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Skiing in Bulgaria: It’s Cheap & Very Cheerful…

Our Social Media Editor has been to Borovets & Bansko. She knew it was going to be cheap and cheerful but it was going to be fun discovering more. First up, Borovets.

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I’ve never skied in Bulgaria, let alone visited the country so it was to be a double-edged novelty.

I’d been told about value-for-money skiing offered in both Borovets and Bansko, and now I had an opportunity to check out the two resorts for myself.

We arrived with Balkan Holidays on the Saturday charter on changeover day and so the adventure began with skiing, eating, and drinking Rakia.

Borovets

It is Bulgaria’s oldest, most famous and arguably its most popular ski resort.

It’s been named the cheapest ski destination in Europe, giving skiers the best value for money plus it’s considered to be one of the liveliest of resorts offering a lot of après.

It’s only 90 minutes from Sofia so an easy transfer from the airport.

The modern day Borovets is a purpose built resort with skiing starting from 1,300m up to 2,560m, offering approximately 58km of pisted slopes.

The slopes are better suited for intermediate skiers, but the nursery slopes can be busy, especially on changeover day.

Borovets Nursery slope on changeover day

Mum to the rescue on the nursery Poma

There are 8 drags, one 6-seater Gondola, and 4 Quads.

The Yastrebetz I 6-seater Gondola gives some old fashioned charm, travelling to an altitude of 2,369m to the easy-to-ski Sitnyakovo area.

Yastrebetz I Gondola, Borovets – Old Fashioned Charm

Yastrebetz I Gondola, Borovets – Old Fashioned Charm

Borovets piste map for 2019/2020

We were lucky to start skiing as it started to snow.

January skiing in Borovets, Bulgaria

January skiing in Borovets, Bulgaria

The best part of the day was taking an off piste route through short stumpy pine trees in the Markudjik area.

It’s the high altitude option, with skiing up to 2,550m.

The snow was thigh deep in places ?

Some off piste in the Markudjik area, Borovets

Night skiing is an added option offering four runs with illumination and sound until 10pm, and the music was fairly loud.

From my room I had a bird’s eye view of the slopes that were busy for a Saturday night.

Queues forming as groomers prepare the slopes for Night Skiing – Borovets

It transpired that many of the skiers were day trippers from Sofia taking advantage of fresh snow – Sofia is just over an hour away by car.

The cost of the lift pass is cheap:

You can pre-book a 6-day lift pass with Balkan Holidays for Borovets for only £131 per adult and £76 per child.

So what about the resort?

It’s known as a party spot with great night life, and it offers great value hotels, ski schools and cheap lift passes and is ideal for those on a tight budget.

But you can easily upgrade to a 4 star hotel without breaking the bank.

We stayed with Balkan Holidays at the 4 star Hotel Rila that sits at the foot of the nursery slope.

It’s a handy ski-in/ski-out hotel, perfect if you’re a beginner and a convenient location if you have children in the nursery or ski kindergarten that is opposite the hotel.

Recent hotel renovations were inspired by hotels in Les Arcs where some of the sharp, angular exterior profiles of the building reminiscent of the communist era have been softened with curves and balconies.

Hotel Rila Borovets – January 2020

The hotel offers a choice of buffet dinner or fine dining.

We ate at the a-la-carte restaurant, Samokovi, run by chef Vaselin Kalev.

The kitchen prides itself on locally sourced fish, meat and vegetables.

Menu at Samokovi restaurant – Hotel Rila, Borovets

I chose Duck magret with orange saffron jelly, citrus flavoured eggplant, followed by Rila trout and chocolate pears with chilli.

It was delicious.

My meal, not including wine, cost £31.

Duck magret with orange saffron jelly, citrus flavoured eggplant, followed by Rila trout, and chocolate pears with chilli

I must admit I had a spot of food envy when the soup arrived for someone else.

It was served up in spectacular fashion.

The Spa centre was very popular with families after skiing so it’s important to get there early.

Spa at Rila Hotel – Borovets – ahead of the crowd

It offers a variety of treatments.

The Panorama bar gives views of the slopes and nightclubs.

Entertainment for adults – Borovets

Entertainment for the Kids – Borovets

And in town a good English breakfast is on offer to counter any hangover.

English Breakfast in Borovets

Even a Subway in Borovets

Background on Borovets

  • It was first known as Chamkoria until 1942 when the name of the resort changed to Borovets. It’s a literal translation of the Turkish word ‘Chamkoria’, meaning pine forest.
  • Its origin dates back to 1896, when Kniaz Ferdinand the Bulgarian Tsar or King built several hunting lodges and a summer residence (one of the palaces can still be visited).
  • During the 1970s and ‘80s Borovets developed into a ski resort with hotels, restaurants and clubs, becoming a significant centre of skiing in the Balkans.
  • The austere architecture at the time reflected the Soviet influence. It’s now been redeveloped to soften the harsh structures.
  • Borovets has a racing heritage. The first downhill race in Borovets was held in 1930 and the first FIS race in Bulgaria took place in 1974 in Borovets during its Communist period.
  • Borovets is now home to the Bulgarian ski legend Petar Popangelov who grew up, trained and brought his European and World Cup trophies to the area. He now runs a little B & B with his wife.

FACT BOX

PlanetSKI was travelling to Borovets with Balkan Holidays.

From £625 per person staying at the 4* Hotel Rila, Borovets, departing March 7th and including return flights from London Gatwick, transfers and 7 nights’ half board in a twin with slope view, and 20kg free luggage allowance.

Add £202 for a full ski pack – lift pass, skis and boots and tuition.

To book Visit Balkan Holidays website or telephone on 0207 543 5555

And for the Rakia – this menu offered 17 varieties.

17 flavours of Rakia – 50ml glass from 5.99BGN to 11.29BGN

17 flavours of Rakia – here’s to the first!

But, guests beware!

I found this inventory for damage and loss in the hotel room.

Should you damage or decide to remove certain items from your room… ?

Hotel Rila, damage or loss of Hotel Inventory – You’ll have to pay!

We’ll be posting our next blog shortly about the second ski area, Bansko.

Have a look at the PlanetSKI Instagram page showing Borovets Highlights.

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