I flew 1,600 miles to wild 'Magaluf of the Slopes' – and for less than one night of partying in London | The Sun

A SKI resort in the Bulgarian mountains is becoming known as the "Magaluf of the Slopes" with its bargain basement booze, legendary après-ski and sensational slopes.

So our reporter decided to put the resort's reputation to the test – and found a big night out some 1,600 miles away might truly be cheaper than one in London.

With the cost of living crisis still biting, eager Brits are always on the lookout for cheap ways to blow off some steam.

And we found that even with flights, hotels, drinks and food – you are still looking at spending less than £100 for one night in Bansko.

One night on the town in London and you can easily spend that – especially when you start factoring in the capital's steep average hotel prices.

Nestled in the Pirin mountains of Bulgaria, Bansko is the newest snow-covered obsession of young Brits ready and willing to fling themselves down slopes to reach £2 pints at the bottom. 

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The resort is a strange kind of ski paradise where an old fashioned Alpine charm persists, strip clubs and boozers outnumber anything else, and a trip here has the potential to be cheaper than a night in London.

Think Magaluf meets the French Alps' Meribel – crop tops and bucket-sized drinks are replaced with thermals and steins, but the commitment to partying on a budget soldiers on.

It’s both a place where you will see young families walking around and also where you are offered a lap dance at lunchtime.

Some of the biggest parties happen at 4pm as you get off the mountain at an après-ski bar aptly called “Happy End”. 

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As soon as you step off the gondola you can hear the sound of loud ski boots banging on wooden floors and some Calvin Harris blaring out of overly loud speakers.

This was Alex Hales’ favourite part. The 27-year-old from Warwickshire had heard tales of Bansko’s legendary post-ski partying and wasn’t disappointed.

“The banging tunes, live DJ, cheap drinks, big dance floor – it’s all you could want from après,” he told The Sun Online. 

It’s here that people down £1 shots and £2 litre beers as the sun sets before stumbling with their skis home to prepare for the chaos of the evening.

Amid the booming music, Zin from Newcastle, told The Sun: “I’m here to have a good time with my friends and have 80p pints, but they’re not exactly 80p, they’re more like £2 instead.

“But oh my god, it’s so much cheaper than in London and makes it more worthwhile because you get off the mountain and feel like you earned it.”

And with that, the 24-year-old is back off to dance on the tables.

Rounds of drinks are dropped, people fall from stools and kiss on the floor and ski gloves are lost.

And, all of this naughtiness takes place with the stunning backdrop of tree-lined runs draping down snow-capped mountains.

As night descends, a neon-lit strip cuts through the centre of the resort town, where club promoters have no issue chasing you down and scantily dressed exotic dancers brave the cold temperatures to lure you inside.

Someone’s always offering you “the best kebab of your life” and amongst the mayhem is the familiar sounding chants of a British stag do on their way to another of Bansko’s lauded haunts.

Our reporter bumped into one such boozy group – a 15-man strong collection of Welsh lads there because “we were told this place was the Ibiza of the mountains,” says Ian, 31, from Newport.

“We’re here for a stag do because it’s cheap and the reviews are great.”

He explains they planned their entire trip off the basis of TripAdvisor, which rates it a 4.5/5 and regularly ranks it as the best value for skiing in Europe.

“The nightlife was banging, we were out till 2 or 3am and on the slopes at 9am in the morning after a couple hours sleep and I can’t even ski but we still managed,” he said excitedly. 

For any Brits missing home, there’s a huge ballroom sized club called the “Queen’s Pub”, which reckons it’s “the only pub you will ever need in life”, according to its website.

You enter its stately dance floor through doors made of the iconic red phone boxes and everything inside is themed with London’s landmarks.

Ages in the clubs honestly ranged from around 7-years-old to 70 – it's a bit of an open, free-for-all.

Just like the town itself, which is a strange melting pot of ski bums, tourists who never left, local Bulgarians and lots of Brits flown in for the weekend looking for something wild and new. 

Alex from Warwickshire admitted that Bansko “was way nicer than I thought it would be," he says: “but it rings true that there’s a lot of bars and clubs and English people everywhere.”

“We watched the league cup final between Man United and Newcastle and found a bar wriggling with Brits and that felt exactly like Magaluf.”

“There was a fight outside the bar after the game between the two sides – very Brits abroad energy."

Although he conceded: "it was more of a verbal joust than a physical wrestle."

Mountain Magaluf?

Don’t be fooled, there’s still culture to be found in this party town. Interspersed between angular modern developments and vape shops are cobbled streets, 19th century wooden chalets and traditional restaurants.

There you can have a slap-up meal with litres of wine for under a tenner and enjoy some strangely moving Bulgarian folk music played by a live band swarming your table. 

You can also treat yourself to thermal baths in the nearby village of Banya – which literally means bath in Bulgarian – which runs 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 much like the Brits invading their idyll.

And, what of the actual skiing? 

The highest point of the skiing area reaches 8,398ft, and from there 46 miles of powdered runs to tackle between you and the village.

It was nearing the end of the season when The Sun’s reporter hit the slopes after an uncharacteristically low snowfall year that saw ski resorts across Europe melt.

While the Alps suffered, Bansko with its wild reputation didn’t seem to. 

Year on year, more people flock to enjoy this boozy winter wonderland with 12% more tourists expected this season than last.

“The skiing isn’t challenging, it’s more of a beginner’s place," explained Alex.

"There’s constantly people falling on the baby slopes or being dragged up flailing around up a button lift – it’s a comical place."

The slopes attracted ski fanatics, but also a lot of newbies and the sight of unlucky skiers and snowboarders wiping out simply became part and parcel of the experience.

Our reporter watched her friend fall 200ft down an icy black run helplessly while other skiers just stood and laughed.

Despite the end-of-season grass, slush and ice, the blow was softened by the mega cheap lift passes and ski gear rental – some of the cheapest in Europe.

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All in all, Bansko is a bargain.

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