Things to do in Bansko (besides winter sports and hiking)

Bansko is famous for the winter sports and most of the people connect the town with the great ski and snowboarding opportunities. Locals and foreigners hit the slopes every winter, some might even say Bansko is a top winter resort on the Balkans, in Europe actually. Well, fewer people know that the surrounding mountains are amazing for hiking, too. And even fewer people might guess Bansko can be actually a great place to stay for longer, to work, meet with amazing people from all over the world, and engage with amazing outdoors and indoors activities. The things to do in Bansko are quite enough to fill at least a few months of your year.

Before we stay in the town for longer to absolutely verify that, we decided to put together an article that will show the variety of things to do in town and around, as well as the opportunities to actually live and work there as well. It’s time to kill the notion that Bansko equals winters sports!

Bansko mountains and town panorama

Get lost on the streets of Bansko

Long before there were guided tours in Bansko, one would usually walk around the Old Town central area and enjoy old fortress houses neighboring ski shops. We used to stop at a random restaurant just to try a specialty or have too much red wine. Or just go to Sunday’s open market to buy some fresh veggies, tea, fruits. 

The good news is, you can still do that! It alternatively, you can choose to learn more about the town by locals, which leads us to the next thing to do in Bansko.

Bansko Sunday open-air market

Bansko Free Tour

The Bansko Free Tour is a great way to introduce yourself to the town, guided by knowledgeable locals. We’ve been to Bansko so many times and we still learned a ton during our tour.

“Мило Банско, мили валчести камъни.” – Dear Bansko, dear oval stones. That slogan was the welcome by our guide Sracimir. He walked us in the old part of the town, making sure we know the diverse history of Bansko. The town was on a trade road which is a known fact, but we didn’t know the main goods that made the local people rich was opium.

There is this quirky tradition on how to get married in Bansko. You can do it in three ways – arrangement by families, kidnap the bride; or dance with a white napkin holding it at the respective end.

Айсебе (incredibly hard to pronounce, even for Bulgarians) is the local greeting and will guarantee new friends for you, especially if you say it with a huge smile and the right accent.

The tour goes around famous landmarks as Nikola Vapcarov house, Paisiy Hilendarski monument, old houses with massive walls, Holy Trinity Church (where they planted evidence to justify building a new temple). It’s impressive to enjoy the rich history with the mountain vibes combined with fun stories and aromas of freshly cooked meals.

getting lost on the streets of Bansko

Bansko Art Gallery

International Art Bansko is a private art gallery founded by two passionate art collectors. You will find many pieces of contemporary artwork. It’s a whole experience walking around the exhibited items. Don’t forget to check out the vault room (the place used to be a bank) and the upper “garden”.

Bansko art gallery and fountains

Where to have coffee in town

Here are our favorite cafes in Bansko, in no particular order. Family Bansko Coffee (the atmosphere is really as if you’re with your family), Kate Cafe (with the cutest tables outside to watch the people flow), Eliz Cafe (which easily turns into a bar), Coconut Coffee and Smoothies (smoothies are awesome!).

Where to eat in Bansko

Mehana is a traditional Bulgarian restaurant that is just coined as a term and concept with Bansko. Mehana means “house of wine” but you can be sure you’ll be spoiled for choice for all kinds of alcoholic drinks and traditional food.

We’ve dined and partied in so many mehanas in Bansko that it’s hard to recommend the best. So here we go – Banski Han restaurant, Molerite restaurant, Dedo Tasse tavern, Momini Dvori mehana, Baryakova mehana, etc. If you’re into exploring traditional decoration + hefty food + local drinks, then you may fall in love with one or more mehanas and never ever want to leave. Don’t forget to join a traditional Bulgarian dance – horo – to compensate for all those calories.

In case you need a break from mehanas, you can enjoy international cuisine in Bansko – it has Ukrainian, Italian, Greek, Chinese, and other restaurants that will help you diversify.

How to work from Bansko

Coworking Bansko

We just loved what Coworking Bansko has done to the local community. People from all over the world come to work and play in the mountains, enjoying fresh air, plenty of opportunities to have fun and the amazing possibilities to live and work in Bansko.

It’s amazing that so many professionals set up a base in Bansko and spend a decent amount of the year living in Bulgaria. Some of them tried to convince us that it’s quite a good deal to buy property in the town and run your company in Bulgaria. That’s when we knew Coworking Bansko has done a lot more than just to establish an affordable base for digital nomads.

We plan to stay in Bansko for longer and work from the coworking bases across town. We will let you know the full report once we manage to do it.

Coworking Bansko painted murals

Bloggers on Top

Blogging can sometimes be a lonely job. Traveling and blogging are very demanding when it comes to the connections you create with the people you meet. So whenever we have the chance, we try to meet-up with fellows travelers, bloggers and digital entrepreneurs to mingle and learn.

Bloggers on Top unconference in Bansko was one of those events that managed to get together people from all over the world and facilitate sharing and mutual learning. We couldn’t be happier to share what we’ve learned and tried over time to grow our business and the same went for everyone else. 

Along with all the topics we covered and the even more questions we managed to open, we had the chance to explore the town and have some post-unconference fun! Our weekend at Bloggers on Top was insightful, inspirational and definitely helped us stay on top of our blogging game. We can’t wait to meet great people next year!

Bansko and Pirin mountain at sunrise

Cool events in town and around

Events in Bansko happen all over the year – you can become part of winter sports events in winter, outdoors cultural events during the warmer months, and all sorts of sport, culture, entertainment events all year around. Check out this event calendar to get an idea.

We would highly recommend visiting the International Jazz Festival (usually in summer) and Bansko Film Fest, at least one ski cup event, and at least one folklore cultural event. You’ll never remain eventless in Bansko. The town also has a city day (October, 5th) that brings lots of shows, events, and festivities.

Bansko winter hacks

There’s not a single person who went to Bansko to ski and enjoyed waiting for minutes and hours at the gondola station. You either have to be there very, very early, or you have to drive up or stay near the Gondola upper station. Just keep that in mind, as it won’t be better – Bansko is getting more and more visitors in winter.

upper Gondola station, Bansko, Bulgaria in winter

Bansko in spring, summer, fall

Hiking is the best thing you can do, and you can do it starting from the town itself. When you get to the Pirin National Park visitors center, you’ll see the signs for the treks to Banderitsa hut (3.5 hours), Demyanitsa hut (4 hours), and Vihren hut (4 hours + 3 hours to Vihren peak). There are plenty of options for mountaineering and rock climbing, too.

You can also travel to the nearby Dobrinishte and hike to Gotse Delchev hut (3 hours) or Bezbog hut (hiking 2 hours or use the ski chair lift). If you start from the town of Razlog, you can hike to the Yavorov hut for 4-5 hours.

There is one accessible eco-trail just above Bansko, called Dragostinov Chark.

Climbing mount Vihren, Pirin mountain, Bulgaria
The views from Mount Vihren are literally breathtaking

SPA in Bansko and around

Any fans of SPA here? Bansko and the area got you covered. Some of the hottest hot springs are in the area, actually, ranking highly in our list of best places for SPA in Bulgaria. You can check out Victoria SPA, Banya village, or the SPAs in one of the many Bansko hotels.

Любими места за спа в България - Баня

Where to stay in Bansko

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If the luxury stay is of primary importance to you, we can’t recommend Lucky Bansko more. 
For something on the affordable-yet-nice scale, we enjoyed Sunrise Park Complex and St.George Ski&Holiday after the hike to Mount Vihren.
You can also stay on the cheaper scale if you go for one of the many guest houses or rooms to rent options. Like guesthouse Pri Ani. Actually, a lot of people are buying apartments in Bansko, there seem to be affordable deals on property in town.

Bansko hotel terrace view

Getting to Bansko

If you want to use public transportation, you can get from Sofia to Bansko by bus. You can find the bus timetable here. Another option is to get a private transfer, you can ask your accommodation in Bansko to arrange that for you.

You can always rent a car and drive from pretty much any point in Bulgaria to Bansko. This way you can include some interesting things to do in the country on your way.

waterfall and hiking near Bansko

The narrow-gauge railway

There’s the super cool narrow-gauge railway that can actually bring you from Septemvri (a town near Plovdiv) to Dobrinishte or Bansko. It’s an experience not to be missed not because of the stunning nature and the old-school train, but also because you can observe how people from secluded and isolated places in the mountain use it as the only way of transportation. Check out our experience on the narrow-gauge railway from Velingrad.

So Bansko holds just too many things to do in experiences to be considered for skiing and snowboarding only. The town and the surrounding mountains are attractive all-year-long and they are just waiting for you to welcome you and leave you with plentiful memories.

Things To Do in Bansko, Bulgaria
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2 Responses

  1. […] off the center of town. Hence, we had peace and quiet but were in the middle of all the action. Bansko is a gorgeous leafy town. Walking through its streets you are transported into the past. The air is […]

  2. […] – Dobrinishte but many of the passengers board the train on bigger stations like Bansko or Velingrad. Don’t forget to enjoy Avramovo – the highest train station on the […]