Nestled in the Pirin Mountains, Bansko is Bulgaria’s most popular ski resort, an attractive town dominated by the vast Vihren peak, the largest of the Pirins. Skiing in Bulgaria has only recently been developed and Bansko is very new as a ski resort, attracting visitors only over the past ten years. As a result, however, its amenities are new and the gondola lifts, particularly, are impressive. The town itself is pretty, with a long history, though shopping facilities are somewhat limited, especially for food.
Based at only 1,000m there is often little snow in the resort and it’s necessary to catch a gondola to one of the two skiing areas that can be accessed from the town – a journey of about 25 minutes. The pistes cannot, yet, rival what is on offer at the older resorts, though the off-piste for advanced skiers is challenging and extensive. But skiers do not book flights to Bansko in search of the best skiing available in Europe. The town, along with other emerging Eastern European ski resorts, offers the possibility of affordable skiing: cheap flights, hotels and the cost of living make it the perfect destination for first time skiers and families.
Bansko flights arrive in Sofia, from where there is a three hour coach transfer to cover the 120 mile distance.
In August Bansko holds an international jazz festival and on alternate years a singing festival. In mid-May the local traditions are celebrated. These all offer opportunities to drink the excellent wine. Country wine is good value and uses only two varieties of grape which must be stated on the label, table wine is cheaper and made from any number of grapes. Damiantza and Vini Sliven are two of the wines with a high reputation.
Eat out in Motikata, which is famous throughout the region for its barbecued meats. In the summer you sit in a large garden with stunning views of the mountains.