Bansko is a town in Southwestern Bulgaria, located in Razlog Hollow, in the foot of the northern slopes of Pirin Mountains. It is well known as a ski destination – the ski zone of Bansko is actually the most modern and biggest one in Bulgaria. For 3-4 months in winter everything is focused on the ski area and skiing. But there is much more beyond that in Bansko – and most visitors miss it.
Razlog Hollow is surrounded by the main mountain ranges of the country – Rila, Pirin and Rhodope mountains. All of them are easily accessible from Bansko and offer different landscapes, terrains and challenges for the mountain bikers. Once you go out of the touristic zone of Bansko, you’ll get impressions of the real country Bulgaria – with its local population, wild nature and beautiful mountains.
Pirin Mountains with their rocky, jagged peaks are always respecting the first time visitor. Mountain biking on such terrain seems mission impossible. Despite that, there is numerous options. One can use the advantage of the ski lifts of Bansko and Bezbog ski zone and do some more technical single tracks or choose smoother tracks that go around the mountain between the villages in the foot of it.
Rila Mountains, especially their south slopes that look towards Pirin, are a great terrain for demanding xc biking. The lower parts are easier, they have a good network of dirt roads that connect the villages and some other interesting locations like the Belitsa Dansing Bears Park. The high parts of the mountains are accessible along a couple of asphalt roads. For the experts or just for the real adventurers there is a couple of epic 2-day routes that climb and cross the whole mountain from the south to the north – the so called “Kaizer’s Route” from Yakoruda to Borovetz and the route to Rila Monastery via Makedonia Hut.
The nearby parts of Rhodope Mountains offer the smoothest terrain, the greatest views towards the other mountain ranges as well as the most thrilling interactions with locals. Our favourite day trip includes an early jump into the narrow gauge train that goes between Rila and Rhodope mountains, finally up to the highest rail station on the Balkans. Some nice sandy roads take us on a tour to the isolated villages of Velijski Rodopi region until we finally descent down to the hollow and visit some of the nice mineral pools in the area. Multiday trips would include biking through the green forests of the endless Rhodopes, around the blue dams of Dospat, Batak and Beglika, or even further to the famous Trigrad area.
This article aims to give a common view and some ideas about mountain biking in Bansko area. The options for day and multyday trips are numerous and we’ll be happy to offer you a detailed itinerary according to the season, your time available, level and preferences. Some itineraries are available at What to Do/Mountain Biking section of the website. Bike hire available.
Here are some of our suggested itineraries, all possible to start from Bansko:
My name is Lyuben Grancharov, I’m a qualified Bulgarian mountain bike leader and I live and work in Bansko. If you have any questions about mountain biking around Bansko or you need a guide, do not hesitate tо contact me.
Author: Lyuben Grancharov
“The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” (Augustine of Hippo). I enjoy filling up the page, called “Bulgaria”, both working as a guide and writing about the mountains of Bulgaria on this blog.