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Bulgaria is a renowned skiing destination for holidaymakers looking for some winter fun on a budget. The slopes, the food, and the atmosphere compared to the price you’re going to pay is truly second to none. This is especially true when compared to other popular skiing destinations in Europe, such as France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria.
So, if you’re looking for cheap Bulgaria ski holidays, this article is just for you. Below, we’re going to explore in more detail five of the best skiing holiday destinations in Bulgaria. For each one, we’re going to cover:
- The distance from the airport and travel time by car
- The length and difficulty of the slopes
- The accommodation
- The food and drink options available
Every time you search for Bulgaria skiing holidays, Bansko will always be at the forefront of recommendations as it is the largest and most popular skiing destination in Bulgaria. Situated in the Pirin Mountains, Bansko is located 160 km from Sofia airport, which is most likely the airport you’re going to be arriving at if you decide to visit any of Bulgaria’s ski resorts. To get to Bansko from Sofia airport, it will take you around two hours by car and three hours by shuttle bus.
When it comes to the slopes in Bansko, they measure at around 75 kilometres (46.6 miles) in total. The large majority (59%) of the slopes here are for complete beginners, 33% are for intermediate skiers, and only 8% are steep enough to prove challenging for advanced skiing enthusiasts.
When it comes to accommodation, you will certainly be spoilt for choice. You can pick from 5-star hotels and all-inclusive apartment complexes to self-catering private villas and chalets.
As far as food and drink options are concerned, there’s plenty to pick from. The large majority of restaurants serve traditional Bulgarian cuisine, though there are a handful of options that cater to tourists looking for more international food (French, Italian, Chinese, and so on).
If you plan on partying during your skiing holiday, you won’t be disappointed with making Bansko your primary choice. Some of the most popular clubs here are The Flash Club and The Oxygen Club. And the best thing about them is that they are very affordable, as is everything in Bansko and Bulgaria as a whole.
Nestled in the Rila Mountains, Borovets is Bulgaria’s second biggest and most popular skiing destination. When visiting Borovets, you’ll most likely arrive through Sofia’s international airport, which is just 70 kilometres (43 miles) away. By car, it will take you around 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there, which isn’t bad at all.
The slopes in Borovets are around 58 kilometres (36 miles) in length altogether. Unlike Bansko, the ski slopes in Borovets are mostly suited for intermediate skiers, which make up 50% of all ski slopes in the area. In second place, we have beginner-friendly slopes, which make up 41% of all ski slopes. And lastly, the black slopes make up only about 5 kilometres (3 miles) or 9% of all ski slopes in Borovets.
So, if you’re an intermediate/beginner skier or plan on coming with your friends and family, then Borovets is a great place to consider. If you’re an advanced skier that wants a challenge, we’d advise that you look elsewhere.
Accommodation in Borovets is pretty varied. You’ll find a handful of all inclusive resorts, hotels, apartment complexes, villas, and chalets scattered all over the town. When it comes to food, the majority of restaurants offer traditional Bulgarian cuisine (Mamacita’s Winter Mexi restaurant is a great one to try) although there are some that offer more international food.
Located in the Smolyan Province, the town of Pamporovo is another renowned skiing destination for local and international skiers. This charming small town that sits on the edge of the Rhodope Mountains is around 240 kilometres from Sofia airport, which is a good three hour drive. That’s why, starting October 2023, EasyJet plans on releasing flights from the UK to Plovdiv (Bulgaria’s second biggest city), which is only about an hour away from Pamporovo.
Pamporovo is home to a total of 29.8 kilometres (18.5 miles) of slopes. The large majority (59%) of all slopes are strictly beginner-friendly while the other 25% are designed for intermediate skiers, and around 16% are recommended for more experienced skiers.
Accommodation in Pamporovo is plentiful. Whether you’re looking for a hotel (the 4-star Orpheus hotel is a great one), an apartment, or a villa in a more remote part of the town, chances are that you’ll find something that suits your needs, without breaking the bank.
As Pamporovo attracts tens of thousands of international tourists, the food and drinks options vary from place to place. So, if you aren’t willing to indulge in food that’s traditional to Bulgaria, you can visit steakhouses like the Neptun Winter Home, European restaurants like the Salute, or pizza restaurants like the Gloria Mar restaurant.
Situated in the Vitosha Mountain, the ski resort Aleko is located just south of Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia. Conveniently, the airport that you’ll be arriving through is just around the corner as well. The 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) journey to the ski resort from Sofia airport will take you less than an hour to complete by car, which isn’t bad at all.
Aleko is home to 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) of slopes, situated at an elevation of between 1,530m and 2,270m. When it comes to the variety of slopes available, the large majority (60%) are mostly beginner-friendly and are suited for families with young children.
Thirty percent are for intermediate skiers, while the remaining 10% are black slopes, which are perfect for more advanced and experienced skiing enthusiasts. The views from the slopes are also very impressive, so don’t forget your camera.
As Aleko is quite a niche skiing destination that’s mostly visited by locals from Sofia and the surrounding area, don’t expect a large variety of international food and drinks. Most restaurants, although great, predominantly serve Bulgarian cuisine.
When it comes to accommodation, it is fairly limited as most people that come here do only come for the day due to it being super close to where they live (in or around Sofia). Some places that we’d recommend you to check out here though include the Aleko hut, Moreni, and St. George.
During your search for Bulgaria ski holidays, you wouldn’t find Chepelare on top of any list of recommendations. This is mostly because it’s one of Bulgaria’s smallest and least popular skiing destinations amongst tourists from abroad. Don’t let that discourage you though, as there are many benefits to choosing this charming small town over the bigger spots like Bansko. Some of the benefits include:
- Cheaper food, drinks, accommodation, and just about everything else you can imagine
- The slopes won’t be anywhere near as busy as Borovets or Bansko, even during the peak season
At Chepelare, there is a total of 13.6 kilometres (8 miles) of slopes altogether. Sixty one percent of them are for beginners while the other 39% are for intermediate skiers. Please note that there are no black slopes in Chepelare, so if you’re an experienced skier, you should look at Pamporovo, which is only 11 kilometres away.
Despite being at the bottom of our list, skiers visiting Chepelare will have plenty of accommodation options to choose from. You can choose from hotels, apartments, villas, and chalets, the prices of which are almost half of that of Bansko, Borovets, and Pamporovo. If we had to recommend one place to stay, it would be the Rhodopi Home Hotel Chepelare 4-star hotel. Check it out and you’ll see why.
When it comes to food and drinks, you’ll find plenty of local restaurants serving delicious Bulgarian food and drinks. If you’re a street food type of person, you’ll find a handful of pizzarias, doner shops, and similar along the main road.
When Is the Best Time to Go on a Skiing Holiday in Bulgaria?
The best time for skiing in Bulgaria is from the middle of December to early April. If you visit any of the destinations above outside of this period, there are no guarantees that there will be any snow. To be safe, we recommend going during the peak of the winter season, which is from the middle of January until the middle of March. Prices during these periods are slightly higher and the slopes will be busier, but those are the times when you’ll have the most fun on the snow.
If you’re trying to get some ideas for cheap ski holidays, Bulgaria is one of Europe’s hot spots when it comes to value for money. Please note that the large majority of Bulgaria ski resorts are mostly suited to beginners and intermediate skiers (around 85% of the slopes). So, if this applies to you, you’ll have a blast.
However, if you’re an advanced skier that’s looking for a thrilling challenge, Bulgarian ski resorts don’t have as much to offer compared to the Alps for example. That said, Bansko has around 6 kilometres (3.3 miles) of black slopes, which is still a fair amount and the place we’d recommend the most for advanced skiers.
At the end of the day, whichever destination you choose, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a ton of fun in the snow. And when you’re not on the slopes, you can indulge in some tasty Bulgarian food and drinks.