You have to pass Samokov, 62km southeast of Sofia, to reach Borovets ski resort, and indeed most of the locals employed at Borovets do seem to live here. It’s a small and somewhat gritty town, with history but few sites, though the Borovets expansion projects will bring Samokov closer to the action and, hopefully, smarten it up a bit.
In the 14th century, Samokov became a centre for iron mining. Five centuries later, the Samokov School of Icon Painting and Woodcarving brought the town cultural fame; soon thereafter it became known for some eccentric political ideas when the local council established the famous but ultimately unsuccessful Samokov Commune (1910–12). As Bulgaria’s first socialist organisation, the commune sought to improve workers’ rights and education.
Samokov’s foreign exchange offices are near the bus station, which contains food, and even clothing shops.