Cross-country skiing at Venabu
This is one of our most popular cross-country skiing holidays with Headwater guests returning year after year. It is based in central Norway, on the edge of the Rondane National Park, looking down on the Gudbrandsdalen Valley, just north of Lillehammer. The landscape is dramatic and full of contrasts from spectacular gorges and snow-capped peaks to pretty fells and valleys that extend as far as the eye can see. It's far enough north to have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights too, especially in December and January, and throughout the winter there are spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
It has always been traditional to travel on skis here, so it's perfect for cross-country skiing, and there are two guides at Venabu who will help you get started. Different weeks in the season are aimed at different ability levels; choose from special beginner weeks, standard weeks which are available to all and a special advanced skier week. Should you opt for a standard week you'll be entitled to two complimentary ski safaris (for departures between 25th Feb and 25th March).
You can also try dog sledding, or go on a torch-lit, horse-drawn sleigh ride (payable locally). During the week you might like to take the train to Lillehammer, where there are several fascinating museums of Norwegian history, Olympic history and Norwegian culture, plus several art galleries. You can also try tobogganing here too.
Different snow activities and games are provided for children during February half term and Easter week, including ice fishing.
The Venabu Fjellhotel has been run by the Tvete family for over 50 years. Birgit and Arvid Tvete built the hotel from scratch, choosing the original plot because of its tremendous views. It has developed into a friendly, relaxing 'home from home' in a fabulous setting. You can choose to stay in either the east wing (20 standard rooms) or the west wing (36 superior rooms) and everyone can use the hotel's saunas and ski waxing centre. There's also a bar, a games room (table tennis, pool etc), a TV room, craft shop and two spacious sitting rooms with open fireplaces. The dining room - which offers a spectacular Scandinavian buffet - affords glorious panoramic views out across the mountains.
Read more about this holiday on the travel blog.
Typical holiday itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive in Venabu
We meet you at Oslo Airport for the transfer to Venabu (3hrs) in time for dinner.
Days 2-7 - Typical itinerary
There are two resident ski guides to cater for different ability levels and you can even switch between groups mid-week. The first two days are usually to help learn the principles of walking and gliding on snow, and special beginners' tuition is available on 7th and 28th of January , 4th February and 18th of March. Two or three optional tours are offered for confident beginners or intermediates. You can also mix it up by skiing independently, trying one of the other winter activities available here (payable locally) or joining the ski safaris (50% off-track) for advanced skiers, which are offered on departures from 25th February to 25th March (2 safaris per week are included). For a more challenging week, choose to travel on 4th March when a full advanced programme will be offered to customers wishing to explore further afield with ski safaris included Tuesday - Friday.
Day 8 - Return home
We take you to Oslo Airport for your flight home.
Where you stay
This single-centre holiday is based at the following hotel. If you'd like to extend your stay here, or upgrade your room, just let us know at the time of booking. You can call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 to discuss accommodation options.
Venabu Fjellhotel, Venabu (3 Acorn)
This traditional hotel is in a magnificent isolated location on the plateau above Ringebu.
All rooms in the hotel are ensuite and are mostly twin with the traditional single beds which are end to end. There are no tea/coffee making facilities in the rooms, however, both tea and coffee are available from reception all day. Wi-Fi is available for free in the hotel although signal is best in the comfortable bar area with fireplace.
Within the main building you have, ski lab, boot room, sauna, games room, TV room, traditional hand-made product shop and a large lounge area with a bar for relaxing after dinner.
Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.
Extra nights and stop over hotels
If you'd like to extend your trip with extra nights at the start or end, or if you'd like to arrange a stop off point en-route, then we recommend the following hotels.
Hotel Cecil, Oslo (3 star)
The Hotel Cecil is a modern 3 star hotel situated next to the parliament and is in an ideal location for exploring the city centre. All rooms are light and airy with full en-suite facilities. They also come equipped with direct dial telephone, cable television and air-conditioning. Breakfast is buffet style and there is a selection of restaurants within walking distance for your evening meal.
Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.
Hotel Karl Johan, Oslo (3 star)
The Karl Johan hotel is centrally located on the main street of Oslo and has 111 beautifully furnished rooms with full private facilities including direct dial phone, satellite television, hairdryer, minibar and radio. Breakfast is a generous buffet and is served in the fourth floor breakfast room. There is also a separate restaurant and bar available for lunch and dinner.
Oslo is the oldest Scandinavian capital dating back to 1048, its name derived from the Norse words ‘As' meaning God and ‘Lo' meaning field. It's colourful, confident and can hold its own against any other major city. Today it is a cosmopolitan place with over half a million people and it exudes an easygoing ambience.
The old quarter houses some excellent museums and galleries, boasts an interesting street life with cafés, shops and restaurants and offers dignified parks and gardens. During the summer, the city is a real delight with street entertainers, open-air pavement cafés, and many festivals. It's worth spending a couple of nights just to take in the sights and sounds.
Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.
Transfers included from Oslo Gardermoen airport at 13:30, and back to Oslo Gardermoen airport at 09.15.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange connecting flights.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Reviewed by Ms Robson on 26/04/2016
The package provided by Headwater was excellent for the solo traveller as it included everything I needed to try xc skiing for the first time. The group approach made it a lovely week; small groups for skiing at different levels each day meant I always had people to ski with. The hotel is friendly and comfortable and ideally situated in the middle of miles of routes. Will definitely be going back!
Reviewed by Ms Jessop on 12/04/2016
Fantastic service from initial phone conversation with headwater to the holiday itself. the cross country skiing was fantastic, and there were groups to suit every ability. The ski guides were all friendly and encouraging and the hotel accommodation laid back and welcoming. Overall a great experience. Thanks for organising a wonderful holiday.
Reviewed by Mr Queen on 11/04/2016
Very good hotel with friendly staff and guides, in a fantastic location.
Reviewed by Dr Nesbitt on 05/04/2016
Well organised trip,excellent food, rural location, plenty of opportunities for independent exploration as well as guided activities
Reviewed by Mr Price on 30/03/2016
We loved our first experience of cross-country skiing. The ski guides were outstanding, and all staff at the hotel were most friendly and helpful. The food was superb, with a vast array of different dishes at every meal. The skiing area around Venabu is beautiful, with a huge variety of tracks to cater for beginners and intermediates - not being experts, we can't comment on suitability for them. We also loved the snow shoe expedition, and a couple of yoga sessions - both included in the holiday cost. In fact, everything that was needed was included in the price, and it would have been possible to have a good holiday wiothout spending any money locally. All in all, a great holiday.
Reviewed by Mr Clague on 29/03/2016
Thoroughly enjoyable, met a great bunch of people and skied in a magnificent location.
Reviewed by Mrs Turnbull on 29/03/2016
We had a great time. The skiing was excellent and we particularly enjoyed the guided ski tours which took us to different areas every day. We loved the walk on snowshoes to the waterfall too.
Reviewed by Mrs Telford on 27/03/2016
Wonderful experience. Excellent location , great tuition great guides
Reviewed by Mis Ross on 19/03/2016
There is no better place to cross country ski than Venabu. Food, accommodation and quality of Guiding is excellent and Line, Robert, Wenche and the rest of the team maintain their standards year in year out. A unique place.
Reviewed by Mrs Goodfellow on 08/03/2016
This holiday delivered exactly what it said on the box- fantastic, extensive, well maintained ski-ing area, a friendly sports hotel, likeminded guests, great hospitality, superb ski instructors and guides. Don't go if you want a modern, five start hotel, but do consider it if you love XC skiing or want to try it for the first time.
Reviewed by Dr MacMillan on 08/03/2016
Excellent area for xc skiing, and hotel, equipment, staff also excellent
Reviewed by Mr Ferdenzi on 03/03/2016
We would recommend a cross-country ski holiday at this friendly. laid-back resort. The area was lovely and it felt so peaceful because we had it all to ourselves!.The food was bountiful, imaginative and always of high quality. The staff were helpful and leaving the resort felt like leaving friends. The tuition was excellent, the ski tours good and varied. The wireless was reliable. The rooms, though small, were adequate for a week. It was useful to have a drying room for damp clothing and the saunas were good and well-used. The transfers to and from the (Oslo) airport were good and reliable.
Reviewed by Mis Kerridge on 02/03/2016
Amazing trip to get away from everyday life, relax and enjoy the mountains. Richard was a brilliant guide and teacher. Loved the snow shoeing and husky dogs too. Food was superb and never ending...fantastic. Can't wait to go again
Reviewed by Mrs Gillott on 24/02/2016
The guides were fantastic, food amazing. Unfortunately xc skiing is not for us.
Reviewed by Mr Tomkinson on 20/02/2016
I decided to take a cross-country skiing holiday at the Venabu Fjellhotel after reading the recommendations left by previous visitors on the Headwater website which I fully endorse. The hotel was comfortable with welcoming, friendly staff. The food was wonderful & plentiful - 5 course lunches & dinners with many different dishes to choose from. The ski tour leaders were excellent.They gave advice on skiing techniques and also explained features of the landscape, plus details of the local flora & fauna which added to the enjoyment of the tours. I stayed in a single room in the East Wing which was adequate if a tad on the small side. Larger rooms are available in the West Wing for a supplement. Tea & coffee was not provided in the room, but is available in the public rooms at no extra charge. I met several guests in the hotel who had stayed there before & one person was on his fifteenth visit! I, also, hope to make a return trip to this hotel at some point as it is an excellent centre for cross-country skiing with many kilometres of waymarked loipen from the hotel. The only improvement I can think of is that it would nice if the hotel had a swimming pool!
Reviewed by Dr Barton on 16/02/2016
A really good experience - excellent organisation, beautifully located hotel with comfortable accommodation and lots of really good food, great skiing tuition tailored to our needs, huge choice of ski routes and other options such as snow shoe trekking - and other guests in the hotel were really friendly and good company. Hard to beat!
Reviewed by Mrs McKown on 16/02/2016
This beginners week in Venabu was in my opinion the perfect introduction to the delights of cross country skiing . The all inclusive package insulates you from the normal expense of a holiday in Norway in this snow assured area . The hotel was charming all the staff friendly and we wanted for nothing during our stay . The room was warm and comfortable , the food plentiful with all tastes catered for and truly excellent . Our ski instructors,Richard and Siobhan were great . There wasn't a direct flight from Manchester to Oslo but that is the only downside to this holiday ! I rarely return to the same location for holidays but I can see why people do for this holiday and I think it will be very difficult to match this experience and overall value , so I might well be back again !
Reviewed by Mr Mitchell on 10/02/2016
Overall very good , although due to exchange rates Prices are high compared to hotel prices
Reviewed by Mis Ross on 10/02/2016
Venabu is the best place for cross country ski-ing. No matter what your level of experience is, you will be well looked after and have a great week.
Reviewed by Mr Kennedy on 31/01/2016
Although the accommodation is dated at this hotel, it is more than adequate, clean and comfortable. The family welcome, ambiance and excellent wholesome food, makes this a holiday worth repeating. The teaching instruction we had was excellent and we were extremely well looked after. The guides went out of their way to ensure we had a rewarding and enjoyable introduction to XC skiing even though we were reluctant to go up or down hills!!
Reviewed by Mrs Ruberry on 26/01/2016
This was coming up to our 20th visit to Venabu. For us it is more like 'going home' to see friends and family than a basic holiday. Venabu is a unique destination.
Reviewed by Mrs Freedman on 24/01/2016
The hotel is really welcoming, and the ski guides and the food both excellent. This was my fifth visit.
Reviewed by Mrs Hannah on 19/01/2016
Venabu is the perfect winter 'get-away-from-it-all' destination, and great for immersing yourself in learning how to cross-country ski. It was lovely staying in a hotel that is still owned & managed by the original family. The instructors were superb, and really made the holiday for me. We had an American, Richard , and his lovely wife Siobhan with our beginners group. They were so experienced, yet incredibly patient, enthusiastic and encouraging and displayed such a passion in passing on their expertise. It made for a brilliant holiday!
Reviewed by Mrs Hughes on 12/01/2016
Great introduction to XC skiing. Wonderul scenery, lots of snow. Amazing food!
Reviewed by Mr Bruce on 12/01/2016
Family friendly hotel with relaxed atmosphere with excellent food and facilities for Crosscountry skiing
Reviewed by Ms Turner on 12/01/2016
Wonderful holiday in the most amazing,quiet location. Stunning views from the hotel which was run by lovely staff. Will probably go again next year! Cross country skiing guides were great and patient with us novice skiers! Went out on some great trips.
Reviewed by Ms Sholer on 06/01/2016
A great experience trying something new in a fairly remote location in Norway. Ideal for getting away from city life, we really enjoyed the cross-country skiing and found it reasonably easy to pick up (some downhill ski experience does help). The food at the hotel was excellent, including for vegetarians which I wasn't expecting.
Reviewed by Ms Sinclair on 02/07/2015
It was the first time I had travelled alone but I had no problem making friends. There were 11 others in the group and they were really fun to be with. The hotel staff were friendly and helpful especially the tour guides. The skiing was brilliant helped by amazing scenery and blue skies most days. The food on offer for breakfast, lunch and dinner had to be seen to be believed! I especially enjoyed the Norwegian buffet. There were lots of little touches which made the holiday more enjoyable, such as having your flask filled with hot chocolate each morning and relaxing in the sauna after a long day's skiing! Altogether one of the best holidays I have had
Reviewed by Mrs Shotton on 07/04/2015
Excellent location for cross country skiing, very good twin room, friendly staff, amazing food,
Reviewed by Mrs Harbach on 04/04/2015
The entire Headwater team was extremely professional and accommodating. They were most helpful (especially Donna Webber) in sorting out a more 'tailor made' holiday to suit our particular requirements and we couldn't have been more delighted with the end result. The Venabu Fjellhotell was quite simply one of the best hotels we have stayed in in terms of friendliness, warmth of welcome, quality of food and skiing tuition. We will definitely be going again - thank you to everyone for helping to give us such a wonderful holiday.
Reviewed by Mr Caldwell on 24/03/2015
Everything it promised and more. The guides, instructors and staff were outstanding. The food and extra activities like yoga mean that this could be a great wellness break in its self, add in the great skiing and beautiful landscape and it has everything you could want.
Reviewed by Mrs Mortley on 24/03/2015
The Venabu hotel has things just right. The rooms and public areas are comfortable and homely, the food is good and staff are welcoming and helpful. This was our first cross country skiing trip. The equipment and tuition were good and the instructors knowledgeable and friendly doing all they could to ensure everyone has the best experience. A great holiday.
Reviewed by Ms Edwards on 03/03/2015
An excellent week with everything just as described on the website. Great service from the whole team at Venabu and a superb choice of food at every meal. Snow-shoeing in fresh snow down to a frozen waterfall was the highlight of my week.
Reviewed by Mrs Simpson on 26/02/2015
Very relaxing. Everything organised for my daughter and I. Hassle free. Excellent holiday.
Reviewed by Mrs Williams on 24/02/2015
Venabu offers excellent skiing, knowledgeable guiding and fabulous food.
Reviewed by Mrs Eidahl on 24/02/2015
Wonderful! Great variety of skiing routes. Great guides - great people. A very unique family run hotel that is very international. Everyone feels at home.
Reviewed by Ms Kirk on 10/02/2015
Wonderful hotel with very relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and beautiful location on edge of Rondane national park. Ski trails for all abilities. Food and catering outstanding as were hospitality and helpfulness of hotel reception and dining room staff. Excellent sauna and free yoga classes available. Massage also available at additional charge. The provided holiday is inclusive of a full week's guided tours and also 3 very substantial meals a day. If this is more than what some travellers are looking for, the hotel itself provides a range of other flexible options. Journey time from Oslo airport is ca 3 hours by arranged coach but the hotel will also organise collection from the nearest train station for those travelling independently.
Reviewed by Mr Green on 24/01/2015
Other than booking I wasn't aware it was a Headwater holiday. Hence I wouldn't recommend you as I don't know what you're like if you were actually delivering the holiday. On the phone the staff weren't that good. I'd decided to go so they had nothing to do, but they weren't that helpful I thought the documents sent out were not so good My comments are based on comparison to Skedaddle who I go with frequently I will go to Venabu again. The hotel staff and guides were excellent
Reviewed by Mr Manvell on 07/01/2015
Good skiing opportunities in a very scenic location; good equipment with knowledgeable and helpful guides. Family hotel, excellent food, good facilities - sauna, massage, yoga, fitness room, games rooms, horse drawn sleighs, dog sledding, board games, music / dancing. Excellent selection of wines to match some very good food - lots of choice at the buffets. Special Norwegian buffet was very impressive at New Year. All staff we encountered were very friendly and helpful. We met lots of returning clients. Free WifI was a bonus. Good location to offer snow shoeing weeks as well as skiing. Ski instruction was first class, good boots, good skiis, great guides and well equipped ski room. Local supermarket well stocked for any emergencies or forgotten items.
Reviewed by Ms Kitchen on 27/03/2014
Remember to bring a pair of walking boots in order to best enjoy the excellent snowshoeing trip, usually run on Wednesdays! Everything else is catered for on this excellent week for either complete beginners or improvers in cross-country skiing. The Tvete family at the Fjellhotel are not only friendly and welcoming, but also extremely well organised and hard working. The scenery is so stunning that the odd grey day doesn't matter.
Reviewed by Mrs Heywood on 25/03/2014
First holiday on my own, and despite my worries, I was made to feel welcome by the members of my group...experienced warm and friendly company from fellow holiday members, hotel staff and guides.....a busy and active holiday, wonderful scenery, great for me as an important part of the holiday for me is to paint the landscape.
Reviewed by Mrs Cartwright on 17/03/2014
Venabu is an ideal resort for cross country skiing. The guides at the hotel are brilliant and make the holiday a memorable experience.
Reviewed by Mr Payne on 16/03/2014
We have been to 6 different XC Sking venues with Headwater and Venabu is consistantly the best. Excellent variety and length of ski tracks from easy starts near the hotel to Challenging hills within 5km. Food is always of good choice, well prepared and generous in quantity for hungry skiers. The guides are knowledgable, helpful and good instructors for beginners and more experienced skiers - particularly Robert Molnar, who is a good allround athlete as well as good skier and an excellent instructor. For the above reasons we have now been to Venabu 11 times and we meet friends who also return each year from UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Canada.
Reviewed by Mrs Williams on 26/02/2014
Venabu is the perfect place for all generations to enjoy cross country skiing.
Reviewed by Mis Smith on 19/02/2014
An invigorating break in a beautiful location with great food and wonderful guides
Reviewed by Mis Ross on 10/02/2014
There is no where better to cross country ski than Venabu.
Reviewed by Ms Charlton on 09/02/2014
Fantastic scenery, excellent ski tuition, warm & welcoming hotel. Just what I needed to start the new year. Message for hotel- Hotel was comfy but needs to update accommodation. Message for ski instructors - good instruction but need to keep us moving in such cold temperatures so our muscles dont freeze up. Wenche paced things well and kept us moving.
Reviewed by Dr Winslow on 05/02/2014
Very good. Vegetarian food a bit variable
Reviewed by Mr Williams on 29/01/2014
An excellant t
Reviewed by Mr Manning on 01/01/2014
Excellent hotel for friendliness and Norwegian culture, especially at Christmas. The food was outstanding. We were complete novices so the cross country skiing was challenging, but the ski guides were helpful, patient and encouraging. A sauna on site was most welcome.
Reviewed by Ms Davies on 13/04/2013
The hotel at venabu was excellent. Top notch in all aspects. I was however extremely disappointed that we had to leave at 9am, and duly spend 3 to 4 hours sitting in the airport waiting for the flight home. Considering we travelled through ringebu, then past Lillehammer, within the context of a high cost holiday, not permitting us an hour or so to spend in these places seems very mean spirited. For this reason I would hesitate to recommend headwater. I cannot fault the hotel, so would recommend people to make there own way there .
Reviewed by Mr Payne on 30/03/2013
Venabu is an excellent XC ski centre with reliable snow. It has a much better quantity and range of tracks than any of the mid/southern european resorts. With gentle undulating tracks close to the hotel and hills 5 - 7 km away for the more adveturous amongst us. The guides, Robert and Wenche are vey good teachers and guides. The hotel accomodation is comfortable and the food is very good. This is an excellent XC skiing holiday for beginners and experinced skiiers.
Reviewed by Mr Mitchell on 19/02/2013
I have been to Venabu numerous times and , first time visitors are given an equally warm welcome as returning guests. This relates to all the hotel staff. Nothing is too much trouble. Best place in the world to switch off from the hustle & bustle of London
Reviewed by Ms Griffith on 24/01/2013
Venabu was an excellent location, and the facilities and staff there were amazing.
Reviewed by Mr Churchett on 24/01/2013
Very nice hotel in an wonderful location. The two ski guides (Robert and Wenche) were excellent and helped to make this a wonderful holiday. I will be going back to Venabu!
Reviewed by Mrs Freedman on 05/04/2012
Reviewed by Mrs McCormick on 31/03/2012
Fabulous, wonderful Norwegian hospitality.Hotel was just perfect - amazing friendly staff and owners. Noregian food was incredible.
Reviewed by Mr Payne on 17/03/2012
A very good skiing holiday with good food and accomodation. Robert is a brilliant guide, ably assisted by Wenke.
Reviewed by Dr Alcock on 18/02/2012
Another most enjoyable X-C skiing holiday. thank you
Reviewed by Mr Nicholson on 18/02/2012
Very nice, really nice ambiance in the hotel, and an excellent cross-country skiing venue
Reviewed by Mis Ross on 18/02/2012
Excellent - the usual standard of Venabu service.
Reviewed by Dr Winslow on 10/02/2012
apart from broken planes from Wideroe it was fab
Reviewed by Dr Roberts on 27/01/2012
Reviewed by Ms Garburg on 21/01/2012
very relaxing time
From our postbag
In addition to comments received on our post-holiday questionnaires, we've also been sent the following comments from our satisfied customers.
Mr S Nokes travelled to Gudbrandsdalen in 2007
We had a fantastic time. We felt really well looked after, both in terms of the hotel and the skiing plus we had great fun!
Rob achieved an excellent balance of being helpful, available for advice and very enthusiastic without being over the top. He had an excellent rapport with everyone, no matter what their age or ability and quickly gauged how far people wanted to push themselves- or not (Either was fine!)
We always felt safe yet encouraged to our limits. The area was truly beautiful. We would happily go on exactly the same holiday again!
Departure dates & prices
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Cross-country skiing, single centre. Managed locally by hotelier.
Selected Saturdays except Dec from 23 Dec '16 to 15 Apr '17, for 8 days (7 nights). Non-standard departures could be arranged for experienced skiers only, please phone for details.
Starting your tour
Transfers included from Oslo Gardermoen airport at 13:30, and back to Oslo Gardermoen airport at 09.15.
Enquire about this holiday
Simply complete the form below and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and additional information.
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