We absolutely love winter trips to the mountains, and the days spent at a ski resort are always packed with fun activities. Mountain light is entirely different to any other light. The bluer undertones and idyllic scenery really give you a deep feeling of calmness and joy. The freshness of the air is so fulfilling that you just can’t stop admiring and appreciating it. The fresh air, wooden lodges, slopes and heavy snowy weather, put together make up an unforgettable, idolised and respected atmosphere.
Bansko is an ancient mountain town, situated on a flat valley at the bottom of the scenic and picturesque Pirin National Park. Bansko and Pirin National Park have been revolutionised and launched into the 21st century with many modern lifts and ski slopes followed by the never stopping constructions of a lot of new lodgings and resorts. The product of those modernisations is an ancient town with an extensive modern ski area.
Bansko is a typical old mountainy Bulgarian town, with a charming heart in the city centre and old local architecture straight out of a Bulgarian history movie. The original town centre, below the ski resort village, features old stone buildings and cobbled streets. This part of the town is full of old and newish local houses, restaurants, shops and churches (such as the famous local church of Holy Trinity) and is always packed with tourists during the ski season. When you are visiting, check the local cultural centre for any events happening during your stay, we were lucky to be present at the time when a ballet festival was taking place.
The resort offers wide variety of traditional pubs called mehanas, usually always equipped with live traditional Bulgarian music. Mehanas offer many traditional and typical local meals at affordable prices, mostly from local suppliers and wild mountain hunts. On the menus you can find venison, wild boar, wild rabbit, hare, poultry etc. on a regular basis, and to many’s surprise these are mostly fresh catches.
The Mehana/Restaurant at the Highest Altitude
The Goat is the restaurant located at the Plateau at circa 2200m on Pirin mountain. It offers amazing views over the village and you can admire some of the red slopes from the restaurant terrace. At clear days the view is amazing, but when fog and heavy snowing strikes you are given a mystical view of white hiding the gems in the distance.
As Bansko expanded and gained popularity, it became home to more international offerings with over 60 restaurants and bars in town. One of our absolute favourites is the restaurant Amvrosia at the Premier Mountain Resort, which offers an award winning contemporary menu prepared by famous chefs. We had the chance to enjoy the New Year’s dinner in Amvrosia, which blew our mind with its delicate and dedicated 5 course menu each accompanied by the chef’s selected drink. Spending the New Year’s Eve in a restaurant of a luxury hotel had its benefits as we were welcomed with a traditional Bulgarian dance and music later followed by a festive ballet performance. The 00:00 welcome of the New Year was celebrated with a dazzling firework show and lots of champagne organised by the hotel.
The new part of Banko’s village is full of lively bars and nightclubs with interesting and affordable drinks. One of our favourite pass times after dinner is going for a drink or two at one of Bansko’s piano bars, such as the Sing Song Piano Bar at the Kempinski Hotel. This musical bar offers a good ending to your evening combined with cocktails and live music.
For those days when we skied to the maximum, leaving us exhausted and reminiscing the runs we had completed, we preferred to end our day with an evening playing chess or cozying beside the fire.