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Everything you need to know about skiing on 'sportlov' in Sweden

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
Everything you need to know about skiing on 'sportlov' in Sweden
Sweden's schools shut down for a week in February so that pupils can do winter sports. Photo: SkiStar

Next week it's the start of 'sportlov', the week all school children have off in February to do winter sports. Here's what you need to know about getting to the slopes.


Different cities and municipalities take their sportlov holidays in different weeks to avoid the slopes becoming unnecessarily crowded.

This year, Gothenburg is the first major city to release its pupils, with schools off between February 12th and February 16th. Malmö comes next, with schools shut between February 19th and February 23rd. Stockholm is the last major city to take a week off, with sportlov scheduled between February 26th and March 3rd.

Which are the best resorts and how do you get there? 

The two most popular and extensive ski areas in Sweden are the ones around Åre in Jämtland and Sälen in Dalarna, which both offer a ski experience to rival the Alps, boasting enough runs to keep skiers of all abilities happy.

Sälen is divided into six different resorts, four dominated by SkiStar, Sweden's biggest ski resort company, and two independents, Stöten and Kläppen. 

Resorts particularly popular with families include Vemdalen in Jämtland, Branäs in Värmland - voted Sweden's best resort for children 13 times - Järvsöbacken in Hälsingland and Idre in Dalarna. 

Kungsberget, near the city of Gävle, doesn't offer as many runs as the bigger resorts, but has the advantage of being only a two-and-a-half hour drive from Stockholm, meaning you can do it as a day trip if you live in the capital. 

READ ALSO: Where to ski and snowboard during Sweden's 'sportlov' break

Perhaps the most adventurous resorts are Riksgränsen and Björkliden in the far north-west corner of Swedish Lapland, which open on February 23rd. These are remote, in much less built-up areas and offer mountain after mountain of snow dotted with reindeer if you're willing to hike. Not recommended for beginners, as Riksgränsen in particular has no real beginner slopes.

They are still a bit too cold and dark in February, only really coming into their own in the Easter break. 


When do I need to book rooms in a resort? 

Many Swedes will book a year in advance for sportlov, so the sooner the better. 

SkiStar, the company that runs four resorts in Sälen, Sweden's biggest ski area, has already sold out most of its rooms for the weeks when Gothenburg, Malmö, and Stockholm are off. 

The company does, however, offer a "last minute for sportlov" option on its website, with rooms free primarily at Tyrsil and Hemsedal, its resorts in Norway. 

There were still some rooms and chalets left in Sweden, starting at 13,720 kronor for a chalet in Lindvallen, Sälen, and going up to 29,990 kronor for a room in its SkiStar Lodge Hotel at Hundfjället.

You can also still book cabins on Airbnb, with 3-bedroom cabins near Sälen currently on offer for about 3,000 kronor a night. 

SkiStar has English and German versions of its website and app, which makes it easy for non-Swedish speakers to find and book accommodation. And even the smaller independent resorts, such as Kläppen, Stöten and Idre Fjäll offer booking in English. 


What equipment do I need? 

Well, det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder! (There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing). 

Sweden's ski resorts may have more reliable snow than the Alps in February, but they are also colder and darker, which means you will need a proper ski jacket, together with waterproof and ideally insulated ski trousers. 

Under this, you will need layers, starting with thermal long johns and a thermal top, ideally in wool. Warm, waterproof ski gloves are also a must, as is a hat, ideally thin enough to fit under a helmet. 

For skiing in Sweden in February, goggles are a better bet than sunglasses as you are likely to find yourself skiing in a blizzard, and will need eye protection. 

While you can buy all of this easily at your nearest branch of Stadium or Intersport, you can pick it up more cheaply at second-hand shops such as Björkåfrihet, Myrorna, Stadsmissionen and Röda Korset. 

You can rent skis, snowboards, ski poles and helmets at most resorts for about 1,000 kronor per person a week, and this probably makes the most sense unless you are an experienced skier who wants to use their own kit. 


What else do I need to pay for? 

Lift passes in Sweden are getting ever more expensive, with SkiStar doubling the price for a pass in Åre in the past ten years. A 6-8 day adult lift pass for SkiStar's resorts in Åre and Sälen now cost 3,025 kronor and 2,645 kronor respectively. 

Smaller resorts are only slightly cheaper, with a lift pass for Idre costing 2,416 kronor and Branäs 2,125 kronor. 

It can also be worth booking children into ski school, if only to free up the adults to do some skiing of their own. An hour's ski school a day for three days for a 4-6 year-old costs 900 kronor at SkiStar's resorts, while at Branäs it's 665 kronor for two 75-minute lessons.  


What's the best way of getting there? 


The train company Snälltåget runs a night train from Malmö to Stockholm and then on to the resorts of Åre, Vemdalen and Storlien in Jämtland.

At the time of writing, there were still beds in the sleeping compartments available on the February 17th train, returning on the 24th, but it was more than 3,000 kronor for a return trip. 

SJ also runs train services from Stockholm to Åre for about 1,125 kronor each way, with the journey taking just under seven hours. 

You can't get the train directly to Sälen, but you can get to Mora or Borlänge, and then travel on to Sälen on the local Dalstrafik buses. 


There is also the Fjällexpressen bus service, which runs services from Malmö, Stockholm, Gothenburg, and other Swedish towns and cities to the mountain resorts of Sälen and Idre.

The bus departs Malmö at 5.20am, arrives in Sälen at 18.10pm, and costs 925 kronor each way. The journey from Stockholm to Sälen takes seven hours and costs 585 kronor. From Gothenburg it takes seven-and-a-half hours and costs 625 kronor each way. 


Most Swedes drive to their ski holidays and all the resorts have giant car parks to accommodate them all. 

From Stockholm, it's a six-hour drive to Sälen and closer to eight to Åre. From Gothenburg, it's also six hours to Sälen, with Åre more like 11 hours away. 

People in Malmö, Sweden's southernmost city, obviously have further to go. Sälen is a nine-hour drive (in reality it will take you at least 10), and Åre an impractical 14 hours.  

As getting to the resorts means driving on some fairly remote roads, it's important to make sure you have blankets, warm clothes and snacks in the car in case you get stuck. 

You should also check the weather conditions on the route to your resort, and tune in to the P4 local radio channel to keep aware of any accidents on your route.


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Walter Wilcoxen 2024/02/07 10:25
In your car you should have a small shovel and if at all possible steel studded tires. It can be very, very challenging on our roads, even life threatening. Also remember we have a lot of moose and reindeer on our roads - so slow down! And have a wonderful sportlov.

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