Learn more about beginner skiing in Bansko, a vibrant ski town in Bulgaria with this handy ski guide. Bansko is one of the best places to learn to ski in Europe. This is because prices are reasonable and there are lots of beginner ski runs to get you started in Bansko. Skiing is one of the pricier adventure travel trips, with travellers and skiers alike often grumbling over sky-high food and drink prices and expensive lift passes.
This is not encouraging for those wishing to ‘have a go’ at skiing when it’s going to potentially set you back hundreds of your hard earned pounds. In Bansko, you can relax about spending your case, as it’s a fun and cheap ski resort in Europe.
Beginner Skiing in Bansko
The pretty UNESCO-protected town of Bansko has lovely cobbled street charm and distinctive architecture, with a beautiful mountain backdrop. Bansko ski resort has also benefitted from extensive investment in recent years. ‘But is Bansko a good place to go skiing?’ You might very well ask? I decided to try beginner skiing in Bulgaria to find out. Read my handy Bansko ski guide now so you can start planning your ski trip to Bansko.
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Getting to Bansko
Getting to Bansko can be a little trickier than getting to some of the more well-known European ski resorts. Many low-cost airlines provide good value flights to popular ski destinations but not quite as many go to Bulgaria. Remember to check for flight deals to Bansko with the Skyscanner app or on the Skyscanner website.
I flew out of London Heathrow with Bulgaria Air to the capital Sofia. Of course, when I landed in an entirely snow-free Sofia, I thought ‘I’ve been swindled here, there’s no bloody snow’. There’s actually 3-hour transfer from Sofia Airport to Bansko. I spent the entire 3 hours eating sweets and glued to the window ‘searching for snow’. Make sure you pre-book your transfer from Sofia airport, to save both money and time, or if you’ve booked a Bansko ski package, make sure it’s included.
Best time to go skiing in Bansko
One of the criticisms of Bansko is that during peak season you can expect long queues for the gondola. Unless you are prepared to start queuing at the crack of dawn that is. The best time to go skiing in Bansko for newbie skiers is when the slopes are quietest. Off-peak skiing in Bansko means beginners can enjoy shorter queues, quieter slopes and cheaper hotels and ski lift passes.
The biggest benefit of going skiing in Bansko off-peak surely has to be that there are fewer people to see you make an utter buffoon of yourself on the slopes? It certainly was in my case. The downside is that inevitably some of the restaurants and bars will be closed towards the end of the ski season. If you are alright with slightly fewer booze options for your après-ski, i’d say it’s a good time for a beginner skier to visit.
Surely the most important part of skiing is to look absolutely boss on the slopes? Ski wear can be pricey though. Make sure to do a little research first before you rush out and spend 300 quid on salopettes. Towards the end of the ski season, you can pick up some great deals from outdoor clothing companies. Try Dare2B for affordable and stylish ski wear. They have a range of reasonably priced outdoor & Ski Wear.
Ski wear for Beginner skiers
Of course, you can also borrow ski wear from ski friends. Or in my case, my mother picked me up a load of free ski gear from Freecycle. Upon opening the bag, it quickly became apparent that it was the sort of attire that looked like the previous owner had last gone skiing in 1986. Still, if you want to look like you could have starred in 80’s ski film ‘Hot Dog’, this could be an option for you? Make sure to check out my guide to Winter trip packing essentials. You can get winter packing tips and learn more about what to pack for skiing in Bansko.
There are many affordable hotels in Bansko. If you are creating your own trip, you can find some great deals on Bansko hotels on sites such as TripAdvisor. Many of the Bansko hotels have added amenities. Some of these include a swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms, spa facilities. Many will also have free shuttle buses to the ski gondola.
I stayed in Perun Lodge, which was a handy 5-minute walk from the Bansko gondola. It also has a pool, restaurant, spa, free internet in the lobby and ski rental to boot. The staff were really helpful. Even when English was limited, indeed they seemed to derive great amusement from me trying to mime ‘bottle of red wine please’.
Ski rental and tuition in Bansko
The price for ski rental in Bansko and ski lessons in Bansko will vary depending on if you have booked a ski package. You might find prices are different if you are negotiating your own Bansko ski lessons and ski rental. The prices can also depend on the time of year you are going to Bansko as well.
You can book Bansko ski packages in advance through a wide variety of ski companies. The upside is that everything will be arranged for you and you can waltz up to the ski hire and be on your way to the slopes in no time.
Ski rental Bansko prices
Those of you who are more ‘fly by the seat of your pants’, may wish to rock up and start engaging in a bit of wheeler-dealer chat about ski rental and ski tuition prices. I would generally advise this as an option towards the end of the ski season. This is because you will be in a better bargaining position.
Bansko Ski Rental
I found myself all wide-eyed in Bansko ski rental cheerfully exclaiming ‘I’ve never skied before’. This was in the vague hope they might at least attempt to fit me with the right size boots and skies? It would be preferable to avoid skiing face first off the mountain in ill-fitted boots right? Be aware that nothing will prepare you for the awkwardness and suffering of ski boots. Accept now that you are going to stomp around with all the grace of a rhino. They cramp your feet, make walking impossible and infuriate you but they are a necessary evil.
I changed ski boots 6 times to try and find ones that did not make my feet feel like they were in vices. The most pleasure I ever felt in life is removing those damn boots at the end of the day and having a healing wine.
Ski school Bansko
Typical costs of ski rental and ski tuition in Bansko is roughly £90 during the off-peak season. This should include your lift pass, skis, poles and boot hire for six days. You can also buy Bansko ski packages that include your passes, ski rental and 4 hours daily group tuition. This should be around €140 for 3 days. Again these are off-peak Bansko ski prices.
I would recommend shopping around online to get a clear idea of ski packages and prices before you go so that you can budget accordingly. The most valuable tip I can give on ski equipment is to try not to leave it on the gondola/in the bar/halfway down a mountain/anywhere really.
Bansko ski school
Many a beginner skier has been informed by well-meaning but ultimately idiotic friends ‘You don’t need lessons, you’ll pick it up’. You can normally spot these ill-advised ski newbies. They’ll be the ones getting skied over after flying down the mountain screeching like a dying seagull. Don’t be that person. Find a Bansko ski school, or pay for private tuition and they will teach you the basics of skiing before you attempt the slopes.
Ulen Ski School
I was taught by the Ulen Ski School, which is the main ski school in Bansko. I felt it appropriate to pre-warn the ski school of my chronic clumsiness. That they would be dealing with someone who once broke their own foot whilst drunkenly doing ‘interpretive ballet’ at a wedding. They seemed more bemused than concerned to be fair.
I was instructed in the art of ski by Martin. A gruff, no-nonsense Bulgarian. As a direct result, I will spend the rest of my life reliving the phrase “Open the snow plough, open… open.. OPEN THE SNOW PLOUGH”.
Bansko ski tuition
Martin provided the stern direction I clearly need. If I am left for a second to my own devices, I will start twirling around in the snow, dreamily singing Frozen songs. My complete lack of focus was always interrupted by firm commands of ‘Parallel Ski, PARALLEL SKI’. Martin ensured that I knew the most important things in skiing. How to slow down, how to stop, how to turn and how to get myself up quickly when I fell down. Which obviously happened approximately every 3 minutes.
What surprised me the most is how quickly you progress, from barely being able to stand up on day one to flying down blue runs like a ski princess by day 4. This was thanks to Martin’s expert guidance and him not humouring me for a second. ‘Did I do my turn’s right?’ Martin ‘NO’. Rightio then.
Bansko ski runs
Bansko has over 75km ski slopes serviced by 13 lifts. The ski runs in Bansko range from green beginner slopes, blue slopes, red slopes and the more challenging black slopes. There is a good selection of blues and reds ski runs in Bansko. This means it’s a great place for beginner and intermediate skiers. There are also snowmaking facilities on many of the runs should there be a snow fail.
Bansko beginners runs
I started on the Bansko nursery slopes barely being able to turn. By day 4 though, I was up on the blue slopes flying down the mountain. It was so quiet towards the end of the day that on several occasions I found myself skiing alone. There was light snow falling, as I made my way down a blue slope lined with pretty fir trees. ‘There’s a real sense of tranquillity in solitary skiing’ I thought. ‘A real feeling of…..’ thwack. I couldn’t finish my musings as ironically a snowboarder ploughed straight into me and disturbed my thoughts of sereneness.
Bansko Ski Road
One of the best features in Bansko is said to be the blue piste that runs all the way back to the town. It’s 14km and connects the mountain with the town and is a gentle floodlit run. It’s the most popular ski run in Bansko as everyone skies down at the end of the day. It was sadly closed during my time in Bansko as it was too late in the season. Still, it’s an excuse to come back right?
Bansko blue runs
I personally found the blue runs great to practice my skiing on. In many ways, I found I was more of an enthusiastic rather than a talented skier. This was most evident when I took a tumble on the slopes. One of my skies flew off and as I scrambled to retrieve it, I started to go sideways down the mountain on one ski. Perhaps not quite the ‘Khaleesi of the mountain’ that I thought?
Food and nightlife in Bansko
As you can imagine, food on the mountain can be a bit pricey, with reports of prices creeping up a little more every year in Bansko. There are a few eateries on the mountain, the food selection is generally limited to meat, pasta and chips though, so prepare to ‘carb up’ for your afternoon skiing.
Off the mountain, there are a variety of cheap places to eat in Bansko. Some of these including tacky pubs, traditional taverns, kebab joints and local cafes. There are plenty of to enjoy an après-ski in Bansko. Many Bansko bars will also have live music, folk bands and/or large sports screens. So you should be suitably entertained. Make sure to try traditional Bulgarian kebapche. It’s a long piece of grilled mincemeat best served with fries and grated cheese on top, delicious!
Skiing in Bansko
In conclusion, I found beginner skiing in Bansko was a great trip and the town is a fun and cost-effective place to learn to ski. I appreciate that I went late in the season, so I skipped the long lines I had been warned about. If you are debating whether to take up skiing I would recommend it as a great place to learn. It’s reasonably priced, there’s reliable snow, a good selection of hotels.
You could even be lucky enough to be taught by handsome-yet-strict Martin. If you find yourself under his expert tuition, be warned, he does not care for Frozen songs during the lessons, ‘do you wanna build a snowman….?’ NO.
What do you think of my guide to Beginner Skiing in Bansko? Would you learn to ski here? Let me know in the comments below!
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