Treat for snow enthusiasts: Best ski resorts of Balkans

The Balkans and their beautiful cities have destinations that we never give up on every year. Some offer enjoyable alternatives for soaking up the sun and the sea in the summer, some for tracing the footsteps of history and some for experiencing the joy of snow in the winter.

Balkan countries, especially those that do not require a visa for Türkiye, attract Turkish tourists in all seasons. They are among the first that come to mind for us regardless of the season when we do not need a visa.

I must also mention that lately, we have encountered tourists from many European countries who are chasing history, enjoying the magnificent Adriatic coasts and experiencing the joy of snow in the winter without distinction of season.

So, if the season is winter, let’s take a closer look at the ski resorts of the Balkan countries, especially those that have become quite popular recently.

Ski Center Kopaonik, Serbia

I will start with Kopaonik Ski Resort, located in Serbia, whose capital is my favorite city in the Balkans, Belgrade. Approximately four hours from Belgrade, 2.5 hours from Nis, another delightful city in Serbia and just 1.5 hours from Novi Pazar, near the Kosovo border, this ski resort is a popular destination offering excellent opportunities for local and international ski enthusiasts.

After embracing the snow and finishing your skiing fun, you can visit Novi Pazar, Nis, nearby, or Belgrade, a bit farther away, or cross into Kosovo for another country experience.

Kopaonik, Serbia’s most famous ski resort, has a significantly prolonged duration of snow cover. The center, equipped with 24 cable cars and chairlifts, offers suitable slopes for both professional and novice skiers. You can enjoy skiing to the fullest on 55 kilometers (34 miles) of slopes.

There are delightful hotel options for your stay at the ski resort. In addition to luxury hotel choices, the ski resort also provides budget-friendly options, including guesthouse alternatives. The most distinctive feature that sets the Kopaonik ski resort apart from others is the possibility of night skiing in Kopaonik.

The Balkans offer stunning ski routes, inviting snow enthusiasts to embark on an adventure-filled journey. (Getty Images Photo)
The Balkans offer stunning ski routes, inviting snow enthusiasts to embark on an adventure-filled journey. (Getty Images Photo)

Popova Shapka, Macedonia

Popova Shapka is one of the ski resort destinations we heard of during our trip to Skopje.

A winter visit to Popova Shapka, one of Europe’s oldest ski resorts, can be turned into a gastronomy and cultural tour by taking city tours in Skopje and Tetovo. Located at the foothills of the Shar Mountains, this ski resort has slopes arranged according to FIS standards. It is said that snowboarders and extreme skiing enthusiasts especially prefer this place more.

Besides Popova Shapka, there is another ski resort in North Macedonia where you can witness awe-inspiring natural landscapes. Located within the boundaries of Mavrovo National Park, Mavrovo Ski Resort has become quite popular recently with its 25-kilometer ski slopes. The ski resort, approximately 1.5 hours away from the capital, Skopje, is also about two hours away from Ohrid, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Mavrovo Lake, located in this ski resort between these two beautiful cities, will offer you magnificent views. A trip to Mavrovo Ski Resort, where you can fully enjoy not only skiing but also embracing nature, adding small city tours to your itinerary, can provide you with incredible experiences.

Zabljak Ski Resort, Montenegro

Next in line is Montenegro, which has recently become the apple of the eye in summer tourism in the Balkans. Montenegro continues to open magnificent doors to its visitors in both summer and winter seasons.

Zabljak Ski Resort is located approximately two hours from the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica. I can say that it is an excellent alternative, especially for families with children.

The spot, which has separate slopes for adults and children, is ideal for those who want a peaceful holiday and enjoy skiing. The ski resort offers separate slopes for professionals, amateurs and even beginners, and numerous accommodation options are available.

Chair lift in the ski resort of Bansko, Bulgaria, Feb. 13, 2022. (Getty Images Photo)
Chair lift in the ski resort of Bansko, Bulgaria, Feb. 13, 2022. (Getty Images Photo)

Bansko Ski Resort, Bulgaria

A very popular ski resort, Bansko is visited by many foreign tourists from European countries. As a favorite destination due to its proximity for Turkish tourists, it also winks at its visitors as one of the most beautiful ski resorts in Bulgaria.

Bansko also offers its guests a budget-friendly ski vacation, with pleasant restaurants and nightclubs where you can have fun besides the ski slopes, which stretch up to 75 kilometers and are extremely well-maintained. You can enjoy skiing to the fullest extent.

Jahorina Ski Centar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Located quite close to the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo, Jahorina Ski Resort was built for the 1984 Winter Olympics and is known as the largest ski and winter tourism center in the Balkans.

With ski slopes stretching up to 20 kilometers, it is possible to find snow almost year-round here. Another ski resort quite close to Sarajevo, Igman, could be another alternative route you can consider. In fact, National Geographic selected Igman Ski Resort as one of the best ski routes.

These two ski resorts, built for the 1984 Winter Olympics, are quite close to the capital, Sarajevo, so you can also take a historical city tour during your trip. By visiting Sarajevo and Mostar, which carry traces of the Ottoman Empire, you can follow in the footsteps of history.

The snow-capped peaks of the Balkans bring together ski enthusiasts with exciting slopes and magnificent natural landscapes. From Serbia to Montenegro, from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Bulgaria, from North Macedonia to many Balkan cities, a wonderful ski experience awaits you in this incredible geography. Before this winter ends, take a step into a snowy adventure while enjoying the unique landscapes of the Balkans.

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