Bansko - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Bansko


Tucked into the foothills of the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria, the ski resort town of Bansko is charming and historic against its stunning alpine backdrop. Bansko's alpine skiing, hiking, and rock climbing opportunities are extensive, and its culture and history, stretching back to the 10th century, is rich and vibrant with traditional taverna-style cuisine and colourful folklore. The traditional stone and wooden buildings are an integral part of its charm and character and many relics and monuments survive from its past. While bansko is well-known for its alpine skiing, the town is near the resort of Shiligarnika, which boasts Bulgaria's best downhill skiing.

Information & Facts


The holiday resort of Bansko does not offer many diversions in winter apart from good skiing and snowboarding, but the area is well known for its thermal hot springs and these together with several excellent swimming pools, which also have saunas, turkish baths and fitness rooms alongside them allow for a relaxing experience off the slopes. There are a number of sights in the area around Bansko that are worth visiting, like the historic Rila Monastary, the town of Melnik and its sandstone pyramids, Yagodinska Cave, and The Dancing Bears Rehabilitation Park.

Bulgarian is the official language, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but English, German and French is spoken in resorts, hotels and restaurants.

The official currency is the Lev (BGN), which is divided into 100 stotinki. The Lev is tied to the Euro at a fixed rate of EUR1 = 1.955 lev. Bulgaria has strict currency regulations. If you enter Bulgaria with cash of any currency amounting to the equivalent of 8,000 leva or more, you must declare it to customs officials. Foreign currency may be exchanged in banks, hotels or at one of the numerous bureaux de change, however due to a common practice of misleading rates of exchange it is better to go to banks or hotels to change money. A receipt called a bordereauxis issued when exchanging currency, indicating the amount that will be given, and it must be kept until departure. Not all banks accept travellers cheques and those that do usually charge a 5% commission. Major international credit cards are increasingly becoming accepted by tourist hotels, upmarket shops and restaurants, travel agents and car rental agents, but Bulgaria is still largely a cash economy. There are ATMs in the main cities and at Black Sea resorts.


Bansko is quiet and not suited to 'party animals'. Expert skiiers may not find enough challenge on the skiing slopes, which are best suited to beginners and intermediates.


The nightlife in Bansko is not as wild as Bulgaria's other popular holiday resorts at Borovets and Pamporovo. This small old-fashioned town takes its tone from the quiet locals, who prefer to while away the evenings in the large selection of low-ceilinged taverns and pubs before a roaring fire. Two of the favourites are Dedo Pene and Molerova Kushta. Most offer entertainment in the form of local musicians or folk orchestras. There are some low-key discotheques offering dancing, also frequented by the local youth who have a reputation for hot tempers.


Bansko is not short on cosy eateries, with hundreds of taverns in the town serving up hearty traditional Bulgarian cuisine, holidaymakers will not be disappointed. Don't expect to find McDonalds here, though! A few of the better restaurants include Ethno Restaurant, Kasapinova House and Chobanov Han.


Holidaymakers shopping in Bansko will find plenty of souvenirs in the form of local handwork, especially embroidered goods. Many shops focus on skiing equipment, but on Sundays there is a market that offers fresh produce and a variety of locally-made goods.

Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).

Situated in the highest reaches of the Pirin Mountains, Pirin National Park encompasses rugged alpine peaks that rise 8,202ft (2,500m) into the atmosphere with more than a hundred glacial lakes spread at their feet. The magnificent landscape is made up of old forests, waterfalls, caves and areas of limestone that are home to near-extinct flowers like the edelweiss and Pirin poppy. Characteristic to the park is the abundance of rare and endemic species of plants and animals, and the unique environment is listed as a UNESCO World Cultural and National Heritage site. Alpine mountaineering and skiing are popular activities in Pirin, and together with the cultural heritage of the surrounding mountain settlements and stunning scenery, Pirin National Park is an attractive tourist destination.

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