Bansko – ski resort and hiking region in Bulgaria

A trip to Bansko leads to the southwest of Bulgaria, to one of the oldest places in the
Balkan country. The mountain town has developed into an important vacation resort, which in winter turns
turns into the largest ski resort in the country. During the summer time it is used as a starting point
for hiking, climbing and other outdoor activities in the Pirin National Park. The
preserved old town has about 130 architectural-historical monuments, which tell about the history of the
history of the town. Museums, great cultural events and the mineral springs in the
mineral springs in the surrounding area also make the destination interesting.

General information
Bansko is the northern gateway to the Pirin Mountains, which are on the World Heritage List of the
UNESCO World Heritage List. The town itself is situated 925 meters above sea level, the peak of the local mountain
Todoroka is 2746 meters high. The municipality of Bansko includes seven other settlements, including
settlements, including the spa resort of Dobrinishte.
Several bus lines connect the region with neighboring towns and the capital Sofia, which is about 150 kilometers away.
capital Sofia, about 150 kilometers away. In addition, Bansko is well connected to the supra-regional road network
and is a stop on the Rhodropic Railway.
Climatically, the region is characterized by transitional climate with Mediterranean influences. Up to six
months of the year, at least at high altitudes, and the average temperature in January is -1.9° Celsius.
January is -1.9° Celsius. In midsummer, temperatures between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius are
are common.

The old town of Bansko
Until the era of the Bulgarian National Revival, Bansko was a village of cattle breeders and craftsmen.
craftsmen. At that time, in the 18th century began an economic and cultural boom,
which also gave birth to a unique architecture. For protection from the Ottomans the wealthy inhabitants built themselves
the wealthy inhabitants built richly decorated stone houses with fortress-like walls. The
“golden age” of the now urban trade and craft center ended in the middle of the 19th century.
Century. But in the old town of Bansko the flair of that time is still perceptible. Five of the
listed buildings are considered cultural monuments of national importance. These include the
Church of St. Trinity, the Velyanova House and the Neofit Rilski Museum.
Trinity Church – St. Trinity
The Church of the Holy Trinity (St. Trinity) is surrounded by a thick wall made of read stone, its thirty
meters high bell tower is the landmark of Bansko. It is one of the largest churches in
Bulgaria and impresses with its colorful murals, unique carvings on the almost room-high
the almost floor-to-ceiling iconostasis and the carving of the dome.
The three-nave hall church was built around 1835 and was used by the first Protestant congregation of
first Protestant community in Bulgaria in a non-Christian country under Turkish rule.
the Turks. Its considerable size is said to be due to the cunning and diplomacy of the builders, who secretly
The church is said to owe its considerable size to the cunning and diplomacy of the builders, who secretly, in the darkness of many nights, enlarged the building site piece by piece. Two Turkish
next to the cross above the entrance supposedly saved the new church from demolition by the Ottomans.
demolition by the Ottomans.
The Velyanova House
In the Velinova house lived the artist and master of the Debar art school Velyan Ognev, who created the
painted the wooden ceiling of the Holy Trinity Church. He also embellished his residence with wonderful

frescoes and fine carvings. It is one of the most beautiful representatives of the preserved
fortress houses of Bansko and open for visitors. They can still discover secret passages and hiding places of the
hiding places of the former inhabitants, who sought protection from the Ottoman invaders.

Neofit Rilski Museum
The birth house of the clergyman and enlightener Neofit Rilski is also a typical Bansko house
with a hiding place. Today it serves as a museum, the exhibition of which is devoted to Rilski’s work. It
is one of eight stations of the museum complex of the town.

Experiences and excursions
The road to the south leads away from the old town, to the valley station of the mountain railroad, which brings passengers
passengers up the mountain all year round. It is divided into two sections and equipped with modern 8-seater
gondolas. The journey to the top station, at an altitude of 1664 meters, takes about 20 minutes.
minutes. The gondola lift covers a distance of 6233 meters and can transport a maximum of
2400 passengers per hour. The southern district is touristy, with hotels,
apartment buildings and restaurants, it nestles in the end of the valley.
On warm days, the city park with large, shady trees is a popular
for locals and guests alike. The twenty-acre park holds, among other things.
a playground, a small lake and a fountain. It is located in the center of the city, near the central
near the central Nikola Vaptsarov Square. In the vicinity of the square there are several restaurants and
cafes invite you to linger. On the car-free square events such as the season opening take place
and during the Advent season the Christmas market is held there. The illuminated
fountain is not turned off even in winter; when it is icy cold, the bubbling water freezes to form
bizarre ice sculptures.
Cultural events of various kinds contribute to a varied stay in Bansko
contribute to a varied stay. During the winter season, the International Ballet Festival, the World Snow Day, as well as
skiing competitions. In the summer, the International Jazz Festival and the Bansko
Opera Festival attract music lovers. Other summer events include the Summer Theater Festival, the Summer Cinema
Summer Cinema and various local events.
Ride the narrow-gauge railroad
A leisurely ride on the Rhodrop Railway is an experience not only for railroad fans. The
narrow-gauge railroad runs between Dobrinishte in the Pirin and Septemvri in the Rhodrops.
also passes the Rila Mountains. That’s 125 kilometers through beautiful landscapes. Four
winding sections, bridges and tunnels, and the Avramovo station at an altitude of 1267 meters
Avramovo station make the route spectacular. At an average speed of 25 kilometers
kilometers per hour, the train takes five hours to cover the entire distance. The Bansko station is
a stop on the Rhodropic Railway, which is often called the “Alpine Railway of the Balkans”.
because of the route.
Dancing Bear Reserve
Animal lovers should plan a trip to the Dancing Bears Park and see bears up close.
up close. In the twelve hectare area of forest lakes and caves, tortured dancing bears have
tortured dancing bears have found a refuge. They were cruelly trained as cubs to become so-called dancing bears.
They were cruelly trained as young animals to become so-called dancing bears, performed in traveling circuses and rescued by animal rights activists. The park
is located near the town of Belica, about twenty kilometers from Bansko. Guided tours take place
from April to October, the rest of the year the bears hibernate.

Rila Monastery
A car ride to the famous Rila Monastery takes about ninety minutes, but it is worth the drive.
worth the drive. After all, it is Bulgaria’s landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture of the
individual buildings is a feast for the eyes. They received their current appearance mainly in the 19th century.
Only the Hrelyo Tower dates back to around 1335. Today the complex is once again used as a monastery
monastery and houses a museum. Its exhibition shows historically valuable
art objects. In addition, there is the monastery economic exhibition, which includes the
water mill, the old monastery kitchen and the old monastery bakery.

Wellness vacation: thermal springs and spas in the surroundings
Mineral bath in Dobrinishte
About six kilometers from the center of Bansko, the district of Dobrinishte invites you to relax.
relax. The climatic health resort is known for its mineral springs, from which 30 to 43 degrees Celsius
warm water gushes out. For bathing in the mineral water there is a large mineral bath and an
outdoor pool. In winter, the town additionally scores with a ski resort. This is accessible with a
The ski resort is served by a double chairlift and offers four slopes with a total length of seven kilometers.
Bathing resort village Banya
About six kilometers north of the old town lies the historic village of Banya. With its 72
thermal springs, it is, so to speak, the spa of the region. The mineral-rich water is between 45
and 70 degrees Celsius, with a total mineral content of 364.71 mg per liter. Already the
Romans and later the Turks appreciated the beneficial effects of this warm mineral water.
appreciated. The old Roman bath and the Turkish bath, both of which are protected monuments, still bear witness to this today.
are listed as historical monuments. Today, the mineral water fills the outdoor and indoor pools of the hotels and the
and the municipal mineral baths. Between June and September there is also an open-air pool with
mineral water is open.

Winter vacation in Bulgaria: Ski resort Bansko
The winter sports season in Bansko lasts approximately from the beginning of December until April. If there is not
enough snow falls from the sky, trails and slopes are covered with technical snow. The ski resort
Bansko is designed for alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon and snowboarding. It
offers perfectly groomed ski slopes with a total length of 75 kilometers and 22 kilometers of
of cross-country skiing trails. Modern, high-performance lifts take snow lovers to the starting points of the trails.
starting points of the routes.
About 30 percent of the slopes can be skied by beginners and 25 percent are only for
advanced, experienced skiers. A snow park with half pipe, the fun park and paragliding
bring variety into the ski day. Especially for the ski dwarfs there is a rolling carousel and
children’s lifts and a kindergarten. There the smallest ones are in good hands, while the parents enjoy
enjoy carefree descents.
The gondolas of the cable car take skiers to the Chalin Valog midway station and the
mountain station on the Bunderishka plateau. Higher up, 4-seater chair lifts take skiers up to 2560
meters below the Todorka peak and to the ski resort Shiligarnika. The Plato lift takes freestylers
to the snow park. The ski resorts are connected by several ski lifts and slopes.
connected with each other. Thus, persevering skiers and snowboarders can from 2560 meters above sea level

descend at the Todorka peak to the village of Bansko. It is a 16 kilometer long route, which bridges 1570
meters of altitude.
As Bulgaria’s largest ski resort, Bansko also offers opportunities for night skiing. On the
the cable car extends its operating hours and floodlights illuminate the slopes all the way down to the valley.
the slope down to the valley, creating a magical atmosphere. In this light, the 7.5
kilometer-long descent down to the valley is possible after dark. Down below, in the bars at the
everything is already prepared for après ski.
Off the slopes
The snow day in the winter sports area of Bansko can be arranged in different ways. Cross-country skiers will find
perfectly groomed slopes with beautiful routes. If you want to leave your skis behind
skis, can go on a winter hike with or without snowshoes, or go paragliding.
Paragliding the piste world from the air.
Several ski schools have settled in the renowned ski resort of Bansko. Their experienced
experienced ski instructors help even absolute beginners on the boards; children and adults can learn or
children and adults can learn to ski or improve their existing skills. Children and adults
can learn to ski or improve their skills. At the rental stations
Skis, ski boots and other accessories can be rented, including sleds.
Culinary delights are also provided. On the slopes of the ski resorts during the day huts and bars tempt
and bars tempt skiers to stop off and enjoy hot and cold beverages and delicious
delicious food. During the many hours of sunshine at Todorka, the deck chairs in front of the
ski huts are almost always occupied, with vacationers relaxing in the winter sun. In addition, in
bars and clubs, chic restaurants and rustic inns such as the traditional meyhane are

Summer vacation in Bansko in the Pirin Mountains
Summer in Bansko is full of opportunities. After all, it is the main town of the
Vihren National Park region, which scores with magnificent scenery and natural beauty. Many
hikers use the town as a starting point for their tours, exciting hiking destinations there are
enough. For example, the archaeological sites of St. Nicholas in the Raslog Valley, where the
the foundation walls of an early Christian basilica have been uncovered. For archeology fans we recommend
the excavation sites of the late antique and medieval fortress of Sitan Kale (Kalyata) in the
(Kalyata) in the Mesta Valley, near the town of Yakoruda.
Near the mountain lodge Vihren stands Bulgaria’s oldest tree, the Baykuyhevata Mura.
It is estimated that the snakeskin pine has been growing and thriving in the Pirin for 1300 years, at an altitude of
at an altitude of 1930 meters above sea level.
There are many mountain lakes in the Pirin Mountains, some of them are located within hiking distance from Bansko. One
particularly idyllic is the glacier lake Okoto. From the air the
almost round lake looks like a blue eye in the mountain landscape. It is accessible via a mountain road and
hiking trails and offers beautiful picnic areas.

Even more possible activities
Climbers can, for example, climb north face of Vihren. At this and other
qualified mountain guides offer guided climbing tours and rent the necessary equipment.
equipment. Anglers can fish in beautifully situated lakes. Whereby in the closer
Belize Dam, Krynets Dam and the Ribarnika complex in the vicinity of Bansko.
choice. For mountain bikers there are marked routes of various degrees of difficulty, whose

Total length is about 200 kilometers. Golfers are also catered for. Only about 15
minutes by car from Bansko there is an 18-hole championship golf course with an area of
of 150 hectares. Horse lovers will enjoy the horse farms in the area, which offer riding lessons and even
even day trips with horses. The vacation region also offers the following activities
carriage rides with folklore picnics and off-road vehicle rides, cayoning and rafting tours.
rafting tours.
Bansko is not only Bulgaria’s largest ski resort, but a multi-faceted destination for all seasons.
seasons. It is hikeable, full of sights and offers great activities in the nature.

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