Gausta Resort Guide
Insider tips from our team
As a fairly unknown destination for UK skiers, you might not be aware of just how much the Norwegian resort of Gausta has to offer!
Our Gausta Resort Guide covers everything from where to ski, stay, eat and drink in Gausta, plus the best activities, tips for families and options for learning and developing skills from complete beginners up to off-piste experts.
Where to Ski in Gausta
Gausta truly is a great all-rounder. Few resorts can offer such a variety of runs from the same lift all meeting at the same base.
The main ski area has three peaks: Fjellheisen (1,252m), Skipsfjell (1,100m) and Vatnedalheisen (1,082m). All of which are accessible for all abilities, with a gentle green run from each as well as a selection of more challenging runs for those with more experience. A short transfer away, the fourth peak of Gaustatoppen is recommended only for the more adventurous.
The Vatnedalen and Gaustablikk areas are great for those starting out for the first time with plenty of gentle runs and sheltered amongst the trees. This side of the resort is brilliant for quick progression with a number of lifts including magic carpets, buttons and t-bars allowing you to build confidence at a steady pace.
The well-connected lift system means that as you progress you should soon be able to ski across the resort over to the other side of the lake for even more confidence-boosting green and blue runs.
Our favourite run has to be Telemarksvingen (green run 14) - a long and winding perfectly groomed run with amazing views. Can you ski the whole way down without stopping?
Red and black runs make up 50% of the ski area at Gausta, so there's plenty to keep intermediates happy no matter their experience.
For those looking for more of a challenge, the runs off Skipsfjell are some of the best. Sondreløypa (red run 15) has fantastic views and is usually impeccably groomed. Or from the same lift take on Svart'n, the longest and one of the steepest black runs in the resort. These runs also provide the easiest access to the selection of marked off-piste terrain.
There are two small parks in the Gaustablikk and Hovdestaul areas and, as with most of Norway, there are plenty of opportunities for skiing through the trees off the sides of the slopes.
Experts & Freeriders
If the thigh-burning Svart’n run and the marked off-piste aren't adventurous enough for you, Gausta is home to some fantastic freeride terrain.
There are some good options from the Fjellheisen t-bar, but if you really want to push yourself and access the best terrain, head to Gaustatoppen.
To access the summit, you'll need to catch a bus or taxi to the Gaustabanen station, where you'll then take a train and funicular up through the centre of the mountain. From here you can ski back to the base and lap this area (you can purchase a 'tour card' with 5-50 journeys on the train), although it is worth noting that on a powder day this can be very popular and Gaustabanen’s capacity is limited to 40 people per hour. Of course, you can always hike up to earn your turns!
Langefonn is the gentlest route down, accessible to entry-level off-piste skiers. It’s marked with poles and designated safe from avalanche risk. In total, there are seven recognised routes out on the east side of the mountain although only one of these (Langefonn) is marked by poles. We recommend the other routes are only attempted with a guide. For extreme skiers, there are several seriously steep and challenging couloirs accessed by a small hike along the ridge heading north from the radio tower.
When to go
Gausta is blessed with a long ski season that starts in December and runs through till May. It’s snow-sure throughout, but if it’s the freeride area you’re particularly interested in we’d recommend the months of March and April. The snow base tends to have reached its peak plus you’re more likely to enjoy some bluebird days and powder days too. The ideal combo in our book.
Where to Stay in Gausta
There are collections of cabins and a few hotels for all tastes and budgets spread out over Gausta's different areas, but we highly recommend staying at the Gaustablikk Fjellresort or Cabins in the heart of the resort for the best experience.
This central location is particularly good if you don't have a car as everything you need - from ski hire and ski school to the grocery store and restaurants - is an easy walk or ski away.
Choose the hotel for bed & breakfast or half board, as well as the best views and direct access to facilities including a pool with sauna, jacuzzi and steam room, restaurants and bars and a kids' playroom. Gastablikk Fjellresort offers a seriously high level of service and a range of room types suitable to couples, families and mixed groups.
The cabins are just next door (the hotel's facilities are available for an additional fee) and are exactly what you'd expect in Norway. Cosy but spacious log cabins with well-equipped kitchens, private saunas and real fireplaces.
Where to Eat & Drink in Gausta
Most of the options for eating and drinking can be found in and around Gaustablikk Fjellresort. Although there's not a huge offering, it's some of the best food we've ever eaten in resort!
Blikk Fjellbrasserie - the main restaurant in the Gaustablikk Fjellresort. Menus curated by award-winning Swedish chef Melker Andersson. They serve an extensive hot & cold buffet breakfast and a varied seasonal a la carte menu using fresh Norwegian ingredients.
Kirk’s Bar - named after Kirk Douglas who starred in 'The Heroes of Telemark' which was filmed here. Has a gastropub-style menu and feel.
Bakeriet - the bakery with an award-winning pastry chef (Fredrik was on Sweden’s National Team) and the best cinnamon buns we’ve ever tasted. Perfectly located by the beginner area to entice the kids onto the slopes (or to enjoy a coffee and cake as you watch them take their first turns!)
Stova - on-mountain restaurant at the main base area with a pizzeria, barbeque, main restaurant and Fondue Fridays. Outdoor events on the terrace in the summer.
Loftet - the on-mountain apres ski venue or 'afterski' as the Norwegians call it. A laid-back vibe often with live music.
Sam’s Power Station - coffee and cinnamon buns fresh from the bakery served from a piste-basher. It was parked by the Fjellresort when we visited but has been known to move around the resort!
Gaustatoppen Turisthytte (Tourist Cabin) - it’s well-known throughout Norway and has become a famous spot to sample freshly made Norwegian waffles with a breathtaking view.
Den Lykkelige Sportsmann - aka 'The Jolly Sportsman'. A pub at the base of the Tinnheisen lift and Soria Moria ski run. Specialises in good quality pizzas, burgers and a range of beers, wines and spirits.
Gausta Grill Huts - barbeque huts on the mountain. Every resort should have these! Firelighters and wood provided, you just need to supply and cook your food - a brilliant way to have a very social and frugal lunch! There are several on the mountain. One at the base area on Kofferten (Green 3). No less than 3 different spots on Telemarksvingen (Green 14) all with amazing views. And finally one spot at the junction between Brendstaullia (Green 24) and Fyriegglinken (Green 23). Stock up at the grocery store by the Gaustablikk Fjellresort.
Activities in Gausta
Gausta is a ski resort that has as much to do off the slopes as it does on - in fact, a few of the surrounding attractions are even more well-known!
Gaustabanen - the train and funicular that travels inside the mountain to the summit of Gaustatoppen. Built during the Cold War to access the radio tower at the peak, you'll feel like you've stepped into a James Bond film. On special request, groups can take a look around the apartments and offices which have been preserved, enjoy a dining experience where everything you consume can be seen from the peak, and even try an escape room!
Gaustatoppen - the volcano-like peak that dominates the views wherever you are in resort. We've already mentioned the off-peak runs from here, but it's open to all with a return ticket. The highest peak in Telemark, you can see for miles in all directions - even over to Sweden! Walk up to the radio tower for the best views and stop off for waffles on the way back down.
Vemork - a UNESCO World Heritage site that's home to the hydroelectric power station and famous heavy water cellar that played a key role in World War II. Down in the valley, a short drive from Gausta in the town of Rjukan (where the sun doesn't rise for all of winter). Take a tour to learn not only about the daring WWII mission that inspired the film 'The Heroes of Telemark' but also about the impressive science behind the power station itself.
Cross-country - to complement the downhill, Gausta has 85km of trails for all abilities.
Floating saunas - on Kvitåvatn Lake, right outside the Gaustablikk Fjellresort. Enjoy panoramic views of Gaustatoppen from inside the sauna and take a teeth-chatteringly refreshing dip in the frozen lake afterwards.
Wine tasting - in Chambre Séparée at the Gaustablikk Fjellresort with the hotel's knowledgeable sommelier, who is on his way to building a world-class wine cellar.
Shuffleboard - a very popular Scandinavia pastime and ideally located next to Kirk’s Bar in the Gaustablikk Fjellresort. Once you get the hang of it, it's great fun - especially with a nightcap in hand!
Swimming and Wellness Area - at the Gaustablikk Fjellresort. Features an indoor pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna and lounge beds.
Night skiing - available from January through to Easter. Runs until 8pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The following lifts and slopes are available:
- Lifts: A. Lilleputt, B. Skipsheisen, and L. Barneheisen
- Slopes: 1. Hotellbakken, 2. Pukkelen, 4. Lilleputt, 36. Barnebakken
Ice climbing - down in the valley below the resort, Rjukan is a world-famous ice climbing destination due to its accessibility and density and variety of waterfalls. Hire a local guide whether you're a total beginner or experienced climber.
Kids in Gausta
Everything is straightforward and simple when it comes to skiing with the youngest members of the family in Gausta. The ski school, rental, grocery store, sports shop, bakery, restaurant & bar are conveniently in the same location & building.
Huski and Flaks - are the resort's resident mascots - spot them around the base and out on the slopes during peak weeks.
Kids' Playroom - the playroom at Gaustablikk Fjellresort is perfectly placed in the lobby, so you relax by the fire while keeping an eye on the little ones. The room is filled with a good selection of toys and games for a variety of ages.
Swimming Pool - the pool at the Fjellresort is family-friendly, a great way to relax, play or burn a bit more energy if they're not tired out after ski school!
Shuffleboard and table tennis - both available in the Fjellresort, just ask at reception for the equipment (payable locally).
Gaustabanen - although we'd only advise confident skiers to ski down from Gaustatoppen, the train ride up through the mountain is an experience in itself and feels like you're in a movie!
Ski School and Guiding in Gausta
Those starting out on the snow for the first time or wishing to enhance their skills will be in very capable hands looked after by Helen & Björn’s excellent team of English-speaking instructors.
Beginner lessons start on the Lilleput (Green 4) and Barnebakken (Green 36) slopes. Barnebakken has a magic carpet lift and is located right outside the bakery and coffee shop. Perfect for watching the youngest ones as they progress and a handy spot to fuel them up after their lesson.
Group lesson sizes are small allowing the instructor to provide high-quality instruction:
- 3-4 years - max 4 people
- 5-6 years - max 6 people for level 1, 8 for level 2 and above
- 7+ years - max 8 people
Group lessons are available 9.15-10.45, 11.00-12.30 & 13.15-14.45. The majority of never-ever skied lessons take the morning slots and more skilled lessons are late morning and afternoon.
Private tuition is also available, catering for all levels of skier and boarder. Durations of 1, 2, 3 and 6 hours are possible to arrange.
Helen & Björn also run the rental shop and take huge pride in the range of high-quality equipment and service they provide. They stock for all levels of skier right the way through to highly experienced skiers looking for quality freeride and ski touring equipment.
If you're planning to tackle the unmarked runs or steep couloirs off Gaustatoppen, we highly recommend hiring a local guide for the safest and most enjoyable experience. They'll make sure they take you on terrain that is right for your ability and the conditions on the day.