There is life beyond skiing in Bansko and here we bring you some examples, from cycling in the mountains to climbing over an ice waterfall
Written by Marta Valverde Rios, edited by Gabriella Permail, photo by Antonia Chekrakchieva (Unsplash) and Pierre Chesneau
Did you know that in Bulgaria you can do more sports in winter than just go skiing in Bansko? We are not saying that this is a bad option, actually skiing is a very complete exercise that can help your immune system, which is very important in these times In fact, the Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism has based on this premise not to give up the winter season, launching the message “Winter sports boost your health”, in order to encourage people to visit the ski resorts.
In any case, if skiing is not your thing, here we bring you a compilation of sports in addition to the ones that you can practice during the coldest months of the year.
Hiking in the mountains
It is a very good idea during the autumn months, as it allows you to observe the change of season and enjoy all the fall colors: yellow, brown, green, orange and even red trees. Also winter can offer a singular landscape, but make sure to bring all the necessary equipment to fight the cold. You can find some ideas about the available itineraries in our previous posts!
Since most of the cities are not so bike-friendly, apart from the green city areas, you can take advantage of the vast Bulgarian nature. Vitosha mountain or the Borovets Mountain Bike Park are good options to start. To find more routes, you can use some apps like Bikemap or Komoot (this last one also shows hiking trails).
Indoor climbing or ice climbing for the bravest
Winter is not here yet but it is getting colder every day, so depending on your thermal sensation, you can choose to either practice in an outdoor climbing wall (almost every city has one), or go to an indoor one. In Sofia, some of the most popular ones are Walltopia Climbing Center, Bonsist Climbing Gym or the National Sportive Academy in Studentski Grad.
But, if you are an experienced climber, the range of options are bigger for you and you could try ice climbing in some of the numerous frozen waterfalls and cliffs that the country has. The most visited spots for this modality of climbing are Boyana’s waterfall, the ice cliff in the Rila National Park, the region of Skakavitsa and the North Dzhendem in Central Balkan National Park. Keep in mind that it is always advisable to practice climbing with a guide, and especially if you choose this type.
In Bulgaria not only can you do ice skating on ice rings but you can also do it on several lakes. In Sofia, the most popular rinks are located at the Winter Sports Palace, the Slavia Ice Centre, and the Lake Ariana in Borisova Gradina. Several well maintained ice rinks are also available in the ski resorts, as well as in all major cities in the country.
Skiing, snowboarding and snowkiting
While there are many ski resorts in Bulgaria, Bansko, located at the Pirin mountain, is the most famous, among other things, because it has the longest ski runs and a good infrastructure. There are also popular destinations like Borovets, situated in the Rila Mountain; Pamporovo and Chepelare in the Rhodope Mountain, and the Vitosha Mountain. Some of them, apart from the traditional skiing and snowboarding, offer the option to practice snowkiting, where the kite power is used to glide on the snow.
If you live in Bulgaria or are thinking of choosing this Balkan country as a winter vacation destination – now that there’s still the possibility to travel, and you are wondering what you can do, these are some of our favorite options that, in addition to guaranteeing some fun, will help you stay healthy.