Sample Bansko's slopes
Sample Bansko's slopes
Everybody who has been to Bansko knows why it is among the most popular getaways for Bulgarians - and increasingly for foreigners who live here. So far it is not really involved in international tourism - but that will come. For most visitors Bansko is just a synonym for having a good time. And it really has a lot to offer: its location and its people. Situated at the foot of the Pirin mountain range on the southern edge of a circular plain that is surrounded on all sides by mountains - Pirin, Rila and the Rhodopes - Bansko offers some spectacular views and is an ideal starting point for all kinds of excursions in summer and for skiing in winter. In winter skiing is the main pastime. The main tracks are 10 km outside Bansko and you will need a car with snow tires or the bus shuttles that many of the hotels provide to get there. At the moment there are huge efforts on the way to finish a new cabin lift and new tracks at the southern end of Bansko by the end of December 2002. And, listening to the helicopters that fly the building materials up to the mountains like busy bees, it looks like they are going to manage on time. Bansko boasts 5 four star hotels and a lot of others. The latest addition is the German owned hotel Tanne that just opened in September with double rooms starting at 109 euro (on the southern edge of Bansko near the new lift). It looks like one of the luxurious places in the Austrian Alps. They have sauna, pool and two restaurants. Its location makes it a bit cumbersome to walk to the center where the action is in the evening. Hotel Glazne - 4 stars: Luxurious hotel with pool, sauna, fitness, massage, restaurant, mehana and "sky bar" from which you have a brilliant view of the mountains. It is in a quiet location next to the Glazne river that flows down from the Pirin mountains. They have mainly spacious, tastefully decorated apartments (absolutely up to Western standards) starting at 88 Leva (depending on the season). Highly recommended are their six townhouses, with their own mehana, fireplace, sauna and garage. They come with two bedrooms, and are the perfect place to rent if you want to party with some friends. Sometimes you will meet people like Foreign Minister Passi here. In winter they have ski and equipment rentals and their own bus service to the skiing lifts. It's about a 10-minute walk to the old city centre. The best value for money at the moment is Hotel Pirin. This recently completely renovated hotel has lost any resemblance to its communist origin. It boasts the same amenities as Glazne. The pool is bigger and the fitness equipment is newer. On the other hand they have mainly double rooms which are smaller than Glazne's apartments but nicely furnished. Bathrooms are a little bit small but sufficient and spotless. The location is perfect if you plan to explore all the mehana's and old parts of Bansko. A nice feature is breakfast in bed (included in the room price). Prices start at 55 $ for a double room. Ask for a room with a view of Pirin mountains (they also are more quiet) How to get to Bansko? The distance from Sofia to Bansko is 170 km. There is a public bus and two private bus operators that service Bansko from Sofia. They all leave from the bus terminal in Ovcha Kupel several times a day. Tickets are 6 leva one way. By car it will take you about two hours. You can book a car from Profi Tours/BulgariaSki.com at the price of 55 $. If you are driving by yourself you head towards the town of Pernik and then shortly before Pernik turn south towards Kulata. After passing Blagoevgrad you have to watch out for Simitli where you turn off the main road and then go east through some smaller mountains about 35 kilometers to Bansko. You will have beautiful sights on the way. Don't forget to have your snow tires on the car in winter. Food and drink: Babugera, 9, lane Sandanski Str. Sirleshtova Kushta, 12, lane Sandanski Str. tel. 07443-4668 Motikata (on the road from Bansko to Todorka mountain). They have a lovely garden where you can sit under fir trees in summer. Nightlife: There are about 4 discos in Bansko. The most popular one is "No Name" on pedestrian street Tsar Simeon. 3 leva entrance fee, from 10pm to 4am. What to see: Old Bansko town Church, Velianova Kushta, Icon exhibition, Bansko Cultural House. Bansko map: available here or you can buy from souvenir shops in Bansko at price of 3 leva.
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