I flew 1,600 miles to the wild Magaluf of the Slopes for less than a night of partying in London
A SKI resort in the Bulgarian mountains is becoming known as the “Magaluf of the slopes” with its cheap cellar schnapps, legendary après-ski and sensational slopes.
So our reporter decided to put the resort’s reputation to the test – and found that a big night out about 1,600 miles away could actually be cheaper than one in London.
With the ongoing cost of living crisis, eager Britons are always looking for cheap ways to blow off some steam.
And we’ve found that despite flights, hotels, drinks and food, you still have to spend under £100 for a night in Bansko.
One night on the town in London and you can easily spend that — especially when you start considering the capital’s high average hotel prices.
Nestled in the Pirin Mountains of Bulgaria, Bansko is the latest snowy obsession of young Brits ready and willing to tumble down the slopes to reach 2 pints below.
The resort is an odd sort of ski paradise where old-fashioned alpine charm persists, strip clubs and pubs top it all, and a trip here might be cheaper than a night in London.
Imagine Magaluf meets the Meribel of the French Alps – crop tops and bucket-sized drinks are replaced by thermoses and jugs, but the commitment to partying on a budget remains.
It’s both a place where you’ll see young families running around and where you’ll be offered a lap dance at lunchtime.
Some of the biggest parties happen at 4pm, when you come down the mountain at an après-ski bar aptly named Happy End.
As soon as you step off the gondola, you hear the loud slamming of ski boots on wooden floors and the thumping of Calvin Harris from over-loud speakers.
That was Alex Hales’ favorite part. The 27-year-old from Warwickshire had heard tales of Bansko’s legendary post-ski party and wasn’t disappointed.
“Banging tunes, live DJ, cheap drinks, big dance floor – that’s all you want from après,” he told The Sun Online.
This is where people sip £1 shots and £2 beers as the sun goes down before stumbling home on their skis in preparation for the evening’s mayhem.
Amid the blaring music, Newcastle native Zin told The Sun: “I’m here to have a good time with my friends and drink pints for 80p but they’re not exactly 80p but they’re more like £2.
“But oh my god it’s so much cheaper than London and makes it more worthwhile because you get off the mountain feeling like you deserve it.”
And with that, the 24-year-old is dancing on the tables again.
Drink rounds are cancelled, people fall off stools and kiss on the floor, and ski gloves are lost.
And all of this cheekiness takes place against the stunning backdrop of tree-lined slopes dangling down snow-capped mountains.
As night falls, a neon-lit strip slices through the center of the resort town, where club promoters have no problem chasing you and scantily clad exotic dancers brave the cold temperatures to lure you inside.
Someone is always offering you ‘the best kebab of your life’, and amidst the chaos you hear the familiar-sounding chants of a British bachelorette party en route to another of Bansko’s vaunted haunts.
Our reporter ran into one such drunken group there – a 15-strong collection of Welsh boys, because “we were told this place was the Ibiza of the mountains,” says Ian, 31, from Newport.
“We’re here for a bachelorette party because it’s cheap and the reviews are great.”
He explains that they planned their entire trip based on TripAdvisor, which rates it 4.5/5 and regularly ranks it as the best value for money in Europe.
“The night life was raging, we were out until 2 or 3 in the morning and after a few hours of sleep we were on the slopes at 9 in the morning and I can’t even ski but we still made it,” he said excitedly.
For all Brits who miss home, there’s a massive, ballroom-sized club called ‘Queen’s Pub’ which, according to its website, is ‘the only pub you’ll ever need in your life’.
You enter the stately dance floor through doors made out of the iconic red phone booths and everything inside is themed with London landmarks.
The ages in the clubs honestly ranged from around 7 to 70 – it’s a bit open, free for all.
As is the town itself, which is an odd melting pot of ski bums, tourists who never left, local Bulgarians and plenty of Brits who flew in for the weekend in search of something wild and new.
Alex, from Warwickshire, admitted Bansko was “a lot nicer than I thought it was,” he says: “But it rings true that there are lots of bars and clubs and English people everywhere.”
“We saw the League Cup final between Man United and Newcastle and found a bar where Brits were wriggling and it felt exactly like Magaluf.”
“After the game there was an argument between the two teams outside the bar – very British energy abroad.”
Although he admitted, “It was more of a verbal tournament than a physical wrestling.”
Don’t be fooled, there’s still culture in this party town. Square modern developments and vape shops alternate with cobblestone streets, 19th-century wooden chalets and traditional restaurants.
There, for less than a tenner, you can enjoy a delicious meal with gallons of wine and indulge in oddly moving Bulgarian folk music played by a live band crowding your table.
You can also treat yourself to thermal baths in the nearby village of Banya – which literally means ‘bath’ in Bulgarian – which gets most of its heating from the naturally occurring hot springs.
After a long day of minimal skiing and maximum drinking, you can wallow in its warm waters surrounded by locals who don’t like the British invading their idyll.
And what about the actual skiing?
The ski area’s highest point reaches 8,398 feet, and from there you’ll have 46 miles of powder slopes to manage between you and the village.
It was nearing the end of the season as The Sun’s reporter hit the slopes after an unusually snow-poor year that saw ski resorts melt away across Europe.
While the Alps suffered, Bansko, with his wild reputation, didn’t seem to suffer.
Year after year, more people flock to enjoy this boozy winter wonderland, with this season expecting 12% more tourists than last.
“The skiing is not demanding, more of a beginner’s area,” explains Alex.
“People are constantly falling down the baby slopes or being pulled up by hitting a pommel lift – it’s a weird place.”
The slopes attracted ski fanatics, but also plenty of novices, and the sight of unlucky skiers and snowboarders fleeing just became part of the experience.
Our reporter watched her friend helplessly fall 200 feet down an icy black run while other skiers just stood there and laughed.
Despite the late-season grass, slush, and ice, the blow was softened by the mega-cheap lift passes and ski equipment rentals — some of the cheapest in Europe.
All in all, Bansko is a steal.
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https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/10457671/wild-magaluf-slopes-ski-resort-cheaper-london/ I flew 1,600 miles to the wild Magaluf of the Slopes for less than a night of partying in London