Correction: June 7 2016
An earlier version of this article contains typos in the headline and body of the city of Bansko as ‘Bankso.’ This has been amended.
Bansko is the perfect destination this summer if you’re looking to escape the heat and visit a small, picturesque town complete with adventure and relaxation.
Located near the Pirin mountains and about a 2-hour drive from Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, this lesser known is picking up publicity in Bulgaria for all the right reasons.
It is famous for its ski resort; however, there are many other reasons as to why it’s a complete packaged destination.
Bansko is a gem: it has a delightful weather conditions – snowy from late November until April and rest of the year is days filled with warm afternoons and cool, rainy evenings; a wide variety of cuisines and restaurants to chose from (Italian, Japanese, whatever catches your fancy), 5-star hotels with an expansive view of the Pirin mountain range; adventurous activities and a peaceful town.
Give it 3 days to have a memorable experience.
Upon arrival in Sofia, enjoy the drive along the tree-lined roads, overlooking the mountains and appreciate all shades of green but that’s if you visit during April when winter is almost disappearing. Otherwise, you get to enjoy the blanket of snow—not too bad, huh?
If you want to continue enjoying the beautiful view of mountain peaks capped in snow, several lakes and the greenery ,then book a room in one of the numerous hotels because all of them share a picturesque view of the nature.
Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena, Boutique Hotel and Strazhite Hotel are my recommended options – reasonable, 5-star and peaceful. These hotels will live up to your expectations when it comes to giving you all the facilities: indoor and outdoor swimming pool, spa and treatments centres, kids’ clubs, bars and an outstanding breakfast menu.
Spend the first day walking around town and relishing the fine, romantic weather. Make sure to keep yourself warm and equipped with an umbrella because you never know when rain might decide to take a visit too.
It is a small town so all the tourist destinations and restaurants are nearby and accessible on foot.
Explore the fine dining areas, rusty but unique cafes and main street market to shop. Victoria Restaurant, Ethno Restaurant and Euphoria Bar & Grill provide variety of cuisines to satisfy all your cravings so these are definitely a must visit. I must say Victoria’s pizza is to drool for!
On your second day, gear up early morning for some skiing and adoring the snow on mountain peaks. Yes! I just said mountain peaks! Hop onto a Gondola that takes you up to the ski resort and then connects you to chairlifts dropping you off to different levels of ski slopes.
The gondola ride is just like flying over the forests and looking down at lakes but as you go up you get to appreciate the aerial view of the town! Once you reach the resort, rent or buy skiing clothes and material, grab a chairlift and come skiing down! Or if you come from a desert you can just enjoy the feel of snow on your skin and toss some snowballs at your loved ones (that is the best part of all this).
Don’t worry about getting too cold or hungry because the ski resort has a warm, cozy restaurant and a seating area with a mind-blowing view; its dark, rusty, woody and warm. I must say, it is THE destination for you and your loved one.
On your last day, take a visit to the natural minerals located a few kilometres away from the main town and relax your muscles. The natural hot springs are located in the nearby villages but have spas built beside them. So, what’s more comforting than relaxing in warmth.
Finally, it’s time to wrap up from here and explore the rest of the pulsating country!
There are 2 other places you must visit in Bulgaria:
1. Veliko Tarnovo: Another old town set amidst hills and lakes with a romantic ambience and great influences of history and old crafts.
The Tsarevets Museum is a must visit; it is an inescapable, reconstructed fortress from the Bulgarian history. Entering the fortress gates and climbing up the hill in itself is a magical experience. Unusual but vibrant flowers, greenery, the view of the whole town and the lake that breaks through is unforgettable scenery.
That’s not it!
The fortress dissolves in a light and sound show during night time; lights and music set a perfect flamboyant atmosphere as you shiver away in the cold evening. Personally, The Studio Hotel is the ideal place to stay because their terrace gives a complete view of the whole town including the fortress light up after sunset.
Also, the hotel is just 10 minutes walk away from the fortress and the main street that has all the local restaurants and cafes.
2. Sofia: The capital city is a mix of all cultures and is a lively place.
It holds a mix of both Eastern and Western cultures thus the main downtown area has amazing monuments, historical sculptures, a beautiful mosque and 5 star hotels that surround the main food street.
Numerous restaurants, cafes and bars run along both sides of the food street such as Wok to Walk, Swaagat Indian Restaurant, The Dutch Bakery, Happy Bar and Grill and many more. I just listed the best ones; my favorite being The Dutch Bakery – I have never seen so many delicious baked goods!
It is no doubt that this country should be on you must-visit list! It has its own vibrant culture, kind people and pictorial landscape. An exotic country indeed.
Where are you travelling to this summer? Tell us in the comments below.