23 things to see, do and eat in Bansko, Bulgaria (Besides skiing)

Bansko is a small town nestled in Pirin mountain and the most popular ski resort in Bulgaria. Besides that, it is a town that offers various ways and opportunities to spend a great holiday in the country and learn more about the history and culture of Bulgaria.

Putting the ski resort fame aside, Bansko is actually a pretty good place to visit even if you’re not a winter sports fan. Here’s a list I prepared with my favourite places to eat, things to see and do to help you better plan your next holiday in Bansko.


WHAT TO SEE IN BANSKO


If your sightseeing mode is on, I got good news for you. Despite being pretty small in terms of size, Bansko would surprise you with interesting places and Instaworthy photo opportunities. Here are some of the top things to see in Bansko:

1. The streets of Old town

Start with just strolling down (oops, up) the paved streets of Bansko’s old historical town. Тhe old houses and relaxed atmosphere in the town, the nearby mountains, the fresh air… everything will make you want to stay in Bansko more than you’ve planned. If you go during the summer months, the many cats on the streets will make you company.

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2. House of Velyan

5 Velyan Ognev str. | Open: 9:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:30 | Closed on Sundays and Mondays | Fee: 3 BGN

Built during the 18th century, the House of Velyan in Bansko is a national cultural heritage. The building impresses mostly with its decoration – frescoes and wood-carved ceilings. With its exquisite architecture and thick stone walls, it is a hallmark for the great economic and social prosperity of people in Bansko. The house was a gift from the locals to Velyan Ognev who arrived in Bansko to work on the decoration of the St. Trinity Church. 

Opening hours of House of Velyan are 9:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:30. Not working on Sundays and Mondays. Entrance fee: 3 BGN for adults, 1 BGN for students and retirees.

3. House-museum “Neofit Rilski”

17 Pirin str. | Open: 9:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:30 (every day) | Fee: 3 BGN

Neofit Rilski is the founder of the Bulgarian secular education, the first Bulgarian encyclopedist and an important figure in the Bulgarian Renaissance. His house from 18th century is turned into a museum to show the traditional architecture of Bansko. There are 2 floors with several rooms, and additionally, there is a former barn turned into a permanent exposition with the heritage of Neofit Rilski.

things to do in bansko bulgaria neofit rilski house

4. Radonova house 

3 Aton str. | Open: 9:00-12:00 and 13:00-17:00 | Closed on Sundays and Mondays | Fee: 3 BGN

Radonova house is now a historical and ethnographic museum. Built in 19th century, the house hosts a rich exposition of materials following the development of Bansko from its origins to the liberation of Ottoman rule in 1912. The ethnographic exhibition shows the unique lifestyle of Bansko people during that period.

Radonova house is open from 9:00-12:00 and 13:00-17:00. It’s not working on Sundays and Mondays. Free admission is every third Wednesday of the month. Otherwise, the entrance fee is also 3 BGN. Keep in mind that the house is only open after you make an appointment at “Nikola Vaptsarov” museum.

things to do in bansko bulgaria - radonova house

5. Permanent art exhibition

3 Yane Sandanski str. | Open: 9:00 to 18:00 | Closed on weekends | Fee: 3 BGN

The exhibition of original icons and wall paintings of Bansko Art School masters is housed in the former Rila Nunery. The building dates back from 18th century and it is considered the earliest entirely preserved antiquity in Bansko. You can visit various exhibits in 6 different halls.

The working hours are from 9:00 to 18:00 without the weekends. Entrance fee: 3 BGN for adults, 1 BGN for students and retirees.

things to do in bansko bulgaria

6. House-museum “Nikola Vaptsarov”

3 Nikola Y. Vaptsarov str. | Open: 8:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:30 (every day) | Fee: 3 BGN

This place made me the strongest impression from all the sites in Bansko I visited. Probably because I grew up studying Nikola Vaptsarov beautiful and emotional poems in school.

Nowadays, the house where he grew up is open as a museum. In 2 floors you can follow the life of the beloved poet, see his personal notes and even originals of his most popular poems. You also have a chance to watch short videos about Nikola Vaptsarov’s life.

The museum is open every day 8:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:30. Entrance fee: 3 BGN for adults, 1 BGN for students and retirees.

things to do in bansko bulgaria

7. “St. Trinity” Church

2 Vazrazhdane str. | Free entrance

“St. Trinity” is an Orthodox church in the very center of Bansko. It is built with donations and voluntary work during the Ottoman rule in Bulgaria. The interior space in Baroque style leaves an immediate impression. The church is located right next to House-museum “Nikola Vaptsarov” and can be visited free of charge.

things to do in bansko bulgaria


WHAT TO DO IN AND AROUND BANSKO


8. Go mountain biking

Bansko is nestled between 3 gorgeous mountains – Pirin, Rila and Rhodopes. Keeping that in mind, all types of mountain activities are an option when you are visiting the town. During the warm months of the year, mountain biking may be the best choice.

Last year we made a 2-day mountain biking trip from Bansko, passing by some of the most unspoiled villages in Rhodope mountains, sleeping in a cozy local’s home and meeting many locals on the way. If you’re up for some adventure, read my mountain biking experience and get ready to have some fun. Make sure to get an experienced mountain guide.

mountain-biking-bulgaria

9. Visit a natural hot mineral spring

Bulgaria is a country rich in mineral springs. And you will not want to leave Bansko after you find out that there are plenty of natural hot mineral pools around. The one in complex Izgreva in Banya village is probably one of the most convenient. Just 15 minutes from Bansko and for a symbolic entrance fee, you can enjoy an afternoon in the hot water even during the winter months.

10. Go for a hike in Pirin mountain

There are various hiking trails in Pirin mountain. Some of the most famous are around Vihren peak – the highest in Pirin. A very easy one thought is the hike from Vihren chalet to lake “Okoto” (The eye). You can reach the chalet with a car from Bansko for around half an hour. The hike itself takes only 20-30 minutes and is a good afternoon activity when the weather is good. And the views are stunning!

hiking in pirin bulgaria

11. Go ice skating in Bansko

The Ice Rink in Bansko is a great winter activity for the whole family or friends. It is located on the central street – “Pirin”. If you’re tired of skiing or just feel like going for a spin or two, the ice rink’s fee is only around 12 BGN for two hours (6 EUR).

12. Visit a festival

Regular small cultural events are held in Bansko for various national and city holidays. But the town is active in the international scene too. Every August, there is a big Jazz Festival in Bansko attracting people from all over the country and abroad.

Bansko Film Fest is another event worth mentioning – it is organized in November. If you are in the area in the beginning of October, you can join the festivities for the Day of BanskoOctober 5th.

13. Go on a day trip from Bansko

If you already got to know Bansko and you’re ready to go out for a day trip or two, here are some ideas:

  • Plovdiv – an ancient town with relaxed atmosphere and wonderful Old Town;
  • Melnik Pyramids – a natural phenomenon in south of Bulgaria;
  • Lesthen and Kovatchevitsa – quaint and picturesque small villages;
  • Rila Monastery – a UNESCO world heritage site in Rila mountain;
  • Sofia – the vibrant capital of Bulgaria.
Rila Monastery bulgaria

Rila Monasery, Bulgaria

14. Join an Ayurveda retreat

If you think that Bansko can’t surprise you any more, here comes the next good news. You can join an Ayurveda retreat as part of the Ayurveda Clinic in Bansko.

The Indian system for healthy, happy and long life is practiced in Aparthotel Lucky Bansko and everyone can join. The courses last from 10 to 25 days and include treatments and therapies for keeping the good health conditions or even for treating health disorders.

ayurveda in bansko

An Ayurveda treatment room in Aparthotel Lucky Bansko.

15. Visit the escape rooms in Bansko

If you are a fan of escape rooms as me, you’d love the fact that small town like Bansko has not 1, but 2 of them. They are part of Aparthotel Lucky Bansko but are open for outside guests, too. They are working only during the winter months when most of the people visit the town. If you’re looking for an alternative entertainment with friends or family, definitely check the escape rooms in Bansko.

16. Get things done in Coworking Bansko

Got some work to do during your vacation? Need a productivity boost? Good thing is that Coworking Bansko is always there to help you finish your tasks on the road. Matthias, Uwe and Irina are running this innovative coworking space since 2016.

Moreover, they are the best people to talk to – always ready to recommend you the best places to see, best restaurants to visit and even the best real estate deals. Don’t be surprised. They may be one of the reasons to make you move to Bansko for good.


WHERE TO EAT IN BANSKO


The food scene in Bansko is very diverse – you can find traditional meals for Bulgaria, typical Bansko delicacies or  places with international cuisine. Most of the restaurants use home recipes and local ingredients. Here are my favourite places to eat in Bansko:

17. Tavern “Banski Han” – traditional Bulgarian cuisine

2 Vasil Kanchev Str. | Open: 12:00-24:00

This is my favourite place to eat in Bansko. With traditional menu, home recipes and pleasant atmosphere, the meals are more than just delicious. The staff is also very hospitable and friendly. In Banski Han I tried the tastiest scrambled eggs with spinach and cream! I recommend you to try the traditional lyutenitsa as an appetizer.

The tavern is located at the entrance of Bansko, has its own parking lot. Working hours are from 12:00 to 24:00 every day.

restaurants in bansko

 

restaurants in bansko bulgaria

18. Restaurant Leonardo – genuine Italian delicacies

11, Kir Klago Todev Str. | www.leonardobansko.com

Leonardo is modern and cozy restaurant in Bansko that offers genuine Italian cuisine. The spacious area filled with light and the attention to every detail will make you feel comfortable from the first step. There is a wide variety of wines you can order in Leonardo restaurant.

leonardo italian restaurant bansko bulgaria

Classic Italian dishes or modern Mediterranean delicacies – it will not disappoint. Moreover, aqua complex “Leonardo” – part of Aparthotel Lucky Bansko, has two outdoor swimming pools during summer months.  Leonardo restaurant is open from 12:00 to 24:00.

We ordered mouth-watering risotto with gold leaf – prepared with beef broth, saffron, parmesan and butter, and delicious tagliatelle with dried tomatoes and porcini. And I recommend you to try the home made ice cream for dessert – absolutely delicious!

leonardo italian restaurant bansko bulgaria

 

 

19. Family Bansko Coffee & Kids Club – coffee and breakfast

2 Toma Vishanov str. 

A combination of good service and pleasant atmosphere, Family Cafe in Bansko is a great place for your morning coffee. There are also variety of breakfast options – croissants, cakes or other pastry. Moreover, there is a kids playground downstairs which makes it a perfect place for families.

family cafe bansko bulgaria

This photo of Family Bansko Coffee & Kids Club is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

20. Coconut Bansko – the healthiest place in town

20 Gotse Delchev Str. | Facebook | Instagram

Coconut Bansko is the new healthy spot in Bansko. The small but cozy smoothie place offer wide variety of tastes. You can also find a great masala tea, gluten free cookies and other healthy choices. 

coconut bansko bulgaria

21. Bar Pirin 75 

75 Pirin str. | Facebook

When you’re finished with trying all the exciting things to do in Bansko for the day, head over for a few drinks at bar Pirin 75. A little bit pricey for my taste, but it has a good atmosphere and great central location – on 15 Pirin str. (hence the name).

22. Wine Bar Bansko

25 Otets Paisiy str. | Facebook

Enjoy a bit more relaxed evening with friends at Wine Bar 25 – the only dedicated wine place in the town. You’ll find a wide variety of Bulgarian wines as well as other drinks and appetizers.

wine bar bansko bulgaria


WHERE TO STAY IN BANSKO


23. Aparthotel Lucky Bansko – 5-star hospitality

4 Kir Blago Todev str. | Hotel Review| Facebook | Instagram

We spend a few days in the fabulous 5-star Aparthotel Lucky Bansko spoiled by the cozy rooms, warm hospitality and amazing service. The hotel is located just 10 minutes walking distance from the Old Town and offers various options to spend your holiday in Bansko.

spa hotel lucky bansko

It has everything you need for a great holiday – the swimming pools and SPA center beeing the top choice. Offering 28 functions and modern equipment, the SPA can easily become your favourite place in Bansko. You can enjoy bio swimming pools, a pool with salts from Dead Sea, saunas, ice hall, relax room made with salt bricks, and many more.

spa hotel in bansko

spa hotel lucky bansko

The relax zone in Aparthoel Lucky Bansko.

So are you ready to visit Bansko now? Search the best flight deals at Skyscanner, pack your bags, make your list of things to do and get ready for one exciting trip to Bansko. The ski season will be open in the middle of December so don’t think too much and book your holiday.


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Written by

Travel blogger and tourism graduate from Bulgaria, working in the field of Digital Marketing and PR for travel brands.

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