Blagoevgrad: Home To Bulgaria's Most Modern Ski Resort - Bansko
Blagoevgrad is a municipality in the southwest corner of Bulgaria. The area is characterised by the majestic mountain ranges of the Rila, Pirin and Rhodopes. The city of Blagoevgrad is the capital of the region and offers easy access to the Bulgarian capital of Sofia (100 kilometres north).
The main ski resort is Bankso, but you'll also find the smaller resorts of Semkovo, Dobrinishte, and Kulinoto. Skiers flock to Bankso throughout the winter months, particularly families on cheap package deals and young skiers seeking lively après ski.
Bansko has recently benefited from a multi-million-euro investment and boasts the most up-to-date ski facilities in Bulgaria. It also has the best snow record and the longest ski season in the country. New hotels and restaurants are also popping up all over the resort. There is a wide selection of accommodation from small family-run pensions to luxury hotels.
Nestled at the foot of the Pirin Mountain, the resort is a favourite with skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Situated at 925 metres altitude, it is home to 70 kilometres of slopes set between 2000 and 2600 metres. It offers good snow coverage from mid-December to mid-May. The slopes are lined with 44 snow cannons and accessed via chairlifts, drags, and an eight-seater gondola.
Snowboarders can practise tricks on the first snow park in the Balkans, the ‘Balkans Fun Park'. Five kilometres of cross-country skiing is also available as well as slalom and giant slalom runs. After a day on the mountain, skiers can tuck in to local food and wine at a choice of traditional taverns accompanied by live folk music. There is also a wide choice of lively bars and discos. The resort is located 160 kilometres from Sofia Airport.
Semkovo is set at 1750 metres on the Rila Mountain and is surrounded by lush pine forests and panoramic views. Its seven slopes stretch four kilometres and are accessed by eight draglifts. Semkovo is 170 kilometres south of Sofia Airport.
Six kilometres south of Bankso is the typical Bulgarian village of Dobrinishte. It is situated at the foot of the Pirin Mountain at 810 metres. With a total of seven kilometres of slopes, Dobrinishte offers good ski conditions for all levels. As well as skiing, Dobrinishte is famous for its mineral springs and balneotherapy and Roman baths. It is 165 kilometres away from Sofia Airport.
Kulinoto, at 1400 metres, is surrounded by thick beech forests in the Pirin Mountain valley. It is particularly popular with local Bulgarians - one ski run here was actually constructed voluntarily by locals in the 1980s. Ski slopes reach a height of 1600 metres, accessed via drags, and snow here lasts until March. There are big plans to develop Kulinoto into a larger resort with more runs and modern lifts.
All the ski resorts in the Blagoevgrad municipality are between 160 and 170 kilometres of Sofia Airport. Trains run to Bankso, but are quite time consuming, so it makes more sense to hire a car or catch a bus.