Skiing in Bulgaria
Classed as one of the Europe’s best value winter sport destinations, Bulgaria has an excellent snow record and offers an excellent choice for the beginner and intermediate skier, though it may not please the ‘on-the-edge’ thrill seeker searching for the ultimate off-piste experience. So which area do you choose that meets your needs?
This is just stone’s throw from Sofia, so you could combine a winter cultural visit to the capital with some time on the piste. Thirty kilometres of runs range from green to black, based around Aleko station, but there are disadvantages. Weekends and holidays are impossibly overcrowded with locals out to enjoy the snow. Also because most skiers bring their own equipment it’s difficult to hire. The infrastructure is also rather old and pistes are not well maintained.
The Rila Mountains
Borovets is the oldest resort in Bulgaria, established in 1896: a compact centre with three separate satellite settlements (a minibus operates between hotels and the slopes) set in verdant pine forest. The resort has one gondola, 2 chairlifts and 8 surface lifts to cover 50km of pistes, the longest of which is 6km. If you are flying in on a package it’s a relatively short transfer from Sofia airport (70km)<br>
Maliovitsa is a tiny resort with a couple of hotels and one draglift to serve the few runs, but it’s cheaper than Borovets and perfectly adequate for an afternoon of fun.
The Pirin Mountains
Bansko has the best snow record of any Bulgarian resort(often enough snow to ski until the end of May) and was a secret the Bulgarians kept to themselves, but it’s on the brink of a new era with the erection of a state-of-the-art gondola linking the village centre to the slopes(12kkm away by road). Bansko offers its guests a unique 16-kilometer uninterrupted ski run, starting from Todorka Peak (2600 m) at the highest point of the ski centre, all the way to base station of the Gondola lift at the outskirts of town. The last 7 km of the slope are lighted, and the entire facility is equipped with artificial snow machines to ensure a great skiing experience even in warmer conditions. The main disadvantage is a long transfer from the airport Sofia (150km) and an as yet untried infrastructure – ski hire, instruction, etc.
The Rodopi Mountains
Pamporovo is a modern purpose-built resort with a total of 18km of well-maintained pistes (25 runs and 18 lifts, 13 of which are drag lifts) aimed at beginners, intermediates and especially families. The ski school here is well established, with multilingual instruction and kids-only lessons. The transfer from Sofia is a long one but most charter flights arrive to Plovdiv only 90km to the north. One disadvantage is that it is rather spread out and lacking in charm, the opposite of Borovets.
Chepelare (two chair lifts only) is a smaller satellite of Pamporovo but its two main runs are considered to be the best in Bulgaria , and the blue one through the trees is exceptionally pretty.