Bansko was once a quiet Bulgarian mountain village, with little reason for outsiders to visit. But, seeing the popularity of skiing in the Alps, Bansko started to build ski lifts, and today is a credible ski resort that attracts thousands of visitors each year. On the back of that success, the town has developed itself as a year-round hub for all sorts of other adventure sports and adrenalin activities. Among them is paragliding.
A Bansko paragliding trip can be had winter or summer. Bansko lies in the Pirin National Park, an area of protected and (apart from the ski resort!) largely untouched pine forest, with waterfalls, lakes, wildflower meadows and wild animals including bears and wolves. From Bansko, a gondola takes you up past the treeline, with some spectacular views to be had over the peaks once you get there. It runs all year, and can be used without a ski pass, so it’s easy to get up and fly.
Temperatures in the summer months often reach into the thirties, while visibility in the winter months is often poor. But between March and September, most days are good for flying. As well as short flights off Bansko’s peaks, you can travel cross-country over the valleys of the Pirin.
A couple of hours’ drive from Bansko is Sopot, a major paragliding hub, often used by Bansko’s paragliding operators. It has a chairlift to get up the hill, strong thermals and plenty of opportunity for big cross country flights. If you’re an experienced pilot (or even if you’re not), it is well worth making the trip to Sopot.
A Bansko paragliding flight will take you over some of Europe’s last wildernesses. Much of it is remote, and all of it is stunning.