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The secret to booking the ultimate Swedish ski vacation

Just because there’s no snow on the ground doesn’t mean it’s too early to start planning a ski trip in Sweden this winter.

The secret to booking the ultimate Swedish ski vacation
Skiing in fresh white snow at Stöten.

Winter is coming.

Sure, this phrase has become a bit more common in recent years, but in Sweden it was a common refrain well before Game of Thrones turned the season into a meme.

And whether this is your first winter in Sweden — or your fifteenth — there are a couple things you can be sure of. One, Swedish winters mean snow — and potentially lots of it (depending on where you are). Two, Sweden offers a lot of pristine nature, complete with lush forests and alpine vistas that are just begging to be explored and enjoyed.

It’s no accident that so many Swedes hit the slopes (or the trails) each winter. And this season, you should too. With guaranteed snow from Christmas to Easter, and resorts stretching from the Arctic Circle to picturesque Dalarna in the east, there’s something for everyone no matter your level of experience.

But before you go ahead and book, there's something you should know: Swedes are savvy when it comes to planning their ski vacations, and to get the best deal, you should be too.

Here are The Local’s top tips for booking the ultimate Swedish ski vacation.

1. Do it yourself

Most Swedes don’t choose package ski vacations. Instead, they arrange each part of the trip separately. From transport and the resort to their accommodation and ski hire, each part of the vacation is tailor-made — it’s much more cost effective and guarantees everything is just as you like it. Most resort websites give you the option to book online or ring up and arrange it over the phone, so you can easily organise your vacation yourself.

Stöten, a scenic ski resort in Sälen mountain range in Dalarna, has an easy online booking service — in just a few clicks you can cherry-pick every part of your trip. It can all be done in English, so if your Swedish isn’t up to scratch you still know exactly what you’re getting. You can also give the resort a call, all Stöten’s staff are fluent English speakers so there won’t be a language barrier.

Learn about Stöten's exclusive 30% discount for readers of The Local

2. Book early

The Swedes know that many ski resorts get booked up early in the season — especially for high-demand weeks. So it’s best to book before November — even if your trip isn’t until Easter. There are often discounts too if you book this time of year, which is a good incentive as prices can really start to skyrocket if you book later in the season.

If you’re planning to ski during sportlov (winter sports week, around the end of February) or Easter it’s also a good idea to book early to make sure your chosen resort isn’t fully booked. And even if you’re not planning to go during those weeks, booking early means you’ll get the accommodation you want (and gives you something to look forward to!).

3. Pick the right resort

Whether you’ve been skiing since before you could walk or you’re a complete novice, you should pick a resort that matches your group and its ability. If you’re travelling with your family it’s a good idea to find one with slopes for everyone — from little ones to daredevil mums.

Stöten boasts Sälen mountain range’s highest peak, at 360m, and beginner’s slopes that are perfect for the kids. The resort has over 45 km of trails, as well as 3 km of lit trails so you can ski after dark (which can be anytime from around 3pm during Swedish winter!).

There’s also plenty of activities for kids, including clubs to keep them occupied while you hit the slopes (or the bar). Send them off on a treasure hunt with Vargy, Stöten’s (friendly) wolf mascot, or drop them off at the Wolf Den where they can do craftwork, watch a film, or bake some cookies for you to eat after your skiing session.

Readers of The Local get an exclusive 30% off at Stöten! Get the deal here

 

4. Go on a taster trip

Before committing to a longer ski vacation, it can be a  good idea to try something shorter. In Sweden, resorts offer both ‘long weekends’ (Thursday-Sunday) as well as ‘short weeks’ (Sunday-Thursday). These short trips are a great way to get a feel for a resort — provided of course the resort isn’t so far away that going for less than a week doesn’t make sense.

Located in the Sälen mountain range, Stöten is far enough away to feel remote but still within driving distance from many Swedish and Norwegian cities and airports.

It’s a mere 450km from Stockholm, 500km from Göteborg, and just 200km from Oslo, so you can easily get out there for a quick trip before booking a longer vacation or showing up with the whole family in tow.

5. Pick somewhere with lots to do

The perfect Swedish ski vacation is about more than skiing. It’s about the whole Swedish experience — from stepping into a hot sauna after a day on the slopes to reviving yourself in-between skiing sessions with fresh fika (or a spot of après-ski — known in Swedish as ‘afterski’).

Stöten offers some of Sweden’s best skiing and accommodation as well as plenty to see and do, including a spa, bowling, and even a nightclub. There’s an activity house and indoor waterpark, so If you feel like taking a break from skiing you won’t be stuck for things to do.

6. Book somewhere “Swedish”

For the ultimate Swedish ski vacation, you need to book the ultimate Swedish spot. You should be able to look around and instantly know you’re in Sweden and not just any European ski resort.

Save 30% on the ultimate Swedish ski vacation in Stöten

Stöten is surrounded by virtually untouched nature — you won’t see any power plants or unsightly structures — in fact, there’s nothing but mountains and trees for kilometres around. It’s so rural you might even catch sight of one of Sweden’s elk, also known as the kings of the forest, which are indigenous to the area.

7. Know when to go

Whether you’re planning a romantic ski vacation, a long weekend with friends or you’re packing up the whole family for a week on the slopes, you need to know the right time to go.

Most resorts are a lot quieter during term-time, so if you’re not going with kids and aren’t restricted to school holidays you can find some great deals (and go when things are a little less busy).

If you’re taking the kids, many resorts offer special deals to make things easier for parents and more exciting for youngsters. Throughout the season, Stöten offers 10 weeks known as “Junior Weeks”, which means any child up to six years old with a paying adult gets everything for free. That includes food, ski rental, ski school, and Vargy’s Wolf Club activities (which are otherwise 80 kronor per activity). You can find out more about Junior Weeks here.

Find out more about Stöten and start planning your perfect Swedish ski vacation

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Stöten

TOURISM

Danes flout travel advice to visit Swedish summer houses

Kirsten, a Dane from Copenhagen, has been spending her weekends at her wooden holiday house in the Skåne countryside throughout Denmark's lockdown -- and to the irritation of Swedes barred from travelling in the other direction, she is far from unusual.

Danes flout travel advice to visit Swedish summer houses
Kirsten enjoying coffee on her terrace in Skåne. Photo: Richard Orange
“We chose not to follow the government's recommendation because we thought we have important things to do here and we don't socialize with our neighbours at this moment,” she explains when The Local visits her at her house near the village or Rörum in the Swedish holiday district of Österlen. 
 
“So we get out of Copenhagen and we stay at our own house and in our garden and don't talk to anyone. So we're even safer here than in Copenhagen.”
 
She points out that the head of the Danish Health Authority, Søren Brostrøm, had said from the start that closing borders had been a “political” decision, which had not been recommended by health experts.  
 
Since Denmark closed its borders on March 14th, Danish residents  have officially been advised not to cross the border into Sweden unless it is “strictly necessary”, even if the latest advice from the foreign ministry is that they do not need to quarantine. 
 
When Denmark opened the border to tourists from the Nordic countries on June 18th, it left every county in Sweden apart from Västerbotten off its list of “open regions”, meaning the travel advisory for Danes still applies to Skåne. 
 
The updated guidelines on July 4th expanded the list of Swedish “open regions” to Blekinge and Kronoberg. 
 
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But crossing the Øresund Bridge and driving out to southeastern Skåne been part of Kirsten and her husband's weekly ritual since they bought the house 15 years ago, and it's easy to see why they would be reluctant to leave the house and its beautiful garden untended. 
 
“I have to take care of my kitchen garden and my greenhouse,” she says pointing to an area — fenced in to keep out deer and wild boar — which is brimming with strawberries, rocket and unusual varieties of cabbage. 
 
“It would be two or three times as expensive to buy a home in Denmark,” she adds. “We come here all year round, so it's not just a summer house for us.”
 
For most of the lockdown period, no one really seemed to mind that Danes were visiting their holiday houses in Skåne and Småland. It was only when the lockdown was being slowly lifted that the sentiment suddenly changed. 
 
“They changed the rhetoric when one Sunday it took two hours to pass the bridge. And we were in that queue. And suddenly all hell broke loose in Denmark and everything was on the news and in the newspapers and companies had to send out new regulation warnings to their employees,” she says. 
 
“But before that, there was no problem. And we still see a lot of Danish cars on the streets and we know other Danes who also have chosen not to follow the regulations.” 
 
 
The couple nonetheless mostly kept their weekly trips secret. 
 
“I didn't tell anyone in the beginning,” she explains. “We have a doctor in the family that that could lose their job if they do not follow the recommendations.” 
 
She doesn't think that the flurry of newspaper article about Danes flouting the government's advice has had any impact on the number of Danes she sees crossing the bridge and back over the weekend. 
 
But some people have clearly stopped. At the nearby port of Ystad, Mia and Rune are taking the ferry to holiday in Bornholm rather than visiting their summer house near the Swedish city of Kalmar, as they have decided to follow the Danish government's recommendations.
 
“I have to follow the orders from Denmark, of course, but I think it's kind of funny that I can go to Bornholm, but I cannot go to my summer house in Sweden which is out in the countryside,” she said. 
 
“It's a little silly,” her husband adds. “If we can go the other way, they should be able to go our way as well.”
 
But Kerstin suspects that many of the cars she sees leaving Copenhagen on Fridays are not simply using Sweden as a bridge to cross over into Bornholm. 
 
“And if they are all going to Bornholm, some of them are taking a big detour because they head straight off on the road to Stockholm!” she laughs. 
 
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