You can get a sense of both the Communist and royal past in the ski resort of Borovets. Samokov hotel gives a glimpse of the Communist past with its huge 11-storey building within which you can find a full size swimming pool, ten pin bowling alley, conference centre and shooting range - entertainment and brutalist architecture for the masses. A sense of an earlier royal past is provided by the Royal Bistria hunting lodge built at the end of the 19th century for Bulgarian monarchs nestling in the woods. If you are a Communist or royalist the skiing is good: there are enough descents through picturesque pine forest to keep most amused and it's much cheaper than the Alps. The Rila mountains are beautiful. You get a glimpse of their many lakes (120) on the way up from Sofia and if not skiing, mountain biking and walking are alternatives. On the way between Sofia and Borovets Mitropolitska church in Samokov is worth a stop to see its remarkable woodcarvings.
Along with Bansko and Pamporovo, Borovets is one of the most popular destinations for skiing and snowboarding in Bulgaria. In my opinion it is the best place to go because there aren't many people, especially if you go on my personal favourite slopes Yastrebetz (1,2 and 3), Popangelov and Markudjik (1 and 2). It is near the capital - Sofia, you need an hour and a half or two to get there, so you can leave in the morning and be there by 10am, register in a hotel, guest house or a villa, eat something and be ready to go skiing or snowboarding by noon. You can buy a half-day lift pass which is 25 levas (about 13 euros) on the weekends and you can start using it at 12pm - the lift pass is for all the facilities in Borovets.
I was there this weekend and we stayed at a guest house, where we paid 20 levas (10 euros) per bed for one night, which is cheap, considering we are in the middle of the ski season. It was an amazing weekend, the weather was great, it was sunny, there was a lot of snow, all the slopes were fabulous.
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