Since 2011 two new lifts have been installed and this means that now up to 24,000 people per hour can use the lifts making for a more efficient experience and leaves extra time for more people to simply enjoy their snowy descents.
These investments and upgrades can also be seen in the quality of the accommodation and general amenities. At Bankso there is so much to choose from in terms of what you love to do, how you enjoy skiing and what kind of terrain you prefer, and the tracks and runs are appropriate for a varying skill level of skiers.The well-kept ski pistes can be found in two main centres; Shiligarnika and Chalin Valog; these are located above the town of Bansko and take approximately 25 minutes to get to via the Gondola lift. Monitors can be seen at the starting base of the lift that show images from the different pistes so skiers and snowboarders can keep up to date with the wind and temperature conditions before they ascend to the slope.
Bankso also provides slalom runs, a 3km run Rollbahn track near the town, a cross-country track and blue runs for beginners. Although the area may not be extensively connected to various parts of Bulgaria the town of Bankso makes up for it in charm.
Restaurants in the area
Food and drink in the area isn’t extravagant or decadent but is extremely well priced, especially compared to ski resorts in France and Switzerland. On the whole it’s great hearty food and the meat is wonderfully prepared.
There are Mehanas – traditional Bansko taverns – dotted around and they provide a very inviting mix of local hospitality, a friendly atmosphere, traditional cuisine, a great choice of Bulgarian wine and often live entertainment and folk music. A few great restaurants for this scene are Tavern Zehtinjieva Kashta, Mehana Chardaka, Todeva House, Tavern Matsurev Han and Kasapinova Mekhana but there are around 200 Mehanas to choose from.
If you’re looking for something a little less traditional and in need of a more 21st Century dining experience then pick a table at La Scara – a famous chain restaurant providing an array of deliciously healthy dishes, Victoria Restaurant for yummy pizzas, JJ Murphy’s; with a gastropub style cuisine and The Platoto for great value char-grills.
Bars and clubs in the area
The nightlife in Bansko – especially clubbing – is an interesting experience, especially when fueled by Raki (which is available at a very good price) and the clubs generally don’t have a blanket closing time and often run until the early hours of the morning.
The staff in the bars and clubs in Bansko are welcoming, personable and helpful which makes for a great atmosphere on a night out. The pubs are great in the town and a lot of places host live entertainment and band nights so it’s worth keeping an eye out for listings. Conveniently, at the starting station of the Gondola lift there are a few lively bars and the numbers are growing.
Popular bars in Bankso include The Lion Pub; quite a touristy spot with a British sports bar feel offering DJs every night, British and Mexican cuisine, sporting events on big screens, English speaking staff and a lively atmosphere. B4; a relaxed, cosy cocktail bar where you can chill out and unwind after a day on the slopes. Also pop into the very popular Piano Bar Bansko Spa; home to professional, top quality musicians, wonderfully lively and friendly mood with a refined edge.
After you’ve had a taste of the bars and dancing is next on your agenda then try out one of Bansko’s clubs; modern and upbeat Bar Vertigo, cheesy, cheap and cheerful Oxygen or classy and buzzing Amnesia.
What the area has to offer and other ski apres
There’s so much to do in Bansko after an active day weaving, winding and sliding across the snow. Bansko is rich in history and there’s over 100 historical and cultural monuments – including remains and ruins from an ancient fortress. Well worth a visit is the charming Old Town where you can also find a lot of souvenir shops to have a browse through that offer locally made traditional curios as well as the general tacky keepsakes. The National Park Pirin, just south of Bansko, is beautiful with caves, waterfalls and lakes to explore.
The best time to visit
The snow conditions are great, especially at the start of the season and the coverage is superb all the way through from December until May.