Getting There: Bansko - Heaven on Earth

Society | October 18, 2002, Friday // 00:00

If you want to have rest, if you want to go hiking, if you want to go skiing, you should opt for at least a weekend stay in Bansko - one of the most beautiful towns in Bulgaria. The town of Bansko, about three hours driving to the south of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, is built at an altitude of 3060 feet. Bulgarian-style houses, cobbled streets, beautiful church, hospitable people are what you will find there. Here the old lives hand in hand with the new, where the modern centre gives off onto small cobbled streets with timber framed houses sheltering behind stout double doors. If you do not ski and do not feel like hiking, you can have walks in the town and enjoy the magnificent mountain views. Surrounded by Pirin, Rila and Rhodopes mountains, Bansko is a mountain resort with a short summer and long winter. The average temperature during January, the coldest month, is -1.9C.

Bansko is also famous with being one of the main ski resorts centers not only in Bulgaria, but also in Southern Europe. The skiing season along the Pirin slopes starts in the middle of December and ends in mid-April. From Bansko, a scary, winding narrow road leads to the base of the resort, at 5280 feet, set in the middle of heavily forested slopes. There are not many trails, but the few that are there are long, and exciting. The lift-served terrain reaches 8910 feet, and it is possible to ski top-to-bottom in one run.

In the evening, don't choose to stay in your room! Bansko offers a wide variety of choices like old-style pubs and taverns, restaurants, disco clubs and coffee shops in the old town. Try the delicious Bansko cuisine: "chomlek", "Banski staretz", "sudjuk", kebap in pumpkin, "capama" and more!

You can reach Bansko either by flying into Sofia airport and driving for about three hours to the south, or by flying into Thessaloniki in Greece, and driving three hours to the north. In either case the scenery is amazing. Bus tickets from Sofia cost seven levs and there are buses every hour.

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