One of the things you must try while in Bansko is a trip to one of the many mineral springs in the area. Sadly, there are no real thermal mineral springs in the town itself (we’re not counting spa hotels where they heat their own water), but the neighboring villages are full of them. One such village is Banya, where you’ll find plenty of complexes with naturally occurring mineral springs and water temperatures warm enough even for the coldest of days. One of the most popular complexes in Banya is called “Izgrev” and it offers it’s guest 3 pools, a good restaurant and hotel rooms. It works all year long, so it’s also a great summer attraction.
The village of Banya is located just 5km away from Bansko and the drive from the base gondola station to the “Izgrev” complex is around 15 minutes. To get there you can take a cab, drive yourself or book package directly from our rental shop. If you book a trip to “Izgrev” through us, it will include transportation to and from Banya, the price of admittance and you can specify when to be picked up. If you choose to go by taxi, it’s best to arrange a pick-up time with them, as there are no taxis in Banya. If you’re going by car, exit Bansko in the direction of Velingrad/Plovdiv and it’s the first village on your way. Once in Banya, head straight and take the first exit on the only roundabout. Then keep going straight and take the last possible right turn, then the first left and in 100m you’re there. Or just punch in these GPS coordinates and let your navigation do the work: 41°52’46.5″N 23°31’40.0″E
The Mineral Pools
The pool complex has one main pool and two smaller ones. The architecture resembles a mix of traditional and modern Bulgarian style. The main pool’s water temperature is usually around 37°C (give or take a few degrees), which is perfect for relaxing for long periods of time or even doing a few laps. Drinking and smoking are allowed around the pool, however, you’ll need to purchase your drinks from the restaurant. Drinks are served in plastic cups and they don’t serve them poolside. You’ll need to get out, go order them and bring them back, so take a towel with you. Bringing your own drinks is forbidden, but the staff will probably turn a blind eye for a bottle of water. Bring a bottle of vodka though, and be prepared for the security guy to throw it in the trash, full bottle or not. Around the pool area, you’ll find plenty of lounge chairs and hangers for your stuff.
There are also two smaller pools. The children’s pool is connected to the main pool and has warmer water in it. It’s much shallower than the other two pools with a depth of about 40cm. The second small pool is separated from the main pool and has its own roof. There the water is the warmest out of the 3 pools and can even be unbearable for some visitors. The depth is about 1 meter and has a ledge for sitting that circles the pool. As always, you’ll find two separate changing rooms for men and women, but this is one of the few places where the men’s room is nicer than the female’s changing room, imagine that. Each changing room also has two toilets and showers, to rinse off before going into the main pool.
Restaurant & Hotel
The “Izgrev” complex also has a restaurant and hotel section. The restaurant has a capacity of 80 people and a very big outside garden, that’s open during the warmer parts of the year. The food is very good, better than many places in Bansko and cheaper. For 15 leva you can get a soup, salad and main dish, while the alcohol is also well priced. Service is fast, as long as the restaurant isn’t overcrowded and you’re bound to find something suitable for any taste on the menu. The hotel part has mostly double-rooms, as well as some apartments, single rooms and studio. Prices are not the cheapest in Bansko, but you get full access to the mineral pools.
When you put into consideration the added health benefits of swimming in thermal mineral springs and the need for relaxation after a long day of skiing, there really isn’t any reason not to try it. You’re almost guaranteed to have a good time. There are only two downsides to “Izgrev” that we have to mention. The first is that during the high season it can get extremely crowded in the evening, after 6 PM. In one case a tour operator dropped off a bus of at least 50-60 tourists, thankfully we were just leaving then. The second downside is that there are no lockable lockers in the changing room and theft has occurred. So far, just people I know have had a smartphone and two ABS airbag backpacks (500+ euros each) stolen from the changing rooms. So we suggest leaving your bags on the lounge chairs next to the pool while you bathe.
Ski & Board Traventuria is a leading provider of lift passes, equipment rental, airport transfers and ski school for the Bansko area. To book your next ski vacation in Bansko with us, please check our website – www.skibansko.bg