Skiing holiday in Bulgaria - advice please!

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pdthews
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Skiing holiday in Bulgaria - advice please!

Postby pdthews » Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:36 am

Hi,

I am (fairly) new to the forums here, having bought a house in the VT area earlier this year. I am still currently living in the Uk, and would like to sample the skiing in Bulgaria this winter. It will be me and my girlfriend, and we would like something as cheap as possible.

We have both never skied before (literally), and I have been looking at a few possibilities; getting a package deal, or booking accommodation and flights and ski passes separately.

If you have any advice on which you think the best ski resort to suit our needs would be, then please let me know, although for beginners I can't imagine that is too important. Also, I have found (in borovets for example) a package for 6 days ski pass, 6 x 4 hour lessons, and skis and boots for about 150 Euro per person. Is this a good price?

I am also not sure whether half/full board would be better than self catering. In VT eating out is very cheap - nice restaurants for about 12 lev per person for a meal and drink(s). I imagine it will be much more expensive in the ski resorts, so feel free to advise me in this regard...

Finally, if anyone has any advice about "off the tourist trail" hotels, please let me know. For example I know on the black sea coast there are lots of places where only bulgarians holiday so the prices reflect this, are there any such gems in the ski areas?

Look forward to hearing any advice/info! And thanks very much in advance for your time!

Paul x

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brianj42
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Re: Skiing holiday in Bulgaria - advice please!

Postby brianj42 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:28 am

pdthews wrote:Hi,

If you have any advice on which you think the best ski resort to suit our needs would be, then please let me know, although for beginners I can't imagine that is too important. Also, I have found (in borovets for example) a package for 6 days ski pass, 6 x 4 hour lessons, and skis and boots for about 150 Euro per person. Is this a good price?

I am also not sure whether half/full board would be better than self catering. In VT eating out is very cheap - nice restaurants for about 12 lev per person for a meal and drink(s). I imagine it will be much more expensive in the ski resorts, so feel free to advise me in this regard...

Finally, if anyone has any advice about "off the tourist trail" hotels, please let me know. For example I know on the black sea coast there are lots of places where only bulgarians holiday so the prices reflect this, are there any such gems in the ski areas?

Look forward to hearing any advice/info! And thanks very much in advance for your time!

Paul x


Paul

You have really 3 choices Borovets, Bansko and Pamporovo. There are a few more but they are small and you'd get bored after a day. €150 for the whole package including lift, lessons and equipment is a good price and Borovets is probably rated number 2 on where I would ski, the first being Bansko.

I choose Bansko as it is the only one of the three that still retains the town and lots of things to do character about it. Pam and Borovets are purpose built resorts and outside the resort there really is not a lot, whereas Bansko has the town and nightlife to go with. I personally think the skiing at Bansko is better with more variety. I will say at this point though...AVOID Xmas and New Year. Best time to ski Bansko is lat Jan/Feb when the crowds have b**ger off.

Lots of hire shops and a package of kit, lessons and lift pass is going to set you back about €200 per person but I suppose if you shop around you will get offers.

Hotels range from €25 a night to €200 but again out of the xmas period they will be cheaper with more offers.

Personally I would look at renting an apartment as it gives you a bit more freedom and there are so many in Bansko and people desperate for rentals you will probably pick up a 2 bed for +/- €100 a week end Jan.

Eat out, all inclusive you get little variety all inclusive and in Bansko if you "Know where to go" there are still cheap places to eat. AVOID the tourist restaraunts as they are designed to sell you cheap crap for a high price.

AVOID anything too far from the lift and AVOID taxis, I know someone who was charged €20 to go 2km to the lift last season. The Black Sea Rip Off taxi's take over the ski resorts in Winter.

ALL 3 ski resorts are aimed at getting the most money out of its punters, they have 3 months to do this in. Not unusual as its the nature of ski resorts. But if you tackle this the right way you can get a bit further for less money.

Brian

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Mat
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Postby Mat » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:42 am

There are a lot of events in Bansko that make the resort extremely busy and thus somewhat intimidating for beginners - go to the talkbansko.info website and have a sniff around for the weeks to avoid. Basically, wait until late season.

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Postby owain » Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:35 pm

Why not bypass the main resorts and visit some of the smaller, Bulgarian resorts. Kyustendil & Blagoevgrad have nice ski areas.

Kyustendil has 'Osogovo' Resort:
http://www.osogovosport.com/about.php?lang=bg
and Blagoevgrad has 'Bodrost; Resort:
http://ski-bodrost.blogspot.com/
With both these resorts,you're about 20 Minutes from the Towns, where accommodation and eating out is a lot cheaper than the Main Tourist Traps.

There's also a small resort near Dupnitsa & Sapareva Banya, it's a lot quieter than other resorts but the scenery is stunning:
http://www.panichishte.com/?gclid=CLuAtqucgawCFTQhtAod8QMBKQ

You also have the option of Vitosha, above Sofia. You have all the options the Capital offers:
http://www.skivitosha.com/index?id=1626&lang=bg

All the above are a lot cheaper than the Main resorts and their nearby Towns are a lot cheaper for staying and eating out.

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Postby chappers » Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:35 pm

Paul,

A good choice would be to ski @ Borovets but stay in Samokov. 5-10 Mins away by bus/car. Plus Borovets is far closer to you in VT than Bansko.

Many good cheap hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops, ice rink etc in Samokov. If you are used to real BG prices you will be shocked in any of the resorts.

Ski pack price sounds good, just double check what you will get etc.

IMO the above is the best and cheapest for yourself.

Have fun whatever you do! 8)

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Postby pdthews » Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:17 pm

Hi,

Thanks so much for all of your responses - I am very grateful!

I have been doing some further research after your comments, and think I have narrowed it down to Bankso or Borovets. Things to consider are:

If organising independently, transfers from airport to resort (both cost and convenience). I know we can get a taxi to sofia bus station from sofia airport for about 15 lev, and then a one way ticket to bankso is 16 lev (each), so this is one option, but one which obviously depends on the arrival time of our flight. However, trying to find the same for a bus to borovets is less straight forward - on the drop down menu of the sofia bus station website, they only have the options: borovo, borovan, borovitsa and borovtsi. Any idea which of these might be the correct one? Or whether there is an alternative name?!

the link is:

http://www.centralnaavtogara.bg/index.php#

Flights are fairly straightforward and we can arrange around getting a good price; as mentioned above, the only concern is the arrival time...

Another factor is the skiing itself. We have both never skied before, and are going to have a taster session on wednesday at a local dry ski slope (obviously not the same, but it's the best we can do), so provided all goes well, we will then book. However, the package that I mentioned in my initial post (for about £150 each) for equipment, slopes pass and 6 days of 4 hours tuition), will be in groups, and I would just like to know whether anyone has any opinions about these set-ups? I just don't want to be wasting time (and money) if these lessons are no good... In short: Are we better to get lessons at the dry slope and then just go on the easy slopes when we get there (without bothering with getting the beginner lessons), or would you recommend just going 'blind' so-to-speak, and start from scratch when we are out there with the beginners lessons pack?

From reading hotel reviews, it seems that a main concern is the food in the half-board hotels, and also that (in most of them) the nice-sounding spa facilities such as indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi etc, are all freezing cold?! So I am now thinking that although it sounds nice to have a warm relaxing soak at the end of the day, perhaps it is not that practical... The food dilemma suggests that we might be better doing what brian said and get an apartment and just buy breakfast items from the local supermarket and go out for dinner every night so we have some variety. Does this sound more sensible? Can you think of any benefit to going in a hotel with b&b over an apartment?

Also, what are the respective resorts like? i.e. how big are they, what things do they have? eg ice rink? Also, if people have restaurant recommendations, that would be great!

Finally, from reading the reviews, I think I would like to be fairly close to everything. The idea of being only a few hundred metres from the slopes gives us greater independence and flexibility. However, I wouldn't mind being a bit further away from the resort centre, which, from what I've read, suggests that bankso might be better, as borovets ski slopes/gondola and resort centre *seem* to be in a similar place. The few apartments I have looked at in Bankso are around 300m from the slopes and 1.3km away from the resort centre. This *sounds* ideal, as we would happily have a wander out to dinner for the evening, provided the area is sufficiently lit and is safe?

Thanks so much again for all of your responses. I think I have covered everything, but it has been a long day... Again, I am grateful for any comments/advice at all, that anyone can provide!!

Paul x

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Postby brianj42 » Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:16 pm

http://www.banskoexpress.com/ Minibus picks you from the airport straight to the hotel for about £12 each. Worth the tiny amount extra to avoid traipsing around Sofia like a rabbit in the headlights.

Borovets is a resort full of hotels and a handful of restaraunts:
http://g.co/maps/bv7dt

Bansko is a town and probably 50 times bigger than Borovets:
http://g.co/maps/tr8eu

Personally I think there is much much more to do in Bansko, its a large town with culture and lots of choice. I'm not saying that to promote Bansko as I actually don't give a hoot where you go, this is MO.

Skiing you are better to book lessons so that you are looked after and taught to use the right slopes. Unfortunately most seasoned skiers are impatient b**ger and hate nothing more than "newbies" plonked in the middle of fast slopes in dangerous positions, on their arse. And there's not a lot worse than being hit by a 20 stone drunk Bulgarian Bloke travelling at 70mph.

Hotel or apartment book as close to the lift as possible. Hotel or apartment this is up to you at the end of the day, "one mans meat" and all that.

Eating out is cheap if you pick the right restaraunts. As far as safe goes, just keep your hands on your wallet, stay out of Taxis, and DON'T ask the waiter what he recommends.

There are cheap "away from resort" hotels in places like the golf course, or Razlog..... As far as Bansko goes you want to be in accomodation as close to the lift as possible.

Again. Avoid xmas and New Year and any events at Bansko, it gets like a Harrods sale those times.

Cheap Airline
Minibus to Bansko
Apartment near lift
Ski Lessons
Eat Out

Thats bout it

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lyn
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Postby lyn » Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:48 am

300m from the slopes sounds close until you have to carry skis, boots and poles that distance - especially at the end of the day when you are tired. :(

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Postby mariainraduil » Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:24 pm

I've taken one of those courses before, the year before last in Borovets. I had lessons on a dry slope a good few years before that, but it doesn't prepare you for skiing on the snow. Also, in Borovets it was helpful to be with an instructor to guide you around the various slopes - I'm sure this would be the case in any ski resort. Enjoy!

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Postby dinos » Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:27 pm

Its Bansko for me, but I would say that as I have apts there. I weighed up all the reasons where to buy and Bansko came top of the list for everything. You have some very good input from other members, shop around and there are bargains to be found. If you get bored of skiing then Bansko has many things to do apart from this and as others have stated the nightlife is great.
I'm sure you'll have a great time whatever you choose.

Dinos


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