To be honest, Geilo is not better or worse than many other ski destinations. The area is pretty ordinary laid out, it is Norway so the prices are sky-high and the slopes are a little too short. But in spite of that, Geilo has been the setting for a couple of fun family holidays for us, with lots of family activities. The fact that we came back after being there once also proves that Geilo can not be that bad.
Geilo is situated between a good 200 kilometers north of Oslo, in the norwegian fells, but be aware, it is a more than three hour ride as the speed limit in Norway is lower in most countries. If you come from northern Europe or Denmark, you can go by various ferries to cities in either Norway or Sweden. From Copenhagen you can go directly to Oslo, but we never do that, as the ferry docks in Oslo at nine o’clock in the morning which means you will not be in Geilo before 12.30, and then you miss half a day in the slopes.
We always go by car and sometimes we drive all night, so we can arrive in the morning and sometimes we leave a day earlier and find somewhere to sleep close to the destination. It depends on what day we get hour room or hut, and what our work situation is around the start of the holidays.
Depending on the weather, and if you come via Oslo by car, I will recommend anybody to go via road #7 through Flå and Nesbyen. It is a low wide road cleared for snow, opposite to road #40, which som gps’ seems to prefer, which is a higher road that is going over the fell tops with lots of turns and lots of snow and ice. In Norway they only clear the big roads. On the smaller roads they throw out gravel and leaves the rest to your car and tire grip.
WHAT IS IT LIKE?
Geilo is perfect for families with small kids, because of the many blue and green slopes, because it is easy to overview and because there is a lot of other families. You do not go here if you are looking for serious after skiing and you do not go here if you are looking for dangerous adventures.
The skiing area is divided in two. A big one north of the country road going through the town, and a smaller one south of the road, where there is a kind of ski in ski out possibility. The lift pass is of course good for both areas. There is a bus going between the two areas but we never used it. The traffic was not very heavy so we found it more convenient to go by our car, and we never had any problems with finding a place to park.
The big area is a typical nordic area. Most of the slopes is laid out shoulder to shoulder on a suitable mountain side – or in this case fell side – and then there is a few slopes on the opposite side. Because of this you need a very wide mountain side if you want many slopes, and in Geilo there is around two kilometers from the two out most “ground” stations. To make it more convenient the Geilo folks has placed two more “ground” stations in between, and all the stations has parking areas.
Actually I am not sure if the west most station has a parking area, as we could not get to it. We were driving a car with rear-wheel drive, and even though we had good winter tires, we could not get up a smaller hill on the way to the station. In fact the small “back road” which is connecting the ski stations is not being cleaned for snow. It is the norwegian way – gravel on ice, but only in turns, which gave us some trouble.
The small area is more family friendly. A smaller area with a kind of ski in ski out feeling, and they were in the process of building more hotels at the base, when we were there. The area is quite small and if you are away for more than just playing with your smaller kids, I recommend that you find a hotel nearer the big area. We love the idea of ski in ski out, why we booked a week on the hotel here. That was a mistake as we ended up, going to the other area every day, because our children are older and good skiers and the area here got a bit boring after the first day. Nothing wrong with the hotel though – in fact it is a wonderful hotel.
HOW ARE THE PISTES?
The big area is not that big. It only takes a day to try all the blue, red and black slopes and even the small area with humps, jumps and an air madras to land in. The slopes are fairly short, which is typical nordic, meaning that you spent a lot of time in lifts. A good thing though, is that you do not spent a lot of time in queues, it seems like the amount of lifts equals the amount of guests pretty good. We found that the connections across the lifts and slopes worked ok.
The small area is small. It takes half a day to try every piste and if you go all the way to the top you can have a decent ride all the way to the bottom, but it never becomes steep.
Two things that really bothers me are when I have to walk og skate a long way until I come to the actual downhill or when a long part of the slopes length is on flat land and sometimes even a bit uphill to reach the lift at the bottom. In Geilo you will meet a little of both, but it is far from the worst we have tried.
There are not much village. There is a round about in the middle a couple of supermarkets and the gradually mandatory outlet, where you can by over prized cloth made just for outlets.
We have been i Geilo two times. The first time we stayed at Bardøla Høyfjellshotell near the big area and the second time we stayed at the Vestlia Resort in the small area. Both hotels are good and both were chosen because we could get a good deal on half board. Being a family of five, food and paying for food has always been an issue – especially in Norway. The food was really good and in the Vestlia Resort it was even extremely attractive served.
In fact we did not really choose Geilo because of the ski area, we chose it because we got good family deals. If you want more challenges and inspiring skiing you should take look at Hemsedalen, also in Norway.
If you go with small children I think Geilo is a great place, not nearly as child friendly as Sälen in Sweden, but the pistes here are more serious, making it a lot more fun for people who can ski.
Both times we only stayed for five days which was great fun as it always is when our family do stuff together. And both times we were ready to go home after five days as it was getting less fun to run the same slopes day in and day out.
The day where me and our youngest son got a chance to try the norwegian national youth teams slalom track on the black piste called Ølkorken is still one of my favourite memories from Geilo.
FACTS ON GEILO
Two ski areas, a big one and a small one
39 pistes, green 10, blue 9, red 15, black 5 Lifts, drag lifts 14, chair lifts 6, children’s lifts 6
Link to the official site http://www.geiloskisenter.no