My sister moved to Bansko a year ago in order to get back to basics and embrace the good life. It was time for a family reunion and we were curious to discover how she was getting on. Since Granny was flying in from the UK, we convened at Sofia airport where myself, my two children and Granny headed for the hills – our first stop Snow Pine Chalet, Bansko.
Bansko is often overlooked as a summer destination due to its popularity as a ski resort but in the warm summer months cherries fall from the trees, kids play in the street, storks fly overhead and the mouth watering smells of homemade stews waft from the Mexhanas. We fell quietly in love with this docile mountain region, away from the hoards of summer beach seekers.
Snow Pine Chalet
Snow Pine Chalet is tucked away in the old town of Bansko, between shabby chic residential homes and twisty roads lined with cherry trees. Snow Pine is one of a few chalet properties operating all year round, offering B&B and catered breaks for travellers in search of a quite escape within arms reach of the wild and unspoilt Pirin National Park.
We arrived late at night and were happy to be greeted by our host Martin (originally from the UK) who gave us a warm welcome and introduced us to the two in-house pets, Rosie the Collie dog and Fuzzy the Turkish cat.
Martin’s relaxed nature gave Snow Pine a calm, homely ambiance, which is ideal with two little rascals like mine running wild! We opted for non-catered, however we had access to a little kitchen where we could prepare a leisurely breakfast for ourselves, make coffee and tea, and stash our wine. The chalet staff were very flexible to our needs and even agreed to prepare a yummy Greek supper for us, which made a welcome change to eating out.
Why the Kids Loved It
Many of the houses in Bansko are concealed by a walled garden (a hangover from the secrecy of the cold war era). Our property had a spacious walled courtyard garden where the kids immediately entertained themselves by playing with Rosie the dog and Fuzzy the cat, while Mummy and Granny tucked into the rather delicious Bulgarian wine. With two designated seating areas (one directly outside our bedroom and the other by the pizza oven) Snow Pine allows parents to relax in the homely outdoor seating areas while the kids play. The chalet has a large but cosy communal basement restaurant with a TV, sofas, and kitchen where the kids chilled out after a day exploring the mountains. There is plenty of snug low level furniture for the children to spread out on, sketch, play and read.
The chalet is housed in a typical old Bansko town dwelling. It is furnished with a mixture of comfy tub chairs, sofas and ingeniously recycled palettes. The look is pulled together with art work made from forest finds and interesting pieces of timber and stone.
The rooms feature blackout curtains, accented green and purple bed linen and useful cubby holes for your gadgets. All bedrooms have en suite bathrooms and although the water pressure is excellent, the bathrooms could benefit from an upgrade
Snow Pine Chalet can accommodate 19 guests in four double rooms, two twin rooms and two triple rooms, (there are also foldout beds for bigger groups if required).
The best rooms for families are those with the double and single beds. However, my daughter and I were very happy to share a double bed while my son was in a cot on the ground floor since this room was within earshot of the private sit out.
Dining at Snow Pine Chalet
Greek/US chef John is on hand to cater to the needs of guests and the fare is a mix of Bulgarian, Greek and Italian with other European flavours thrown in. We were keen to try a meal from our chef who rustled up a menu which included Greek Salad, Mousaka, and Baklava with Ice Cream. The portions were very generous and definitely satisfied my cravings. During the ski season the chalet restaurant runs at full force serving dishes such as Chicken Parmegan, Ribs, Pork Knuckle and Cod. Dietary requirements and allergies are taken into consideration.
Activities around Bansko
Activities in the town of Bansko and nearby villages include
- Horse riding – Lessons for children and nature hacks at “Dvorene”
- Swimming – at the local water park
- Hot Thermal Springs – in the nearby town of Ognyanovo
- Visit to the Bear Sanctuary (a rescue centre for retired Gypsy bears)
- Hiking Cultural Dance Shows – in the nearby town of Dobrinishte
- Tea Picking and foraging
- Bouncy Castles and Water Slides at the top of the Gondola
- Toy cars
- Town Park
When To Go
The best time to visit Bansko is during the summer or winter months, for either skiing or summer activities. We visited in July which was perfect balmy weather.
What To Take For The Family
- Sunglasses, cream and a hat are a must. Even if you have dark skin pack a high factor cream (50+) as the sun is very strong in the mountains.
- Hiking boots.
- Swim wear
- Sketch pad, Book, Notepad for moments of reflection
- Google Maps and a Dictionary – Bulgarian is a notoriously hard language to understand
- Socks and Long Sleeve T-Shirt for night time (it gets chilly when the sun goes down)
- Shawl – since it gets a bit breezy at night time
- Kids water wings (arm bands)
- Flip flops for the Thermal Spa
For international travel fly to Sofia airport. We travelled from Geneva to Sofia with Wizz air which was excellent. From Sofia either hire a car or you can organise a transfer through your hotel.
You can get a train to Sofia with Eurail.
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Disclosure: I was offered a two-night complimentary stay at the Snow Pine Chalet. All opinions are entirely my own.