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Where to ski and snowboard during Sweden's 'sportlov' break

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Where to ski and snowboard during Sweden's 'sportlov' break
Kids take ski lessons at Åre. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
14:04 CET+01:00
All across Sweden, skis and snowboards are getting waxed and edged in anticipation of the week-long break known as sportlov (winter sports holiday).
Depending on the municipality, the break comes as early as February 11th-17th or as late as the week of March 4th-10th. While of course you don't have to use the week to engage in sporty activities, as the name suggests winter sports indeed play a key component in most Swedes’ plans. 
 
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best options for skiing during the holiday. 
 
For city folk
 
The first decision to make is how far you’re willing to travel to hit the slopes. The good news for city-dwellers who aren’t too keen on the idea of shoehorning their kids and equipment into the car for a multi-hour road trip is that Sweden has plenty of urban skiing options.
 
For those in the Stockholm area, downhill skiing is just a short bus or subway ride away at Hammarbybacken. There you can take in the unusual experience of downhill skiing while overlooking the busy city. It’s a good option for beginners trying to get into this whole sportlov thing, as equipment and lessons are both available on site (as is a cafe if you quickly find you’re not cut out for it). 
 
Hammarbybacken offers slopes and city views. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
Hammarbybacken offers slopes and city views. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
 
If you’re more of a cross-country skier (admittedly not for everyone), you can find Gärdet just east of the city centre. This easily-accessible spot (take the metro to Karlaplan and Gärdet, or the number four or number 54 bus) has two tracks – one easier, and one more advanced. Is night-time skiing your thing? Stockholm offers that too in Stadion, which becomes a floodlit ski track when there's enough snow. It's completely free to use and the grounds are open until 10pm on weekdays.
 
Gothenburg residents don’t have quite as many options in their backyard, but there are still some skiing spots that don’t require much travel. The Nordic Wellness Skidome has 1.2 kilometre long indoor tracks catering to different styles, as well as saunas and a relaxation area with a jacuzzi. If there’s been decent snowfall, you can take it outside to Delsjö Golfbana, which becomes a skiing rather than golfing spot in the winter.
 
The cities of Lund, Uppsala, Umeå and Gävle all have local skiing options as well, the details of which you can find in our guide to urban skiing
 
Hit the road
 
If you’re after something bigger and better and don’t mind travelling for it, that’s when your options really open up. 
 
Just two hours from Stockholm you’ll find Kungsberget, which while certainly not the biggest resort in Sweden, offers 18 runs, 10 lifts, and 20 kilometres of cross-country paths without the full-blown road trip required to get to more remote locations. Other resorts that can be reached in less than three hours from the capital include Romme Alpin (33 runs, 13 lifts), the snowboarders’ favourite Bjursås (20 runs, 8 lifts) and the less-busy Säfsen (18 runs, 8 lifts).
 
Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
 
Sweden’s largest and best-known ski resort is Åre. This perennial favourite for skiers in Sweden and beyond has been named the country’s best ski resort six years running. It has seven different parks, 41 lifts and 89 runs. On top of that, it has an after-ski scene that caters to both hard partiers and families alike. 
 
Another of Sweden’s biggest and best resorts is Sälen, which is split into four distinct ski areas operated by Skistar that comprise a whopping 90 total lifts. The water park, cinema, dog sled tours and other non-ski options make this a popular choice for families and with a new international airport scheduled to open just 20 minutes away from the resort, expect Sälen to attract more skiers from abroad in the years to come. 
 
Also within Sälen are the independently-operated Kläppen and Stöten, the latter of which is arguably the nation’s most family-friendly ski resort and thus a natural choice for many during sportlov. 
 
Above the Arctic Circle, you can find Riksgränsen (29 runs 6 lifts), which claims to be Sweden's northernmost ski area. This is a top choice among those who like to ski off-piste. Another popular spot in the vicinity is Björkliden (23 pistes, 5 lifts), which promises “Scandinavia’s most magnificent views”. 
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