Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 800 metres

Top elevation: 1,174 metres

Number of lifts: 20

Number of runs: 39

Access: Bergenbanen, the famous railway between Oslo and Bergen, stops in Geilo.

A charmingly rustic, middle-of-nowhere ski resort on the edge of Norway's Hardangervidda National Park. Because of the bewitching scenery and the friendly and charming village atmosphere, you can't help but find yourself immediately smitten and, once out on the mountain, the uncrowded pistes and snow sure conditions ensures this then blossoms in to resounding love.

Before we get carried away, we need to be clear you know what you are letting yourself in for as Geilo is certainly not for everybody. Its the smallest of the resorts we feature in Norway, with just 20 lifts and 39 pistes in total - split on the two sides of the valley. It requires a ski bus to get from one to the other, most choosing a side and sticking to it for the day. The runs are not long and the on-mountain restaurants are just a bit homespun. In short, no executive is sat in Val D'Isere or Whistler worrying about Geilo!

However, if you want to learn on gentle nursery slopes or enjoy having space to carve huge giant-slalom turns at speed all the way across and down the wide pistes, if you like cosy restaurants and laid-back bars, and if your holiday is as much about activities such as dog sledding, ice fishing, snow shoeing and staying in a picture-postcard log cabin - then Geilo is just what you were hoping Norway would be.

Skiing in Geilo

The first ski lift was built around 1920 with, we can only presume, many eager novices amongst the first customers. Not a lot has changed, as Geilo remains the perfect resort for beginners, aspiring intermediates and families. Indeed, it has been described as the "best resort in the world" for first timers - an exaggeration no doubt, but you can see how they got here. What will have changed since the 1920's is the reasonably new efficient lift system and the meticulously well-groomed pistes, but what hasn't changed is the excellent snow record and the total lack of lift queues (again, I can only presume no-one was queuing in 1920?)

Geilo is the small town in the valley with two ski areas - Vestlia and Slaatta - on either side, making up the totality of the Geilolia Skisenter. Once you've skied the same run once too often, then you simply hop on a ski bus for the five-minute trip to the opposite mountain where new possibilities and fresh tracks awaits. It all opens in mid November and the season usually stretches all the way through to early May, blessed with constantly good snow throughout. Although there’s not too much to test the experts, most skiers will be happy on the wide open, impeccably maintained pistes. And Geilo also boasts, by all accounts, one of the best - if not the best - snowboard parks in Norway.

Of all the resorts Different Snow feature - across the Continents - we'd pick out Geilo as the best resort in which to learn. Wide and gentle runs, empty spaces, no pressure and friendly English speaking instructors create an optimum environment. The nursery area on the Vestlia side has a moving ‘magic carpet’ taking you up a very sympathetic slope with a nearby poma lift, a four man chair lift, a snug Iglu or warm cosy restaurant as your next options. Further up the mountain, there is little to fear (unless you go actively go looking) so you won't find yourself confined to the same track all week.

You can actually learn to ski in either ski area - Slaatta also has nursery slopes - so wherever you stay you’ll not be far from the ski school.

The vertical drop isn’t big on either side, but because most of the time you have the slopes to yourself you actually end up doing more skiing over the full course of a day. Often its straight up, then straight down, no waiting in line, and repeat.

On the Slaatta side of the valley, working your way from one end of the resort to the other ... and then back again, trying not to repeat the same run twice ... is a most enjoyable morning. It takes you down many gentle blues, several glorious wide sweeping reds and a few blacks which could potentially up your heart rate a little.

On either side, you can just fly around on pistes they maintain with religious vigour. Due to the consistently reliable snow conditions, the quality of the snow is hard to beat.

This resort isn’t aimed at advanced skiers. There's not a lot else to say.

Opportunities exist ... but are limited. You certainly wouldn't head specifically to Geilo to persue this avenue, but if you find yourself here and have aspirations to get beyond the resort boundries, then let us know and we'll see if we can hook you up with some people we know...

Take a look at what we recommend for intermediate skiers - that's all an equal amount of fun on a snowboard. Have a good razz around. And then there are the three big air parks and the largest half pipe in Scandinavia! Apparently.

There are four kids areas on the mountains and for the especially little ones there is a wonderful kindergarten, set amongst the cabins in Vestlia area. When we visited we wanted to stay with them all day, it looked like they were having so much fun! Once on the slopes, Geilo still suits families with younger children, because of the easy runs at the bottom. Children under the age of seven do not need a lift pass; they just ski through the low "troll gate" to reach the lifts, providing they wear helmets – which can be hired for free.

Everyone speaks good English, including the instructors. And everybody, it appears, just loves kids.

It's a small town and not too much happens. However, with Hallingstuene and Ekte, Geilo just happens to have two of our favourite restaurants in all Scandinavia and, on top of this, the hotels we feature serve great food and have lively, and rather stylish, bars. There are even more pubs scattered around the town, great for a quiet drink, and the locals only need very little encouragement to live it up a little.

Of all the resorts Different Snow feature - across the Continents - we'd pick out Geilo as the best resort in which to learn. Wide and gentle runs, empty spaces, no pressure and friendly English speaking instructors create an optimum environment. The nursery area on the Vestlia side has a moving ‘magic carpet’ taking you up a very sympathetic slope with a nearby poma lift, a four man chair lift, a snug Iglu or warm cosy restaurant as your next options. Further up the mountain, there is little to fear (unless you go actively go looking) so you won't find yourself confined to the same track all week.

You can actually learn to ski in either ski area - Slaatta also has nursery slopes - so wherever you stay you’ll not be far from the ski school.

The vertical drop isn’t big on either side, but because most of the time you have the slopes to yourself you actually end up doing more skiing over the full course of a day. Often its straight up, then straight down, no waiting in line, and repeat.

On the Slaatta side of the valley, working your way from one end of the resort to the other ... and then back again, trying not to repeat the same run twice ... is a most enjoyable morning. It takes you down many gentle blues, several glorious wide sweeping reds and a few blacks which could potentially up your heart rate a little.

On either side, you can just fly around on pistes they maintain with religious vigour. Due to the consistently reliable snow conditions, the quality of the snow is hard to beat.

This resort isn’t aimed at advanced skiers. There's not a lot else to say.

Opportunities exist ... but are limited. You certainly wouldn't head specifically to Geilo to persue this avenue, but if you find yourself here and have aspirations to get beyond the resort boundries, then let us know and we'll see if we can hook you up with some people we know...

Take a look at what we recommend for intermediate skiers - that's all an equal amount of fun on a snowboard. Have a good razz around. And then there are the three big air parks and the largest half pipe in Scandinavia! Apparently.

There are four kids areas on the mountains and for the especially little ones there is a wonderful kindergarten, set amongst the cabins in Vestlia area. When we visited we wanted to stay with them all day, it looked like they were having so much fun! Once on the slopes, Geilo still suits families with younger children, because of the easy runs at the bottom. Children under the age of seven do not need a lift pass; they just ski through the low "troll gate" to reach the lifts, providing they wear helmets – which can be hired for free.

Everyone speaks good English, including the instructors. And everybody, it appears, just loves kids.

It's a small town and not too much happens. However, with Hallingstuene and Ekte, Geilo just happens to have two of our favourite restaurants in all Scandinavia and, on top of this, the hotels we feature serve great food and have lively, and rather stylish, bars. There are even more pubs scattered around the town, great for a quiet drink, and the locals only need very little encouragement to live it up a little.

Getting There

The way to get to Geilo is by train - comfortable, convenient and the scenery is spectacular! Travel past fjords, pine forests and dramatic rock formations as you wind through the countryside to the mountains. It takes about three hours from Bergen and about three and a half hours from Oslo. There are six departures daily, so coordinating with your inbound and outbound flight is rarely a problem. Norwegian trains are modern and comfortable with large windows allowing you to take in the scenery.

Alternatively, there are coach transfers from Oslo Gardermoen Airport and we can always organise private arrangements, although distances are significant - 150 miles to Oslo and a similar distance to Bergen.

Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 800 metres

Top elevation: 1,174 metres

Number of lifts: 20

Number of runs: 39

Access: Bergenbanen, the famous railway between Oslo and Bergen, stops in Geilo.