22/12/2011 | by jcattlin
- Resort Top: 2560m
- Resort Bottom: 936m
- Pistes: 14
- Gondolas: 1
- Regular Chairlifts:
- Terrain Parks: 1
- Halfpipes: 1
- 1 day: BGN45-BGN55
- 6 day: BGN255-BGN311
- Season: BGN980
Food and Drink Prices
- Pint of lager: BGN4.5
- Cheeseburger & fries: BGN10
- Pizza: BGN15
- Airport: Sofia – 160km
- Train: Bansko
- Bus: Bansko
Fancy That !
The old town of Bansko is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are some house in this part of town that date back to 100BC.
Bansko is Bulgaria’s newest and most modern resort, situated in the foothills of the Pirin mountains in the South West corner of the country, under two hours from the Greek border. The season runs from the middle of December to early April, but can last until the middle of May in exceptional years.
Bansko appeared on the European radar in 2004 after the installation of an 8-person gondola sent the local property market sky-rocketing. Since then over 30 million euros has been invested in the ski lifts and facilities, and around 50 million in the surrounding area. This investment is ongoing – a new high-speed quad lift was installed last season and there are plans to increase the ski area to over 250km of slopes in the coming years.
Bansko is a developing town, so don’t expect the Swiss chocolate box ski chalet resort. It’s still a little rough around the edges but that’s part of its rustic charm. The village itself is split into two areas – the old town and the new town. The new town is mainly located around the gondola. You’ll see the result of the property boom gone into overdrive, with lots of unfinished hotels ready for the resort’s expansion when the European economy picks up.
You can expect to pay a premium around the gondola but it’s still cheap for a resort. Snowboardcoach.co.uk offers a week’s accommodation including return transfers for less than £95.
THE PARKS (2 out of 5)
In recent years, the resort has focused on the FIS Ski World Cup which rakes in millions, so the park has taken a back seat. But the new season may bring some major improvements. The park is located off Todorka peak, heading down towards the plateau on the right hand side.
The local crew do their best – there are usually rails out and they shape a couple of decent kickers so there is stuff to do, but it doesn’t compare to the likes of the superparks you see in more established resorts. However, there are so many jibs and side hits all over the mountain that you can keep looping from the peak down to Shilligarnika and get hit after hit.
THE POWDER (5 out of 5)
One of Bansko’s little secrets… There is no fight for the powder and you can find fresh lines as much as four days after a dump. There are some really easy routes just off the piste with no hiking and awesome trees. A walk up Todorka peak takes you to 3,000m and offers a wide variety of descents and further hikes. But don’t go unless you have a guide, as the climb up is a bit gnarly and the routes down can get you lost.
There are also lines off Todorka chair (to the right as you go up) but please avoid unless you are with a local, as they are prone to sliding and have claimed a few lives over the years.
THE PISTES (4 out of 5)
Two chairs take you up to the highest piste just under Todorka peak, which is at 2,600m. From there you have a range of choices that get you back down to the halfway station, depending on your ability. Its best not to go lower than that and tackle the ‘home run’ until the end of the day, as it can be a bit hard to keep your speed up if you’re a beginner rider. The 20 piste machines make sure all the runs are well maintained.
THE PARTIES (5 out of 5)
This is Bansko’s major advantage over everywhere else. You can actually afford to go out to eat, and you shouldn’t ever have to spend more than £1.50 a pint! Ask for local spirits if you want it cheaper and watch the measures… there are none, so go steady! Local seasonaire haunts such as Harry Bar (by the Snowboard Coach apartments) is a cool place serving drinks and cocktails with something going on every night.
The Irish bar just down the road also serves cheap drinks and has a half price happy hour at the end of the riding day, making it even cheaper – a pint costs 50p! Other cool locally-owned places are the Ti Bar and Bash Bar.
The food is amazing in Bansko, as long as you don’t eat in your hotel. One point to remember – ‘mexana’ does not mean a Mexican restaurant, as everyone seems to think. It is in fact a traditional Bulgarian restaurant. There are many of these mexanas around the old part of town, and down the main drag, Pirin Street.
Pork and lamb are good local dishes and almost always organic, and the same goes for the salads – tomatoes actually taste like tomatoes. Prices for main dishes range from £3 to £10 depending on where you are. There are also plenty of fast food places that are open into the early hours, so you can pretty much eat and drink at any time.
“Beer costs no more than £1.50 a pint, and local spirits are cheap, but watch the measures … there aren’t any!”