Bansko, Bulgaria is one of the most underrated ski resorts in Europe. But it’s worth visiting Bansko all year long and you should definitely put this town in your Bulgaria itinerary. Today I’m hosting a post by a fellow blogger, Tia from Tia Does Travel blog, who gives you all the best reasons why you should visit Bansko – one of the best places to visit in Bulgaria.
Bansko is a town located in southwestern Bulgaria, high in the Pirin Mountains, 927 meters above sea level, and the most popular ski resort in the Balkans. The place is fast becoming a known international center for winter tourism, taking full advantage of not only the snow but also the numerous lakes, old pine woods, and thermal springs. Bansko’s share in European winter tourism is on the rise and it is increasingly competing with renowned resorts in both France and Switzerland as the quality keeps improving but the costs remain far lower.
Whether you are a winter sports enthusiast or a newbie, in this article I will be covering all the wonderful reasons why Bansko ski resort should really be in your travel plans. Even if you can go only for a day trip from Sofia to Bansko, it’s still worth a trip!
Table of contents
- 1 Combine the city with the mountains
- 2 Budget friendly
- 3 Excellent Pistes
- 4 Long ski season
- 5 No need for translations
- 6 Traditional Bulgarian food and mehanas
- 7 Winter sports and activities
- 8 Fantastic hotels and spas
- 9 The natural springs
- 10 The exhilarating hiking
- 11 The après ski scene
- 12 Favorable currency for the Euro
Combine the city with the mountains
Combining your Bansko adventures with a visit to Sofia – Bulgaria’s Capital is a must. You will be landing at Sofia airport anyway, so consider spending a few days there to enjoy all the great things to do in Sofia before you take your 3-hour shuttle to Bansko.
The city’s landmarks are incredible; offering more than 2,000 years of rich history and fascinating architecture. Explore beautiful parks and lakes and take advantage of the numerous free tours of the city – including a city walk or bike tour, a food tour, a hiking tour, and many others.
Bansko is one of the leading budget-friendly destinations in Europe for winter sports. A daily Ski pass costs €30 or €175 for a week. Equipment hire (snowboard, boots, and helmet) cost €65 daily and if you wish to take snowboard lessons those will set you back approximately €70 daily for private lessons. Winter sports are notoriously expensive, but prices here remain lower than other destinations in Europe.
Hotels are plentiful and can go as low as € 10 Euros per night for self-catering apartments or as high as € 100 per night for a 4-5* Hotel with a spa, casino and a free shuttle service to the slopes running several times per day. Click here to find the best accommodation in Bansko!
Food is cheap, and alcohol is even cheaper especially if you choose to stick to local wine and beer (Beers are currently costing € 1-3 per bottle). Choose to also stick to local food and that will also be cheap – with food and wine costing no more than € 10.
The Bansko Ski resort exceeds expectations. Approximately 75km of well-groomed pistes of various difficulty levels; 5 blue,9 red and 2 black- as well as 9km of high adrenaline cross country skiing, modern lifts and gondola, over 150 snow guns to reinforce the free-falling snow, and a high point of over 2600m; Yes, Bansko is a clear winner!
Long ski season
While resorts in Italy and France wrap up the season in April, the official ski season in Bansko starts in mid-December and ends in Mid May giving you an extra month of snow. The climate is made out of hot summers and long, cold winters, with abundant snowfalls typically occurring throughout the country from December to mid-March, especially in the mountainous areas such as Bansko.
Temperatures in Bansko from November to February are 9C to -16C degrees. March and April are spring months with temperatures of 15C to -1 degrees. The summer months of May to September are warmer with temps rising to 28C degrees and dropping to 8 degrees.
No need for translations
Forget scrambling to remember your French, or find an Italian translation app – In Bansko, almost everyone speaks a good level of English – making your day to day interactions easy and straight forward.
Traditional Bulgarian food and mehanas
The food here is fantastic; the cold yogurt soup (tarator), Shopska salad, stuffed vegetables with rice and herbs are to die for, and meat is plentiful, seasoned heartily and grilled to perfection – spicy lamb chops, chicken skewers and kebab accompanied by many small sides and grilled vegetables. And while there are many good high-end restaurants in Bansko, the traditional Bulgarian Eateries – called the Mehanas- are where you will experience the true culinary culture of Bulgaria in all its glory.
Winter sports and activities
Apart from the world-class ski and snowboard, there are other snow activities you will love here. Try ice skating at the large ring just minutes from the ski lifts, or get your adrenaline going with sports like ski dooing, mountain biking, and walking snow tours.
Fantastic hotels and spas
You will adore the après ski pampering sessions at the hotels’ spas in Bansko. There is a plethora to choose from but for the real spa fanatics like myself you can’t go wrong with the Grand Hotel Bansko that boasts 7 (yes, seven) different saunas as well as hammams, steam and vapor rooms, infrared pools and Jacuzzis and has won the best spa in Bansko award for 3 years in a row. Amazingly so, the entire spa (minus the massages) are free of charge for hotel guests gaining Bansko serious brownie points in the affordable luxury debate. Alternatively, look for other 5* hotels with spas and enjoy getting warm and pampered after a long day on the slopes.
The natural springs
Mineral springs produce water containing various minerals with therapeutic value. The temperature of the water can vary from mild to extremely hot and is normalized by mixing fresh hot water from the spring with already cooled water from the same spring. An absolute must and one of the best things to do in Bansko, your body will thank you after visiting these mineral hot springs in the neighboring town of Banya (5km from Bansko old town).
The exhilarating hiking
One of the best Bansko activities that can also be enjoyed through the summer months, with breathtaking views being a worthy reward! There are a few hiking trails to choose from in Pirin mountain, but a gorgeous one is a trail around Vihren peak – the highest in Pirin.
If you aren’t up for a challenge is the hike to lake Okoto (which means the eye) from the Vihren Chalet. Drive to the chalet, then you only have a short 30 minute hike to the lake, with beautiful views and unspoiled nature
The après ski scene
Lively, plentiful and budget-friendly, the après ski scene in Bansko is something you will thoroughly enjoy. Hundreds of bars, wineries, pubs, and clubs to choose from, that will have everything in you but your wallet believes you are in the Alpes.
Bar Pirin, Flash nightclub, Amigo pub, Bash Bar, Wine Bar 25 and the Karaoke bar are just a few of my favorite Bansko bars and they attract both tourists and locals alike. Feel free to follow the crowds and enjoy a bit of bar-hopping – even if that means you lose the last free shuttle to your hotel – distances are small and taxis are cheap!
Favorable currency for the Euro
The national currency is BGN (Bulgarian Leva). Although the country is part of the EU, all transactions are done in BGN and the Euro is not an accepted currency. The currency has a fixed rate to Euro with 1 EURO equaling 1.95 BGN making money calculations easy.
In Bansko, many restaurants or bars will likely list their prices in Euro, but this is done for the convenience of the tourists. Credit cards are widely accepted and there are various exchange offices, banks, and ATMs for convenience.
About the author: Tia is a Greek Cypriot Travel blogger and a Dancer/Choreographer. Her biggest passion is traveling far and wide to exotic destinations and she believes in doing that as well as possible. She is always on the lookout for affordable luxury and places to spoil herself without breaking the bank. Tia has danced in the pouring rain in China, chased sharks in Belize, got lost in NYC, climbed mountains in Costa Rica, and bathed elephants in Thailand. She has eaten her way through Italy and Dubai, found Nemo in Egypt; beach hopped the Greek Islands and stood in awe at the waterfalls in Bali. She believes that life is way too short to only learn one culture, food or language and her ultimate goal is to see as much of the world as she possibly can for as long as her legs can carry her! Her website inspires wanderlust and provides detailed ultimate guides to various Destinations. Follow Tia’s blog, Instagram and Pinterest.
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