In the 19th century the ruling Prince Ferdinand built a hunting lodge at Borovets and was followed by various their wealthy family and friends. Thus was born one of Europe's earliest ski resorts. The modern resort was built in the 1960's to cater for package ski holidays. During the communist era its proximity to Sofia made it the favoured resort for Party officials and Sofia's diplomatic set. In the last few years Borovets has attracted considerable private development and investment, but as yet not on the scale of its neighbour Bansko. Hoping to replicate the success of Bankso, a 'Super Borovets' project was planned as a more luxurious and larger-scale replica of Bankso.
For now Borovets is attracting far less interest from buyers than Bansko and Pamporovo. Some apartments are being built in lower Borovets ahead of the upgrade of the ski facilities. Prices here are generally lower than of the other ski resorts.
The picturesque resort of Borovets is located in the Rila Mountains and is one of the best established winter resorts in South-East Europe, and the oldest mountain resort in Bulgaria. The resort is 1,350 m above sea level on the northern slopes of the Rila Mountains. Borovets is at the foot of the Moussala peak (2,925 m) - the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula. The resort is located 73 km from Sofia and 126 km from Plovdiv, which means that both Sofia and Plovdiv with their international airports can serve as arrival/departure points.
The Rila Mountains seem to be a piece of the Alps thrown into the heart of the Balkans with their many peaks above 2000 metres, glacial valleys and lakes. The snow cover on the parts of average altitude to the Alpine heights often exceeds 2 metres. Eastern Rila is the highest part of the mountain where one can visit Rila's highest peak - Moussala (2,925m) and the 10 top peaks, and glacial lake (2,709m). Northwestern Rila is home to some of the symbols of Bulgarian alpinism and mountaineering – the Malyovitsa and Kupenite peaks, and the biggest and significant lake groups, the most famous and scenic of all being the Seven Rila lakes. Many marked tourist hiking trails and high-mountain rock climbing tours originate from here.
Borovets is an Alpine type resort and provides very good conditions for winter sports such as skiing (both day and night), snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, biathlon and ski-doo. There are ski runs for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers designed with international markings and multilingual signs. Pistes are maintained to a high standard. The resort is a regular host of sports competitions. It has twice hosted World Cup competitions in Alpine skiing and its biathlon track is one of the best in Europe. Borovets has developed into a modern ski resort of high class with luxury hotels, restaurants, clubs, shops and a good choice of pistes and lifts.
The climate is favourable for four season tourism. Winters are mild with lots of snow and the average temperature during the coldest month of January is 4.8 ºC. Usually the slopes of Borovets have snow cover from December till April.
Places of interest
Borovets offers scores of scenic routes including many guided ski routes. The organized trips lead to picturesque spots in the Rila Mountains such as the Seven Rila lakes, Malyovitsa Peak, Moussala Peak. A photo safari and a visit to the former Bulgarian Tsar's residence of Bistritsa are also attractive options. Trips to Melnik with its unique pyramids and famous wines as well as to Sofia, Plovdiv and the Rila Monastery are among the most interesting ones.
Rila Monastery: The biggest and most famous of Bulgaria's monasteries is situated in the north-western part of the Rila Mountains and is one of the most significant monuments on the Balkan Peninsula. It was founded by a hermit, St John of Rila, in the 10th century, and eventually became a monastic complex that played a primary role in the spiritual history of medieval Bulgaria. Having survived fire, abandonment and plunder, the monastery fascinates visitors today with its exquisite architecture, rich murals and icons and valuable museum collection, including old manuscripts, jewelry, textiles, church treasures and a library containing thousands of books.
The Rila Monastery is also the burial place of the Scot, James Bourchier the Times Correspondent based in Sofia during the turbulent latter part of the 19th Century. He made Bulgaria his home, and after sending many reports back home of Turkish atrocities helped to stir up public opinion in Victorian Britain that something must be done to stop further oppression of the Bulgarian Christian population under the Ottoman Yoke.
Malyovitsa is a small resort but there is no other Bulgarian resort which can compare with its beauty and grandeur. It is situated at about 1,700 metres above sea level. There is good road access from the nearest village of Govedartsi (13 km) and the town of Samokov (27 km). Malyovitsa is a natural base for alpine sports. The highest Alpine walls and the most difficult rock tours are located here.
30 km to the east of Samokov is situated the spa resort town of Dolna Banya with mineral water temperature 56.3 C. The recreation campus is 5 km to the south, with many facilities and children camps. There is a tourist chalet as well. Marked hiking tracks start from the recreation campus across Eastern Rila.
The Pchelin spa complex is located in a picturesque mountainous area not far from the city of Sofia. It lies 9km from the well-known Kostenets spa resort, 30 km away from the Borovets ski resort and just 70 km away from the capital city which make it an increasingly popular destination. The Pchelin spa is nestled in the woods of the Ihtimanska Sredna Gora, surrounded by a gorgeous wreath of oak and pine trees. The popularity of the Pchelin mineral springs dates back to ancient times. According to legends, soldiers of the Bulgarian King Samouil, as well as Bulgarian rioters during the Ottoman rule later on (so-called “haiduti”) used to come here to have their wounds healed. Moreover, local people tell stories of childless women who gave birth to long-cherished children after taking a bath in the mineral waters of Pchelin.
The holiday village of Govedartsi is located 13 km to the south-west of Samokov. It is a starting point for hiking tours in the Rila Mountains. Just 3 km outside the village one can find many holiday houses, recreational centres, private villas, as well as a tourist base with 100 beds in bungalows. Among these is the Mechit Chalet with one of the best ski-runs in the country.
A total of EUR 400 million will be needed for implementation of the project for development of Bulgaria's Borovets resort, called 'Super Borovets'. The increase of the hotel capacity in Borovets will create an additional 10,000 beds. The project includes the construction of new ski racing tracks, lifts, a winter stadium, an aqua park, car parks, restaurants, a golf course, and a crafts complex. In 2009 Borovets will look much different from today - the resort will spread from the town of Samokov to the village of Beli Iskar and will be divided into three levels, offering various accommodation facilities in line with tourist preferences.
This may be a good long term investment and several wise Brits are buying in the surrounding villages with the aim of benefiting from this project in the future.