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).