Tucked under the dramatic Pirin Mountain in south west Bulgaria, Bansko’s one of the country’s top ski resort and multi-million euro investment over the past few years means you can safely ignore any reviews pre-2013. There’s now a fast network of 14 lifts, including an eight-person gondola. The 70km ski area has good December to March snow coverage at altitudes of 2100 – 2500m. And, of the 18 total runs, over 50% are intermediate or beginner which, when you factor in fewer skiers, works well for kids. Bansko’s also the only resort in Bulgaria with a Snow Park and boarders have the same inexpensive tuition as skiers at the local school.
Off the slopes, there’s a huge ice rink, over five kilometres of cross country and lively traditional Bulgarian inns and restaurants are a bit of a resort speciality. Several hotels have indoor pools and spa facilities. And the original town is still quaintly historic and charming for downtime exploring.
2016 – 2017 Season: 6 December to 19 April
2016 Ski school costs: 5 x day kid’s group lessons £103 at Bansko ULEN Ski School (compared to 5 x day kid’s group lessons £399 at New Generation, France)
Number of runs: 18 runs (69km downhill, 7km night skiing); 12% red, 6% black
2016 Lift pass prices: 6 x day adult lift pass £123, Bansko (compared to 6 x day adult lift pass £174, Les Gets, France). French lift passes charge extra for insurance. Bansko lift passes include insurance
Direct flights from London to Sofia in December take 3 hours 15 minutes and Sofia is just under two hours’ drive from Bansko. Flight prices from £220 return
Regnum Bansko Aparthotel & Spa, 5 Stars from £153 per night in December
Adeona Ski & Spa Aparthotel, 3 Stars from £52 per night in December