Guide to SKOPJE

Bansko – The Balkan’s St Moritz

“The price of the daily ski – pass is 55 Bulgarian leva or about 28 euros, so you can easily  calculate whether it is expensive or cheap for you. However you will have a rare opportunity to ski on the same trails where the world elite of this sport has skied, starting from Alberto Tomba, Bojan Krizaj, Hermann Maier, Michaela Dorfmeister, Anja Paerson, Lindsey Vonn…”

“At nine o’clock in the morning, there is a big crowd in front of the starting point at  the gondola in Banskoor as the Bulgarian call it the „kabinkov lift“. One February morning, with the skis on my shoulder, I also stood  there in the long column of people who spoke different languages. Although it took more than half an hour to get a seat in the gondola, the people did not feel nervous. Probably the sun and the snow had a mesmerizing effect on them. But I’m sure everyone was impatient to enjoy the ski trails situated on the northern slopes of Pirin mountain.”

Sometimes the nature and the man together are able to create wonderful works, and Bansko is definitely one big proof for that. From a small ski resort with several cable cars and ski lifts and couple of old hotels, in a period of just ten years the small town of about 10,000 inhabitants was transformed into into the Balkan St. Moritz. A big contribution in that process was the construction of many new hotels and investment of 130 million euros in the modern ski resort. Today, Bansko is the most attractive winter destination in Bulgaria, but also in the region, with a ski season that lasts almost six months in the year.

You can go from the town to the ski slopes by car or gondola and  twenty-five minutes are needed  for  the both. Of course, the gondola ride is more interesting, but more expensive too. A ticket for one person costs ten euros.

While you are driving in the gondola or any of the cable cars you can hear different languages, because Bansko attracts tourists from all over Europe. Most numerous are the English and the Russians, but nor the visitors from the neighboring countries of Macedonia, Greece, Serbia and Romania fall behind. At annual level,  Bansko is visited by over 600,000 tourists.

The beautiful nature and the wild mountain scenery look like winter landscape painted by the hands of one great painter. Particularly impressive is the sight while you are in the cable railway to the highest ski slope, Bunderica, located at an altitude of 2560 meters.

And then … Than a new pleasure arrised while at speed of fifty miles per hour you are skiing down the perfectly prepared ski slopes. Normally, that is followed by a warm coffee or tea that will cost you  from one to two euros or a refreshing beer for which you will spend three euros. The total length of the16 ski trails is over 75 kilometers and the price of the daily ski – pass is 55 Bulgarian leva or about 28 euros, so you can easily  calculate whether it is expensive or cheap for you. However you will have a rare opportunity to ski on the same trails where the world elite of this sport has skied, starting from Alberto Tomba, Bojan Krizaj, Hermann Maier, Michaela Dorfmeister, Anja Paerson, Lindsey Vonn…

“Each February the world’s elite is skiing on the path “Tomba”, which was named after the Italian ski legend Alberto Tomba. The locals say that the preparations of the pathway last  longer than one month.”

Since 2008,  Bansko is the centar of  the competitions of the World Cupin  skiing – the most prestigious competition in this sport. Each February the world’s elite is skiing on the path “Tomba”, which was named after the Italian ski legend Alberto Tomba. The locals say that the preparations of the pathway last  longer than one month. This is one of the most important sport events in Bulgaria, which attracts thousands of spectators from the country and abroad.

And those who are fond of the winter sports, will not be bored for sure. In all the hotels, there were closed or open pools, saunas, fitness room… Now there are about 200 hotels in Bansko, but the construction works are still intense. The prices vary and a half-board accomodation is ranging from 20 euros and up. A special attraction in Bansko are the popular restaurants called „mehani“ where you can enjoy traditional dishes and Bulgarian folk music at reasonable prices. Those in the mood for a different kind of entertainment can choose between the numerous pubs, nightclubs and discos.

The visitors from the neighboring countries usually tavel to Bansko by car. The distance from Skopje to Bansko is approximately 260 km  through the border checkpoint Deve Bair. In case you don’t  have to wait at the border and if the weather conditions are good for driving, the trip  will take you about four hours.

Thessaloniki is a little bit closer and the distance of 220 km is  passed in just three hours. The tourists from Greece travel to Bansko through the border checkpoint Kulata. The distance from Istanbul to Bansko is around 573 km and it is probably one of the main reasons that there are almost no tourists from Turkey. The visitors from the faraway European countries frequently travel by plane to Sofia and then take a bus to Bansko. No matter how we travel, I think we all leave with wonderful memories of this ski center, which deservedly got the epithet “The ski diamond of Eastern Europe”

Mirko Trajanovski


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