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“Borovets is the oldest winter resort in Bulgaria. It was built by Bulgarian kings at the end of the 1890s as hunting grounds. The village was transformed into a popular skiing destination during the 2nd half of the 20th century. Surrounded by beautiful ancient alpine woods it is the 2nd largest ski resort in Bulgaria (after Bansko). Borovets has everything that you might need, just like more famous resorts but on a smaller scale. It is great for beginners, but experienced skiers might get bored after 3 or 4 days. The resort is a favourite with UK skiers and snowboarders, especially during midterm in February (peak of the season). It can get crowded and the gondola queue can put you off from skiing even if you are an enthusiast. Prices are affordable. Evenings won’t be boring because Borovets is well-known for its lively nightlife. The resort is situated closely to Sofia international airport (less than 70 km), and you will get there in no time making it suitable even for weekend ski trips. Read the rest of this Borovets Review and see for yourself if it is a worthy destination for your next winter holiday.”
Pros: Great value for money, ideal for beginners, well connected to major European cities, lively night life.
Cons: long queue for gondola, small, expert skiers might get bored after several days.
|Beginner||8 km (13%)|
|Easy||19 km (33%)|
|Intermediate||22 km (38 %)|
|Difficult||9 km (16 %)|
Borovets is situated on Rila, the highest mountain range of Bulgaria and the Balkans (Musala peak is 2,925m above sea level). The highest peak of the resort lies at a respectable 2,550m. Snow reliability is good. The best time to visit the resort is from mid-January to the end of February. March is also good but it can be too warm. Borovets has good snow-making capabilities. Piste grooming is not at the level of resorts in Western Europe.
Borovets consists of 3 different ski areas. They are interconnected. Those connections are not perfect, so you will have to use your sticks and legs in some parts, but they are much better than I expected after reading some reviews prior to my arrival.
The first area is called Sitnyakovo. It is situated close to the resort centre and Rila hotel, the biggest in the village. There are 2 chair and 3 drag lifts. Pistes are surrounded by beautiful woods. A ski nursery is also located there. This part of the resort is mainly used by local skiing schools and beginners.
We tried Snow Masters school and they did great. They have courses with good value for money. Owners are a local couple with huge experience. The school has patient and competent instructors who were willing to work extra time with less talented skiers. You can also rent equipment there (a wide range of new gear).
The second area is called Markudjik. It is the highest part of the resort. There are 3 parallelly placed lifts. It is a nice zone for off piste skiing (we will cover this topic in the next section of Borovets Review). In order to get to Markudjik you have to catch the Yastrebets gondola where things become complicated. Queues might get gigantic. If you want to save some time for skiing, instead of waiting in a long line be there early in the morning (just after they open) or after 11 o’clock when skiers clear out.
The third area is called Yastrebets and its chairlift will suit intermediate skiers the most. Long and wide coursing red pistes surrounded by forest are music to every skier’s ear.
“Borovets or Bansko?” – an inevitable question in every text dealing with Bulgarian ski resorts. Both villages are similar yet different. Bansko skiing area is a bit bigger (65km of pistes compared to 58 km in Borovets), and more famous with newer infrastructure. Bansko was merely a village before it became a winter resort and it has old streets, opposite to Borovets which was purposely built after the French Les Arcs model. You will find more shops and restaurants in Bansko but they are scattered all over the village. Big hotels and building sites are on every corner in Bansko. Borovets is cosy and has everything concentrated in the centre. It has a wider choice of ski in/out accommodation. Bansko has a small snow park, while Borovets had it in previous seasons but not anymore.
Both of them have gondolas with the longest queues I have ever seen. In Borovets you can ski in other areas before crowds disperse but in Bansko you will have to wait (or pay additionally for taxi, or parking at the top of the gondola if you have your own car).
It is a hard choice to make and depends on your preferences and expectations. The best thing would be if you could visit both of them, and if you do, please let us know of your impressions in the comments below this Borovets Review.
If you want to ski off piste in Borovets you should visit Markjudik and find your ideal line there. Don’t expect anything like Verbier, but open and wide slopes with short vegetation will entertain you. Freeriding beginners will have the most fun but even experienced skiers will have a smile on their face after several runs downhill. The area under the upper part of the gondola can be interesting to more skillful riders if there is enough snow. Don’t ski alone, and be sure you know where to end your run in order to save yourself from a long hike (best case scenario if you get lost).
Borovets has had a small snow park but it was closed during the 2019/20 season.
The closest airport is situated in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. It has great connections with other European capitals. Several low-cost carriers operate from it. The airport is only 70 km away. A car transfer is going to take you 1h and 15min. Shared transfers start at 15 EUR. A taxi ride should cost from 50 EUR. Be sure to schedule it in advance.
If you want to use public transportation take a Metro (Line 1, last station Mladost) from the airport to South Bus Station (Avtogara Yug). From there catch a coach (departs every 30 minutes from 7am to 8 pm) to Samokov. At Samokov find a minibus which will take you to Borovets.
Forget about Bulgarian railroads. Neighboring countries don’t excel in that area either. Train trip would last forever.
There is a wide choice of places where you can stay in Borovets. Rila Hotel is situated in the centre of the village just by Sitnyakovo ski area. The closest lifts are only 50 meters away. It is a massive communist era hotel turned into a modern, 4-star establishment, with all the necessary amenities (spa area, pool, restaurants, night club etc.). If you choose Rila you will be in the focal point of all activities.
On the other hand, if you prefer to get away from the hustle and bustle of the village centre, Hotel Yastrebets Wellness & Spa is the right place for you. It is a lovely 4-star winter retreat, surrounded by ancient pine woods. You will have everything that you need for a peaceful holiday at your disposal. A piano bar, a gourmet restaurant and a spa area are always ready to be enjoyed. The hotel is located right at the Yastrebets ski slope.
We stayed several minutes away from there, at Borovets Hills Ski and Spa Hotel. It is a great “value for money” choice, but if you are after the busy night life better find a place where you can stay in the centre.
A Borovets review wouldn’t be complete without an apres-ski section since it is such an important part of the resort. During the day stop by Finish Line, situated in the lower section of “Popangelov” piste. They have tasty food, delicious burgers and cool music.
Restaurants in Borovets are really affordable. You better reserve your table during high season. Sangria Restaurant is one of the most popular in Borovets. It has a mixture of cuisines from the Mediterranean and the Spanish to local treats. We had the best time in Victoria. The restaurant has lip-smacking food and beautiful interior. It has higher prices from the rest of the pack but is still affordable. For the genuine local and regional specialties go to Samokov (the closest larger town, 10 km away from Borovets) and visit Chardacite Mehana.
One research showed that the resort has most pubs per square kilometer. If you like night life Borovets is the place to be. There is a bar street in the centre where you can find everything from pubs to night clubs. You can even stumble upon “nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more” bars inappropriate for family resort and winter holiday centres in Western Europe. Finally, Rila Hotel has its own night club called After Eleven.