Kopaonik ski resort and what you can read in this post
Reading the headline you probably ask yourself the same question. This is the most frequent question skiers outside of Serbia are asking themselves when they see an offer or information about Kopaonik ski resort in Serbia. In one of previous posts we wrote about where to ski in Serbia in general. My goal with this text is to give you my personal experience with Kopaonik, but also some practical tips for accommodation, where to eat and what to do. Hopefully this will help you with the decision that Kopaonik ski resort is a place where you want to spend your winter vacation. If not, you’ll at least have clear (or clearer) picture what Kopaonik is all about and you’ll be saved from disappointment.
When I was young
My first experience with Kopaonik Mountain was when I was a kid, I’m not sure anymore, but I think I was 12 or 13 years of age. At that time I was member of my hometown’s ski club and we went to Kopaonik for a day trip. Prior to that day I have heard so much about the mountain and its skiing conditions that I stood in awe when I touched the ground there. Aside of my childish impression, Kopaonik was probably something the best old Yugoslavia had to offer. I almost felt like a pilgrim when I touched the sacred snow on the slopes of Kopaonik. It was thrilling and frightening at the same time. Thrilling because I was finally there and frightening because before that I skied only in smaller resorts on incomparably shorter, less steep and easier slopes.
From my prospective Kopaonik ski resort was a skiing jungle, if you know what I mean. For my disappointment I didn’t have postcard weather on that day, it was misty, cold and snowing. But I didn’t have any objections, I had to explore it. So I did, and even though I managed to get lost in fog and unknown tracks, I fell in love with the mountain and that infatuation lasts till today.
From today’s prospective and ski experience Kopaonik is not intimidating any more, quite the opposite. I consider it for a very moderate and pleasant ski resort, suitable for learning first slides on skis, thanks to its long, wide and mild slopes. But it’s also a great place if you are an advanced and experienced skier who seeks for steep and difficult slopes. By my opinion, main advantage of Kopaonik for advanced skiers is its terrain configuration which allows slopes to be spread around the mountain and not concentrated all in one area. All of that really gives you a lot of opportunities to spend quality time exploring different areas and runs until you find your perfect match.
In numbers it looks like this:
- Elevation of the resort: 1770 m/asl
- Highest peak 2017 m/asl
- Length of Alpine ski runs: 55km
- Length of Nordic ski tracks: 20km
- Number of slopes: 36, of which 15 easy, 10 moderate, 7 difficult, 1 for children, 3 FIS categorized
- Number of ski lifts: 25
- Ski runs covered with artificial snow: 97%
- Sunny days per year: 200 of which 160 under snow
But these are just numbers, real feeling about it you can only get if you visit the place and feel its unique charm.
Concerning accommodation, choice is quite wide and there are two major areas from which you can choose. Actually there is a third one, Brzeće village, which is situated some 25km down the mountain. But you can’t reach slopes on skis from there (there is no gondola) and ski shuttles/buses don’t operate from there. So it’s not recommended for those without own transportation.
Now let’s get back to two areas I recommend to choose from. First one is in the very center of the resort, where you can have ski-in, ski-out experience. Or in worst case you are only few minutes of walk from first ski-lifts. Second one is locally known as Vikend naselje or summer-house estate, which begins some 4km from the center of the resort. There are ski shuttles taking skiers to the center, and usually bigger hotels or apartment complexes have their own transportation which takes their guests free of charge to the center. Ride is about 10-15 minutes and there are shuttles all day long.
What are advantages/disadvantages of each area? Obviously when you are in the center everything is within the reach. You are not dependent on any mean of transportation and you have other choices of activities after slopes are closed. These advantages come with a price, most of the hotels and decent accommodation are at least 20% more expensive, as well as bars and restaurants. On the other hand in Vikend naselje you get higher level of service for a lower price and more tranquillity, since there are no night clubs and bars with laud music.
Personally, I always choose Vikend naselje because at my price budget I can get very good quality of accommodation, while I would need to spend a fortune to have equivalent level of service in the center. But that is just me, time when I went out all night after skiing has passed long time ago, so it’s not biggie if I’m not in the center.
You probably know by now that we in Serbia are quite proud of our food. It’s also an important part of experience that people from local hospitality industry will try to provide. Sometimes they’ll try that hard that you will be stuffed with food so much that you’ll promise not to eat for a week. Then you’ll see something tempting and your promise will be forgotten quickly. Most of the food is based on meat, dairy and dough, so if you are on low fat diet, finding that kind of food might be a challenge.
Also, vegans and vegetarians will see only few options for them. It would mostly consist of salads and seasonal vegetables for vegans and trout and cheese for vegetarians on top of that. I mean, most of the luxurious hotels provide vegan and vegetarian menus or special dietary food, but it should be specified upfront. Situation has improved significantly in past few years in terms of food offer if you are not a meat eater. If you are not in any of those groups, food for you here will be true blessing.
Self catering is easy, since there are well supplied food stores and supermarkets around the mountain.
What if I get bored with skiing?
Good thing about entire resort is that it’s well positioned in the country in general. In case you get bored with skiing or activities in the snow (God forbid) you can easily explore towns, hot springs, wineries or cultural heritage of the area. Medieval monasteries in the Valley of the Kings, protected by UNESCO are just an hour drive away, so you can organize your day and fill it with various experiences. Also, wine region of Župa is only 60 minutes away and Župa is home to indigenous Serbian grape variety Prokupac.
Do have in mind that Kopaonik is one of Serbia’s five National Parks. If you are a nature lover this mountain will be even more attractive for you, since indigenous variety of spruce lives here (Picea omorika). Origin of the massif is volcanic, it’s no wonder that there are plenty of thermal and mineral springs around. The most famous Serbian spa Vrnjačka banja is only an hour and a half away.
Pros and cons
When I think about category of skiers who probably wouldn’t be thrilled with this mountain there is only one I can think of. Those would be extreme skiers, adrenaline addicts who are looking for off-piste experience. For them Kopaonik definitely doesn’t have what to offer, or in such small extent that it’s not worth to mention. Everybody else, no matter if they are families, couples, group of friends, experienced skiers or ones just learning to ski, they will spend great time here. At the end, if you are intrigued with the idea of spending your winter holiday in Serbia, check our ski packages.
I truly enjoy every minute spent on this mountain and I’m always looking forward to new winter and ski season. Hopefully this winter will be generous with snowfalls so we’ll be enjoying fresh powder as much as possible.
See you on the slopes!
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