Bansko is acknowledged to have the best snow record and the longest ski season (starting from Dec 15 until May 15) of all ski resorts in Bulgaria.
An old cobbled town having a 20-minute gondola link to a ski center 12km up the mountain, comprises the brave new world of Bulgarian skiing. Located in the Pirin mountains, 150km beyond Borovets toward the Greek border, it has outdone its rivals in some respects, featuring a bigger ski area, 80 per cent of it covered by snow cannons, and more advanced lifts, including an eight-man chair. If snow conditions are excellent, it ispossible to take on the 16km descent starting at the top of the mountain to Bansko.
There are advantages in staying in an historic town rather than a purpose-built resort, especially one with a variety of well-appointed hotels. The Grand Arena is the best, a low-rise luxury complex near the gondola. The Bansko is set in the outskirts of town, while the more traditional Pirin is ideal for its central location and tavern restaurant.
Tourists on a tight budget need not worry as there are several lodging places at Bansko to choose from. An affordable place to stay is at Gondola Apartments & Suites situated 300 meters from the ski lift. Their modern studios and apartments have fully furnished kitchens, private parking and free Wi-Fi. Other services offered include bicycle hire, luggage storage, linen service, lift, elevator, and gym.
This is the largest and oldest of Bulgaria's three international resorts. This is dominated by two massive Communist bloc hotels at thebottom of the slopes. In other facets, the resort resembles a bazaar, with hustlers vending trashy goods, slick money-changers and restaurants dishing out pizzas and English breakfasts. Flashing neon lights point to karaoke and erotic bars round the clock.
Borovets bears two unlinked ski areas on the same north-facing mountain. You will be able to get to the upper region through an old 'egg'-style gondola, with the primary nursery slope and a complex of mountain restaurants located at the top. Three farther draglifts service a series of pistes along the ridge, mainly rolling blue cruisers, though they are marked red on the map. They are manicured daily and pleasant to ski, except when the wind factor kicks in. This is bad for beginners, who find themselves stranded and bruised above of an ice mountain. More ambitious skiers can traverse farther out through the ridge with a guide to the picturesque but unappealingly called Avalanche area.
© 2012 Athena Goodlight
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