Popova Sapka Ski Resort

http://www.powderhounds.com/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/images/Europe/Macedonia/PopovaSapka/overview/01.JPG
Popova Sapka ski resort, North Macedonia
Popova Sapka ski resort, North Macedonia
Powder skiing at Popova Sapka
Powder skiing at Popova Sapka
Early bird powder turns, Popova Shapka, North Macedonia
Early bird powder turns, Popova Shapka, North Macedonia
Freeride terrain in the Shar Mountains next to Popova Sapka ski resort
Freeride terrain in the Shar Mountains next to Popova Sapka ski resort
Eskimo Freeride cat skiing is a feature of Popova Šapka
Eskimo Freeride cat skiing is a feature of Popova Šapka
Delectable local food is a highlight of any visit to Macedonia.
Delectable local food is a highlight of any visit to Macedonia.
The village at Popova Sapka has some ski-in ski-out accommodation
The village at Popova Sapka has some ski-in ski-out accommodation
Popova is all about the powder
Popova is all about the powder
Popova Sapka ski resort
Popova Sapka ski resort
Popova Sapka skiing
Popova Sapka skiing
Popova Šapka ski resort
Popova Šapka ski resort
Main chairlift at Popova Shapka
Main chairlift at Popova Shapka
More reasons to ski Popova Sapka in North Macedonia.....
More reasons to ski Popova Sapka in North Macedonia.....
Popova Sapka valley trail gets filled with locals!
Popova Sapka valley trail gets filled with locals!
Hotel Tetaks is the base of operations for Eskimo Freeride in Popova
Hotel Tetaks is the base of operations for Eskimo Freeride in Popova
Skiing Popova Shapka
Skiing Popova Shapka
Popova Shapka village
Popova Shapka village
The new 6-seater chair was installed in 2019.
The new 6-seater chair was installed in 2019.
The skiing & snowboarding at Popova Sapka can be awesome
The skiing & snowboarding at Popova Sapka can be awesome
Ski Popova Sapka
Ski Popova Sapka

Popova Sapka Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

Popova Sapka

Popova Sapka3/51
Popova Sapka3 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
Arctic Heliskiing tours
    Popova Sapka Ski Trail Map
  • Popova Sapka Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,710m - 2,510m (800m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    5-10m
  • Lifts (8)
    3 Chairlifts
  • Ski Hours
    Mid Dec to Mid April
    9:00am - 3:00pm (if you're lucky!)
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs - 20km
    Longest run - 5km
    Advanced - 35%
    Intermediate - 35%
    Beginner - 30%
  • Ski Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 21/22
    Adult - approx €15
    Child - approx €7.50

Popova Sapka Ski Resort, North Macedonia

Macedonia's premier ski resort, Popova Sapka (English translation - Priest's Hat!!) is located west of the capital, Skopje. Set amongst North Macedonia's highest peaks in the Shar (Šar) mountains, Popova Sapka (Popova Šapka, Popova Shapka) is home to some superb cat skiing operations and high alpine freeride terrain.

Even though the village & resort feels like a crumbly shadow of its former self, a visit to Popova Sapka is a cultural & culinary experience vastly different to other European ski holidays. Popova is not necessarily a family ski holiday destination as such, but anyone that can already ski & has their own backcountry touring gear will enjoy it immensely.

Pros & Cons for Popova Šapka Ski Resort

Pros

  • Uncrowded & intriguing powder skiing destination.
  • Great terrain inbounds & via ski touring or snow-cat.
  • Food, drink, accommodation & lift passes are incredibly cheap.
  • Local cuisine is awesome – plentiful & delectable.
  • ’Ski-in’ accommodation available.

Cons

  • Generally aging & dilapidated infrastructure (but they are gradually improving it).
  • Chairlift operation can be unreliable.
  • Accommodation can be of a lower standard than the rating would otherwise suggest (but they are improving!)
  • Piste trails are limited & grooming is poor.
  • No quality ski rental or repair location available (other than the cat ski operators).
  • The best restaurant is incredibly hard to find without local knowledge (should possibly be listed below)!

Pro or Con (depending on your perspective)

  • Snow-pack can change dramatically from day to day.
  • Choice of cat-ski operators
  • Packs of dogs wander the ski area, intimidating some visitors & intriguing others!
  • Not necessarily a family friendly ski destination!

Skiing & Snowboarding, Lifts & Terrain

Popova Shapka ski resort will appeal to powder hounds looking for a sense of adventure & something completely different. The ski slopes are all set above the treeline on high alpine meadow terrain requiring very little snow base to become skiable.

See the simple Popova Sapka terrain map.

The on-piste terrain in the resort is limited to about 20km of not so well-groomed trails (if you are lucky). Skiable vertical is around 800m. Ski lifts include a couple of very old double chairs & several surface lifts, some of which have a questionable functionality. A new hooded six-seater chairlift was finally fully installed in 2019. It serves around 300m of skiable vertical including some tasty, advanced terrain. The off-piste has loads of opportunity & minimal competition, unless the cat ski clients have a down day! There is night skiing on weekends on one of the lower surface tows.

Only one lift is important. The double chair heading up to the 2,510m summit opens-up the real business at Popova Shapka - the expansive backcountry ski terrain. Access via the lift and then either human-powered or snowcat-powered! Terrain is varied and can include easy alpine bowls, steep chutes, tree skiing & everything in between. Several peaks can be climbed & skied without too much effort, including the area's tallest, Tito's Peak (Titov Vrv) (2,747m).

The area is best experienced through a combination of ski touring via the chairlift plus cat skiing.

Cat Skiing

To truly experience the area, the main reason to ski Popova Sapka is cat skiing. The longest established cat ski company in Europe is based here, as are a group of upstart locals running new snowcats across some of the same terrain, much to the chagrin of the original operator!

Snow & Weather

The Shar Mountains are amongst the highest in the region and have historically received a high annual snowfall of around 5 to 10m, but it can vary markedly from month to month, and season to season. A reasonably settled snow base is on the ground by December. The months of January, February & March provide the best conditions, with the coldest month being February and the most snow falling in March. Quality snow can sometimes still be accessible into May.

As with all high alpine areas, mother nature can fickle. During the Powderhounds visit in mid-January 2019, the snow was blower powder early in the week, then after a huge windstorm, was stripped back to the worst kind of variable alpine muck. A week later it was pristine powder again. Who can judge what it will be like when you visit. Either way, the area doesn't need much of a base to be skiable. Hoorah!

The ski terrain in Popova is mainly south-facing so it gets plenty of sun. With that the snowpack can become baked if temps rise too much. Days can warm up quickly in these lower latitudes, so the key is to make the most of any cold, dry powder as soon as it settles.

Where is Popova Sapka North Macedonia?

Popova Sapka is in the northwest of Macedonia (now Republic of North Macedonia) 21km by road west of Tetovo & 70km west of the Skopje.

Travel from Skopje to Popova Sapka can be achieved by taxi, bus or train via Tetovo. Buses & a train service make the journey as far as Tetovo but are NOT recommended. We recommend the use of a private transfer either direct from the airport or from downtown Skopje, organised by the cat ski operator, hotel or booked via our transfer affiliate here.

Flights into Skopje Alexander the Great Airport

The Skopje Alexander the Great airport is a modern facility 23km by road east of Skopje in Macedonia. During winter, flight origins include all major cities in western Europe, England & Scandinavia plus Dubai & Doha in the Middle East, & Istanbul Turkey.

Daily flights to Skopje from any one origin city are limited. Daily flights exist from Vienna, Austria & offer the most convenience if travelling to Macedonia whilst already in Europe. Other useful airports include Zurich (Powderhounds flew from here!), Doha & Dubai if travelling from other international origins.

Search & book flights to Skopje. Note that several budget airlines have luggage 'add-ons' for ski equipment & very cramped seating. We recommend using the Swiss affiliate Edelweiss or other major airlines.

The Skopje airport is well served by car rental companies. Vehicles should be checked to ensure they are set up for winter driving (i.e. 4WD/AWD, snow tyres, chains). Have a good reason to hire a car, because winter driving & navigation in Macedonia has its challenges off the main arterial roads. We recommend using local taxi & private transfer services in Macedonia. Ask your hotel or tour operator to assist if unsure.

Popova Sapka Hotels & Accommodation

Popova Shapka is blessed with several hotels of varying quality nestled around the lift base & up on the mountain proper. Standards vary greatly & most hotels are only rated relative to the local area & may not equate to a similarly rated hotel in The Alps. Some of the hotels have recently been upgraded from their previously dilapidated state, much improving the comfort of guests. The newest hotel (and some might say the best) is Hotel Scardus.

Search & book Popova ski accommodation.

Ski & Snowboard Rentals

Unless you have organised ski or snowboard rentals with the cat ski or other tour operator prior to arrival at Popova, do NOT expect to rent quality gear in the ski resort. "Bring your own" is the mantra if visiting Popova & the Balkans in general.

Review

The Powderhounds reviewed Popova Sapka in 2019 & whilst the ski experience was many & varied, the overall journey & adventure were first rate. See our review via the link in the left column (or top of page if on a mobile).

See how Popova Shapka compares to the rest of the European ski resorts on the Europe ski resort ratings page.

Follow Powderhounds Europe on Facebook or Instagram to see where we are currently skiing.

Tours in or near Popova Sapka

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Macedonia Ski Touring Safari
MACEDONIA SKI TOURING SAFARI
7 Days | 6 Nights | 5 Ski Days
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Discover the pleasures of skiing the remote peaks of Nth Macedonia on a fully guided ski touring safari. Combine untracked fresh powder with local food, drink & culture. Choose your own dates & fully customise your ski tour with an option to include cat-skiing.
Price p/p From price based on 7-day package in a group of 4 people inclusive of 5 days guided skiing at various locations, 6 nights lodging, all meals, transfers & ground transportation
Base/invoice currency is in EUR inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,117
View Details
 
Balkans Cat Ski Safari
BALKANS CAT SKI SAFARI
7 Days | 6 Nights | 6 Cat Skiing Days
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Discover the Balkans with this fully hosted & guided cat skiing safari taking in 3 different snowcat operations in North Macedonia & Kosovo. Choose your own dates & fully customise your cat-ski safari. A typical 7 day road-trip includes 6 days guided catskiing, all ground transport, accom, meals plus a full time host.
Price p/p From price based on 7-day package in a group of 4 people which includes 6 days cat skiing at 2 or 3 different locations, 6 nights lodging, all meals & ground transportation
Base/invoice currency is in EUR inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,754
View Details
 
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Popova Sapka here

Cat Skiing Tours

Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing Packages
CUSTOMISED CAT SKIING PACKAGES
7 Days | 6 Nights | 6 Cat Skiing Days
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Eskimo Freeride in North Macedonia offers fully customised cat skiing & snowboarding powder packages including guided cat skiing, safety equipment, accommodation & all meals. Join a fixed date tour or choose your own dates & duration to get the best conditions. You can add ski hire, transfers & a night in Skopje...
Price p/p From price based on 7-day package which includes 6 days cat skiing & 6 nights lodging in low season (December to April)
Base/invoice currency is in EUR inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,404
View Details
 
Daily Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing
DAILY CAT SKIING PACKAGES
1 Day Cat Skiing | 1 Night Lodging
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Eskimo Freeride in North Macedonia offers fully customised cat skiing & snowboarding powder packages including guided cat skiing, safety equipment, accommodation & all meals. Choose your own dates & duration to get the best conditions. You can add ski hire & transfers...
Price p/p From price based on 1 days cat skiing & 1 nights lodging in low season (December & April)
Base/invoice currency is in EUR inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 257
View Details
 
Shar Mountains Cat Skiing
GUIDED CAT SKIING
Customised Multi-day Cat Skiing
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Come cat skiing in the Shar Mountains of Nth Macedonia based in the ski resort of Popova Sapka & a remote mountain hut above Bogovinje. A typical 3-day package includes 2 days guided catskiing, all ground transport, accom, meals plus a full time host. Choose your best dates and duration for you & your friends .....
Price p/p From price based on 3-day package in a group of 4 people which includes 2 days guided cat skiing, 2 nights lodging, all meals & ground transportation.
Base/invoice currency is in EUR inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 597
View Details
 
See all Cat Skiing tours that visit Popova Sapka here
200