Ski holidays in Norway: Here's how to discover the magic of skiing in little known winter vacation gem Geilo

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One visit to Geilo will make you want to go back again and again.

‘You’ve come at a great time,’ our host Geir told us as we arrived in Geilo - a precious hidden gem in the mountains of Norway. ‘January is one of the best times of the year to visit.'

We had spent the last three hours on a coach transfer from Oslo Airport - a journey which sounded daunting but was largely spent oohing and ahhing at the stunning scenery out the window. When we asked why January is such a good month to come to Geilo, Geir gestured towards the mountains opposite us. Words weren’t necessary when the views could do the talking. 

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Powder-white mountains twinkled under a low winter sun which, for the duration of our three-day ski trip with Crystal Ski Holidays, was always either rising or setting in the few hours it was there at all - there were only six or seven hours of daylight each day.

Geilo's slopes are spread between two sides of the valley which are easily accessible by ski bus.Geilo's slopes are spread between two sides of the valley which are easily accessible by ski bus.
Geilo's slopes are spread between two sides of the valley which are easily accessible by ski bus. | National World

I was tired from the journey and trying my best to adapt to the bitter temperatures of -16C, but there was something about Geilo that already told me I would want to return to Norway again and again. 

Just the sight of the mountains made me long for the click of the skis and even the (usually terrible) feeling of forcing my feet into unforgiving ski boots. I learned to ski when I was around four or five years old, and have skied in the Scottish Highlands, France, Italy and Canada over the years. But this was my first taste of Norway, and I didn’t have long to wait to see what it had to offer.

We were on the slopes the following morning as the sun was slowly rising; foggy floodlights bringing the slopes to life under drowsy white skies. The snow was all any skier could wish for - no slush in sight and barely any ice. 

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Geilo is great for all levels of skier, but it really is the perfect destination for families. The resort, one of Norway’s oldest, has 46 slopes spread over the two sides of the valley, which are linked and easily accessed by a ski bus. 

Crystal Ski Holidays Factsheet

Crystal Ski Holidays offers 7-night holidays to Geilo, Norway, staying at Dr Holms Hotel, with prices from £893 per person on a half-board basis, based on two sharing. 

This price includes return flights from London Gatwick to Oslo Gardermoen and transfers, departing on January 12, 2025. 

For winter 2024/25, Crystal has also introduced a weekly charter flight from Manchester to Oslo to serve its Norwegian programme. The Sunday flying which will operate on TUI Airways will commence on December 15, 2024, and will complement the existing London Gatwick - Oslo route.

The Vestlia side of the resort is a first-time skier’s dream, with plenty of long, quiet green and blue runs, which were also perfect for finding my ski legs after years away from the slopes. The other side also has blue runs, and for those who are more experienced, there are challenging reds as well as black runs, mogul courses and terrain parks. 

The resort is easy to navigate and no matter which of the 19 ski lifts you take to the top, you are guaranteed to be met with breathtaking views of the mountains and town below.

Scattered across the resort, there are several mountainside restaurants, bars and cafes where skiers can warm up with a hot chocolate and cinnamon bun - or a hot meal and a beer if preferred - and rest their legs. 

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We enjoyed one of the best lunches I’ve ever had at the Kikut Bistro, which is perfect for those looking for fine dining and a long wine list. For us, it was a charcuterie sharing board followed by a medley of mini lunch dishes that more than filled us up for the afternoon of skiing ahead, but everything on the menu looked and sounded delicious. 

The charcuterie board at the Kikut Bistro was a perfect lunch before an afternoon of of skiing.The charcuterie board at the Kikut Bistro was a perfect lunch before an afternoon of of skiing.
The charcuterie board at the Kikut Bistro was a perfect lunch before an afternoon of of skiing. | National World

For a more laid back atmosphere and menu, Havsdalskroa is perfect for pizzas and pastas, while Halstensgård Kafé, nestled away under a ski lift, is a must-visit for homemade waffles and a hot drink. 

The great food of Geilo wasn’t just confined to the slopes. After a fun, if a little frosty, night-time sleigh ride to the Vestlia Resort hotel, we were treated to an incredible meal with wine pairings. 

Whether you plan to eat or not, the hotel itself is an experience to add to the to-do list. Visitors have the chance to take a tour of the hotel’s extensive art collection, which boasts graphics by Edvard Munch and paintings by Kai Fjell and Axel Ender. And in keeping with the resort’s family feel, the hotel also has a soft play, swimming pool and spa.

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But it was the aptly named Dr Holms Hotel that we got to call home for our three nights. 

We stayed at the beautiful Dr Holms Hotel in GeiloWe stayed at the beautiful Dr Holms Hotel in Geilo
We stayed at the beautiful Dr Holms Hotel in Geilo | National World

Nicknamed ‘The White Queen’ due to its looming presence on the hill, the hotel is an institution. It has a rich history, having opened on November 27 1909 - the same day as the Bergen to Oslo railway line opened - and served as a sanatorium before being turned into a hotel. It was later occupied by German troops during the Second World War, and has since changed hands several times over the years. 

Dr Holms Hotel has an American-style diner and bowling alley.Dr Holms Hotel has an American-style diner and bowling alley.
Dr Holms Hotel has an American-style diner and bowling alley. | National World

Its long history secures its status as the jewel in the crown of Geilo, with a newly refurbished restaurant which provides a sensational dining experience and plenty of spaces to relax after long days of skiing - from spacious and comfortable rooms to a swimming pool , spa and sports bar complete with shuffleboard. There is even a bowling alley and American-style diner within the hotel, where, on our last night, staff from across the ski resort had gathered to socialise. 

It was an appropriate end to the trip, which throughout had highlighted the real sense of pride and community that is woven into the fabric of Geilo. 

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From the moment we arrived, it was clear that this was a place that Norwegians wanted to show off and shout about, and it only takes one visit - in January or, I’m sure, any other month of the long ski season - to find out why.

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