Welcome to Sapareva Banya in Bulgaria
This weekend it was really hot in Sofia, Bulgaria, and by hot I mean 36 degrees Celsius (in Fahrenheit that would be 96.3 if I am correct). Either way – there was a serious chance to get a sunstroke or a heat stroke even while hiding in the darkness of one`s apartment. I confess that I am a “winter child”, although the summer also has its benefits. And while some people like the idea of “ice bucket challenge” or sunbathing at the roof of a multi-level building, let’s say that I am a little more traditional. Therefore, I decided that I must get out of the capital as soon as possible and find a cool place to ensconce myself. I made a small trip to “Sapareva Banya”, which is a famous SPA resort here in Bulgaria. Now I will share with you some details about my journey and a couple of great travel tips if you happen to be near Sofia during the summer.
Info about the location:
Sapareva Banya is a beautiful town, situated on the north Ridge of Rila Mountain. It is known for its hot mineral water, which happens to be very “eco” friendly, because it comes right from the mountain. Some of the springs reach the record temperature of 103 degrees Celsius. It is a perfect place for rehabilitation and the mineral water is highly recommended as a treatment for some disorders and diseases of the locomotor system and the respiratory system. These healing qualities of the water were familiar since Ancient Rome and that`s the reason why the old name of this town was „Gorna Banya” (literary translated in English – “Upper Bathroom”). It also has a rich history and the region is an archeological center. Nowadays it`s also a great place for vacation and relax, where you can swim, laugh with friends, drink cold draft beer and simply feel young and “duty-free”.
If it is the case that you`re leaving from Sofia (as I did), there are two very different ways to reach Sapareva Banya. If you aren`t the adventurous type, you can simply take the highroad (A3) to Dupnica city and then go left to route E62. If you are curious by nature and you aren`t in a hurry – more like me – there is a great second option which I highly recommend. Just take route E62 from the very beginning, when you are leaving from Sofia. First, you will surpass Bistritsa and Jeleznitsa – villages situated on the east slope of Vitosha Mountain. Keep in mind that the road is narrow and bumpy, but on the bright side, there is a lot of forest all around youJ. After that, you will reach a more flat, agricultural region, passing by Jarlovo and Belchin Banya. If it is summertime, expect to see storks all around you. You can even buy some quail eggs from the Quail Farm in Belchin! Then there – just before your very eyes – you will find the mighty Rila Mountain. After 72 kilometers, you will reach the final destination – Sapareva Banya.
How to organize your weekend:
Where to stay:
I don`t know about you, but for me this is always the most important question. And while in some occasions I prefer hotel rooms with mini-bar and room service, Sapareva Banya honestly offers something better. You can choose from a wide range of different guesthouses. Some of them include delicious breakfast made by a sweet babushka host. The one that I`ve chosen didn`t include that extra, but it was very clean, comfortable and near the top location – the central SPA complex. This guesthouse totally justifies its name – “Uiut” („Уют“ or Coziness in English).
I found out that these days “Hot really is the new cool”. The best way to get rid of the heat is to jump in the hot waters of one of the pools situated in Aqua Club “Kotvata”(“The Anchor”). You can easily find the place – just ask for the town center. In the summer, the Club is open from 09.00 in the morning to 21:30 in the evening. You can choose between three pools with different size and temperature. The facility includes also a closed pool and many bathtubs. It doesn`t matter if you are there for balneology or just for fun – I can promise you that there is nothing more refreshing than a bath during the summertime. If you are feeling tense and stressed out –you can always visit the SPA center on the second floor of the building. There are also a lot of options like different massages and aromatherapy. However, my favorite treat is to spend at least one hour in the hot tub. You can really feel how your whole body is celebrating, when you`re surrounded by the bubbles with a bottle of cold water and a lot of chocolate!
This is difficult, because I can`t really “file” a bad review for neither of the restaurants in Sapareva Banya. Nonetheless, I can recommend you two of them that really deserve a visit. The first one – “Panichishte” – is quite famous and you can easily find it just across the Aqua Club. It offers a variety of traditional Bulgarian dishes and a great atmosphere. The second best choice is “Bohemi” (“Bohemians”), because of its “to die for” view and delicious pork!
You must definitely visit the hot Geyser – Fountain in the center of the town. It is something like a symbol of “Sapareva Banya” and although it belongs to the early socialist realism genre, it is magnificent!There are a lot of beautiful churches and monasteries in the region. One of them – “St. Nikola” (ХІІ-ХІІІ A.C.) – is a medieval church, restored in 1935 by architect Rashenov. Inside, you can still find fragments of the original mural painting. Take a walk through the central park “Nikolay Hajtov” and you will easily find it.
- Fuel (or bus) in both directions:20 – 30 BGN / 15 – 22 AUD / 11 – 18 USD / 10 – 15 EUR / 9 – 14 GBP
- Accommodation (per night):20 – 40 BGN / 15 – 30 AUD / 11 – 22 USD / 10 – 21 EUR / 9 – 18 GBP
- Meal (salad, main course and cold beverage):10 – 20 BGN / 7 – 15 AUD / 6 – 11 USD / 5 – 10 EUR / 5 – 9 GBP
- SPA center facilities:10 – 40 BGN / 7 – 30 AUD / 6 – 22 USD / 5 – 21 EUR / 5 – 18 GBP