Whether you’re bored of the Alps or simply looking for a winter getaway that won’t cause too much damage to your wallet, a skiing holiday in Bulgaria should definitely be on your radar. From extremely affordable après and cool modern facilities to an excellent range of pistes, there’s a lot to be said about a Balkan ski trip.
While Bulgaria’s first ski resort opened over a century ago, the country’s snow sports scene has skyrocketed in recent years thanks to budget-friendly ski packages and modern ski resorts set within charming traditional towns. Centred around the three main ski resorts, Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo, cheap ski schools and nice nursery slopes make it a prime destination for first time skiers, while a handful of tougher runs keep things interesting for those with more experience.
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A tough one. For bars near the slopes serving up cheap drinks into the early hours, Borovets is the resort for you. Its nightlife offering grows every year, varying from lively bars pouring generous measures of Rakia (the national drink) to traditional taverns hosting fun Bulgarian folk evenings. Pamporovo has also slowly been building up a reputation as a party resort thanks to its cheap and cheerful bars and clubs, while Bansko, as the largest resort, also has plenty to offer the late-night reveller.
Bulgaria’s ski resorts are well-equipped for novice skiers, especially Borovets and Bansko with their range of easy blue and green runs. You’ll also find a variety of accommodation options, plus ski schools with English-speaking instructors. For a smaller resort with more space on the slopes, Pamporovo is your best bet.
Bansko, with its beautiful old town and contemporary resort facilities, is the perfect pick for a group ski trip. There’s over 75km of pistes to enjoy and a wide choice of local restaurants and bars to keep you sustained and entertained both on and off the slopes.
As Bulgaria’s resorts are mostly made up of easy beginner or intermediate runs, you’ll be well-placed as a new skier at any one of them. Borovets is a good choice for the biggest range of gentler pistes and cheap ski schools with over 200 experienced instructors.
Bansko is the country’s highest altitude ski resort, with some runs positioned at over 2,500m. For guaranteed snow during ski season, you’ll want to book your Bulgaria ski trip there. You’ll also find that Borovets has recently invested in dozens of snow cannons to help boost the powder on its ski slopes.
If you just want to get away for a couple of days, a cheeky ski-weekend in Bulgaria is definitely a possibility. You’ll find its resorts are usually very flexible and more than happy to accommodate shorter ski weekends.
What’s more, some of them can be reached in less than two hours from the nearest airport so you don’t have to waste too much time in transit.
Bansko in the Pirin Mountains is one of Bulgaria’s most popular ski resorts thanks to its fantastic ski runs and picture-perfect historic town. In fact, its cobbled streets and pretty period buildings rival those found in quaint Alpine villages. Bansko is also located within the Pirin National Park, a reserve which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1980s.
If not everyone in your holiday group is bothered about skiing, you’ll find Bansko has endless activities to keep you occupied off the slopes. Sample classic Bulgarian bites and beverages at a cosy taverna, explore the towns 100+ monuments, show off your skating skills on the ice rink or soothe yourself at a tranquil spa. To top it all off, it’s frequently described as the best value ski resort in Europe, so expect to get plenty of bang for your buck.
Bulgaria’s first and largest ski resort is nestled within the majestic Rila Mountains, the highest peaks in the Balkan region and the former hunting grounds of Bulgarian royalty. People have been skiing in the area since the late 19th century, although it’s now a pretty contemporary resort with its ultra-fast ski lifts and affordable amenities.
If you want a cheap ski holiday to Bulgaria that combines great skiing with sensational après – think pints for less than a pound – you can’t go wrong with Borovets. A range of accommodation options, from self-catering to luxury hotels, means it’s an ideal fit for both families and big groups of friends or colleagues, too.
The smallest and sunniest of Bulgaria’s three major ski resorts, Pamporovo lies in the country’s southern regions and surrounded by idyllic Norwegian spruce forest. It’s usually considered the most chilled out option, although a recent surge in bars and clubs means there’s ample opportunities for after dark antics.
Easy blue and green runs, plus nursery slopes at the base of the mountain, make Pamporovo a popular option for new skiers or those hoping to improve their technique on quieter pistes. If there’s anyone in your group who’s up for a challenge, a couple of black runs and some cross-country ski trails should keep them busy.