Best known as a skiing vacation destination, for me Bansko is the town I visit every summer to catch some jazz vibes and enjoy the fresh air of mountain Pirin. This year was a special one. Not only the International Jazz Festival celebrated its 20th edition, but also I had a special person to attend the festival with: my year-and-a-half old toddler.
Needless to say, as much as I was excited I was also worried. Will our hotel be fine for my kid? Is Bansko a kids-friendly destination? Will there be enough places to visit with the baby? What about the crowds during the fest, what about the food in the restaurants and all that jazz…
As we approached Bansko, my worries started to dissipate one by one.
Bansko as a SPA destination
First, I saw those big posters with happy kids and parents having fun in a pool, presenting a brand new SPA center, which, as I was going to happily find our later, were a freebie, part of our stay at the hotel we’ve chosen to spend our summer jazz vacation.
Next, entering that same hotel in Bansko – Aparthotel Lucky Bansko, the first thing I saw was their kids playground – a nice big “sandbox” with a little house and a swing.
Sigh with relief.
“Welcome!”, sounded the hospitable voice of the lady at the reception desk, as I was trying to prevent Alexander (the toddler in question and a first comer to the Bansko Jazz Fest) from breaking all the POS terminals in near sight.
Little did I hear from what the lady from the reception desk told me, but three things clearly echoed in my recent mom’s ears:
“The windows in the room are with safety glass, there’s a kids corner, with free animation services, working all day long from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and your stay includes free unlimited access to the hotel’s SPA centre offering 3 non-chlorine pools, one which is a kids pool”
A check-in and a very quick unpacking of our suitcases later, we were basking in the amazing atmosphere of the SPA center. The chlorine-free pools had underwater music and hydro-jet, but that was nothing compared to the giant Mushroom, spraying water with a push of a button, wisely located within the reach of a child’s hands next to the children’s pool.
When the Jazz Fest began at Apart Hotel Lucky Bansko’s Pool
Just when we thought life cannot be more perfect, the 20th edition of the jazz fest began. Just for us. Out of the blue (or more specifically out of Salt Pool with Dead Sea salts) came Toma Sprostranov – the presenter of the fest, greeting us with a smile and then engaging in a chat, asking me how old is my son. We had a brief talk on the way little kids have fun and grow which ended with a piece of advice:
Don’t worry, inquisitive kids are the ones who grow up wonderful people with diverse interests.
Later that day, we found out, that Mr. Sprostranov was staying at our hotel and not only that but organizing jazz classes in one of Apart Hotel Lucky Bansko’s lobbies, presenting various films and documentaries, telling the history of jazz legends.
So much for my concern about the hotel! Happily dissolved in the saline waters of the pool and the short but nice conversation with the fest’s presenter. For the record, apart from the fun experience in the children’s pool, we had everything one might need for staying with a kid: kids bed and chairs, a stroller, a pot, a feeding bottle, safety plugs for the room, children’s bathrobes and cosmetics.
Oh, and did I mention the toy Alexander got as a special guest …
Bansko IS a kids-friendly destination
After seeing that my worries about the hotel were pointless, I swiftly changed gears and focused on the concerns whether Bansko a kids-friendly destination and will there be enough places to visit with the baby. For, as you probably know, or will soon find out, the most important thing in the life of a toddler (or to tell the truth in their mom’s life) come the things that make the baby happy, which for a one year old are the playgrounds and the parks (OK, and the ice-cream).
Fortunately, in Bansko there’s enough of those.
Children Playgrounds and Parks in Bansko and the Vicinities
Apart from the outdoor playground located right next to our hotel, there were several playground areas scattered across the centre of the town and a big, really big playground, only 30 minutes away by car from Bansko called Banderishka Polyana. The latter we hit with a family we met at the hotel. They too had a toddler who didn’t think sleep is something worth wasting time with. Up there, at Banderishka Polyana, there was a giant inflatable water slide, which we didn’t try because there was nobody to look after the babies. There were however lots of benches, seats ad tables to spend great time around. For the youngest mountain tourists there were also castles and climbing walls, as well as nice wooden swings.
At a 15 minutes walk from our hotel was the Town park of Bansko which we found is really great for strolling and play. There were three playground areas in the greenery together with fun facilities, a cafe, and some (not very long) alleys, perfect for a toddler’s safe zig-zag running.
The other playgrounds I spotted we at the very centre of the town, right above the Vaptsarov square, where the Jazz Fest took place and one on the street along the river Glazne. A local mom told me that there we a total of six or seven, but we never got to explore all of them.
And what about the crowds during the Jazz Fest in Bansko?
Just as the town itself was appeared to be very kids-friendly, the atmosphere during the International Jazz Festival was perfectly fine for kids of all ages.
With very few exceptions, such as too much cigarette smoke in some areas, and an unhealthy number of candies and junk food stands, the festival ground was excellent. One could, provided coming earlier (which we never managed to) put a blanket somewhere in the four or five suitable for that green spots around the stage or sit down with a portable tripod or a camping chair. Also, when the program was less fascinating or we just needed to breathe some fresh air, the quiet of the small town streets was several minutes away.
The Buffet Breakfast in the Hotel That Wiped my Food Concerns
As for my last concern – the food in the restaurant, this one disappeared the moment I saw the water Kangen (for those who are not familiar with this, it is a filtered, ionized water) at the buffet breakfast and the fresh orange and grapefruit juice. There were also plenty of fruit and vegetables and a comfy wooden baby high chair. Add to that the fridge and the kitchen corner we had at our apartment and the food concern was over. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay as long as to eat out and check the restaurants in the town and the kids corner’s there, but that is on my to do list for the next year’s Jazz Fest edition.
My 2018 To-Do List for a Summer Vacation in Bansko
Yes, to do lists are recent mom’s secret weapon. Here’s mine:
- Book again at Apart Hotel Bansko (despite their above the average prices, the hotel wa fully booked during the fest, so it will be wise to book earlier, and yes, get that free admission to those pools :))
- Find restaurants to eat out with a toddler
- Bring blankets buy a camping chair, plus do everything possible to leave earlier for the fest (the green parts in the square are just perfect, kids usually are interested in running and maybe dancing, and don’t need a frontal view to the stage, but you have to be there early to save a spot)
- Tell the organizers of the fest that the time for selling small-sized festival T-shirts has come. The number of young jazz lovers in Bansko is steadily growing up.
I really hope this was helpful and you will now be able to consider “Bansko ski resort” from a different perspective: as a good choice for a summer vacation with kids!
P.s. Three Useful Links for the Fellow Travellers to Bansko with Kids
And just before you go, I want to leave you with these three links I have found when researching Bansko for kids-friendly things to do.
- Bachevo ranch with horses
- Dobrinishte mineral water pool
- Belitsa Bear Park