Borovets ski resort
Borovets, a small town with buildings clustered together in the surrounding pine forests, is Bulgaria's first winter resort. Established in 1896 by the then Bulgarian royal family, the resort is home to the highest peak in the Balkans, Mount Musala.
The resort base is mostly wedged between the huge Rila and Samokov hotels, while the skiing 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. The resort has a strong reputation with beginner and early intermediate skiers, but locals know there’s plenty of testing terrain here too.
With brilliant equipment, a good variety of runs and a price tag lower than competing resorts in Western Europe, means Bulgaria’s oldest resort is likely to keep drawing skiers for years to come.
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.
BorovetsResort Elevation: 1300m
Top Elevation: 2543m
Base Elevation: 1337m
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.