To Ski or Sightsee – in Norway
Norway’s late-season ski scene is much like one of its famous fjords: far bigger than you’d first imagine. The country has a surprising number of uncrowded but high-quality ski breaks, and this 9-hour, 385-mile Norwegian road trip covers some of the best. It takes in options from snowboarding to cross-country skiing. And in addition to the peaks and pistes of southern Norway, you’ll also be visiting the country’s two largest cities: Bergen and Oslo.
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Located among the hills and fjords of the southwest coast, Bergen has always been a gateway to the outdoors. But don’t overlook the city itself. Its UNESCO-listed wharf district, Bryggen, is still lined with wooden houses and plays home to strong Nordic restaurants such as Enhjørningen. And the skiing? Various resorts sit within easy reach of the city – including Voss, which has 25 miles of pistes, and the smaller Eikedalen, which offers night skiing in high season. From Bergen, Geilo is reached by a 150-mile drive inland.
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Surrounded by mountain plateaus and woodland, Geilo (pronounced “Yay-lo”) is one of the best regions to try Norway’s national sport: cross-country skiing. There are close to 350 miles of trails on offer, as well as 40 downhill slopes for skiers and snowboarders. The town itself is small but pretty – choose dinner at Hallingstuene, known for its mountain trout. Back behind the wheel, Oslo is 135 miles away, along a route passing numerous lakes and waterways.
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For a large city, Norway’s capital is easy to explore. The centre of town is compact and walkable, with attractions as diverse as The National Gallery (where you’ll find Edvard Munch’s The Scream), the Nobel Peace Center and the slick Oslo City shopping mall. For a meal, book ahead at Michelin-starred Stadtholdergaarden. Outdoors, meanwhile, head 30 minutes out of town to the slopes of Oslo Winter Park or take in city views from the summit of the Olympic ski jump at Holmenkollen. Your route then leads west to Drammen, just 45 minutes’ drive away.
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A port city that was once a centre for shipbuilding, Drammen is still defined by its waterside setting. Visitors can head out onto the fjord, call in at nearby seaside villages or even try their hand at salmon-fishing. Back in town, purchase local glasswork at Glasshytta or enjoy fresh seafood at Skutebrygga. On the edge of the city the Drammen Ski Centre has 2.5 miles of pistes and a ski park well stocked with jumps and rails. Moving on, Fredrikstad lies a 90-minute journey south.
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A fine spot for any car-hire journey to finish, the fortress town of Fredrikstad was founded by royalty way back in the 1500s. The fort itself is still surrounded by a crown-shaped moat. Elsewhere in town, you’ll find the birthplace of polar explorer Roald Amundsen and a family-friendly Football Museum, as well as cosy restaurants like Havnelageret. And while the city’s immediate vicinity might not offer skiing, it lets you round off the trip with anything from golf and cycling to sailing and beach walks.
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