Set high in the Rhodope Mountain in the delightful Bulgarian countryside, Pamporovo ski resort is among the best budget options for a winter-sport holiday on the Balkans. With its traditional stone cottages, lush meadows and forests, the place has a lovely pastoral character. As one of the southmost ski resorts in Europe, Pamporovo enjoys plenty of sun and blue skies above its niveous slopes. The small and friendly resort with a charming village has excellent pistes for beginners and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Just 100km from the border with Greece and approximately two hours away from the nearest airport, at Plovdiv, the resort is easy to reach and fun to visit.
Pamporovo ski resort offers 14 ski runs with different levels of difficulty – from nursery slopes for beginners to more advanced pistes for experts. Most of the runs are blue and green, making the resort a perfect place for skiers and snowboarders who are still working on their skills. Aspiring intermediates will find a handful of reds and blacks. The spruce-lined and well-groomed ski pistes are situated on the northern, eastern and western slope of Snezhanka Peak. All major runs start from the peak, with the most difficult one being “The Wall”. The longest piste of 4 km runs down to the old village and alternative bed base of Stoykite, situated in enchantingly calm and beautiful surroundings.
In addition Pamporvo ski resort provides excellent off-piste options, as well as snowboarding and cross-country trails and an international slalom course. There is an efficient bus service that connects the main resort hotels and the base of the slopes and a total of 14 lifts that serve the area. In most Eastern European resorts, including Pamporovo, the snow cover can be uncertain, especially in the months before Christmas and after mid-March. Fortunately, snowmaking covers 90 per cent of the slopes.
The local ski school is well praised for its experienced and qualified instructors who provide lessons in English . The duration of the classes varies between three and 12 days, two to four hours daily. Both individual and group classes are available.
The rural charm and traditional ski resort appeal make Pamporovo a great ski destination and a blissfully calm and beautiful retreat. At peak times, the village is lively with some good restaurants and plenty of bars. Sample some traditional Rhodope dishes and fine local wines. Pamporovo is a purpose-built village and contains mainly hotels and rentals. A shopping centre in Hotel Perelik has a Post Office and souvenir shops. The best, but also the busiest time to schedule your holiday in Pamporovo ski resort is February.
Finding a nice stay in Pamporovo ski resort is neither difficult nor expensive. Those, who are looking for more high-end places can check Hotel Orlovetz (five stars locally, four by international standards). It has comfy rooms, a pool and a spa area with sauna, steam room, treatment rooms. Renting an apartment or a private hut is also easy on the wallet. The picturesque surrounding mountains, magnificent peaks and vast pine forests make Pamporovo an attractive destination even in the off season.
Like other Bulgarian resorts, Pamporovo is a great party place with a variety of bars and clubs with the cheapest booze prices in Europe. Check the White Hart (between Hotel Perelik & Hotel Mourgavets) which is a traditional local pub or other popular spots such as Dak’s Bar (inside hotel Snejanka), BJ’s (inside Hotel Perelik) and Night Flight (inside hotel Rojen). If clubbing is not your cup of tea, you can pick from a long list of fun activities such as bowling, billards, snow tubing, thrilling ride on a snowmobile or a torch lit walk through the forest with local folklore stories on the background.
If you want to get away from the pistes for a day, you can take a day trip to one of the many exciting locations near Pamporovo. The nearby town of Smolyan is famous for its Planetarium and ethnographic complexes. Explore the traditional Bulgarian countryside and visit the ethnographic reserve Shiroka Laka, just 11 km from the resort. Plovdiv offers an eclectic mix of sightseeing and leisure activities. On your way to the town, stop at one of the most frequented tourist locations in Bulgaria – Bachkovo monastery.
All ski pistes have mountain rescue service, ambulance and first aid. A clinic with a doctor and a nurse is also available in the resort. The nearest fully equipped hospitals are in Smolyan and Plovdiv. Keep in mind that some medical services are paid and may need to bring some cash with you. You will be provided with receipts in order to receive compensation from your insurance company once you get back home.