Not something you hear much about is it? But if you watch the video on this link you might well think, as I did, that perhaps this is one of Europe’s best kept secrets!
The snows usually start in late October and the ski season is in full swing in early December. It finishes, in the most part, the last weekend in April. However, December and January are dark months, with the sun barely being seen for more than a couple of hours a day. In February and March, the days start to get longer and the bitter weather of January fades into memory, but for
Swedes it’s Easter that’s the big alpine experience, and canny visitors from all over Europe come to take advantage of the late skiing.
It is a myth that Sweden is terribly expensive. The weakening of the Swedish Krona over the past two decades and the country’s low inflation rate has put its living costs amongst the lowest in Europe – although beer is quite expensive!
The ski facilities are excellent and it is little wonder that almost every Swede can ski and ski well. It is a fantastic alternative to the crowded and increasingly more expensive ski resorts that we all normally think of when booking a ski break.
Åre is the alpine centre of Sweden. At 63.4° north, the ski area is approximately 350 km (220 mi.) south of the Arctic Circle.
The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2007 were held at Åre, other places in contention were Lillehammer, Norway, and Val d’Isère, France, which was later selected to host the world championships in 2009. I only add this piece of information to show that Swedish ski-ing is considered to be up there with the best.
In 2009, Åre went on to be named winner of “World’s top ski resorts” by the British travel magazine Condé Nast Traveller. There is everything from awe-inspiring black pistes and highly challenging off-piste slopes to an abundance of easy skiing for children and beginners. Åre and adjacent Duved also offer world-class slopes for snowboarding, telemark and carving. Extreme adventures such as heli-skiing are also available. Avalanche risk is low here.
The region has direct access to 93km of downhill skiing with 98 individual pistes, served by 44 ski lifts and, of course, a World Cup descent and the famous Hummelbranten mogul run. The 44 Ski Lifts are able to uplift 48,690 skiers and snowboarders per hour. Åre is not very high – 1,420 meters (4,660 ft); its absolute summit is not lift-served, but is reachable by snowmobile.
There’s a great aprés ski life as well which begins as early as 3 p.m! Live performances and good old fashioned communal sing-songs are the order of the day. A little like ski-ing in the Alps in the good old-bad days before everything became so commercial and monetised… and crowded. Was anybody lucky enough to hear a good old oompah-pa band in Austria?! I remember coming off the slopes as a very young girl on my first ski holiday in a lovely place called Obergurgl. As you walked into the hotel in dire need of a steaming cup of hot chocolate, and knowing that it would be waiting for you, the band had already struck up. It was a wonderful atmosphere.
Åre is the most diverse of Sweden’s alpine resorts with the most amount of expert skiing terrain, whilst Sälen is particularly popular amongst the Swedes. It’s a great spot for intermediate skiers with a total of six ski resorts in one, all of them interconnected. Vemdalen (NeilsonHolidaysTV), on the other hand, although smaller has the advantage of guaranteed snow and its so plentiful that skiing can begin in October.
Branäs is a true family resort and good for intermediate skiers too. It’s a nice, compact ski resort with lots of accommodation.
Tärnaby-Hemavan on the other hand is for extreme skiers and adventure seekers and so attracts a younger crowd. It is said that the best aprés ski parties in the country can be found here! It has an elevation difference of 2,197 feet and 39 different slopes over a 8,389 acre park this resort has a higher percentage of difficult runs to other Northern European ski resorts.
Those are, of course, generalisations – you might have a different opinion…
Åre has the highest and longest vertical drop at 890m, but Riksgränsen has the largest ski area – 199kms followed by Sälen with 145 km.
The best snowboarding resorts are considered to be Åre, Funäsdalen, Sälen and Tänndalen/Ramundberget.
In all there are some 34 ski resorts in Sweden.
And then of course there’s Lapland – the largest wilderness area in Europe. Here they offer heli- skiing on over 200 peaks over a snowy terrain that would fill half of Austria (KrajaSilverhatten). Swedish Lapland’s northerly location means that the season runs from the middle of March until the end of May, extending the heli skiing season just that bit longer. What’s more, during the last two weeks of May,you can heli-ski under a midnight sun.
Riksgransen, the base resort for a heli ski adventure, also offers lift-served skiing – piste and off piste, and ski touring for the days when the weather doesn’t permit a chopper leaving base.
So when planning your next ski trip – think about Sweden. It might surprise you…