Bansko

Travel Guide Europe Bulgaria Bansko

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Introduction

BULGARIA Bansko

BULGARIA Bansko

© vanessa

Bansko is a town and popular ski resort in Bulgaria. It is located at 925 metres above sea level and has about 10,000 inhabitants.

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Sights and Activities

Skiing

Bansko is a good place for skiing in winter. The resort is mainly suited to beginners and those more advanced will get bored quite quickly. Also don't expect the runs to be groomed to often. Skiers and Snowboarders could find BanskoSki useful. It is also a good idea to avoid any English school holidays as there will be insane amounts of people everywhere (and a 3 hour wait to get up the mountain via gondala) as well as the skiing world cup as half of the runs will be closed for the weeks leading up to it.

You can rent ski gear at the first station and get a discount at the lift ticket, though if you want to leave your skis there overnight there is an extra charge. A lot of ski rental shops can be found around the first station, where you can probably rent gear in better condition and get a good price if you book for more than 1 day (recommended) . (full ski gear for 4 days cost 100 leva - €50). You can probably arrange to leave the gear at the shop overnight for free. The weather in Bansko is obviously colder than some Greek ski resorts, so warmer clothes and a full face hood is nice to have.

You can get a multiday ticket for the lifts, although the discount is negligible. There is also a half day ticket after 12:30 or 13:00 each day, but you can also buy tickets at a better price from people leaving the ski centre before the end of the day, around the ticket offices.

Most hotels offer a bus service to the ski lift station in the morning and afternoon. Try to get to the lift station not later than 9:00 to avoid long queues. It is also advisable to buy the tickets from the previous afternoon for the same reason. There are also minibuses to ferry people up the mountain in the morning which is included in the lift pass.

Hiking

Bansko is an excellent entry way to the Pirin Mountains, Bulgaria's wildest and least developed mountain range. Vihren hut, named after the nearby Mt. Vihren, is the best place to begin both short and long distance treks. During the peak season (June 15 to September 15) a bus will take you several times a day to and from Bansko. Great one day hikes include Mt. Vihren, the 2nd highest mountain in Bulgaria and 3rd highest in the Balkans, and The Koncheto, a 200 metres long and 1-metre wide ridge between the second and 3rd highest mountains in Pirin with vast cliffs on either side. With a full day it is possible to hike them both.

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Events and Festivals

Bansko Jazz Festival

The Bansko Jazz Festival is one of the biggest summer musical events in Bulgaria. The concerts take place in an open-air stage at the central square of the town and are free for the public. The 5-day festival has a programme that features styles and groups representing most of the jazz trends. It is held every year from August 8 to 13.

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Getting There

By Plane

Currently 2 main airports serve Bansko, Sofia (around 160 kilometres away) and Plovdiv (around 180 kilometres away). A proposal for Bansko's own airport is currently well advanced, but no construction has yet started.

By Train

Perhaps the most interesting way to get to Basnko is via the narrow-gauge train from Septemvri. Traversing beautiful mountains and valleys as well as passing by countless rural Bulgarian villages, the train is considered by some as one of the most scenic rides in the Balkans [1]. Septemvri is on the main rail line between Sofia and Plovdiv, so access is quite easy. However, this is not the most practical route to Bansko by any means, as the train takes just under 5 hours with an operating speed of just 30-50 km/h to complete a journey doable in just 1 1/2 hours by car. For those with the extra flexibility required for the ride, however, this is the way to get to Bansko.

The nearest rail station served by standard-gauge trains lies in Blagoevgrad. Blagoevgrad lies on the main line from Sofia south and is easily accessible from the city, from which buses to Bansko are plentiful.

Night trains used to leave from Athens and arrive to Blagoevgrad in the morning, via Thessaloniki. However, starting in Jan 2013, all international trains to and from Greece have been suspended until further notice.

By Bus

There are many buses departing Sofia each day from different stations so be sure to check which station your bus is departing from. Room for luggage can be an issue as they are mainly vans so you may have to wait for the next one on occasion if you have bulky items e.g. snowboard. The cost is around 15 Leva (7.5 €) each way.

From Blagoevgrad there is frequent bus service (every 30–60 minutes) to Bansko, the ticket costs 3-4 Leva. The bus station is very close to the train station, around 5 minutes on foot. From Bansko bus station you can call a taxi to your hotel, ask at the ticket office. You should agree on the price when you get in to avoid surprises (10-15 Leva should be enough). Note some hotels may suggest a bus ride from Blagoevgrad to Bansko, but at a much higher price.

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Getting Around

Getting around in Bansko is relatively easy. The town is not large, and walking around is nice. Taxis are relatively cheap (5-10 leva), though you should arrange the price beforehand. Have your hotel reception call you a taxi if you can. If you get to Bansko with your car, bear in mind that few roads get cleaned from the snow and ice, so snow chains may be required even in the city. Don't be fooled by local cars not using chains, as they use winter tyres which make a lot of difference! Renting a car from Sofia for most tourists is considerably beneficial because of the flexibility. Taxi rides can cost anywhere from 1-5 Euro per kilometer and are not recommended when traveling outside the city of Bankso.

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Eat

Bansko is rife with traditional Bulgarian taverns ('Mehana'; plural 'Mehani'), as well as cafes and modern bars along the main roads. Price should be around €10 per person in most places. There are also a lot of places where you can get a slice of pizza or a sandwich. The "Friends Pub" near the first ski lift station is really nice, you can get a slice of pizza in the kiosk outside, or a full meal inside.The best tavern in Bansko is Matsurev han.The inn offers Bulgarian national cuisine, traditional dishes from Bansko, prepared on live coals, on a plate and in an oven. ”Matsurev’s Inn” is located at the foot of the Pirin mountain in the heart of the town of Bansko. It is located over the church “St. Trinity” at 100 m from the central square of the town and only at 15 minutes walking from the first station of the cabin lift.

By the end of the ski season (March–April) many restaurants offer large discounts to repeat customers too, sometimes up to 60% off, making eating out at this time incredibly cheap.

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Drink

Harry's Bar, Kandahar apartments (Close to bottom of gondola). Comfortable and modern lounge bar. Quiz and theme nights, cocktails and food served daily.

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Sleep

You can find nice 3-4 star hotels for ~€40 per night for a double room. Most hotels have sauna (free) and spa (extra charge). Belle vue is on of them, located near the ski lift station.

  • Chalet Jora, 13 Garibaldi Street (between the Glazne and the Church), ☎ +44 7967750592. Catered ski chalet in the heart of Bansko. Sleeps up to 14 guests with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. Large lounge with log fire, honesty bar, plasma TV, cable, large movie library, Nintendo Wii, wifi internet with chalet computer, Ipod docking station, CD player. English hosts. £225 per person per week, fully catered.
  • Chalet Idice, Redenka Ski and Golf Club, ☎ +32 475 930232. Luxury self-catering ski chalet, in a holiday complex with indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Sleeps up to 8 guests with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and own sauna. Large lounge with log fire, TV, cable, wifi internet.
  • Hostel Bander, 2 Han Asparuh Str (in Banderitsa Hotel), ☎ +359 7498 6600. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 14:00. Not a normal hostel but some excess space the hotel has with bunk beds in. You get full access to the spa and pool like the hotel guests as well as the ski shuttle to the gondala. There is free wifi but it doesn't reach the rooms so you need to go to the bar to use it. Breakfast is included. €11 a night or €14 with dinner.
  • Premier Luxury Mountain Resort, 11 Karamanitza Str, ☎ +359749 50500. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A 5-star hotel. As a hotel guest you get free access to the spa and pool as well as the ski shuttle to the gondala every 30 minutes. There is free wifi in all public areas and all the rooms. Breakfast is included.
  • Vihren Hut (Хижа Вихрен). Check-in: Whenever the overseer is awake. Vihren Hut is located around 30 minutes outside of Bansko at the end of the only public road going from Bansko into the Pirins. Meals are served on demand and are very inexpensive (less than 5 Euros more tons of food). Buses run to and from the hut several times a day from June 15th to September 15th. A taxi will cost around 25 Leva. However, as of September 2012 the guy running the place spoke absolutely zero English, besides "for sleeping", so communication will be an issue, but gesture enough and he'll get the picture. 10 Leva/5 Euros for basic dormatory accommodation.
  • LuckyBansko Aparthotel. Modern hotel near the main road into the town. It has a very good indoor pool/spa centre. 2km from the main ski station, but a frequent shuttle is provided. Fast wifi throughout.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet access is widely available in Bulgaria, although about 60% of the population has regular access. Broadband internet is available through cable, ADSL, fiber optics, WiMax and LAN connections. You can also access internet with your mobile phone, via GPRS or 3G. Speeds are pretty fast in the capital. Outside Sofia, speeds are significantly lower. Internet cafes are available in most towns and cities, and in some villages. Computers are usually not available in libraries, or in public places such as train stations, but free wireless access is often available in such public places and in gas stations. Many pubs and hotels will also have WiFi that is free of charge to use. In recent years, wireless access has been growing, especially in biggest cities, but is still rather limited. Paid wireless access is also available. Speeds in Bulgaria are surprisingly good! In fact Bulgaria is in top 10 of the countries with fastest wireless Internet speeds worldwide.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Bulgaria is: 359. To make an international call from Bulgaria, the code is: 00
There are three mobile operators in Bulgaria: Globul, MobilTel & Vivacom. You can buy phone cards from post offices, kiosks and other street vendors.

The pan-European standard number 112 for all emergency calls is working everywhere in Bulgaria since September 2008. If, for some reason, you can not connect to 112, dial 166 for police, 150 for ambulance and 160 for the fire department.

Post

Bulgarian Posts is the national postal service of Bulgaria. Services are fairly reliable and have been getting better and faster of the years. Still, it takes anywhere from days (domestic) to weeks (intercontinental) to send postcards, letters and/or parcels. They also have a very handy price calculator for all items, both priority as well as non-priority. Bulgarian post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though some are also open on Saturday (mornings) or keep longer evening hours (mostly the central post offices in big cities or in tourist areas along the coastline). You can buy stamps and postcards at the post offices or at newspaper kiosks. Single stamps for domestic services start at 0.45 leva, for international destinations prices vary by region. For sending packages, you can also use more expensive but faster courier services offered by for example UPS or DHL. TNT and local ones like City Express or Econt are also options.

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Accommodation in Bansko

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Bansko searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 9. Last edited at 8:53 on Apr 11, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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