The place most Europeans go skiing is so much more than some mountains to slide on. When people think of Bansko, they say “Oh, that ski resort in Bulgaria… I heard about it.” But there is so much more to this magical place. Read my honest opinion on why you should visit Bansko in summer, too.
Yes, that was me a few months ago. Looking back, I declare myself an ignorant traveller. Bansko, the hidden summer jewel from the Pirin Mountains, has lakes and rivers to explore, breathtaking landscapes for mountain enthusiasts, thermal baths, culture and traditions to discover.
Visit Bansko in summer to enjoy the nature, the history and the welcoming serenity of the town
For the past few years, the Bansko community has been growing and expanding its touristic shape, to attract seasons all year long, and for good reason. Locals are not just friendly owners of a comfortable accommodation for sports enthusiasts, but they are talented craftsmen, winemakers, sculptures and painters, and great cooks and full of tales hosts.
Wondering on those paved streets, people like George the carpenter, who is also a master of rakia, a traditional Bulgarian drink will welcome you into their home, tell you stories from long ago and show you their crafts. We visited George, who is the owner of a hotel, carves wood, paints and makes all kind of home needed crafts. And had the best rakia for you to taste.
History plays a big role in the community, and there are quite a few houses to visit and learn about, while you are dropping by. There is no other time to do so, then on a sunny afternoon.
The central part of the town was recently restored, making it easier to admire the paved streets, the old houses and mountain landscape. It’s like a real size postcard walk. But don’t get carried too far away, because you need to stop and taste the red wine, that the locals have for you to taste.
No visit is complete without a proper traditional meal
And after a good wine tasting, a delicious dinner will most likely happen, as the traditional Bulgarian restaurants start to switch on the lights. Unfortunately, as most East European countries, to the centre of the Bulgarian cuisine, you will find animal products, but there is a good side.
They are also orthodox. Long story short, orthodox people have some traditional vegan dishes, because the religion asks for this. They have some fasting periods when they are not allowed to eat animal products, especially before the most important religious celebrations, Christmas and Easter.
It’s called “post”, I found it’s the same in all orthodox country. While not many people know what vegan means, they all know the word “post” and will understand that you don’t want any animal products. But you can expect all sorts of vegetable dishes and bread with different spreads. Not many vegan deserts, except fruits.
What not to miss in Bansko if you’re a vegan
And for all vegans visiting Bansko, there is a great news. There is a small, special place called Coconut. It is a smoothie shop run by Dimi and Lacho, and it so instagramable, the special potions made right in front of you are worthy of at least an Instagram story. Plus, it’s delicious.
Before getting there I’ve heard only of Kempinski Resort, which is a 5* hotel, open all year long. Spa included for guests. Quite an impressive location, for such a small town.
But what makes Bansko an all-year attraction is more than its apparent beauty.
Why is Bansko becoming more famous each day? It isn’t all about the people, the landscapes and the culture. Because the community can host travellers all year long. Digital nomads and wanderers have a co-working space and most importantly it’s an accessible and inspirational place to retreat to. I sometimes feel like I want to run away before society brainwashes me, again.
And for some reason, being there made me feel safe. I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in the humming city. I need to know there are places like this one, where I can escape before I completely lose my mind.
If the last phrases seemed like mad woman talk, please ignore it.
As a disclaimer, I have to confess how I’ve learnt about this place. I was there in October, to attend an unconference blogging event. As for the short while I was around, all the above-mentioned things and events happened. That is what I call living passionately, with meaning. Also, I hope you get why one must visit Bansko in summer too.
I hope you get a bit of its taste through my amateurish photos. If not, there is only one thing left to do: You have to go and explore it by yourself.