Digital Nomad Trip Report: Bansko, Bulgaria

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About Me

I am a travel blogger, a teacher, and a registered nurse. Our family of five lived on a sailboat for four years, and we have done land travel and lived abroad in a few countries for various amounts of time. I am a native of Bulgaria, but I currently live in the US, when not traveling. We travel as a family and prefer inexpensive, less touristy, and adventurous destinations.

+ Pros for Digital Nomads in Bansko, Bulgaria

  1. Bulgaria, and Bansko in particular, has a unique geopolitical location, separating Europe from the Orient. As such, it is an attractive mix of cultures, cuisines, and folklore. Geographically – within the same day one can travel from the high mountains surrounding the town of Bansko to the sandy beaches in Greece, and many do. The climate is great for beach-lovers, as well as skiing, with four seasons and close proximity to seaside and hiking trails.
  2. Bulgaria is part of the EU, but its proximity to other non-EU countries makes it easy for digital nomads, non-EU citizens, to travel in and out of the EU borders to extend their stay.
  3. Bulgaria has a low cost of living and very affordable accommodations while offering reliable, high-speed internet and excellent food. This combination attracts digital nomads, as well as world-schooling families.

– Cons for Digital Nomads in Bansko, Bulgaria

  1. State administration is a bit sluggish, making simple requests, permits, and so on take longer than necessary.
  2. Customer service is somewhat spotty, with better-trained staff in more tourist-friendly areas.
  3. Public buses and trains are pretty run-down.

What Was Your Overall Impression Being a Digital Nomad in Bansko, Bulgaria?

Bansko is a small town in Pirin mountain. It offers breathtaking views of the mountain and accessible hiking trails, as well as excellent ski slopes in the winter. As such, it attracts many digital nomads, who call it home for months, even years. There are cafes, restaurants, and gatherings specially created to cater to the large digital nomad population, which keeps increasing. The locals are friendly, hospitable, and glad to have the additional income digital nomads and tourists bring in. Many small businesses thrive, some created by former digital nomads.

The municipality, even though traditionally slow and hard to navigate, has also become used to digital nomads and foreigners seeking longer stay options, and many of the procedures for obtaining long-term residency, business licenses, and such, have been improved.

What Was the Cost of Living as a Digital Nomad in Bansko, Bulgaria?

Bulgaria has been the poorest EU member for many years. Even though prices continue to rise, the cost of living remains low. A 1-2 bedroom apartment can be rented for $300-$400 per month (depending on location and duration of stay).

A public transport ticket to various towns nearby is typically less than $20, with trains costing as low as $10 or less. A restaurant bill for a single person is easily around, or less than $20. One can expect to spend around $300-400 per month in groceries, if cooking and purchasing simple ingredients, without sacrificing quality.

Recently, a nationwide statistical survey announced that a family of four can have a decent life, in Bulgaria with around $1700 per month.

What Can You Share About the Culture in Bansko, Bulgaria?

Bansko is a very popular tourist destination and a ski resort. As such it attracts people with various customs, from all over the world.

Bulgaria is an Eastern Orthodox country and traditions are fiercely kept and observed, especially in small towns, such as Bansko.

While locals are hospitable and do turn a blind eye to annoying foreign habits, a few tips can make a digital nomad feel even more welcomed: Always remove your shoes when entering someone’s home; do not put your feet up on a table; bring a small gift for the host if invited as a guest. Bulgarians also shake for “yes” and nod for “no”, it can be very confusing.

What Languages are Primarily Spoken in Bansko, Bulgaria?

Bulgarian is the official language. Most younger people speak English. Many speak Spanish, German, and French. In comparison, most of the elderly speak Russian.

What was your experience finding, booking, and staying in accommodation in Bansko, Bulgaria? is a preferred app for finding accommodations. Often, word of mouth, as well as other digital nomads will have suggestions. Local cafes, such as Bansko Lab are traditional gathering places for digital nomads, where one can find great resources, tips, and help. Finding accommodation is not difficult, but the winter months tend to be busier and prices do rise during the ski season: December-April.

What Working Spaces Are Available to Digital Nomads in Bansko, Bulgaria?

There are a couple of co-working sites in town, as well as Bansko Lab – the famous digital nomad cafe and gathering site. Restaurant Yanitza is a favorite small, family-owned, home-cooked meal place as well.

What is the Food Like in Bansko, Bulgaria?

Food is a high light for Digital Nomads Visiting Bansko Bulgaria

Alongside small, traditional restaurants are various others offering traditional Italian, Middle Eastern, French, and Russian delicacies. In addition, there are a few grocery stores, as well as a larger grocery shop within walking distance from downtown, which offer anything one would need for preparing meals and eating anything from meats, vegans, gluten-free and so on.

What is the Visa Situation for Digital Nomads in Bansko, Bulgaria?

EU citizens can enter freely and all EU rules apply, just as they do in their home country. Bulgaria, however, is not part of the Schengen Area yet, so the Euro is not the official currency (although widely accepted).

American citizens can travel as tourists, visa-free, for up to 90 days, within a six-month period. After that, they must exit the EU for a period of at least 90 days, before being able to re-enter an EU country.

Digital nomads, who wish to remain longer can apply for long-term visas, type D. The various conditions and requirements are listed online and lawyer firms are easy to find for legal consultation and help. Local nomad cafes and gatherings have the necessary resources and contacts.

What’s the Connectivity Like in Bansko, Bulgaria?

High-speed internet, 5G, is readily available and easy to obtain in Bansko, as well as all towns and most Bulgarian villages. Cell internet is also very fast and reliable. Depending on the time one wishes to remain in Bulgaria, pre-paid sim cards are available, on a monthly basis, with the option to purchase the needed data and talk minutes as they expire.

It might end up being cheaper to look for a yearly plan, with unlimited high-speed internet and talk minutes, which are as low as $30-40/month, and then cancel the plan, or give the sim to another trusted person. Text messages are usually paid in Bulgaria. The two largest and most popular cell and internet providers are A-1 and Vivacom, with comparable offers.

What is There to Do for Fun in Bansko, Bulgaria?

Bansko is a true gem in the Balkans, in South East Europe. It is located in the lower hills of the Pirin mountains, which offers incredible hikes, rock climbing, and adventurous routes in the summer.

The closest beaches in Greece are just a couple of hours away, for a complete change of fun pace.

In the winter, ski slopes are groomed and maintained well enough to host world-class ski championships. Ski passes are the cheapest in the EU.

A ski field in Bansko Bulgaria after fresh snow, Skiing is a popular winter past time  for digital nomads here

For those who prefer a calmer time – the nearby town of Dobrinishte offers hot mineral springs baths, spas, and pools.

Horseback riding is offered in at least four stables around Bansko. Nearby ancient Roman and Greek ruins are easy to reach by car or bus. Small, old villages offer a walk back in time, via cobbled streets and houses that are a few hundred years old. Bansko, itself, has one of the most beloved Bulgarian Old Towns right downtown. Many Christian traditions are woven amongst ancient pagan customs, resulting in spectacular festivals and costume displays, such as the Kukeri in January, and Nestinari (women dancing on live coal). The usual restaurants, bars, and cafes are hard to miss as well. Wineries abound to the south, and closer to the Black Sea.

What is the Social Scene Like for Digital Nomads in Bansko, Bulgaria?

Bansko is a digital nomad as well as a world-schooling hub, so meeting like-minded people is relatively easy. Digital nomads, foreigners, and tourists mingle with the locals, who are used to their town turning into a world crossroad for cultures and languages. Most locals speak English, but finding a passing-by translator is not hard either.

What’s the Weather Like in Bansko, Bulgaria?

Bulgaria has four seasons, with hot summers and cold and snowy winters. Due to its proximity to the Mediterranean, the southern parts are a bit warmer. To the east, the Balck Sea offers the breezy salty air, which Bulgarians and visitors love.

How Does Money Work in Bansko, Bulgaria?

The official currency of Bulgaria is the Bulgarian lev. Even though it is part of the EU, Bulgaria is not in Schengen yet, so the Euro is not an official currency, but is widely accepted. ATMs are easy to find and offer quick access to cash. Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but cash is always needed for street vendors and smaller shops and restaurants.

What Else Should People Know About Bansko, Bulgaria? 

Bulgarians are very afraid of catching colds, so no drinks are offered with ice. There are no refills, and many of the public toilets are still the squatting type.

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