While still being more popular among European tourists, especially those coming from the UK, for its low-cost summer vacations on the seaside, Bulgaria skiing sites attract an increasing number of people season after season. The expectations for the 2017-18 campaign are boosted by the rise of the numbers of booked rooms for every reputable resort in the country and the international recognition grows too. So heading up to the land in the core of the Balkans for rides and slides on the snow gives you a promise of a satisfying adventure.
1. A budget adventure. No one’s fooled about it – Bulgaria gains more attention and respectively bigger tourist turnaround thanks to the significant price margin compared to the winter camps and inns in the Alps for example. Bansko, awarded for being the best ski resort in the country for past half-decade, headed the ranks being the cheapest winter vacation village in whole Europe for seven straight years. Well, the Pirin mountain resort has lost the leadership and it went to another Bulgarian skiing venue – Vitosha. In terms of daily expense (100 Euro for accommodation, ski pass and equipment hire, give or take) the country has three sites in the top 10 with Pamporovo standing on the 6th position. Some of the cheapest offers can be found online on travel companies like Balkan Holidays.
2. Low-cost flights. Having heard about the temptingly affordable value of a winter vacation in Bulgaria a story about the cheap planes landing in the country might have caught your attention too. Sofia is in reach with a budget flight from most of Western Europe – United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Netherlands. In the snowy season, the number of charters to the capital or to Plovdiv increases. But it’s not that convenient in every case – Bansko, for example, stands three hours away from Sofia, Pamporovo is located even further from the biggest city but happens to be closer to Plovdiv. In terms of accessibility, Borovets is the best choice only one hour on the road from the capital. And we have mentioned Vitosha – it’s true that Sofia actually lays in the footsteps of this mountain but the infrastructure there is poorer and the pistes available are few to be found.
Tracks for the rookies, tracks for the pros
3. Slopes are really suitable for everyone. In Bulgaria skiing maybe don’t have that much of overall track length – Bansko leads the way with 75 km combined of all 18 trails, Pamporovo together with Mechi Chal isn’t far from that number and plans to exceed it soon. And every winter resort among the national Top 3 provides all kinds of pistes to the guests – from the easiest Green type to fit those who only start to learn to the Black type for professionals. Well, some experienced skiers would say that the country does not offer a big variety regarding the tracks for top-level riders but it cannot erase the achievements of the last decade.
4. Ski teachers maintain a European level. True story. It turns out to be on the list of the strongest magnets to attract people in the country for a winter vacation. Maybe the second best reason after the cheap accommodation – and the school prices are low too. And for the money paid in Bulgaria skiing training meets the Goldilocks zone of expense and quality. The most prominent ski schools are said to be found in Borovets – at least two dozens are located in the area of the oldest snowy centre in the country. A 6-day course in a group of adults larger than four individuals costs a little bit more than 100 Euro. Bansko and Pamporovo run close in terms of price and quality.
Bulgaria is second in export production with only Austria to beat
5. You don’t believe it, do you? Well, you have to – the country turns out to be among the main manufacturers of equipment on the continent. Bulgaria’s skiing export happens to be so significant that it’s outnumbered only by Austria. So even if the brand is western your skis might have been produced on the Balkans – Chepelare has the biggest factory on a national and perhaps regional level. No need to worry if it’s necessary to bring your own equipment since it’s available for hire everywhere.
6. The country has no champion in skiing and still is regarded a centre of the winter sports in the region. Only one Olympic medal has been won by a Bulgarian skier overall and it happened nearly four decades back in time – Ivan Lebanov took bronze in 1980 cross-country competition. In Alpine skiing Bulgaria had a star too – Petar Popangelov claimed numerous World Cup podiums but never had a chance to win a major title. The recent national pride is called Radoslav Yankov – World Cup holder but in snowboarding where the country has a name in the women elite too – Alexandra Zhekova. Despite the number of the prominent athletes in the snow sports is one digit value, thousands of people practice skiing in Bulgaria. This winter more than 3000 children from Samokov area, the town in the vicinity of Borovets, are expected to be on the slopes for training.
Bulgaria stands out in the Balkan competition
7. Practically every single country on the map of the Balkan Peninsula can offer winter resorts that are known outside of its borders. But Bulgaria skiing sites beat the competition in the region with three top destinations – Bansko, Pamporovo, and Borovets. Bosnia and Herzegovina come close – the city of Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984 and Jahorina and Bjelasnica winter centres are still very popular. Well, Slovenia stands ahead of Bulgaria having a resort like Kranjska Gora but it’s closer to Austria and Italy than to the heart of the Balkans. Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Montenegro, and Macedonia also have popular venues but can’t match Bulgarian choices, the Romanian pride Poiana Brasov isn’t far from the quality of its southern neighbour though.
So in Bulgaria skiing actually happens to be well developed for the pros and for tourists. The main winter resorts catch up fast with the western sites and while there is still some inconvenience here and there, the comfort and the service in places like Bansko and Pamporovo can match what is offered in most of the venues in Western Europe. Borovets was struggling with old infrastructure but the oldest winter centre on the Balkans is on the way to modernize the facilities and the outlook. Visiting Bulgaria for a winter vacation is an adventure worthy of trying and repeating. But those sites grow in popularity and the inns happen to be booked quickly. If you see yourself in Bulgaria skiing, check out some of the best offers available for winter season 2018/2019 before it’s all packed up.