You might think that Norway is an expensive country to ski in, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, it is currently cheap to get to by plane from the UK. Today (18/09/2019) Ryanair are selling some flights for as low as £12 return! With prices this low, there’s nothing wrong with spending a little more to ski and explore a beautiful country.
Expect the more common figure to be around £40 return, which is still pretty cheap. You’ll spend a minimal amount on baggage (choose to upgrade your carry-on luggage and take a 30L rucksack plus an extra bag. It is possible to fit your ski boots and helmet in a rucksack this size and still have room for clothes). You can spend all of your trip in Oslo and check out the Oslo Vinterpark but if you’ve got time, Lillehammer is a really nice and easily accessible ski resort.
I traveled there solo in winter and chose to stay in hostels. Skiing solo is possible but obviously comes with dangers… If you’re going to do it, aim to stay in hostels where people should at least expect you to arrive after your days out (that is, if you don’t meet any other skiers). Be aware of your own skills and don’t take any unnecessary risks. Lillehammer may be quiet in February, before school holidays. Oslo seems to always have visitors.
This itinerary will take you to the quaint town of Lillehammer. There, the small ski resort hosted the Olympics in 1994. For a hefty price tag (but no different to similar attractions elsewhere in the world) you can even go down the bobsleigh track. Yes, on a real bobsleigh. To make this itinerary even more interesting, we’ve combined a city break in Oslo. Not keen? You can always use our recommended SWAPS to create your own itinerary.
What’s the accommodation like?
Bobsledding and the Olympic Centre
- Easy and comfortable trains from the airport direct to Lillehammer. Convenient buses from there to the ski resort.
- The quiet, pretty town of Lillehammer is nice to have a walk around.
- The option of cheap accommodation at Lillehammer train station, if you’re comfortable with a hostel.
- Quiet slopes if you go at the right time of year. No queues.
- Electronic lockers at the ski resort mean you can leave your ski equipment and catch a bus back and forth without lugging everything around. Saying that, it’s common practice for people to jump on a bus fully kitted, helmet and all.
- Frequent late-night skiing if you can brace the cold.
- The chance to try out a real bobsled track. However, there are a few warnings about this (check out ‘what’s bad’).
- The ease of access to Oslo and other cities so that you can combine your ski trip with a city break.
- Oslo has a few attractions to save time for, including the Freia Chocolate Factory. Trust me, once you’ve tasted this chocolate, sold in virtually every newsagent in the city, you’ll want to visit the factory. The famous old sign also overlooks the city’s shopping area so you’ll have a constant reminder of that well-known name. The factory is rumoured to have inspired Charlie the Chocolate Factory. Roald Dahl’s parents were Norwegian. Other tourists in Oslo told me that the factory experience is better than the UK’s Cadbury one (but maybe don’t tell Cadbury!). Sadly, I didn’t get to go in – the factory is closed on Saturdays.
- Other attractions in Oslo include the centrally located Ice Bar which you can get in for as low as £15. If you’re there in the daytime at this time of year, it could be completely empty.
- Also consider visiting The Viking Ship Museum (not to be confused with the awesome Vasa Museum in Stockholm).
- Don’t forget to try to reach the Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower, the oldest ski jump in the world. It dates back to the 1800s and is well worth a visit. Sadly, I was short on time. Attractions close early, many at 4pm in the winter in Norway, even on Saturdays. This museum will take about 50 minutes by tram from the city centre, less by taxi, so leave extra time. This leads us on to the bad…
- In winter many tourist attractions close early. You’ll need extra days to have time to see enough, partly because many of the attractions are up to an hour away and you need time for tram or train journeys. To account for this, I’ve added extra days to the itinerary.
- Early sunsets means not much daylight.
- Food. Food is expensive in Norway, and hot drinks on the slopes will cost you about £4 a go. There also isn’t much in the way of restaurants on the slopes at Lillehammer (a bit different if you’re used to Eastern European skiing).
- Oslo’s streets can be treacherous in winter, with falling ice from building tops and incredibly slippery pavements. Bring the right footwear. And maybe walk on the edge of the pavements…
What’s the accommodation like?
- The train station hostel is friendly and safe. Accessibility is undeniably easy as the bus station is also right outside. The cafe is a handy place to find discounted food in a small station with limited options elsewhere. Hostel rooms are basic, without lockers or curtains and I found them cold (so bring an extra jumper!). Other tourists seemed to use the hostel for work purposes and I didn’t meet anyone who was there on holiday, but it is still the cheapest, easiest and friendliest option I have found for solo tourists in Lillehammer.
- The Poshtel in Oslo serves amazing breakfasts (think English breakfasts with banana smoothies, posh coffee and a posh room, too). It’s a hostel that feels like a hotel. They have luggage storage, and lockers are in the room (bring a padlock).
A few words on bobsledding and the Olympic centre…
- The Olympic centre in Lillehammer is not necessarily where you might expect it to be. It’s actually a fair distance from the ski resort. Surprisingly it’s also not easy to reach by public transport in winter. Buses don’t go the whole way, even though buses seem to go almost everywhere in those weather conditions. If you do plan to go, make sure you set an extra day aside and set out during the daytime. This is important because you don’t want to be struggling to make it back to your accommodation in the darkness (remember, sunsets are very early) and walking long distances in the cold to find a bus.
- If you plan to bobsled, sadly this is something you’ll need to have more people for. It’s ideal if you’re with a group. Alternatively, apparently this is a common summer tourist activity. In the summer, you’ll be likely to find other groups to literally jump in with.
Want to try this? I’d recommend the following:
- Fly to Oslo. *Return flights to/from Oslo for £12++) B
- Train to Lillehammer from the airport. You can buy a ticket at the airport. B
- Arrive and settle in at your accommodation. I’d recommend the hostel at the train station (it’s part of the station’s cafe) – about £30 a night x 4 = 120. B
- Use the evening to explore Lillehammer and stock up on some food.
- Take buses to and from the ski resort – about £10 a day. Buy tickets daily. Enquire about the local bus routes at the hostel.
- Ski for 3-4 days, with some night-skiing included in your pass – approx £151.98 for the pass (Feb 2019) + £86 ski equipment rental (may be more depending on what you require). You can purchase your pass and rental equipment on your arrival at the resort. B.
Day Five (end)
- On day 5, when you’re ready to leave, take a train to Oslo Central. You can buy a ticket from the train station machines at Lillehammer. B.
- Stay at the hotel/hostel Saga Poshtel and exploring Oslo for 2 full days – about £40 per night x 3 = 120. It’s walking distance from the train station. B.
Explore Oslo. Check out our guide above.
Airport trains & the trip to Oslo by train should cost approx £89 in total.
Hostels for a total of 7 nights: £240
Ski Pass: £151.98
Flights: min. £12
= £619.06 + museum entry fees for Oslo or/and bobsledding in Lillehammer + food/spending money
Too expensive? Too long? Not what you’re hoping for? Check out our SWAP suggestions
- Reduce the number of days in Oslo.
- Increase/decrease the number of days skiing or exploring Lillehammer
- Choose not to ski in Lillehammer at all, and instead ski at the Vinterpark in Oslo.
- Choose not to go to Oslo at all
- Opt for hotels instead of hostels.