Åre Björnen

Christmas Skiing in Åre

Åre Björnen

Looking east down the lake from the top of the runs above Björnen

I was in Sweden last week with the family for some Christmas skiing in Åre. It was a fantastic trip and was the first time I’d tried going so early in the season to Åre. I’d been to Vemdalen a couple of times in the first week of the new year, but here we arrived the week before Christmas on the 23rd December.

For once though we didn’t come via Stockholm. As I’ve written elsewhere it’s wonderful train journey up from Stockholm to Åre (although it’s a long long drive). Since we were coming over from London we were flying in, but I noticed that you can now get a direct flight from London to Trondheim. Although in Norway, Trondheim is very well connected to Åre by both road and rail. It took us less than 2 hours to drive across the border and it’s a spectacular drive right along the mountain pass between the 2 countries. I’d thoroughly recommend the trip just for the scenery along the way!

We checked into the Vargen group of apartments which are right next to the nursery slopes in Björnen as we were skiing with our children for the first time (well they were old enough to take lessons themselves for the first time would be a better descrption). This accomodation is booked and managed through Skistar, so it was easy to have everything pre-booked and ready to roll when you arrive. I absolutely love the service Skistar give, they just make everything so easy from start to finish and I’ve had many happy holidays arranged through them.

The lifts were open throughout the week as normal, although obviously there wasn’t much light with it being the shortest week of the year. There’s a snow guarantee from Skistar from the 23rd onwards, so although there was no huge amounts of snow cover, they were making snow whilst there and ensuring that there was skiing for everybody. Add to that a selection of Christmas activities and all in all you’ve got a great break.

Åre ski women slalom 2012

Visiting Åre by train from Stockholm for a weekend of skiing

Stockholm is undoubtedly a great city to visit, but one of the other great things about it is that it’s the travel gateway to the rest of the country. My favourite form of transport is train, and Sweden is a great country to get around by train, with Stockholm unsurprisingly being the hub for most routes.

In March 2012 I was in town doing some work for my good friends at Basefarm AB (who I sometimes blog for as well), and I decided to take a trip up north to ski for a long weekend in Åre. This is Sweden’s largest ski resort, with by far the biggest vertical drop and a large and varied piste and lift system. You can tell that it’s Sweden’s largest resort as this is where all the international competitive skiing is held, when the circuit comes to Sweden. The photo here is taken whilst I was watching the women’s slalom that week.

take the train to Åre to watch the skiiing

Womens slalom at Åre in March 2012

It’s all very well and good being a great ski resort but the thing that makes it truly my favourite ski resort in Sweden is that you can travel there by train, including for real luxury, by sleeper train. When I say you can travel by there by train, I don’t mean to nearby stations that then require a transfer, I mean right into the centre of village, where you’re less than 200 metres from the main square and all the hotels and amenities.

It’s an extraordinary journey, especially the last hour, as the train climbs into the mountains heading west towards the Norwegian border and you see the approaching resort. Being as you can travel by night train it makes it all the more possible to nip up there for a weekend from Stockholm and I can thoroughly recommend the experience. Sometimes I don’t know what I prefer most, the train journey itself or the great skiiing!

You can book train tickets through www.sj.se and you can book lift passes and accomodation and anything else you might need through www.skistar.com/are .