Located 100 kilometers from Kristiansand, Bortelid in Setesdal holds the title of Norway's southernmost ski area. It's even possible to take a day trip by bus from Kristiansand, making it an ideal spot for those looking to enjoy a day on the slopes without committing to a full ski vacation in Norway.

A winter wonderland ski area

The journey to Bortelid is one of the most picturesque routes we've experienced in Southern Norway during our winter holiday. After a heavy snowfall, we found ourselves driving on frozen roads, surrounded by snow-covered trees, feeling as though we were traversing a scene from Frozen. It was breathtaking!

Bortelid's ski area, situated at an elevation of 800 meters, features 14 slopes accessible by five T-bar lifts. The 100-meter magic carpet on the children's slope is among the longest in Norway, making skiing accessible for the youngest enthusiasts while allowing parents to easily watch from the sidelines. The number of open slopes varies with snowfall and weather conditions, so it's wise to check Bortelid's website for the latest operating hours before your visit. The ski center is open on Friday evenings, weekends, and public holidays outside of regular season hours.


During our two-day stay, our teenager, Fleur, was thrilled with the wide, peaceful slopes that allowed for fast descents and quick lift access. Although we usually ski in Europe's largest ski area, the small scale of Bortelid offered a charming and enjoyable experience for all of us.

Ski rental, Ski pass, Ski school, and Shops

Bortelid's compact ski area has everything you need right on the slopes. You can rent all necessary ski equipment for both children and adults for one or several days. If you've forgotten anything, essentials like ski helmets, goggles, gloves, and warm socks are available for purchase at the same location.

Ski passes can also be purchased at the ski rental location. Notably, children up to 6 years old can use the lifts and slopes for free, provided they wear a helmet.

The ski school offers group or private lessons for all ages, with flexible scheduling to meet your family's needs. It's best to contact the ski school in advance to arrange lessons. You can find information about opening hours, ski pass costs, and contact details for the ski school on Bortelid's website.

hytte i vinterlandskap

Staying in a mountain cabin

True to Norwegian tradition, staying in a mountain cabin in Bortelid offers a unique experience. With no hotels in the area, over 1200 cabins are available near the slopes and in the surrounding mountains. These cabins range from cozy homes to full-fledged apartments, often larger than the owners' primary residences. 

While our apartment was not for rent, those interested in renting a cabin can find options on Booking.com or Bortelid's official website. Many Norwegians own cabins here, frequently visiting to enjoy the serene landscape. Most cabins boast stunning views of the ski slopes or mountains.

Exploring the winter wonderland on cross-country and hiking trails

Bortelid is renowned for its cross-country skiing, with 120 kilometers of trails offering days of entertainment. For those who prefer hiking over skiing, the area's trails are just as inviting. My personal experiences included breathtaking walks through the snowy landscape, enjoying the crunch of snow under my boots.

jente som spiser pommes frites

Warming up by the fire or in the heated restaurant

There's nothing better than warming up with a hot drink or a warm snack after a day in the cold. A cozy cabin with benches and a fire pit is located at the base of the slopes, perfect for grilling sausages or burgers. If you didn't bring your own food, the restaurant next to the ski rental offers snacks like fries, hotdogs, and burgers, along with hot chocolate, coffee, or soft drinks, providing the perfect energy boost to hit the slopes again.


Celebrating New Year's eve with fireworks on the slopes

Bortelid celebrates New Year's Eve with fireworks on the central square beneath the slopes. Although we missed the fireworks, arriving on January 1st, celebrating the new year in such a unique setting is a memorable experience, primarily among Norwegian families spending their Christmas holiday in mountain cabins.


Skiing on freshly groomed slopes

Our encounter with the "pistebully" drivers, responsible for grooming the slopes, was an early morning highlight. These immense machines, often seen from a distance, prepare the slopes for skiing, creating a pristine environment for early risers eager to make the first tracks. We had the opportunity to work alongside them, preparing both the cross-country trails and ski slopes, providing a unique insight into the essential preparation that goes into maintaining the ski area.

To Bortelid from the Netherlands

Bortelid's accessibility from Kristiansand makes it a popular destination among Norwegians. From the Netherlands, travelers can take a ferry from Hirtshals, Denmark, to Kristiansand, Norway, or from Kiel, Germany, to Oslo, Norway. Bortelid is an hour's drive from Kristiansand or five hours from Oslo. We chose Fjordline for our ferry crossings, opting to stay in an apartment overnight to break up the journey.

Despite our brief stay, we gained a deep appreciation for how Norwegians spend their leisure and winter holidays in their cabins. The stunning landscape invites long cross-country or hiking adventures or exhilarating ski and snowboard runs. Fleur had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed her experience in Bortelid!