Bansko, a charming little town in Bulgaria, is famous for its ski resort. But what do you do in Bansko when ski season is over?
I visited Bansko in May, just a few weeks after the ski season officially ended. That meant that the tourists had already left and the town was very quiet and peaceful.
I came there to work at Coworking Bansko and wrote an entire blog post all about my great digital nomad experience there.
During the first two weeks of May, the sun was out most days, but the weather was cool and the nights were pretty cold.
There was still snow on the mountain tops. Everywhere you look you’ll see those gorgeous snowy peaks. They make the Bansko experience a real joy.
Because spring is off-season, it’s a perfect time to visit Bansko if you want a super chilled atmosphere. The town is quiet, there are few cars on the roads and not too many people on the streets. It’s very relaxing and time seems to slow down…
Where is Bansko – Bansko Map
So what can you do in Bansko in springtime?
Take the Bansko Free Tour of the Old Town
One of the first things you want to do when you arrive in Bansko is take the Bansko Free Tour.
It will give you a wonderful introduction to the town and some of its highlights.
The tour is an initiative by local guides who will take you to the charming Old Town area in the centre of Bansko.
As with any walking tour, you’ll learn a lot about the history of the place, and your guide will put the various monuments and buildings in a cultural context.
The tour takes about 1.5-2 hours. Don’t forget to bring your camera, because the stone-paved streets of the Old Town and the old, preserved buildings are simply magical.
You’ll also receive the Bansko Guide, a pocket size leaflet with info on the city, its restaurants (plus discount coupons), museums and other local attractions.
A free tour, for those unfamiliar with the concept, is a tip-based tour. At the end of the tour, decide how much you’d like to pay the guide.
Check out the full details, times and meeting point on the Bansko Free Tour website.
Activities in nature – Hiking, walking, biking, rafting
The proximity of nature to the town is one of the most attractive things about Bansko.
The nature is indeed remarkable and there are different activities you can take part in.
There are quite a few walking and hiking trails that you can enjoy in springtime.
You won’t be able to go to the top of the mountains, as they are still snowy, but you can still hike in the mountains and enjoy the splendid scenery.
Check out the list of walks by the Bansko Tourist Information Office or ask people from the Coworking Bansko community to recommend some trails. Some members have been living in Bansko for a long time and are happy to share their knowledge.
You can also go mountain biking around Bansko. Just hire a bike and go explore Mount Pirin while cycling.
Check out the local MTB Group to find out more info about biking routes and to join a riding group.
Rafting in the Struma River is another cool activity that you can do in spring. Check out this video by Sebastian Kinzlinger who went rafting with fellow members from Coworking Bansko:
The natural hot springs near Bansko are very popular. It’s a short ride from the town.
If you join Coworking Bansko (which I highly recommend), you’ll be able to join their weekly trip to the hot springs. You want to be in their private members’ Facebook group to be notified about it.
If you’re into art and cultural travel like me, you’ll want to check out some of Bansko’s museums.
Bansko has some interesting museums and galleries and if you take the Bansko Free Tour, the guide will show you some of them along the way.
They are all located quite close to each other in the town centre and the Old Town.
Here are some that I liked in particular:
International Art Bansko
This is a wonderful gallery right in the centre of town. It’s a massive space with an impressive display over three floors with hundreds of artworks.
You’ll find mostly paintings, but also prints, metal art, jewellery, photography and more. The diversity in styles is fascinating.
The artists are mostly from Bulgaria, but there are international artists represented as well.
The owner speaks English and will give you a warm welcome when you enter.
Visit the gallery’s site for more details and more art.
A beautiful and interesting preserved 19th century house, where you can see the old furniture, wonderful wall paintings and artefacts and appreciate the architecture.
They’ll ask you when you enter what language you speak and will play a recording for you in that language. Kind of like an audio guide, but without the headphones.
Walk form one room to the next as you listen to the recording and get a glimpse into how people used to live.
Historical and Ethnographic Museum – Radonova House
You can learn more about the history of Bansko at the ethnographic museum, housed in a 19th century building.
It features archaeological findings, a beautiful display of traditional costumes and textile and more local artefacts.
I learnt that Bansko had a golden age of commerce and wealth, and that some prominent Bulgarian intellectuals and artists came from Bansko.
You’ll find text in English throughout the museum so it’s easy to follow the exhibition.
The Bansko Sunday Market
The colourful market is a lovely place to visit on Sundays and stock up on fruit, vegetables, nuts, herbs and much more.
Every Sunday from 8 am in the town centre, locals sell fresh produce at friendly prices.
You want to arrive early to enjoy the best range of foods on offer. The market closes down in the early afternoon.
Enjoy the silence and relax
Just relax! Put this very important item on your bucket list and thank me later 🙂
In spring the town has fewer tourists and is very quiet and peaceful.
A few minutes walk from the town centre there’s a large green park that is perfect if you want to chill out without going too far into the mountains.
Coming to Bansko in spring is a fantastic opportunity to unwind, experience life without stress and to take time to think and reflect without any disturbance.
Things to do in Bansko in Summer and Winter
I haven’t experienced Bansko during summer and winter, so I’m going to rely on what I’ve been told by people I met during my stay.
In summer tourists come back to Bansko, as there are many hiking, biking, white water rafting and climbing activities that are popular during the summer.
It doesn’t get too hot, but it’s hot enough to enjoy the outdoors.
For more details, check out the article 7 Reasons To Get Outdoors in Bansko This Summer.
The obvious reason to visit Bansko in winter is of course the ski resort, which is one of the most popular resorts in this part of Europe.
Skiing and snowboarding are the main activities to enjoy in winter. You can also hire a snowmobile or go ice skating.
If you don’t know how to ski, there are ski schools in Bansko where you can learn.
If you’re looking for an activity that doesn’t require any experience, try snowshoe walking with a local guide.
Where to stay in Bansko
Bansko is quite small and walkable. You can walk almost everywhere quite easily.
If you’re visiting for the nature activities, look for places closer to the Gondola ski lift. Otherwise, it would be nice to stay around the Old Town.
Both areas have some local restaurants and shops, though during the spring some are closed as there are not enough tourists visiting.
TripAdvisor has listings of the of hotels, vacation rentals, B&Bs etc. and there are plenty of them all over Bansko.
If you’re going to join Coworking Bansko, I strongly recommend you talk to them about accommodation.
They have an “Easy Landing Pack” which includes accommodation, airport transfer, a local sim card and more. They can also give good advice and recommend guesthouses and other places to stay.