Oct 24, 2022 / LIFESTYLE

Is it time you tried cross-country skiing?

Cross-country skiing has long been used as a mode of transport. Today, it is a winter Olympics staple. But where are the best locations for cross-country skiing?

What is the appeal of cross-country skiing?

You might already be familiar with cross-country skiing. But, if you’re not, here’s a little run down of what is and why it is so fantastic. 

Cross-country skiers use skis and poles on groomed ski trails with a flat or hilly profile. The practice originates in Norway and was used as an efficient means of travelling on the snow. In ancient times, it was used for hunting and exploration. But it was not until the 19th century that cross-country skiing became a competitive sport. Today, cross-country skiing is a staple of the Winter Olympics. 

There are two kinds of cross-country skiing. In the classic style, you use a ski trail featuring parallel grooves in the snow to glide along, the motion made is like walking. Skating, or freestyle, uses the same motion as ice-skating. To be successful, you need brilliant coordination and balance. 

Cross-country skiing is perfect for fitness lovers as it is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. It enables you to be outside, warm, and working out. Crucially, it is much more accessible than other forms of skiing and beginners do not need any prior training to join in. Additionally, it is an extremely aerobic form of exercise, burning lots of calories. It will have all your muscles working: your legs, your abdominals, your arms…

Not only this, but it is safer and more social than other forms of skiing. With cross-country skiing, you actually have the time to take in the beauty of the scenery around you, rather than rush past it. It is truly a chance to be at one with nature. Furthermore, it’s more comfortable than downhill skiing as the equipment is lighter, thinner, and more flexible. 

Okay, so you’ve been convinced (or reminded) of why cross-country skiing is so wonderful – now, where are the best spots to do it?

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Helm, Three Peaks Dolomites, Bolzano, Italy


Archaeological discovery has revealed that people in Nordic countries have used skis for more than 5,000 years. Skip along in history a bit and the first cross-country skiing competition was held in Norway in 1842. So, in any discussion about cross-country skiing, Norway is undoubtedly a great place to start. In Norway, you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to where to cross-country ski. In Lillehammer and the Gudbrandsdalen valley, there are eleven popular cross-country areas to choose from. Including the famous Sjusjøen, which is used for training and competitions. 


In the Italian Alps, the Dolomites is a notable cross-country site. It comprises of 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 metres. In 2009, UNESCO listed it as a world heritage site, recognising it for its aesthetic value and the significance of its geology. There are 100km of trails. The dramatic peaks have a picturesque beauty that will keep you captivated as you glide. 

Interior of a residential property in Snowmass, Colorado, United States

United States

In 1984, former US Ski Team member, Craig Ward turned real estate broker, assisted in creating a skiing vision for his childhood home. He saw the promise of connecting Aspen, Davos, and the Snowmass Village. Now, the impressive Nordic Trail exists, a system of over 60 miles of free (yes, free) cross-country skiing for your pleasure. Many of the trails are dog-friendly, including the aptly named Labrador Lane. Additionally, if you are looking for a little break from cross-country skiing, there are golf courses too. 


Adrenaline seekers – do you want to get your heart pumping not just from physical movement but from a little fear too? In Chile, your cross-country skiing can take you to active volcanos. Come right up close to Volcan Villarrica, one of Chile’s most active volcanos. (Don’t worry, ski resorts are prepared for eruptions).

Balcony of a ski chalet in Leysin, Vaud, Switzerland


Similar to Norway, cross-country skiing dates back far in Finland, to a time when it had no pull for tourists at all and was purely used as a mode of transport. In the Lakeland region, you can find more than your fill of well-maintained trails. There are the astonishing views of Pallas-Yllastunturi National Park and the village of Akaslompolo to take in. In Lapland, 40km of trails are lit up so that you can have a magical night glide. If you go far enough north, you can see the wondrous phenomenon that is the Northern Lights.


From the Pyrenees to the Alps, France provides a range of options for keen cross-country skiers. However, Les Rousses is the recipient of the highest award for cross-country skiing, of 4 ‘fir trees’ from ‘Nordique France’. The cross-country trail is located in the Haut-Jura Natural Park, a paradise-on-earth of mountains, wildlife, lakes, and forests. The Jura Mountain is on the Swiss border, so you have the added benefit of being able to glide over there too.


Given that it is home to Engadin Skimarathon, the second largest cross-country race in the world, it would be amiss not to include Switzerland. Since 1969, on the second Sunday of March, thousands of participants journey from Maloja to S-chanf. The 42km trail sees participants travel across the stunning winter landscape. Outside of competing, there are a number of trails of various lengthens, from the Pista Pian Doss at 3km to the Sursetter-Loipe at 22km.

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