the essential guide to bansko

the essential guide to bansko
 BANSKO BLOG
THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BANSKO by Lance Nelson Thank you to James Hughes & Vanya Maneva for their advice and editing work. What you need to know before going ................................................................. 3 Bansko .......................................................................................................................................................... 3 Bulgaria ........................................................................................................................................................ 5 Language and Culture ............................................................................................................................. 8 Getting there ............................................................................................................................................ 10 Bansko taxis ............................................................................................................................................. 15 Accommodation ....................................................................................................................................... 16 Skiing in Bansko ................................................................................................................... 17 Ski equipment rental ............................................................................................................................. 18 Lift passes .................................................................................................................................................. 18 Pistes ........................................................................................................................................................... 21 Insurance ................................................................................................................................................... 21 Ski pistes .................................................................................................................................................... 22 First day itinerary ................................................................................................................................... 23 Safety .......................................................................................................................................................... 39 What if an injury still happens? ......................................................................................................... 40 Food and drink in the mountains ...................................................................................................... 40 Après Ski ................................................................................................................................... 41 Food & Drink ............................................................................................................................................. 41 Restaurants ............................................................................................................................................... 44 Mehanas ..................................................................................................................................................... 45 International ............................................................................................................................................ 47 Indian cuisine ........................................................................................................................................... 47 Fine dining ................................................................................................................................................ 48 Sushi ........................................................................................................................................................... 48 Night life and bars .................................................................................................................................. 49 Child care and children’s playground .............................................................................................. 50 SPA and swimming pools ..................................................................................................................... 51 Shopping .................................................................................................................................................... 52 Day trips ..................................................................................................................................................... 53 Other entertainment .............................................................................................................................. 53 Useful telephone numbers ................................................................................................................... 54 General tips ............................................................................................................................................... 56 Summer activities and excursions ...................................................................... 58 Summer lift timetable ........................................................................................................................... 58 Rafting ......................................................................................................................................................... 63 Microlight flights ...................................................................................................................................... 63 Horse riding .............................................................................................................................................. 63 2 ATV tours ................................................................................................................................................... 64 Off road safari .......................................................................................................................................... 64 Rock climbing ........................................................................................................................................... 64 Canyoning .................................................................................................................................................. 65 Bear Park ................................................................................................................................................... 65 Mountain Biking ....................................................................................................................................... 65 Tours ............................................................................................................................................................ 66 Fishing ......................................................................................................................................................... 67 Bansko Jazz festival ............................................................................................................................... 68 Visiting Sofia ............................................................................................................................................. 70 What you need to know before going
Bansko
Bansko (see Wikipedia link) is a ski and mountain resort in the
southwest region of Bulgaria. It is located at the foot of the Pirin
Mountains not far from the borders of Greece and Macedonia.
Over the last nine years, Bansko has become an international
destination for summer and winter recreation and tourism. The
Pirin National Park is a protected UNESCO site.
With warm, sunny weather from May to October, Bansko is also
an ideal resort for summer holidays.
Bansko benefits from being central in the Eastern European
landmass and easily reached from many great cities of the world
by road. For example:
3 • Sofia to Bansko is 168 kms
• Thessaloniki to Bansko is 225 kms
• Skopje to Bansko is 256 kms
• Belgrade to Bansko is 539 kms
• Bucharest to Bansko is 552 kms
Most major airlines and many ‘low-cost’ airlines service Sofia.
Flight times:
• London to Sofia is 2 hours 50 minutes
• Moscow to Sofia is 2 hours 16 minutes
Transfer time from Sofia airport is 2 hours and 35 minutes.
Bansko town altitude is 925 m above sea level. A mild
mountainous climate and clean and fresh air are found.
4 In 2003, a Gondola lift was constructed linking the town with the
primary ski base area at Banderishka Poliana.
The ski area has 75 kms (47 miles) of ski runs, 14 lifts lifts,
serving up to 24,500 persons per hour. The summit rises to an
elevation of 2,600 m (8,500 ft) above sea level.
It is served by high speed quad chair lifts.
The vertical drop is nearly 1,000 m (3,300 ft) to the base
meeting area at Banderishka Poliana. For most of the season it is
possible to ski down to the town.
Bulgaria
Bulgaria is an EU country in Eastern Europe, located between
Greece to the South and Romania to the North. It has a
population of just over 7 million with an average age of 41.9
years, slightly older than the UK and France (both around 40
years) and much younger than that of Germany (44.9 years).
The local language is Bulgarian which uses the Cyrillic alphabet.
Many residents and most staff in Bansko speak good English.
Signage on major roads is good, with names written in both
Cyrillic and English.
If you are exploring off the main roads you are advised to carry a
good map and have your route planned in advance. Driving from
5 Sofia Airport to Bansko is very easy, mostly on the transEuropean route numbered E79.
The local language is Bulgarian and the writing is in Cyrillic. Most
staff in Bansko speak good English.
Main road signs have both Cyrillic and English, but be prepared
with a map and your route in advance.
Currency
Bulgaria’s currency is called the lev (BGN) (or leva in the plural)
1 Euro = 1.95 leva (This is the mid rate provided by most banks)
Approximate exchange rates: (xe.com for up to date rates)
•
•
•
•
•
10
10
10
10
10
Euro
UK pound
Russian Ruble
Turkish Lire
Romanian Leu
= 19.55 BGN
= 23.96 BGN
= 0.51 BGN
= 8.37 BGN
= 4.47 BGN
Exchanging money
Foreign currency is not accepted in most shops, bars, cafes and
restaurants. Paying by credit / debit card is accepted in some
shops and restaurants, but not everywhere.
6 Make sure you have some local cash - it is best to use banks or
ATMs to exchange / withdraw cash. Never change money on the
street.
Exchange booths open only in ski season. Best rates are found in
Sofia, where exceptionally good conversion rates are offered on
Vitosha Street, towards the NDK (National Palace of Culture), on
Vasil Levski (City Exchange) and Graf Ignatiev Street (opposite
the market).
ATMs near the gondola lift in Bansko:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Gondola lift
Investment Bank (iBank) Bansko Royal Towers, “BRT”
Kempinski Hotel, by main door.
Opposite Happy End on Pirin Street
Along from Euphoria on left towards “BRT”
Piraeus Bank (up hill from Kempinski hotel)
First Investment Bank (just 30 metres down from Strazhite
hotel)
Most ATM’s are marked within the places section in the Bansko
App.
7 NOTE: First Investment Bank is open until 22:00 on Friday and
Saturday evenings, in the ski season. In peak New Year times it
is open on a Sunday too.
Local food, drink and public transport are inexpensive compared
with other European countries.
Imported and genuine brand goods and international brands cost
the same as anywhere in Europe. VAT (TVA) is 20%.
Bansko, all seasons mountain resort, has a season that typically
starts around the 15th December and runs until the 14th April
(approximately).
Actual lift times may vary according to the season’s snowfall and
temperature.
Snow cannon cover the vast majority of the pistes.
After good snowfall, many new ski areas open up amongst the
trees, and also under some of the lifts.
Bansko has some dangerous areas subject to avalanches. Always
ski and snow board off piste with an experienced local.
Language and Culture
Bulgarian language is a Slavic language and the alphabet is
Cyrillic. It’s difficult to learn unless you speak another language
from the Slavic group (Serbian, Russian, Slovenian, etc).
8 If you speak English or Russian you will be generally well
understood. Many Bansko locals use a very peculiar dialect;
known as Banski.
Knowing some useful phrases is appreciated.
Top phrases to use in Bulgaria:
• Hello/Hi – Здравейте! [Zdraveite]
• Yes / No – Da / Ne
• Good afternoon/evening – Добър ден/вечер [Dobar
den/vecher]
• Good bye – Довиждане / Чао [Dovijdane] [chao]
• How are you? – Как си? [Kak si]
• Thank you! – Благодаря/ Мерси [Blagodaria] [Mersi]
• Excuse me - Извинете [Izvinete]
• What is your name? – Kak se Kazhavash
• Do you speak English? – Говорите ли английски? [Govorite
li angliiski]
• I don’t understand – Не разбирам [Ne razbiram]
• The bill, please – Може ли сметката [Moje li smetkata]
• Can you help me? – Можете ли да ми помогнете? [Mojete li
da mi pomognete]
9 You will not find any unusual cultural habits or etiquette very
different from the rest of Europe, apart from the nodding of the
head to mean No (rather than Yes)
Bulgarians generally nod for “Yes” in the same way we nod for
“No” -- and vice versa.
Emphatic nodding may mean ‘No” and therefore disagreement!
An expressionless facial appearance is normal. Smiling is usually
reserved for friends.
A lack of a facial smile on a Bulgarian should not be interpreted
as being impolite.
Getting there
Most major European airlines have direct flights to the capital of
Bulgaria – Sofia. Sofia is 169 km north of Bansko. Use the E79
route from the southern ring road. Follow signs to Kulata. Turn
right signposted to Bansko and Razlog after the town of Simitli.
Airlines from UK: British Airways (LHR T5); Bulgaria Air (LHR T4);
Whizz Air (Stansted) and EasyJet (London Gatwick and London
Luton) and Manchester. Try charter airlines too, Balkan Holidays,
Thomson etc.
10 Low cost and charter airlines land at the old Terminal 1;
schedule airlines land at Terminal 2
Flying to Plovdiv Airport (Ryanair for now) or Thessaloniki
(EasyJet, Wizz Air) in Greece are two other options.
Driving from neighbouring Greece, FYRO Macedonia, Serbia,
Romania and Turkey is straightforward.
Smoking ban
No smoking is enforced in all bars, restaurants and public spaces
in Bulgaria.
Visas
From outside Schengen area you need a visa: Turkish and
Russian citizens need to apply for a Visa before travelling to
Bansko. A signed stamped certificate to show where you are
staying should be requested from your accommodation provider.
Travelling to Bansko
From the airport, you can use public transport, private transfer or
hire a car. Taxis are covered under bus below:
11 1. Bus
Take a taxi to one of two bus stationa in Sofia. Note the
times of the last bus are 16:45 and 17:30 respectively.
The bus stops at Blagoevgrad and its ultimate destination
is Gotse Delchev.
• Central bus station (tel +359 90021000)
Deaprture times: 7;30; 08;30; 09;45; 14;00; 16;45
• Ovcha Kupel bus station (tel +359 2/955 5362)
Deaparture times: 7:00, 9:20, 10:30, 11:50, 12:30,
13:05, 13:55, 15:10, 15:28, 15:49, 16:20, 16:30,
17:30.
A one-way ticket costs 15 lv and takes 3 hours 15 mins
(160 km) as it stops in all major towns on the way.
A fifteen minute comfort break stop is made at
Blagoevgrad. The journey is reasonable, suitable if you
are without children and luggage, time is not critical, or
you are on a tight budget.
The taxi to any of the bus stations will be 17 to 25 leva
depending on the traffic, and the taxi company.
When emerging from airport arrivals at Sofia Airport, be
very careful which taxi you choose. There are taxi tricks –
12 so avoid anyone inviting you to their taxi. Always check
rate per kilometer in passenger side windscreen (0.59 –
0.69 BGN is day rate as of 2012).
Head straight to the exit where the taxis of the official OK
Supertrans company are queued. Try to find one of the
following taxi companies (watch out for fakes):
• OK Supertrans: tel +359 2/ 973 2121 - office at the
Sofia airport and Central bus station. The new
Volkswagеn caddy vehicles are best for luggage.
• Yellow taxi: tel. +359 2/ 91119
2. Private transfer or self drive
You can order a hire car, or book a private transfer, in
advance via BanskoBlog.com. Free in vehicle WiFi and free
Bansko town and piste map, by hand is presented to all
passengers
If you decide to self drive, buy a map from any petrol
station. Cheapest petrol can be found just after first Shell
garage on E79 after Pernik. 10 stotinki cheaper per litre is
the normal discount. It is the same petrol as the other petrol
stations.
Warning: Bulgarian drivers are amongst the most
dangerous in Europe. Expect impatience, tailgating and
13 possibly aggressive driving. Most drivers of motor vehicles
and buses do not like to follow each other. Expect to be
overtaken, even when least expected.
YouTube video for directions and speed camera locations
from Sofia airport to Bansko:
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2VjYaJAgtg
Observe the speed limits:
• 50 km/h in towns;
• 90 km/h intercity roads;
• 130 km/h on most highways (140 km/h on Stara
Zagora to Burgas section when travelling to coast)
Just because a road has four lanes, this does not make
it a highway
14 If stopped by traffic police, make sure you produce all the
necessary documents (driving license, car documentation,
passport).
Proper winter tyres are essential. Snow chains, for back up
are a legal requirement in winter.
Headlights should be turned on
during daylight hours as well as
night time between during all
the months of the year.
When planning your transfer
back to Sofia airport, allow at
least three hours before checkin. If weather conditions are poor, then longer is advisable.
Roads are usually well maintained.
Heavy snow can make the journey longer, albeit roads are
generally kept clear.
Bansko taxis
Local taxi try DINKO: lygnal1963@abv.bg
15 Accommodation
There is a good choice for accommodation in Bansko catering for
every taste and budget – luxury hotels, apartment hotels, family
hotels and chalets. Arrange your accommodation well in advance.
Many hotels and aparthotels are listed on major booking sites.
For hassle-free skiing, stay in a hotel or apartment near the piste,
or within 300 metres of the lift. Booking widge on
BanskoBlog.com
The Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena is a more expensive 5-star
choice for luxury, and convenience.
St. Ivan Rilski provides 4-star luxury and service, but you may
need transport to the lift.
Avalon hotel – a family hotel. Trip Advisor’s top rated hotel.
Hospitality from James and Vanya Hughes. Avalon curry nights on
Thursday and Friday are popular.
Large two and three bedroom luxury apartment booking at
BanskoBlog.com.
Large groups, work trips and special corporate ski trips arranged.
16 Skiing in Bansko
Officially, the ski season starts around the 14th to 18th December
and ends mid-April. The actual dates vary from year to year. The
resort is generally “snow sure” due to much of the ski domain
covered by snow canons.
The busiest times in Bansko are around the New Year, first week
of January and UK half term weeks in February (around 5th to 23rd
Feb.) If without school age children, avoiding these periods is a
sensible choice.
March and April can provide excellent skiing -- often in sunshine,
and with few people on the slopes.
In the last few years, there have been World Cup events held in
Bansko, which is also a busy time with some piste closures.
However do not be put off as the World Cup atmosphere at the
stands is superb and it is worth buying a ticket, which includes
transport up the mountain.
Bansko will not be hosting a world cup event until 2015 – but still
may host a European Cup event.
17 Ski equipment rental
If you are not bringing your own equipment, it’s preferable to
book a ski package in advance for a hassle free first day. Look
out for the prepaid online discounted booking of ski/board hire
and lessons, lift passes as well as transfers at BanskoBlog.com
In BanskoBlog.com booking widget, there are options for ski and
snowboard hire, group lessons, private lessons, friends and family
lessons, lift passes.
Transfers from Sofia airport, Sofia city as well as Plovdiv and
Thessaloniki airports all need to be booked in advance to avoid
over payment.
Lift passes
A lift pass is required for using the lift system. Keep your pass in
your left jacket pocket or left arm pocket. The turnstile gates will
open automatically as you approach the card read on the left.
NOTE: No printed photograph is required for lift pass
18 You can prebook 6-day and 13-day lift passes through
BanskoBlog. Have in mind that there is a 7 day notice period for
lift pass orders.
If you plan 27+ days skiing in Bansko, then buying a season pass
is an option. For 2012/13 the price is 1,450 leva.
The VIP pass gives access to a priority “VIP” lane to the gondola
lift.
If you do not have a prepaid lift pass, buying in the resort is
easy. Buy lift passes at the gondola kiosk at the bottom of the ski
zone. Cash desk opening times:
08:30 to 17:30 Monday to Sunday all season.
A digital photo is taken at the booth for each lift pass owner. (Not
required for prepay passes). You can buy a lift pass anytime the
previous day for the following day’s use. This saves time queuing
for a pass in the morning. In busy times cash desk opens from
18:00 until 22:00.
Before departure, give your card back at the kiosk or the lift pass
refund machine.
19 This machine is located opposite the gondola and the 5 leva ski
card deposit is refunded.
High season lift pass prices (in leva) are found at
BanskoBlog.com. Summer lift pass prices and time are found
there too
*Valid documents have to be provided for the discounted passes
Do not be surprised if there is a queue at the base gondola lift
station. Often people go at the same time. On peak days you may
have to wait for thirty minutes, or occasionally longer. Watch out
for the minibuses that are in operation during peak periods.
Be patient, or, to avoid queues, use the BanskoBlog Live Web
Cam overlooking the gondola kiosk.
The New Year period and mid February weeks often see a lift
queue. This may start form from around 08:15 to 09:00.
A good idea to avoid peak morning left queue is to reserve a taxi
or minibus to take you up to Banderishka Poliana.
20 Pistes
Download the Bansko mobile app in App store for iOS and Google
Play for Android mobile devices. The app has live information on
lift operation and piste opening and an interactive map for
restaurants, bars and businesses. Regular updates increase the
range of info available.
Insurance
NOTE that prepaid lift passes do not include mountain insurance.
Please arrange adequate winter sports cover at the time of
booking. Lift passes bought at the gondola include mountain
insurance.
As it is impossible to always predict weather, it is highly advisable
to buy insurance that covers lift closure and holiday cancellation.
Off piste skiing and snowboarding is often excluded on policies.
Read the terms carefully.
Arrange medical insurance cover in advance of travel.
(NOTE for property owners in Bulgaria: Watch out for the
insurance terms that typically exclude long periods where the
property is not occupied, unless water systems are totally
drained.)
21 Ski pistes
The pistes are located in two main areas - Chalin Valog (11001600m) and Shiligarnika (1700- 2500m). They are approximately
10 kilometers above the town.
The resort offers 75 km of maintained ski runs: 30% Beginners,
45% Intermediate and 35% Advanced. The colour convention for
the piste scale of difficulty is as follows:
Blue = easy: Bansko; Plateau 1; Shiligarnik 1; Shiligarnik 2, Ski
road 1 and 2
Red = hard: Banderishka; Balkaniada; Todorka; Stara Pista;
Ulen, Plateau 2; Strazhite, Cerna Mogilla (not open); Chalin valog
(note black section here too).
Black = difficult: Tomba; Chalin Valog
Beginners can be comfortable on the 16 km blue run down from
the top to the base station.
Intermediate and advanced skiers will be happy on the Tomba
black run and Chalin Valog.
22 First day itinerary
After a good night’s sleep an early night and hearty breakfast, if
you have not already, then book your après ski massage time
for the early evening.
Get to ski / snowboard hire shop by 08:15 to collect boots and
skis / snow boards if you are due a 10:00 lesson.
Warm up and stretch. Make the most of your day.
Watch this snowboard and ski warm up exercise plan on
YouTube:
http://www.youtube.c
om/watch?v=I2FuOX
M-BlY
Pistes may be best in
the morning if
temperatures are
above freezing during
the day.
Preferably, you
already have your lift
pass at 18:00 the day
before; or buy one at
the gondola kiosk the
day before).
Bansko town map, by
hand (pick up for free
23 in resort) or go to this link and print out your own town and piste
map:
http://banskoblog.com/2012/12/bansko-town-map-by-hand/
If you are skiing for less that six days, then you cannot pre pay
your pass. (Only 6 and 13 day passes may be probooked) Buy
yours at 08:30. Sometimes there is a queue.
Your lift pass should be safely tucked away in your ski jacket arm
pocket. It can stay there all week. When your skiing is over for
the week, you reclaim 5 lev at one of the ticket machines outside
the cash desk.
So all set, strolling past any lift pass queue at the kiosk you
arrive at the gondola lift station.
The gondola lift takes ten minutes to reach Chalin Valog at
1467m, and a further 22 minutes for the cable car to climb to
Bundersishka, which at 1635m.
If you are a confident snow boarder, or skier you can get out at
the first Gondola stop (Chalin Valog) then spend an hour or so on
slopes 15 and 16. These are both quite demanding pistes, so if
not yet feeling confident, just wait until later in the week before
attempting them.
Slope 16 is the easier, starting as a red and then reducing to a
blue nearer the chair lift. Slope 15 starts as a black and can be
quite challenging all the way down.
24 Both of these slopes take you to either Slope #1, the ski road,
which takes you back to the Gondola base at Bansko, or to a
chair lift to take you back to the top of Chalin Valog.
Stay on the gondola lift at midway station if not trying Chalin
Valog.
Take a coffee or chocolate at the VIP Room at Bandersishka
Poliana. The base for most of the piste skiing.
If you’re a confident boarder / skier then you’ll be itching to see
the view from the plateau (Plato) area. So take Banderitsa 1 and
then Banderitsa 2 lifts to the highest point at 2,600 metres.
From here you can tackle the World Cup Tomba run or enjoy the
blues 11 and 3 on the Plato. Look for the chair lift Plato on 11 to
take you up again.
If you are not an early riser, do not worry – lifts on the mountain
stop at 16:15.
After 12:30 buy a half-day pass. Take some sunrays and watch
the sun go low. From mid March onwards the long days in Bansko
can be felt. This is a distinct advantage over ski resorts further to
the North.
If it is a powder snow day, then explore routes under the lifts and
through the trees. Take advice before undertaking off piste riding
and skiing. That said, Bansko offers tremendous backcountry
terrain. More backcountry skiing is available at nearby
Dobrinishte. The Bezbog chairlift is not covered by the Bansko ski
pass. Worth a visit in good snow conditions.
25 Lunch
Take lunch at one of the mountain restaurants. You will be
hungry. When the weather is cold, we burn more calories than
normal
See mountain restaurant section for my favourites.
Afternoon
Plan to take the last lift to the very top and then make your way
down to Shilgarnika (1725metres) where there are panoramic
views down to Bansko town below.
Then pick the winding easy routes taking you all the way back
home. The famous ‘ski road’, Piste #1, is slightly easier than Piste
#2, but neither will present any challenge. Both runs take you
through superb scenery as they wind down the 10.2 kms to the
base of the mountain.
To finish the day, meet up with friends and stop at the
Peshterite bar, both just off the ski road. An après ski
atmosphere often develops at both places. Particularly good food
is served at the Peshterite.
Evening
Go to a Spa, take a Jacuzzi, have a massage.
26 Get ready for dinner. Decide on a mehana. There are over two
hundred to choose from. For fine Italian dining try the Kempinski
Come Prima or Soprano’s.
For pizza, pasta and general international, Victoria is always
popular. Book Victoria at busy times). For a local mehana, try The
Log House, Boyanova, Dedo Kotse, Motikata and others.
For a budget meal, try Bistro Pirin.
For a good steak, try The Steak House, opposite the Lion pub or
Chateau Antique. All these are marked on the Bansko app.
Reliable salads including the famous shopska salad can be found
in most places. Rakia is the local spirit that traditionally
accompanies the salad starter.
Second day itinerary / Friday & Saturday nights
Go skiing and snow boarding at Chalin Valog. Perfect area for
mixed abilities. Take the easy button drag lift. Two blacks and a
red run for the confident riders and skiers.
HINT: From Chalin Valog cross the button lift on to a road to take
you across to the ski road and the Peshterite bar.
Ski down later 17:30 / 18:00. Most of the way is floodlit. Enjoy
the peace. Warning: some hire shops close at 17:30.
Advanced riders and skiers should explore routes through trees
when conditions allow (take advice first before venturing off
piste)
27 Dinner: In ski season try curry night at the Avalon (Thursday’s
nights). Or regular Burger available every evening.
Euphoria Bar & Grill: A good après ski place that usually better
lively as the night goes on. Bog screen. Live bands
Happy End Bar & Night Club at 20:00. Live band and DJ Shark.
Penguins: Good après ski, good food and live band.
Sing Sing (at the Kempinski) at 22:30, live band (Taboo + others
Euphoria: live band Wednesday / Thursday nights (check)
2012/13 bar reviews added 31st December 2013
What Bansko restaurants and bars do you recommend? This is
one of the most often asked questions I receive.
And this year more than ever it’s good to pick off a Bansko stay
knowing what and where it is.
So read on for the places and for the changes that regulars will
find.
Victoria
Pirin Street opposite the Kempinski Grand Arena. I wrote about
this branch of this small Sofia chain back in 1999 and the
28 immediate success of Victoria has continued and its popularity
has never waned.
Victoria is open all year.
It’s convenient and reliable. But this year has seen some frantic
last minute building work going on.
The revamped entrance is one thing to see… but it’s the building
of a dining area annex that is different. This new area opens up
on to the side terrace. Large glass doors here will make Victoria a
fine place to soak up some rays on those sunny Bansko days.
I really like the job they have done here. It harks back to the
Swiss mountain chalet feel – a touch of Verbier style. There’s
plenty of wood and stone and a deer antlers “chandelier”. A
warming corner fireplace. We were there on when there was a
large gathering of where the tables are joined together.
The new “handmade” pizzas, with the option of real mozzarella
are a reliable fall back option good. The pork with mash potato
and mushroom sauce was passable. Some reasonable vegetarian
options were tried in the special Advent (no meat) menu including
respectable stuffed peppers.
The wine selection has been totally overhauled and in some
respects for the better. Whilst we have seen the departure of the
Midalidare Grand Cuvee which for me was the nest wine of the
29 list, we are seeing a selection of the Fabulous Light Castle wines.
Mark ups are fair. Angelus Estate wines including their white and
red (Stalllion) are all recommended.
I only wish more places, including Victoria, would offer half
bottles.
Service with a smile
Victoria deserves a lot of the credit of introducing a smile, instead
of a sneer, to guests. I was expecting to be disappointed with the
departure of Svetlana, the manager who did so much to make
guests feel welcome.
But I should not have feared, all the staff, both old and new, was
attentive.
Plus points
Service, wide menu, nice décor, unobtrusive music
Minus points
A draught in the annex. Our window seat could not be
recommended for cold nights. Cold air comes through the cracks.
Pick the table by the fire.
30 An over long menu. Choose carefully.
Sushi and Teppanyaki Bar & Grill, Kempinski
There is a new third Teppanyaki table in the Kempinski and those
who have not been should make this I must do visit.
Teppanyaki is a skilled chef performing in front of where you sit.
As knives twist and tricks are performed your grilled fish,
shellfish, meats, rice and noodle dishes are assembled with great
skill. This is quality and makes a fine upscale evening.
The Sing Sing piano bar next door is my favourite nightclub in
Bansko, but prices reflect the setting.
Kempinski Lobby bar
This lobby bar has to be mentioned. I never recommend places I
do not enjoy – but please bear in mind some of the places
discussed sponsor Bansko Blog. It’s here in the Lobby bar I can
relax, the music is unobtrusive and the range of tea here is
wonderful.
On my last visit, the Darjeeling tea came in a pot kept warm with
the flame of a candle.
31 Kempinski Come Prima
One of the best steaks I have had in Bansko. The wine list is
excellent but some prices are a little over inflated. Pasta is served
al dente – the way it should be.
Bring the plastic or a good amount of leva if you like wine -- and
if you like wine and steak you will need around 110 lv per head
Amvrosia restaurant at the Premier Luxury Mountain
Resort
I had the great pleasure to attend the Gastronomy festival, and
whilst this special event was hugely enjoyable.
Amvrosia dining room is one of the finest in Bansko.
But I can say that, without exception, service standards are
amongst the best to be found in Bansko. And that includes a
welcoming smile.
Full review:
http://banskoblog.com/2012/11/bansko-calendar-2013-by-hand
32 Euphoria
If you walk down to the lights form the Kempinski and turn left
you will see the popular sign of Euphoria. This has undergone
some reworking of the oval bar area. This small change seem to
have made Euphoria a nicer place to be.
A slightly overlong menu, with pictures, has been winning praise
from some friends. Be warned that the music can be loud here.
On the plus side the DJ is excellent as is the sound system.
We wait to see what the live band will be like when they start
their regular performances.
Service from both the bar staff and the waiting staff was friendly
and attentive. Quick service too.
Like Penguins, and Lions Pub, the owner of all three has kept
this a “Free House” and therefore can supply beer from breweries
other than the big multinationals (Carlsberg etc).
33 Surveying the bar area I see a good selection of beers including
English beer Fuller’s London Pride, Wychwood’s Hobgoblin and
real English cider (all supplied by beers.bg).
With Bulgarian beer quality following the UK’s in the early 70’s
(i.e. reduce money on quality of product increase the budget for
marketing); this makes a nice dive to quality.
The upper terrace is the best après ski sun deck in Bansko. Lots
of people watching and its hard to justify moving from here once
planted after coming off the hill. (open in winter ski season only)
The large projector screen has all the football as well as some
splendid winter ski and boarding videos.
The numerous large screen TV’s mean none of the Sky sporting
action need be missed.
Penguins Bar & Diner
Penguins is located 100 metres across the lights we come to the
new Penguins. Regulars will see it is the old Friendly pub, but
completely extended and renovated.
The style is a little New England and with a colourful light shades
is pleasingly different.
34 A nice bar area sees a good selection of beers including English
beer from Fuller’s London Pride, Wychwood’s Hobgoblin and real
English cider (all supplied by beers.bg).
Service was good in my last visit, which was for a beer and some
nachos.
Queen’s Pub
A huge new sign adorns the entrance and what looks like an
outdoor grill area.
With some competitive prices and a live band every night and
resident magician this place is set to be popular.
At the moment, untested food.
The 100 lv New Year party looks like excellent value.
Bistro Pirin
Opposite the ice skating rink, this has become a firm favourite of
mine for good local pricing and reliable simple local dishes.
The roaring log fire makes this a top après ski destination.
35 The Log House
Great value, large portions. Located opposite Euphoria. Try the
pork knuckle.
Pirin 75
The expatriate favourite has received a very nice refit and
expansion.
There is often a buzzy vibe here and for this season the Greek
owners have taken care to make some nice design detailing.
Service is always friendly, prices are competitive for the area; the
best coffee in town. Their frappe is the best in town.
Pirin 75 serves best as a daytime café but even better as the
after dinner meeting spot. The DJ plays stuff you’ll know and
love. For a late night in a convenient location, Pirin 75 comes
recommended. Be warned, the music is loud.
Lions Pub
For many regular Bansko visitors the Lions Pub is the original.
Located on the corner of Glazne street and Pirin Street, opposite
Pirin 75 it is very easy to find. Whilst its Sky TV is an attraction in
its own right, I have always been rather reluctant to go there.
But this was in the days pre June 1st 2012.
36 This was a time when many of Bulgaria’s bars resembled one
huge smoke fest.
Lions Pub has been transformed. A new lick of paint and the no
smoking clean air will make this more popular for the coming
season. The efficient bar staff have helped make this a reliable
place to both start and end an evening.
It’s open at 08:00
Lions is a good place to go for full English breakfast and stays
open till the early hours. DJ Shark will often build up a good buzz
and a merry crowd will probably be dancing in the lower bar area.
Food is not been mentioned simply because I have not tried an
evening meal here. Recent reports have been favourable – but
please comment below if you have anything to say.
How to find the bars and restaurants of Bansko
All of the above restaurant and bars may be found in the Bansko
app.
37 Free to download for Apple iOS and Android mobile devices. Just
click on the places/bars and restaurants button and you will see
both an interactive map and listing.
Clicking on a pin will give you more detail including booking. The
best of the mountain restaurants are also shown
Finding WiFi
Bulgaria is in the top three most connected places in the whole of
Europe.
Free WiFi is normal and all the mentioned bars have wifi. In the
resort your location is marked by a Green pin and this will help
you navigate around the town.
Key places such as the gondola lift, pharmacies and ATM’s are
also marked.
Once in resort, or even from your transfer driver if you book vis
Bansko Blog, you will receive a free town and piste map. Drawn
by hand, Or you can go to this page to download you free copy.
Special occasion itinerary
Snowboard / ski in the morning.
Book a helicopter flight or snowmobile session in the afternoon.
38 Fine dining at the Kempinski’s Come Prima restaurant. Try the rib
of beef at Come Prima or the sushi and Teppanyaki bar and grill
where the show from your chef will impress.
Try the chocolate spaghetti desert. Sing Sing piano bar, at the
Kempinski, is a superb end to the evening.
Safety
Never forget that keeping safe on the slopes is completely your
responsibility. Assess all the risks starting from weather
conditions and weather forecast.
Make sure you are fit and relaxed. Do not ski if you are over
tired, ill, unduly stressed or under the influence of alcohol. Some
exercise before coming out on will help extend your skiing hours.
Both snowboarding and skiing are demanding physically. If you
start to feel very tired, stop.
More injuries happen when tired.
Have good equipment. Helmets are sensible, comfortable and
inexpensive. Helmet hire options on BanskoBlog online booking
form. (Children, 11 and under, are free when hiring children’s
equipment).
Observe piste etiquette. Learn how to fall safely.
Never go off piste without a fully qualified guide and only with all
the gear such as shovel and transponder.
39 If a piste is closed, do not go on it.
What if an injury still happens?
If you suspect you are badly hurt, stay still and call Bansko
mountain rescue on:
The pan-European emergency number 112
There is a medical centre at the gondola base with X-ray facility
where you can receive first aid. Make sure you have medical
insurance, and a credit card on you.
The doctors here are considered professional. However, anything
serious and you should go to Sofia.
Of course, none of the above will happen to you and you will
enjoy a perfect day first day out.
Tired or hungry? Head to a café or restaurant. Warm up and
relax.
Food and drink in the mountains
40 Five areas on the mountain.
• Plateau (Plato) : The Goat (nice fire; food okay)
• Bandersihka Poliana: Ulen restaurants and fast food
+ VIP Room (recommended)
• Shiligarnika: Bla Bla: Hotel Shiligarnika (100m down
road from Bla Bla)
• Chalin Valog: Izvorite (Wednesday afternoons from
14:00 are party days – watch snowboarders do tricks);
BBQ
• Ski Road: Peshterite; recommended.
Blue and white tent bars are fine. Service sometimes indifferent.
Hot chocolate is good as are the hot (mulled) wine, beer and
spirits. Hot dogs are just okay, when hungry.
Après Ski
Food & Drink
If you are staying in an apartment and prefer to cook, you can
stock up well at the two major supermarkets:
Valan – the big supermarket opposite the petrol station as you
enter Bansko.
41 Winter supermarket – above Queen’s pub on Pirin street, next
to the ice rink. Preferred option. Open is ski season only.
NOTE: In Razlog town Penny and LIDL supermarkets make good
alternative supermarkets for food shopping.
All have all the ingredients for your home cooking. Many have hot
dishes for you to take away and eat at home. There are small
supermarkets all over the town that offer the basic range of
foods, but prices are generally higher than those listed above.
For fruit and vegetables, go down Pirin street walk past the
Church square and below the main square to the local open
market.
The market has seasonal local vegetables that will make for a
great meal. There are a couple of butcher shops on Pirin street
selling fresh local meat. Greek shop on Glazne street is great for
proper Olives, olive oil and great produce.
All are recommended.
Do not hesitate to buy a bottle of Bulgarian wine or Bulgarian
beer to go with your meal.
Wine the choice of high-quality Bulgarian wines at reasonable
prices is stunning. Depending on your preference, look for wines
of the following brands:
42 Light Castle: all wines
Enira by Bessa Valley winery;
Katarzhyna Estate (Question mark; Contemplations; Seven
Grapes; Mezzek);
Midalidare: Eric Moro & Silver Angel (whites) and all reds by
Midalidare Estate;
Santa Sarah Black C by Santa Sarah; Nobile and Hypnose by
Logodaj; TerraTangra and many more.
Avoid the cheapest ranges and drinking the 10 -20 leva range
upwards will bring the most wine pleasure.
Beer
Bulgaria has quite a number of beer brands. Most of the local
breweries are owned by foreign brands and produce Pirinsko,
Stella Artois, Beck’s, Heineken, Kamenitsa, Staropramen, Tuborg,
Amstel, Carlsberg, Staropramen, Starobrno, Bolyarka, Ariana,
Bolyarka, Zagorka.
There are some very good local beers that have been changed to
the international standards and are not as good as they used to
be, but are still good value for money:
Zagorka (moderately strong lager, best in bottles);
43 Stolichno (ok dark beer, caramel, chocolaty -- and a little smoky
in taste);
Pirinsko (the most popular beer in Bansko – a pleasant light
lager at 4.2%m probably the nest);
Shumensko (a tasty creamy light lager).
Staropramen (higher quality than most mass market beer).
Bolyarka Ligher option
Ariana ok and cheap
Real British beer, such as Robinsons, Trooper ale, Fuller’s
London Pride, Fuller’s Honey Dew (Organic) and Fuller’s Porter
are available at Euphoria, Penquins, Queens Pub, Lions Pub,
Harry’s bar (Kandahar apartments), Cobra lager at Mr Singh’s.
There are other good dark beer options from Shumensko,
Kamenitsa and Staropramen, of varying quality.
Most are stocked by bars in winter only.
If buying from a supermarket, buy glass instead of plastic bottle
for better taste (1.25-3.00 leva a bottle).
Restaurants
The Bansko restaurant scene is diverse.
44 Fine dining and cheap eats and street food are numerous. Take
away and home delivery ensure that food and drink are never far
away.
With more than 500 places to eat and drink, ask for tips and read
online the places that others are enjoying.
Mehanas
The local traditional restaurants are called “mehanas”.
Mehanas are the most ubiquitous type of restaurant in Bansko.
Expect a more casual tavern/pub-like atmosphere and sometimes
live loud folk music. Food can be excellent value too.
Some traditional mehanas target the unwary foreigners with
tourist prices -- that do not justify the quality.
A good mehana though should offer cosy atmosphere, big tasty
dishes and prices that reflect the quality and level of restaurant
Salads and starters are generally nice, homemade flat bread
recommended, local beans (bob) and potatoes particularly tasty.
For the main course, local specialties usually comprise of different
kinds of meats cooked on charcoal / barbeque, or, in a pot with
vegetables.
45 Zehtindjieva Kushta
Marked some 50m off Pririn street. Great prices and sound food
Bistro Pirin
95 Pirin St.; a favourite après ski place. Warm log fire, good
prices and simple food. Try the dish of the day for lunch.
Dedo Kotse
On the main square; open all year round. Review:
http://banskoblog.com/2012/03/dedo-kotse-mehana/
Momini Dvori
2 Nikola Vaptsarov Str; +35974988076, +359885406595
Molerite
41 Glaze Street, +359 888 844 944
Vakanova Kashta
2 Pirin St; +359 898695228
Dedo Pene
1 A. Buinov St., next to the church
Todeva House
7 Neophit Rilski St.; +359 888 496 025; +359 896 665 409
46 Banski Han
2 Vassil Kanchev St.; +359 899 533334, +359 888 990663
International
Victoria Restaurant - one of the most popular in Bansko, part
of a chain in Sofia. All kinds of Italian and Bulgarian dishes,
salads, soups, pizza. Perfect for after-ski lunch. Suitable for
children too. Reasonable prices and excellent service. Reservation
and home delivery:
119 Pirin Street — opposite the Kempinski, close to the gondola
Open All Year: 10:00 to 24:00;
Tel: +359 887 761 500
Boyanovi Pizza – 22 Pirin St. Low prices and open all year.
Indian cuisine
Avalon Hotel – curry nights every Thursday and Friday in ski
season. Booking essential for James and Vania’s popular, and
completely curry nights. Excellent food, value and service. Family
friendly, children eat for free; +359 749 883 99
Mr Singh’s Under the Lion hotel. Great curry, fair prices.
47 Fine dining
Come Prima, Kempinski Grand Arena. Tel: +359 749 88888.
Chateau Antique Excellent cuisine, wonderful surroundings. Full
review http://banskoblog.com/2012/12/chateau-antique-morethan-another-restaurant/
Amvrosia, at the Premier Luxury Mountain Resort…
http://banskoblog.com/2012/12/amvrosia-restaurant-premierluxury-mountain-resort-fit-for-the-gods/
Moderato, St Ivan Rilski hotel. Tel: +359 749 87400
Soprano’s 94 Pirin Street. In the Happy End by gondola. Review
http://banskoblog.com/2011/12/sopranos-restaurant-ski-chic/
Burgers at Avalon Hotel: +359 749 883 99
town.
Best burgers in
Sushi
Sushi bar and Teppanyaki grill at the Kempinski Grand Arena
Bansko – excellent food and service, live cooking by Asian chefs,
fine atmosphere and corresponding prices; +359 749 88888
Sushi bar at St. Ivan Rilski Tel: +359 749 87400
Sushi at Vila Roka, 37 Glazne Street Tel: +359 749 99337
48 Night life and bars
There is a late bar, and night club, in Bansko for all music tastes
and ages, usually open till the morning.
Here are some favourites:
Sing Sing piano bar, in the Kempinski Grand Arena – excellent
piano bar for live music acts Friday and Saturday nights (in ski
season). Tabbu are the resident live band. Be prepared to be
impressed.
Pirin 75 – open all day, great coffee, well priced drinks, party
after 9 p.m. with great DJ mixes, relaxed atmosphere.
No. 75 Pirin street next to Lion pub. Open all year.
Happy End Bar – live bands and DJ on Friday and Saturday
nights; opposite the gondola lift. Open all year. 94 Pirin Street.
Harry’s bar – at the Kandahar hotel. “The Lizard” plays guitar to
great acclaim. British craft beer stocked. 4 Kralev Dvor Street.
Tel: +359 878 33 3344
Euphoria – live band Wednesday / Thursday nights. Chinese and
international food. Nice interior. Popular après ski sun deck.
Nayden Gerov street (turn right main light when going up hill
towards the gondola).
Lion Pub – English food and atmosphere. Football on SKY;
Glazne St. opposite Strazhite hotel
49 Friendly Bar – English food and atmosphere, football on SKY;
Glazne St. opposite Strazhite hotel
Oxygen – party for the clubbing crowd; +359 899 130490
Nai club – pop folk club atmosphere; Florimont Hotel
Queen’s pub – very large, live bands; up from ice rink on Pirin
street
JJ Murphy’s – Irish pub just round the corner from the Lion
hotel
Child care and children’s playground
(click on links for more details) Ice Age Kids center – for hourly or longer stay (half-day; all-day,
a week), including food, animation, birthday parties,
entertainment; 37 Glazne St, Villa Roka; +359 888 705097
For a kindergarten including ski lessons, use Ulen’s Kindergarten
(4-7 year). See link for details, booking only available in resort.
Mall Bansko has a children’s unsupervised play area (8:00 a.m. –
8:00 p.m.)
50 SPAs and swimming pools
Some of the new hotels and complexes in Bansko have really
modern and luxurious SPA centres with sauna, steam room, relax
room, Jacuzzi, swimming pools and sitting out areas for
relaxation.
Even if you are not staying in one of them, they usually allow
visitors to pay to go in the SPA for the day.
Book a massage or another beauty treatment at a good price.
Kempinski Grand Arena Bansko Zaleg SPA
Premier Luxury Mountain Resort
St. Ivan Rilsky Wellness and SPA
Victoria SPA and Gym at Premier Luxury Mountain Resort
Pirin Golf Club Hotel and SPA, Razlog
Katarino Hotel and SPA, Razlog
Try the “communist era” local hot spring public bath in
Dobrinishte (7km away). Naked bathing only.
Wearing a swimsuit is not the etiquette here. Expect pure, clean
and hot spring water.
Separate men’s and women’s hot spring pools.
51 Shopping
Bansko is not yet a shopping destination like Sofia, but you can
still find everything you need for your stay and Pirin street has an
Italian clothes shop. Beware replicas.
Some famous brands have arrived in Bansko, especially when it
comes to sports and ski clothes.
Conte of Florence, Head, Rossignol, The North Face, Billabong,
Rip Curl, Roxy, Salomon, Burton, Fischer and more can all be
found in the shops down Pirin street. German designer brand
Bogner, has its own shop.
A full listing with addresses is here:
http://banskoblog.com/2009/11/ski-fashion-2010/
Be warned, some shops sell fake branded goods. Max Sport,
Conte de Florence and SLS shops recommended for genuine high
quality goods.
You can find a couple of very good shops offering jewelry as well.
Fur and leather goods shops popular too.
There are many souvenir shops scattered around Bansko that
offer colourful memories of Bulgaria.
Mall Bansko – property owners who need electrical appliances for
their flat can find a full range in Technomarket (now located near
town square). Ski gear and clothes may be found here also.
The mall is located just across the river (next to
BanskoRoyalTowers) and 150 metres from the gondola
52 Day trips
There are some day trips that you can make to two nearby towns
– Razlog and Dobrinishte. Both are interesting, local small towns.
For a local village then Godlevo has a fine mehana and nice
views. Taxi reqired. Expect to pay 15 lev approx. each way.
If you fancy a more city like experience, go to the administrative
centre of the area –
Blagoevgrad. This regional town is just 56 km away from
Bansko and has a youthful atmosphere due to its two major
universities. Take the bus to Blagoevgrad from Bansko bus
station located at the bottom of town. 8 Lev each way
Enjoy people watching the pedestrian on the main streets.
They’re full of restaurants, cafes, and boutiques.
Other entertainment
Ice rink – 1,200 square metre ice rink on Pirin Street. Open until
22:00 in main ski season only. It generally closes from around
20th March – but may be earlier depending on temperatures.
Pirin Golf club for a session of golf, or for the club house for a fine
dining restaurant. Located 10 km outside Bansko. On the main
road to Sofia.
Pirin Golf hotel restaurant and luxury Spa worth visiting.
53 Narrow guage (760mm) Septemvri to Dobrinishte railway -Nine trains a day. Four hour journey time from one end to the
other.
Highly recommended. Avramovo station is the highest in the
Balkans at 1,267 metres.
Useful article on the Dobrinishte to Septemvri narrow guage
railway is here:
http://www.andrewgrantham.co.uk/bulgarian-narrow-gauge/
Time table: http://www.bdz.bg/
Stations on the route: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SeptemvriDobrinishte_narrow_gauge_line
Useful telephone numbers
Emergency – 112
Police – 160
Fire - 166
Bansko medical centre (Gondola lift): +359 747 80780
54 Razlog Hospital: +359 747 89723 (1 St. Kiril and Metodii Str,
Razlog)
Doctors in Bansko
DR ROSKOF
0887208413
DR DOOZMANCHINA
0886434236
DR DJOPANOF
0887335306
DR TERZIEV
0898778700
The Gondola emergency centre is recommended most for
typical emergency treatment. Only call a doctor if absolutely
necessary.
Pharmacists (recommend Sanita on North West corner of main
square) stocks most medicines. Others located on Pirin Street and
by the Winter Supermarket (in ski season). Bansko app has most
pharmacies marked.
British Embassy in Sofia
9 Moskovksa St. Sofia; +359 2 933 9222;
e-mail: information@british-embassy.bg
www.british-embassy.bg
British Embassy Bansko representatives:
55 James Hughes tel: 089 44 88 224
John Sutton tel:
088 65 43 262
Sofia Airport - +359 2 937 2211
General tips
• Bansko App on your iPhone, ipad, ipod touch. Go to itunes
and type “Bansko”. Interactive map
• Bansko App for Android. Interactive map
• Avoid restaurants with touts.
• Is the restaurant popular with Bulgarians?
• Bulgaria and Bansko town are generally safe. Crime,
including theft, happens from time to time. So common
sense should prevail.
• Whatever happens, do not panic, this is a European country
and there is always a way out of a situation. Locals are
friendly and ready to help tourists.
• Before getting on a taxi in Bansko, check the sticker with the
prices per km on the back window, or negotiate a price for
your destination
• If you stay for a longer period it’s cheaper, and more
convenient, to use a local prepaid phone card with one of
the main providers: Globul, Mtel or Vivacom
• Free WiFi is available in most big hotels, and almost all
Bansko’s cafes, bars and restaurants
56 More tips:
BanskoBlog.com
twitter @bansko
facebook.com/banskoblog (events and photographs)
youtube.com/banskoblog (snow and weather reports)
Top four FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Where is the best place to change currency?
Typically at a bank in Bansko (not the airport)
2. Can I leave my skis at the ski hire?
Most ski hire places you can. Be sure to check opening times.
3. Where do lessons start from?
Most lessons start at Banderishka Poliana by the big PISTE MAP;
i.e. at the top of the gondola lift walk straight ahead and you will
see it.
57 4. How Long Should I Allow To Get To The Airport / To
Bansko?
Allow two hours thirty minutes, each way. If weather
conditions are really poor, then we may advise longer. Journey
time early morning or late evening is 2 hours 30 minutes (without
stop).
Summer activities and excursions
In the summer, Bansko provides a shelter from the heat in the
cities.
Summer lift timetable
Go to BanskoBlog.com for times
Summer bus to Vihren hut. 6 lev (€3 approx one way) is an
excellent option as most hiking routes start from Vihrin hut
The summer bus service (from 15th June) starts at the bus station
(located next to Florimont hotel at the bottom of town) at 8.30AM.
The bus also stops opposite the Glazne Hotel and the Strazhite
Hotel (opposite Lion pub) on the way up. It comes back at 6pm and
there are also some times during the mid afternoon it comes back.
There is a timetable on the side of the bus.
58 Hiking (it’s FREE)
The Pirin and Rila mountains are said to be best for hiking and
peak climbing. Many mountain walking routes start from the
region. Make sure you have a map (or guide). Check weather
first. Safety is your responsibility, so consider your ability, fitness
and equipment.
Be prepared but hire a personal guide for longer hikes as some
paths are not so well marked. Contact BanskoBlog for details.
For downloadable Pirin hiking map; click link:
http://www.banskoski.com/bg/bansko/60/
Details of FREE guided hiking day trips in BanskoBlog.com
http://banskoblog.com/2012/07/free-hiking/
NOTES:
• Family friendly
• starting locations vary
• tip your guide 20 lev adult (5 lev child)
Free hiking days are suitable for all the family. The day’s hike is
determined by ability of weakest in group.
====================
Vihren (2914) is the highest peak you can climb in Pirin. The
scenes of the gorgeous marble peaks are unbeatable. There are
about twenty huts where you can find shelter on the main routes.
59 However, unless you are a seasoned hiker, hiring a guide for
longer treks makes sense. See Bansko Blog to book popular
hiking tours.
Long 2/3/5 days’ routes in the Pirin are not suitable for
everybody. You have to be fit and ready to experience some
tough conditions. The huts are very basic. But most sell food and
drink.
However, there are great one-day spots for having a picnic in the
mountains.
For example, you can drive up the ski road from Bansko and keep
going up until you see a café. From here you can stop and take
the obvious route up to a lake. A short, but pleasant, 20 minutes
walk.
FREE hiking tours
Look out for dates and meeting times on banskoblog.com in
August for FREE hiking. Just turn up, no prebooking required.
Please tip your guide.
Hiking routes and tours
• All prices include mountain guide, lunch and transportation.
• All tours may be booked via banskoblog.com
• Free guided hiking: http://banskoblog.com/2012/07/freehiking
60 One day tour (easy level)
Bansko to Vihren hut by bus. Walk from Vihrin hut to Okoto lake
and then back (1/2 hours). Visit Baikusheva mura (the oldest tree
in Bulgaria. Claimed to be 1,300 years old!
45 lev per person
One day tour (easy level)
Bansko to the chair lift at Dobrinishte. Chair lift to Bezbog hut
and walk to Popovo lake and back(3/4 hours).
65 lev per person
One day tour (easy level)
Bansko to Demianitsa chalet by bus. Walk from Demianitsa to
lake Vasilashko and then back (4/5 hours).
50 lev per person
One day tour (easy level)
Bansko to Vihrin hut by bus. Walk from Vihrin hut to Muratovo
lake, Ribnoto and Okoto lake and then back (3/4 hours).
50 lev per person
One day tour (Medium level). The Five Lake tour
61 Bansko to Vihrin hut by bus. Vihrin to Muratovo, Ribnoto,
Dalgoto, Jabeshko and Okoto lakes (3/4 hours)
55 lev per person
One day tour (Medium level)
Bansko to Dobrinishte by bus. Dobrinishte to Bezbog by chair lift
hut, From Bezbog to Demianitsa through Popov and Valiavishki
lakes (6/7 hrs)
65 lev per person
One day tour (Medium level)
Bansko to Vihrin hut by bus. Vihrin to Demianitsa hut, through
Banderishki and Vasilashkite (5/6 hours)
60 lev per person
One day tour (Advanced level)
Bansko to Vihren hut by bus. Vihren hut to Vihren peak
(2,914m). Be warned this hike has some steep sections and
sharp drop offs. Not for the faint of heart. (5/6 hrs)
60 lev per person
Three day tour
Day 1: Bezbog to Tevnoto lake (5/6 hrs) Overnight
Day 2: Tevnoto lake ot Vihrin hut (6/7 hrs) Overnight
Day 3: Vihren hut to Yavorov hut (8/9 hrs). Bus to Bansko
62 175 lev
Rafting
Rafting on the Stresdna river gorge, some thirty minutes from
Bansko. A highly recommended activity. Best May to July.
The Mesta river provides a calmer place to practice and enjoy the
nature.
50 lev per person.
Microlight flights
Flying high around the Pirin and Rila mountains is a breathtaking
experience. A fully qualifies pilot will take you up high. Bring your
camera.
120 lev per person
Horse riding
Through lush forest, and open pastures on the Rila mountain
horse riding lets you get up close to the unique nature of the
Bansko region. Mountain lakes and crystal clean air. Perivolas
(http://www.perivolasbg.com) provides horse riding lessons for
both adults and children
80 lev per person
63 ATV tours
ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) are huge fun and provide much
adrenalin. The 4x4 vehicles climb and descend steep slopes with
ease. These tours include all protective clothing and helmet,
transportation and lunch box.
You will see the real Bulgaria -- shepherds, sheep and mules.
Forests and streams unfold – for good reason that ATV action is
one of the favourite adrenaline activities.
Easy 80 lev per person
Hard 140 lev per person
Off road safari
An 4x4 enables you to explore the scenery that would without
hiking for hours. The tracks in the Pirin and Rila mountains make
for a fast, safe and fun way to see the mountains.
65 lev per person
Rock climbing
The Pirin mountain highest peak is 2914 metres. Quite alpine in
feel. Plenty of faces to keep the advanced climbers happy, there
are one day rock climbing days suitable for beginners and
intermediates. 70 lev per person
64 Canyoning
This takes place on the Kosovska river, close to the foot of the
Pirin and close to the village of Vlahi. Descending the 25 metre
Vlahi waterfall in a seat, held by secured ropes, will be an
experience you’ll remember.
90 lev per person
Bear Park
The dancing bear park is a refuge for abused bears in Belitsa. Run
in association with Four Paws, it takes around an hour to get to
from Bansko.
Be prepared for a bumpy track on the way. A beautiful experience
and well worth it. Info here: http://www.fourpaws.org.uk/website/belitsa
Enquire for price for one day transport to Park. Take a picnic, as
food choice in the café there is limited.
Mountain Biking
The town has a skill dirt track in the main park.
www.mtb-bansko.com and for info on mtb in Bansko.
Download MTB route maps such as Foxy Lady, Dead Dog, Perfect
Day, Road to Nowhere, and more at mtb-bansko.com.
65 “Road to Nowhere” annual MTB race ( end of July) www.mtbbansko.com for 2013 dates.
“Three mountain ultra” 120 km mtb race. See www.mtbbansko.com for more.
Video and article on race:
http://banskoblog.com/2011/08/mountain-biking-video
Tours
Mountain bike tours will take you to Dobrinishte and Bania and
are suitable for families with children. Ride is geared for ability. A
great way to explore the area and appreciate the surrounding
nature.
55 lev per person
Bansko to Rila Monastry
A UNESCO world heritage site not to be missed. A masterpiece of
Bulgarian revival architecture. 8,800 m2 with an inner yard of
3,300 m2.
Rila Monastry is the most famous of Bulgaria’s Eastern Orthodox
monasteries. in a rectangular form.
66 75 lev per person (including lunch box)
Bansko to Melnik and Rozhen monastery
A popular trip, not least due to the opportunity to taste some fine
Melnik wine. The Mavrud grape that is unique to Bulgaria is grown
in this region. It produces some fine rich and strong wines.
The natural sand pyramid rock structures are impressive – like
giant obelisks. Melnik is the smallest city in Bulgaria with a
population of just 385 people.
75 lev per person
For customized MTB tours of Rila, Rhodopi, Stara Planina
(Including Vratsa) and Belogradchick contact BanskoBlog.com
Fishing
A fishing license is required to fish in Bulgaria. This licence is
issued by the ministry of forestry (outlet in Dobrinishte and
Razlog). However you need a permanent residence card for this.
It may be possible to find someone in town to get one for you.
Warning; fishing without a licence could mean confiscation of all
your equipment and a fine.
67 The safest way is to go fishing at the private lake of the local
fishing association ("Vasilak") to the West of Bansko (located
after the army barracks). Fish for trout and carp. Pay 10 Leva
plus the weight of the fish caught you take home.
A simple restaurant is located there for sustenance. Open,
usually, from June 1st.
Bansko Jazz festival
The Bansko International Jazz Festival Every year from 8th to
13th August.
Read more on Bansko Blog about Dr Iliev, the Festival organizer,
whose passion for Jazz has kept the annual festival going for so
many years.
banskojazzfest.com for programme
Jazz Fest is one of the very best weeks to be in Bansko.
Apart from main stage performances, there are often sessions
from 22:30 till the early hours at the Kempinski Hotel Grand
Arena Bansko. Check before arriving.
68 The Good Beer Show @ BRT (Bansko Royal Towers). 3rd August
2013 and 10th August 2013
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Beer tasting
Food
DJ music
Free use of swimming pool
Free entry
Starts midday
Free guided hiking
http://banskoblog.com/2012/07/free-hiking/
• 4th August to 11th August. 2013 – see BanskoBlog.com for
more
• Take gondola lift around 08:30
• 10 lv return
• Meet at 09:30 top of gondola, Banderishka Poliana by big
piste map
• Bring family (children 7+).
• Walk around three hours
facebook.com/banskoblog for updates
With lots of daytime activities, as well as plenty of restaurants to
try, this Jazz Fest period is a perfect time to come for hiking,
mtb’ing, horse riding, fishing, spa relaxation and tours.
Opera Festival
Held in late August the Bansko Opera Fest is a joy.
69 More info for 2013 dates and programme:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bansko-Opera-Fest/
Subscribe at BanskoBlog.com for newsletter and updates to “The
Essential Guide to Bansko” (it’s free) for more
Sofia events
(combine Bansko with Sofia)
Bansko Film Festival
Every November the Bansko International Film Festival screens
some of the most acclaimed adventure films.
http://banskofilmfest.com/ for dates and info.
Visiting Sofia
Accommodation: Sofia apartments
Restaurants:
sofiarestaurants.bg
http://www.freesofiatour.com/ for a most interesting tour of
Sofia. Don’t miss learning about this fascinating capital of
Bulgaria.
A combined Summer (Bansko) mountain and city (Sofia) break is
easy to arrange -- and good value for money.
70 Thank you for reading The Essential Guide to Bansko.
We update and expand this guide regularly. Your comments help
us do this.
If you have any recommendations of places for inclusion then
please contact lance@banskoblog.com
Lance Nelson
•
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Bansko Mobile -- http://banskoblog.com/mobile-apps/
lance@banskoblog.com
twitter.com/bansko
facebook.com/banskoblog
pinterest.com/Bansko
youtube.com/banskoblog
Copyright Bansko Blog 2012. Permission is granted to print out this Guide. No part may be reproduced without written permission. Contact: lance@banskoblog.com Do you spot any inaccuracies or omissions? Or do you disagree with a recommendation? Then please email your comments. We will update this guide. No responsibility may be taken for the accuracy of the information in the Guide. Bansko App
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