Bulgaria has recently become one of Europe’s hottest (not literally!) winter sports destinations, and there are many reasons for this success. The country boasts the highest mountains between the Alps and the Caucasus, ensuring a reliable snow cover throughout most of the season. And with a variety of quality ski resorts to choose from, the stiff competition ensures the best value for money on the continent!
From the internationally-famous host of Alpine Ski World Cup races to the ski resort you can easily reach by public transport from the capital, kashkaval tourist presents 9 exciting Bulgarian ski resorts for your winter holiday!
Brought to you thanks to the invaluable insider tips of hardcore winter sports enthusiasts Ani Manova, Max Pirsky and Martin Bonov.
1. Everything under the winter sun: Bansko
Perhaps Bulgaria’s best-known ski resort, Bansko (Банско) was a quiet Bulgarian town until it developed rapidly as winter destination in the 2000s. These days, the resort regularly hosts rounds of the Alpine Ski World Cup, and deservedly so. With a total of 18 slopes of varying difficulty and length, 10 lifts and 5 tows, Bansko has something for everyone.
And while Bansko’s prices may be some of the highest in Bulgaria, the top price of a quality ski holiday in Bansko remains the best among Europe’s famous resorts. To avoid the tourist traps though, it’s a good idea to make friends with the smiling locals. In terms of accommodation, the options are practically limitless and the specific regional cuisine is absolutely fantastic! Though beware of the days around New Year’s, when there are massive queues for the main cabin lift.
A super convenient way to get to Bansko is booking a private transfer with Around Bulgaria, whose English-speaking drivers and online payment options are a real convenience.
2. Low-cost freeriding paradise: Kartala
Low-cost freeriding paradise: Kartala. Photo credit: Ani Manova.
Update: As of 2018, the Kartala lift isn’t functional.
In recent years, Kartala (Картала) near Blagoevgrad has established itself as a favourite low-cost resort for Bulgarian freeriders. Kartala has a cabin lift and a single but rather long and difficult run, but the best part are the breath-taking freeriding possibilities along the piste. As long as you watch out for avalanche hazard (definitely check with the experienced mountain rescue professionals), you can enjoy some memorable rides down from the vast white meadows above the slope.
What’s more, in Kartala you can lodge or have a meal in the very same building as the lift station – which also hosts an inexpensive hotel and pub. In the morning, just make your way to the upper floor and board one of the cabins!