A year ago, I had never considered Bulgaria as a travel destination. Spain & Portugal were high on my list, South Africa to escape the European winter maybe, and who knows, maybe when Europe starts to bore me, I’ll go and discover Asia. Now I’m typing this from a hammock on the porch of Coworking Bansko, while I just had breakfast with a mountain view and considering if I should go rent an ATV later today. And it’s already my second time around here. Welcome to Bulgaria!
Bansko is a small village at the foot of the Pirin mountain. As with most small villages, there’s no cinema, no variety of clubs 7 days a week, no thriving shopping streets… yet nobody ever seems to be bored here. So how does everyone stay busy..?
My first time around in Bansko was actually last January, when the village was a perfect winter wonderland. If you like to ski, snowboard or do any other winter sports, this is where you want to be. The gondola goes from the town right up to the slopes. I don’t ski or snowboard, but since the Snowboard World Cup took place here earlier this year, I assume the conditions are good. After all, if they’re good enough for the best, surely they’re good enough for everyone else…
As a non-wintersporter, I still had an amazing time. Who doesn’t like outdoor hot pools & springs when it’s freezing cold? The mineral water natural hot springs at Izgreva are amazing and only a short drive away. Especially after dark, looking at the stars while you’re in the hot water is pure joy.
Another thing I loved during the winter months were the many traditional restaurants here in Bansko, with fireplaces and open grills in the middle. The vibe is just so cosy when it’s cold outside, while you’re inside next to the fire…
Fun in the Sun
So yes, most people come to Bansko for the snow conditions, but truthfully, I like snow between Christmas & New Year’s and that’s more than enough for me. So when I left last time, I knew I had to come back in summer. I love mountains in the summer, so I was sure I would have a good time.
And here I am, in the hammock of Coworking Bansko, loving every second of it and already a bit sad that I’ll be leaving in a few days. What I do around here when I’m not working..? One of the most fun things I did was going horseback riding. I always try to go horse riding during my travels, because it just brings you places you wouldn’t have found otherwise; because you won’t get there by car, but also because you’ll have a local tour guide who knows all the best spots. I got lucky, because I got a private tour and since I’m an experienced rider, we could have a great ride. Racing up the hills, gorgeous views over the valley, and going straight through the open fields while cows were eating left and right. But even if you’re not an experienced rider, it’s still a great activity. Take it a bit slower and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
Really feel like you need more action? You could also rent an ATV. It will be a little less peaceful, but definitely fun with the countless number of off-road paths going up the mountains!
Another thing you could do really well here, is hiking. Due to some physical issues, I had to give up quite fast, but even with short one-hour hikes, you will already find some beautiful lakes which make great places for picnics. For the die-hards, there are various huts and cabins that you can rent if you want to stay up there for more than a few hours.
There is also a golf course close by, with spectacular views. The Pirin Golf & Country Club has an 18-holes course for the experienced golfers, but also a 5-holes course that still includes some nice challenges. From both courses you can enjoy the view on the snowy mountain tops.
Other than that, there are also plenty of options for mountain biking, rafting and motorbike riding - you have to be careful of course, but the roads are in a lot better condition than I expected them to be.
Speaking of roads; Bansko also forms a great base to go on day or weekend trips. The Greek beach and cities like Sofia and Plovdiv are all within a +/- 2,5 hour car drive. If you extend your drive a little bit, you can spend you weekend near the mythical Mount Olympus in Greece, or go the other way towards the Black Sea. But even if you switch of your satnav and just go where the road takes you, you will be amazed by the Bulgarian countryside and national parks.
A small village, a lot to do… I’m still not done here, so I’ll go back soon. See you there..? ;-)