News from the snow
Until recently Bansko was not one of the best known ski areas in Bulgaria. But heavy investment right across the ski area and the resort have utterly transformed this small medieval town and its ski area in to a year-round, international destination resort. Most prominent of these improvements for skiers and boarders is a remarkable new gondola that cuts out the old 12km (8 mile) drive between town and ski slopes. Then once your on the snow - once served by a few elderly chairs and drag lifts, you'll find high speed detachable Doppelmayr quads, near comprehensive snow making, night skiing and more than six times as many pisted runs as before, maintained by a fleet of a dozen new groomers. The combination of a lively, historic, architectural interesting and culturally rich ski resort with an exciting modern ski areas, all within the spectacular beauty of the Pirin Mountains, with its untamed nature and recognition of being on UNESCO's List of World Heritage sites, is a rare and winning combination. Bansko town is blessed with a mild climate and yet the season is long up on the slopes where you can expect to have crisp snow on the ski pistes until early May. Recent investment in snow making equipment has made the resort even more confident in claiming to have a truly long ski season.
Bansko was the big European boom resort of the first decade of this century. The unspoilt traditional Bulgarian village was reborn with a huge investment in modern lifts and hotels that, along with heavy investment by property buyers, brought the resort rapidly to international prominence. It is located in the Pirin mountains and National Park, a world heritage site.
The main ski runs in Bansko have been extensively renovated and the ski run Stara Pista floodlit for night skiing. The Shiligarnika, Stara Pista, Todorka and Plato ski runs are suitable for beginners and intermediaries, and the Banderiza and Ctzurna mogila ski runs may be used by experts. Experts have the additional challenge of skiing the runs where Bulgaria's Olympic champions train.
Bansko is also a regular host to a number of ski and snowboard competitions, such as the Extreme Ski and Snowboard competition and the Balkan Cup Competition.
The ski runs are serviced by a number of chair lifts and drag lifts, all of which are cutting edge Doppelmayer ski lifts, including the eight person gondola and three detachable quad chairs, one with pull-down bubble cover if the weather in poor. Easy access to all lifts is secured by SkiData chip-card ski passes that one never needs to take out of the pocket.
At the end of the day, skiers and snowboarders have a choice to return by the Gondola or take the ski road down to Bansko, which marks this resort as one of the few in the world to offer this option. This is a unique 16 kilometer (ten mile long) uninterrupted ski run, starting from Todorka Peak (2600 m) at the highest point of the ski center, all the way to base station of the gondola lift at the outskirts of town. The last seven kilometres of the slope are lighted, and the entire facility is equipped with artificial snow machines to ensure a great skiing experience even in warmer conditions.
Those, who do not have their own ski or snowboard gear, can choose from more than 1200 pairs of carving ski and more than 100 snowboards, all of which are cutting edge Salomon and Rossignol and are available for rent at the Gondola base lift station.
The winter sports center also includes more than nine kilometers of cross country ski tracks, a biathlon shooting range, a winter sports stadium and a ski kindergarten-the Junior Ski Club-which welcomes children aged four and up.
There are a number of web cameras by the slopes and images of these are available online at the resort's website. Images of the web cameras are also displayed online at the base station of the Gondola lift and at the best hotels in Bansko.
On the slopes there are three main areas with fast-food establishments -Banderitsa, Shiligarnika, and Platoto.
Bansko's most popular late night hangout is the Amnesia disco club, which features popular music in a relaxed atmosphere. A great modern après-ski place with a quieter atmosphere is the bowling in hotel Strazhite.
In the common "mehana" establishments, food is served in the atmosphere of traditional songs and dances, performed by local artists.