Bulgaria’s mountainous terrain offers plenty of adventurous options. The ski season lasts from December to March, and the country has several well-known resorts. Bansko (w www.bansko.bg), in the spectacular Pirin mountain range in the southwest, is the best known, with alpine peaks and challenging runs perfect for experienced skiers and snowboarders. Other large resorts include Pamporovo (w www.winter.pamporovoresort.com) in the Rhodope Mountains, which is the best for beginners, and Borovets (w www.borovets-bg.com) in the Rila range; for more information see w www.bulgariaski.com.

Of all Bulgaria’s ranges, the Rila Mountains (w www.rilanationalpark.org) provide some of the country’s most attractive hiking destinations, including the highest peak – Mount Musala (2925m) – from where a two–three-day trail leads to Rila Monastery. For the best maps, advice and organized hikes visit Zig-Zag Holidays (w www.zigzagbg.com) in Sofia. Horseriding is growing in popularity, and a small number of travel agencies can arrange trips of varying length (see “Horseriding in the Rila Mountains”).

Despite the popularity of team sports such as basketball, handball and volleyball, none can compete with football for the passion with which it is involved. Teams in the premier division (“A” Grupa) play on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. Tickets are generally cheap and sold at booths outside the grounds on the day of the match. The Bulgarian Football League maintains an informative website with limited English-language content (w www.pfl.bg).

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

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