You’ve heard of Sunny Beach, but have you heard of snowy Bansko?
Bulgaria isn’t the first place you’d think of when it comes to skiing, it’s not really a prolific ski destination with the likes of Val D’isere or Innsbruck, but that’s to be expected, because it’s one of the cheapest places in Europe to go skiing, but, is it really worth paying the cheap prices? In my opinion, yes, but I guess that all depends on your level of skiing and wether or not you like good customer service.
The skiing there isn’t bad, I went in the end of March and there was still a lot of snow, the mountain is 2,600m high with the skiing going up to about 2,500m so it’s pretty standard for skiing. There are 18 runs, only 2 of which are black runs so really, if you’re an expert skier you’d probably get pretty bored, but if you’re an expert skier with not a lot of money, then Bansko would be perfect! In total a lift pass and ski hire for 4 days was only about £250, plus the food there is super cheap and if you like to party there’s not much in terms of nightlife so you shouldn’t spend too much there!
Let’s talk about nightlife, there’s one bar in Bansko (which I’m aware of) and it does karaoke and if you’re lucky you’ll meet a drunk Russian man named Valentin who will buy you shots of Rakia, a horrible vodka substitute which is about 65% alcohol, then it won’t matter that there’s only one bar because you and your new friends Valentin and Rakia will be singing the night away screaming renditions of Robbie Williams smash hit ‘Angels’ and Natasha Beddingfield’s ‘Unwritten’. I mean, not everyone will have that same desire but for me that was the perfect night.
The skiing itself is fine, you get a 25 minute gondola to the base of the skiing, where there is a blue slope to practice on. Just a warning, the queue for the Gondola can get super long so you need to get up either super early for when it opens at 8.00 or do what me and my mates did, get super drunk with Valentin the night before and wake up at 11.00 and get it at midday, that way you get loads of sleep and you’re not too tired in the evening because you haven’t done a 9-5 days worth of skiing (perfect for when you want to hit it hard on the Karaoke machine at 2.00 in the morning), so just be aware of that. The highest ski lift drops you off at the top of a red run, you can either take the wide open part or try a little ‘Slopestyle’ right next to it and maybe get some big air or wipeout which I definitely did. You also pass a bar at the top here which is a perfect place for lunch with some beautiful views.
At the end of the day you can either choose to use the gondola back down to Bansko or you can ski the 2km down a blue run, if you like trees and sometimes skiing uphill then this is perfect for you! We only did this once as it was exhausting and not really that much quicker, also the snow had melted at the bottom of the slope coming into town so the last part was basically mud skiing.
All in all I would definitely recommend Bansko to someone who hasn’t skied before and doesn’t want to break the bank, it’s probably the perfect place to try it out to see wether you like it or not, I would definitely go again, although I would imagine that due to it’s size it would get a bit ‘samey’, there aren’t many slopes and the nightlife isn’t great, so if you’re looking for a boozy skiing holiday there are plenty more to choose from.