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John Chadwick
Posted: 21/03/17
Good Value
Overall rating: 4 stars
John Chadwick
Visited: March 2017

Just back from Bansko and once again great snow conditions compared to other more expensive resorts. It was my fifth time to Bulgaria and I have never had bad conditions and usually at some point in the holiday ski in the snow. Queues can be bad for the gondola from the town to the ski area and last year had to be at the gondola for 8am to be in ski school for 10am and many skiers resorted to taxis which is a hair raising experience. This year because it was later in the season and most Travel companies had stopped operating for the season, queues were a lot better queuing for just 30 minutes. The nursery school rope drag is also a long queue. Ski school is cheap and very good and worth attending especially if you are skiing alone. However, the instructors do expect a £20 per person tip at the end of the week.

Brits are no longer the majority of skiers in Bulgaria. There is lots of Russians, Turks, Israelis, Moldovians, Bulgarians and people from many other countries near-by.
Bansko is a large party town and drinks are cheaper so expect lots of drunks and loud music waking you up at 4am. On the coach from the airport it seemed every second person was intoxicated and despite Children on board it did not curb their language or adult conversation. If you are going for the partying be aware Bansko has a reputation for many illegal vices and many of the people running these should be given a wide berth.

Prices are a lot cheaper than Western Europe and it gives you opportunities to taste other codes of the sport such as snow boarding, cross country skiing, snow mobiles, etc.
Overall, Bulgaria is a good value holiday, but you will have to put up with many frustrations you would not normally have in other countries.

Slopes:
3 stars
Accommodation:
4 stars
Eating:
3 stars
Apres:
4 stars
Value for money:
5 stars
Stewart Phillips
Posted: 15/03/17
Great beginner area
Overall rating: 4 stars
Stewart Phillips
Visited: March 2017

You get what you pat for in Bulgaria, even more so than other resorts. I booked superior skis and 1 to 1 lessons for my 7 year old son through the Head shop on the main road in Bankso, and I can't praise any of it enough. The Head equipment was top draw, and the guys took time ensuring it was all setup correctly and fitted.
The gondola is a known bottleneck, but there are many different alternatives, such as the free shuttle bus or even a taxi for a few pounds. Either wait in the queue or do something about it, don't stand in the queue then bitch. The resort is aimed at beginners, so the beginner area and blue runs get busy (shock horror), but otherwise the skiing is fine. Yes it's limited for an experienced skier, but I doubt you'd come here if you were an experienced skier.
Saying that, the off-piste between the trees is some of the best i've seen anywhere in Europe.
The prices on the hill are more expensive than in the town (aren't they everywhere), but off as much choice and quality as anywhere in France, at about 1/4 of the price.
The town itself is a bit of a party place, but all the locals are friendly, and I didn't come across any issues with my 7 year old son. Plenty of places to eat/drink, Penguins and Amigos bar, but by far the best place is 'The Log House'. Friendly staff and great food/drink.
Overall, as a cheap ski holiday to see if my son liked it (it cost us both all in about £1600), I can't think of anywhere better. If you went to Chamonix last year and Verbier the year before, then probably best to stay away.

Slopes:
4 stars
Accommodation:
4 stars
Eating:
4 stars
Apres:
4 stars
Value for money:
5 stars
Clive Cwaczko
Posted: 09/03/17
The Lakeland Crew-13
Overall rating: 2 stars
Clive Cwaczko
Visited: March 2017

On package holiday with Balkan holidays with ski hire included.Skis are basic as we all chose for advanced skis.Ski technicians very rude and incompetent and incapable of setting skis safely,e.g.:1 pair of skis was set up with 4 different binding tensions.This followed by minimum of 1 hour queue for gondola,and followed by badly maintained and dangerously overcrowded ski slopes.Recommendations from our group would be avoid Bulgaria and head somewhere else even it's a bit dearer.This resort is run down and not fit for purpose.

Slopes:
2 stars
Accommodation:
4 stars
Eating:
4 stars
Apres:
3 stars
Value for money:
1 star
Dan Garner
Posted: 25/02/17
Great half term weeks skiing, conditions best early morning
Overall rating: 3 stars
Dan Garner
Visited: February 2017

Just returned from our 3rd trip to Bansko with the kids and have the same mixed feelings as in previous years. It's a decent resort with excellent value for money, but it's not without flaws.
The main gondola is a bottleneck that has been well documented, the Pirin forest is a national park and there is strong resistance to construction of a 2nd gondola. This also prevents opening up of the mountain which is a massive shame as it appears they could double the number of runs. You must be at the gondola for 8am sharp!! Arrive after 8.15am and you can queue for 2 hours, but there are other options- You can purchase VIP queue passes (15 Euros/day), drive up the mountain and park (6 Euros/day) or take a taxi (5 Euros per person). Be aware that if you ski down the home run in the morning you have to re-join the back of the 2 hour queue which is ludicrous.
Despite it being UK half term we didn't experience any issues with queuing on the mountain or overcrowding of the pistes. There is a good selection of blues & reds making this an excellent resort for beginners & families, there is limited skiing for experts. Runs are well groomed & mostly tree-lined with conditions best in the morning. The kids loved ski school and kindergarten, tuition was very good so they progressed well. Food on the mountain is simple local fare but generally good. Dining out in the evening we really enjoyed Victoria, Log House, Irish Harp, Penguins and Baryakova Tavern. Superb local wine! Apres ski is better than in previous years, Happy End bar at the end of the home run has a band and is always lively.

Bansko is like Andorra was in the 90's. There are broken pavements, half finished hotels and slightly sleazy nightlife. On the positive side it's cheap and cheerful, has decent skiing and attracts a good crowd of families and younger groups. It's never going to be Val D'Isere or Kitzbuhel but when you look at what everything costs it's worth considering. We will go again, the kids loved it

Slopes:
3 stars
Accommodation:
5 stars
Eating:
3 stars
Apres:
3 stars
Value for money:
5 stars
Beat the crowds with an early start
Beat the crowds with an early start
Great conditions for late Feb
Great conditions for late Feb
Home run looking from the Kempinski
Home run looking from the Kempinski
Night view of the home run
Night view of the home run
Jane Westgarth
Posted: 14/02/17
Beautiuful Mountain, but overloaded
Overall rating: 2 stars
Jane Westgarth
Visited: February 2017

This could be good, for a couple of days which we thought, when we went. However sadly, there are too many people on the small area to ski safely. The pistes are not cared for sufficiently especially as they do not get full sun either, so there is a build up of ice banks, the snow very easily carves up and makes the runs challenging, (challenging not a problem), except for the ice banks and the people. The skiers just stop anywhere on the piste at any time, then set off without looking upwards. I have never seen so many collisions, which thankfully as you cannot ski too fast, there didn't appear to be any serious problems. The queue for the only gondola up the mountain, is breathtaking 1-2 hours or longer wait, so if you can get up the mountain early, some good skiing could be had before 11am, saying this 2 hours and everything is done a couple of times. Food well don't rush there for this, there is one of the very few (I think 4 restaurants on the mountain) which was good 180. The service is lovely, really good. Bansko in the gondola area, there are some good bars, which play very good live music, but it is a 80/20 male to female (and that is being generous to the females), beer is cheap. The area is cheap looking, mini fairgrounds and lots of flashing lights, pubs inside nicer than you would think and the staff are lovely. Our hotel 5*, yes it had all the amenities to make it a 5* (and we were able to purchase a VIP lift pass to avoid the gondola queue (worth every penny) but it just wasn't a luxurious experience, very adequate though and very warm in the corridors. Sadly will not be coming back, as we could see even more hotels being built, which would even overload the mountain further - quite sad.

Slopes:
3 stars
Accommodation:
3 stars
Eating:
1 star
Apres:
4 stars
Value for money:
3 stars
Garry Fell
Posted: 12/02/17
Don,t Bother
Overall rating: 2 stars
Garry Fell
Visited: February 2017

Just returned after 1 week in Bansko and I can say I will not be returning,
This was our third time in Bulgaria after snowboarding in Borrovets in previous years we thought we would give Bansko a try and unfortunately it has turned out to be a boo boo of a resort

In My opinion the resort has totally outgrown its self, the lift system is completely inadequate and the que up to the slopes was over 2.5 hrs long making it impossible for my wife to get to her ski lessons for 10am unless you where prepared to start queuing before 730
The locals are rude at best and ski, snowboard beyond there capabilities crashing into who ever gets in there way whether it is man woman or child.
On the plus side we ate out every night and never had a bad meal but a good meal doesn't make a good ski holiday and I'll be paying a little more and heading else where from now on.

Slopes:
3 stars
Accommodation:
3 stars
Eating:
4 stars
Apres:
4 stars
Value for money:
2 stars
Chris Abbott
Posted: 05/02/17
Wont be going back
Overall rating: 2 stars
Chris Abbott
Visited: January 2017

Just returned back from Bansko after going with some friends who have been going there for the last 4 years.
The town has totally outgrown the amount of people it can safely accommodate upon the mountain.
I went into an advanced tuition group to work on fine tuning our carving techniques and I have never witnessed so many collisions and people totally out of control. Even our instructor was taken out twice.
Getting onto the pistes is another problem. If you are not at the bottom gondola system by 08.15, be prepared to queue for up to 1hr, 30 minutes.
It is a shame because the mountain has the space add additional runs and add a new and better Gondola to get more people up to the ski area quicker but the Bulgarian government will
not allow the company who are responsible for running the mountain "Ulan" to expand.
The group that I went with have now themselves had enough and have said as from next season, will be looking to go elsewhere due to the reasons I have stated above.

Slopes:
2 stars
Accommodation:
3 stars
Eating:
4 stars
Apres:
3 stars
Value for money:
3 stars
Paul Barnden
Posted: 02/02/17
Paul
Overall rating: 5 stars
Paul Barnden
Visited: January 2017

Stayed/staying at the Hotel Pirin in Basko. Food is better than expected for a Bulgarian Hotel but there are plenty of very good and reasonably priced restaurants in the town, Venture away from the fast food joints (which are really tasty by the way) on the roads leading to the Gondola and you'll get a great meal in a traditional old building with a log fire and peaceful surroundings. If you want some thumping music until dawn then the Happy End bar is probably where you'll end up, you can't miss it. Looks like a great club but I'm too old for all that. The Gondola has been upgraded in recent years but in the mornings it is still a nightmare. The last time I visited this resort I queued for TWO AND A HALF hours in the morning and it doesn't look much better now.If you're not taking lessons, go there at about 10:00 and there's hardly any queue. That's what I've been doing. Once on the mountain, there are virtually no queues for the chair lifts. Food and drink is reasonable and there are some good variations of runs. Several mogul fields, some fast reds, and a couple of steep but wide black runs.
Overall, I've had a great time and let's face it, compared to Western Europe, it's less than a third of the price!

Slopes:
4 stars
Accommodation:
4 stars
Eating:
5 stars
Apres:
4 stars
Value for money:
5 stars
Sam Vernitzki
Posted: 16/12/16
Awesome inexpensive ski resort!
Overall rating: 5 stars
Sam Vernitzki
Visited: February 2016

I'd have never supposed that Bulgaria has good ski resort. First of all i would mention available prices specially for accommodation. We were taking on lease one apartament together with 2 my friends during 7 days. We found and reserved it on "vput" web like airbnb but there is more offers in bulgaria and in bansko too. It ws absolutely reliably and honestly. We choosed our apartament on this service: https://vput.ru
In this service is included the opportunity to communicate online with owners and ask everything about accommodation. In additional our suite were placed in modern hotel with overall swimming pool, sauna, fitness room and rest room. It costed 25 euro for a one day. Prices in Bansko are low.
I liked to ski also. I'm not a professional skier but i'm sure you will enjoy there if you go.
I recommend to visit Bulgaria if you're looking for an inexpensive ski resort! You'll never regret about this by the way pirin mountains are incredible)) Also you should try bulgarian dishes, for example bulgarian soup tarator. I liked this ski resort!

Slopes:
4 stars
Accommodation:
5 stars
Eating:
5 stars
Apres:
4 stars
Value for money:
5 stars
Paul Morley
Posted: 20/02/16
Reasonable despite the warm weather, long queue for access
Overall rating: 3 stars
Paul Morley
Visited: February 2016

Our first time at Bansko and unless something changes with the gondola, it will be the last.

Unless you pay for a taxi (why should you having bought a lift pass?) the main gondola is the only access to the ski area. From about 0830 to 1100, you will queue up to 1.5 hours, which is a joke.

Once on the slopes the queues are not so bad for the chairlifts, if you move around and go to where the crowds aren't. Bear in mind that the blue slopes can get really crowded, and therefore rutted and turn into mogul fields, making them pretty tricky.

Bansko has had a poor winter so far, with warm temperatures and rain. However, they have near full snow-cannon coverage, and credit where it's due, they have kept the slopes open. The snow higher up is pretty good, the snow lower down is gets slushy in the afternoons. Some pistes are patchy but skiable.

A hidden gem is the chairlift with two pistes from the gondola mid-station. There are two black runs (one only short) and a red run ski-road to bypass the black section. These are very quiet - everyone just goes on to the main area, but it's a good bet to get off here, and spend 1-2 hours warming up before going on further - by which time everyone's gone to lunch and the pistes are quieter!

The skiing here is as good as anywhere we've seen in Austria, so if they sorted out the gondola capacity, and had a more normal winter, it would be great. The run down from the top of Todorka / Banderitza,2, is fantastic.

Everyone says that Bulgaria is really cheap, and while it is certainly cheaper than Austria, they have cottoned on to the going rates, and its not cheap any more.

Slopes:
4 stars
Accommodation:
5 stars
Eating:
5 stars
Apres:
5 stars
Value for money:
4 stars
Peter Bennett
Posted: 04/02/16
Dangerously overcrowded
Overall rating: 3 stars
Peter Bennett
Visited: January 2016

In Bansko at the moment and the resort is full of Turkish and serbians with little space on the main runs above the gondala which are way to overcrowded and dangerous, the only quiet runs to be had are at the mid station but they are a tough red and black run . Skiers here are not very considerate to others and basically do has they please on the pistes with a lot of them with very little control.
The gondala in the mornings has about a 2 hour queue no fun at all banskos success has spoilt the resort which I have been coming to for a few years has a second or third ski trip, will never come again at the end of January has surrounding countries around Bulgaria has holidays so avoid this time of year
. Hotels are still top notch and beers are cheap .
Bansko is regarded has a beginnings resort this is not the case the blues are quite hard and even become mogul fields in the afternoon,
To sum Bansko up its cheap good skiing to be had if you're a good skier and ok if not overcrowded.

Slopes:
3 stars
Accommodation:
5 stars
Eating:
3 stars
Apres:
4 stars
Value for money:
4 stars
Peter Bennett
Posted: 04/02/16
Dangerously overcrowded
Overall rating: 3 stars
Peter Bennett
Visited: January 2016

In Bansko at the moment and the resort is full of Turkish and serbians with little space on the main runs above the gondala which are way to overcrowded and dangerous, the only quiet runs to be had are at the mid station but they are a tough red and black run . Skiers here are not very considerate to others and basically do has they please on the pistes with a lot of them with very little control.
The gondala in the mornings has about a 2 hour queue no fun at all banskos success has spoilt the resort which I have been coming to for a few years has a second or third ski trip, will never come again at the end of January has surrounding countries around Bulgaria has holidays so avoid this time of year
. Hotels are still top notch and beers are cheap .
Bansko is regarded has a beginnings resort this is not the case the blues are quite hard and even become mogul fields in the afternoon,
To sum Bansko up its cheap good skiing to be had if you're a good skier and ok if not overcrowded.

Slopes:
3 stars
Accommodation:
5 stars
Eating:
3 stars
Apres:
4 stars
Value for money:
4 stars
Pets Pro
Posted: 02/02/16
Chain of Bad experiences don go there
Overall rating: 1 star
Pets Pro
Visited: January 2016

on arrival parking attendant working at Aldo Supermarket just past lights in center Bansko decided to extort money from me, i refused and threatened to call police he kicked my car door causing big dent and run away all caught on CCtv, I called police the two officers told me to go to the p. station the next 4 report, next day instead of skiing spent my time in the P.station surrounded by 6 police men and woman trying to explain what happened, they called interpreter saw the damage 2 car instead of instigating a report, just spent time chatting 2 each other not proceeding with anything mean while me standing around for hours looking lost, hourslater and thinking is this how i need 2 spend my skiing time, just had enough and left. Police corrupt didnt bother getting hold of the CCtv footage didnt bother arresting or questioning tall parking attendant working outside of Aldo supermarket maybe as he was Bulgerian and I was stupid foreigner, they did nothing just covered everything up with none active actions until I lost patience and left, for then case solved.
my wife would drive up every day to the bottom of the ski lifts to look after kids. parking is 12 leva or 6 euro per day, on the 5th day she paid as usual at the booth half way up mountain, parking it was full, no parking due 2competition she had to drove back walk bags,child 40 mins The next day with parking receipt complained to the lady at the booth in the road, told me my wife could have gone to a different parking site, itwas miles away from children s slopes we needed, I pointed this out to her, She just ignored me told mestill need 2 paydays parking willnot wave .complained main office Gondola security in Bansko town heavy looking security who looked like he could beat every body up whocomplaint refused with a lot of waffling, he new there was a competition that day!! lacking customer service, I suppose they are used to living under 1 party rule& mentality not changed much.

Slopes:
2 stars
Accommodation:
3 stars
Eating:
3 stars
Apres:
3 stars
Value for money:
1 star
Pets Pro
Posted: 02/02/16
Chain of Bad experiences don go there
Overall rating: 1 star
Pets Pro
Visited: January 2016

on arrival parking attendant working at Aldo Supermarket just past lights in center Bansko decided to extort money from me, i refused and threatened to call police he kicked my car door causing big dent and run away all caught on CCtv, I called police the two officers told me to go to the p. station the next 4 report, next day instead of skiing spent my time in the P.station surrounded by 6 police men and woman trying to explain what happened, they called interpreter saw the damage 2 car instead of instigating a report, just spent time chatting 2 each other not proceeding with anything mean while me standing around for hours looking lost, hourslater and thinking is this how i need 2 spend my skiing time, just had enough and left. Police corrupt didnt bother getting hold of the CCtv footage didnt bother arresting or questioning tall parking attendant working outside of Aldo supermarket maybe as he was Bulgerian and I was stupid foreigner, they did nothing just covered everything up with none active actions until I lost patience and left, for then case solved.
my wife would drive up every day to the bottom of the ski lifts to look after kids. parking is 12 leva or 6 euro per day, on the 5th day she paid as usual at the booth half way up mountain, parking it was full, no parking due 2competition she had to drove back walk bags,child 40 mins The next day with parking receipt complained to the lady at the booth in the road, told me my wife could have gone to a different parking site, itwas miles away from children s slopes we needed, I pointed this out to her, She just ignored me told mestill need 2 paydays parking willnot wave .complained main office Gondola security in Bansko town heavy looking security who looked like he could beat every body up whocomplaint refused with a lot of waffling, he new there was a competition that day!! lacking customer service, I suppose they are used to living under 1 party rule& mentality not changed much.

Slopes:
2 stars
Accommodation:
3 stars
Eating:
3 stars
Apres:
3 stars
Value for money:
1 star
Paul Ferrett
Posted: 22/04/15
Fab April skiing in Bansko
Overall rating: 4 stars
Paul Ferrett
Visited: April 2015

My wife booked a great value 1/2 board accommodation deal to Bansko before Christmas & I thought (having read previous reviews) that the queues would be awful and snow poor as this would be Easter week , but how wrong I was. The snow was fantastic, and there were NO lift queues or busy slopes. The resort is a bit on the scruffy side with not all bars / restaurants open & very quiet, but as we were with our 3 boys skiing together for the first time, it was ideal with swimming pool & hotel facilities virtually to ourselves.

Slopes:
4 stars
Accommodation:
5 stars
Eating:
3 stars
Apres:
2 stars
Value for money:
5 stars
David Cross
Posted: 23/03/15
Bansko
Overall rating: 4 stars
David Cross
Visited: March 2015

Heaps of snow, affordable resort perfect for beginner and intermediate on-piste skiiers.

Slopes:
4 stars
Accommodation:
5 stars
Eating:
4 stars
Apres:
1 star
Value for money:
5 stars
Peter Bennett
Posted: 06/02/15
Puts a shame
Overall rating: 3 stars
Peter Bennett
Visited: January 2015

Due to its own success it has become a bit of a shambles but still cheap but however an hour wait on the gondola if not there prior to 0830 hrs , runs are now overcrowded and dangerous too many straight runners out if control , winds shut the lifts quite often and the teaching is a joke , listed has a beginner resort but not true nothing to progress to once off the flats , most blues here would be listed has a red elsewhere espically in the afternoon when moguls appear , pistes are groomed only once the night before , I like the resort but I can ski difficult pistes if you can't avoid unless you like cheap beer and 1st class hotels 😊

Slopes:
3 stars
Accommodation:
5 stars
Eating:
3 stars
Apres:
4 stars
Value for money:
4 stars
David Colvin
Posted: 14/01/14
David Colvin
Overall rating: 4 stars
David Colvin
Visited: March 2013

Great fun and excellent value for money. Go with no preconceptions and enjoy yourself. A welcome relief from the pretentious resorts and prices of the trois vallees.
Excellent food (no horse meat scandals here with the delicious sausages) good beer at a £1 a pint and really nice chalet accommodation with the excellent Matt at Bansko Chalets.
The queue can be frustrating at the main gondola lift in the mornings but avoid the rush hour and you are fine.
Do try Georges home made Rakia (he squeezes the fresh oranges on the street close to the ski hire shops) and admire his new Everton scarf. Its just the thing to get the heart started at 9am.
Having skied for over 30 years in the Alps we feel Bansko is a very welcome option particularly if you want value for money and enough decent skiing for most people for a week. Take the plunge! We are going back in March 2014!

Slopes:
3 stars
Accommodation:
4 stars
Eating:
4 stars
Apres:
4 stars
Value for money:
5 stars
Peter Bennett
Posted: 06/12/13
bansko 2013
Overall rating: 3 stars
Peter Bennett
Visited: March 2013

went back again on a last minute deal to hotel bansko , hotel quite a distance from lifts but shuttle bus was good so not a problem no real queues on the mountain only problem was one day when wind shut the gondola, snow was good but towards the end of the week became that spring sticky snow , some idiots tearing down the pistes but you get that in all resorts ( i know has i am an instructor ) top tip if you have your own skis leave them at the base station there is a little storage room costs about £20 for the week and is staffed by a bulgarian devoted manchester united fan he is so helpful.
hotels once again spot on and food ok but cheap to eat out
worth a look

Slopes:
3 stars
Accommodation:
5 stars
Eating:
3 stars
Apres:
3 stars
Value for money:
5 stars
Peter Bennett
Posted: 25/02/13
not that bad , worth a visit
Overall rating: 3 stars
Peter Bennett
Visited: January 2011

bansko comes in for a lot of bad press on some of the forums here, hey it is not all that bad and i have skied all over the place , yes it is not the best but apart from when the ladies FIS downhill world cup was held there and yes the queues were bad at the lift station but apart from that sunday the lifts coped well with almost no queues on the pistes , snow was good and lots of it ,not the best groomed but i have seen worst in many alpine resort , hotels were some of the best i have stayed in and worthy off the 4* ratings , food is ok and the best part is the cost to get there , the lift pass price is no rip off compared to the alps or usa, so go with a open mind and give it a whirl.

Slopes:
3 stars
Accommodation:
4 stars
Eating:
3 stars
Apres:
3 stars
Value for money:
5 stars
Artid Duni
Posted: 01/02/13
Queue City
Overall rating: 1 star
Artid Duni
Visited: January 2013

Been there for New Year's Eve 2013.
Ski slopes are good with a lot of variations, nice small city with descent restaurants, also good food, good hotels with spacious rooms, but.... man, so many ques, queues, ques everywhere.
You want to take the gondola,... 1-1.5 hours of queue, if you decide to drive up there... two hours of queue to get to the parking,( there is this lady that first takes the money from you than walks to her kiosk to bring you the change than walks back to the kiosk to take the receipt, than walks back to give it to you...), than they tell you you have to park 1 km from the ski center and walk there, than two to three hours of outdoors queue to get the ski pass (that was the most terrible) and even if you arrive to the window they surprisingly tell you you should pay in local currency which you have no place where to exchange but the black market. So another queue.... And to end the perfect "queue day" you get the lady's toilet queue.... I'm serious, I was glad to be a man that day watching my wife waiting about 30 minutes for the lady's room.
So I'm definitely not going there again. Not recommended absolutely! At list not on days like this.

S Taylor
Posted: 08/12/12
Truly Appalling
Overall rating: 1 star
S Taylor
Visited: December 2006

What follows relates to a few years ago but I understand it has not changed that much,,,

I can only assume that those who have posted positively about Bansko have hardly ever skied before or are one of the seeming millions who have invested heavily in the resort to exploit others and, ultimately, to saturate a new market.

There are way too many superficially nice-looking (but scratch beneath the surface and you'll find it is all gloss) hotels and chalets strewn across what is effectively a massive building site. Getting there from Sofia took 3 hours because the roads were so terrible - probably should have taken one hour. Packs of stray dogs roam the streets (honestly) and you cannot walk down one without being accosted by a restauranteur coecing you in to his den. The vast majority of waiters, waitresses and shopkeepers have no conception of customer service and there is very little in the way of nightlife.

The skiing is very limited and the single lift feeding the mountain is totally unacceptable - the reports of 2 hour waits are not out of keeping with my experience and the behaviour of those in the "queue" (a real misnomer) is terrible.

It is reasonably cheap but not THAT cheap - you would be much better-advised to spend an extra £100 and find a deal to somewhere more established.

I found it a fascinating experience as it was so bad and we were witnessing a country in clear transition from their Soviet past - if embracing Westernised and consumer values is what they want I wish them all the best and it was chastening to see such poverty so I don't want to be mean-spirited.

That said, never again!

Slopes:
2 stars
Accommodation:
2 stars
Eating:
1 star
Apres:
1 star
Value for money:
2 stars
Posted: 23/07/09
Bansko review
Ski Club member

I stayed in Bansko in February 2009 at Chalet Jora with a group of friends. This was our first ski trip and we chose Bansko mainly for the price but we were really pleasanlty surprised at how far our money went! Not only was the chalet fantastic but the town was great too, especially the bar crawl that our hosts took us on one night with numerous free shots!


The food at the chalet was really tasty and we were made to feel at home from the word go. I'd strongly recommend Bansko and I will certainly be going back to Chalet Jora next year.

Michael Smith
Posted: 23/02/09
Bansko review
Michael Smith

Bansko, no go! Ever again, Gondola queues totally unacceptable; an 8 man gondola is nowhere near big enough. Queues at the runs, again far too long. Think about the money they are taking from us each day, some of it should be ploughed back in to a get better lift system. Too many people for the runs available. Pistes packed and dangerous, un-groomed piste, what a waste of time. Transfer back to Sofia, took 3 hrs 45 mins. Went to Borovets 2 years ago far better, at least you don’t have to queue to get on the piste.

Posted: 08/05/08
Bansko review
Ski Club member

We stayed in Bansko in January in Chalet Soltir, a traditional Bulgarian house which has been renovated to high spec and is now a fully catered ski chalet. When we arrived the snow was fantastic and slopes were fairly quiet as it was just after Christmas. Our chalet hosts Mark and Amy knew of a great nursery slope for the kids where you could get the chair lift to the top. The food in the Chalet was amazing – we would return from skiing to a roaring log burning stove and a yummy cake ready for us to eat. Dinner consisted of a three course meal with all homemade food. We went out for dinner one night and we had a very good cheap meal - the salads are great. We also enjoyed all the little souvenir shops Bansko has to offer. All in all, a great experience in Chalet Soltir and in Bansko.

Clive Rawlings
Posted: 03/04/08
Bansko review
Clive Rawlings

Just returned from a week in Bansko over the Easter period. Wintry conditions greeted our arrival so the snow was great; the season seems pretty long. As a family of four we all found plenty of slopes to challenge us, and the concentration of the ski area means no real worries about losing better teenage skiers in the wrong valley!


We stayed at Hotel Perun; very good accomodation although the evening food was dull if edible. The Bulgarians vary in their approach to customer service but a smile and greeting usually received a good response. Holiday reps were also helpful. There is plenty of development in the resort. We would thoroughly recommended it for family skiing, value and fun. It may be worth trying self catering apartments.

Clive Rawlings
Posted: 17/02/08
Bansko review
Clive Rawlings

Tried Bansko for the first time during half term 2006 with myself and two eldest boys (14 and 10 at time). We had a great time. Skiing good quality for intermediates and beginners. The accomodation which was 5 minutes from the gondola was of good standard and the food in the local mehanas hearty.

Decided to return with the whole family Easter 2007 and enjoyed very good bed and breakfast at Hotel Lion. Snow was good although skiing at the bottom slopes a little soft toward the end of the week (mid April). For a family of 6 including nanny the price of some £2500 for everything is too god to miss given the quallity of the snow and the length of the season. Decided to go again this year at Easter. Sure there is a lot of development going on and the sooner the new resort is complete the better it will be, and the customer service can be variable (mind you nothing to compare with the dismissive attitude of the French at many French resports I have visited!!!) and if you want to be 'seen skiing' this is not the place for you - yet.

However, for good easy skiing, up to date ski lifts etc and facilities, and good family value well worth a try. If you want to go posh - the Kempinski Grand is first class and does a wicked club sandwich.

Posted: 12/04/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Backing up Hein of the 9 Mar. Been back a month and just found out I have had neaty £3k taken from my account. ATM outside the Strazhite was definately dodgy. Probably would not have found out until end of April if it was not for a bank security check regarding another matter. Apart from that 2nd trip to Bansko this year was as good as the first.

Posted: 10/04/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Bansko is great! A top place for snowboarding. Had an amazing holiday there. Stayed in the hotel Perun and it was lovely. Wasn’t keen on the dinners at the hotel but restaurants were not expensive at all! Best advices don’t be put off by the closed doors in pubs and restaurants just go for it!

Posted: 10/04/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Bansko - great resort! Just don't use your card at a cash point! I've been back two weeks and just had £1500 worth of cash withdrawels made out of my account in Bansko! Also, stayed at Hotel Orphey - highly recommended

Posted: 20/03/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

As a complete 'snow virgin' (only had 4 lessons on a dry ski slope prior), I found Bansko a great experience for a first ski holiday. Only thing to let it down was the fact the Gondola shut down for 2 days out of the week as wind near the top station was too dangerous, annoying to say the least as it is the only way to any skiing areas in bansko. Secondly, if you look at the piste map, there are a few BLUE runs at the top, BEWARE - myself and my girlfriend went up 2 chairlifts to runs we thought should be OK for us, the runs start off as RED then go to BLUE (not marked on maps etc) as a result spent the best part of 1/2 hour scaling down the steep bit to get to the 'easy' bit!!! The only blue run really is the 'SKI ROAD' (run number 1) although it has sections which could pass as GREEN also. Bansko itself is a great town although not a lot to do really, especially on a 'gondola shut due to high winds' day. we stayed at the HOTEL ORPHEY which I can recommend 100 per cent. It is quite a way from the gondola station but 2 ski buses ( Ford transits!) take you there every 1/2 hour, takes about 5-7 mins approx. Watch out for 'MR GRUMPY' (heh heh!!!) Transfer takes about 3 hrs MAX from Sofia, and the roads are very bumpy in places, so prepare!!! Skiing conditions were great, nice soft snow, but could get icy in places, although slopes kept well groomed. Would I return again? - YES!!!

Posted: 15/03/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

In Bansko from the 4th to the 11th March. Stayed in the recently opened Hotel Lion. Fantastic hotel comparable with any four star hotel in UK or USA. Food was good not a chip in sight, good local fayre. Skiing was fantastic due to fresh snow and although the amount of pistes does not compare with other major European resorts the quality of them is excellent. There is plenty of scope for off piste and a snowboard park as well as the skiing. There is a lot of building work in progress but this didn't spoil our holiday. Unfortunately the amount of accommodation being built may make the slopes much busier next season. The gondola was busy in the mornings but it was worth getting up early to miss the queue and get the runs to ourselves for an hour or so. Having skied the majority of resorts in Europe and USA I would definitely return to Bansko. The people were friendly if you actually take the time to be nice to them and the old part of town had some fantastic (and cheap) Bulgarian restaurants.

Posted: 27/02/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Just returned from Bansko, a group of 40, of all ages and abilities, and agree with everyones comments below. We stayed at the kempinski Grand arena and for all its 5 star facilities, was the most miserable place in bansko due entirely to the most miserable staff and incompetant manager in europe. A member of our party awoke and found the bellboy in her room, at 3 in the morning with her phone, money and other valuables in his possesion. When we informed the manager he told us it was not true and attempted to cover up the whole event, even refusing to call the police, needless to say we all felt very safe in our rooms after this. This we later found out had not been the only reported event at this hotel. Bansko however is very cheap, many of the locals very friendly and the skiing is very good, I would return but stay somewhere else.

Posted: 21/02/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Bansko is ace. Been skiing in Andorra and Italy (Sestriere) previously, but found Bansko to be a hidden jewell. Town is split between olde worlde Bulgaria, and developing Alpine ski resort, so expect building! Cabin upto ski area takes 20min and queues do build up as its the only way up....not caused by locals...but by Western hotel dwellers all leaving their buffet breakfasts at the same time. Lifts start at 8.30 but Ski schools at 10am....hence the queues! Get yourself up early, the pistes are prepared, empty, and quite idyllic. The skiing was good, with plenty of cruising blues, challenging reds, and 1 black. my girlfriend has never skied before and managed every run except the black, but then again, neither did I (chicken). Probably not too good to learn from scratch, but definitely up to Western standards. Food in hotels was better than we were led to believe, plenty of options for veggies too. Restaurants were plenty, tho they are small, smoky....log fires, but incredibly cheap. We had 2 starters, salad, a large pizza, extra toppings, 2 large beers, and 2 cokes....16 lev....approx £5 Try that in Chamonix!!! Hotel Strazhite was ace, pool, sauna,steam etc In summary, get yourself there before it becomes another busy, over booked resort.... We'll be back next year.

Posted: 20/02/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Returned from bansko on the 11-feb 06. Collecting ski equipment on sunday morning an absolute nightmare, expect to wait aprox 2 hours in the queue. Once up on the mountain the skiing is great for an experianced skier, but beware the blue runs high up, these would scare a beginner to death. In western europe these would be reds, and some of the reds would be blacks. All runs are fairly well groomed. The piste map is a little confusing and the chair lifts do not indicate which runs they take you to so be careful. My wife and friends attended ski school which was excellent. We stayed at the hotel perun whose facilities were absolutely first class except for the food which is generally just acceptable. However its so cheap we ate out most nights. Lots of building work happening in resort, but this is to be expected, and didnt spoil the holiday. What did spoil the holiday however was having 4 sets of hire skis stolen from within the happy end bar at the base of the gondola, these cost our group nearly £600 to replace, which we had to pay immediately or our passports would be confiscated, please beware. The local police were helpfull but suggested it was quite common. On the whole whilst we enjoyed our time in bansko, we will not be going back. Western europe is worth the extra money. I am off to italy in march and look forward to making a comparison.

Posted: 13/02/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

My wife and I just came back from Bansko and we loved it. The ski facilities were much more modern than we expected. The old town is ancient and has a charm about it. The locals are friendly although you get the odd one that still needs to learn how to smile. As others have mentioned, make sure you reserve your lift pass in advance to. We hired an apartment right across the street from the lift and was the best location. It's new and modern and cost something like 280 pounds for the entire place. The resort is really really cheap. I would recommend Bansko.

Posted: 31/01/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Returned last week from my first trip to Bansko....absolutely brilliant. Good snow conditions, well groomed pistes, fantastic views up the mountains and friendly locals. Yes it is still a major building site and probably will be for the next two or three years. Bulgaria still very cheap in comparison to the rest of Europe. Only major queues on the gondola are at weekends when the locals come out to play and first thing in the morning. Avoid 9 - 10 am. Yes they could be controlled better, but so could the queues anywhere else in Europe. Prices will continue to rise that's acceptable... popularity dictates the cost. Would I go back, you bet and hopefully this season Bansko can only improve with the money being spent on the resort, but it beats Pamporovo hands down and I've being skiing there for the last 12 seasons. Only spent £250 for the week for two of us and we were out every night. Thoroughly enjoyed it!!!!

Posted: 13/01/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

I was there over New Year and know what Hew is talking about when it comes to the crowding at the gondola base. In fact, in my experience, the real long wait was for the lift pass on the first day (tip: apply in advance!), where the pushing and queue jumping was infuriating. Although the gondola queues seemed daunting, we usually ended up moving pretty quickly, and once up top, the crowds quickly dispersed. The lift pass situation can be remedied pretty easily if they have the will for it there - open up some more booths and make sure that people can't jump the queue (by the use of roped lanes). The skiing itself was great, with loads of fresh new snow. Lifts are as up-to-date as in a Western European resort and the pisting was good, so no criticisms there. Great fun and still cheap. Got to try the off-piste next time.

Posted: 13/01/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Just back from 8 days in Bansko, Bulgaria and although we thoroughly enjoyed the skiing there is one major drawback. All the ski areas are accessible from one point only half way up the mountain connected to the village by one gondola and for this the queues/scrums are terrible. We queued for over 1 1/2 hours one morning and found that most people just queue barged straight to the front whilst 'security' looked on! With 3 entrances converging on one stairwell leading to the gondola itself it's absolute grid lock and even small children were being elbowed out of the way. There is apparently a second gondola in the plans for 2006 but although this will help in the short term, with the rate that Bansko is developing and expanding (It's a virtual buidling site) the numbers going there to ski will increase at such a rate that they're going to need about 5 Gondolas to avoid these queues. The queues are the only reason that I would think twice about returning to Bansko for another ski holiday.

Posted: 11/01/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We ski as a family of five, our youngest is 11 with autism. He loved it. The infrastructure is superb, compares to anything else in Europe. I have skied in France, Austria, Spain, Finland, Romania and I have to say it is without doubt the best value for money. Or should I say it was. Now the major British tour companies have found it the prices have shot up, almost 40% in two years, its getting expensive and no doubt crowded. What a shame.

Posted: 04/01/06
Bansko review
Ski Club member

I loved Bansko. Went over there for Xmas 2005. Had a great time. I stayed in the Hotel Orphey which was a bit of a way from the slopes, but was close enough to the town centre and good for the local Mehanas. The snow was great, and should get better later in the season, pistes were cared for, and the instructors were so friendly. It's not the most picturesque of places, the roads are rutted, and there are 1 or 2 smelly sewers. But fantastic value, and beautiful up in the mountains. I would watch out for the bar staff in the Happy End (main bar at end of gondola station) though. Drink prices crept up the night I went there, and they ended up trying to charge double the original cost, when they thought I was drunk.

Posted: 18/11/05
Bansko review
Ski Club member

I agree with most of the feedback here, I was very impressed with Bansko, so much so that I bought a new build apartment as did a friend of mine. Very cool place, the locals are friendly and encouraging of tourism. The main part of town for the skiers in near the life station and the happy end.

Posted: 27/01/05
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Well what can I say about Bansko? I just returned on the 16th January, and the place is a complete condradiction - High up in the Mountains you have great lift facilities, advanced chip reader lift passes, and well organised refreshment locations - All the elements for a good ski holiday, pistes on the whole are good when groomed, although some REDS are BLACK in my book, and parts of the BLUES should be graded as RED. The appeal for this resort is it's cheapness and will attract leaners in their droves - personall I think there are better places to learn, as this place is very much intermediate country. My main bugbear with the skiing is that when busy - 90% of the people congregate on 10% of the slopes, causing horrific congestion - which just gets worse at the weekend when the locals come out to play. Scenery is fantastic, and on the whole we enjoyed the experience. We wont however be returning to Bansko because of the Town, this place is the polar opposite to the ski fields, it is unfinished, roads typically are un-tarmacced, storms drains are open for all to fall in, street lighting is poor at best, and there is absolutley nothing of value to buy in the plethora of shops. It didnt seem right that a 4 star hotel / casino was contrasted with pre-sixties vehicles, roaming cattle and beggars on the other side of the road. It doesnt sit right, and whilst I accept there is a lot of investment (This is a big building site afterall !), it'll need significant infratructure development to even be close to competing cost concious resorts such as Andorra, never mind the Alps, which it likens itself to ! One good thing, is that we spent £70 all week, with drinks & food ; the Hotel Strazhite was excellent, and as near to a four star as youll get in the Balkans, although the food was a bit of a lotterty. Answer to the food is to go to the Mahana's which are cheap and I reccomend the local BBQ dishes, fantastic, and beer at 40p - it cant be bad ! I cant help think that this resort is a compromise, but good luck to them, but I wont recomend it to anyone, unless they are prepared to put up with the inconvenience of a developing resort - Come back in 10 years and I doubt it will be complete. One final note - Transfer time from Plovdiv is 3.5 hours ; and Bankso has a seedy nightlife of Lap Dancing clubs, which further detrement that nice ski-resort atmosphere that most of us seek.

Posted: 17/01/05
Bansko review
Ski Club member

just got back very poor snow slope conditions terrible grading of runs dangerouse for beginners as the blues go to red and black without warning not marked on maps majority of people unfrindly hire eqipment good lifts good but only just coping and its quite many hotels still being built

Posted: 17/01/05
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Sorry but what Simon has said below can create a wrong impression of what is a fantastic resort! The actual town is very beautiful and friendly. It feels like you have been taken back to the 40's but that is part of its charm. The actual skiing facilities are very good with various types of lifts. There are many slopes suitable for beginners and advanced skiiers/snowboarders. Bulgarian people are extremly friendly (I am one of them so I should know:). Prices are very low for english standards. The food in local restaurants is delicious! I go there every year and I've never been disapointed! Highly recommend you to come to Bansko. Great time guaranteed!

Posted: 13/01/05
Bansko review
Ski Club member

I recently went to Bansko new years week, staying in the Perun hotel. Quality hotel let down by un-helpful and hostile staff. Resort is a building site, dangerous to navigate in hours of darkness. apres-ski non-existent. skiing more suited to intermediates/advanced like myself. Beginners must negotiate red runs to get to chair lift at shangrilaka.s lopes over-populated with lengthy queues at lifts on all stages on mountain. Locals have no system of queueing, happy to push in at queues for gondola, ski-lifts and hotel buffet. food dreadful,cold and same two days in a row at hotel forcing us to eat out.d readful experience never again.only local currency usuable at resort,no euros!!!!!!!! I am an advanced skier of 16yrs - never again!

Posted: 11/01/05
Bansko review
Ski Club member

My wife, my 8 year old daughter & I, tried Bansko this New-Year and were impressed ! The facilities for skiers were excellent. Tuition was good (Thanks Asen) and conditions superb after 28th December, with fresh snow, well - groomed slopes and most lifts operating. Plenty of mountain restaurants provided varying menus but beware of re-heated and VERY undercooked chicken in some ! Stayed at the Hotel Strazhite which was cosy and seemed to have all you could wish for, Pool, Bowling alley, Table Tennis and Fitness room etc. Rooms cleaned and towels changed every day. Very pleasant staff. The food was good for about 3 days but then they seemed to run out of idea's,however, some of the local restaurants made up for it with very good quality meals from very reasonable menu's. We drank lots of very good wine ( at about £1 a bottle from the local shops ) and the average meal out, for 3 people, including drinks was around £15 to £20. We always enjoyed the 'stagger' back to the hotel ! Bansko is well worth a visit !

Posted: 11/10/04
Bansko review
Ski Club member

just thought id let u know that u can ski higher than 2000m because the ski runs go ova 2500m. bansko is a nice and friendly town, runs abit icy sometimes, but when it snows its great!

Posted: 27/09/04
Bansko review
Ski Club member

My first proper skiing experience - went with 3 friends and learnt to ski properly (previously done a few days in Scotland and a couple of hours in XScape Milton Keynes). Amazing place, town looks like a bomb just hit it, yet the ski centre is brand new and feels very western European. Runs quite difficult initially for beginners like myself (no greens, only blues), but picked up as the week wore on. Was doing red runs mostly for the last few days, which was fun. Heard/saw very bad things about the skiing school, including seeing some very aggressive instructors, and us having to escort a complete novice down from a steep red run and back to the gondola station because her group had deserted her and she was lost! Was glad I decided to teach myself! Not too much in the way of night life, but managed to find some nice taverns and stuffed our faces for under 5 quid per head including beer, triple vodkas and very generous tipping. That's less than a McDonalds folks, and you get live entertainment thrown in too! Hotel Bansko, where we stayed, very impressive with one small exception - appalling food. Rooms very modern and clean, and their gym and swimming pool were fantastic. Managed to spend the huge sum of £100 for a whole weeks entertainment, entire holiday cost less than £700 - that's pretty good value in my opinion. We'll be back soon.

Posted: 26/05/04
Bansko review
Ski Club member

My husband & I run a small family hotel in Bansko, 2003/4 was our first season. The development of the lifts & slopes here have been really great & has now really put Bansko on the ski map. Our aim is to get more English people to come and sample what Bansko has to offer. The town has a warm & friendly atmosphere. If you'd like more in-depth details about Bansko take a peek at our website www.devonshirelodge.com.

Posted: 14/04/04
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Just back from Bansko early April 2004. Can't recommend highly enough. Family group of first timers but the facilities in Hotel Bulgaria brilliant, the town a joy, everyone welcoming, the ski instructor (Boyan) brilliant and patient. I'd go back.

Posted: 15/03/04
Bansko review
Ski Club member

Stayed in Bansko in January. Second time skiers. Hotel Bulgaria 4star and very cosy - spacious rooms,pool and good leisure facilities,good food with menu choice and very helpful staff. The ski instructors also helpful,patient and friendly. The new ski infrastructure will be brilliant once a few problems are ironed out. Skifitting can be a bit of a free for all at the moment. The gondola access to the slopes is very efficient and the ski run from the top gondola station back down to town was useful. For us as 'improving beginners' at the age of 46, the skiing in Bansko is excellent. No queues for lifts, a bit of scary skiing but not too much and we will be going back.

Posted: 23/10/03
Bansko review
Ski Club member

We are an english family opening a hotel in bansko for the 2003/4 season,part of the investment in bansko inculdes a snow cannon system which should extend the season a bit if people need english speeking info don't hesitate to contact me, our hotel will not be star rated as we are a family bussiness so get tax breaks but aim to provide 3/4star service, love bansko so far really sunny and friendly place hope to have a website soon so you can see for yourselves!

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