Bulgaria: Modern ski resorts and affordable prices
Bulgaria boasts good-value ski resorts, particularly for beginners and intermediates, with attractive forested slopes, efficient lifts and modern accommodation. The big ski resorts of Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo are the most well known, but there are also the smaller resorts of Chepelare and Vitosha.
Bansko has benefited from a multi-million-euro investment and boasts the most up-to-date ski facilities in Bulgaria. It also has the best snow record and the longest ski season in the country. Nestled at the foot of the Pirin Mountain, Bansko (925m) has a ski area set between 2,000-2600m altitude, and offers good snow coverage from mid-December to mid-May. The slopes are also complete with 44 snow cannons and are linked via fast lifts (chairs, drags, and an eight-seater gondola).
The resort is favoured by beginners and intermediates. The nursery slopes at the top of the gondola are free from through traffic. Beginners can progress to the long, gentle blue runs. Intermediates will find some good and varied red runs from the top. There is also one black piste for more advanced skiers. Snowboarders can try out tricks on the first snow park in the Balkans, complete with a half-pipe. Five kilometres of cross-country skiing is also available.
Bansko has an attractive town square and there are new hotels and restaurants popping up all over the resort. A wide selection of accommodation is available from small family-run pensions to luxury hotels.Taste local food and wines at a choice of traditional Bansko taverns after a day on the mountain. There's also a choice of lively bars and discos. Bansko is 160 kilometres from Sofia Airport.
Borovets, dating back to 1896, is the oldest winter resort in Bulgaria. It has also grown into the country's largest ski resort, boasting 58km of pistes. The resort has twice hosted World Cup competitions. Surrounded by forests on Rila Mountain, Borovets (1,390m) features picturesque alpine-style pistes fringed with pine trees. There is reliable snow coverage between mid December and the end of April.
The 58 kilometres of pistes, particularly well-suited to intermediates, are served by a well-organised lift system (chairlifts and a gondola). Skiers can reach a height of 2,600m. Cross-country and biathlon tracks are located 2km away from the resort together with the cross-country tuition tracks.
The modern town centre has a good choice of modern hotels, restaurants, shops, nightclubs and bars. Borovets is easily accessible, located just 72 kilometres from Sofia Airport.
Pamporovo (1,650m) is a modern resort in the heart of the Rhodopi Mountains. It is one of the most southerly ski resorts in Europe and offers a good combo of reliable snow coverage and plenty of sunshine throughout winter. Ski slopes trickle down from the Snejanka Peak through thick pine forests. Skiers can reach a height of 1,950m. Advanced skiers will enjoy the challenging Giant Slalom while beginners practice on the wide, gentle slopes.
The resort offers a wide choice of ski rental shops and more than 100 qualified ski instructors fluent in a variety of languages. The town centre is bursting with shops, bars, and restaurants. Pamporovo is 240 kilometres from Sofia Airport.
Smaller ski resorts in Bulgaria include: Vitosha; Osogovo; the Rila Mountain resorts of Semkovo, Malyovitsa, Govedartsi, and Panichishte; the Pirin Mountain resorts of Razlog, Dobrinishte, and Kulinoto; the Rodope Mountain resorts of Chepelare, Momchilovtsi, Tsigov Chark, and Smolyan; and the Balkan Mountain resorts of Uzana, Berkovitsa, KOM, and Parshevitsa.