Welcome to Sofia!
Sofia is an intriguing city, with corners that show at various times a glint of the splendor of Vienna, the charm of Istanbul, the quirkiness of Budapest, and the brutalism of Moscow. You’ll find Roman ruins in our subway stations, medieval icons in the church basements, and Thracian relics in the former presidential palace. Yet Sofia brings all of these seemingly disparate traditions together into one magical, inspiring city.
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If you’re planning a ski getaway to Serbia, you probably have your eyes on Kopaonik, the country’s biggest ski resort center. There are 55 kilometers of ski slopes available and 23 lifts bringing skiers to those runs, some at altitudes up to over 2,000 meters.
Kopaonik is easily the most modern ski resort in Serbia, with lots of natural snowfall (plus artificial snow capabilities in case of a weak winter) as well as modern amenities like chair lifts with seat heaters.
Plus, Kopaonik is a bit of a hidden gem amongst Balkan ski enthusiasts — the Kopaonik ski resort sees mostly Serbian tourists, whereas neighboring countries like Croatia and Bulgaria see a lot of Western European tourists in ski season, inflating the prices quite a bit!
Here are our picks for the best ski resorts in Kopaonik on any budget, as well as rental apartments, holiday homes, and guesthouses!
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Budget Hotels & Ski Resorts in Kopaonik
AS Apartments offers a cozy B&B that’s perfect for a family or a couple traveling. They have just recently renovated the property this year, so expect extra comfortable and up-to-date features. All rooms are simple, but there is nothing to complain about, and it is also very clean. No need to think about what’s for dinner at night, since it is also included in your stay!
Apartment choices range from singles to quintuples, so there’s undoubtedly a room configuration perfect for your group size. Ski storage is available for proper safekeeping of equipment (rentals are also available as well if you don’t feel like bringing your own). First-time skiers can gain some basic knowledge at their ski school, whereas skiing veterans will love the proximity to Kopaonik’s 55 kilometers of pistes.
The private bathroom comes with a vanity mirror (perfect while you’re doing your make-up). Free toiletries and towels provided by the property will also allow you to pack more clothes and ski gear in your luggage or bag.
There’s a small indoor playground for kids where they can play with some toys and relax on the bouncy bean bags. If you need to exchange some currency, it is also possible on-site. The 24-hour service desk can cater to family demands from housekeeping to laundry needs, so it’s perfect for people who want the comfort of an apartment-style accommodation in Kopaonik with all the amenities of a hotel.
Do note that it’s about 1 kilometer from the ski lifts, but there is a shuttle bus to the lifts in ski season, so it’s hardly an inconvenience.
This is one of the most unique guesthouses in Kopaonik. The guesthouse is made from wood and rocks that give it a very charming look! They have very affordable prices for groups of 4, which can go as low as from around $56 USD for a night (doing the math would make it just $14 USD per head) – that is such a steal!
Breakfast is not included, but you can get one inside for $13 USD (a bit pricy for Serbia, but you may find the convenience worth it). You can also order other a la carte Serbian dishes on request. On the other hand, you can always explore Kopaonik and find cheaper breakfast choices.
The rooms are spacious and come with a wooden bed frame, and some bedsheets are decorated with animal prints. Someone who wants a fireplace should book a duplex room, which is super cozy! The ensuite bathrooms have natural lighting, and the shower area is enclosed in glass walls.
Expect a good view of the woods from your balcony, since the property is located just behind an undeveloped area. This is one reason why it is also peaceful and a little isolated. Don’t worry about the travel time to the ski slopes, as there are several within 3 kilometers of the hotel, though it is better to have your own car, as I’m unsure if a shuttle service to the slopes is provided.
Villa Kostic Kopaonik
This budget pet-friendly apartment is perfectly nestled on top of a hill so you can get a good view of the houses downhill and the snow-covered trees. You can choose from a twin room or an apartment-type room complete with a living area and a mini kitchen. All beds are comfortable with clean white sheets and bed covers.
You can optionally get their breakfast for only $3 USD (a real steal!) and you can also order other home-cooked local dishes. Both room types have private bathrooms with a shower and free toiletries. There is also a shared living room and kitchen for all guests to use.
Ski storage is free and you can optionally take a class in their ski school. Other activities can be organized by their staff for you such as racquetball, horseback riding, bowling, cycling, hiking, and other sports activities, though keep in mind many of these activities are seasonal.
Booking early will give you the bonus of getting a room for as low as $18 USD for a night — that’s for two! The owner is very nice and you can sometimes be invited to have some tea with him in the lobby. Pets are also allowed for free upon request.
Mid-Range Guesthouses & Ski Resorts in Kopaonik
Apart Hotel Mamut
This ski-to-door hotel was named after the Mammoth, one of the Ice Age’s most famous extinct creatures. It offers breakfast and lunch included in each night of stay, so all you have to pay for is dinner and of course, any apres-ski drinks you want to avail yourself of.
All apartment-type rooms have an ensuite bathroom inside. You will also see décor that has been inspired by nature, like gorgeously printed wallpaper or framed prints of the forest. The rooms are spacious and make use of modern yet minimalist furniture.
This is one of the mid-range apartment hotels with superb facilities for skiers. There are boot dryers and locker cabinets where you can keep your equipment hassle-free. Skiers can also prepare in this area without any disruptions.
The Mamut Restoran serves half-board meals and a la carte dishes inspired by local cuisine, but everything is done in a more gourmet manner by their talented chefs. There are plenty of options and you can eat your heart out as much as you want!
There is ample free parking on the property and you will feel secure with their 24/7 surveillance cameras. No reservations needed; you can just park your car and let them monitor it for you. During spring and summer, they usually open the summer terrace as a perfect place to see the beautiful views or to have a sip of some warm or even iced coffee or tea; in winter, you’ll have gorgeous panoramic views of the Kopaonik mountains.
The property just started its operations in December of 2018, so expect brand spanking new facilities and amenities. It is located on the fourth floor of the 4-star Angella Hotel. The room doesn’t have a balcony, but it surely gives you wonderful sights of the city and the mountains through its windows!
Aside from the wide bed they have, you can also use the extra fold-up sofa bed for extra guests or small kids. The private bathroom comes with toiletries and a hairdryer. Towels will be an extra charge, so it is best to include it when you pack if you want to avoid the fee. A mini fridge and an electric kettle are provided.
There’s also some ski equipment for rent and a ski school that will make you feel more confident before you go down the slopes. Ski storage is provided courtesy of the hotel too. Kids can play indoors in their area filled with toys and fun stuff.
However, there’s no WiFi in the property, and it can be quite small for a group of 4 people. This is best for solo or couple travelers who don’t mind unplugging a bit during their stay.
Since the apartment is located in a hotel, you can use their amenities and facilities for an additional charge (spa, sauna, and pool!). The hotel’s lobby has a concierge desk where you can ask them to organize activities as well as shuttle services to the airport or ski lifts. There’s also an ATM and currency exchange center – up to you which one you prefer, but most likely the ATM will give you better rates!
Kopaonik Milmari L37
This apartment is located within the Milmari Resort & Spa. It’s a small but well-equipped studio, with a dining table and a mini kitchen.
The private bathroom is a bit small, but there is a separate wet and dry area. The bedroom has geometric prints for its bed cover and a comfortable headboard so you can sit in bed and read easily. The combination of browns and blues keep the color scheme in harmony with the hardwood floors.
Due to its location in a resort and spa complex, you can also use some of its amenities for a fee like the sauna, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor in season), hot tubs, and hammam. Spa services like treatments and massages have packages that you can check if you want to indulge in a little TLC!
Equipment for skiing can be rented on-site, and you can optionally add on ski storage or attend their ski school for a refresher course (or a first-time introduction to the sport). You can check with their 24-hour service desk for more information about anything in Kopaonik you need help with.
Kids can play around at their kid’s club safely while a staff keeps them monitored. There’s also an outdoor playground for them so you don’t have to pay extra to keep your kids entertained. Families or couples who are visiting Kopaonik on a road trip can park their cars in their spaces available for free.
Luxury Hotels & Ski Resorts in Kopaonik
Grand Hotel & Spa
Grand Hotel & Spa have multiple room choices to choose from. All rooms are simple and elegant and most of all spacious. It is amazing how well-maintained the property is, since it started its operations a long time ago. You don’t see much signs of age, despite being a huge hotel!
Free toiletries and slippers plus a shower cabin are available in their luxurious ensuite bathrooms. The minibar is also well-stocked with bottled water and some drinks. One handy feature of their rooms in winter is a temperature controlling system that will allow guests to heat the room exactly to their liking.
While there are two restaurants inside, the Grand Restaurant and the a la carte Garden Restaurant, you can also enjoy the view complemented by the warm fireplace (and/or some wine!) at their Forest Bar.
There is a sports hall where you can play basketball, volleyball, and football (soccer). This is one of the hotels in Kopaonik with the most complete gym equipment in their fitness center. The hotel has its very own bowling center with 8 lanes where friends and family can kick back and enjoy a few friendly rounds of bowling.
The wellness facilities are amazing: an entire villa where you can book exclusive massage and wellness treatments, or avail yourself of wellness amenities like their infrared sauna, hot tub Finnish sauna and a steam room. They offer traditional and exotic massages at the Grand Oaza Spa & Wellness Center.
Grey Hotel Kopaonik
The Grey Hotel is a sleekly designed hotel which uses top-quality Italian furniture and ceramics to finish the look of the rooms. You can choose from a double room or a deluxe or premium suite.
The rooms mostly have the same perks, aside from the size of the rooms – the suites have dedicated living spaces like a seating area with a sofa (which you can extend and turn into a bed). All are equipped with an ensuite bathroom, coffee and tea making facilities, heating, and a wardrobe to organize your clothes. Unfortunately, there are no fireplaces in the rooms.
Dine and savor the different flavors of the two restaurants on-site, the Grey Gourmet and Grey Vista restaurants. The Grey Gourmet restaurant has two floors. The lower level is where you can dine with a roaring fireplace and enjoy your free breakfast. The latter is a terrace where skiers can lounge or have some drinks and snacks after a tiring but thrilling adventure down the slopes.
Snowboarding and skiing in the powdery snow will be very convenient because the hotel has its own ski pass vendor, so you can skip the lines just to purchase passes. Rentals are also available, and every stay has an inclusive storage where you can keep your ski gear dry and safe. While you’re enjoying the snow sports, you can also get a babysitter for your kids.
A collection of books is also available at the library, where you can stay and read and relax if you’re not a skier (or just want a day off from the slopes). Wellness facilities like pools, fitness center, steam room, hot spring bath, hammam and massages are all available at their spa.
Gorski Hotel & Spa
Gorski Hotel & Spa offers rooms with big windows capable of allowing natural light to enter, which have the dual perk of showcasing the beautiful panoramic scenes of the mountains.
You can choose from a single, double or deluxe type of room or suite, which can cater to singles, couples, or families traveling. All rooms have modern minimalist furniture and the private bathrooms have walls that look like expensive granite (they have separate wet and dry area too).
Breakfast and dinner (half-board) is included so you won’t have the hassle to look for places nearby to dine — a great feature after a long day of skiing. It also features facilities for guests with special needs like grab rails and wheelchair-accessible rooms and an elevator.
Some spa facilities are currently on hold due to the renovations they are doing. They want to give the best possible amenities to their guests since it is one of their major attractions. You can still visit their pools, sauna, salt room, cold and hot shower, ice fountain, Finnish sauna, tepidarium and Vichy showers, though — those are still in operation! These are all additional services and may incur a fee.
The guests loved how the staff were so friendly and they were always there to assist them for any needs. The front desk is available 24/7 to assist you. Overall, the past experience of guests here were overwhelmingly positive and they loved how close it was to key locations in Kopaonik
Best Villas and Holiday Homes in Kopaoanik
Holiday Home MB
Even if you’re just on a short vacation, the homey feel here will make you want to stay longer! It has been built to bring warmth and comfort to every guest.
Up to 6 people can stay here – great for smaller groups of friends and families. The common bathroom has a shower cabin and washing machine, as well free toiletries provided. You can use their towels and sheets so you can save space while packing.
There are 2 soundproof bedrooms inside, and there is also a balcony where you can see spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Skiers can store their storages in the locker room for free, which is in front of the house. There is also a dedicated area in the house where you can keep your ski boots dry and warm. However, there are no free shuttle services, but the hosts can arrange transport services for you to get to the slopes. Guests who have brought a car can park their vehicle within the property (at no extra cost).
Free WiFi is available on the property. Someone who is planning a longer stay will be happy because there is a fireplace, washing machine, dishwasher, a well-stocked kitchen — basically all you need to feel at home!
This holiday home offers 5 spacious bedrooms and a living room equipped with a traditional fireplace (not electric but with real wood and a chimney). Don’t worry as there is chopped wood ready for you upon your arrival, so you don’t have to go out and chop your own! A comfortable sofa is also in the living area where the fireplace is, ready for fireside chats and relaxation.
There is strong WiFi in the entire property – this is sometimes unavailable with other villas or holiday homes. The attic has been converted into a comfortable room with three beds. The wooden beds have thick comforters to keep you warm during the cold season – perfect to make each night cozy and comfortable!
The sun room has you lovely views, plus it has wooden chairs and tables where you can lounge or dine. You can drink coffee or eat your breakfast at the bar in the kitchen as well. A space for storing your ski equipment is also inside the property. Guests who have young kids and infants who love to crawl can request baby gates.
Those who brought cars with them should be informed that the location of the property is on a hill, so it can be difficult for cars to get through especially when after heavy snowfall.. The host will also inform you of this, but it is better to be prepared than to be sorry otherwise. Parking is free in the property and reservations aren’t necessary. Cash is also the only mode of payment accepted by the property but you can make reservations online.
More Serbia Travel Resources
If Belgrade is on your itinerary, we have tons of material to help you out with! Check out our guide for things to do in Belgrade, the most Instagrammable spots in Belgrade, and the best Belgrade street art. We also have a Serbian souvenir guide if you want to do some shopping.
If you want to get out of the city for a day, here are our guide to Belgrade day trips and what you should know before renting a car in Serbia. We also have lists of our favorite places to visit in Serbia and the best Serbian towns and cities if you need more day trip inspiration.
Headed to Serbia? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
If you’re planning a trip to Serbia, it’s a good idea to travel with a valid travel insurance policy, so that you will be covered in case of an emergency. Travel insurance covers you in case of theft or an accident, which can save your trip if there’s an incident, fall (a big winter risk!), or cancellation or trip interruption.
Keep in mind that lower tiers of travel insurance may not cover winter sports and you may need to purchase a premium plan. This is true for World Nomads which only covers winter sports at the “Explorer” level of their plan, so be sure to read the fine print!
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
Headed to Santorini and want to have a view hilarious Santorini puns tucked up your sleeve? Whether you’re looking for jokes about Santorini to use as Santorini Instagram captions, or you want a quick quip to use on the island, feel free to steal all of our best Santorini jokes and puns!
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Our Favorite Santorini Puns & Jokes
So many blue-tiful views in Santorini!
The volcanoes in Santorini are so rude…they are always int-erupting.
Girls just wanna have sunsets.
Spending my birthday in Santorini. I might be Agean, but I’ve never felt better than I do here!
There’s nothing to Fira in Santorini.
I’m not a freddo tell you that I’m in love with Santorini.
It’s in one Oia and out the other.
Greeking out over these views!
This island just ouzos with charm.
Make lava, not war.
When in Santorini, don’t ask why. Ask wine not?
Key Things to Pack on Your Trip to Santorini
If you’re planning a trip to Greece, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– A water bottle with a filter. While often, the tap water in Greece is drinkable, there are places where it isn’t, including some popular tourist destinations like Santorini.
We generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant!
We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Many Greek roads are winding, especially around the coast. If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.
– Travel safety items. We think Greece is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.
It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
More Greece Travel Resources
Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip.
First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more.
Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.
If you’ll be spending time in Athens, check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned!
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Greece with Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!
Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. While Athens is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel,” and we think it’s true!
Pin this Guide to the Best Santorini Puns & Jokes About Santorini for Your Trip
Wondering how to get from Sofia to Burgas? There are several options, from renting a car and driving to using the Bulgarian Railway system to taking one of the many buses that make the trip each day. However, there are pros and cons to each method (which is why we’ve tended to mix it up under different circumstances).
Here’s everything you need to consider when choosing whether you’ll go from Sofia to Burgas by car, by train, or by bus. Plus tips for having the best journey possible and information about ground transportation once you arrive.
Before we dive in, one word of advice. Book EARLY. No matter whether you want train tickets, bus tickets, or a rental car, getting from Sofia to Burgas in the summer is an insanely popular route. Do not wait until the last minute.
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Where to Stay in Burgas & the Bulgarian Riviera
Still finalizing your travel plans? We’re in the process of creating a comprehensive guide on where to stay in Burgas, but for now, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible. While Burgas is underrated by international travelers, many of the best places can book early during the high season because Bulgarians know where to go.
Sofia to Burgas by Car
While renting a car in Bulgaria can be a headache at times (especially if you have to pick up your car at the airport after you’ve already started your trip) the easiest and most hassle-free way to get from Sofia to Burgas is to rent a car and drive. I’ve taken this drive twice, once to Sozopol and once to Sunny Beach, stopping in Burgas first each time.
Renting a Car in Sofia
Reserve your rental car early, as prices can go up precipitously the closer you get to the date of travel. If you plan on dropping your car off in Burgas, make sure to specify this before your trip.
I’ve rented cars dozens of times in Sofia with a US Passport and driver’s license. One time a car company refused to rent to me for not having an international driver’s license. While this is atypical, you should be aware ahead of time. Double-check with your rental car company if you have questions.
How Long Does it Take to Drive from Sofia to Burgas?
Google Maps says the trip from Sofia to Burgas by car should take about 3.5 hours, but I would budget closer to five hours with stops for fuel and bathroom breaks. Of course, if you want to see one of the places mentioned along the way, your trip will take longer.
Add an additional hour if you also need to pick up your rental car. Sometimes this process goes quickly but I find it typically takes at least forty-five minutes, plus time to get to the pick-up location.
Things to See Along the Way
There are many great Bulgarian landmarks that you can stop and see along the way. My top three are Buzludzha, Shipka Memorial Church, and the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Each of these stops would take about an hour to see plus additional drive time to go out of the way.
Another option is to stop in Plovdiv for a few hours, but I wouldn’t recommend that. Instead, I’d plan a separate trip to Plovdiv so there’s so much to do there.
Tips for Having a Good Road Trip
Make sure to bring all your documents with you to pick up your rental car. I’ve forgotten my passport (more than once) and had to go back to get it. You also need your driver’s license and the credit card you used to reserve the car. They will use this for your deposit as well.
The roads in Bulgaria are generally pretty good, especially on the major roads that run between Sofia and Burgas.
In Bulgaria, you’ll drive on the right side of the road like the rest of continental Europe.
There are gas stations (Petrol stations) relatively frequently along the highway. There are not many restaurants of fast food options along the way, so pick something up in Sofia unless you want to eat gas station snacks on the way. (Some do have sandwiches, but not all of them do).
Gas stations take credit cards. You may be required to pay to use the bathroom if you aren’t a customer. In this case, you’ll need some small cash to pay to use the restroom. Expect this to cost between fifty stotinki and one lev.
If this will be your first time driving in the Balkans, check out some of our additional Balkan road trip tips.
Sofia to Burgas by Train
While certainly not the easiest way to get from Sofia to Burgas, the train is great for someone who doesn’t want to deal with renting a car and driving, but also doesn’t want to be cramped on a bus. Since you can opt to buy a first-class ticket, you can ensure yourself a bit of extra room if you want.
However, make sure to check out everything in this post about taking the train to Burgas, because even after taking Bulgarian trains to Istanbul and Bucharest, I found navigating the system infuriating at times.
Use the BDZ website to find out the schedule. Pay special attention to the difference between the fast trains and ones that are more local or go through Karlovo. You’ll have VERY different experiences depending on which you choose. (Hint: take the fast train or sleeper train whenever possible).
Where to Buy Train Tickets
Tickets sell out early, so do not wait to buy your tickets (like we did) and get stuck on a slow train.
You can buy SOME tickets for the Sofia to Burgas line online on the BDZ website, but not tickets for every option. Also, sometimes the people at the train station will tell you the trains are sold out when there are still tickets available online. So…yeah…welcome to Bulgaria.
I had to buy my tickets from Sofia to Bulgaria online and my tickets from Burgas to Sofia at the Sofia train station, on the same day, because they told me that they were sold out (but I found them online) and the return ticket was sold out online but NOT in person.
Avoid this hell by buying tickets online early.
How Much Do Train Tickets from Sofia to Burgas Cost?
There are different prices depending on what class and train you select. Our first-class tickets reserved online were 26 leva each (about $15 USD). Considering how cramped the second class cars are, if you can afford the first-class tickets then I would suggest going with those. You can find pricing for all trains online.
Checking in Before Your Train Ride
Trains leave exactly on time (or a minute or two late), so get to the station early enough to find your train and settle in. The train will be there early, and you can have a much more pleasant experience if you get on at least twenty minutes early (or as early as possible if the train gets there later).
Some passengers will buy hallway tickets without assigned seats, and it makes it very difficult to move around the train once it starts to fill up.
Tips for Having a Good Train Ride
Finding your actual seat can be a nightmare, as there are train cars labeled 1, 2, and 1A. Since conductors come around to take tickets forty-five minutes after leaving Sofia, they won’t be able to assist you to find your seats right away.
Get on the train early so you can find your seats. If the train fills up, you will get bumped if you sit in a seat that’s not yours.
Always bring train snacks, hand sanitizer, and your own toilet paper or Kleenex. If you get motion sickness, bring non-drowsy motion sickness pills so that you can make sure you don’t get carsick if the ride is extra stuffy.
The fast train takes about six hours, while the long train takes closer to seven hours. Some cars have outlets, but not all do. Make sure your devices are charged so that you can stay connected on your trip. Otherwise, have something to read.
If you bought your tickets online, you can use the online version. Otherwise, have your hard copy tickets ready if you purchased them at the window. The conductors will come around to check your tickets, but not for almost an hour after the train pulls out of the station.
Arriving in Burgas
If you’ll be headed on to Sunny Beach, Sozopol, or another beach town besides Burgas, you can take a local bus or a taxi. We negotiated a ride to Sunny Beach from the Burgas train station for fifty leva. Pre-negotiate the amount before getting in the taxi.
Even though most Bulgarian taxis are metered, the taxis on the Black Sea coast operate in more of a Wild Wild West situation.
I personally would have been fine taking a taxi for up to sixty leva. Nessebar should be a tiny bit less and Sveti Vlas would be a tiny bit more.
Another option is to book a private transfer from the train station so that you don’t have to navigate this part yourself. We have instructions for booking private transfers here.
Sofia to Burgas by Bus
There are MANY bus companies that go from Sofia to Burgas multiple times a day. If you go down to the bus station, you’ll find that almost everyone has at least some options. I know because I was trying to find tickets for a specific day and went stand to stand.
Oh, I wasn’t able to buy the time and date I wanted because…they sell out early.
I personally would start by looking at Karats, Martu, and Union Ivonki, but in my experience, most of them are pretty much the same.
Where to Buy Bus Tickets
Since there are many companies that offer this route, I would also check the website Rome2Rio for schedules. They typically link out to the different websites where you can purchase bus tickets for the specific routes you are looking for.
If you are in town, you can also come to the Central Bus Station directly and purchase it in person. You purchase tickets for each bus company from their individual stand, so it can be a bit of a nightmare comparison shopping between schedules and companies.
Do not wait to try to buy your ticket on the day you’re leaving (or even the day before) as they will likely be sold out.
How Much Do Bus Tickets from Sofia to Burgas Cost?
Different companies charge different amounts for these tickets, so it can be very hard to discern between prices and timetables to determine the best option for you. Looking now, a ticket purchased a week out (but slightly off-season) would cost about 28 leva (about $16 USD), so just a tad bit more than a first-class train ticket.
Checking in Before Your Bus Ride
If you purchased your bus tickets online, you will want to come to the bus station at least forty-five minutes early. You will need to go to the window for your bus company and show them your online tickets. They will give you printed versions to use onboard.
Tips for Having a Good Bus Ride
The bus ride is about five hours, so make sure to use the bathroom before you leave. You will need a few coins to use the bathroom at the bus station (the cost is either one lev or half of a lev…I can’t remember but you always have to pay). To get into the bathroom, you pay a coin-operated turnstile.
There typically aren’t bathrooms onboard buses in Bulgaria, but there are sometimes exceptions. I believe there is a stop on the way, but do not plan on it. Instead, go before you leave and bring everything you need with you (snacks, etc).
Like with the train option, bring hand sanitizer and your own toilet paper or Kleenex. If there is a bathroom on board you’ll need them, and if not you may still need them in the bus station bathroom.
If you get motion sickness, bring non-drowsy motion sickness pills so that you can make sure you don’t get carsick if the ride is extra stuffy.
Make sure to check out my full list of tips for surviving bus trips in the Balkans. Trust me.
Arriving in Burgas
I’m going to repeat myself a bit since the bus and train station in Burgas are next to each other (though be careful there are a few bus stations in Burgas).
If you’ll be headed on to Sunny Beach, Sozopol, or another beach town besides Burgas, you can take a local bus or a taxi. We negotiated a ride to Sunny Beach from the Burgas train station next to the Sunny Beach South Train Station (Avtogara Yug) for fifty leva. Pre-negotiate the amount before getting in the taxi.
Even though most Bulgarian taxis are metered, the taxis on the Black Sea coast operate in more of a Wild Wild West situation.
I personally would have been fine taking a taxi for up to sixty leva from anywhere in Burgas to Sunny Beach. Nessebar should be a tiny bit less and Sveti Vlas would be a tiny bit more.
Another option is to book a private transfer from the bus station so that you don’t have to navigate this part yourself. We have instructions for booking private transfers here.
5 Things to Pack for Burgas & the Bulgarian Riviera
If you’re planning a trip to Bulgaria, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more, check out our complete Bulgaria packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Bulgaria & Romania for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in big cities in Bulgaria is drinkable, such as in Sofia and Burgas, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Bulgarian train and bus rides can be hot and cause motion sickness! If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans on trains and buses tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.
– Travel safety items. We think Bulgaria is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Allison or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack. It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
Where to Stay in Sofia
If you’ll be spending time in Sofia before heading to Burgas, here are our favorite Sofia hotels!
Budget: For a hostel, we always recommend Hostel Mostel. I have never stayed at the Sofia location but several of my friends have and have always spoken highly of it. I stayed at the one in Veliko Tarnovo and it was excellent. Perks include a free vegetarian dinner in addition to breakfast included in your stay! Check rates and availability here. If you are traveling in peak season, be sure to book online, as Hostel Mostel is popular and tends to get booked up.
Mid-range: For a trendy new boutique hotel that is shockingly affordable, we recommend R34 Boutique Hotel. The location is fantastic, near the Ivan Vazov National Theater in central Sofia. It has gorgeous, loft-inspired details like exposed brick, giant windows, and streamlined but modern décor. It’s a great bargain, too – check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.
Luxury: As far as we see it, there’s only one option for the best hotel in town: Sense Hotel. We go to their upscale, beautiful rooftop bar all the time when we have guests in town – it has one of the best views in the entire city and they make fantastic cocktails. With beautiful views over Alexander Nevsky, Sofia’s most iconic landmark, the hotel couldn’t be in a better location. Sense Hotel also boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center, an art gallery in the lobby, an excellent spa with luxe treatments, and an indoor pool. It’s truly the best choice in town. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.
More Bulgaria Travel Resources
If this will be your first time in Bulgaria, we have some resources to help make your first trip here a breeze. Check out our guide on how to plan your trip to Bulgaria, which goes over everything from visas to ground transportation to budgeting your trip.
Don’t forget to check out our Bulgaria packing list which has details of everything you’ll want for your trip.
We have a guide to the best Instagram spots in Sunny Beach and Nessebar so you can take incredible photos of your trip! You’ll also want to set aside time to visit the stunning Pink Lake just outside Burgas.
Next, check out our guide to avoiding taxi scams in Sofia. We don’t have taxi guides yet for Varna and Burgas, but the information about common scams and how to avoid them is the same.
You will also want to check out our overview of Balkan currency, which describes Bulgarian leva and what to tip in Bulgaria.
Headed to the Bulgarian Coast? Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Finally, make sure you always travel to Bulgaria with a valid travel insurance policy. The country is a very safe place to travel, but accidents or theft can easily ruin your trip if you don’t have the travel insurance coverage to recover the losses. Recently my aunt fell on a train in France and needed surgery, but luckily her travel insurance covered the costs in full. Thank goodness!
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
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If you’re planning a trip to Bled this winter, get ready for a magical winter trip like you can’t believe!
While there are several fantastic ski resorts in Slovenia, one of the most convenient for travelers who want to combine skiing with sightseeing is Bled. Yes — that Bled, with its famous castle, island, and stunning lake colors.
While Bled isn’t the main spot for skiing in Slovenia, it does have one super easy-to-access ski lift that’s perfect for casual skiers. If you’re looking for daring, high-octane skiing, you’ll likely be happier at other Bled ski resorts like Vogel or Krvavec, or perhaps the award-winning Cerkno resort (which is said to be the best in Slovenia) or other fantastic resorts in Slovenia.
For for the convenience of being able to stay right in Bled and use the ski lift right in town, it’s hard to beat Bled’s Straža lift. The elevation is just 645 meters, so it’s not for ultra-adrenaline seekers, but it’s perfect if you want to do some casual skiing and follow it up with sightseeing and some epic day trips from Bled.
So, if you’re planning to go skiing in Bled, here are 11 wonderful wintry places to stay in Bled that are perfect for skiers, families, solo travelers, and groups of friends — we’ve gathered Bled accommodations for all budgets, so you’re sure to find something on this list that will suit your taste, needs, and budget.
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Budget Accommodations Perfect for Skiing in Bled
This lovely budget guest house is made from bricks and wood, and it looks absolutely beautiful and festive at night when the lights are all lit up. It is also a nice location within a short walk from Lake Bled, yet away from the noisy streets.
The rooms have two choices: a double or a superior double room. There isn’t too much difference between the two, but the latter has a sofa that can convert into a bed (perfect if you have kids traveling with you), plus it is also more spacious. The price difference for a night is also not that different, so both are wise options! All rooms are equipped with a safety deposit box, fridge, electric kettle, flat-screen TV, and a lovely view of the garden (though admittedly, it’s more snow than greenery in the winter).
The private bathrooms have marble walls and floors, and all have a hairdryer and enclosed shower with a wooden door and glass walls: very modern for the budget price! There is a shared kitchen for all guests to use, which also has a fridge and an electric kettle. Pets are also welcome, though some extra charges may be applicable.
However, parking is not free, so note that you would need to pay at least €10 (around $11 USD). This is the only downside guests see, but if you don’t have a car (or don’t mind paying the price or looking for street parking elsewhere), then everything is just perfect. There are also additional services like laundry, luggage storages, shuttle services, and so on to make your stay more comfortable!
Garden House Bled
This hostel can get fully booked quickly, so if you’re looking at it — don’t wait too long!
The main reason is, of course, the budget-friendly prices but also the charming rustic style of each room. It can be quite hard to book their dorm room with bunk beds which sell out quickly, but in case they are sold out, the private rooms are also really affordable. And really, who needs to share when you can get a room for as low as around $55 USD for a double room and around $66 USD for a triple room?
All rooms have comfortable beds with thick mattresses. The triple room has 2 single beds and one sofa bed. What you will like the most is that even if the rooms are a little small, they placed dividers between the rooms so that the tables or desks will have a mini living-room-like space, giving you a touch of privacy and room to spread out.
Common areas include a shared bathroom with a shower area, a shared kitchen, and a dining table. They also allow pets to stay for a charge! There are also plenty of seating areas in the common spaces as well as a hammock, tables, and a cozy fireplace that is perfect to sit around after a long day of sightseeing and skiing in Bled.
Note that toiletries are not included, so it is best to have them handy (we have suggestions on our Slovenia packing list). Parking is also free — great for those who are off on an adventure with their cars. You just can’t complain about all of these benefits at such an affordable cost!
Farm Stay Dolinar Krainer
This lovely farm stay is located in a quiet village on a farm. Someone who wants to experience the simple life of milking goats and harvesting food that’ll later be served on your plate should consider this lovely farm stay in this quiet hamlet a short drive from Bled.
A lot of walking should be expected if you want to roam around, as the farm is rather large; for your convenience, you can borrow their bikes for free.
You can get a double room or an apartment here (with one bedroom). The rooms have high windows to allow in plenty of natural light, which you’ll surely appreciate in the winter when sunlight hours are few. Each room also has an ensuite bathroom, complete with free toiletries. Breakfast is optional and at an extra charge, although I would recommend it so you won’t have to go outside first thing in the morning to find your own breakfast. It is only $8 USD per person, and you will be served organic and fresh meal straight out of the farm! It doesn’t get fresher than that.
What is so beloved by guests here is that not only will you experience an adventure skiing down the Bled slopes, but also in the farm itself. The hosts might just come running towards you asking you to try some of their homemade cheeses — and come on, you know you won’t be able to say no! A must-try are their freshly squeezed fruit juices which are 100% natural and delicious. Just in case you are staying for more than 5 days, you can visit their sauna for free (otherwise there is a charge).
Mid-range Accommodations Near to Skiing in Bled
You won’t feel homesick here, because Penzion Berc wants their guests to feel at home and feel like family with the owners. This former farmhouse was built in 1843, and now, the third generation of Bercs are managing the property. They take each approach carefully and give the penzion (inn) their own personal touch.
The rooms are really luxurious, with carpeted floors to keep you warm and toasty in winter, and a balcony where you can get a nice view in the morning or evening. The beds are made out of a wooden frame and the mattress is sturdy (though some guests found it a bit hard). The features become even grander if you get one of their suite rooms!
The breakfast they serve is of high quality. Guests felt that it was tasty and that it was prepared with love. Everything is also sourced locally so it adds to the freshness factor. Alternately, for lunch or dinner, you can get a la carte dishes at Finefood Berc. Some of their wines are sourced from protected Slovenian grape varieties – you can expect a unique flavor in every sip!
A ton of activities awaits you aside from skiing; at night, you can listen to the piano as it is played, and you can also borrow their e-bikes for free if you want to check the tourist spots nearby.
Old Bled House
This hotel is located in one of the many Bled historic houses that have been restored and transformed into a hotel. It has medieval-inspired pieces of furniture like their beds and tables – history geeks will rejoice!
They have a couple of room choices, and the ones falling into the mid-range budget category would be their double, deluxe, and superior rooms. All rooms have an en-suite bathroom, with some toiletries are provided. The sink is very stylish, made from huge carved stone. The ochre-colored tiles used are also very stylish, with intriguing patterns. The shower area is enclosed in glass walls to keep the toilets dry.
If you want a nice view of the lake plus the island, then the executive room is the one for you — perfect for a romantic stay on a special occasion.
Breakfast is optional and at an additional charge, and you can get one directly on-site for $9 USD. Coffee and tea making facilities are available in each room, so you can just partner it with something you can buy outside if you want to save money on breakfast. There is a small restaurant attached to the hotel, but not many guests opted to dine here, instead eating in the town of Bled. It offers local cuisine and also has a wine cellar where you can buy champagne or wine.
Pets are allowed in this hotel, so you can simply coordinate it with them (just be ready for some charges that will apply). Housekeeping maintains the hotel in tip-top shape and guests also noticed how spotlessly clean it is all throughout!
Luxury Pearl Bled
Luxury Pearl Bled offers one of the most modern-styled (and pet-friendly) accommodations in Bled, perfect for skiers. Everything is brand new and it is a huge building! Most of the decor and furniture are simple, and everything just harmonizes with the concept of the apartment hotel. You can choose from an apartment with a mountain view or a penthouse apartment for a special occasion or if you’re traveling with a family or a large group.
The apartment rooms are spacious, and it has its own kitchen with a few utensils to allow you to cook breakfast or simple meals. Alternately, if you’re feeling lazy, you can also get their breakfast for only $8 USD.
The dining table is like a bar, with high chairs to sit at. Simple ceramic dinnerware is also available so you’re really not missing anything to prepare your own feast!
Beds are also large and comfortable, and the rooms are really spacious. The balconies are connected to the hallways outdoors, so just say hi to your neighbors if you meet them here!
You can also park your car for free on the street. Do not worry as they guarantee that the spaces are secured and Slovenia is very safe!. Ski storage is also available where you can keep your equipment dry and orderly.
Hotel Ribno looks beautifully rustic even from its exteriors. A little rugged, but you can tell it is charming in its own way. The interiors are very modern with a little bit of that rustic touch visible outside.
There are multiple room configurations, and all have a private bathroom and a balcony with a view of the mountains. It is a little far from the city center, but there are buses that drop by directly at the hotel which makes public transportation very easy, plus it’s near to the Straza ski lift.
The rooms are spacious, and the beds are large and sure to give you a pleasant sleep at night. The private bathrooms have pink tiles and there is a shower in the tub, plus the toilets are a bit far (which is good as it keeps it try), even if there are no divisions between the two (typical in this part of the world).
Breakfast and dinner are included so that’s really a good deal for those who want to travel in a budget-friendly way. Although the breakfast is the same daily, you have plenty of choices – you can skip some that you would love to try the next day!
You can also try their on-site restaurant that serves unique dishes plus something for meat lovers, vegetarians, and also a zero-waste menu (since the hotels aims to achieve zero waste, which is pretty freaking cool!).
Skiers and snowboarders can keep their equipment in the free storage provided. If it’s not winter, they can also book your activities like golfing, tennis, walking, or biking tours. There’s also a children’s playground so it’s not just adults who can have fun here!
Rikli Balance Hotel – Sava Hotel & Resorts
If someone asks you for the best hotel to get a good view of the lake, Bled Castle and the alpine mountains in the distance, you can tell them Rikli Balance Hotel, hands down. The lobby of the hotel has a very unique fireplace in the middle, made out of glass and metal. There are love seats and tables in this area, where you can hang out and just relax.
The rooms are really spacious, and you can tell that they invested in making their guests feel more comfortable in every design choice. The design is modern, with simple nude colors complemented by a single color or a pattern on the pillowcases. It’s sleek, modern, and elegant.
The private bathroom is large, and the sink is bigger than usual. It also comes with free toiletries — great if you’ve packed carry-on only. There’s also a balcony where you can see the views that they are most famous for – you can also make a special request just to be sure!
However, there is no fitness center at this hotel, and it is a bit unusual that a luxury hotel would not have this. But if you’re going to be skiing in Bled anyway (or you’re a non-exerciser), this may not be a big deal.
Regardless, they do have great spa and relaxation facilities! While it is free to use the indoor and outdoor pools, do note that the sauna and massages are for a fee. Men can also check their barbershop if they need a new, neat look!
Apartment Wellness Essence
This high-end apartment accommodation welcomes you with an escape to nature with their stunning two-bedroom apartments. Once you enter your room, you will have a welcome gift – a bottle of wine and some fresh fruits!
This hotel has modern features, plenty of privacy, and a huge space which is around 80 square meters in each apartment. The beds have a wooden frame, and they use really thick bed covers and warmers to keep you cozy.
There is a small window (on the slanted ceiling) above your bed where natural lighting can enter. Don’t worry, you can shut them with blinds if you do not wish to be woken up early by the sun. The wood-covered balcony will mesmerize you with the beautiful wintry sights.
Staying here will allow you to enjoy most of the spa facilities for free. It has been awarded as one of the best wellness facilities in 2015 and 2016! You are surely going to feel relaxed and rejuvenated from the inside out.
There are six (yes, six!) different saunas they offer: Finnish sauna, hammam, hay sauna (that’s a new one for me), breadbath sauna (sit back and feel the heat of the oven while it bakes some bread that you can munch on some after — also a new one for me), rasul sauna (again… no idea what this is, but supposedly good for couples) and a bio panorama sauna (usual sauna with an outdoor view of the garden).
Guests loved that you can borrow their e-bikes for free and there are multiple charging stations on the property so you can really enjoy the sights!
Holiday Homes & Villas
Vila Grad Bled
The entire house has 4 bedrooms, and it can accommodate a maximum of 8 guests. The house has an elegant style, and you can tell the host has good taste when it came to choosing the furniture. The floors are made of marble tiles, and the ceilings are high which gives you a good sense of space.
All of the bedrooms are located on the second floor. The beds are extra-long and the mattress is thick yet soft. There are also some beds with a nice waterbed, which could be fun (my inner kid is giggling)!
It has two bathrooms, one on the ground floor and the second floor — very convenient so that no one has to go up or down a floor to use the bathroom, which could get annoying. The bathroom on the ground floor is spacious and even has a hot tub! This is also where the washing machine is located — great if you’re planning to do some laundry on your si trip.
Ski storage is also free, and you can place your snowboarding gear here too. You will also notice a small hut outside: that’s where you can borrow bikes for free! Sometimes the host will drop by and check on everything — even better when he brings some fresh apples straight from the farm!
More Slovenia Travel Resources
If you’re just starting to prepare for your trip to Slovenia, read our guide to planning a trip to Slovenia which features an 11-step checklist!
You’ll also definitely want to read our all-season, all-gender Slovenia packing list, which includes a huge winter section!
If you need more Slovenia travel inspiration, check out the best places to visit in Slovenia, the best Slovenian castles, the most breath-taking Slovenian waterfalls, and what Slovenian souvenirs you should bring home.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Slovenia (or really, any part of the world)! Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While Slovenia is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe.
Do note that if you’re skiing, you need to carefully check the terms and conditions of each policy. For example, with World Nomads, you need the Explorer plan vs. the Standard plan to be covered for winter sports accidents.
When we visited Romania in October of 2017, there was an early snowfall that totally caught us off guard just before Halloween when we were in Sibiu. A few days later, we arrived in a glistening white, snow-covered Poiana Brasov: imagine our surprise and delight that we lucked out enough to see snow in October in Romania!
Poiana Brasov remains one of my favorite memories from a Romania trip that was otherwise full of ups and downs. It’s such a relaxing place that it practically begs you to take a spa day, relax, and forget about the craziness of the world around you.
I stayed in Ana Hotels Sport and loved my stay — I felt like a princess in my enormous room with a gorgeous view of the mountains, and the spa facilities were fantastic. Stephanie was not a fan of the hotel she stayed in, so we’ve excluded it from this list. We both spent a lovely spa day at Hotel Teleferic, and we both wished we had stayed there: we think it’s the best ski resort in Poiana Brasov!
Non-skiers, don’t be wary about spending your time in a ski resort: we aren’t skiers, and we found there was plenty to do in Poiana Brasov to fill our time.
From ample day trip opportunities like visiting nearby Brasov (30 minutes by car or taxi, an hour by bus), Bran Castle, Rasnov Citadel, and more — or just simply relaxing in your Poiana Brasov ski resort, reading books with a view of the mountains and enjoying the spa facilities — there’s no shortage of good things to do in the greater Brasov area.
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So, now to why you’re here — here are the best ski resorts in Poiana Brasov for every budget, from chic hostels to comfortable guesthouses to luxury 5-star ski resorts!
Budget Hotels & Ski Resorts in Poiana Brasov (Under $100 USD/night)
TreeZ Hostel has a rustic appeal and a little bit of bohemian chic ambiance in their lobby. It has some vintage décor elements like old radios and posters framed on the walls which give the hostel a unique and mature vibe.
All rooms (a total of 22) are very clean, and most have a balcony with a view of the mountains — all for a budget price that ranges around $38 USD for a double. You also get private bathrooms (which come with a hairdryer), but remember to carry some toiletries with you, as they are not provided. Cabinets and wardrobes also make the interior ultra-functional.
You can also keep your ski gear and equipment organized in their storages for free, which is fantastic if you’re coming to Romania to ski. If you get lazy and just want to watch some TV, you can be a couch potato in their shared lounge!
It’s also a nice place where you can have conversations with other travelers. There are also some books you can read if you haven’t brought your own. The shared kitchen also has some utensils where you can cook any easy meal — note that breakfast is not included.
Poiana Brasov is quiet and about 30 minutes outside of Brasov, so you are guaranteed a peaceful and quiet next-to-nature accommodation that past guests have loved. There are also nearby parking options for free, great if this is part of a larger winter Transylvania itinerary.
Hotel Ruia offers a lovely garden filled with roses on the façade during summer, but it gets more lovely during winter when the snow starts to cover it, making it look like something out of a wintery fairytale.
Wooden swing benches are scattered outdoors so you can enjoy the stunning mountains views. There are also some indoor plants strategically placed in most of the common areas of this hotel, offering greenery to refresh the eye. A choice of doubles and suites are available.
Each room is equipped with a seating area and desk so you can use it as a work desk or just to have some coffee in the morning. The style is furnished with wooden pieces and earth tones. Another thing you will notice is the choice of bold colors: from maroon sofa covers to navy blue carpets to ochre-colored sheets and curtains, all harmonizing well. One nice perk is that their wardrobe with a huge mirror on its door — I hate it when my hotel room lacks a full-length mirror!
The on-site restaurant, Ruia Restaurant, serves a simple local à la carte menu, so don’t expect too much. However, the atmosphere inside is amazing, especially in the morning when the windows showcase the views as you eat! It also has a bar feature where you can order some wine or champagne if you’re feeling fancy!. The breakfast is plain but hearty and will help energize you before you ski.
Alpin Resort Hotel
This ski resort in Poiana Brasov is composed of three interconnected buildings. World-class facilities and modern style that meets advanced technology await guests who plan to book here. They like to describe their services as “all-inclusive” because everything you need is almost included in your stay! The view of the town, with a background of either the green hills during summer or the white snow-covered mountains during winter, is stunning from the hotel.
Shuttle services are available every 5 minutes to the slopes, so you won’t have to wait long! Ski rental facilities are good. Just make sure to inform the hotel if you wish to book their ski school as it usually gets filled in the peak season, and the worst-case scenario is that they can’t accommodate you l ast minute. Ski instructors are also very professional and really know how to teach the basic tips and techniques can help you learn fast. There’s also an après ski bar where you can just have a nice drink and chat with other skiers!
Aside from the excellent ski facilities, you can also enjoy their different amenities like an Olympic-size swimming pool, sauna, gymnastics room, and a fitness center. Vitarium Spa is where you can optionally get energizing treatments and relaxing massages.
They have four restaurants on-site, and you can have a gastronomic adventure with the different cuisines and dishes they offer. You can choose from Apropo (serves international dishes plus French and Mediterranean wines), Tosca (this is where you can eat your free breakfast buffet), Forest (serves local cuisine) and Gatsby Restaurant (serves Italian cuisine).
Visitors have found their kids entertained with the indoor and outdoor play areas, but you can also leave them under the supervision of a trained staff for babysitting. There are just so many things you can do here and you surely will not run out of things to do!
Rizzo Boutique Hotel
This boutique hotel has 46 rooms where you can choose a double or twin room or a one-bedroom suite (all with designer styles). Interiors are elegant and they have well-designed and tastefully matching curtains, sheets, and headboards. All floors are made from shiny polished hardwood. The ensuite bathrooms have superb amenities: from jet-shower heads and glass that covers the shower area. The only downside of the bathroom is its size, but the rest of the room is so spacious that it makes up for it.
It is ultra-convenient for skiers because they can purchase ski access vouchers inside, plus winter sport equipment rentals and a ski school are available too. Aside from skiing, you can also enjoy their rooftop heated pool with a sauna and a Jacuzzi! Amazing. There’s also a mini garden with a terrace here, where you can see picturesque views of the fir trees in the woods.
The restaurant has classic and elegant styles with a little inspiration from French decors. It has blue-flourished tiles on the floor, and the windows are huge. On the other side of the restaurant is a corner where the bar is located. You can order different kinds of alcoholic drinks here and watch as the bartender mixes your cocktails.
Activities can also be arranged at their concierge service. One of the most exciting (and a little spooky) would be a tour of Bran Castle which is famous for being known as Dracula’s Castle! Don’t worry though – Dracula never actually lived here (mostly because he’s just a fictional character!).
Mid-Range Hotels & Ski Resorts in Poiana Hotels ($100-200 USD per Night)
Ana Hotels Sport Poiana Brasov
This is one of the lower mid-range 4-star ski resorts in Poiana Brasov, which nevertheless has superb facilities and amenities. This is actually where I stayed in Poiana Brasov, and despite the slightly dated look of the hotel, it’s extremely excellent and comfortable.
The property covers a huge area and you can immediately notice its big red roof. It has a total of 112 rooms, all of which have a sofa which can be converted into a bed – perfect for kids or extra guests!
Skiers can also order packed lunches, so they can eat anytime they feel hungry while on the slopes without needing to take a bunch of time out of their ski runs for a sit-down lunch. The on-site ski storage will also help them safely store their equipment. Just like most premier hotels in Poiana Brasov, they do offer a ski school.
A proper vacation should always include some time to relax, and you can do that at their swimming pool (closed during winter), indoor pool, fitness center, or by getting those tired and aching muscles and joints eased with a nice massage!
For the ultimate in comfort and relaxation (though admittedly out of the mid-range price tier!), check into one of their fully equipped King Suites, which also has free access to an indoor pool, sauna, indoor hot tub, and outdoor hot tub! It also comes with a €75 voucher that you can use for spa therapies (this is per room and per night of stay). Availing this room will also entitle you to a 10% discount to other spa services. You also get designer Chopard toiletries in your bathroom!
They have one restaurant named Altitude and a lobby bar. Altitude serves a tasty breakfast buffet, and at other times of the day, skillful chefs prepare the food which is a fusion of international recipes and local Transylvanian. I didn’t get a chance to eat here except for breakfast during my stay, but their Ana Cake and Brasov-style pancakes are supposed to be great!
The only thing that guests found to be lacking during the summer season is the A/Cs — though in the winter, that won’t be a problem. An ATM on-site will give you better rates should you need additional cash, but you can also exchange currency there just in case you need it. Parking is also free, and it’s great because it has charging stations for electric vehicles!
Pensiunea Orizont offers a stunning view of its surroundings – it’s a perfect place to connect your senses with nature and enjoy it with family or friends. While normally “pensuineas” in Romania are rather small, this hotel has a total of 4 floors, plus a basement and ground floor.
The color palette used for the room makes it feel warm and relaxing. The reception area welcomes you with some shortcakes and bread that you can try. All rooms have a private bathroom and its own balcony and hall. There’s also a minibar, wardrobe, and a separate living area with a leather couch. Breakfast is usually served a bit late (around 8:30 AM), but if there are a lot of guests who will go out to ski early, then they will usually adjust and serve it earlier. Breakfast is a selection of different meats and cheeses, bread, fresh fruits, salads, and yummy desserts.
The restaurant also serves as a function room for corporate or business events, weddings, or other special occasions. There’s also a separate conference room for business meetings with projectors and a long table.
There are also 25 parking spaces, and it is also free for guests. However, pets are not allowed in the property, but you will see two cute dogs (a bit ironic, but I’ll never be mad about a hotel with pets) that you can snuggle!
This apartment-type 3-star hotel in the woods opened in 2013, so it is on the new end of the spectrum, with a capacity of 40 rooms. The rooms all have extra large beds and private bathrooms with a separate shower area plus toiletries.
The floors are carpeted (you can tell it is thick once you step on it — great for winter!) and underfloor heating, made to keep the temperature of the rooms cozy during winter. Some rooms have a balcony with a view of the mountains plus nice seating areas. Most of the furniture used are made of wood, giving you that lovely cabin feel. The balcony has outdoor furniture where you can just mesmerize with the lovely view of the Postavaru Mountain.
Free ski storage is provided where you can store your equipment, safe and dry. Guests can enjoy their fitness center (though it is quite small) and sauna for an additional charge. The spiral stairs aren’t friendly to guests with mobility needs, but they also have a lift (which only goes up to 4th floor) where guests can reach the higher levels. Outdoors there is a children’s playground – simple, yet enough to keep kids busy.
The fitness center and sauna are both optional, and fees will apply. You won’t see a restaurant inside, but there is a nearby one that you can check. However, in case you want to grill or roast meats, then they have a grill outdoors!
Luxury Hotels & Ski Resorts in Poiana Brasov
Teleferic Grand Hotel
Teleferic is your terrific escape for the ski season! It offers 127 rooms with a choice of economy and premium suite type rooms. It has been consistently awarded as the “Best Luxury Hotel” from 2016 – 2019 by the Romanian Top Hotel Awards!
They have multiple configurations for both their rooms and apartments. All are complete with the privacy and furnishings you need to have a very comfortable and relaxing vacation during the ski season.
The 4 Seasons Restaurant won an award in 2014 as the “Third Best Culinary Experience in a Restaurant”. Stephanie and I ate there with some of our friends during our two-week long trip through Romania. It may have just been delirium from all the polenta that we ate during those weeks, but their spring rolls were some of the best I’ve ever tasted in my life. We adored the restaurant and found it to be worth the admittedly high prices.
The hotel restaurant also serve a delicious and huge selection at their breakfast buffet. There is another restaurant, Coroana Gourmet, which offers exquisite fine dining which you could also try. For a perfectly brewed coffee of expertly mixed cocktail, you can check their Grand Lobby Café Bar.
During summer, you can try their Uţu House, which is cooking traditional Romanian dishes outdoors on a campfire (the only acceptable way to eat polenta, IMHO). There’s also a spa bar where you can get detoxifying teas and refreshments. At night, you can visit the Teleferic Arena, where you can party with live music from DJs as you dance along with the colorful strobe lights.
There is a ski center for those who want to refresh their skills and storage is provided for free. Skiers can also rest, relax or have a drink at their après-ski bar – it is a social sport after all!
You can also renew your mind, body, and spirit with the vast selection of services at their spa. I had an amazing massage here and found the spa to be beautiful, modern, and complete with everything I wanted. The sauna has 3 choices: a wet, dry, and infrared sauna.
Someone who wants to exercise can check their fitness center which has some basic workout equipment, and it has free access for all guests.
Everyone surely loved their stay here and guests said that they have one of the best breakfasts in Poiana Brasov. If you can afford the higher price tag, it’s certainly the best ski resort in Poiana Brasov by a long shot.
Aurelius Imparatul Romanilor
Aurelius Imparatul Romanilor opened its doors in 2006. It is a ski-to-door access hotel that provides stunning views of the Miorita Lake and the mountains.
They have a total of 88 rooms overflowing with style. You will also see most rooms have a chandelier and dim lights on the side! Some rooms have a balcony. They used classic French 18th-century style furniture as their inspiration, which adds a more regal aesthetic to the rooms. The ensuite bathrooms are huge, and the bigger rooms even have a tub inside!
You can also dine at their 4 restaurants: the Traditional Restaurant, the Miorita Salon, the Imperial Salon, and the Belvedere Salon. They all serve international and local cuisine perfect for those who tend to get bored with just one option. The atmosphere of the restaurants is elegant but relaxed, great for a meal after a long day of skiing.
Wellness facilities include free access to the swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gym, and sauna. These facilities are all superb and huge — it is indeed a luxury accommodation!
This is quite far from the ski slopes, but you can be guaranteed a peaceful ambiance with the pleasant smell of fir trees. If you have a car, it’s a great choice. However, skiers don’t have to worry cause shuttle services are available every 30 minutes, and it only takes around 15 mins to arrive at the slopes.
The private apartments in the building are perfect even for large families. Each unit comes complete with a kitchenette, dining table, oven, microwave, and a fridge.
The balcony has some outdoor rattan seating where you can connect with nature through the views. Although heating is provided, the fireplace just adds coziness and additional warmth to family conversations in the fully decorated living area. There’s also a fluffy carpet here where can kids can sit.
Pets are also allowed on request – they’re part of the family too! Guests with special needs will feel comfortable with their raised toilets and elevators. Last minute shopping for souvenirs can also be done at their gift shop. A garage is also available for guests who have brought a car.
This apartment offers 2 bedrooms with a calm and beautiful view of the fir trees and the mountains. The bathroom has two sinks, which is not common, but it is something useful for larger-sized families. It features complete facilities, and most of them are new!
It has a mini kitchen with a microwave, oven, and stovetop. You can also use the washing machine to clean your dirty laundry if you plan to stay for a longer period of time. Unlike most family apartments, toiletries are provided here, which is a big convenience – especially if you’ve packed lightly.
In the same building is the Silver Mountain Restaurant, where you can order an a la carte meal. They also serve huge portions of food for their guests – perfect when you are hungry from an all-day of skiing!
The spa facilities open a bit late. It is not quite on par with hotels, but it is decent enough. You can also use the gym equipment if you want to do some exercise. You need to cross outside to use them since it is not in the same building. It can be a bit of a pain during the winter if it gets too cold, but it’s not too inconvenient.
Overall, guests loved how the owner is very easy to approach and said that any concerns were given immediate attention and action.
More Romania Resources
If you’re going to Romania, we have a goldmine of resources for you to take advantage of! First, check out this guide to planning a trip to Romania. It’s a good starting point for planning your trip.
For general winter in Romania inspiration, check out our guide to things to. do in Romania in winter! We also have a specific winter guide to Bucharest already published, and guides to Brasov and Sibiu on the way!
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Romania (or really, any part of the world)! Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While Romania is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel – especially winter travel! – so it’s better to play it safe rather than chance having your vacation ruined by a lapse of judgment.
If you’re planning to do winter sports, be sure to check that your specific policy covers ski or snowboard accidents or if you require a higher level of coverage. For example, with World Nomads, ski and snowboarding coverage is only provided on the higher-tier Explorer plan, so be sure to consider that when deciding what insurance plan to purchase if you’re doing winter sports.
Thinking of heading to beautiful Borovets, Bulgaria? Whether you want to visit Borovets in winter for a delightful ski vacation (or just a beautiful snowy escape if you don’t ski) or you’re looking for what to do in Borovets in the summer and non-snowy months, this post had you covered!
We adore Borovets! Just two hours from Sofia, it’s an easy way for us to get out of town. Full of beautiful ski resorts, delicious restaurants, gorgeous hiking in the summer, and fun nightlife, we know you’ll have a great time! Here are our top picks for things to do at any time of year, plus our favorite Borovets tours.
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Where to Stay in Borovets
Accommodations in Borovets offer a great value compared to other ski resorts in Europe. Here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category:
- Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $5-12 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $40 for a double.
- Mid-range: Around $40-80
- Luxury: Around $100 per night or more
Budget: While there aren’t any traditional hostels in Borovets, you can enjoy budget accommodations by staying a bit further away from the ski resort. The SDL Apartments Borovets Gardens are a great value since the taxis back and forth to the resort are still less than staying at the next level of accommodations. These are self-catering apartments, so you can also eat some meals in. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here
Mid-Range: I stayed at the Hotel Flora during my trip, and I loved it! We had a welcome bottle of wine waiting for us, and it was a self-catering apartment with comfortable furniture and a great location within a few minute’s walk from the Yastrebetz Gondola. If you are traveling during peak season, book early since this is one of the more popular mid-range options in town and can sell out in advance. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here
Luxury: The Rila Hotel is known for its stunning views, and amenities. It’s also located right at the bottom of the ski lifts, so it boasts a location that can’t be beaten in all of Borovets. It has several restaurants and a luxury spa so guests can enjoy complete convenience during their stay. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Check out our full guide to the best Borovets ski resorts.
The Best Things to Do in Borovets in Winter
Of course, if you’re headed to Borovets in wintertime, you already know that this is a winter wonderland. But there’s a lot more to do here than you might expect! Here are our picks for the top things to do in Borovets in winter!
This one might be cheating. If you are coming to Borovets for winter, you probably already know exactly how much skiing you plan on doing! But yes, I would be entirely remiss to leave skiing off the list!
Try Out Snowboarding
If you want to hit the slopes but you are more interested in snowboarding than skiing, you can take lessons and easily rent a board here. Seasoned snowboarders are free to hit the slopes on their own.
Get an Adrenaline Rush on a Ski Mobile
If skiing and snowboarding don’t get your blood pumping, why not try your hand at snowmobiling? You can go on an adventure-packed snowmobile tour!
Ride Horses in the Snow
A relaxing horseback ride through the snow? No, it’s not a dream, you can actually book a horseback riding winter tour here. It’s like you’re living inside a Christmas carol.
Tour the Mosque in Samokov
The little town of Samokov actually has two reasons to visit this list. My favorite is the delightful Ottoman mosque and fountain that you can see near the bus station. We visited when we changed buses from Sofia to Borovets, but if you get to Borovets a different way I would still come over to see them yourself. The ride between the two towns is just a few minutes.
Many Bulgarians choose to stay in Samokov because the prices are much lower than in the resort town of Borovets. Something to keep in mind if you’re skiing holiday has a strict budget!
Enjoy a Spa Day or a Morning in the Steam Room!
Every hotel will have a spa and steam room, but some are considerably nicer and more relaxed than others. However, if you don’t spend some time in a steam room on a ski vacation, what was the point of even going?
Go Skiing…at Night
Yes, you knew you could ski in Borovets, but did you know that you can ski at night? If you want a little extra James Bond-iness in your ski adventure, get a night pass! (I think I remember James Bond skiing at night or am I making that up)?
Take a Dip in the Local Hot Springs
While I’ve personally tried the hot springs closer to home in Sofia, I’ve been to enough Bulgarian water centers and parks to know they’re always a good (and..uniquely Bulgarian) time. Head to Aqua Club Kotava to experience this for yourself!
Experience Borovet’s Apres Ski
My personal favorite Borovets activity is Apres Ski…but does it count as Apres Ski if you didn’t actually ski? I say yes! You can read about some of my favorite places to eat and drink in Borovets here. Make sure not to miss getting some shots at Bulgaria’s only Jamaican Restaurant with a Cool Runnings theme!
A tandem paragliding date might not be the most romantic thing you can do in Borovets, but if you’re part of an adrenaline junkie couple then buckle up!
The Best Things to Do in Borovets in Spring, Summer, and Fall
Since Borovets is a ski resort town, you may think there’s not much to do there during the rest of the year. Well, I’m happy to report that this is not the case! Borovets, while less crowded during the summer, is still a great destination for nature enthusiasts!
You can do many of the winter activities year-round (think steam rooms, horseback riding, and visiting Kotvata), but here are some activities best (or ONLY) enjoyed in the warmer months of the year.
Hike Musala Peak
Affectionately referred to as the “Everest of the Balkans,” Musala Peak is the highest mountain on the Balkan Peninsula. In summer, it’s a popular hiking spot for the countries more seasoned and intrepid hikers.
See the Palace & Waterfalls at Tsarska Bistritsa
You can technically visit the palace in Samokov year-round, but if you want to walk through to the waterfall it would be a better summer activity. Here’s a little background on the palace:
“Tsarska Bistritsa” is the former palace of the rulers of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom. Located above the resort of Borovets in Rila. Built between 1898 and 1914 it is performing the functions of a hunting lodge for kings Ferdinand I and Boris III. Architectural appearance is influenced by the traditional Bulgarian Renaissance style, but it can be seen also European architectural influences.
In 1898 was built the first wing of the palace, known as the “Old Palace”, which consists of several rooms, offices, and bedrooms. Later they were built two wings with a spacious living room, dining room and second floor with bedroom, dressing room and another cabinet. So upon completion in 1914, it has formed a whole complex of royal buildings and a beautiful park crossed by a river Bistrica Musalenska.
The palace and park are open from Thursdays through Sundays from 9 are until 5 pm.
Go Mountain Biking
Borovets mountain bike park has twenty kilometers of track available for your enjoyment, or you can join an organized cross-country mountain biking tour. Of course, if you’re an experienced rider you can always choose to do some solo or group adventuring on your own.
Tour Tsari Mali Grad Medieval Fortress
You know we love a good Bulgarian castle or fortress, so we highly encourage you to take the time to visit Tsari Mali Grad while you’re in Borovets. Just fifteen minutes from Borovets in the town of Belchin, you’ll find this fifteenth-century historic site nicknamed “the little King’s city.”
Try Out Rock Climbing
A relatively new activity in Borovets, two of the most famous Bulgarian rock climbers has started a rock climbing and mountaineering school in Borovets. You can learn from some of the best, as this team has climbed some of the most famous peaks anywhere in the world!
5 Things to Pack for Borovets
We have an entire Bulgaria packing list with a winter clothing section (and a separate skiing packing list is coming soon!), but here are five things you definitely want to bring with you to Bulgaria!
Lonely Planet Bulgaria & Romania is a great guidebook for your visit to Bulgaria. It can be really hard (sometimes impossible) to buy a physical guidebook in English once you’re in Bulgaria, so if you like having your guidebook in your hands you will need to bring it with you from home.
Reusable water bottle with filter: While you can drink the tap water in most of Bulgaria, if you’ll be visiting a lot of small villages or doing some hiking, I recommend a filter water bottle like the GRAYL. If you’re sticking to big cities, a regular reusable bottle will do just fine. This one is cool because it’s collapsible!
Touchscreen gloves (winter travel): You’ll want to cover your fingers and still be able to use your favorite touchscreen devices, so we recommend gloves like these that are compatible with your smartphone.
Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up. If you use a moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside all day.
More Bulgaria Travel Resources
We want you to have the best trip to Bulgaria possible! If this will be your first time in Bulgaria, check out our Bulgaria trip planning guide as well as our packing list for Bulgaria (which includes a winter section).
To help you, we’ve created a number of resources that will be helpful. If you’re visiting Sofia, these 101 things to do in Sofia should be a nice start! Also, read our Sofia travel tips post and where to stay in Sofia.
Planning a Trip to Bulgaria? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
We strongly suggest that you travel to Bulgaria with a valid travel insurance policy. While the country is safe, accidents can happen anywhere. If you experience an accident or theft, travel insurance will help you recover your costs and enjoy the rest of your trip.
This is especially important in winter since winter activities carry a certain amount of risk with them. We recommend the Explorer upgraded insurance plan if you plan to do any skiing or snowboarding so that you can be fully covered.
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
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