At Bulgaria’s historic town of Bankso the skiing tops out on a plateau at an impressive 2,600m and there’s a jolly 16km run all the way back down to base level and its surrounding hotels and apartments.
In between there are a decent amount of runs, plenty of them suiting beginners and confident improvers.
The cost of holidays here and food is modest, attracting big numbers of Brits, from families with young children to groups of those keen to try a mix of skiing and partying at a reasonable cost. There are nice views, too, over the red-roofed town which is often swathed in mist.
Skiing is on Pirin Mountain, a lofty Alpine environment with snowy ridges, rocky gullies, and pine-fringed runs. What’s so beguiling is that the base area, with modern and even more modern hotels (plus the odd kebab shop), doesn’t appear to be in a ski area at all.
While snow-trimmed peaks are visible through the hazy cloud a number of miles away the gondola heads off in the other direction across the shallow beginner area. It’s only when it’s away from civilization that it starts to climb, over hill side forest (and the one run that reaches the bottom) but quickly enters a dramatic world of craggy peaks. Other lifts fan out from the top with most of the skiing at higher levels.
The skiing at Bansko
From the top of the gondola a couple of chairlifts head up, amid peaks and gullies, then connect with far longer ones – the two-legged Banderitza reaches the summit with the new six-man Todorka shadowing it for much of the way. From the top various pleasing blues disappear off to one side down to the Plato chairlift or continue down amongst the trees to the Mosta chair at the region’s far reaches or keeping higher and on to the gondola station, a lively plateau – Bunderishka Polyana – with a clutch of places to eat and drink.
This isn’t a place where you can ski off and never do the same run twice yet there’s plenty of variety with both pistes and off-piste tucked into a neat network of lifts. There are stirring views down over the town – with its red roofs looking mystically ancient and eastern European – the plain and the distant peaks. The resort with its modest prices is somewhere that is a haven for youngsters and older novices, often in groups there to enjoy the decent prices.