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Bankso or borovets

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Never been to Bulgaria and normality wouldn't but with lack of skiing this year and being locked down in France with no skiing in March we are thinking of a cheap second trip at end of january to supplement our normal French trip in March (fingers crossed we are going) we would be 4 adults, 2 x 5 year old and an 18 year old. We would be getting a self catered accommodation and just looking for any tips re what is best area to go to.
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Id look at Italy for better value.
BGN is pegged to the euro, and Bulgaria minimum wage has been on the increase (almost 50% compared to 5yrs ago) and hospitality wised up to being able to charge more for drinks and food, which the mafia have a stranglehold on. All this adds up to Bulgaria no longer being cheap, especially if flights are going to be £100pp more expensive compared to flying into turin.
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Flights are 48 quid return
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Thats cheap! Worth pricing up Italy as a comparison, as its currently on the safe list. Shorter flight, shorter transfer.
Bansko is quiet in mid-late january, so shorter queues, however it still has the issue of a bottle neck run down from the main ski area to the top lift station.

Good food in bulgaria if low and slow meats are you thing.
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Quote:

Good food in bulgaria if low and slow meats are you thing.

? All I ever found in Bulgaria were cold and greasy mixed grills - pretty horible. That is until I discovered Turkish restaurants, which serve fantastic food.

It's been a long time since I've skied in Bulgaria but when I did I much prefered Borovets to Bansko.
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Are the queues as bad as they say. I don't want to spend half my day queuing
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@mikeelsa, spent the last 2 winters in Borovets and really enjoyed it. I had previously avoided the place due to bad reviews but when you dig deeper people admit they haven’t actually been for 15 years.

Never been to Bansko

No real queues in Borovets (generally less so than most resorts I have been to) gets busy at schools holidays like anywhere else. 4 separate lifts from resort level makes it pretty easy to be on the first lift and if you get to the gondola 20 mins early you will be first on that too.

Basically £2 a pint, cheap ski pass & hire, good and inexpensive food if you know where to go.

If you want a budget ski holiday, Borovets is a good choice.

Check out this

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3470874&highlight=borovets#3470874


https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3299347&highlight=borovets#3299347
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Yes, in Bansko. But if you'll have a 4WD or smth serious with winter tyres, you can rent a nice villa outside Bansko (with your own sauna) and go up every morning before it opens.
Best way to circumvent the queues
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@mikeelsa, I have only been to Bansko and my parents have a place there. How bad the queues are depends on when you go.

If you are looking at New Years week or Half term - it really is not worth it the queues were insane. Our kids are in school and we have tried both those weeks.

However my parents have had lovely weeks there, but they are retired and can avoid the peak weeks.

Also you need to be very careful with the ski school. We booked ours through the one used with BanskoBlog and they were reasonable- we observed ski school groups which made ESF ones look reasonably sized!
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@NickyJ, +1.
Definitely no group lesson there.
BTW, I met a nice Snowheads guy at the last PSB who worked as ski instructor in Borovets. Named Neil, might be helpful if you'll decide to go there.
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mikeelsa wrote:
Are the queues as bad as they say. I don't want to spend half my day queuing


In Bansko, there are 2 ways up to the mountain.
1x 8 seater gondola
2x by road

been to bansko a few times (last was in 2018), but can't see me ever going back, as the cheapness has gone! The infrastructure has not been improved, but the prices have gone up quite a lot.
Can do a week in a small french resort, or italy for the same budget. Austria if I do 5 nights instead of 7!
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Packaged trips for less than £350 for 7 days out of London in Jan 2021 ... pretty decent value - you could even better that if you can get a cheap flight and book accom direct

Lift pass about £125 for 6 days I think

£500 per person is pretty good Smile
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Borovets is`nt cheap, you just dont spend much; and get much less for it.

Reminded me of the Italian ski resorts I learned to ski in in the early 80s.
In2009.
In fact the main bubble was a second hand Italian lift as I recall!

Food wise, you will not see a vegetable unless pickled, much less a salad.
Prostitutes working the Samarkov hotel bar in the evenings, bar staff refilling the bottles, and spend the week having the ski instructor for the group trying to blag my mobile phone to sell on.

Our group were moved to a new "chalet" after two nights, as the bed in one room was broken, the brand new chalet had a wet room bathroom; that drained into the living room.

Seriously cheap and good value are not the same thing.
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@Jameswp, when we’re you last there ?

I don’t think I ever saw any pickled vegetables, actually there is a lot of fresh grilled vegetable platters mediterranean style and traditional dishes too. Lots of international restaurants and a fantastic huge terrace bar as part of the Rila 5 star hotel, just a few meters from the home run piste, with lovely food and a view to die for.

The main chair lift at resort level was upgraded to a brand new fast speed 6 man chair two seasons ago, very efficient indeed.

Yip there are some go go bars and working ladies but you don’t have to join in Wink

As always you pay for what you get, and you get a lot of value for your money. Some accommodation is better than others, you check reviews and do your homework.
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rayscoops wrote:
@Jameswp, when we’re you last there ?

I don’t think I ever saw any pickled vegetables, actually there is a lot of fresh grilled vegetable platters mediterranean style and traditional dishes too. Lots of international restaurants and a fantastic huge terrace bar as part of the Rila 5 star hotel, just a few meters from the home run piste, with lovely food and a view to die for.

The main chair lift at resort level was upgraded to a brand new fast speed 6 man chair two seasons ago, very efficient indeed.

Yip there are some go go bars and working ladies but you don’t have to join in Wink

As always you pay for what you get, and you get a lot of value for your money. Some accommodation is better than others, you check reviews and do your homework.


2009, as I said in the post.

Also mentioned the brand new accommodation.

I`ve stayed in Chamonix since, for what Borovets cost: the best western in Les Tines, so not a back packer den!

Tremblant was better value in my book, and that was not cheap!
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@Jameswp, ah 2009 - changed a bit since then I believe.

I was a bit disappointed by Tignes when I was there 15 years ago by the dog poo and gangs of French (i think) youngsters fighting in the street over the new year, and I am never impressed by the prison cell sized accommodation - I never let one bad experience cloud my view though and been back many many times and always enjoyed it though no matter the hardship.

That is the beauty of the mountains, you tend to put up with a lot to slide around.

For me a 60m2 one bed apartment with a nice big balcony for £250 a month made it pretty cheap and comfortable.

I just feel places like Borovets gets a bit of bad press for conditions 10 / 15 years ago, whereas things are a bit better now.

I would recommend it for intermediate skiers who don’t want to spend a fortune, are happy with a 75 minute transfer and will probably be staying pretty central for lifts and restaurants, and don’t want an issue with the language (English is widely spoken).

There are many comparable options in Italy & Austria no doubt, but if I had to put a bet on, I would expect Bulgaria to be accepting British travellers this winter without quarantine.

each to their own though Smile
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@rayscoops, I enjoyed both Borovets and Bansko when I was there. However I was working in Sofia at the time and TBH most things were better than Sofia for the weekend. The hiking in the forests was nice as well during the summer. Having said that I wouldn't actually go to Bulgaria for the skiing. There are better places for the same or less money. In fact I would say Zakopane in Poland was better.
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@johnE, I was working there too and had never thought of going there to ski, in fact I had completely dismissed it due to friends saying it was rubbish from trips 10 years ago.

I have lost count of the number of places I have boarded, maybe 50 perhaps, but for a cheap second holiday I would have no problem recommending Borovets.

I quite like Borovets now, very friendly and is probably best described as Benidorm-ish on the snow.
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Hi, essentially you go to Bulgaria for a comparatively cheap ski holiday, VFM is another subjective thing entirely. My first visits were excellent but as I have learned to ski I have become a little more discerning about the resort I go to in terms of piste quality and how I spend not pounds Sterling but the limited holiday time available to me/friends/family. I have been to Borovets 3 times and Bansko once, all in recent years and I would happily go again under certain circumstances but my preference nowadays is other countries with better ski areas, assuming I can still continue to afford it all of course.

Overall I am a fan of Borovets (1) and Bansko (2) but that said if you gave us an idea of your budget and ski abilities the VFM side of things could be better assessed/debated for you versus other countries in Europe.

Without a budget and going on the above I would go for Borovets, the Rila or Samokov hotel (half board) or something like Flora apartments if you have to self cater, Hunters ski school, child care is a serious question I cannot answer - perhaps pay the 18 year old..? I would arrange it all yourself rather than a tour operator although you might get a better cancellation policies with a tour operator and perhaps well vetted childcare...

Good luck with the decisions.
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3 of the adults and the 18 year old can all ski/board anything but it's just a cheap extra week where we are going to bring our 5 year old on and get an adult started. Borovets seems to be winning. I hear some saying you can get France/ Italy for cheaper or same price. Not from Scotland you can't. Having got locked down on the 14th March in France i will ski anywhere
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mikeelsa wrote:
3 of the adults and the 18 year old can all ski/board anything but it's just a cheap extra week where we are going to bring our 5 year old on and get an adult started. Borovets seems to be winning. I hear some saying you can get France/ Italy for cheaper or same price. Not from Scotland you can't. Having got locked down on the 14th March in France i will ski anywhere


Have you looked at the tourism websites for the unfashionable resorts? book via the tourism websites & usually savings on the lift pass. Just had a quick squint & rooms + lift pass work out a little over 300 euro
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We (4 adults) went to Borovets in March this year...just squeezed this trip in before lockdown
We went for 4 nights I think it was and I quite liked it. We stayed in Rila hotel, which is pretty nice and we had tea here every night. So can’t comment on the local restaurants/ night life. I didn’t really feel there was much on the slopes refreshment wise.
I felt the time we spent there was enough as we basically completed the whole resort in this time. Being March we had a bit of a slush issue sometimes. But shouldn’t be an issue to you in Jan. They have night skiing every night on the rila side which is good. The gondola is pretty old and slow, about 30 mins trip to the top after about a 30 min queue to get on it. They state they are 6 seater but it’s defo 4 comfortably... and I’m only a little one. (Just spread yourself out a bit at the mid point and most people don’t try to squeeze in)
I think it’s quite good if your going as a mixed ability group too as we were.
Overall I think there are better places of course, but if it’s between here or nowhere, I would go back 100%
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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rayscoops wrote:
@Jameswp, when we’re you last there ?

I don’t think I ever saw any pickled vegetables, actually there is a lot of fresh grilled vegetable platters mediterranean style and traditional dishes too. Lots of international restaurants and a fantastic huge terrace bar as part of the Rila 5 star hotel, just a few meters from the home run piste, with lovely food and a view to die for.

The main chair lift at resort level was upgraded to a brand new fast speed 6 man chair two seasons ago, very efficient indeed.

Yip there are some go go bars and working ladies but you don’t have to join in Wink

As always you pay for what you get, and you get a lot of value for your money. Some accommodation is better than others, you check reviews and do your homework.


So my main gripe of the ancient lift from eleven years ago, was valid up until two years ago?

Never been anywhere else that I would recommend not bothering with; it had that much to improve on, I cant be bothered wasting the money to see if they have.
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so we have booked flights but still not accommodation. We are not looking for 600km of piste, we have that in march hopefully. Just want a cheap week in snow where we can bring our 5 year old on and have a laugh with another family doing the same. We really want a chalet and borovets seems harder to get one so bansko has gone into the lead despite borovets ticking more boxes
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@mikeelsa, when are you going?
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Borovets is small, I did the whole resort in a day, by day 6 of our hols was truly bored with doing the same slopes, there is no ski away day or facilities to visit other resorts. km for km the price of the lift pass was v expensive, but that will not be the case if you are a beginner of course.
The Rila hotel is a very good base , with a fantastic swimming pool, but there is something ………strange... happening there, with some scary local characters.
I didn’t like the resort much have to be honest , the skiing was v poor with terrible infrastructures also never seen so many beginners in one place, cannot comment on Bansko
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Check out these

Chalet Mechka, a bit out of town but chalet hosts will drive you to the slopes. Taxis are cheap to get back if you want an evening out.

St George Hotel has 3 bed chalets

Hunters Chalets are great with a hot tub i think

Alpin Chalets on the piste I think

Chalet Rachael snowheads member, so search on here and PM her.

Yastrebets Hotel Finish Chalets

https://www.hotelyastrebets.bg/en

Trivago has some listing, Chamkoria, White House, Samakov Hotel has 3 bed apartments etc

Two cabins is the forest at Villas Jagoda & Malina
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24th to 31st January

Thanks for all the reviews and advice. Very mixed but like i said it is a cheap second ski holiday and we will use it to bring on our 5 year old and have some fun after a really rubbish year (hopefully)
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Bansko used to be fine then, but last couple of years even then in Jan lift queues were stupid.

However this year with added COVID - who knows!
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As a second trip I don’t think you will be too disappointed at all! Smile
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 Poster: A snowHead
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We've rented a villa at Redenka Holiday Club just outside Bansko. 3 bedrooms and your own sauna. They also have a shared and covered swimming pool and sauna, but they were crowded and we enjoyed staying home Smile
You can have breakfasts and dinners there, but we preferred returning to the city for a taste of local dishes.
Ask here for recommended restaurants if you'll choose Bansko.
They also have smaller villas. If you'd rather stay in a hotel, i would stay in town.
MPM Guinness was real fine.
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Stayed in a hotel in Banksko this year. Was very decent (I think may have been top hotel on trip advisor) - not luxurious - but still very good, with great food and really great staff. Skiing pretty limited. Overlapped with UK HT week - was crazy busy. Food/drink down town cheap and decent. I don't recall ski-pass being particularly cheap.

I would recommend for experience - I've spent a fair bit of time in the Balkans/Central/Eastern Europe and really like the associated edginess/brutality of architecture and unvarnished existence. Was chatting to some Brits who found it 'intimidating'; take your chance.
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mikeelsa wrote:
24th to 31st January

Thanks for all the reviews and advice. Very mixed but like i said it is a cheap second ski holiday and we will use it to bring on our 5 year old and have some fun after a really rubbish year (hopefully)


prob the only advantage is lessons are cheap compared to the alps prices.
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Bulgarian here. Both places are relatively small, compared to the big Alps resorts with 100+km. If you are an intermediate/advanced skier you will be bored for a full week, maybe do a shorter period if you have the option? My family still goes to the alps 1-2 times per season for some serious skiing and then we just ski here on the weekends on day trips.

I believe there will be no quarantine for EU nationals coming here this winter.

Otherwise, I ski mostly in Borovets - not only because it's closer to Sofia, but also because Bansko is very crowded throughout. Borovets rarely has queues, except on the long gondola up to 2500m when it's sunny. Hotel Rila is very nice. I don't ski on that main ski area at the resort though, I ski at the other 2 (higher) ski areas. End of january should have no issue with the snow.
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Cut my teeth in Bansko so will always have a soft spot for it. Last time I went was in Jan 2017 got an apartment for 5 days for £150. Was near gondola and had to hire as I was visiting in laws in another town. It cost in total £450 which also included 1 day for 2 others hire and lessons. Dirt cheap in my view and was a fun 5 days. Old town restaurant are miles better really great traditional food. Mountain food was awful. Drinks cheap at happy end pub and even at one of the nightclubs. PM winterfunman (might be called banskosports now) he can help with all or some of it. Enjoy!
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Jim went out to Bansko last season to review it for The Ski Podcast. You can listen to his views here
https://theskipodcast.com/podcast/episode-49-towed-by-a-tesla-french-pyrenees-the-rise-of-bansko/
https://theskipodcast.com/podcast/episode-48-val-dherens-bansko-courchevel-by-train/
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