7 Reasons To Get Outdoors in Bansko This Summer
by Leah Wallace
Were you thinking of coming to Coworking Bansko and missed the ski season? Well, there’s far more to Bansko than skiing so here’s 7 reasons to come for the Spring and Summer.
Bansko is Bulgaria’s biggest ski resort. Situated on the edge of the Pirin Mountains, next to the Rila and Rhodope Mountains, Bansko is in the perfect location. As soon as the snow starts melting and we enter Spring, Bansko transforms into an outdoor activity haven. If you’re planning to come to Bansko here are some things to try!
Most of these activities are planned informally, so just ask at Coworking Bansko and we’ll put you in contact with the right group!
1) Mountain biking
Mountain biking is huge here in Bansko with events and 200km of trails developed over the last 10 years by expat James Hughes (Avalon Hotel). There are 7 trails on Pirin Mountain alone, including routes suitable from complete beginners to advanced riders. Routes are well mapped and signposted, maintained regularly by local volunteers.
If you want to join a local group, they meet every week in the town square and welcome people of all abilities. There is also the option to hire local guides or go on multi-day trips, like the Travelling Buzz blog who did a 2-day cycle across the Western Rhodopes.
Races in spring and summer
April 20–22nd is Bansko’s ‘Who Dares Win’. A free for all — first over the finish line wins!
July 28–29th is the 10th anniversary of the Road to Nowhere MTB rally. Men’s, women’s, and children’s categories with two route options of 30km and 60km available.
August 25th-26th Bansko Enduro MTB (stage 4 of the 7 stage national series)
2) Horse riding
Only 12km from Bansko is the opportunity to try horse riding. There are rides suitable for any age or ability. For more advanced riders, there is an 8h route going through the mountains, the Rila Monastery trail and the option to do multi-day trail rides.
3) Hiking and trail running
Pirin National Park covers 40 365 hectares with more than 180 glacial lakes, marble and granite peaks including the highest peak, Mount Vihren (2 915 m). There are marked hiking trails suitable for a range of abilities with several mountain huts and shelters if you plan to camp.
Maps and details of the hiking trails can be found on http://pirinmap.com so make sure you pack your hiking boots and compass! Further route ideas from Bansko can be found on http://banskotouristinformation.com/10-walks-guide/
4) Rock climbing
Rock climbing around Bansko is largely alpine style with mostly under developed and low traffic routes. Mount Vihren is the highest peak of Pirin massif and the 2nd highest peak in Bulgaria. The North face of Vihren is a stunning 400m marble and limestone high wall with 7 routes. The best time to climb is June-September to avoid rock falls and avalanches.
Just under two hours away is Malyovitsa in Rila Mountains which has a greater variety of sport, trad and alpine routes. Rila is the highest mountain range in Bulgaria so if you’re after some walk in alpine mountain climbing, this is place to go.
For more route information and topos check out climbingguidebg.com
If you want to go further afield just check out Petzl’s roctrip 2014 YouTube video for ideas!
5) White Water Rafting
Bansko offers the chance to go river rafting, or white-water rafting in both the Struma and Mesta Rivers. The Mesta River is a calm, quiet river heading deep into the Pirin and Rhodopi mountains, perfect for beginners and those wanting to improve their technical skills and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The Struma River flows in the Kresna Gorge between the Pirin and Malashevska mountains, offering a more thrilling rafting experience. The season starts in March. Water levels are the highest in Struma in March and April and highest in Mesta in May and June.
If you prefer a slower pace, then golfing in Bansko is for you. Just outside of Bansko is Pirin Golf & Country Club, a 5-star resort where you get yearly memberships or pay and play. There are two courses — the first, an 18-hole, Par 72 championship course designed by 2006 Ryder Cup Champion Ian Woosnam and the second, a newer 5-hole course named after the surrounding areas.
7) Jeep safari
If none of these sports appeal to you but you want to get outside, the best way is in a Russian UAZ (ex-military jeep). The tour covers some surrounding villages, churches in the mountains, local Archaeological sites and waterfalls. The jeep safaris run all year, weather permitting, with half and full days are available.
More information can be found @Banskosafari on Facebook.
About the author:
Leah is travelling around Europe while finishing her PhD
More adventures can be found on leahwallace.co (currently under development) or Instagram Leah.wallacee