Bansko is a town in southwestern Bulgaria, located at the foot of the Pirin Mountains at an elevation of 927 m above sea level. It is a popular ski resort.
Without a doubt, Bansko is famous among tourists basically as a skiing and a snowboarding destination. The total length of the ski tracks is 75 km, as the longest of them is 16 km long. About 90% of all 16 tracks are equipped with canons for artificial snow for high-quality and long-lasting snow cover. There is also a track equipped with lights for night skiing in the region. An open-air ice skating ring works in the town during the winter season. The highest point of the ski center is 2560. The greatest challenge for the skiers in Bansko is the track Tomba, named after the Italian skier Alberto Tomba. A cabin lift is available for the tourists. It takes them from the starting point of the ski lift station in the town of Bansko to Banderishka Polyana. The town is connected with the ski zone and with a 7 km long ski road.
There are multiple museums and landmarks in the town. 130 architectural and historical monuments of culture are registered, seven of which are of national significance.
The Museum House of Nikola Vaptsarov was established in 1952 and it laid the beginning of the museum activity in the town. The life of the poet Nikola Vaptsarov (1909 – 1942) is presented in the museum, from his childhood to his death. An Art Center functions in it, where permanent and temporary exhibitions are organized, as well as scientific forums, meetings with cultural figures, etc. A permanent ethnographic exposition and bazaar is exhibited on the second floor. It presents authentic handmade materials, art souvenirs and works of art.
The architecture of the typical houses in Bansko from the period of Revival (18th – 19th century) can be seen in the rest of the museum complex on the territory of the town. The Velyanova house is one of the best models of the Revival architecture. It was built in the 18th century, and nowadays it is declared a monument of culture with national significance and a model of the architectural type of reinforced house. The unique wall paintings and fretworks on the ceilings are made by the artist Velyan Ognev.
An exhibition of icons of the Bansko icon-painting school was exposed in 1986 in the old convent, situated opposite to the monument of Paisiy Hilendarski. A special place is provided for the school founder – Toma Vishanov, his son Dimitar, and his grandson Simeon, and other icon-painters from Bansko.
The church “St. Trinity” is a basilica with a nave and two aisles, built in 1835 by local builders. It was the largest one in Bulgaria, before the construction of the monumental temple “Alexander Nevski”.
The climate is warm and temperate in Bansko. There is significant rainfall throughout the year in Bansko. Even the driest month still has a lot of rainfall. The climate here is classified as Cfa by the Köppen-Geiger system. The average temperature in Bansko is 13.5 °C. About 463 mm of precipitation falls annually.
The archeological traces of the inhabitants of Bansko and the Razlog Valley in general date to the early periods of the Roman Empire. There are several housing structures at the outskirts of the town, which date to 100 BC. However, there is no consensus nor credible theory on who these people were.
Bansko, then part of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire was added to Bulgaria during the reign of Khan Krum, most probably around 811 AD, and passed back-and forth between Byzantines and Bulgarians for the next few centuries, before control fell to the Ottomans in the 14th century.
The Bulgarian Evangelical Church Community, the first Protestant church in Bulgaria, was founded in Bansko on 6 August 1868.
Bansko has recently hosted FIS World Cup alpine ski races: the women raced in 2009 in two downhills and a super G. The men’s circuit made its first stop at Bansko in 2011 with a super combined and a slalom. It hosted the men’s giant slalom in February 2012 and the FIS World Cup ladies’ downhill and super G, and men’s giant slalom and slalom.
Alpine and biathlon competitions take place regularly. It is expected that the summer biathlon world cup will also take place in the resort of Bansko.
Currently 2 main airports serve Bansko, Sofia (around 160 km away) and Plovdiv (around 180 km away). A proposal for Bansko’s own airport is currently well advanced, but no construction has yet started.
Night trains leave from Athens and arrive to Blagoevgrad in the morning, via Thessaloniki. You can catch the train at Thessaloniki or any other station. The round trip ticket from Athens costs ~40€ (Christmas 2008), plus ~10€ for a bed in a 6-bed room for each trip. (60€ for the round trip with a bed in both trips). You should book tickets and beds in advance, especially during holiday seasons. From Blagoevgrad there is frequent bus service (every 30-60 minutes) to Bansko, the ticket costs 3-4 Leva. The bus station is very close to the train station, around 5 minutes on foot. From Bansko bus station you can call a taxi to your hotel, ask at the ticket office. You should agree on the price when you get in to avoid surprises (10-15 Leva should be enough). Some hotels may suggest a bus ride from Blagoevgrad to Bansko, at a much higher price though.
There are many buses departing Sofia each day from different stations so be sure to check which station your bus is departing from. Room for luggage can be an issue as they are mainly vans so you may have to wait for the next one on occasion if you have bulky items eg snowboard. The cost is around 15leva/7.5€ each way.