lights is a tiny chapel rooming around 50 people. It is beautifully decorated with a glass mosaic made by a German glass artist, Harald Stephan, from drawings of Norwegian artist Ferdinand Finne. The Chapel is a fellow Christian chapel which means it is open to the three main Christian groups – Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox. Everyone is welcome, it is open every day, and has a free entrance.
The Chapel of Lights is located 15-20 minutes’ walk from the hotel direction Oslo and Fagernes. When you first see it, you might mistake it for a small cottage in the woods. But once you open the door and get inside you will immediately feel the peace filling your whole being. When you look upon the ceiling, you will find yourself getting lost in the stars. During the daytime, the lights will shine through the painted glass casting soft, colorful shadows in the room. There are benches to sit on, a Bible if you need one, and it is THE place if you want to meditate.
They say that animals have a healing effect on humans, and if you love horses there is a paddock just a few meters away. We were super thrilled that one of the horses came to us. It didn’t matter that we stood close to the exit gate or that he was more busing gnawing on the fence, we got to pet him, and that was enough.
On our way to the Chapel of Lights, we passed an old settling that represents traditional farmhouse area from the 18 century. Unfortunately, it is open only during the summer months.
As you are closing in on The Chapel of Lights you will pass another quirky thing – a giant chair, which we had to climb, of course. The chair is made by a small local company that produces environmental-friendly products.
4. After ski – Svingen pub
I am not sure if you are familiar with an expression “after-ski” but this is a typical activity Norwegians do right after they are back from trails and slopes. They go straight to the pub, have lots of drinks to live music, dance on the tables and party like there is no tomorrow. If you want to see that or be a part of it, it’s very harmless, you will have a lot of fun and get the opportunity to speak to quite a few Norwegians. In Beitostølen Svingen Pub is THE after-ski pub number ONE. It is a very tiny place with only 3-4 tables inside and a slightly larger area outside but it is super popular.
4. Reindeer sleigh rides
There is a Sami named Isak who will take you on a sleigh ride with his reindeers. Unfortunately, he was at home for Christmas holiday during our stay. However, when he knew we were coming and he couldn’t be there, he texted me and said: “Hey, I got a big house, many reindeer and a snowmobile. Come to Karachok, and we can do sleighing and snow scooting as much as you want”. So, I know the guy exists, and I have seen him on my previous trips to Beitostølen. But if you have the chance try it.
5. Dog sledding
If there is one thing, I would LOVE to do next time I am visiting Beitostølen it is dog sledding. A few hours out on the valley covered in white snow reflecting sun lights, the sound of the dogs and sleigh on the snow and the cold wind biting your cheeks. Oh, that sounds so exciting and thrilling. If you want to try it you need to book in advance as they were fully booked two weeks in advance. Check for prices and availability on Beito husky tours.
Other things to do in Beitostølen in winter
Guys, there are tons of things to do in Beitostølen in winter that don’t involve skies. If you love speed and action why not try air-boarding or tobogganing? What about snow rafting, snowshoe hikes or ice-fishing? Or maybe you would like to have a venison stew in a lavvo – a Sami tent, where you will sit on a reindeer skin in front of a bonfire and enjoy your meal. Check out Beitostølen for more information, availability, and prices.
Visiting Beitostølen in Norway in winter you might not see the Northern Lights and you will definitely not see the whales. But I promise you that you will experience the most real and authentic few days in the beautiful Norwegian mountains in winter. And you won’t get any closer to understanding Norwegians’ love for skiing than in one of Norway’s best ski resorts.
If you would like to come back to Norway during the summer or fall Beitostølen has hundreds of amazing hikes to offer.
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This post is written in collaboration with Beitostølen and Radisson Blu Mountain Resort Beitostølen