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2020 Best Ski Resort In Bulgaria: Ski Bankso Guide
Bulgaria holidays aren’t all about beaches and sun in places like Varna. Whether you venture off on a city break, or you decide to backpack your way around a region, there are many different types of situations and terrain you can enjoy.
When planning your Bulgaria holidays, have you ever thought about booking a Bansko ski holiday in Bulgaria? The Bulgaria snow season is not to be missed as it has one of the biggest and best resorts on offer in the Balkans. Let’s explore the Bansko Ski Resort, hands down the best place to ski in Bulgaria!
Where Is Bansko Ski Resort?
Bansko Ski Resort is in the southwest of Bulgaria, about 160 km away from the capital, Sofia. The town of Bansko actually sits at the foot of the Pirin Mountain, with the Glazne River running through the town. From that description, you can guess that the Bansko ski runs and resort are on the Pirin Mountain itself, and its highest peak is Vihren.
This is the best ski resort in Bulgaria and the Bansko ski season is one of the longest around. Ideal for skiing, snowboarding, après ski, chilling out, and nature photography, Bansko Bulgaria ski holidays are a fantastic way to explore and appreciate the wonder of winter.
Activities On Offer At Bansko Resort
Obviously, skiing and snowboarding are the top activities to enjoy during Bansko ski holidays, but there are several others, too. For instance, the Bansko hotels in the area have some fantastic facilities, such as spas and gyms so that you can have a relaxing time, with the alpine scenery just outside your window! They generally also have package holidays to Bansko on offer, providing all the services and Bansko ski deals you want.
There are shopping opportunities, great nightlife, a chilled après ski vibe, and fantastic food scene, too. We will run through the specific types of skiing and snowboarding opportunities on offer for a Bansko ski trip.
To give you an idea, there are runs for beginners, intermediates, advanced, and for children. With two top ski schools on-site, namely Pirin 2000 and Ulen, you’re sure to find your feet on the Bulgaria ski slopes!
The Bansko Ski Season
The season at Bansko is longer than any other Bulgaria ski season in the area, which is partly why so many visitors say this is the best skiing in Bulgaria.
Depending on the weather, i.e., whether the snow decides to put in an appearance sooner than planned, the season usually begins mid-December. Although, if there is enough of the white stuff, it will start a week or so earlier. Regarding when the Bansko ski season ends, you can expect the snow to tailor off somewhere in mid-April, which is when the resort starts to close down for the season before the season finally comes to a full close in May.
The Skiing Nitty Gritty
Bansko has an altitude of between 2,000 and 2,600 meters, and the summit is officially at 2,560 meters. The base sits at 990 meters, and this is where the beginner runs are located, as well as the ski schools.
There are 14 lifts on site, and most of them are fast chair types, and there is an eight-seater gondola which transports visitors around. During peak times, you can expect queues, but these aren’t usually horrific.
To break down the terrain at Bansko Ski Resort:
- 33% beginner runs
- 50% intermediate runs
- 11% advanced runs
- 6% black runs for experts
- Nursery area for youngsters learning
- Halfpipe and the terrain park for advanced and experts near the top of the mountain
For families, there is plenty to see and do around the resort, with a children’s ski school on site, a kindergarten which takes children from 4-7 years of age. There are a total of 18 runs, which take you through stunning natural beauty, with 70 km of pistes. As you can see, Bansko is large!
Additionally, there are also 7 km of night skiing runs, and the longest run of them all measures 4.8 km. Enough statistics, are you feeling itchy feet yet? A daily Bansko ski pass ranges in price from 50 Euros for adults, to 20 Euros for children currently, so prices are certainly competitive. (Please do check these before booking your Bansko ski package to be sure they have not increased)
Day Trips To Take From Bansko
If staying in Sofia, Bulgaria, skiing at Bansko is just a day trip away, and vice versa! With Sofia within easy reach of Bansko, there are many day trips you can take if you want a break from your Bansko ski holidays!
Sofia can be reached within a couple of hours, and you can enjoy the many cultural highlights, shopping, and sightseeing opportunities on offer, and then head back to Bansko in the evening. Alternatively, the town of Plovdiv and its Roman remains are within close day-trip reach, as well as Rila Monastery, which is one of the largest and oldest in the region.
If you enjoy a little vino, you’re not too far away from the Bulgarian wine country, so head out to Melnik and enjoy a little wine tasting! There are many rural towns and villages around the ski resort, and there are guided tours which take you to the traditional part of the country. The small towns of Kovachevitsa, Leshten, and Ognyanovo are the highlights to visit where you will learn about Bulgarian traditions and culture.
Best Bankso Accommodation
Now you’ve decided where to ski in Bulgaria, but now how will you determine where to stay in Bansko? Here are a few of the best hotels in Bansko, Bulgaria to help you narrow down the options. Many of these hotels offer great Bansko holiday packages and Bansko deals that make your stay exceptionally worthwhile.
Green Wood Hotel & Spa
If you’re looking for a Bansko all-inclusive, five-star break, within a stone’s throw away from the mountain and all its skiing fun, this is a great Bansko hotel. Overall, these is definitely one of the best luxury hotels in Bansko, Bulgaria.
Just 6 km away from the resort itself, guests are free to use the indoor and outdoor pool, steam room, and sauna, as well as offering apartment-style accommodation, with plentiful space. The spa offers top class treatments, and there is also a fantastic on-site restaurant, which serves international and local cuisine.
Grand Royale Apartment Complex and Spa
Another high quality and luxurious choice, the Grand Royale, is only 600 meters away from the first Bansko ski lift to the resort, and there is an on-site spa, which helps you relax at the end of a long day skiing or boarding. There is also an indoor pool and a children’s playground, making it an excellent choice for families.
The Grand Hotel is Bansko Bulgaria’s modern yet comfortable choice and offers a range of facilities on-site, including a top-class restaurant and several bars, for your evening’s entertainment.
Maraya Hotel Bansko
This is a seriously sophisticated choice and the closest to a boutique option of all ski hotels in Bulgaria. Just ten minutes’ walk away from the center of town and to the nearest ski lift, you can easily combine your skiing fun with a relaxing stay in a top hotel. There is an on-site swimming pool, fitness center, and a steam bath, and rooms are large and spacious.
While some hotels are large and packed with facilities, this particular hotel is much more laid back, which is ideal for those who want to be left alone to chill out and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Regnum Bansko Apart Hotel & Spa
If you want to wake up to a stunning view every morning, this is an exceptional choice of accommodation for you. At just 400 meters from the gondola lift to the resort, you’ll be within the heart of the resort. There is also a spa on-site so that you can relax with a variety of different treatments, and the on-site restaurant will keep you well fed.
Rooms are large, and you can choose between different sized apartments, so it is a good option for families also, with an on-site children’s room and entertainment room.
Premier Luxury Mountain Resort
By staying at this hotel, you might not want to leave the comfort of your room – it truly is one of the best hotels in Bansko! Situated right at the base of the mountains, 700 meters from the nearest ski lift, you are right in the middle of nature.
Rooms are large and luxurious, and there are many on-site facilities to pass the time, including several restaurants, bars, and a spa, with a swimming pool and sauna. This is a great choice for those who don’t mind splashing the cash a little, or perhaps for a special occasion, such as a honeymoon.
Hotel Tanne Bansko
The Hotel Tanne lies only about 350 meters from the Bansko gondola, at the foothills of Pirin Mountain. Naturally, the mountain views are superb here, while the town of Bansko is only a few minutes away on foot.
The hotel’s restaurant serves up a variety of dishes, including delicious local fare. Additionally, guests can also fill up on breakfast in the morning at a cozy café, where a terrace provides scenic vistas. For drinks after a day of skiing or snowboarding, you can go to the lobby, piano bar or Viennese-style lounge area.
And if that’s not enough, Hotel Tanne also has an on-site spa and wellness center, featuring all kinds of facilities and treatments, including herb and Russian saunas, a hydro-bed pool, salt room, hot mineral water bath and an outdoor Japanese bath.
Hotel Strazhite Bansko
Bansko’s Hotel Strazhite combines modern facilities and services with traditional Bulgarian design. Located near the gondola lift, it makes for an ideal base for winter sports enthusiasts to spend their winter holiday. There’s easy access to both the Bansko ski slopes and the historical old town center.
Many guests appreciate this proximity to both places of interest in Bansko. At the hotel itself, there are things to do, too. After a long and fun-filled day on the ski runs, guests will certainly enjoy a hearty meal at the Hotel Stazhite restaurant. If you still haven’t gotten enough exercise, you can play a game of bowling at the hotel’s very own bowling alley or go for a workout in the gym.
Bansko Kempinski Grand Arena
One of the top accommodations in town, the Kempinski Bansko Grand Arena is the only ski-in and ski-out hotel in Bansko. It lies in the middle of the Bansko Ski Resort, adjacent to the gondola lift station. This is a high-end hotel boasting five stars and featuring all luxury amenities you might want.
No fewer than 157 Alpine-style rooms provide accommodation to guests, including an exclusive Presidential suite and 25 other suites. Other facilities include the amazing Kempinski Spa, four conference rooms, a state-of-the-art ski room and supervised kids club. Guests can also enjoy a Bansko Kempinski ski package for ultimate winter fun.
In terms of places to eat, Kempinski Grand Arena has plenty of options. Offering great mountain views, its dining rooms range from The Gallery Restaurant, La Veranda Bar & Lounge, Come Prima Restaurant, The Lobby Bar and The Sushi Bar.
Additionally, the Spa Center features world-class thermal facilities, such as a Finnish dry sauna, an infrared cabin, an aroma steam bath, adventure showers and much more. There are also two outdoor swimming pools, a kids’ pool, an indoor swimming pool, and both indoor and outdoor hot tub. So, it’s easy to see why Kempinski Grand Arena is the best place to stay in Bansko.
How To Get To Bansko
Bansko is straightforward to reach because it is relatively close to Sofia. Most international visitors fly into Sofia and then either hire a car and drive to Bansko or take a bus. Driving will take you around 2 hours, depending on traffic, and there are regular buses that run from Sofia, and the airport, daily. There are also bus links to the other main towns and cities in Bulgaria too.
If you do not want to hire a car, you can pre-book a private transfer or taxi. We suggest you use Rideways. This is an excellent website, which is the largest in the world. They have the best-registered transfer companies in their booking system. The site searches all of the best transfer offers, finding you the best price to save money.
Where To Eat And Drink
This is a ski resort so that you can expect a vast range of food choices, as well as après ski bars and a real winter-fun vibe. The great news is that there are restaurants around Bansko which are ideal for all budgets, so if you’re visiting with the kids and you don’t want to splash the cash in an a la carte restaurant, then you can easily find a cheaper alternative.
The Irish Harp is a fantastic choice for a relaxed meal, with that famous Irish charm! The Bar and Grill El Torito is another option and a good one for those traveling with children. Portions are plentiful, and prices are lower than you might expect.
Of course, if you do want to splash the cash a little, perhaps for a special occasion, then there are some seriously flashy choices, such as Come Prima, with its a la carte menu, or the Fondue Restaurant at the Lucky Bansko Hotel. Both of these are ideal for that special night out with a loved one!
Head to Baryakova Tavern or The LOG House if you want to try some authentic Bulgarian fare, and if you’re missing your summer barbecues, head to Mehana Bai Kotse, where you’ll find a fantastic menu of barbecued meats.
Can I rent equipment on arrival? – Yes, or you can rent it online, so it’s ready for you when you arrive. Pants, boots, skis, the works.
Can I book lift pass packages? – Yes, you can book packages up to 13 days in length, and these are available at various durations. You can buy your packages at the gondola lift on arrival.
Do I need to purchase medical insurance? – Yes, this is required by law in Bulgaria. Find that here.
Does my ski pass include piste insurance? – It does, yes, but you should also ensure you have high-quality holiday insurance too.
I am a beginner, how many lessons should I take? – It entirely depends on how quickly you pick it up, as well as your general level of fitness. If you’re reasonably fit, it’s a good idea to book Bansko Bulgaria skiing packages that include full-day lessons for the first three days of your holiday, and then reduce it down to half-day lessons after that, until you feel competent. If you’re not so hot on the fitness side, then ease yourself in with a couple of half-day lessons first, and then move up to full-day lessons. There is no hard and fast rule.
What format do lessons take? – You can opt for a private one to one lesson, or you can cut the cost of your lessons if you want to go down the private route, by choosing a two to one format, which is two learners to one instructor. You can take lessons as a family (minimum of three people), which can be privately arranged, or you can go down the group lesson route.
My child has never tried skiing or snowboarding, which should they try first? – It is generally advised for children (under ten years, six years minimum) to ski before snowboarding, as it is a little easier to get to grips with, and helps to develop balance and coordination basics. It’s a great idea to enroll your child in group lessons, so they met new people and have great fun along the way.
Is there a kindergarten for my child? – Yes, there is a kindergarten for children aged 4-7 years, with 2 hours of ski-time play and time inside playing games and doing craft activities. The kindergarten runs from 9.30 am until 4 pm and can be found at Banderishka Poliana.
Can I rent a helmet? – Yes, adults can rent helmets for a fee, and children receive one for free.
Can I rent ski blades? – Yes, you can rent ski blades just like regular skis, and at the same price.
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