Åre, Sweden is the largest ski area in Scandinavia and belongs to the exclusive club of the world's best winter sports villages: Leading Mountain Resorts of the World. An attractive village with traditional wooden buildings and a long winter sports history, it's also the birthplace of several notable skiers and various outdoor brands such as Peak Performance, Spektrum, Elevenate and Eivy. A few years ago, we were lucky enough to spend a few days skiing here and exploring the area. It was an unforgettable weekend that we'd like to share with you!
The journey from the airport took us through beautiful Norwegian and Swedish countryside, which was rugged, uninhabited and over-the-top spectacular. Upon arriving in Åre we were met with a friendly, bustling town with gorgeous old wooden buildings juxtaposed against more modern architecture. Even though there was no snow in the village that day, we were struck by the unique vibe of the town. We stayed in Åregärden, Åre's oldest hotel, where we found a warm welcome with a warm hearth and cosy sofas in the lobby. Åre was shaping up to be one of the good winter sports towns: relaxed and friendly locals who value good food, good drink and above all, skiing and snowboarding!
Åre has more than 90km of slopes joined by fast, modern lifts. It's clear you've left the Alps - the Swedish mountains exchange the jagged peaks of the Alps for a more undulating landscape with almost illimited views. Due to its northern latitude, despite the relatively low altitude of the ski area at 1274 metres, snow cover is guaranteed here from November to May. The village itself is at 300 metres above sea level, meaning the ski area has a vertical drop of almost 900 metres with nice long slopes. In contrast to the Alps, most of the snow here is natural. We were there in spring and found the snow a little slushy, but definitely still skiable. Our guide also explained that the snow here is more humid due to the proximity of the sea. Many pistes wind their way through the trees, which is also a different experience from the Alps. Barbecue picnic areas dot the ski area and there is a viewpoint that is reachable by snowmobile that will give you a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains as well as the huge mountain lake near Åre.
The Swedes and Norwegians have nothing to envy Austria when it comes to après-ski. The ski area hosts regular performances by live bands and DJs. One of the biggest venues is Timmerstugan, where you can grab a bite to eat on the slopes and watch bands and DJs perform on the outdoor terrace. The prices are steep - almost 10 quid for a glass of wine - but that doesn't seem to deter the Scandinavians, because the place is jam-packed. There are also many bars and nightclubs in the village itself, which play mainly dance music along with some indecipherable local hits.
What struck us most was the quality of the food on the slopes in Åre. Sushi, steak, caesar salad, hamburgers: everything we ate was delicious and good-quality. The prices were also reasonable: the most expensive cut of beef we ordered was around 15 pounds and it was possibly the most mouthwatering steak we'd ever had. A cup of tea or hot chocolate in a mountain restaurant set us back just 3 pounds, and a soda around the same. A nice change from the exorbitant prices of the Alps!We saw reindeer from the lift!!We're not in the Alps anymore, DorothyYou can see the lake from almost every point in the ski areaThe highest point in Åre's ski area
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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