BEST TIME TO GO SKIING/SNOWBOARDING IN BULGARIA
When most people think of skiing, the first thoughts that come to mind are the snowy Alps in Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and France. These four countries are the most popular for ski lovers and indeed populate the top four places in our Best Ski Resorts in Europe 2019 awards. But with their popularity comes a hefty price tag, which gets higher and higher as time passes.
But not all hope is lost for those ski lovers that cannot pay a premium to enjoy the 5-star resorts in these countries. Great alternatives have popped up in Romania, Slovenia, and Bulgaria. And since you are reading this, we bet you’ve caught wind of these ski alternatives as well.
Note that Bulgaria doesn’t have renowned Alpine resorts. But what it lacks in popularity is more than makes up with charm and some adrenaline gushing slopes. In this piece, we’ll endeavour to fill you in on what you can expect in Bulgaria.
Where can you ski in Bulgaria?
Well, Bulgaria has 3 main ski resorts that are complemented with a couple of other smaller resorts. Since we are here to ensure you have the best time of your life on the Bulgarian slopes, we shall only review the top 3. These will undoubtedly blow your mind away (or so we hope).
Borovets was set up back in 1896 on Rila Mountain and is the oldest ski resorts in Bulgaria. It is also the largest, with a whopping 58km of pistes. In addition to this, it’s the cheapest!
The resort has hosted the world cup competition twice.
Borovets is a little over 12km from Samokov and 72km from Sofia (the capital of Bulgaria). It is 1390m above sea level and is surrounded by venerable pine woods
As a first-timer, you’ll probably have nothing to compare the slopes with. But take it from us; the Borovets ski resort is designed to give beginners a thrilling experience. It’s also important to know that the resort has a number of ski runs, each designed to cater to individuals with different skiing skills. The lengths of the slopes also vary. For beginners, the Rotata, and Markujik are perfect.
Borovets has a great lift system that includes a 6-seat Gondola lift, 2-high speed Quad chairlifts, baby drag lifts, and surface ski lifts.
Best time to go
Since the slopes have reliable snow between December and the end of April, you should plan your ski holiday around this period. During this season, the slopes are covered in a thick, white and soft blanket of snow.
Before you book your holiday, we urge you to check the current school holiday schedule, as these are time periods to avoid at all costs if you want to avoid excessive queuing! Also ensure to check the Hungarian school holidays as they like to pop over to their neighbours for a ski holiday too!
Bulgarian School Holidays
- Late December
- Early Feb
- Late March/Early April
Hungarian School Holidays
- Late December
- Mid-Late April
Borovets has lots of cafes, bars, discos, and nightclubs. With all these, its nightlife is a blast. And in fact, Borovets is known to have the best party time. The staff members serving in these joints are professional and friendly. And what’s even better, most of them work till morning.
The best apres ski is found at the foot of the Rila nursery slopes and close to Gondola base. These include Happy Duck, Black Tiger, and Alpina.
Even if you are a die-hard ski enthusiast, you’ll want to take a break from the snowy slopes. Luckily for you, when this time comes, you’ll have lots of activities to choose from. These include visiting the hot springs, going horse trekking (yes, it’s a thing even during winter), chill in the spa or take a skidoo trip.
Taking a family ski holiday is easier than it sounds. You need to ensure that the resort is family friendly. Borovets has restaurants and hotels suitable for kids and teenagers. There are also perfect slopes for young beginners.
With the above description, Borovets is undoubtedly family friendly. You can go horse riding with the kids through the forest or let them sled down the slopes as the adults enjoy a drink at the bar (note that most bars offer free sledges for the kids).
This ski resort is one of the best in Bulgaria. It has one of the longest ski runs and has a rich history. It is located at the bottom of Prin Mountain in southwest Bulgaria and is located 160 km from Sofia. The resort features excellent snowboard and skiing infrastructure as well as cool conditions.
As mentioned, the ski pistes are on the Prin Mountain (the northern slopes). There are two ski centers; the Shiligarinka and Chain Valog, which are both10 km away from the town. You can access these slopes through the Gondola lift (it’s a 25-minute ride).
The length of all the marked pistes is about 70 km, and there are slopes for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers.
The resort has a 26km lift equipment. The Gondola cabin lift has 8 seats and high-speed quads (5 in total). The resort also has 3-seat lifts, 7 and 10 drags and baby drags respectively.
The resort also includes Dionyssos restaurant, a nectar bar, and a spa.
Best Time to Go
Although the snow conditions in this area are great, the best time to visit this resort is between December and April when the snow is thick and uniform. The skiing season lasts slightly longer compared to the other resorts courtesy of the Technoalpine snow cannons which blanket the slopes. There are also maintenance vehicles which keep the slopes in check.
Same warning for Borovets applies regarding overcrowding during Bulgarian and Hungarian school holidays. Make sure to check the schedule before booking to avoid unnecessary long queues!
The resort features quality restaurants and bars and its nightlife is quite impressive. Several Apres bars also offer refreshments and snacks on the skiing zones and the resort. Local clubs work till early mornings.
Bansko also includes 200 taverns which offer traditional Bulgarian cuisine and a cozy atmosphere.
In the event you are not a skier, you don’t have to die of boredom on the ski slopes. You can indulge yourself in paragliding, ice fishing, paintballing, spa bathing, snowshoeing, skidooing, horse riding and buggying (if the weather allows it).
Yes, Bansko resort is family friendly. It features an adventure course, children’s lifts, wave run for kids, and a children’s area.
This ski resort is located in Rhodopi Mountain. Of all the Bulgarian resorts, it is the sunniest. The winter is soft as there are 120 sunny days and the ski slopes are guarded and safe. The slopes are also kept in great condition.
We noted that the Pamporovo slopes are well maintained and guarded. As such, they are in superb condition. Additionally, the resort has 100 qualified ski instructors who are fluent in various languages. They teach both intermediate and beginner skiers.
The resort has 17 pistes that measure about 37 km in total. These pistes are located between 1450m and 1926m above sea level on the western, eastern and northern slopes. Ski tracks are available for Advance, intermediates, and beginner skiers.
Unfortunately, the slopes are only designed for the intermediate and advanced skiers.
The resort includes various facilities, including a swimming pool complete with Jacuzzi, a steam bath, sauna, fitness center, internet, parking space, ski rooms to store your skiing and snowboarding equipment, as well as a playground for your kids.
Best Time to Go
The best time to go to this resort is between December and April (actually, it is only open during this time).
Same warning for Borovets & Bansko applies regarding overcrowding during Bulgarian and Hungarian school holidays. Make sure to check the schedule before booking to avoid unnecessary long queues!
Given that Pamporovo is one of the most popular resorts in the country, it has a lot to offer to its skiers who love having a good time after hitting the slopes. Generally, the resort is full of spots worthy of your time. The best bit is that the places don’t look alike. Every disco, pub, and bar has its own unique atmosphere and style.
The staff members in these spots are friendly, helpful and professional. If you are looking to have a good time at night, here are some of the places that you can check out;
- Dak’s Bar
- The White Hart
- Night flight
When you are not on the slopes, you can go dog sleighing, quad biking, snow tubing and have a blast on skidoos.
There are family hotels and restaurants in and around the resort.
Which is the best ski resort in Bulgaria?
Honestly, we feel the three ski resorts we’ve reviewed above are the best and are worth a second look. You see, each of these resorts has a unique feature that makes them the best at what they do. For instance, the Pamporovo resort has more than 100 multilingual staff members ready to help you and your family learn how to ski and find your way around the resort. On the other hand, Bansko has excellent ski and snowboard facilities. In fact, the choice you make comes down to the tiny differences between the resorts.
Is Bulgaria Ski Holiday as Cheap as They Say it Is?
Yes, it is. According to research conducted by Escape Travel Card a few years back, they revealed that a ski holiday in the French Alps will cost 180% more than a ski holiday in Bulgaria. Let’s consider a family of four travelling to France for a ski holiday. The family could end up spending a whopping £3,500 more compared to if they went for their holiday in Bulgaria.
During the study, a comparison was made between a luxury resort in France and a not-so-popular resort in Bulgaria. The expenses considered included accommodation, flight fees, food, lift passes, and drinks. The totals came to £5465 and £1949 for a ski holiday in France and Bulgaria respectively.
Expectedly, the biggest price difference comes in the accommodation and food- which make up the largest percentage of the holiday expenses.
How to get there?
The mode of transportation depends on where you are. You can get to Bulgaria via train, flight or drive yourself there. Let’s focus on the flights. Here are the most common flights and what you should expect to pay:
There are lots of airlines that serve Bulgaria from other countries, including:
- Tayaran jet
- Air BTR
- Air Lazur
- Air VIA
- Bulgaria Air
From the UK
These are the airlines that serve flights between Bulgaria and UK: TU, Ryanair, easy jet, Bulgaria Air, BH Air, and British Airways.
The average flight cost is £200.
The airlines include Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Norwegian, Turkish and Lufthansa airlines.
The average cost is €243
The airlines with direct flights include Air Serbia, Bulgaria Air, and Ryanair.
On average, a round trip will cost €150.
The airlines that serve this area include Air Serbia and LOT.
On average, you need 1,600 SEK.
The airlines that serve this route include Aeroflot, Air France, Alitalia, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines. The price starts from €174.87
The airlines you use to get to Bulgaria will depend on your starting city in Finland. But you can’t go wrong with AY and Scandinavian Airlines.
The price ranges from €228 to €600
Depending on the city you are in France, you’ll pay anything between €170 and €300 to travel to Bulgaria. The carriers include Aegean and Air France.
With Ryanair, you can spend anything between €17.98 and €20 for a one-way ticket from Italy to Bulgaria.
How to get around once you are there
Bulgarian Taxi drivers are required to display their rates on the window. The rates are calculated per kilometer and factors in the waiting times. Although taxis are more expensive than the buses and trains, you can always negotiate for better rates if you are going for longer trips.
Bulgaria’s public transport is made up of buses and trains. The trains, though slower, are an adventure as they allow you to see the beautiful landscapes that Bulgaria has. The buses are slightly more expensive than trains. But on the plus side, they will get you anywhere you want in the city or the villages.
Average Chalet Costs
The cost of chalets varies depending on the amenities and the site you use to book one for the family. However, with a €250 weekly budget for each family member, you’ll be set to enjoy your ski holiday in a comfortable chalet.
Comparison with the Alps
The closer you get to the Alps, the higher the accommodation fees get. For the hotels that are closer to the Alps, you can pay anything from €68 per person per night.
Ski Pass prices depend on the age of the individual and the number of days. They also depend on the equipment that you need to hire.
Food and Drinks
You’ll find pretty much any kind of food you crave for, from restaurant quality foods to fast foods and pizzas. Bars, restaurants, and clubs are also in plenty to cater to your needs.
Food and drinks in the ski resorts are pretty affordable. Quite frankly, a budget of £400 a week will get you a long way. And at this budget, you can afford to be quite luxurious with your choice of food and drinks.
What’s it like?
Most people are surprised at how amazing the food tastes in Bulgaria, as Eastern European food sometimes has a reputation for being a tad bland when nothing could be as far from the truth. Bulgarian food tastes more like Turkish food, but with a nice twist to it.
Is it just for beginners or is backcountry skiing an option?
Bulgaria is a perfect spot for new skiers to nurture their skiing talent. There are loads of instructors in the resorts who speak English and are quite reasonable in their pricing.
But on the flip side, the resorts have diverse slopes. They mix up red, black and blue runs. Advanced skiers can have a great time on these slopes. But since the slopes aren’t very large, as an advanced skier, you might want to explore guided ski touring or backcountry skiing.
If you have never gone skiing before and are looking to create new memories with family and friends, a ski holiday in Bulgaria is perfect. It’s affordable compared to other countries and offers decent facilities for its value. However, if you are an advanced skier, you might want to stick to the Alps.
Hello there !
David’s writing. I am a french digital nomad!
I am part of Ridestore crew since July 2017, let’s hit the slopes 😉