If you’re into partying as well as skiing, Bansko is the place!
Bansko, Bulgaria, is a fantastic budget ski resort, located about 155 km south of the capital, Sofia, in the Pirin Mountains. If you don’t want to have to sell one of your organs to pay for your next skiing trip then Eastern Europe offers a handful of vibrant holiday destinations boasting reliable snow conditions and buzzing après ski. With more than 70 km of ski runs, plenty of ski schools and extreme winter sports on offer, Bansko is arguably the most popular budget ski resort in Eastern Europe, and many Brits flock there each year for their powder fix.
Whilst compared to Mayrhofen (known as the Ibiza of ski resorts) it doesn’t quite reach the same level of night-time mayhem, Bansko does have the ability to satisfy the average partier with its array of clubs, bars and traditional eateries.
Clubs and Late Night Bars
Personally, as a young adult skier, I found Bansko’s nightlife to be exciting, vibrant and incredibly fulfilling. If you’re someone who enjoys cheap alcohol, a healthy mix of live bands and chart tunes and the choice of a clubbing or enjoying a quite tipple by the fire then Bansko could be the place for you.
A skiing holiday wouldn’t quite feel complete without that one inevitable mid-holiday night where you go completely crazy and never manage to piece together how you made it back to your hotel room. Every year I vow to eradicate the night which causes me to miss a crucial morning’s skiing, and every year I fail. So now I have succumbed to the fact it’s just part of the holiday!
Two Hot Areas for Clubbing
There are two completely separate areas in Bansko which are great for clubbing. If you’re located near the Gondola station then the bars around there are open until the small hours. Amigos is probably the most popular bar/club at the moment, in high season you can enjoy a full live band rocking out to English/American classics until 3am.
As this bar is incredibly popular with the Brits, expect prices which are a little closer to home. Sticking to the local draught lager however, will save you a fortune and doesn’t go down too badly after the first two 500ml tankards.
In the Old Town, located approximately 25 minutes’ walk from the Gondola you will find the night club named Oxygen. It’s quite a different experience to Amigos in the sense that you’ll experience DJing and dance tracks rather than live music; partying often continues until 6am, when dreams of making the first lift are well and truly out the window.
Bansko’s Hidden Gem
The hidden gem in Bansko however, is a small place which resembles a traditional Bulgarian house. It’s a place quite like no other and I make sure I pay it a visit each year I return. The Bash Bar is by far the best place for nightlife. It’s tucked away just off Glazne Street and isn’t well sign-posted; it’s the place ski instructors and locals party hard on a Friday night. The DJ gets everyone moving with funky bass lines and mashed hits, whilst the barman – who has an uncanny resemblance to Jack Osborne – serves you shorts or local lagers.
A More Relaxing Atmosphere
If you’re looking for a more chilled-out vibe but would still like to mingle with the Brits than I highly recommend the Friendly bar. It lies adjacent to Amigos and has an acoustic act playing Brit Pop classics and other pop renditions each night. There’s always a warm atmosphere and sing-alongs aren’t uncommon. I’d say this is one of the cheaper tourist bars in terms of lager and local spirits too.
Traditional Bulgarian Wining and Dining
You simply have to sample the traditional Bulgarian wining and dining experience at some point during your stay. Although the British-inspired bars are great for a boozy night, you’re severely missing out if you don’t spend an evening in one of the hundreds of Mehanas. Mehanas are traditional Bulgarian eateries offering delicious home cooked food. Here you will experience the real Bulgaria, and enjoy tucking into succulent meats on a bed of sizzling vegetables, accompanied by a mulled wine next to a blustering fire.
In some of the Mehanas they really go the extra mile to get you to stay. String quartets and piano players are a common Mehana feature, and they’re perfect for unwinding after a day on the slopes. The drink and food prices in Mehanas are unbeatable and you’ll undoubtedly find the best European lagers by bottle here, as well as amazing and fulfilling food.
Bansko – Nightlife for Everyone
The beauty of the Eastern European giant is that there’s exciting nightlife to suit a large number of different tastes. Whilst the spring chickens can head off to the vibrant nightclubs, more seasoned skiers can soak up the relaxing atmosphere in the cosy Mehanas whilst sipping on a fine wine and tasting even finer food. With many resorts in the Alps, you find that resorts are generally tailored to suit one kind of nightlife, Bansko is different in the sense that you have more choice on how to spend your evening; making it the perfect skiing destination for large groups serving members with diverse ages and tastes.