Ski Sweden this winter
Sweden seems a good bet for skiing this winter due to its different approach when it comes to lockdown. As many European countries see new Covid-19 cases surge to levels not seen since the peak of the pandemic, Sweden still has one of the continent’s lowest infection rates.
Sweden’s light-touch ‘sustainable’ approach has made it an international outlier and, with their comparatively low number of cases, it seems to be paying off.
So where to ski in Sweden? FamilySkiNews recommends two particularly family-friendly resorts: Björkliden and Riksgränsen.
Both lie within Swedish Lapland in the north of the country, where immense quantities of snow fall every year. The area has often been called Europe’s last wilderness, and offers world class snow conditions.
Björkliden is one of Swedens’ oldest and most classic ski resorts, situated 200km above the Arctic Circle, with breathtaking views of Lake Torneträsk, and the majestic Lapporten. Dubbed “the Gateway to Lapland”, Björkliden prides itself on its family-friendly skiing and plentiful wintery adventures. It’s also just a short ride away from the Ice Hotel for a novelty daytrip or overnight stay.
Björkliden’s well-groomed slopes are ideal for children and beginners while also providing black diamond runs and extensive off-piste for more advanced skiers and boarders, not to mention endless possibilities for cross country skiing, ski touring and heliskiing. There are 25 pistes and 5 lifts in total, plus a dedicated children’s skiing area – Fjällelandet – and the Björkliden Funpark for tricksters.
Après ski includes dog sledding and snowmobile safaris, snow shoeing or visiting one of Sweden’s longest cave systems – the Kappas caves. If you’re lucky you might experience the magical northern lights on a snow-shoe hike.
Stay in Hotel Fjället, the authentic Gammelgarden Ski Lodge or in a cabin beside the ski area. Our favourite, Solhyllan, offers a fireplace, sauna and outdoor jacuzzi. Or spend a night at Laktatjakko, Sweden’s highest mountain lodge (1226m).
Riksgränsen is one of Sweden’s most popular ski resorts, with 29 well-maintained pistes (served by 6 lifts) all above treeline. The resort is situated 30km east of Bjorkliden, right on the Norwegian border, and a couple of the runs into Norway (no need for a passport!).
For families with advanced skiers and boarders, Riksgränsen also claims some of Sweden’s best off-piste skiing. It has been voted the best resort for off-piste the past three years. Riksgransen also offers the ultimate in Scandinavian heliskiing, with around 40 peaks in the vicinity each offering vertical drops of up to 1000m.
The Riksgränsen Hotel is the place to stay, just 100m from the lift system and train station. It offers a sports shop (Schmedjan) for equipment hire, an authentic Swedish spa (with swimming pool, jacuzzi, massage, hot tubs and sauna – access costs SEK195/SEK100 for 3-12 years, free for babies; hot tubs cost SEK995 per outdoor barrel per hour). The restaurant, Lapplandia serves such local delicacies as reindeer, Arctic char with cloudberries, and the classic bar Grönan offers some of the best après-ski in Sweden (and top-notch hamburgers). Alternatively, adjacent to the hotel, Riksgränsen’s oldest building, the Meteorologen is a century-old log building, which has been converted into a 4-star ski lodge with 14 rooms, a cosy dining room and bar.
Perhaps the best news of all – both resorts Riksgränsen and Björkliden share the same lift pass! And there’s even a transfer bus which travels for free (on presentation of a valid lift pass) between the two resorts, with a journey time of around 30 minutes.
The season in Björkliden runs from 12 February until 2 May 2021; in Riksgransen it runs from 26 February to 23 May, and also 17-20 June 2021. Prices are 1710SEK/1345SEK (adult/child) for 5 days, then 275SEK/220SEK (adult/child) per extra day. Night skiing is extra at 325SEK/260SEK in Riksgransen. 195SEK/150SEK in Björkliden. The child price is for kids between eight and 15, children up to seven wearing a helmet ski for free.
How to get there:
Fly to Stockholm or, better, into Kiruna in northern Sweden, then take a bus, train or taxi. A transfer between Kiruna and Björkliden takes approximately 90 minutes; from Kiruna to Riksgränsen is around 100 minutes.
Or, for a real adventure, get an overnight train from Stockholm or Gothenburg – you will arrive in Björkliden at lunchtime the next day. It’s an 18 hour journey so be sure to pack plenty of snacks, toys and games for the kids.