This year most ski and snowboard lovers are on a budget and looking for new places. Bulgaria may be just the thing for winter activities on a shoestring. There are many quaint traditional ski, and new snowboarding, spots lurking in quiet corners of the impressive mountain ranges in the country.
We take a look at three of these little gems which offer skiing and snowboarding havens to get you off the beaten piste.
About 40 kms away from the well known, Borovets ski resort, this small town is in a pretty area with good access by road. The town has plenty of restaurants and a decent selection of hotels. Although not for 'turn' freaks, this is a good choice for a short week away. The scenery is stunning (almost the best place in Bulgaria for beauty and grandeur) and you are close to some spectacular sights, such as Rila Monastery.
It is Bulgaria's natural base for alpine sports and the location of the School for Training Qualified Staff in Mountaineering Sports.
The top of the Malyovitsa pistes has a decent black run but as you come down, the slope becomes easier and finally is really a blue run. For beginners, the Rajdavitsa piste is recommended, along with Mecha Polyana. Govedartsi piste is ideal for the intermediate level skier. Popular with local townies, so watch out as it can be busy at weekends.
If you want a bit of time off from skiing then there are a number of marked walks and hikes which are worth exploring. The walk to Malyovitsa Chalet is nice as at the end you can have a homemade meal! Not much accommodation and the Malyovitsa Hotel is the usual choice with entertainment, disco, restaurant and cofffee bar.
Situated 12 kilometers north of Smolyan and the same east from Pamporovo high in the Rodopi Mountain. It is 1050 meters above the sea level.
Momchilovtsi offers a brand new piste for snowboarders in the heart of the Rodope Mountains. It is known as "the snowboard park" and a place for party-lovers. Well suited to those who are really going skiing for the sheer fun, rather than the ambitious skiier. Great for couples. The pretty small village itself is not overdeveloped nor commercialised. Really popular with the local snowboarders, some of whom travel a long way to stay here. A selection of small family-run guest houses and hotels with good prices. No problem on the pocket in the local restaurants, bars and 'mehanas'.
Parshevitsa and Kom
Parshevitsa is a small ski station, situated in Vratsa Balkan Mountain Range. It is right on the doorstep of the quiet and attractive city of Vratsa and Vratsata Gorge. Vratsa is a very popular destination, likely down to the good food available at good prices. Lots of different activities with paragliding available too. A good choice for climbing trails. Not the place to opt for if you are a top level skier but excellent for beginners and intermediates, both skiing and snowboarding. Visitors here might also like to take in the ski slopes at Kom.Some 39 kms from Parshevitsa is this small ski station. It might be small but the mountain is quite high and the season is long for the snow. Conditions for skiing here can be better than in other parts of the country.