Bansko is the most popular ski resort in Bulgaria, located at the foothills of Pirin Mountain. More and more people travel to Bansko Bulgaria each year in the period between December and March attracted by low prices, quality snow and excellent accommodation.
In full honesty, Bansko has never been my favourite ski resort in Bulgaria but tempted by the numerous things to do in Bansko in summer, I love visiting for at least a few days in July or August.
Bansko, Bulgaria is only a small town with a popular of just over 12,000 people, but it is a real gem for the hot summer days. It is located 150 km away from Sofia – Bulgaria’s capital and it is a great choice for a long weekend getaway. Keep reading as I am sharing the top 10 Bansko Summer Activities! This is a full travel guide with information on the best things to do in Bansko, which will help you plan your next holiday!
How to Get to Bansko, Bulgaria
Getting to Bansko, Bulgaria is not that difficult, as it is not too far from the capital, and there are numerous public transports that you can use. Buses run almost every hour from Sofia to Bansko. My personal recommendation is to get tickets in advance from the Central bus station.
There are also many companies that offer airport shuttle from Sofia Airport to Bansko or rent a car. What is probably the slowest but also the most interesting and exciting way to get to Bansko is by train. Click here to learn more about the authentic experience of getting the Rhodope Narrow Gauge Train, which will take you to Bansko.
When to Visit Bansko, Bulgaria
I have been visiting Bansko for the past 5 years. I normally plan my trip around mid/late summer or the beginning of autumn, and I can say that every time the weather has been absolutely fantastic. Personally, I do not massively enjoy Bansko during the ski season, as it gets overcrowded, but I love the town in the summer and autumn seasons. Nestled beneath the remarkable peaks of the Pirin Mountains, Bansko is a fantastic destination if you would like to escape from the hot days in the city and enjoy the refreshing mountain feeling. It is also the abundance of things to do in Bansko, which makes it such an attractive little town during the summer months.
You might also be wondering what to eat and drink while in Bansko, Bulgaria. Hopefully, you like wine and meat! Bulgarian cuisine is extremely delicious and once you try it you will want to treat your taste buds to even more traditional meals.
When in Bulgaria, you should eat like a Bulgarian. You might wonder what does that mean. It means that you should eat meat at least three times per day. Yes, even at breakfast! All kidding aside, Bulgarians eat a lot of meat and especially pork. Sach is one of the most popular main dishes in Bulgaria, and it is often shared between a few people. It is a combination of different types of meat with some vegetables cooked and served on a hot iron plate.
For starters Bulgarians always have salad and the most common one is Shopska Salad, made of fresh local tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, peppers and white cheese on top. To try the traditional Bulgarian cuisine you need to go to Mehana, and there are plenty of them as you roam through the streets of the old town.
Wine Bar 25
Every meal is accommodated with the relevant drink in Bulgaria. The country is extremely popular for its wine production. Grape is grown all over the country, and the wine variety is absolutely impressive. From aromatic and sweet white wines to dry and dense red wines, Bulgaria has it all.
While you are in Bansko make sure that you pass by Wine Bar 25. It is run by friendly Bulgarian twins who provide an outstanding service. They will be happy to share their knowledge with you about Bulgarian wines and shisha. The cozy and warm atmosphere by the fireplace will make you feel at home and you will not want to leave. This is a must-visit place in Bansko.
Top 10 Bansko Summer Activities
Hiking in Bansko, Bulgaria
Pirin Mountains, covered with fresh powder during the winter, offers a number of hiking trails in the summer. Pirin Mountains is home to the second-highest peak in Bulgaria – Vihren, which reaches 2,914 meters. Click here to read my article on Hiking Vihren Peak – Bulgaria’s most magnificent summit.
When looked at from afar, Pirin Mountains has a very cold and austere look with its rocky and steep granite peaks. That is what makes it so exciting to explore. If you are a nature enthusiast, it would be a shame if you have been to Bansko Bulgaria without going on a little hiking adventure. Click here for my article on the Best Trails in Pirin Mountains. From easy 3 hour hikes to extreme and strenuous 11 km trails, there is a bit of everything for everyone.
Bansko is fantastic not only for winter sports, such as snowboarding and skiing. Various sports activities during the summer months are also available for the visitors of the town. There are over 200 km of excellent routes for mountain bike fans. If you are seeking a thrilling adventure you can also choose between paragliding and rock climbing, but maybe consider getting an experienced instructor. Horseback riding and off-roading in the Pirin Mountains are also some of my favourite Bansko Summer Activities.
Since 2016, Bansko has become the home to the longest water slide on the Balkan Peninsula. The inflatable 350 meters long slide is located at Banderishka Polyana and is working every day during the summer period starting from the end of June.
Playgrounds, swings and inflatable castles are good options for the youngest, while there is also mini-golf, shooting range and football pitch, which top up the list of summer activities in Bansko for tourists of all ages.
The best way to get to Banderishka Polyana, where the summer water slide is located, is to get the Gondola Lift. The Gondola is also the main lift, used by skiers and snowboards in the winter to get to the slopes. Nevertheless, the cabin is operational all year round and it takes about 30 minutes from Bansko to the top, where Banderishka Polyana is. During the summer, the gondola lift runs between 08:00 – 16:30 with a price of return tickets between 20 – 16 leva. If you have decided to add the picturesque ride to your list of Bansko summer activities, make sure to check the timetable here.
Bansko, Bulgaria is also one of the most popular spa resorts in Bulgaria. There are many 5/4 star hotels in the little town offering luxurious spa treatments, fine dining and fantastic relaxation and fitness options. Most of the hotels have at least one indoor swimming pool and their own spa centre. One of the most luxurious hotels in Bansko is Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena. Regardless if you are visiting in the winter or summer, a little spa treatment is one of the best things to do in Bansko.
Bansko Old Town
The first thing to do when in Bansko, Bulgaria is getting lost in between the small streets of the Old Town. During the 18th Century, Bansko developed rapidly because of its convenient location. The small town quickly became an economic and cultural centre, as the trade activities kept growing. The town has managed to preserve the Bulgarian Renaissance houses and tourists can now enjoy the rich architectural specifics while roaming through the cobblestone alleys.
There are also a few museums, churches and cultural sites which are among the best Bansko attractions if you have some extra time.
If wandering through the small streets of the ancient town has inspired you and you have a desire to immerse yourself further into Bulgarian history and culture, you should visit one of the most popular Bansko attractions – Velyanova House. This house was transformed into a museum, showing visitors the traditional Bulgarian lifestyle from the Renaissance. You will be impressed by the rich decorations inside and outside of the house, presenting the daily life of the locals with natural motifs.
St. Trinity Church
At the heart of the town square, you will be able to find the symbol of Bansko – St. Trinity Church. The church was built around 1833 – 1835 and for many years it was the largest on the Balkan Peninsula. You will quickly be impressed as you walk through the gate. Beautiful wall paintings and carved iconostasis are some of the reasons why the church is still considered one of the most outstanding national monuments.
Bansko is not only a fantastic place to experience the Bulgarian culture and history but also a great spot to meet and connect with new people.
If you suddenly feel the urge to do some work and want to find a cool spot, you should certainly visit Coworking Bansko. This is not only a home for digital nomads and freelancers, providing the basics such as a desk and chair to work from. Coworking Bansko is a community of inspiring people from all over the world, which has been continuously growing for the past few years. They organize many great events throughout the year and are always happy to welcome new members. Click here to learn more.
One of the best things to do in Bansko is to mingle with the locals. Make sure to add the Sunday Market to your itinerary. For the locals, this is not only the chance to buy fresh fruits and vegetables produced in the nearby villages. This could be seen as a social event, especially for the older generation, who manage to catch up with some friends while getting local produce from the vegetable stand. If you want to learn more about Bulgarian culture and tradition, you need to experience the hustle and bustle of the market.
After every trip to Bansko, Bulgaria I am impressed by what such a small ski resort has to offer even during the summer months. Even as a Bulgarian I enjoy getting lost in between the narrow cobblestone alleys of the old town and embarking on hiking adventures through the steep and rocky terrain of Pirin Mountains year after year.
Let me know in the comments below. Does Bansko Bulgaria sound like a place you would like to visit? Would you go in the warmer summer months or would you prefer to try the ski slopes in the winter? Which Bansko Summer Activities would you try first and what seems like the most interesting things to do in Bansko?
If you have not been to Bansko yet, what are you waiting for?! If you are lucky, Bulgaria and Pirin Mountains might just be one flight away!