Skiing in Bulgaria: Bansko

Ski season in Bulgaria is officially open! Actually, this weekend only two of the big resorts had enough snow to prepare for the opening – Bansko and Pamporovo. The weekend in the former could only be described as SSSS – ski, sun, ski and spa!

BanskoSki

Nobody expected good enough skiing conditions for this weekend. According to Bansko website (not updated very carefully), weather was supposed to be too warm, snow – no more than 40cm and most ski lifts were not expected to work. A friend of mine even heard on national TV that Bansko ski resort is not going to open at all after Borovets admitted that they would not be able to offer any slopes.

It was totally worth the ‘risk’ going there. I doubt conditions could get any better throughout the season – slopes in perfect condition with natural snow, no people and sunny (but cold enough to preserve the snow) weather. So, we got everything we could hope for and did the perfect ski trip combo… twice:

  1. SKIING (30+ km covered each day)
  2. SPA (I highly recommend Alpha Spa in Dobrinishte, 7BGN)
  3. SUPPER (go to Makedonska kruchma in Dobrinishte or Turskata banya in Razlog)
  4. SLEEP (we stayed at my parents’ place in the lovely village of Banya)
Vihren

Pirin’s highest point – Vihren peak (the one the left), seen from Todorka slopes

A couple of words about the resort of Bansko for those of you who haven’t visited. It’s the best in Bulgaria, but…

  • the valley could accommodate more than 20000 people but the gondola could only take 2000 people per hour and often there are big queues for the lifts (you can go up by car, there’s a parking at the top station of the gondola station, road is around 12 km and parking would cost you 10 EUR);
  • there are 70+ kilometres of ski tracks for all levels but it’s often crowded on the slopes, so be careful;
  • the cash desks to buy ski passes open at the same time as the gondola (usually, 8:30) instead of earlier to save time; however, if you already have a chip card (5BGN deposit), you can recharge it online;
  • it’s expensive even by European standards – one day ski pass costs 58 BGN (around 29 EUR). It could still be much cheaper if you arrange a good weekly or weekend package, for example; a cheaper alternative in the region is Bezbog ski resort (but you get what you pay for)
  • there’s not enough snow in the recent years; however, Bansko has an extensive network of snow cannons ready to prepare artificial snow;

P.S. JUST BE CAREFUL. Make sure you wear a helmet! At some point on Sunday I reached the speed of 103km/h. It’s good that the only fall I had (more of a flight, actually) was with a much lower speed and apart from bruises on my back, the only damage I had, was my helmet’s branding.

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