Bansko - a nice surprise in Eastern EuropeAuthor: Byron
Location: Europe, Bulgaria, Bansko
I had the chance to visit Bansko for first time this year during the Men’s Alpine Skiing World Cup and I was surprised to find out it’s a lovely resort with very nice tracks there.
Let’s start with this- I always tell people you cannot compare the Alps to any other mountain in Europe (and I guess on this planet neither). So more precise would be to compare Bansko to the closest resorts- Bulgarian, Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, etc. From my experience I would say Bansko is the best among them. Again- don’t compare it to the French or Austrian Alps where in 10 km you have 5 resorts with more kilometers of runs than there are in Bulgaria and don’t expect it to be Val d’Isere.
The overall length of slopes Bansko offers is 75 km which means in maximum 2 days you’d be well aware of all of them. Of course if you prefer the routine of going down the same tracks you’ll have it just fine. The
good thing here is you may find perfect runs for everyone and besides- in perfect ratio- most of them are blue and just perfect for beginners. There are several red ones and few black ones- one of them is named Tomba after the great Italian skier Alberto Tomba and it was used during the Men’s World Cup.
The resort is the most expensive one in Bulgaria but it’s definitely cheaper than anything in Central and Western Europe. Prices might vary in wide range depending on the location where you want to drink tea or beer or the position of the hotel. The idea is that the closer to the runs you are the higher the prices are.
Renting skis and boots would cost between 5-15 Euro per day depending on the rental period. Full pass for adult costs 28 Euro a day while half pass (12.30- 16.30) is 21 Euro. There are many locals who buy full passes and sell them around noon. A good bargain will be 15 Euro (you recover 2.5 Euro back that is the pass deposit so at the end price is 12.5 Euro). A beer inside the bars down the runs is 3 Euro, 1 Euro for a tea that is 3 times higher than lowest prices in the town. Cheapest beds with breakfast and dinner are around 15 Euro.
If you decide to visit Bansko by car you might need to pay a parking bill that is 2.5-5 Euro unless you have free hotel parking (normally it’s up to the hotel management to decide whether to include a parking place for your money so you’d need to agree with them beforehand). To leave your car in front of the gondola station will cost you 5 Euro in addition.
Few words about the gondola- it’s only one up the mountain so sometimes you’ll need to queue for 20-30 minutes until you get in. In the day of the competition it was even worse; anyhow there were free shuttle buses. I’ve experienced the lack of good organization with them- there were 4 stops from where buses took people to the event grand stand (final station of the gondola). However instead of picking people consequently from each of the stops they came every time to the first one making people at other stops angry and shouting at the stewards who finally decided to show drivers which stop is to be attended this time.
Besides the skiing I visited several bars and clubs in the town. There is an old part of Bansko that is very nice and for me seemed very much like Koprivshtitsa, Plovdiv and Nesebar with the narrow streets, old houses, etc. Anyhow I met another example of the obvious for Balkan countries lack of organization- people are often neglectable to some small stuff as removing the snow and icicles from their houses’ roofs. That makes wandering through the streets of the town potentially very dangerous
To summarize- Bansko is a great place for any type of skiers as long as they are not too demanding. See you there next winter!
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