As the name implies Bansko is an ideal location for your holidays no matter what the season. A superb winter ski or multiple summer activities destination or a simple R&R paradise making use of the many spa & pool facilities, it really is up to you how you enjoy your time here.
Bansko is ideally located for visiting many other historical or natural places of interest. We have put together a few of our favourites which are relatively close by and you can enjoy whilst staying at either of our holiday apartments.
These places can be reached via local transport or via any number of specialist excursion companies in Bansko.
So whichever option/s you choose we hope you enjoy our recommendations.
The Ski lift now runs through summer months allowing easy access to the mountain. The area has restaurants and bars serving decently priced refreshments. There is plenty for the kids to do here too, with grass skiing, crazy toboggan runs, mountain bike hire, football and various games and toys.
Fantastically warm summer days through June, July and August give Bansko a unique mountain atmosphere. Glorious sunshine through the day with mid 30 centigrade not unusual but that wonderful mountain freshness in the evenings. Sit out in the town square for a beer or meal with friends and family with perhaps a cardigan or jacket for the shoulders later in the evening.
There are 3 mountain ranges to explore, Pirin, Rila and Rhodope.
Mountain biking paradise is an understatement. There are miles of fantastic mountain biking trails to ride and discover, from single track through the forest to fast logging trails and mountain roads leading to hidden gems. This is epic mountain bike terrain, wild and untamed!
Close by there are centres for horse riding and archery, fishing, white-water rafting, golf, off road buggies and jeep safaris up into the mountains. Then again perhaps all you wish do is rest and relax, Bansko and the nearby towns of Banya & Dobrinishte offer many venues for all manner of spa treatments, a perfect way to unwind.
Many excursions are also on offer to other fabulous places and attractions nearby.
Bansko offers a whole host of things to do and see. Whether you are an adrenalin junky or a R&R specialist (Spas, pools & cocktails) we know Bansko has plenty for everyone to enjoy!
Modern Doppelmayr gondola takes you from the base of the mountain to the main Banderista ski area
Snowy Pirin Peaks and Old Town Rooftops
The mountain town of Bansko in Bulgaria is the gateway to the beautiful Pirin National Park and is surrounded by stunning scenery set in the heart of the Razlog valley. The area enjoying a relatively short but warm summer and a long winter season. The average January temperature is –2°C with consistent snow coverage around 2 metres.
The Great Skiing & Snowboarding Guide describes Bansko as: "The best-developed ski resort in Eastern Europe, an attractive old town with a modern lift system and hotels of international standard".
With one of the highest peaks in the Balkans, at 2746m above sea level, the ski season runs from mid-December to April. There are now over 70 km of runs divided between 14 pistes, the longest run being from the top of Todorka to Bansko at 16 kilometers with a total vertical drop of over 1.5 km. Bansko has invested massively in its facilities and the resort has state of the art Doppelmyar equipment including:
Take in the beautiful mountain scenery on the 4 man chair lift from Shiligarnik to The "Mad Goat" mountain restaurant at Plato. This lift crosses over blue runs 5 & 10 and links to the chair lift to Todorka peak. From Todorka take either blue runs 11 or 3 back down to Plato or reds 4 and 2 towards Banderista.
There is a very large selection of ski/board hire shops located around the town, many very close to the main lift area. Most are able to offer private or group ski and boarding lessons. Our recommended partners are:-
360 Ski Bansko, located at 113 Pirin Street, virtually across the road from the main lift station. This is a new business for 2019/20 ski season but the team are very experienced having been part of a longer established ski shop prior setting up on their own. We highly recommend them as we have known them for over 12 years. The website allows you to look at the services and prices etc and you can book and reserve your ski equipment and lessons online.
Bansko Ski Mania, located at 92A Pirin Street, close to the main lift station near the Happy End apres ski bar. We have worked with Bansko Ski Mania for many years. They offer a full range of skiing and boarding equipment to hire, besides private and group lessons.
At the end of a day's skiing, you can finish with a long gentle ski down the floodlit road which runs from the top of the ski lift all the way back down the mountain.
The Happy End Apres-Ski sits right at the end of the ski run opposite the main lift station. There is live music, food and drinks to help you unwind after a hard day on the slopes.
Besides the Happy End there are many other bars and restaurants to choose from spread all over the resort. Many of our favorites are close to the ski lift area and serve mainly local cuisine.
Dobrinishte is small mountain town located approximately 6 kilometres south of Bansko at the foot of the Pirin Mountains in the south-eastern part of the Razlog valley. The town sits at 810 meters above the sea level and enjoys a wonderful mountain atmosphere.
Dobrinishte is a popular summer and winter mountain tourist resort having at its disposal mineral springs, superb hiking in the summer and an almost unknown ski centre in the winter. Besides all this it is surrounded by unspoilt natural beauty.
Dobrinishte has been famous for its natural mineral spring waters since ancient times. With 17 mineral springs with temperature ranging between 30 – 43°C it is claimed possible to find treatments for many disorders including loco-motor system, neurological, gynaecological, dermatological and a variety of other disorders. What is for sure is that the waters are very soothing even if all you require is to sit back and relax!
Alpha Spa is Dobrinishte's large mineral bath and an open-air mineral water swimming pool. The recently refurbished pools and spa offer a great place to take the waters with all the family. There is a kids pool, besides the larger swimming pool with 'swim-up' bar. A restaurant, changing rooms, toilets and spa facilities are all located in the private gardens. You can lay back and watch the world go by here, totally relaxed!
In the town are various other areas to explore, restaurants and bars, a beautiful church, town square and park. This place really is a different experience to Bansko and worth the effort to take a look.
You can catch a local bus or train to Dobrinishte from the stations at the bottom of town or a taxi is quite cheap. Alternatively you could hire a bike or even walk!
Almost countless walking opportunites are available from Dobrinishte, for example
From Dobrinishte (810m) to the Bezbog hut (2236m) takes around five hours walking. From Dobrinishte to Tevnoto Lake takes 6 hours walking. The beautiful Kremenski Lakes are also located in this area. Instead of walking all the way up you can take a car or taxi to the chair lift at Golce Delchev. The Golce Delchev hut is 11 kilometres from Dobrinishte and from here the chair lift takes you up to the Bezbog hut and lake. This is a gorgeous place to take a picnic before exploring further.
Melnik (Bulgarian: , Greek: Μελνικο, Meleniko) is a town in Blagoevgrad Province, southwestern Bulgaria, in the southwestern Pirin Mountains, about 440 m above sea level. The town is an architectural reserve and 96 of its buildings are cultural monuments. With a population of 385, it is the smallest town in Bulgaria, retaining its city status today for historical reasons.
Melnik is still famous as a centre for wine production and many fine wines are still produced here today. Tours of the cellars are available and its possible to taste the unique wines of the region during your time in this unique town. There are many guest houses and small hotels offering accommodation, many serving delicous food and local wines.
It is possible to hike across the mountains from Bansko to Melnik via a series of mountain huts. The walk, which takes 2-3 days, takes in some of the most stunning scenery in the Pirin mountains, with many lakes and panaramic views to admire enroute. It is highly recommended you discuss this with a guide beforehand.
Bansko truly offers the perfect location to explore the great outdoors on two wheels. This place was made for mountain biking!
The mountains and surrounding countryside are criss-crossed with off road routes, linking the town of Bansko to all the neighbouring villages and places of interest. You can meander on steady family routes to local spas at Banya or Dobrinishte and enjoy a day by the pool before a leasuirly ride back. You can venture further afield to visit the horse ranches out past Razlog on the Rila mountain side of the valley. Here you can try your hand at horse trekking or horse back archery! The ranches all have restaurants so you can eat and drink before your return ride. Alternatively you have the whole of the Pirin mountains literally on your door step!
The local forestry agents along with many locals and ex-pats (including myself) have spent several years developing marked trails for you to follow. There are maps available with colour coded routes to follow, or why not go out with a local experienced guide to take you to those places you may not find on your own.
For cross country rides exploring near and far we recommend Nigel Morgan. Nigel has years of trail experience and has mapped well over 1600 km in and around Bansko. More then enough to fulfill even the most hardened of off-roaders. You can find out more at MTB Bansko.
For the thrills and spills of downhill then we recommend Steve Cowell & Wendy Glover of EarlyBirdTransfers. They find nothing more pleasurable then hurtling downhill on full suspension rigs. Whilst Bansko has some excellent downhill they will take you to other nearby resorts to explore even more adrenalin junky rides! You can find out more at Early Bird Transfers
If exploring the mountain isn't enough then why not test your legs and lungs out in the Road to Nowhere Mountain Bike Challenge rides. This event started in 2009 and has run every year since. The format is open to all riders of all abilities - you are simply pitting your bike skills & stamina to a true test in the beautiful Pirin mountains. To add excitement or even a race feel, the event is timed, giving regular riders of the event a chance to try to better their previous times. There are various categories too so you can try to compete with fellow riders and see who can get the better time. The event is normally held over the last weekend in July.
For more information please read the dedicated section on Road to Nowhere MTB.
Riders from around the world come to Bansko to enjoy the trails, even from as far away as Australia!
The Pirin Golf & Country Club is located only 20 minutes drive from either apartment in Bansko. It is a truly beautiful setting for a golf course with exceptionally well kept greens and stunning mountain views all round. The country club and downtown area of the golf course is another place to enjoy what Bansko has to offer. The course was designed by Ian Woosnam and we have taken the statement he delivered as it is hard to better these words:-
Copyright of Pirin Golf and Country Club
"I am delighted to have been asked by Pirin Golf & Country Club to work with them on their golf course. Bulgaria is an exciting new golf destination and to be given the opportunity to design a course in this developing market is a great honour. I hope the work we have done will enhance Bulgaria as a golfing country as well as encouraging golfers to visit this part of the world. I believe you will enjoy playing the Ian Woosnam Course at the Pirin Golf & Country Club, Bulgaria.",
Ryder cup captain
The whole golf course area has been developed for pleasure. There is not only the exceptional golf course, driving range and all the facilties you would expect from a first class golf club but there is also the "Downtown" area of bars, shops and restaurants in which to enjoy your free time. There is also a snooker club and sports bar here.
To find out more visit the Pirin Golf & Country Club
Traditional Fare - Robbers Sword
Bansko has so many choices of restaurants and bars to enjoy it is impossible to cover them all. We have compiled a few of our favourites just to whet your appetite. Also we have put together some ideas for the family, location of some of the main shops and general information about what there is to do. Read on!
The Happy End is the biggest Apres Ski bar, it has live music every night and is immediately across from the ski lift station, you cannot miss it. However for a true Apres Ski drink, it has to be Pirin 75 just on the corner of the pedestrian section of Pirin Street heading down and away from the ski area, located straight across from the Hotel Strazhite and the Lions Pub which is typical sports bar style pub with occasional live music or kareoke. A new addition to the scene is Bar 360 Apres Ski located at Winter Market Bansko which just behind the 360 Ski Bansko Ski Hire shop. This a fabulous place to enjoy a few cold beers and the perfect apres ski party. Also close by is Morris Bar, another absolute classic with Rosie and the team to look after you its hard to go wrong!
Besides the above there are many other bars to choose from spread all over the resort, including a most stop place for wine and beer lovers - Wine Bar #25. To find this one walk down towards the old town, either Pirin Street or Gotse Delchev St (the new paved, pedestrianised one, with a stream running down the middle) when you get to the first main road, virtually on the edge of the centre of the old town, take a left and about 100 yards on the left you will find a little piece of heaven. After sampling a few at Wine Bar #25 why not head further into the old town and search out Cafe Eliz. A real Bulgarian cafe bar, serving great drinks at great prices and has outside seating too if the sun is shining!
Many serve a wide selection of different foods including variations of local cuisine.
With well over 100 restaurants, locally known as “Mehanas" in Bansko to choose from you shouldn't find it hard to find your own favourite. These offer a wide variety of local and international food and drinks. Many mehanas have entertainment including live musicians and singers. A typical meal with wine or beer costs around £10-15 per head.
A favourite Mehana, of the many to choose from, is Dedo Pene located just beside the church off Pirin Street near to the square. To find it look to the left of the church as you look back up Pirin Street towards the mountain. It is set back about 100 metres just as the cobbled street begins to narrow. The sign is in Cyrillic so it may take some spotting! If you follow this cobbled street on past Dedo Pene and around the back of the church take your first right and first left to find another local favourite - Todeva Winehouse. This is on the left hand side of the cobbled street about 150 metres directly behind the church. Also close by is Baryakova, instead swing left behind Dedo Pene and follow the lane down until it turns hard left. Baryakova is here on your right.
Excellent Italian and local speciality foods are plentiful in Bansko, but you will find it hard to go wrong at Victoria, located just opposite the Kempinski Grand Arena, which also serves up delicious food but at 5 star prices!
If you like a real pint of Guiness and great food when you're away from home, then you cannot afford to miss out on visiting The Irish Harp. Brian and his crew serve the best Guiness in town and at the best price, they also have a great selection of food favourites for all the family to enjoy. The Irish Harp is only a 5 minutes stroll from the Top Lodge apartment - ideal! Head down the steps past the BBQ area and follow the road straight down about 250 metres and The Irish Harp is on the right, look for the pub sign. The Irish Harp offers a pick up and drop off service if required, which is great if your are staying in Neon Complex.
A recent discovery for many is the "The Hayloft". A local guest house with a traditional mehana run by the owners Rayna and Ivan. If you want to have a party night for around 12-16 family and friends then this place is ideal. Cozy atmosphere and excellent service from your hosts, serving mountains of traditional Bulgarian dishes, mostly Bansko style, with plenty of liquid refreshments to make it a night to remember. We highly recommend you try this but you need to book ahead to get a table and discuss menu options.
For more than just a sandwich we recommend Le Retro. Annabel & Christophe came to Bansko in 2012 and brought a little French magic with them. In 2015 they sold the business on to Niki. The shop has been re-branded recently as "Le Petit Nickolas" and Niki continues to dedicate himself to serving up delicious home made breads and pastries, filled beautiful fresh ingredients. This a great place to try for breakfasts or lunch times. Located at the cross roads at the bottom of Pirin Street just above the church. Look to your right at the cross roads for the signboard. You can order sandwiches for delivery to your apartment or for collection at our ski hire partners - Bansko Ski Mania.
For stocking up on supplies for your stay in the apartment the nearest Supermarket is located just below the main cross roads near the ski lift. The ALDO Supermarket is easy to find, it sits right on top of a huge pub called Queens right behind Euphoria bar and restaurant. This supermarket stocks everything you could possibly need at reasonable prices. Note this ALDO's is only open in the winter ski season.
However we find the local shops or mini markets are just as economical and often have a fantastic variety of produce. The "Happy Market" opposite the Log House is a great example. The prices are normally similar and often lower than the supermarket, so why not support them, they are after all open all year round?
There is also a great little shop on the cross roads at the bottom of Pirin Street just above the main church, selling plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, usually all displayed on the street stall.
If you like late night drinking and dancing or fancy your chances in a casino then there are plenty dotted around the town. Big neon signs usually point the way!
A bowling alley is located in the Strazhite Hotel just opposite the Pirin 75 bar and Lions Pub. The Ice Skating Ring is on Pirin Street, just a few metres down from the main cross roads below the ski lift station.
The town also boasts a wide variety of shops selling local goods and souveniers, besides many specialist clothes, shoe and ski shops selling top brands. There is also an electric goods store at the bottom of town, TechnoMart, in case you forgot your hair straighteners or any other vital piece of your vanity kit!
Whatever you need it is almost certain you will find it right here in Bansko!
Velingrad is well worth a visit, especially during the summer months. The relaxing Spa town is famous across Bulgaria for its hot mineral springs. There are many hotels & B&B's to book an overnight stay which we would highly recommend.
You can get to Velingrad directly from Bansko via rail. The train station in Bansko is located at the bottom of the town behind the bus station.
This journey is a must do for several reasons. This narrow gauge railway train travels over the highest point in the Balkans at 1267 m above sea level. It does this by winding its way up and over the mountains between Bansko & Velingrad. The scenery is stunning, especially the return journey as you descend back towards the Razlog valley and you get to glimpse the peaks of the Pirin mountains.
Whilst in Velingrad you can shop away to your heart's content. There are markets with fresh fruit and veg, clothes and all manner of things. The town centre is only around 250 metres from the station, a gentle stroll straight out of the main station door takes you right into the town square. Here you can grab a bite to eat, take a drink and relax under the shade of the trees. Numerous fashion boutiques with plenty for the fashionistas to enjoy are located around the main precinct. You will not fail to be impressed by Velingrad!
This is a serious day trip as the journey each way takes around 3 hours, hence we recommend an over night stay. Ticket prices for the return train journey are about 9 BGN each or around £ 4.00 per person. !
The route is the Septemvri-Dobrinishte narrow gauge line. You take the Septemvri line out to Velingrad and return towards Dobrinishte.
Make sure you pack your camera, take a little food and drink and let this wonder of engineering take you on a fantastic experience.
Staying for the evening? People watching and cocktails at Alibi cocktail bar what more can you say!
Top class hotel? Hotel Dvoretsa - why not splash out - you're worth it!
There are 2 styles of seats on the train, aim if you can for the more comfy individual seats rather than the bench type.
There are toilets on board the trains but this is Bulgaria, so take some paper. There is a hand wash basin and the toilet flushes, normally!
BANSKO FREE TOUR is a local initiative aiming to spread the rich cultural heritage of Bansko to the travellers and guests of the town.
The tour takes place in the central part of Bansko known as the OLD TOWN. Discover the most interesting historical sights and hidden gems while at the same time learn about the unique local culture, cuisine, language, tradition, arts and architecture of Bansko. Let us guide you through the place that we call home in an authentic and accessible manner.
Tripadvisor review says it all
"Great morning entertainment with Bansko Free Walking Tour. Excellent guides Tsvetan and Niki giving a brilliant tour of the old town, amazingly it passes our front door too. Loved it and highly recommended to any visitors or even those living in the town to join it. You’ll be amazed what you learn and the boys will make you a laugh along the way!"
DURATION: Approximately 1,5 – 2 hours
START AND MEETING POINT: The tour starts at 11.00 am in front of the “Holy Trinity Church”
This is a free tip-based sightseeing tour of Bansko’s old town led in English.
Please check the calendar for tour dates. You can pre-book your spot in the tour through the contacts below.
For groups of 10 or more please let us know by e-mail on [email protected]
or see our Facebook page
Into The Wild is a licensed tour operator and is engaged in professional mountain guiding, trekking expeditions, team building, children camps, excursions and adventure programs in the mountains in Bulgaria and around the world. Our licensed guides have spent decades rediscovering the endless mountain routes, peaks, rivers and canyons and will not only lead you through them but will also help you quickly learn and advance in these instantly addictive activities.
Into The Wild’s main vision is to show its customers exciting and mysterious nooks in the mountains, breathtaking views and adventures, and at the same time all strive for preserved and clean nature. From scenic rocky peaks and alpine meadows, to surreal and cool forests and gorges, adventure lovers will spend time with us they will never forget!
All the guides of IntoTheWild are members of UIMLA and the Bulgarian Association of Mountain Leaders, as well as active mountaineers and climbers with experience in the mountains in Bulgaria and around the world.
You can contact us by phone, e-mail or using the form at the bottom:
(+359) 878022724 – Hristo
(+359) 888544447 – Martin
Email: [email protected]
For more information on all activities, prices etc please contact our partners at Into The Wild for the ultimate mountain experience.
See the Facebook page here