Bansko, founded by exiled clans in the 15th century, nestles in the shadow of Mt. Vihren, the highest peak in the Pirin range (2914m [9564ft] above sea level) and the second highest in Bulgaria.
The old town is characterized by its maze of narrow cobbled lanes with timber-framed stone houses hidden behind thick stone walls with stout double doors designed and built to withstand siege.
In the modern centre of the town is the home of Nikola Vaptsarov, now a museum commemorating the life and times of one of Bulgaria’s most renowned revolutionary poets. A large monument in the square commemorates another of Bansko's heroes, Otets Paisii, who wrote the first Slav-Bulgarian History. Nearby is the Church of Sveta Troitsa and also the Neofit Rilski House-Museum (not Rilski's home!). The museum has a reconstruction of an 18th century schoolroom and contains a collection of Rilski’s authoritative works such as textbooks, anthologies and the first Bulgarian grammar. Rilski was a key figure in 19th century Bulgaria, promoting education and religion against a background of opposition from Turkish and Greek influences. He also led the campaigns to restore Rila Monastery and to build the local church.
Skiing, and all associated winter sports are practiced around Bansko from December until April, with the best snow in February and March. A newly opened cable-car lift conveys you to Mt.Todorka for breathtaking panoramas and on Sunday mornings in the center of Bansko there is an open-air market that is well worth visiting.
Bansko is famous for its Mehanas (spelt “Mexana” in Bulgarian; folk-lore style restaurants, with each furbished like a mini local history museum) that serve meals and drinks from early morning to early morning! Traditional "Bansko" cuisine, with mouthwatering specialties, is legendary in Bulgaria! Eating in Bansko and the area is very special, and has its very own set of rules!