I adore visiting Bansko in the summer. The town fascinates with an incredible spirit, attractive sights and mountain hikes, good hotels and places to eat.
Bansko is a famous ski resort in Bulgaria. However, the weather is amazing here in summer! So, don’t miss out on the glorious sunshine and enjoy the outdoors. It is located 156 kilometers south of the capital Sofia and the driving from Sofia to Bansko takes about 2 hours.
This article is dedicated to the best summer activities in Bansko and nearby. I have personal impressions of the all places below. I recommend them as great things to do in Bansko out of the active ski season. If you have not been to Bansko – read the brief information about each of the sites and you may find a reason to visit the town. The post will definitely help you uncover the hidden gems and delightful experiences that Bansko offers in summertime.
My first visit in Bansko happened in a hot summer almost 20 years ago. At that time the town was very small, and many of its current outskirts were pastures and meadows. Then I remembered two things: the enormous silhouette of the Pirin Mountains as a beautiful background, throwing its shadow, and the imposing church of the Holy Trinity.
Recently, I have been in Bansko several times, mostly in summer and with a plan for hiking.
Do you know that in 2010 Bansko received the high award “winter capital of the Balkans” at the international tourism fair in the Serbian town of Novi Sad.
Table of contents
Top 15 hings to do in Bansko in Simmer
Have a look at my guide on what to do in Bansko in summer.
Stroll through the small central streets in Bansko
If it is your first time in Bansko, start with a walk along the streets around the central square. The calderums, the houses with typical old-fashioned architecture, the massive church and the unique background of Pirin Mountains will immerse you in the atmosphere of the town.
Just next to the main square in Bansko there is another square with a massive monument of Paisii Hilendarski – an clergyman, Bulgarian revival, and the author of old History of Bulgaria, born in Bansko.
Church of the Holy Trinity
Going to (or just passing through) Bansko and not visiting the imposing church of the Holy Trinity is like going to Rome and not seeing the pope 🙂 . The church is one of the town symbols and it used to be the largest church in Bulgaria before the “St. Alexander Nevski” cathedral in Sofia was built.
The church was built in 1835 by local masters, with local donations, following the initiative of the local merchant Lazar German. To have the right to build a church, people from Bansko buried an icon and a cross in a yard around to prove to the Turks that there was an earlier church in this place before. Such were the rules then – the Turks allowed a temple to be built only on the remains of an older temple. The impressive tower-bell was built a bit later – in 1850.
Architecturally, the church is a three-nave basilica without a dome. The interior is in Baroque style. Great attention deserves also the beautiful iconostasis.
Next to the church of the Holy Trinity is Neofit Rilski’s house-museum.
Admire the House-museum Neofit Rilski
It is located near the church of Holy Trinity and was the home of the Bulgarian Revival writer Neofit Rilski. He came from the famous Benin family and thus the house is also known as the Benin House.
Visit the House-museum of Nikola Vaptsarov
This is the birth house of one of my favorite Bulgarian poets, Nikola Vaptsarov, born in 1909, and shot dead in 1942.
Opened in 1952, the house-museum is among the first museums in the Pirin region and marks the beginning of the museum activities in Bansko. It is located on the central square and is part of the famous 100 sites.
View the Art Gallery
The Art Gallery is located in the central town square of Bansko, near the house-museum of Nikola Vaptsarov. In the gallery you can see a lot of paintings by Bulgarian authors – popular and not so.
Go to the Painted church near Bansko
This is an archaeological site, not far from Bansko – very close to the Pirin Golf Club. It is remnants of an Early-Christian Basilica dated back to 5th-6th century, a monastery building and a smaller church dating back to 13th century. Once upon a time, the church was beautifully decorated and painted, and the name of the object came from there. Unfortunately, the church was destroyed during a large fire in 14th century. Remnants were investigated during the period 2006-2008.
Unfortunately, you can not see much of the Painted Church, currently – the object is fenced, which is normal, but there is no one to open for visits. You could only look through the fence.
Visitor center of Pirin National Park
In the visitor center you could learn more about the park itself, the plant and animal species, and the hiking routes in Pirin Mountains.
Pirin National Park covers most of the mountain and is one of the three national parks in Bulgaria. There are two natural reserves within the National Park – Bayuvi Dupki and Yulen. Pirin National Park is part of UNESCO’s natural heritage since 1983.
See the Baikusheva fir
Baikusheva fir is the oldest coniferous tree in Bulgaria, and its age is over 1300 years. The tree was named by Kostadin Baikushev a forester, who discovered it in 1897 and described it. The Baikusheva fir is located near the road between Bunderitsa and Vihren huts – there is a sign and a mini eco path to the tree.
Climb the Vihren Peak
The Vihren Peak, 2914 meters high, is the highest one in Pirin Mountains. One of the most popular routes for its climbing starts from Vihren hut. The hut can be reached by car on a narrow asphalt road. The hiking route from the Vihren hut to the Vihren peak takes about 2 hours and a half without considering the breaks.
Muratov Peak, one of the most attractive hikes around Bansko in summer
Muratov Peak, 2669 meters high, is one of the most panoramic Pirin Mountains peaks. The route for climbing to Muratov peak also starts from Vihren hut. Despite the fact that Muratov peak is lower than Vihren, the climbing to Muratov Peak is a way more difficult, because the paths are more stony and steep. However, the views of Muratov Peak are extremely beautiful.
The Muratoto Lake is part of the Banderitsa Circus and is situated at the foot of Muratov Peak. Near the lake is Hvojnaty peak as well. The route to Muratov Peak passes near the Muratovo Lake. It is about one hour walking from Vihren hut to the lake.
Visit the Nameless Town
The Nameless town is an interesting and quite unknown place between Bansko and Dobrinishte, very suitable for visiting in summer . You will see there the remains of an ancient city aged over 3500 years. It is believed that here lived the Thracian Dai tribe, described by Homer as very bold and majestic.
Waterfall St. Nicholas
There are tall rocks near the Nameless Town, at the foot of which runs a lush river. You can hear the sound of water as far as from the fortress. A little further downstream, the river forms a small but interesting waterfall, named after the surrounding area – St. Nicholas.
Go to the church “St. St. Teodor Tiron and Teodor Stratilat “
In the village of Dobarsko, located about 20 km north of Bansko, there is a very interesting small church, built and painted in 1614. The church is a museum now and a cultural monument. What makes it unique is the many strange symbols and frescoes (over 460 in total) that have been preserved over the years.
Attend at least one of the so many events in Bansko
Throughout the year a lot of interesting events happen in Bansko, many of which have become traditional. Some of them are: Bansko Jazz Fest, Bansko Opera Fest, Bansko Film Fest, spectacular opening of the winter tourist season …
I will not exaggerate if I say that during each of my visits to Bansko in summer I have come across an event.
Hotels in Bansko
There are many hotels and guest houses in Bansko. I am going to share a few accommodation places that I used during my dozens of visits to Bansko.
The first hotel in Bansko that I can recommend is a 4-star Grand Hotel Bansko. It is located almost at the entrance of the town on the road to Dobrinishte. There you will enjoy superb food and very good service. Click here to book.
If you prefer to pamper yourself in a luxurious setting, immerse yourself in a rich spa and start your day with a rich and varied breakfast, then head to Lucky Bansko Aparthotel. Have a look for accommodation options here. You can read my review here.
Greenwood Hotel. It is located in the Pirin Golf Club area, not far from the Painted Church, mentioned above. The hotel is 4 stars, the atmosphere is pleasant – the rooms are equipped with a kitchenette, there is a spa center, besides the standard accommodation, the hotel also offers all-inclusive packages. Book here.
Of course, the most avid mountaineers prefer to stay in the two high mountain chalets above Bansko – Banderitsa hut and Vihren hut due to the proximity of the routes and the charm of sleeping in the embrace of the mountain.
3 guest houses in Bansko with rating 9+/10 and price per night less than 50 EUR.
Restaurants in Bansko
I can not think of a restaurant in Bansko where they do not cook well – at least I did not have such a case. However, let me mention some of the eating places I have tried: Momini Dvori – at the central square; tavern Oreha, restaurant Orlovo gnezdo near the square, Damianitsa bistro, Chevermeto tavern. In addition, you can go to the little Coconut Cafe and try out their nice smoothies.
And more logistics
If you need an office space, take advantage of the open space of Coworking Bansko. It is a a central hub for digital nomads and freelancers. The premises are located very close to the Bansko main square.
In the article I showed the most interesting places and activities in the winter Balkans’ capital. Embrace the sunny weather and enjoy a memorable summer holidays in Bansko.
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