Kempinski Blog Article
If you are looking for an alternative European skiing destination, Bansko is the perfect place to visit. Not only is it one of Eastern Europe’s premier ski resorts, it is also a great town to explore. Bansko has a rich history, lots of traditional Bulgarian restaurants and a selection of spas to help you relax after a day on the slopes.
Bansko has something for everyone and you don’t need to be a winter sports enthusiast to enjoy your time here. The service and experiences available to you rival those of the more popular Alpine destinations. Read our guide below on how to make the most of your time visiting this delightful town.
Due to the spectacular mountains of the Pirin National Park and reliable snowfalls, Bulgaria’s best ski resort is fast becoming a popular destination for winter sports.
Whether you are staying close to the town’s historic centre or right at the base of the slopes, Bansko has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Located at the bottom of a valley and surrounded by soft but dramatic peaks, it benefits from beautiful vistas, and despite large investment into the resort’s development, the traditional local architecture has been well preserved.
Wide, open slopes that go on for long distances make snowboarding and skiing a pleasure, and if you prefer more leisurely activities, there are walking tours, shops, museums and more, as well as hundreds of restaurants and bars to try.
Bansko is served by Sofia Airport, around 160 km away. Flights to most European and Middle Eastern capitals can be caught from the airport, with airlines including British Airways, Transavia, flydubai and Lufthansa. From here you can drive via a rental car, or take an inexpensive long-distance bus from Sofia to Bansko.
Plovdiv International Airport is also an option although this is slightly further away (180km) as well as train travel from Athens and Thessaloniki to Blagoevgrad, from where you can catch one of the very frequent buses up to Bansko from Blagoevgrad’s bus station.
Taxis are available from the bus station, just ensure you agree on the price of your trip prior to departing. When travelling in the small town, walking is often the easiest way to get around, and if you are driving, make sure to keep an eye on the weather reports, in case you need to get a set of snow chains for your tyres (or winter tyres) – as few roads are regularly ploughed or salted.
When visiting the exciting town of Bansko, make sure to book a room or suite at Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena. A 5-star, modern hotel that features a range of restaurants serving delicious meals, and a spa to soothe you after a day on the slopes, it is the perfect retreat for anyone looking for a luxury stay.
With a fantastic range of restaurants, from inexpensive sandwich shops to family-friendly European restaurants, all the way to exceptional fine dining establishments, Bansko’s cuisine caters to all.
For small lunches or snacks enjoyed between trips down the slopes, head on over the Le Retro and enjoy one of their sandwiches and light bites, or enjoy a scoop of ice cream at the well-regarded Gelato Italiano. Fantastic steaks can be enjoyed at Steak House Lazur and Bar and El Torito, while there are a range of excellent Italian dishes on offer at Leonardo restaurant.
If you prefer a taste of the local flavours, visit The Log House for traditional Bulgarian food, dining on rich, meaty dishes and warming soups, or enjoy the homely flavours on offer at Voyvodata Tavern or Mehana Dedo Tase. Lastly, for a truly filling meal after a day spent skiing, head to Banski Han for a feast!
There is a lot to enjoy in Bansko, particularly for those that want to enjoy the hills, mountains and forests that surround the resort. Here are some of our recommendations:
A huge mountain whose largest peak, Vihren, is some 2916 m tall, it is hard to miss Pirin when staying in Bansko – its north-eastern slopes are home to most of the ski slopes closest to the town.
If you are an avid hiker or mountain climber, then it is a perfect spot to explore, with a range of peaks, lakes and forests to ramble through, and animals including eagles, owls, bears, wildcats and deer that live across the rugged landscape. Trekking tours can be booked with a number of companies located in Bansko.
Four Paws Bear Sanctuary
A home for around 25 rescued bears that once were held captive to dance for audiences, Four Paws Bear Sanctuary lets you admire the now well-cared-for creatures as they roam and play with their kind in large enclosures. Located 33 km away in Belitsa, catch a tour run by experts and learn more about these magnificent creatures.
Bansko is known for its amazing skiing and snowboarding opportunities. There are up to 70 km of ski runs, with the longest single track being 16 km, and the longest cross-country trail running for 5 km. There are even a number of night skiing destinations open until 9:30pm, and all of the runs are covered by snow cannons, ensuring snow between December and May.
For snowboarders, there is Balkans Fun Park, which has man-made bumps, pipes and jumps, and the opportunity for visitors to build their own.
If you would like more information on the amazing destination that is Bansko, click here to contact the Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena team.