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Bansko: skiing in Bulgaria

Among snowboarding, snow, magnificent views, cocktails, and music. To conclude relax in the hot water at 40 degrees and in the quiet of the forests of the Rila Monastery.

We leave Thessaloniki to approach the border with Bulgaria, which is only 1 hour and a half away. The journey to Bansko is not even 3 hours but the border can be a big unknown, we who travel for the Epiphany Bridge have to wait in line for more than an hour. We are no longer used to crossing borders by car: they check our documents, green pass, rapid test and make us open the tinted windows, and then…welcome to Bulgaria!


Gondola, ski center, Dobrinishte, Alpha spa & pool

As soon as you cross the border in Promachonas, it is advisable to stop and buy the vignette, which is mandatory for traveling on the Bulgarian motorways (it costs less than 10 euros and can be paid online). You can buy other convenient things like cigarettes and petrol.

In Bansko we booked an apartment near the center and the Gondola, the choice is very wide and the prices they are excellent. The Gondola is the cable car that takes you from the city center to the slopes, a long but very comfortable. Now that we've settled in, it's 2am, it's too late to ski (the lifts close at 4.30pm) but we still take the Gondola and go to the chalet at 1,700 meters to eat and stay in the snow. When we go down we rent the equipment from Bansko ski mania (it has good prices and you can leave boots and snow in the deposit every day.. you can also rent the suit!) and we take the skypasses for the next day.

The slopes deserve really, they're wide and long and include 30 miles of descents. The lifts are new and modern, mostly chair lifts and there are several nursery slopes for beginners. You can reach the highest point at 2,600 meters and go down to the Gondola (where you take the cable car) doing all blue runs and skiing for about forty minutes. Even the red ones are obviously excellent and there are also the black ones where we have seen many inexperienced people slide down their asses without stopping .. we decided it was better not to try! There is also the Pista Alberto Tomba, dedicated to the champion who is said to often go to Bansko.

At the end of the day, the Happy End bar is a must, down in the city at the arrival of the slopes and where the Gondola departs.. you can recognize it from the charged music! The party is guaranteed and you discover how international Bansko is, with tourists from all over Europe and even from Israel.

In the center of Bansko, you can walk along the main road Pirin with several souvenir shops, a skating rink (15€ for 2 hours), restaurants, nightclubs (there are many in Bansko), discos and bars. Night life is an integral part of Bansko…you have to be a hero to be able to ski the next morning. The town is typically in the mountain style with stone and wooden houses; in Drobrinishte the houses are surrounded by real wood walls to be used in fireplaces during the winter.

Spa and hot pools

Alpha spa & pool in Dobrinishte

Drobrinishte has the largest spa in the area with outdoor pools that reach 40° and are therefore perfect even in snow and rain. The center offers 3 swimming pools: one in 37° also suitable for children due to the shallow depth, one a 40° with whirlpools, and one at room temperature for the daredevils who want to be hot-cold. Inside there are also a sauna, Turkish bath, jacuzzi, massage area and bar. All clean and modern at a very honest cost - just €7 each - and the center is open until 9 pm, so you can go calmly after a day of skiing and relax for a few hours in the water. To finish the evening we went to a nearby restaurant, with great food, warm weather, and beautiful Bulgarian music.

Rila Monastery and Stob Pyramids

Rila Monastery, St. Ivan Rilski's cave, Stob Pyramids

From the monastery, we continue towards the mountains to drive through the magical forests and snowy roads. The place is superb for walks and picnics along the river. Along the road we find the image of the saint and some cars, so we stop to see if anything is interesting. Following the path in the woods and the trees with carved barks, we arrive at the cave where the saint lived. In the beginning, you discover the church but next to it, hidden, there is a small path from which you can access the narrow but perfect cave to protect yourself from the cold and animals. Let's try to imagine ourselves there centuries and centuries ago.. what fortitude was needed. We continue to climb until we reach Kirilova Polyana a large meadow with a fresh spring of mountain water, a camping area, trails and a restaurant refuge.

The Pyramids of Stob are rock conformations that stand out like columns and mushrooms towards the sky to create unique shapes with iridescent colors from orange to green. They are up to 12 meters high and of two different geological formations made up of clay and sandstone.



Veranda BBQ & Wine in Bansko for great grilled meat (expensive)

Весело село in Bansko, is touristy but good with a typical setting with a fireplace

Babuch Mehana in Dobrinishte, a folk restaurant also frequented by Bulgarians with excellent typical dishes such as Dobrinishte meatballs.

Механа „Пирин“ a Dobrinishte more intimate but very kind and good food Kiosks on the street selling excellent artisan products such as honey or pickles.

Try the Bulgarian bread (a kind of giant unleavened bread), the homemade jams, the pan-fried meat cooked with vegetables.


To sleep 3 nights we spent €115 for two for a small apartment.

Bansko is more expensive to eat as it is tourist but we are talking about twenty euros each. While in Dobrinishte, with 10 euros each, you can eat a lot.


Must places:

Rila Monastery

Itinerary on the map:



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