Originating in Scandinavia and dating back to 3000 BC, cross-country, or ‘Nordic’ skiing is the oldest known form of skiing. Fast forward 5000 years and it is still a popular pastime in resorts across the world.

Taking a Nordic skiing holiday is a great way to explore beautiful snowy landscapes at your own pace. Holiday costs are relatively low where skiers save on the cost of lift passes (though many areas have a small trail fee), the equipment you need is also considerably cheaper than downhill skiing, whether you rent or buy it. For those who want to give their legs a rest, many Nordic ski areas operate alongside downhill resorts so you can combine the two sports.

The Ski Club has researched some of the best Nordic ski areas in the world, where you can enjoy miles of trails in stunning settings.

Seefeld, Austria

Maybe the most famous of Nordic resorts, Seefeld has a massive 300km of trails as well as lifts for those that prefer downhill skiing. The resort has twice hosted the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, most recently in 2019, cementing it’s reputation as one of the best Nordic destinations in the world.

The trails run along the tree-lined Tirolean valleys to the towns of Leutasch and Scharnitz and some are floodlit for night skiing too. In typical Austrian fashion there are plenty of huts serving hearty mountain food to keep you going and bus services running between towns should you ”accidentally” extend your lunch. Sitting between the stunning peaks of the Karwendel range there is a mix of 125km of skating and 154km of classic trails to choose from and even 44km of adaptive trails for those sit skiing.

Seefeld is just 30 minutes from Innsbruck airport by car, or you can take a train direct to the town centre.

Lillehammer, Norway

A short bus ride from Lillehammer, home of the 1994 Winter Olympics, is the ski centre of Sjusjoen, which has over 300km of trails varying from fast groomers running around the lake to touring trails going from hut to hut over the hills. As ‘probably the best cross-country ski centre in the world’, the quantity and variety of trails are unrivalled. However, being so far north in Scandinavia, many of the trails are quite exposed to the elements as they criss-cross through the otherworldly tundra landscape between Lillehammer, Hafjell, Nordseter and Sjusjoen. If you are looking to find solace and test your Nordic grit in the home of cross-country skiing.

Lillehammer is around 2 hours from Oslo by road or train and there are regular flights to Oslo from the UK.

Grand Revard, France

Just 17km from Chambery, Grand Revard is probably one of the closest major Nordic ski areas for UK flights. With over 150km of trails peaking at 1,500m, the destination is also relatively snow-sure throughout the season. With most of the skiing through pine forest on a high plateau, there are stunning views across the valley to the Massif des Bauges. Dotted along the trails are several mountain refuges, perfect forwarming up and grabbing something to eat and there are 4 main hotels plus an assortment of gites, apartments and cabins to rent in the area. There’s even a Nordic Skier Cross trail, which features banked turns, jumps and obstacles, just remember you don’t have any edges!

© Wiseguy Creative

Jackson, New Hampshire, U.S.A.

The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation is a non-profit organisation that builds and maintains the fantastic forest trails surrounding the sleepy New Hampshire village of Jackson. The 150km of trails, 80km of which are groomed daily, take in all the typical eastern states nordic trail scenery, covered bridges, quiet forests, traditional white wooden churches and plenty of inns and restaurants to warm up in.

Getting to Jackson is easiest from Boston airport via rental car and takes around 3 hours.

Nipika, British Columbia, Canada

Deep in the Kootenay National Park, Nipika Mountain Resort is one of the most sustainable Nordic eco resorts, relying wholly on solar power for their lodges and wood burning stoves in the cabins. The 80km of groomed trails follow frozen rivers through ancient pine forests with the towering peaks of the Canadian Rockies above. There’s plenty of wildlife round here so don’t surprised if you hear wolves howling while you sit round the campfire. For a different way to explore the area there are also fatbike trails and rental available.

Nipika is around 3hrs drive from Calgary airport and you can drop by the Canmore Nordic Centre if you fancy a ski round an Olympic course.

Aviemore, Scotland

Though not the most reliable for snow, or the longest trail network in our list, there is something special about being able to ski groomed Nordic trails right here in the UK! The trails at Glenmore Lodge just east of Aviemore run through the pine forests and round lochans with around 30km to explore. There are also plenty of un-groomed forest roads and paths throughout the area if snow conditions are good.

Aviemore is on the Caledonian Sleeper route so you can go to bed in London and wake up in the Cairngorms ready to ski the trails. Otherwise Inverness is the nearest airport, under 1hr drive away.

 

 

Find out more about Nordic skiing here - https://www.skiclub.co.uk/info-and-advice/learning-and-development/cross-country-skiing