Borovets ski resort
Borovets, a small town with buildings clustered together in the surrounding pine forests, is Bulgaria’s first and oldest winter resort, and is also home to the highest peak in the Balkans, Mount Musala.
Most of the hotels, restaurants and bars here are gathered between the huge Rila and Samokov hotels. The skiing, which is suited mainly to beginners, takes place in the Yastrebetz and Markudjik ski areas – around half an hour away by cable car – and in the local Sitnyakovo area, which has runs leading back down to the resort base.
As with Bulgaria’s other resorts, the cost of a ski holiday is cheaper than most parts of Western Europe, although that gap has narrowed recently. Like other resorts in the country, Borovets has big expansion plans; the primary one is known as Super Borovets – simply the creation of a bigger, better Borovets. Development work has already begun – old chairlifts have been replaced by quad chairs – but vociferous environmental lobbying and the reduction of cash available for investment means the project still has some way to go.
Borovets is situated on the northern slopes of the Rila Mountains, in the west of Bulgaria, 72km (45 miles) south of the capital Sofia. Borovets is the country’s oldest ski resort and is the initial point for climbing 2,925m-high (9,596ft) Mount Musala.
On the slopes
The majority of the runs in Borovets ski resort are rated easy to moderate, with its marked pistes totalling 58km (36 miles) split between three areas: Yastrebetz, Markudjik and Sitnyakovo.
Accomplished intermediates and experts are likely to head to Yastrebetz, which has a concentration of fairly steep red runs up to 2,369m (7,772ft) in altitude.
Mid-level skiers will aim for Markudjik, which, like Yastrebetz, is around 30 minutes away from the town via the gondola. This area is home to Borovets’ longest run, the 12km-long (7.5-mile) blue Musala Pathway that winds its way through the forest all the way back down to the resort base. There is also a green run here along the top of the ridge, as well as a couple of black runs for experts.
Beginners and early intermediates can make use of the Sitnyakovo ski area near the resort base, which is home to the Borosport ski school. Beginners who are ready for the slopes can use the chairlift to access the long and winding Sitnyakovo Residence green run. Expert skiers, meanwhile, have a couple more black runs to explore in this area.
There are also 35km (22 miles) of cross-country ski runs, plus biathlon and ski-jumping facilities. Four well-lit runs operate from 1,350m (4,429ft) to 1,648m (5,407ft) for night skiing.
The ski season in Borovets runs from mid-December to early April, with the most reliable snow in February and March.