A whole new world of ski resorts are opening up, with countries which previously shunned tourism, now embrace the concept of attracting visitors. One of those up-and-coming ski resorts is Bansko in Bulgaria.
Bansko is a ski and mountain resort that is located in the south-western part of Bulgaria. The town is situated 6 kilometres from the town of Razlog and 160kms from Bulgaria’s capital Sofia. Bansko lies on the two banks of the Glazne River at the foot of the Pirin Mountain.
It is one of Bulgaria’s fastest-growing winter resorts, and has at least 65km (40 miles) of marked ski runs, plus new ski lifts in order to capture the lion’s share of foreigners to the slopes of Bulgaria’s “Alps.”
Another reason for visiting Bansko is because it is the only Bulgarian ski resort that is centred around an historic old quarter. The town centre consists of a confusing tangle of cobbled streets that are lined with thick stone walls and metal-studded gates that guard half-timbered double-story homes.
Bansko hasn’t always been a ski resort, but it has certainly seen its fair share of foreigners. Many different peoples, such as Thracians, Romans, Byzantines and Slavs have occupied the region over time and there are numerous remnants of ancient fortresses, medieval burials and gravestones in the town which testify to several historical periods.
This charming, historic town is located in the broad Mesta River plain, which is bordered by three mountain groups namely the Rila, Rhodopes and Pirin. The Pirin Mountain, in particular, has a predominantly Alpine character possessing three peaks which tower above 2900 metres. Fortunately, the slopes offer great runs and tracks that are suitable for all types of skiers, ranging from novice to the experts.
In Bansko the restaurants are called mehanas, and there are lots of them which have an enduring and unique charm and style whilst offering local cuisine and good selection of Bulgarian wines, so essential for the perfect après ski atmosphere.
The ski season operates for about five months and the most affordable way to reach the high slopes is to purchase a multi-day ski lift pass. The ski lifts are quite varied with the longest, the Bansko – Bunderishka poliana gondola-type lift travelling a distance of over six kilometres to get you to good snow.
Apart from the skiing, the town hosts an annual jazz festival and also has summer activities such as off-road driving, horse riding, fishing and spas to keep visitors occupied.