From its establishing around the middle of the 20th century, Pamporovo was built as a resort. That’s why it isn’t that big of a place, but despite that, accommodation is varied and prices are low – even on the slopes. Its area is quite well-structured so crowds are a rare sight and occur only at the time of the biggest national holidays. Being a ski resort from its very beginning not that long ago, Pamporovo doesn’t possess the type of oldie ambiance other older town-resorts offer, but one could, nevertheless, try traditional Bulgarian meals and especially the popular and very distinctive local dishes. These are best experienced in Bulgarian mehanas – restaurants where not only the food but also the setting is traditional. Some nights there is folklore music and dancing, made especially enjoyable by the good local wine. All in all, Pamporovo is a small and cozy place and its nightlife is not among the busiest, but at the same time it has enough restaurants and bars – mainly in the hotels, and also shops for a nice après-ski night out. It’s a great convenience to have lunch on the pistes and Pamporovo ski resort offers that at surprisingly low prices – even considering Bulgaria is an overall cheap place for a vacation. Another great option for dining out is visiting one of the many restaurants in the nearby towns of Chepelare, Shiroka Laka or Smolyan. For all the guests out there who are not that interested in skiing all the time – or who just want to have a little break from the slopes – the Rhodope mountains offer so much in terms of cultural, natural and historic sites of touristic interest. Mineral water and SPA resorts are also a trademark of the area.
In and Around the Resort
Besides skiing and snowboarding, free-riding and cross-country, snow covered Pamporovo offers a few other fun activities for those seeking adventure and thrill. Ski-dooing is a different way to enjoy winter plains and slopes and you can try that outside the official ski zone. The most popular activity in Pamporovo ski resort – besides the main one, of course – is riding a husky sled. The trip lasts around 20 min. and offers an exciting way to look around the place in the company of these majestic animals.
If you crave a change of scenery and wish to relax after a day on the slopes, there are many SPA centers and swimming pools in the hotels of the resort. Most of them, nevertheless, are not mineral water complexes. The area, though, is rich in hot mineral springs and two of the resorts most popular for their healing climate and specific mineral water resources are situated not that far away – Narechen is 39 km away and Devin is at a distance of 34 km.
Places of Interest
A good place to start exploring what Pamporovo ski resort has to offer is the top of Snezhanka Peak from where one can admire the beautiful landscape before making a plan what to visit in Pamporovo. Located on the very top there is the TV Tower Snezhanka – a trademark of Pamporovo ski resort. Its iconic panoramic terrace (2030 m) and restaurant open up an amazing 360-degree view.
The mystical Rhodopi Mountain is attractive for Bulgarian and foreign tourists alike. They all are curious about its enigmatic cultural and religious landmarks and one-of-a-kind natural phenomena.
Smolyan Lakes – one of the most impressive natural landmarks in the region – are scattered all the way from the area of Orpheus’Rocks to the nearby town of Smolyan. Once reaching 20 in number, nowadays there’s only 7 of them, as the rest dried up. They are different in size, depth and character with the biggest and most beautiful ones being the 3 highest ones – Trevistoto Lake (Grassy Lake), Bistroto Lake (Clear Lake) and Matnoto Lake (Muddy Lake).
Shiroka Laka village lies only 13km away from Pamporovo. It is a famous architectural, ethnographic and folklore reserve. The name of the village is derived from ‘lаka’ which means ‘meandering’. The village boasts incredible beauty with its authentic Rhodopi houses, located amphitheatrically at both banks of the river. Visitors are impressed by the skillfully finished decoration, which is typical of the period of Bulgarian Revival. The village hosts an interesting local event – one of the biggest mask festivals in Bulgaria, where participants in special costumes perform the ritual of banishing evil spirits – in the beginning of March. So, if you happen to be there, just remember the name of the festival: Pesponedelnik.
Another interesting place to visit is the Bulgarian National Astronomical Observatory in Rozhen – only 14 km away from Pamporovo. It is the biggest observatory in southeastern Europe and was established in 1981 as part of the Institute of Astronomy at the Bulgarian Academy of Science. The observatory is equipped with four telescopes: a universal 2m Ritchey-Chretien-Coude (RCC) reflector made by Carl Zeiss, Jena; 50/70cm Schmidt-camera; 60cm reflector by Zeiss, Jena and “home-made” 15cm solar coronagraph.
In the nearby town of Smolyan (17 km) there are at least three places of interest that may catch your attention. One is the Smolyan Planetarium – a very popular tourist attraction with lectures in different languages. The temple of St. Visarion Smolenski is another sightseeing favourite. It has a very interesting structure and is the second largest church in Bulgaria after the temple of St. Alexander Nevski in the capital city of Sofia. It is called after Visarion Smolenski, a local bishop and martyr of the 17th century. If you are interested in the millennial history of the Central Rhodope Mountain, you should check out the Stoyu Shishkov History Museum.
There’s no reason one should only stay in the resort or its immediate surroundings, of course. Some of the many interesting places to visit within a half-day or a full-day trip– with your own car, a rental or with an organized excursion – include Bachkovo Monastery (the second largest Bulgarian monastery, holding the miraculous Virgin Mary icon – its most treasured possession), Chudnite Mostove –The Wonderful Bridges –(a protected natural monument comprising of majestic marble bridges which were once part of an entire cave but parts of it collapsed in time due to the destructive activity of the river flowing under it), Yagodinska Cave (one of the most beautiful caves in Bulgaria consisting of three levels and with a total length of 10 km), and the city of Plovdiv (a unique and very old place with rich cultural life and archaeological sites ranging from Antiquity to the Bulgarian Revival period).