It’s no secret that Bansko is Bulgaria’s most popular ski resort. Ski lovers from neighbouring Romania and Greece as well as the UK and elsewhere flock to the picturesque mountain town every winter. Yet regarding Bansko as a strictly winter destination is a huge mistake. There’s so much more in this quaint little town than its famous ski slopes and it is worth visiting all year round. You can find many articles about skiing in Bulgaria and Bansko ski in particular, so we’re not getting into this at all. Here’s our list of the top things to do in Bansko if skiing is not your thing or if you’re visiting outside ski season. Which you should, by the way. 

This photo shows a narrow cobbled street in Bansko Old town Bulgaria. Top 5 things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
Bansko Old Town is full of charming cobblestone streets.

Top 5 things to do in Bansko (No, ski isn’t on this list)

1. Wander around Bansko Old Town

Bansko’s reputation as a top ski resort attracts many tourists during high season. This is why this small town in the Bulgarian mountains sees a rapid development lately. However, this sudden development has not altered the character of Bansko Old Town. Strolling around its narrow cobbled streets in absolute peace and tranquillity holds the very first place on our list of top things to do in Bansko. The beautiful old-fashioned ambience of Bansko Old Town is not in the least spoilt and passing one traditional stone building after another made us feel like time-travellers of sorts.

This is a photo of Maria walking around Bansko Old Town Bulgaria. One of the top 5 things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
Wandering around the narrow streets of Bansko Old Town is utterly charming.

One of the main attractions in Bansko Old Town is the impressive Holy Trinity Church. Its interior is adorned with beautiful frescoes and there is also a peaceful garden within the church’s walls. You can’t miss the slightly tilting bell tower soaring 30m above the picturesque town.

This is a photo of Holy Trinity Church in Bansko Bulgaria. Top five things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
Holy Trinity Church in Bansko Old Town.

Pirin Street is Bansko’s main street and it is lined with shops and restaurants all along its pedestrianised part. It then continues as a road which eventually leads to the gondola ski lift and the more touristy part of the town.

This photo shows Pirin Street, the main street in Bansko Bulgaria. Top 5 things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
Pirin street starts from Bansko Old Town and goes all the way to the ski lift and beyond towards the mountain.

Equally pleasant is walking alongside a small stream of running water at the recently pedestrianised Gotse Delchev Street.

This photo shows Gotse Delchev street in Bansko Bulgaria. Top five things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
The recently pedestrianised Gotse Delchev Street in Bansko.

2. Eat at traditional mehanas

Mehanas are traditionally decorated restaurants that serve typical Bulgarian dishes. Sometimes dinner is accompanied by traditional music and dance as well. Food at mehanas comes in huge portions and always served alongside fantastic house wine. Although Bulgarian cuisine is meat based, mehanas also serve mouthwatering vegetarian options that are hard to find in other Balkan countries. There are many beautifully decorated mehanas scattered in Bansko. Our guess is that you can’t go wrong with any of them.

This photo shows a traditional restaurant, mehana, in Bansko Bulgaria. Top five things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
Traditional mehanas are abundant in Bansko Old Town.

3. Drink superb local wine

I have to admit that we didn’t have time to properly do our homework before our trip to Bansko. So we had no idea that we were in for a unique wine tasting experience. During the 2.5 days we stayed there, we tried a lot of local wine and every time it was exquisite. We had house wine at every restaurant and mehana and we liked each and every one of them.

This photo was shot during a wine tasting in Bansko Bulgaria. Sampling exquisite Bulgarian wine is one of the top things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
Everyone is tempted to sample as much of Bulgaria’s exquisite wine as possible. Humans or not!

Wine Bar 25 is well worth a visit and deserves its own place among the top things to do in Bansko. In this cosy and stylish wine bar you can actually sample some of the best Bulgarian wines and staff are more than happy to tell you a few things about each wine region in Bulgaria. Prices are as low as 2.5€/glass so try not to get too carried away.

4. Pamper yourselves at 5-star spas and heated pools

Bansko is home to many luxury hotels with exceptional spa facilities. The Bulgarian ski resort is not the only place in the world with such establishments of course. But it may be one of the few places where such 5-star hospitality is actually affordable. Most 5-star Bansko hotels offer their guests free access to their spa facilities and relaxing heated pools. Non resident guests are also welcome to use the spas and pools for a reasonable fee.

This photo shows the outside swimming pool of Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena Bansko Bulgaria with the mountains in the background. Top five things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
Indulge in 5-star spa facilites without spending a fortune. Pictured here Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena Bansko.

5. Enjoy breathtaking views at nearby Razlog Tower

What to do in Bansko if you have some extra time to spare? Visit the neighbouring town of Razlog. There, at the top of Golak Hill, you can climb Razlog Tower for unique panoramic views of Razlog, Bansko and the beautiful Bulgarian mountains surrounding them.

This photo shows Razlog Tower near Bansko, Bulgaria. Visiting Razlog is one of the top 5 things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
The spectacular Razlog Tower.

The area around the Tower is the ideal place to have a leisurely and peaceful walk in nature. There is a considerable amount of steps to the top of Golak Hill, so wear comfortable shoes, bring water and take your time.

This is a photo of the area around Razlog Tower near Bansko, Bulgaria. Spending a day in Razlog is one of the top 5 things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
Golak Hill in Razlog offers unique walking opportunities in beautiful natural surroundings.

If you’re not driving from Bansko to Razlog it’s probably best to get there by taxi. It’s unlikely that it will cost more than 20€ for a round trip. There is also a bus connecting Bansko to Razlog. You can check with your hotel for timetables but from what we understand it doesn’t run that frequently.

Practical Information

How to get to Bansko

Bansko is located in south-western Bulgaria, at the foot of the Pirin Mountains. Many travellers from nearby countries such as Greece or Romania drive to Bansko. Alternatively, visitors fly to the nearest airport which is in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria.

Check out the best ways to get from Sofia to Bansko!

Currency and languages spoken

The official currency is the Bulgarian lev (BGN). In some occasions, payments in Euro may also be accepted. Hotels and restaurants accept credit cards, too.

Although Bansko receives huge numbers of foreign tourists during ski season, it seems that locals don’t speak English very well. Or at all. That said, locals in Bansko are extremely kind and they go out of their way to help visitors out.

This is a photo of the main square in Bansko Old Town, Bulgaria. Top five things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
The main square in Bansko Old Town.

Where to stay in Bansko

Accommodation options in Bansko range from 5-star luxury hotels to cosy traditional guesthouses. As mentioned before, Bansko is the ideal place to experience 5-star hospitality services at very reasonable prices. That said, Bansko Old Town is also dotted with beautiful traditional guesthouses that promise to satisfy even the tighest of budgets. For our three night stay in Bansko, we chose Guest House Khan Kadiata for its raving reviews and central location. We paid 50€ in total for a super clean room, one of the best homemade breakfasts we have ever had and the sweetest hosts we could ever dream of.

This photo shows the area around Guesthouse Khan Kadiata in Bansko Old Town Bulgaria. Top 5 things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
The area around Guesthouse Khan Kadiata.

Our Bansko trip duration and costs

We arrived in Bansko on Friday afternoon and we left very early on Monday morning. This is plenty of time to relax and enjoy everything that Bansko has to offer at a leisurely pace. The Bulgarian mountain resort is also the ideal destination for a weekend escape.

Low cost airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air operate frequent flights to Sofia airport. Our return flights cost 35€/person. They would have cost about 10€ less had we not reserved our seats in advance. This is always an extra cost for us though. Katerina is afraid of flying and she hates the idea of ending up sitting too far away from me. But this is an entirely different topic and deserves a post of its own.

There are many ways to get from Sofia to Bansko and for all budgets. Accommodation in Bansko is great value for money. As mentioned above, we paid 50€ for three nights with breakfast in the heart of Bansko Old Town. Food, drinks and mini markets were also ridiculously cheap.

This photo shows an open air market in Bansko Old Town Bulgaria. Top five things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
A small open-air market selling fresh local products in the heart of Bansko Old Town.

Till we meet again, Bansko

We visited Bansko in order to attend the Bloggers On Top 2018 Unconference, a bloggers’ event held by the amazing team at Coworking Bansko. The latter had a fantastic yet very tight schedule planned out for us. Therefore, during our short stay, we only had time to discover the top 5 things to do in Bansko apart from skiing but we know there is more and we will definitely go back to explore all the other unique experiences the little mountain town has in store for us.

Read about our wonderful experience at the Bloggers on Top 2018 Unconference! 

This photo shows the entrance to the CoWorking Bansko space in Bansko, Bulgaria. Top five things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
CoWorking Bansko have set up a lively community of digital nomads in the small mountain town.

Our short but wonderful trip to Bansko proves once again that it doesn’t matter how far we go or for how long we stay in a destination. All that matters is that we jumped on a plane and we made the most of our 2.5 days in a small town tucked away in the Bulgarian mountains. Not to mention that we probably spent less money than we would have spent on a typical weekend in Athens. Sometimes, going out there and seeing the world is easier than you may think and we are here to constantly remind you that if it’s all trip to us, it can also be to you!

This is a photo of river Glazne in Bansko Bulgaria. Top 5 things to do in Bansko apart from skiing.
River Glazne in Bansko.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate ones. This means that, if you book through them, we will receive a small commission to help us run this website at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that we only recommend services & products we have actually tried & immensely enjoyed.

68 Comments

  1. Pingback: Χειμώνιασε, ώρα για Μπανσκο! – Travel Vibe

  2. I’m no ta big skier so it’s great to see all the things you can do in a little resort town like this outside of hitting the slopes! Bansko looks amazing and I would love to visit someday!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      We’re no skiers ourselves but we enjoyed our short trip to Bansko immensely. We’re sure you’ll love it too!

  3. Bansko looks like a nice getaway place. I’ve never been in Bulgaria but it’s on my list next year.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey Christine! Can’t wait to hear how you liked Bansko and Bulgaria once you visit next year 🙂

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you so much! We are so happy to inspire you to visit a new destination!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      You’d love both skiing and enjoying the picturesque town Sinjana!

  4. I love this article! It’s meant for people like me. My boyfriend and his friends enjoy skiing, I didn’t take lessons when I was younger and I don’t plan on taking them now, so I’m always interested about things to do in skiing resorts. Thank you for your suggestions!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      That’s exactly how we feel too! We’re not keen on trying skiing any time soon yet we had an amazing time in Bansko. Actually, one of the main reasons why we wrote this article was to show readers that they can still have fun in Bansko while the rest of their team are up there in the slopes!

  5. Bansko looks so epic! I heard it always as a skiing place, but with your post I added to my bucket list:) So inspiring!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you very much Gonca! There’s a lot more to Bansko than skiing and we’re happy to spread the word!

  6. Hearing about Bansko for the first time as we have not ventured into skiing. Happy to learn about it as we would want to try it one day. Looks like, even if we do not ski, there is a lot that Bansko offers. Would love to walk around the old town, eat at traditional mehanas and have the local wine. Thanks for this wonder guide.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you for your lovely words Navita. It’s true, Bansko has a little something for everyone 🙂

  7. I liked visiting Bansko 10-15 years before. In recent years, it started becoming more crowded. Nevertheless, it’s a great winter destination

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      That’s true Daniel, it can get quite crowded during winter. That’s why we tried to show some of the best things to do in Bansko all year long 🙂

  8. Paulina A Klimkiewicz Reply

    You’ve had me at wine! There is nothing better than a solid wine tasting to complete a trip

  9. You have listed great things to do in Bansko apart from skiing. As I don’t know skiing, I would love to do other things like wandering in the Old Town. Also, that open market selling fresh produce is looking very tempting and views from Razlog Towers are great.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey Yukti, thank you! All the things you mentioned were among our favourite ones too 🙂

  10. These places look so pretty and attractive.
    Bansko are new for me I never heard about this place.but I will try to visit this and eat a traditional mehana

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hi Anki! Bansko is very affordable and really worth checking out while in Bulgaria and the Balkans!

  11. Bansko sounds like a quaint little place away from the maddening crowd. It has a very old world charm to it. Looks like you girls had a lovely time 🙂

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey Richa! We had a great time indeed and we can’t wait to go back for more!

  12. As I’m planning a trip to the Balkans (including Bulgaria of course) I might now also add Bansko to my itinerary. Having a look at the scenery there, I guess you can also go on great hikes there 🙂

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      That’s true Mario! Bansko offes amazing hiking opportunities during summer. We’ll definitely try some hiking in the Bulgarian mountains ourselves.

  13. Perhaps I was looking for such posts from Bulgaria.I have plans to visit Bulgaria in coming few months. This is really helpful and consolidate my idea to visit Bulgaria. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      We are very glad to have helped you make up your mind about visiting Bulgaria. It really is a country worth exploring 🙂

  14. OMG great to know there are great things to do there even when i don’t ski. I don’t ski at all and places like these intimidates me. The place looks quaint and worth a visit even when not skiing.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey Jen, thank you! That’s true, Bansko is a great town and it’s worth a trip regardless if you ski or not.

  15. Can’t wait to try traditional mehanas and drink local wine! This town looks like a perfect getaway when you want to run away from hustle and bustle of big cities.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      That’s right Inna! Bansko is the perfect quaint little town for a relaxing escape.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you Alan. You are right! When your day starts with a delicious fresh breakfast prepared with the sweetest of smiles you know the trip is a good one 🙂

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thanks for your comment Smita! Yes, Bansko is totally worth a visit when the weather is fine 🙂

  16. renata - www.byemyself.com Reply

    I didn’t even know Bulgaria was a skiing destination – but there are mountains there, so it totally makes sense. I’m not skiing, though, so I’ll check #4 off the list first: Spaaaa!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Bansko is one of the most popular ski resorts this side of Europe. But we hear you, Renata. A day at the spa is closer to our idea of a winter activity too 😉

  17. Good to know, that there’s a lot to do aside from skiing. Walking and sightseeing in Bansko is really breathtaking based on your pictures. Haven’t been in Bulgaria, these are really helpful tips.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you Laurence, we’re so glad we inspired a potential future trip of yours!

  18. Bankso seems so charming and your photos really captured this – I’ve never given Bulgaria much thought but you’ve certainly changed my mind. Really enjoy reading your post

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you so much Mel! Bulgaria is worth a trip. It’s extremely affordable and full of hidden gems!

  19. Bansko sounds like such a beautiful place, I’d love to be sipping wine while relaxing at a mehana after a day of wandering the streets of the old town.

  20. As an architecture passionate, I found the Razlog tower a very interesting building. Do you know the name of the firm that realized it?

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      The Razlog Tower fascinated us too, Federica. However, we didn’t seem to find this kind of info I’m afraid.

  21. Jenn | By Land and Sea Reply

    I love that towns like these offer so much more for visitors than just skiing. This makes the destination really well rounded and exciting!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Our thoughts exactly Jenn! That’s why we liked Bansko so much.

  22. I think I would enjoy eating at a mehanas very much! How are the meat-based dishes usually prepared?

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey Jimmy, mehanas are traditional and cosy indeed. Meat served there is mostly grilled.

  23. Honestly, I would come to Bansko just to visit the old town! It looks so cozy on your photos, and I love places like that! Hopefully, one day I get to visit, skiing or not 🙂

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you for your comment Zenja! The Old Town was one of our favourite things about Bansko too.

  24. This town looks like such a peaceful place. I don’t ski but I would definitely love to explore Banko and try some local food at one mehana!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey there, that’s what we loved about Bansko too. You can have fun all year round, with or without skiing 🙂

  25. Wow- I had no idea this area was so beautiful! It looks like there is a lot to do besides ski. I love the architecture- so stunning!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you for your comment! Bansko has a bit of everything: traditional architecture, exquisite wine, amazing natural landscapes and the list goes on 🙂

  26. The 5-star spas are perhaps a bit above my tiny travellers budget, BUT I’d for sure try out the local wines. Yummie! Thanks for sharing, it sounds like a great place to visit besides playing around in the snow! 🙂

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      So glad you enjoyed our article Noraly, thanks! We’re no luxury travellers ourselves but a day at the spa is actually really affordable in Bansko.

  27. OMG girls! This is such a beauty! Thanks to you, now I know there’s more than “skiing” in Bansko lol!
    As a photographer, I must say congrats to the amazing pics you share! well done!

    Cheers from Argentina 🙂

    – Maria

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Wow Maria, thank you for your lovely words! We are so happy that you like Katerina’s shots that much. We’d love to travel to Argentina by the way 😉

  28. Pingback: Event recap: Bloggers On Top – the travel bloggers unconference in Bulgaria - Travel Massive Blog

  29. Can’t believe I’ve never heard of this place before! Looks like there such a variety of things to do. Love the old town pics 🤗

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you Sam! It’s so good to know that you enjoyed our article and that we introduced you to yet another beautiful corner of this world 🙂

  30. This is a completely new place for me. Never knew Bansko existed. And what a place it is! Looks so pretty and medieval. I would love to visit the Holy Trinity Church and eat at a traditional Mehana.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hi Soumya! Bansko is a very affordable destination and I’m sure you’d love a relaxing trip there!

  31. I went skiing in Bansko 14 years ago! Really cool to see photos of it not covered in snow. Would love to go back there in summer. Specially as I have a taste for wine these days, haha.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hi Alex! It’s true, it’s hard to find photos of snow-free Bansko on the Internet. Yet it is a picturesque town well worth a visit any time of year. We want to go back in summer so as to hike those beautiful mountains. OK, for the wine too! 😉

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