Not only has Bulgaria got a great reputation for its superb wintersports facilities – think perennial favourites such as skiing and snowboarding, as well as the more extreme adventures such as ice climbing – but it’s also just been named as THE cheapest destination for wintersports in Europe! Isn’t it time you discovered the fascinating combination of natural landscapes and fantastic sports facilities?
Majestic mountains cover much of Bulgaria, where the Northern Russian steppes bring fresh snowfall from the beginning of December, right though to April. Providing the perfect wintersports weather! As well as offering ski and snowboard facilities, the Bulgarian resorts also embrace the more extreme end of winter activities – think ice climbing and backcountry skiing, where vast swathes of virgin snow beckon.
Bulgaria boasts three major world-renowned fully equipped ski resorts;
Bansko – The new budget travellers’ favourite thanks to its recent accolade as the cheapest European ski resort! The altitude of trails ranges from 990 meters to 2,600 meters and is a relative newcomer to the international scene. With 75km of trails, Bansko is a long-time favourite of locals; Bansko has recently been picked up by the foreign press and is achieving interest from tourists. The main draw is Bansko’s unspoilt landscape atop the pristine Pirin Mountains. It’s also retains a small village atmosphere and is a great place for walking in spring and summer. Bansko has 14 lifts and 10 ski tows and is around 160 km from Sofia.
Borovets – This is the largest international resort in Bulgaria and is situated at 1,350 meters with the highest pistes peaking at 2,600 meters. Located on the northern slopes of the mighty Rila Mountains, the landscape is one of ancient pine forests. In the summer, climbers can tackle the soaring Mousala peak which is 75 meters short of 3,000 meters. And as Borovets is just 70km from the capital city of Sofia, it’s a popular spot for the fly-and-ski crowd.
Pamporovo – Nestled within the Rhodopi Mountains, this area is steeped in mysticism as it’s the fabled home of singer Orpheus. Pamporovo is the sunniest ski resort in Bulgaria, thanks to its southerly location. Sitting astride the Snejanka Peak at 1,926 meters, much of the skiable trails sit between 1,444 and 1930 meters, with 37km of trails. 13 lifts serve Pamporovo whose maximum vertical drop is at 476 meters. Fly into Plovdiv which is 85km away as opposed to Sofia, which is 240km away.
There are several other ski resorts dotted throughout Bulgaria, such as Vitosha, which at just 10km outside of Sofia is proving a hot with the budget airline brigade. Try Chepelare which is home to the longest ski run in the country. Or try Tsigov Chark which is built around an artificial lake and is a popular choice for students. In all, Bulgaria has more than 210 km of ski slopes.
Bulgaria is attracting skiiers from around the world, thanks to the diversity of trails; there are facilities for all skiing abilities. The highest trails peak at 2,600 meters and the greatest vertical drop is at 1,630 meters. All trails across Bulgaria are equipped with both modern cable cars, chairlifts and ski tows.
Bulgaria’s season usually runs from the start of December through to April, although the local weather conditions are not always a hindrance as some of the larger ski resorts have their own machines to make snow!
Try a spot of ice climbing in Bulgaria where instructors are on hand for tuition, you can even tackle a frozen waterfall. Just a short distance away from the popular trails, lies vast expanses of pristine virgin snowfall, which you can explore on a spot of backcountry skiing.
Explore the apres ski side of life in Bulgaria too, from the quaint mountainside villages to the soothing mineral thermal springs and spa facilities.