25 ideas how to spend your time near Bansko and Razlog

25 ideas how to spend your time near Bansko and Razlog

Are you planning a trip anytime soon?

If yes, then that is probably, why you are here. Some of Bulgaria’s most beautiful sceneries can be found in the mountains. The mountains hide many towns and villages, all of them famous for their immense beauty and hospitality. And today, we will be talking about two such towns – Bansko and Razlog.

If you are considering this area for your upcoming vacation, you may still be wondering how to organize your days so that they are always full of adventurous moments.

In today’s blog post, we will give you a list of the top 25 places to visit in the area of Bansko and Razlog. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Enjoy a meaningful trip in the mountain

Planning and organizing your trip - tips & tricks

When it comes to beautiful sceneries and breathtaking views, Bulgaria is second to none! Mountains, forests, lakes, valleys – we have it all. If you are keen on hiking, the area of Bansko and Razlog is full of nature trails where you can walk and have fun for hours. And the best thing is that thanks to the well-developed infrastructure in the area, you can reach most trails by car.

Apart from the panoramic views, you can also go sightseeing and pay a visit to the various historical, cultural, and architectural landmarks. Bansko and Razlog are located between three of Bulgaria’s most captivating mountains – Rila, Pirin, and Western Rhodopes, so there are lots of places to choose from.

Planning and organizing your trip – tips & tricks

How to plan and organize your trip to Bansko and Razlog

Before we move on to our list of places to visit in the area of Bansko and Razlog, let us give you some tips on how to organize your schedule. Planning is crucial when organizing trips. You probably want to visit as many places as possible, but how do you plan your schedule so that you see all of them? Here are our tips:

  • Plan the direction you will be going in early – in the morning or even the night before. That can save you lots of time and energy.
  • Decide on a time limit for every place on your list. You can’t just go sightseeing aimlessly without any time restrictions – time flies, and we are sure you don’t want to waste it. Think of the place you are staying at as your starting point, and don’t forget to consider the time you will spend driving to and from the ending point (the final destination).
  • Once a direction has been chosen and a time frame has been set, what’s next is to see what landmarks and nature trails you can find and how many of them you would actually want to visit. If you’ve planned a 4-hour trip, realistically, you can’t visit more than a few places, let alone 10, in such a short time. The final destination on your list for the day will show you how far you will be going.
  • Come up with a strategy – You have two options:
    1. Reach the last point in your list and visit the places in reverse order, or
    2. Visit one by all landmarks and places until you reach the last one for the day.
  • When choosing how much time you want to spend somewhere, always consider the essence of the place. Nature trails may take longer, depending on their length. Places with panoramic views may not take as long, as you will probably not spend much time there once you capture some pictures for your albums, blogs, or social media accounts. On the other hand, landmarks with any historical or cultural value may take even longer, especially if you have hired a tour guide to tell you more about the place.
  • Last but not least – always consider the travel time from one place to the other.

25 places to visit near Bansko and Razlog

25 places to visit near Bansko and Razlog

As promised, here’s a list of the 25 most interesting places, nature trails, and landmarks in the area. They offer opportunities for endless adventures and happy moments. The area is quite rich when it comes to landmarks, so if you’ve planned a shorter trip, you may not have enough time to visit them all.

But think of it as an opportunity to plan more trips in the future.

Bansko and Razlog are located very close to each other. If you are coming from Sofia, you even have to go through one of the cities to reach the other. However, there are many places to visit near both of the cities. There are closer and more distant destinations, so always plan your schedule carefully.

Let us introduce you to our list:

Places near Bansko

1. The Nameless City

The Nameless City - Places near Bansko

The Nameless City was discovered by accident during the construction of the nearby church ‘St. Nicholas’. The excavations began under the direction of Vladimir Baryakov, a local archaeologist and curator of the museum complex in Bansko. The ancient fortress is located in an area of 25 decares. There are foundations of various buildings in the place.

The Nameless city is located between Bansko and Dobrinishte, so it is very close to the winter capital of the Balkans. The distance between the landmark and Bansko is around 6.5 km. You can reach it by car in just 18 minutes. If Bansko is your starting point, drive towards Dobrinishte. Follow the signs as somewhere in the middle of the road, you must turn right.

2. The Wedding – A rock formation

The Wedding - A rock formation - Places near Bansko

Somewhere around the villages of Philipovo, Osenovo, and Ribnovo, on the riverside of the Gradinishka River, there’s a bizarre formation of around 20 rock mushrooms. They vary in color, shape, and size. The name originates from a legend that says that the rocks were actually wedding guests inhabiting the village of Guston that were on their way to take a bride from another village somewhere close by.

Somewhere along the way, the mother of the groom realized she had forgotten to take something important. She decided to go back to her home and ordered the guests and the groom to wait for her. However, they didn’t obey the mother’s order and continued on their way. Their disobedience offended the woman, and she cursed them to turn into stones.

It is a 30-minute ride from Bansko to the Wedding rock formation. The distance is 26 km.

3. Baikushev’s pine

baikushev - Balkan Jewel Resort & Chalets

The name of the Baikushev’s pine comes from the name of its discoverer – Kostadin Baikushev. This black fir is more than 1300 years old, making it the oldest coniferous tree in Bulgaria. In the classification of all old trees in Bulgaria, the Baikushev’s pine comes second. The only older tree is the granite oak.

The Baikushev’s pine is nearly 14.5 km away from Bansko. It is a 30-minute ride. At the end of the road, you can also see the Vihren Hut.

4. The Eye – Lake

The Eye Lake - Places near Bansko

If you reach the Vihren Hut, you can see another landmark – the Eye Lake. However, you need to go there on foot. It is a 30-minute walk to the lake. You can start walking on the nature trail that leads all the way to the Demyanitsa Hut. The water formation is the second of the seven famous Rila Lakes.

Some people call it the ‘Heart’. You may also continue to see the other six lakes, but keep in mind that this will take much longer than anticipated. Should you want to visit all seven lakes, we advise you to plan it on a separate day.

5. Vihren Peak

Vihren Peak - Places near Bansko

The route to Vihren Peak starts from the Vihren Hut. So you can try and climb it on your way back from Eye Lake. If you enjoy climbing, you’re going to like Vihren Peak as it is the highest peak in the Pirin and the second highest in Bulgaria.

However, depending on your skills, you may want to plan the climbing for a separate day. The route is quite rocky and not very beginner-friendly. At the end of your climbing adventure, you will be able to look at some breathtaking views that you will carry in your heart forever. This approach is from the southern slope.

Depending on your experience, training, stamina, and how often you take breaks, it may take you up to 4-5 hours in one direction. Plan your climbing schedule quite carefully so that you reach the top during the day.

Vihren Peak can be reached from the northern slope. Keep in mind that this route is even heavier and is only for experienced climbers. Let’s see more about the northern slope.

6. The Horse – Koncheto

The Horse - Koncheto - Places near Bansko

The hill known as the Horse is one of the most mesmerizing, and at the same time, dangerous places in the mountain. That is a remarkable and hardly accessible nature saddle that resembles an edge. The northern route to Vihren Peak passes through the saddle. Thankfully, a metal rope was installed in 1963 to alleviate the climbing process. Its length is only 400 m yet climbers say that due to the extreme sensations the Horse awakens in them, it can feel much longer. The narrowest part of this ridge is only 150 m.*

* Disclaimer: DO NOT climb Vihren Peak, especially through the northern slope and the Horse, without good physical training and proper equipment. Always check the weather forecast beforehand! Mountaineers know that in the mountains, the weather conditions change rapidly – one minute is sunny, and the next one it may be raining cats and dogs. The biggest danger climbers face is thunderstorms. All the rocks in the Pirin cannot absorb the bolts of lightning, and the chance to be hit by one is extremely high!

7. Bayuvi Dupki–Dzhindzhiritsa – nature reserve

Bayuvi Dupki–Dzhindzhiritsa - nature reserve - Places near Basnko

Bayuvi Dupki–Dzhindzhiritsa is a protected territory in Northern Pirin. It occupies 2973 hectares and is afforested with black and white fir. That is the largest population of trees in Bulgaria. That is also the reason why the area was pronounced as a reserve in 1934. Some 40 years later, it was further expanded. In the reserve, you can find other typical representatives of Bulgaria’s fauna – capercaillies, hazels, falcons, hawks, goldfinches, viviparous lizards, etc. The symbol of the area and the reserve, however, is the chamois.

Like many other natural phenomena in the mountains, Bayuvi Dupki–Dzhindzhiritsa is located in the Pirin National Park. To visit the reserve, you need to drive on the road to the Yavorov hut.

8. The Steps (Subitsite) – Stupalata (Subitsite)

The Steps (Subitsite) - Places near Bansko

The Steps (Subitsite) is a rock formation in the Pirin mountain that looks like a comb. It consists of rock fragments that resemble steps. Hence the name of the formation. The formations Subitsite are located close to the main hill that separates Bayuvi Dupki and Razlozhki Suhodol Peak. The rock ridges are made of marble.

You can look at them from the Yavorov Hut. It is also where the northern slope to Vihren starts from. You can reach the hut by car in a 15-minute drive.

9. Tevno Lake

Trevno Lake - Places near Bansko

The location of the Vihren Hut gives access to many nature trails and landmarks. One of them is the Tevno Lake. It is the largest mountain lake (60 decares) in Bulgaria and is located at an altitude of over 2500 m. The lake is also a historical place because that is the place where the Ilinden–Preobrazhenie Uprising broke out.

Despite its beauty, the lake is actually rather difficult to reach. The distance from the Vihren Hut to the lake is nearly 12 km. It will probably take you some good 8-9 hours including break times. Keep in mind that there are no drinking fountains, so you’d better stock up with more bottles of water.

10. Skoka (Kashinsky) – Waterfall

Skoka (Kashinsky) - Waterfall - Places near Bansko

Also known as Kashinsky Waterfall, Skoka impresses people with its immense beauty. Don’t mind its unrepresentable look while looking at pictures online. It is very high and has quite a good water flow. You can go there by car. Bear in mind that the distance between its location and Bansko is nearly 100 km. It is usually a 2-hour drive.

Some of the roads to the waterfall are rather bumpy. So if you want to save yourself some trouble, you may want to park somewhere in the village of Kashina. You then will have to walk another 50 minutes to reach the waterfall.

11. The temple of Reverend Stoyna

The temple of Reverend Stoyna - Places near Bansko

While you are near the Kashinsky Waterfall, you can also visit the temple of Reverend Stoyna. The temple is located in the village of Zlatolis, famous for its mining activities back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nowadays, the population of Zlatolist is lower than ever, and only 8 people are living there. However, why is the temple worth visiting? Well, there are peculiar murals and frescoes all over the church. There’s even one mural of a saint with a horse’s head. The painter, Teofil Minov, was only 11 when he started painting the temple. The whole project was completed in 1976.

If you’ve embarked on the journey to visit the temple of Reverend Stoyna, you will need lots of patience. Although the distance between Kashina and Zlatolist is only 15 km, the road is unpaved and rather bumpy, which means you will need at least an hour to go to the temple. However, somewhere on the road, you can make a turn and visit Rozhen. So let’s see what you can find there.

12. Rozhen Monastery

Rhozhen Monastery - Places near Bansko

Rozhen Monastery is one of the largest and most famous monasteries in Bulgaria. In 1973 the Monastery was declared a national cultural monument. During archaeological diggings and excavations in the yard, pieces of jewelry and coins of the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus were found. Other historical sources prove the early existence of the Monastery.

You can reach the Monastery by the bumpy and unpaved road that connects the villages of Kashina and Zlatolist. If your starting point is Bansko, keep in mind that the distance is 111 km, and you will have to drive by Razlog. Measured in time, the journey may take you an hour and 40 minutes.

13. The Kresna Ravine

The Kresna Ravine - Places near Bansko

If you are traveling to Rozhen on the paved road, go through the Kresna Ravine. It is one of the 8 ravines the Struma Rivers passes through. All of the narrow trails and the overhanging rocks make the ravine quite picturesque and magical. Its length is 18 km, and you can look at and admire all of the views that open up along the way.

14. The Sharaliyska Cave

The Sharaliyska Cave - Places near Bansko

The Sharaliyska Cave is quite an unpopular destination. It was declared a natural landmark in recent years to protect the population of bats inhabiting the cave and to save it from destruction. Keep in mind that you can’t visit the cave anytime between December 1 and March 31. Any other time, date, and month, you can reach the Sharaliyska Cave through the Kresna ravine.

15. The Melnik Pyramids

The Melnik Pyramids - Places near Bansko

The Melnik Pyramids are probably one of the most frequently visited rock formations in the region. It is located in very close proximity to the town of Melnik and the village of Karlanovo. The so-called pyramids are quite picturesque and make the area even more captivating. You can combine your daily trip with a visit to some of the wine cellars in Melnik. There you can get a taste of the popular wine ‘Wide Melnik Vine’. You will be fascinated with the taste.

16. Kulinoto

Kulinoto - Places near Bansko

If you want to walk through centuries-old beech forests, you may consider visiting Kulinoto, a small ski resort. The resort is named after a river that passes nearby. Initially, the Kulinoto slope was built by volunteers but it is now gradually turning into a beautiful small resort.

17. Orelyak National Reserve

Orelyak National Reserve - Places near Bansko

Another place where you can walk and enjoy the fresh air of centuries-old beech forests is Orelyak National Reserve. There you can find trees that are 150 years old. In the lower parts of the forest, you can find water hornbeam and manna ash. The area was declared a national reserve in 1985 and covers an area of over 758 hectares.

Places near Razlog

18. Panoramic Alley “the Steps”

Panoramic Alley the Steps - Places near Razlog

The alley was created in 2015. And although it is quite new, it is gaining more and more popularity. The reason for that lies in the mesmerizing views. The Steps is located in Razlog, but it’s worth visiting.

19. The healing spring in the village of Dobarsko

The healing spring in the village of Dobarsko - Places near Razlog

There’s a legend that says when Basil II Porphyrogenitus, the Bulgarian Slayer, blinded the army of Tsar Samuel, the Bulgarians went to the Rila Monastery to heal their wounds.

However, the winter conditions made it impossible for them to continue, so they stayed in Dobarsko and tried healing their wounds with the water they found there. They were taken aback by the healing properties of Dobarsko’s water, so the soldiers decided to settle in the village. The stories of the water’s magical powers come after the belief that it never changes its flow and never freezes.

During the ruling of the Ottoman Empire, a church near the spring was built. Its name is ‘St. St. Theodore Tyrone and Theodore Stratilat’. The drive between Razlog and Dobarsko is just about half an hour. And luckily, the road that connects the two is paved.

20. The Belmeken Dam

The Belmeken Dam - Places near Razlog

Belmeken is the highest dam on the Balkan Peninsula. Rila’s captivating beauty is reflected in the waters of Belmeken, so it’s definitely worth visiting. It is a 74 km distance between Belmeken and Razlog, so it will probably take you about an hour and a half to get there.

21. Belitsa ‘Dancing Bear’ Park

Belitsa ‘Dancing Bear’ Park - Places near Bansko

Belitsa is gaining more and more popularity and is turning into one of the most visited places in the area of Bansko and Razlog. It is established by the Four Paws Foundation, Bridget Bardot, and the Municipality of Belitsa. Its main purpose is to help the dancing bears to readapt to their natural environment.

The park is located near the town of Belitsa, hence its name. The distance between Razlog and Belitsa is 25 km. You can combine visiting Belitsa’s park with visiting the Belmeken dam.

22. The meanders of the Ribna River

The meanders of the Ribna River

The meanders of the Ribna River may not be impressive in size, but the truth is that they are beautiful. Their beauty comes from their resemblance to a large snake crawling on the green lawns. The color of the waters of the meanders of the Ribna River is emerald green.

The area has been protected by law since 1995, and it is located on 25 hectares. You can reach the meander by car, and it’s an hour-and-a-half drive from Razlog.

23. Rila Monastery

Belitsa ‘Rila Monastery - Places near Razlog

Rila Monastery doesn’t need much presenting, as it is perhaps Bulgaria’s most famous monastery. It has a long and rich history that amazes all of the visitors. The place is radiant with positive energy that has a powerful impact on each and every visitor. The region was once inhabited by the Bogomils. The distance between the monastery and Razlog is 90km, and it will probably take around an hour and a half to get there.

24. The Stob Earth Pyramids

The Stob Earth Pyramids - Places near Razlog

That natural phenomenon is located near the village of Stob. Hence the name. Those are the largest rock pyramids in the country, and they are colored in yellowish and brownish shades and nuances. The average height of a single pyramid is 9 m, while the highest one is 12 m. Most pyramids are conical, but some have a rock on the top that resembles hats, so they are often called mushroom rocks.

An impossible wedding is in the gist of one of the most popular legends for the creation of the pyramids. The mother of the bride, opposed to the idea that her daughter would marry the man, cursed them all to turn into stones should they decide to get married.

You can reach the Stob Pyramids through the same road that leads to the Rila Monastery – just follow the signs.

25. Parangalitsa National Reserve

Parangalitsa National Reserve - Places near Razlog

Parangalitsa is one of the four reserves in the Rila Nature Park. It is even included in UNESCO’s list as one of the biosphere reserves in the world. The name has Greek origins. The word ‘parangalos’ means hidden. You can find some of the oldest spruce forests in all of Europe in the Reserve. The trees are over 200 years old. Thanks to the trees, 290 animal species, and representatives of the fauna. All of them are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria. The distance between Razlog and Parangalitsa is 82km – about an hour and a half by car.

Conclusion

Our virtual tour around Bansko and Razlog’s beautiful landmarks had come to an end. Now you can confidently plan your vacation and your list of places to visit. Don’t forget to book your hotel in advance so that you have a place to stay. If you are still wondering which hotel to choose, you may want to check The Balkan Jewel Hotel. We are nestled somewhere in the beautiful nature of Bansko and Razlog. We also have tempting offers for anyone looking for peace, calmness, and unforgettable views.

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