Bansko Summer Activities – The ULTIMATE Guide to Summer in Bansko   Recently updated !


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Bansko in summer is simply a glorious place to spend the Bulgarian holidays.  Bansko is Bulgaria’s largest ski resort and is located on the edge of the Pirin National Park in Bulgaria.  Bansko is easy to reach and superbly located for visits to Sofia and Plovdiv.    Bansko is an easy, and excellent place to spend the summer in Bulgaria.

Summer in Bansko attracts many nationalities – not least Bulgarian’s looking to escape the heat of Sofia.   While the ski resort of Bansko is extremely busy during ski season, the summer is much quieter.

You’ll love Bansko if you like hiking, good food, mountain biking, a cost of living that is the envy of the rest of Europe.  If you like good warm, even hot days and cooler nights then Bansko is for you over summer.  If you like mountain scenery, a laid back atmosphere and fresh fruit and veg from the market every day, then come on and spend your summer in Bansko – there’s lots to do here!

In this guide, you’ll find a host of summer activities to do in Bansko in the summer – from free festivals to mountain biking, horse riding, hiking and visiting Spas.

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Where is Bansko?

Bansko is Bulgaria’s biggest ski resort and is at the foot of the Pirin Mountains.  Bansko is 157 kilometres from Sofia.  That’s around a 2-hour drive from Bulgaria’s capital city. It’s also only 2.5 hours from Plovdiv to Bansko, these are two closest cities with airports.

Bansko’s elevation is around 900 metres above sea level.  It’s a 90-metre altitude difference between the old square at the bottom of town and the ski gondola at the top.

Bansko Bulgaria Map

Where_is_Bansko_Map


To find out how to get from Sofia to Bankso – read our new guide – which includes details of buses, trains, shared and private transfers.  It’s also easy to get from Plovdiv to Bansko by the same modes of transport.


Where to stay in Bansko

There is a huge selection of Bansko hotels as well as apartments in Bansko that you can book for longer-term stays.   There are Bansko hostel facilities provided also by several Bansko coworking and coliving spaces.

Here are our recommendations for where to stay in Bansko.

Momini Dvori Boutique Hotel

2 Nikola Vaptsarov Sq., 2770 Bansko, Bulgaria

Fabulous location off a side street in old town Bansko, this family-run boutique hotel provides free shuttles to the gondola ski lift during the ski season and is charmingly located in the old town area.

  • Large private bathrooms with robes and slippers
  • Free sauna
  • Fabulous Bulgarian and international food at the tavern with terrace

Book a room in the old town now! Rooms here aren’t often available!

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bansko summer 1

Boutique Hotel Uniqato

119 Pirin Str, 2770 Bansko, Bulgaria

Balconies with town or mountain views and free parking at the hotel.  This is a great location located very close to the gondola ski lift.

  • Private bathrooms
  • Flat-screen TV
  • Free wifi
  • Great Victoria Italian restaurant attached to the hotel
  • Free steam bath and sauna
  • Private underground parking

Great location – fabulous books – reserve yours now!

Guest House Hayloft

4 Mingyo Todev Str., 2770 Bansko, Bulgaria

One of the best places to eat and stay in Bansko.  A superb family run traditional tavern and guest house, rooms have free Wi-Fi and satellite TV.   Next to Pirin Street, with pubs and restaurants, but off the main track.

  • Rooms all have hardwood floors & wooden furniture
  • Private bathrooms with hairdryers and free toiletries
  • Incredible hosts with amazing food and hospitality

Amazing hospitality and lovely rooms – book yours now!

Regnum Bansko Apart Hotel & Spa

Asanitsa 2770, 2770 Bansko, Bulgaria

Great location next to the Glazne River with incredible pools and spa rea.  There is a heated huge outdoor pool, water slides and children’s pool as well as a sauna and steam bath.

  • Complimentary fruits and water on arrival
  • Turkish cuisine during the winter season
  • Live jazz music at weekends in the lobby bar.
  • Gym & entertainment room
  • Underground garages.

Superb pool and spa area – get a little luxury here in Bansko now!

What to do in Bansko in Summer

The vast majority of the activities in Bansko are outdoor and it’s a glorious location for anything outdoors.  You’ll find Bansko’s activities include outdoor festivals, hiking trails, cultural activities, language lessons and a whole lot more.

Summer in Bansko RIver Glazne

Map Of Bansko Summer Things to Do

Click on the items in the map to find out more, or get directions.

Take a Free Walking Tour of Bansko

It’s one of our favourite things to do whenever we arrive somewhere near and while Bansko isn’t new to us, this free walking tour (pay with tips) was new to Bansko in 2018.    It’s run by local Bansko folk and is a great 90-minute introduction to Bansko.  Meet by the main entrance to the Holy Trinity Church and explore 10 stops through the old and new town, get to understand Bansko history, famous residents and get a booklet of exclusive discounts in local Bansko mehanas.  There’s no need to book, walking tours happen from June to September at 1100 on Saturdays and Sunday.

During the Bansko Jazz Festival 2019 – tours are running at 1100 Wednesday to Saturday.

From December to March tours start (again Saturday and Sundays) at 1400.  You can also book a private tour: More information here

Visit the Museums of Bansko

There are several museums of note in Bansko worth a visit.  Note that none of the museums open on a Sunday or on public holidays.   Museums to visit in Bansko – and we’ve detailed them later in this article include:

  • Historical and Ethnographic Museum of Radonova House
  • Velyanova House Museum
  • The Nikola Vaptsarov House Museum
  • The Paisiy Hilendarski Museum
  • The Neofit Rilski House Museum

Explore Bansko’s Holy Trinity Church

The Holy Trinity Church is easy to locate on Pirin Street, which is the main street that runs from the top to the bottom of Bansko.  It’s a small, but beautiful Orthodox Church, built during the Turkish occupation.   Bansko’s Holy Trinity Church is the second biggest church in Bulgaria (after the St. Aleksandar Nevski Cathedral in Sofia).  It was built in 1835 has a unique symbol above the entrance door – both a Christian cross and the original religious symbol of the Turkish Empire, latterly the Islamic crescent.

The original interior wall paintings were restored in recent years and were created by the most famous Bulgarian artists of the time.  Dress conservatively to enter.

Marvel at the Storks on the Holy Trinity Church Bell Tower

The 30 metres high bell tower of the Bansko Holy Trinity Church is an icon of Bansko and has been since its completion in 1850.    For Bulgarian’s the return of the migratory Storks heralds the start of Spring.  In Bansko, each year the storks rebuild an enormous next on the wall of the bell tower.  It’s best viewed from the square below the Holy Trinity Church.

Storks on the Holy Trinity Tower Bansko

 

Take the Gondola to Mid Mountain Bansko

Each day during the summer the ski gondola takes visitors to the Bunderista Polyanna area where a host of activities are available.

Summer in Bansko On Mountain aCtivities

The trip takes you from the base to the 1500 metre level.  Adult gondola tickets cost 20 leva one way or 24 leva return.    Children’s tickets (7-12 years) for the gondola in summer cost 12 leva one way and 16 leva return.  Children under the age of 7 travel for 1 lev.

Bansko Summer Gondola Opening Times are

  • 29 June – 31 July: 0800-1630
  • 01 August – 01 September: 0800- 1830
  • 02 September – 15 September 0800-1630

From September 15th there are varied opening times, depending on the day of the week. Check here for those times.

For summer 2019 there’s a 400-metre long water slide – the longest in Europe!  It costs 12 Leva for one slide, a ticket for 9 slides (which can be used by multiple people) is 81 Leva.  The sliding price for children (8-12 years) is 9 leva for one slide and 54 leva for 9 slides.

Summer in Bansko Water Slide

You can also play mini-golf and slide down cordoned off areas on inner tubes

Bike rental is available on the mountain for the summer — one-hour costs 6 leva and 4 hours is 20 leva.

See the Monument to Paisiy Hilendarksi

This huge statue, erected in 1976, is of and dedicated to Paisiy Hilendarksi (sometimes (Paisii) who was born in Bansko in 1722 to a family of traders.    In 1745 travelled to the Hilendar Monastery, where he became a monk later a deputy abbot.  He is famous for documenting, writing and then sharing the first history of Bulgaria.    He was canonized as a saint of the Bulgaria Orthodox Church in 1962.

Hilendarksi Monument Bansko

 

You can find out more about his life in the Paisiy Hilendarksi museum on Gotse Delchev Street, which is located where his father’s home was located and where he wrote the history of Bulgaria.  The monument to Paisiy Hildendarski is in the old town at Nikola Vaptsarov 14, and the museum is found on Ulitsa Otets Paisiy 21.

The Bansko Sunday Market

While there is a market stall in the small square one block to the south of Ulitsa Tsar Simeon, the Sunday morning market is a superb experience.  You’ll find local traders and fruit and veg growers from nearby villages and towns here from around 0700 each Sunday.   This is a great place to stock up on freshly grown and pic fruits, vegetables, homemade chutneys and dried herbs. You’ll find homemade wines and rakias – presented in recycled plastic bottles.   All the groceries here are seasonal.

Bansko Sunday Market

There’s also a flea market, clothes stalls and bric a brac to be found on Ulitsa Tsar Simeon close to the City Park.

Find the Bansko Valevitsa’s

These round wooden tubs are called Valevitsa.  They use fresh water from the mountain, channelled in via steep wooden chute.  As a strong current of water is created, the water “beats” what’s put into the valevitsa and spins them around as it washes away the dirt in the whirlpool that is formed.

Historically they were communal “washing machines” and are still used for washing carpets and rugs.

Bansko Washing Tub

You can find a demonstration Valevista on Gotse Delchev street, but there are working ones up from the Kempinski Grand Hotel and also on Ulitsa Glazne.

Washing Tubs Bansko

Yoga Bansko

Enjoy yoga classes in Bansko over the summer.  Adult beginner lessons start in August – book via Bansko Yoga Club and run on Tuesdays and Fridays at 1700.  Children’s classes can also be provided on demand.

Take in one of Bansko’s Free Festivals

Throughout the year Bansko hosts a number of free festivals in the town.  The most famous festival is the International Jazz Festival, and the summer hosts any number. All the free festivals are held in the main square (Nikola Vaptazarov Square).  You can find a Bansko free festival most weekends  – and read later in this article about all of them.

Free Festivals in Bansko Include:

  • The International Jazz Festival
  • The One Love Festival
  • The Opera Festival
  • The Coca Cola Happy Energy
  • The Folklore Magic Festival
  • The Bansko Balkan Festival

Bansko Summer 2019 Festival

Relax in Bansko’s City Park

Located along Ulitsa Tsar Simeon, the park has huge trees, lots of shade and a couple of great cafes, it is especially popular in the summer.  There is a children’s play park here and it’s a great place to chill out when it heats up!

Play Tennis in Bansko

Tennis courts open in the summer at the Hotel Strazhite.    The courts are open from 1000 until 2000 and cost 20 leva per hour to rent.  Enquire at the Hotel Strazhite reception.

Bansko’s Central Square – Nikola Vaptazarov Square

This is the centre and heart of Bansko during the summer season.  It’s here you’ll find all the festivals, some great (but tourist) restaurants as well as the Bansko Art scene.  The town hall and municipality buildings are here and also several of the museums.

Main Square Bansko

Café Life in Bansko

Ulitsa Tsar Simeon, at the bottom of the central square, Nikola Vaptazarov Square, is partly pedestrianized and provides a superb Mediterranean style cafe lifestyle.   There are some great cafes here, with good coffee and cold beer.   If you are not a smoker, then you’ll want to choose your seats carefully, as it can get quite smokey.

Stroll Down Gotse Delchev Street

Pedestrianised and also renovated in recent years, Goste Delchev Street is surprisingly unpopulated and pleasant to walk up or down.  It provides for some great views of the mountain and fabulous shots for your Instagram account.  You’ll also find a Valevitsa washing tub here, but it’s just for show.   Don’t take the idea that this is a pedestrianised street to heart, it doesn’t necessarily hold true.

Bansko Washing Tub

Understand Bulgarian Traditions and Notices

Walking around Bansko as a visitor to Bulgaria, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is the Wild West and there are a lot of folks with a bounty on their head. Either that, or there are a whole host of missing people here.  This is, however, not John Wayne country, and neither are folks disappearing en masse. It’s simply a uniquely Bulgarian tradition.

Obituary Notices Bansko

Here in Bansko, instead of an obituary being posted in a newspaper, it is posed on gates outside houses, on doors, in public places, outside the Holy Trinity Church and the cemetery and even on lamp posts.  They’re reposted on particular anniversaries – 40 days, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, and then annually until there is no one left to remember. This is mainly a Bulgarian Orthodox undertaking (Bulgaria’s main religion with more than 82% of the population observing it.)

Visit The Open Air Cinema, Bansko

In late July, in the central square “Nikola Vaptsarov” there’s a Summer Cinema under the stars.  For four nights, starting at 2100, a program of three or four films, documentaries and shows are shown for free.  Showcasing the great outdoors, it’s a fabulous way to experience the hospitality of a Bansko summer.  Watch for posters around town on dates for 2019/2020.

Join a Salsa Dance Class in Bansko

Join a Salsa and Bachata dance class while you’re in Bansko.  With various levels of classes from beginner to intermediate, these dance classes are held early evening during the week at the Club Hanuman.    Dance class schedule in Bansko, Club Hanuman, Ulitsa Vardar 4.

  • Beginners: Monday 1700
  • Intermediate: Tuesday 1745
  • Beginners: Wednesday 1700
  • Intermediate: Thursday 1745

Relax in the Hotel Swimming Pools in Bansko

Many of the hotels and complexes within Bansko that have swimming pools open them to the public for a daily access fee.   The most popular of these are:

    • The Regnum – close to the Gondola, large pool, plus play pool with slides. Adult price 15 Leva entrance fee with discounts for multiple purchases. (20 visits for 170 Leva).  Open from 17 June 2019 – 9 September 2019 from 0900 until 1900.  If you’re staying at the Regnum this is free to use.
    • The Belvedere – Close to the Gondola, on the edge of town. Entrance is 8 leva per adult.
    • The Strazhite Hotel – located centrally – large pool great for lap swimming. 10 leva per adult entrance.
    • The Leonardo Aqua Complex – great atmosphere, two pools located close to the Lucky Bansko.
    • The Grand Hotel Bansko– Indoor and outdoor swimming pool and spa.

Summer in Bansko Bansko Royal Towers Pool

Have a Spa Day in Bansko

Relax and enjoy spa treatments and relaxation at several of the hotels and spa centres in Bansko.  Check out

The Kempinski Grand Arena Luxury Spa:  

With a Finnish sauna, herbal sauna and digital detox area, this is the ultimate in luxury.  There are 3 pools in total here, and an aroma steam bath.  You can partake of Thai massages and beauty procedures.  Open from 0900 – 2100.

The Lucky Bansko Spa

With an indoor and outdoor pool, a halotherapy salt hall, Finnish sauna and Hamman there are a wide variety of treatments and relaxation techniques available here.    Arabian Rasul and Garra fish feet massages are also available here.   Open from 0800 to 2100.

The Victoria Spa at the Grand Hotel, Bansko

The Victoria Spa contains a salt room and Turkish bath as well as a variety of facial and body treatments.  There’s also a pool here and group and individual fitness classes.  The Grand Hotel Spa was recently ranked as the Number 1 Spa in Bulgaria!

Take Bulgarian Lessons at the Bla Bla Club Bansko

If you’d like to learn a few words to get by in Bulgarian, then you can also take in a few lessons in a social environment.  The Bla Bla Club meets once a week in a local bar or cafe.  The Club has been set up to both learn the basics of Bulgarian and at the same time socialize. More information at the Bla Bla Club Facebook page.

Summer in Bansko Bla Bla Club

Try Local Food in Bansko

The food in Bansko can be superb.  As well as international flavours you’ll find solid Bulgarian food and some specialities that are specific to Bansko.  Freshest produce cooked to order.  Pizza if you want it.  Amazing chicken wings when you need them.  Cold cheap refreshing beer.  We compiled a list of the local resident’s favourites – and translated the menus for you – take a look at our article on great Bulgarian food and where to eat it in Bansko.

Explore Weekly Specials at Local Bars & Restaurants

Over the summer months several of the local bars and restaurants open with special offers.  Be sure to check their opening times as these will differ as the summer progresses and we’ve included links to their Facebook pages, where they’ll always update with the latest offers.

  • Smokey Mountain – burger and dinner specials and pub quizzes at this favourite spot.
  • Danny’s Bar at the Hotel Ida – 5 Leva Cocktails on Tuesday, Mexican Nights and Curry Nights
  • The Hotel Avalon – Famous curry nights with tandoor cooked naan bread, free Tapas during August and Sparkling Wine Tasting nights.
  • Pirin 25 Wine Bar – wine from all around Bulgaria with special wine and Gin tasting nights.

Bansko Traditions and Cultural Demonstrations

Held throughout the summer from early July until early September you’ll find demonstrations of wood carving, weaving, spinning, sock knitting and antique embroidery.  These take place between 1700 and 1900 in the Visitor Information Centre.  See the schedule of events below.

Cultural Program in Bansko Summer

 

Between July 5th and September 24th 2019 a series of exhibitions and outings are organized from the Visitor Information Centre to locations like Sitan Kale, and the St Nikola Archaeological complex.

International Art, Bansko

Explore the international Art Gallery in Bansko.  Showcasing local and international artists on the main square in Bansko. More information

Explore the Pirin National Park

While the National Park is open 24 hours a day, the Pirin National Park Information Centre is open from Monday to Friday from 0900 – 1700.  It is closed on weekends and also on public holidays.  There is a variety of information her in Bulgarian and English.

Pirin National Park was established in 1962 and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983.  You’ll find endangered black and white firs here and more than 1300 other plant species as well as 320 types of moss and lichen.  The European tree frog and the Eastern Hermann’s Tortoise are two of the endangered species that make their home here, along with more than 2,000 invertebrates and 200 vertebrates.  159 species of birds have been recorded in the park.

The highest point in the park is the Vihren Peak at 2,914 metres.  It is the second-highest in Bulgaria (Musala in the Rila Mountains is the highest.)  Bulgaria’s oldest tree can be found close to the Vihren Hut, the Baykusheva Fir, which is more than 1,300 years old.

Hunting and logging are strictly prohibited in the park, but hiking is seriously encouraged.  Get out into the park today and explore!

Do a Little Work in Bansko – Join one of the Coworking Groups in Bansko

Since 2017 there has been a coworking presence in Bansko and the influx of digital nomads has grown to a steady stream.  There are several coworking spaces and communities in the town, some of which also provide coliving spaces.

Coworking Bansko

With an Old Town location as well as a location close to the Gondola, this is a central hub for digital nomads and local freelancers.  Coworking Bansko advertises 150Mbps internet, Friday night barbecues and regularly advertised events and activities.  Find out more from the Coworking Bansko team here.

Snow Pearl Coworking and Coliving space

Get access to the coworking space when you rent an apartment – free coffee, tea (and more) for both paying guests and casual drop-ins.   Snow Pearl hosts regular barbeques and advertises 100Mbps Internet.  Connect with the Snow Pearl Coworking Team here.

Festivals in Bansko

There are festivals here in Bansko throughout the year. They’re all FREE!  Yes, FREE.  The most notable festivals in Bansko include:

The Coca Cola Happy Energy Tour – 07 June 2019

Bansko is one stop on this 7 city tour throughout Bulgaria, which performed to more than 220,000 fans in 2018!  Sponsored by Coca Cola and the Voice (a European Radio Station operating in Bulgaria, Sweden and Denmark) this festival brings together popular Bulgarian rock, pop and RnB music.  (If you’re reading this in 2019, there’s still time to see the tour – more details here 

The Bansko Theatre Festival 8 – 15 June 2019

Bringing a selection of international theatre to the town the Bansko Theatre festival program kicks off at 1800 or 1900 each night

The Folklore Magic Festival – 12-14 July 2019

Hosted in the Bansko City Park this festival displays singing, dancing and demonstrations of local customs of local folk art.

The One Love Tour – 20 July 2019

Showcasing popular artists, theatre and folklore from Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia, this nationwide tour promises to preserve the regional traditions and also bring hip hop back to the town.

The Bansko Jazz Festival 2019 – 6th August – 10 August 2019

The Bansko Jazz Festival is the jewel in the crown of Bansko’s festivals.  Running for more than 20 years, this internationally acclaimed festival starts with the local Blagoevgrad Big Band and finishes with a headline act on Saturday evening.   In 2019 the festival runs from Tuesday night 6th August and wraps up on Saturday 10th August.  It is free, but the town is seriously busy during the festival, but its great fun. Read more about the Bansko Jazz Festival here.

Summer in Bansko Joss Stone

The Bansko Opera Festival 2019 – 22-24th August 2019

2019 sees the Bansko Opera Festival hosting 3 nights of Opera in the Nikola Vaptsarov square, starting with Vivaldi and Little Otto on the 22nd August.  The second night is Verdi’s Nabucco and the final night performance is Bob Foss’s Chicago.  All performances are in Bansko’s main square and are free of charge.

  • Vivaldi – Little Otto 22 August 1900 – 2000
  • Verdi’s Nabucco: 23 August 2030 – 2300
  • Chicago: 24 August 2030 – 2230

More information: https://www.facebook.com/bansko.opera.fest/

Summer in Bansko Opera Festival

Bansko Balkan Festival 6-7 September 2019

Supported in 2019 by two renowned Balkan artist.  Preslava and Sasha Matic perform on 6th September with Ivana and Serbian star Ceca Raznatovic performing on 7th September.   Entrance is free. More Information

Bansko Museums to Visit

Visit the Velyanova House Museum

The Velyanov House Museum is an 18th-century mansion containing wood carvings and ornate paintings.  This is the oldest house in Bansko and is a great representation of the fortress type building prevalent here.  Bansko was built as a trading centre, and thus with animals and goods of value, residents would be sure to keep them safe behind thick stone walls, with excellent defences.

There is a guide available in English, German and Dutch for the entry fee of 3 leva.  Open 0900-1300 and 1400-1730, closed Sunday and Monday.

You’ll find unique paintings, and stunning woodwork in here.  It contains excellent representations of Bulgarian Renaissance art and was a gift from Velyan Ogney who worked on the decoration of the Holy Trinity Church.

Historical and Ethnographic Museum of Radonova House

This museum displays the artefacts and effects relating to the history of Bansko.  You’ll find displays explaining the importance of the town in the history of Bulgaria as well as how Bansko has contributed to the culture of the country.

Many of the displays here come from the local archaeological sites that you can visit either independently or with a trip from the Visitor Information Centre.   The museum is open from 0900-1200 and from 1300-1700, closed on Sunday and Monday for a fee of 3 leva.

The Nikola Vaptsarov House Museum

This museum was the birthplace of Nikola Vaptsarov, Bulgarian poet and activist.  His writing caused his arrest and torture and it was while he was waiting for his execution that he wrote his most inspiring works.  The museum documents his life alongside his personal belongings.

You can find a portrait of Vaptsarov on the wall close to the BG Market on the street above the Momini Dvori mehana.

Vapstarov Mural Bansko

The Paisiy Hilendarski Museum

This museum contains a representation of the monastic cell in which Hildenarski lived in the Hildendar monastery.  It documents his life and a copy of the original history of Bulgaria.  You’ll also find portraits of other prominent inhabitants of Bansko.  This museum was originally the house of Hildendarksi’s father.  It burned to the ground in 1922 and the location was marked with a stone noting it was the birthplace of Hildendarksi.  It was recently rebuilt and refurbished as the museum to his memory.

The Neofit Rilski House Museum

Open daily from 0900-1300 and 1400-1730 for a fee of 3 leva, this 18th-century house shows the traditional architecture of Bansko.  Rilski was the founder of Bulgarian secular education and an important figure in the Bulgarian Renaissance.

What to do near Bansko in Summer

While we’ve covered what there is to do in Bansko in Summer many of the activities that people travel (and live in) Bansko for take place just outside the town.  All of these activities are within easy reach of Bansko.  Some will require your own personal transport, others (and we have noted which) can be reached on public transport.

Map of Things to do Near Bansko

Click on the items in the map to find out more or get directions.

10 Short Walks Around Bansko

Located on the edge of Pirin National Park, Bansko is superbly situated for taking a walk.  The Bansko Tourist Information Office has developed a series of shorter walks, which they’ve categorised into easy, intermediate and advanced.  They come complete with route maps and photographs of directional changes.  You can get details from their offices, located in the Mont Blanc Complex, 9 Angel Kanchev Street, in Bansko or download the maps from their website. 

The hikes take from 1.5 hours to 10 hours, depending on the ones that you select.

Visit Bansko’s Archeological History

It’s possible to visit several archaeological sites in near proximity to Bansko, they’re easy to get to, although signage is limited.

Sitan Kale

At the end of the 11th century, Sitan Kale was an impressive fortress.  It’s located 3.5 kilometres from Bansko.  The site is a ruin, although some restoration has been undertaken.   It’s a pleasant walk and an interesting site.  Ceramics, glass ornaments, arrows and spears have been found here and are now located in the Radonova Historic House Museum in Bansko.  During the Summer months, the Visitor Information Centre organizes guided tours to here (1000 Monday to Friday, organize at the Visitor Information Centre).

St. Nikola Archeological Complex

The remains of an early Christian basicilia were found here in 2003, some 4.5 kilometres from Bansko.   Some restoration has taken place and it’s possible to see the outline of what was once here.

Go Horse Riding Near Bansko

There are several horse riding stables near Bansko, where it’s possible to take lessons or hire horses to go for an accompanied ride.

Perivolas Riding Centre

Situated in the village of Bachevo, 12 kilometres from Bansko (6 km from Razlog) is the Perivolas Riding Centre.   Rides cost 30 leva an hour and lessons are also available.

Dvorene Riding Centre

Dvorene is based just outside Razlog (6 kilometres from Bansko).   A 2-hour ride costs 50 leva and they will also collect you from Bansko for 10 leva. e-mail: [email protected]

Paintball in Bansko

Team build or have fun with family and friends, Paintballing is now available in Bansko.  It’s organized by IMI Sports and is available for anyone over the age of 10.    You’ll need a minimum of 10 players and costs including 200 balls and all protective gear are 28 Leva per person.  Book directly with IMI Sports here.

White Water Rafting near Bansko

Pirin National Park has two rivers which enable white water rafting, which is available between March to November each year (weather and water levels depending).

A White Water Rafting Trip will cost from 50 leva per person and rafts fit up to 6 people and include a guide.  Your fee includes wetsuits, footwear and buoyancy aid.  Book directly for the best prices, it will cost more to book with a tourist agency in Bansko.  White Water Rafting with Adventure Net > Book Now

Mountain Biking in Bansko

The area around Bansko is very popular with mountain bikers.  Each Sunday the local MTB group meets in the main square and heads out on local routes.  Trail system Bulgaria puts together a series of events and also maintains trails in the area.  The popular Road to Nowhere runs each summer (usually at the end of July), attracting hundreds of MTBers to the town.  Enduro Bansko rides usually during August.

You can rent mountain bikes from a variety of stores and rental shops throughout the town.

Rent a Bike and Explore Around Bansko

There are a variety of rental shops around Bansko.  Where you can rent by the hour, half-day, full-day or longer.

  • InterBansko: 15 leva per day
  • Bansko Summer Activ – 2 hour rental 10 leva, 4 hour rental 15 leva, 1 day rental 20 leva.

You can also rent electric bikes and quad bikes.

Play Golf at Pirin Golf Club.

Showcasing an Ian Woosnam designed 18-hole, Par 72 Championship course, Pirin Golf Club is located several minutes from Bansko.  The complex also incorporates apartments, a hotel with a heated indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and spa procedures, squash courts and a gym.

Green fees from April 1st to 31st October start at 45 leva for 9 holes or 65 leva for 18 holes.   It’s possible to rent clubs, electric buggies and trolleys.  More information on Pirin Golf Club here.

Summer Jeep Safari in Bansko

If a little more adrenalin is your thing, then a Bansko Summer Safari is a popular way to see the local countryside.   An open-topped jeep that can take up to 6, plus the driver, lets you head up logging trails on the mountain.  You’ll ford streams and rivers, stop for refreshments or even lunch during your exploration of the area.

You can take a half (3 hours) or full-day tour.  Costs are 300 leva for the jeep for four people, or 350 leva for 6 people for a half-day tour.   A full-day tour costs from 475 leva.  Contact Phillip via the Bansko Safari Facebook page.

Take a Dune Buggy Tour near Bansko

Get out into the foothills of the Pirin and Rila Mountains and take a Buggy Tour in Bansko – you’ll off-road in these dune buggies and have a great time.  You can read more about our adventures there in our Buggy Tour in Bansko article.

Buggy Tour in Bansko (7)

Hot Air Ballooning Around Bansko

A one-hour private hot air balloon flight starting from as early as 0630 costs from 300 leva per child and 440 leva per adult.    Minimum numbers are 4 people and the balloon takes a maximum of 12.  Flights are entirely weather dependent.  You’ll be collected from and delivered back to your hotel. Book directly with Bansko Flights.

The Adventure Park, Dobrinishte (Планински клуб България – Добринище)

The adventure rope park in Dobrinishte offers a variety of outdoor adventure activities over the summer.  There’s a rope course (zipline) for adults and also one for children, quad biking, horse riding, a climbing wall and archery.  You can also rent mountain bikes here.  Prices vary for the different activities – see the poster below.  It’s open from 0930 until 2130. More information.

Kayaking near Bansko

The Reflip Team offer both kayak rentals and kayak training at their base in the Kresna Gorge of the Struma River, near Bansko.    You can rent white water kayaks, single and double sea kayaks from 40 leva per day.  All rental also includes spray skirts, paddles and vests.   Multi-day tours, as well as a single day and 3-day training course, are also offered. Contact Reflip directly.

Canyoning near Bansko

There are 3 different options for canyoning near Bansko, with prices from 20 leva per person.    You’ll get full equipment including a neoprene suit, jacket, water shoes, a helmet and a life jacket.  Instructors are also provided.  Tours last from 2 hours and include transport from the Reflip base in the Kresna Gorge. Book directly with Reflip here

Bansko Rock Climbing

Close to the “Secret” Pesherite – about 20 minutes walk up the ski road (and also driveable) are a series of climbing routes.  There are also climbing routes to be found higher up the mountain – Vihren and Kamenitsa Peaks are popular.  You can arrange rock climbing excursions with the Alpine Club Bansko.  Contact via Kraismir Elinov [email protected]

Picnic and BBQs near Bansko

Throughout the Pirin National Park, there are sturdy tables and benches.  It’s possible to drive to many of them, others must be hiked to.  They’re usually close to a fire pit or BBQ and a cold mountain stream, making it possible to cook and cool beer at the same time.

Summer in Bansko BBQ in the woods

Relaxing in the Thermal Pools near Bansko

While the hotel complexes of Bansko provide swimming pools, there are more than 30 hot springs around the Bansko area.  These mineral springs are naturally occurring and contain therapeutic minerals to aid relaxation.

The Alpha Spa and Pool, Dobrinishte

This is the biggest spa and thermal pool complex in the area, right in the centre of Dobrinishte.  There’s a large pool and a variety of smaller ones with different depths and temperatures.  Accessible by bus or local train. (read about the narrow gauge railway here) There’s a snack and drinks bar as well as spa services available too.

The Kompleks Izgreva – SPA Hotel Izgreva, Banya

The Kompleks Izgreva is in  Banya.  There are thermal pools and a snack bar also available.  There are 3 pools here.  The largest pool has the hottest water.  There’s also a restaurant and poolside bar here as well as changing rooms right next to the pools.

The Piri Pool Complex, between Bansko and Banya

Nice warm pool, diving pools, food and drinks and a football pitch.

The Hotel Aspa Villa, Banya.

With both a large pool and jacuzzi, this is a good place to stay.  Changing rooms, though are unisex which might not work for everyone!.  Showers are also unisex.

Roman Bath Spa Hotel, Banya

Recently renovated and very luxurious.  Contains Japanese, Turkish and Roman baths as well as a big indoor pool.

Hotel Aquilon Spa, Banya

A deep indoor pool and a slightly shallower outdoor pool known for the cleanliness of its water.  There’s also a steam bath here at the spa.

Fishing near Bansko

There are 2 fishing lakes very close to Bansko, Krinetz Dam and Belizmata Dam.  Both lakes offer equipment rental.  Krinetz Dam is very easy to access on foot or by car from Bansko and has parking, an excellent restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and there’s also a children’s playground here too.  The lake is stocked with trout and carp.

Krintez Dam Fishing Lake

Belizmata Dam is stock with trout, carp and mullet and there are outdoor tables and benches and a fire pit for picnics and barbeques.

Slightly further away, some 4 kilometres above Dobrinishte village, is the Ribarnika complex, which has 3 sport fishing lakes stocked with brown trout.  The fish restaurant here is a local favourite.

Spend a Day at the Rila Fun Park

Newly opened for 2019, the Rila Fun Park is open from 0900 until 1800.    A ride costs 10 leva for children aged 3-12 years and 15 leva for anyone over the age of 12. More information

Walking And Hiking Around Bansko

Hiking to and from Vihren Hut

The local peak is called Vihren, at the top of the valley below the peak is one of a series of huts throughout the Pirin Mountains.  It’s possible to stay in these huts – you do not need to pre-book, simply arrive, bring your own sleeping bags.  Family style dinners and breakfasts can also be purchased.  There are 196 beds here.

The Vihren Hut is the start point for many short hikes, as well as multi-day hikes.  Over the summer a minibus transports walkers and visitors to and from the Vihren Hut. The minibus begins its trip from the Bansko Railway Station with pickups at the Bus Station, the Hotel Mura, the Hotel Strazhite, the Hotel Kempinski, the Motikata Restaurant bus stop, the bus stop at Shilgarnika place, Banderitsa Camping and finally at Vihren Hut.

There are 3 scheduled departures between 1st July and 15th September leaving the train station at 0830, 1320 and 1700.

Vihren Bus Timetable 2019

For 2019 the price for transport is 8 leva per person in each direction.  Pre-booking is not required, but you can prebook by calling +359 886 436 956.

If you prefer to walk, a signposted route from Bansko runs up the ski runs and through the woods of the National Park.  The walk takes approximately 4 hours, which is primarily uphill.

Longer Distance Walks Near Bansko

There are a lot of walks in and around Bansko.  There’s walking through the meadows and fields of the valley.  There’s a much more extensive trail system in the Pirin National Park which extends through the Pirin Mountains.  There’s an eco path up towards the ski area and even a chained route to reach the Vihren Peak.  There are stunning walks in the Spring and Autumn too, as you’ll find in all-season Bansko.

The Pirin Mountains have a series of huts that it is possible to walk between for the more adventurous.   A Pirin routes map is available from the small supermarkets in Bansko, or you can buy your Pirin Mountains Hiking Maps for Bansko here.

Paid for guided group hikes are often organised and promoted through the Hike Bansko Group – join here (for free) and for more information.

Day Trips from Bansko

Rila Monastery

One of the holiest places in Bulgaria with a history dating back more than 1,000 years, Rila Monastery was established in the 10th century.  The Rila monastery was inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1983.  The monastery contains stunning frescos.  The grave of the founder, St John of Rila is located 5 kilometres away from the Monastery.

The Dancing Bear Park at Belitsa

This is a sanctuary for ex Dancing bears in the Rila mountains.  Easily visited by car from Bansko.  Public transport options will take you only as far as Belitsa and the park is X km further into the mountains.  It’s a stunning location and the rescued bears are both beautiful and desperately sad. Read more about the Dancing Bear Park here.

Dancing Bears Park (17)

Take the Train from Bansko to Septemvri

This is one of our favourite ways to travel in Bulgaria.   It’s the last remaining narrow-gauge railway in Bulgaria and the track between Dobrinishte and Septemvri passes through the highest railway station in the Balkans.  The train is slow and ponderous and goes nowhere fast, but it does pass through some glorious countryside and if you change at Septembri it’s a great way to get to PLovidv from Bansko.  Read more about taking the train between Bansko and Septemvri here.

Weather in Bansko over Summer

July and August in Bansko can be hot – you can see temperatures of 30 plus degrees, which drops off overnight.  This is a lot cooler than some of the other areas of Bulgaria where it’s regularly 40 degrees.

There are regular spectacular thunderstorms that reverberate around the mountains and are quite stunning to watch, but which clear the air regularly.  Just be sure to watch the weather forecasts for the local area and don’t get caught in the mountains during a storm.

The best sites for weather forecasts in the Bansko area are:

If you’re planning on hiking in the Pirin National Park the webcams on the National Park huts provide a good overview of what the weather looks like. Check out the Vihren Hut webcam here.

What’s Your Favourite Thing to do in Bansko in Summer?

Summer lasts well into September on a good year in Bansko, and as the town continues to flourish and grow it’s tourism activities it’s a great place to spend summer, but all seasons.  Come on up to the mountains and enjoy what Bansko has to offer and tell us what your favourite thing to do in Bansko is!

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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.


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