When the average person thinks of skiing, it is highly doubtful Bulgaria is at the top of their list. The famous European trio of France, Austria and Italy have shrouded many people’s perceptions on skiing as they promote Alpine views, luxurious chalets and the middle-class dream. But big names come with big prices and leaves people thinking that skiing is only a rich-mans (or woman’s) sport.
However, one little south-eastern European country has been cooking up a snowstorm when it comes to budget-friendly skiing. This country you may ask? Bulgaria. Bulgaria famous for… well not that much, and has a lot more to offer in terms of skiing than you may think.
Having been an avid skier since the age of six, I did at first slightly turn my nose up at the fact our next family skiing vacation was to be Bansko in Bulgaria. Soon after I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised with the entire atmosphere of the country. Armed with a six-day lift pass, Atomic ski equipment and a 4* spa hotel to return to home to after a busy day on the slopes, I was ready to go. A 25-minute gondola ride to the heart of the slopes and I couldn’t contain my excitement. The peak of the Todorka mountain being a dizzying 2600m, it boasts views that could almost rival that of the Swiss Alpes. Don’t get me wrong, the ski resort isn’t massive but is definitely a ‘good things come in small packages’ deal. With three blue runs, twelve red runs and three black runs, this holiday is definitely aimed for a more relaxed ski experience.
According to Ellis-Brigham, an average ski holiday in the Alpes will set you back around £3,000 per person. To this, Bulgaria laughs in their face. All in all, our week-long family package holiday to Bansko cost us around £450 per person! This included: flights, transfer, half-board accommodation, ski hire, fast pass lift pass and optional ski lessons. I know. The value for money at this resort is truly unbelievable. To achieve the best deals, I recommend booking a package deal through companies such as Iglu Ski and Balkan Holidays. I’m sure you can easily enough book on your own, but to gain all the benefits we did your best bet is package.
As you all may be wondering, yes, the après-ski is also phenomenal. On the mountain, it’s inevitable that you will be charged more for the convenience of cool alcoholic beverage 2000m above sea level. Further down the slopes and in the town itself you can swindle half a litre of beer for three Bulgarian levs, which works out at around £1.50 a time! Surrounding the gondola there are numerous bars and watering-holes to fulfil your alcoholic needs. Live music is supplied, most notably at 9pm every evening in Amigo’s Pub there is a ‘Whiskey-man’ who demands nothing other than a shot of whiskey every 15 minutes or so, to keep his band going till 4am. The crowd excitedly chants “Whiskey time… all the time!” and it is indeed quite the spectacle.
I hear you asking, what is the catch? And in my opinion, there isn’t really one. If you are a thrill seeking, fast-paced skier, this might not be the place for you. Bansko does boast a wide range of slopes, but I found that by about days three and four we we’re repeating the same runs. This didn’t bother me in the slightest, but for some really hard-core skiers this may be a massive downside. Bansko is truly the ski gift the keeps on giving and I will no doubt be returning for next season.
Feature Image Credit: www.bdmundo.com from Flickr
Last modified: 15th March 2020