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Buzzing Bansko is Bulgaria’s premier ski resort and the most snow-sure in the country. Sunshine, thumping après-ski culture, and pistes at altitudes from 900m to 2600m draw locals, Brits and Russians each winter. As more and more hotels sprout up, overdevelopment in Bansko is a looming concern. This Pirin Mountains town gets mighty hectic during ski season; expect queuing bottlenecks on the main gondola lift from town.

Bansko isn’t a faceless resort, though. The cobblestoned old town is speckled with 19th-century National Revival mansions and worthy museums. These stone-and-timber houses were buttressed by fortress-style walls, once holding hidden escape routes, protecting their inhabitants from the Turks.

Unlike many other ski towns, Bansko doesn’t hibernate in summer and it makes a convenient base to explore pristine Pirin National Park, south of town. Visitors charmed by Bansko can only hope that development eases off, to preserve the character of this snow-and-sunshine town.

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