Just a few weeks ago, we came back from another spectacular ski holiday in Borovets. It seems that the ski resort has completely stolen my heart as I keep going back. After four years of ski vacations, I feel like I am home when skiing in Borovets.
Nowadays, Borovets is one of Bulgaria’s most popular ski resorts, but its rich history could be traced back to 1896. Originating as the summer residence with a few hunting lodges for the Bulgarian monarchs, Borovets became the first mountain resort on the Balkans. During the last few decades, Borovets developed as a trendy ski resort and an excellent destination for winter sports. Skiing in Borovets is now the first choice for people from all over the world.
Located on the northern slopes of Rila Mountain, Borovets has remained one of the hidden winter gems of Europe. It is relatively small, yet the breathtaking mountain views will leave you speechless.
If you are planning on skiing in Borovets this year, check out the below information and top tips about the resort.
Visitors can enjoy approximately 60 km of ski-runs spread across three ski centres in Borovets:
Ski Centre Sitnyakovo
Ski Centre Sitnyakovo is located in the city centre of Borovets. It is not only the largest ski zone, but it also offers the widest variety of slopes. Served by two high-speed quads and a few smaller lifts, the ski centre offers access to 12 different ski runs. Most of the beginners’ slopes are also located at Ski Centre Sitnyakovo. If you are an experienced skier, though, you can enjoy the more challenging Sitnyakovo 2,3 and Martinovi Baraki 2,3,4 slopes. Ski Centre Sitnyakovo also offers night skiing, which I strongly recommend.
Ski Centre Markudjik
Ski Centre Markudjik is located at an altitude of approximately 2500 meters, which makes it the highest ski zone in Borovets. To get there, you need to get the “Gondola Lift” Yastrebets. There are only 5 ski runs, each served by a small lift. You will be able to enjoy the red and black slopes while admiring the stunning snowy mountain peaks in the distance.
Be sure to check the weather conditions before heading to Ski Centre Markudjik. Sometimes in windy weather, the ski zone is closed.
Ski Centre Yastrebets
Ski Centre Yastrebets is located at an altitude between 1350-2370 meters. There are three main red ski slopes, however, they are much longer. Several smaller slopes connect both ski centres – Yastrebets and Markudjik. You can also take one of the winding ski paths through the forest that would take you back to the base at the Gondola Lift.
Getting to Borovets
Located only 72 kilometres away from Sofia, Borovets is easily accessible. Travelling by car from Sofia to Borovets would take approximately an hour while travelling from Plovdiv can take up to 2 hours. If you want to hit the slopes and get your skiing in Borovets vacation started as soon as possible, I recommend either renting a car or booking a transfer from the airport. This would save you lots of time and possible discomfort. I strongly suggest booking with TrueDrivers or TrueRentCar. They are real professionals and would accommodate any special requests that you might have.
If you decide to take the bus, keep in mind that there is no direct line between Sofia and Borovets. The bus would first take you to the nearest town Samokov and then you will need to take a shuttle to Borovets.
When to Go
The ski season in Borovets is relatively long and normally lasts around 4 months between mid-December to mid-April. The official closing and opening dates vary each year depending on the weather conditions. My favourite time to go skiing in Borovets is at the end of January – beginning of February. The resort is not as crowded in this particular period, accommodation prices are slightly cheaper and you can be sure that you will get fresh snow. Going in December or April might be risky due to low snowfall. At the same time, prices are always the highest around Christmas and New Year’s as well as the beginning of January.
Borovets is only a small ski resort, however, it provides numerous accommodation options. It would be better if you manage to book a hotel within the ski resort, other than in the nearest towns. You can find available guest houses at a lower rate in Samokov, however, you would need to travel to Borovets every day (10 km). Keep in mind that the parking area in the resort is paid. The hotels located in the ski resort, though, offer free parking for their guests. After five years of skiing in Borovets, my favourite hotel is Iglika Palace. Its location is fantastic and it takes only a 5-minute-walk to get to Ski Centre Sitnyakovo. It is located just behind the most popular hotel in Borovets – Hotel Rila, however, the rates are much more affordable and still provides extremely good amenities.
Approximately 12 different lifts serve the 60 km of slopes in Borovets. Even though the ski-runs are spread across three different ski centres, the lift card covers all facilities. The lifts are extremely well maintained and constantly improved, hence, the reason for the increasing lift prices every year.
In 2020, a day card for an adult costs 62 lv (31 EUR). A half-day card in the morning between 08:30 – 12:30 costs 48 lv (25 EUR), while skiing in the afternoon between 12:00 – 16:30 is 40 lv (21 EUR). An entire day of skiing for me is a bit too much, as I feel extremely tired the next day. The slopes tend to get busier between 11:00 – 14:00. I am a fan of afternoon skiing and always try to get the last ride on the lifts at 16:30. At this point the slopes are very peaceful and quiet and it is a real pleasure skiing down the slopes.
I do not have my ski gear, so I count on renting the ski equipment from Alpin Ski and Snowboard. They are located opposite the main chair lift, which makes it extremely convenient if you are planning to ski around the Sitnyakovo Ski Centre. I like booking with them for the entire duration – you get the same gear every day, plus a discount. Night skiing is paid separately. If you are planning on skiing around Yastrebetz and Markudjik ski centres, though, you will need to carry your equipment and it may take 10 – 15 minutes walk.
This year, I paid 100 lv (51 EUR) for four days plus one night of skiing. You can also book in advance directly through their website.
Alpin Ski and Snowboard also offer ski school if this is your first time skiing. Choose between individual and group lessons, as well as the duration of the course.
There are also many other ski schools and rentals you can select from around Borovets. Almost all hotels in Borovets provide the same services as well as ski storage.
Where to Eat
Full disclosure, I am not an expert on places to eat in Borovets. We normally book half board with our hotel, which makes it extremely convenient after the long days of skiing. That being said I have tried a few of the places around the resort and have a few preferences and suggestions for you.
Most of the food places in Borovets are located in the city centre and everything is a walkable distance if you want to go out for dinner. If you will be skiing all day and planning to stop for lunch, I suggest choosing one of the pubs that are situated just next to the “Martinovi Baraki” lift. I personally really like Black Tiger – delicious food, cold beer and beautiful views of the slopes from the second floor.
Another must-stop is the terrace lounge of Hotel Rila. Even if you are not staying there, you can go for drinks or food, but keep in mind that it gets extremely busy. The terrace offers spectacular views and interesting crafted cocktails.
Most of the time, I ski in the afternoon and grabbing a sandwich seems to be the easiest option. There are a bunch of benches and chairs around the ski lifts if you want to rest.
Off the Slopes
Besides enjoying the fantastic ski slopes and conditions in Borovets, you can also pay a visit to one of the former palaces of the Bulgarian Kingdom. Known as “Tsarska Bistrica” the palace dates back to the 1890s when the first constructions started. For a number of years, it was mainly used as a hunting lodge by Ferdinand I and Boris III. Nowadays, the royal building is closed for the general public, however, visitors are welcomed to take a stroll around the peaceful and beautiful park, home to various plant species. As a fusion between the traditional Bulgarian Renaissance and more modern European influences, the architectural style of the palace is definitely quite picturesque. It is the power plant from 1912, operational even nowadays, which will immediately grab your attention. It is difficult to imagine such a small fairytalish looking structure to have been supplying the electricity not only for the palace but the nearby houses just until a few years back. Paying a visit to “Tsarska Bistrica” is a great way to spend a few relaxing hours off the slopes during your skiing in Borovets trip.
Borovets has become my favourite ski resort. It is much smaller than the other winter resorts in Bulgaria, which makes it more peaceful and quiet and not as hectic. Skiing in Borovets is an absolute pleasure offering excellent conditions and a wide range of ski-runs.
Have you been skiing in Borovets? Did you enjoy the slopes? Did you enjoy Borovets as a ski resort? Let me know in the comments section below.