Whether you’re taking to the slopes for the first time, saving the pennies for stocking fillers, seeking a resort that suits the littlun’s or simply looking to ski somewhere completely different, it’s well worth checking out what Bulgaria has to offer. With some of Europe’s sunniest slopes, cheapest prices and friendly locals making sure you enjoy a “Vesela Koleda” (if you didn’t know how to say Happy Christmas in Bulgarian you do now...), the Southeastern European ski resorts are well worth checking out this December.
Best Bulgarian ski resorts at Christmas for:
Snow sure: Don’t expect the same conditions you’d get in high altitude alpine resorts or over the pond, but most Christmasses see a good amount of snow - Bansko has the best snow record in the area.
Scenery: We love the gorgeous and famously sunny Pamporovo, which is surrounded by pine forests in South Bulgaria’s Rhodope mountains.
Families: Bulgaria is known for its family friendly nature and all resorts have excellent English speaking ski schools, child-friendly accommodation and gentle beginner runs.
Bargain / Cheap: You’ll save a bundle by opting for a holiday here – accommodation, lift passes, ski hire and eating out tend to be much cheaper than in the Alps.
Luxury: With amazing hotels like the Festa Winter Palace available for bargain prices, Bulgaria is terrific if you’re looking for cheap luxury.
Après ski: Borovets is the biggest and liveliest in terms of après – we love Bobby’s Bar (it’s also the best place for a proper Christmas dinner on the day itself...).
A holiday in Bulgaria is completely different from the kind of stay you’d find in the French, Swiss and Austrian resorts and the classic alpine image that springs to mind when you think of staying in a chalet isn’t something you’ll find here in Southeastern Europe.
Enjoying Bulgaria is all about putting aside the idea of a classic stay in the mountains and embracing the different way of life here. The Bulgarian resorts have some fantastic hotels, famous for their affordable luxury like the Festa Winter Palace in Borovets which is known for its stunning interior and high level of service. By opting for a hotel holiday with a half-board or full-board, you’ll have meals included in the price as you would in a catered chalet (and often more choice when it comes to menus). With the Bulgarian resorts famed for their economic prices, eating out for the week is an affordable and attractive option, which leads some to pick self catering accommodation like the spacious Grand Montana apartments in Bansko.
One of the biggest attractions here is the prospect of enjoying luxury without the pricetag in one of the fantastic ski hotels. The Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena in Bansko is recognised for its outstanding luxury as a member of the ‘Leading Hotels of the World’ group and Hotel Orlovetz in Pamporovo is also highly rated. If it’s access to the slopes you’re more concerned with, hotels with doorstep skiing like Bansko’s Hotel Sport might be just your piece of Christmas cake. Lots of the properties welcome children with open arms, we love the Hotel Rila in Borovets and Pamporovo’s Grand Hotel Mourgavets– the former has hard-to-beat access to the town, ski school meeting point and nursery slopes while the latter is right in the resort centre. Two of our favourites for groups are Hotel Guinness in Bansko and Hotel Samokov which is less than a minute from the bustling Borovets town centre. Book half or full board for a stress-free week on the slopes – many properties provide Christmas banquets on the big day.
Self-catering lets you take Christmas into your own hands, tailoring the week to suit your personal idea of a terrific Christmas.
You’ll find a good selection of food stores in the resorts themselves, but the best way to self cater here is to stop off at a supermarket on your way to the resort. Billa and METRO are two big chains in Bulgaria and Sofia has a fantastic market most Christmases where you can stock up on festive goodies.
Although apartments have their own kitchen facilities, this in no way ties you to the stove for the week – eating out is so cheap here that many choose to explore the local restaurants all week. For home classics on the big day, Bobby’s in Borovets is famous for its traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Bansko is home to the lovely Grand Montana apartments and the Irish Harp, which serves Beef all the way from County Kildare and Alex’s pub in Pamporovo do a smashing full English (what better way to start off Christmas day?!).