Snowboarding Borovets Bulgaria: Picture Story
Published January 2009
Words and pictures by Sam Baldwin
SnowSphere heads to Europe's Far East to check out the cheap and cheerful ski resort of Borovets in Bulgaria.
A typical scene on the ski slopes of Borovets; beginners snow-plough their way down to the drag lift. In the background a high rise hotel offers cheap and cheerful accommodation to the package tour masses.
EasyJet don't make gondolas, but if they did, they would be this colour. Borovets sole gondola transports skiers and snowboarders from town, up to the Yastrebetz area of the mountain.
Despite Bulgaria's 'rough round the edges' reputation, the ski and snowboard instruction at Borovets is excellent. The instructors speak good English and many have competed at national level.
The town of Borovets is reasonably attractive; a mixture of traditional wooden houses mingle with large hotel complexes. Wood smoke hangs in the air from locals' log fires and forest surrounds the settlement.
The green man on the drag lift traffic light says "Go!". Borovets does have a lot of drag lifts which may be daunting for beginner snowboarders, although they can be largely avoided if snow conditions are good. The Markudjik portion of the mountain probably offers the steepest runs, but is only served by drags.
The high-rise Hotel Rila is a favourite for tour operators; providing simple but adequate accommodation, it's situated right at the bottom of the Borovets ski area and in good snow you can almost ski into the reception.
Though Borovets is known for being a cheap and cheerful ski resort, luxury accommodation does exist. The Lodge is Borovets first boutique hotel; offering exquisite dining, luxury apartments, a swimming pool, cigar bar and with masseurs on hand - if you want to pimp it up in Borovets without breaking the bank, this is the place to do it.
Roasted pig on a spit is a classic Borovets dish. Swine can be seen rotating outside bars and restaurants all around the town.
One of the things that is very evident in Borovets, and Bulgaria as a whole, is poverty. As a country only recently out of a protracted communist era, Bulgaria is still very much behind Western Europe in terms of economic development, and Bulgarians seem to have a habit of reminding you this; even our ski instructor informed us that "Bulgaria is a very poor country".
Because of this, "rich" Western Europeans will be expected to tip generously. Play close attention to your bill at bars and restaurants; sometimes staff take it upon themselves to extract a tip from you, without your consent.
Sign of the times? Borovets is a cheap and cheerful ski resort; ideal for beginners and early intermediates looking for a lively time both on and off the slopes. If you're after traditional Bulgarian culture, you've come to the wrong place, this is BritVille, but if you want good value skiing and a tourist-friendly town - Borovets is hard to beat.
Borovets Fast Facts
- Lifts: 12 (1 gondola, 4 chairs, 7 drags) Note: there are two separate ski areas which are not linked by lift
- Runs: 23 (4 green, 6 blue, 9 red, 4 black)
- Terrain: gentle wooded slopes on the lower half of the mountain, with open terrain towards the top. Not a lot in the way of steep or challenging runs, but good cruising slopes for carving and some off piste in the Markudjik portion.
- Lift Pass Prices: adult 1 day 55 BGN, 6 days 286 BGN
- Accommodation: at the cheapest end of the scale, the high rise Rila and Samakov hotels offer basic rooms. For luxury the boutique hotel, The Lodge comes highly recomended
- Getting there: fly to Sofia with BA or WizzAir. Use Skyscanner to compare prices and find the best deal.
- Website: Borovets Ski Resort
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