Bansko is a world popular mountain resort that attracts tourists all year round. In winter, numerous national and international competitions of alpine skiing are conducted here. There are perfect conditions for professional skiing as well as for beginners and amateurs.
This place is not less attractive in the other seasons, offering multiple attractions not only in the surrounding mountains but also in the town. Some of the local historical cultural, natural, and architectural unique landmarks cannot be seen elsewhere in the world. Bansko provides opportunities for practicing multiple sports, even the extreme ones. The town’s cultural calendar is very busy with international competitions, concerts, and festivals all year round, so check it before planning your holiday in Bansko.
The resort of Bansko is located at the northern foot of Pirin Mountain. This location is easily accessible from the large Bulgarian cities. It is located in 160 km from Sofia and in 145 km from Plovdiv. In just 6 km from the town, there is a balneo resort of Dobrinishte, which could help tourists combine their holiday with health improvement.
Nature and Nature Sites
Pirin is an alpine mountain with a varied lay. It is flat near the river beds, which are perfect places for strolls, but there are also high peaks that can be a challenge for the mountaineers. Bansko is located at 927 m above the sea level. The highest peak of Pirin is Vihren Mount with an altitude of 2914,3 m. Pirin National Park is close to Bansko and is enlisted in the UNESCO world heritage because of its diverse plant and animal life.
There is a lot to be seen in Bansko and the resort’s guests have the chance to visit exciting natural landmarks in Pirin Mountain. They can also take trips to sightseeing in the Rila and Rhodopes Mountains.
The world popular Baikusheva Mura is just 14 km away from Bansko. It is rare to see such an old tree that is over 1300 years old. Its circumference is approximately 8 m and its height is over 25 m. Some other natural landmarks include the Okoto Lake (The Eye), Ribno Lake (The Fish), Popovo Lake, Muratovo Lake, Vasilashki and Valiavishki Lakes, Vihren Peak, etc. The Yagodinska Cave is also an exciting place to visit with its 1100-meter trail on the lowest floor, which is easily accessible and electrified.
The cultural tourism in Bansko is very well developed, because of the numerous architectural, historical, and religious landmarks located in this region. More than 140 cultural monuments dating from different centuries can be seen here, some of which are included in UNESKO World Heritage. One of them is the church in the village of Dobarsko, which is built in 1614. It is located in 20 km from Bansko and its frescoes reflect the tragic battle of Samuel’s blind soldiers against Byzantium in 1014 and their settlement here. The murals are well protected and preserved.
History and Cultural Heritage Sites
The town of Bansko is founded in 1850, but multiple evidences show that this place has a rich history, which dates back to the ancient times. The ancient population that has lived here was wealthy. The excavations found during archaeological excavations reveal expensive decorations from their time.
A town-fortress dating back to the Thracians times is found only 4 km from Bansko. It is supposed that this fortress was a possession of the militant tribe of Dai, which is mentioned by Homer in the Iliad. Some other exciting findings date back to 5000 BC – the period of the Thracians’ ancestors. The city-fortress has been rebuilt multiple times during the centuries, as there is an early Christian temple on its territory.
During the Bulgarian Revival, the city has become a center for preserving the Bulgarian history and traditions. It is connected with the popular Bulgarian monk Paisii Hilendarski, who has written “The Slavonic Bulgarian History”, as well as Neofit Rilski and other teachers and clerics, along with those who have taken part in the armed fight for Bulgarian liberation.
Culture, Entertainment and Night Life
Festivals in Bansko
There are various international competitions, festivals, and cultural events, which are conducted all year round in Bansko. These include an opera, ballet festival, international jazz, Balkan Music, Culinary and Arts Festival. The attendees can see folk, sports and Latin dances, street dancing, as well as a modern and classical ballet.
The Kuker Festival is among the most interesting events for foreigners. People can see attractive and quirky ritual clothes on this celebration that is held on January, 1st.
Among the different activities and sports that can be practiced in Bansko are cycling, mountain riding, extreme sports like rock climbing and alpinism with different levels of difficulty, rafting, kayaking, snowboard, skiing, etc.
Bansko offers excellent skiing conditions from the mid-December till April. The ski tracks here are modern and equipped with all kinds of skiing facilities for safe and comfortable practicing of winter sports.
That is why, Bansko has won international recognition and Euro Cup in ski alpine disciplines and biathlon is regularly held here. Moreover, in 2019 Bansko will be a host of the Men’s Alpine Skiing World Cup, and the Women’s Alpine Skiing World Cup is planned for 2020.
There are great conditions for both professional and amateur skiing in Bansko. The total length of ski slopes is 75 km. 35% of them are perfect for beginners, while 40% are for advanced skiers and about 25% – for professional skiers. They all are safe enough and very well maintained. For beginners, there are multiple ski wardrobes, ski schools, and ski equipment, and even a ski kinder garden for the little ones.
There are 320 places for accommodation with over 16 000 beds in Bansko and the region. Along with 3-, 4-, and 5-star luxury hotels, there are also guest houses, where tourists on a budget can find affordable accommodation. In the town’s shops people can find a variety of goods – from sports ones to fashion, daily items, and art crafts. There are ATMs at key locations in all the town, including the public buildings, museums, hotels, night clubs, etc.