Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Varna - The Sea Capital of Bulgaria

The city of Varna is known as the sea capital of Bulgaria and it is this unofficial title that hints at the reasons that make it a great place to explore while on holiday in the country.

Located in the north east of the nation on the shores of the Black Sea, Varna has all the charm associated with a coastal destination, as well as the historical and cultural attributes of Bulgaria's third largest city.

This means it ticks all the boxes for a family holiday where everyone wants to see and do something different.

Since a town was established on the site in the sixth century, it has acted as a sea port and over the years been in the hands of a number of different empires, including that of Alexander the Great and the Romans. Fascinating monuments from the history of Varna can be found in the Archaeological Museum, including items from the chalcolythic necropolis, which is the oldest golden treasure ever found.

There is no doubt that the city can trace its fortunes to the fact it sits in such a commercially important position. While the sea has played a vital role in Varna's past, it continues to be a focus for those visiting the city to this day. So significant is the coastal influence that the largest park in the town is called the Sea Garden and just below here, the beach and central sea baths can be found.


Built at the beginning of the 20th century to allow those travelling for their health to bath in the waters, this area also includes two quays and a number of restaurants with views of the sea.

Sit and enjoy a meal of freshly caught seafood or opt for something a little more energetic. Surfing, diving, jet skiing and boat trips are all popular activities that holidaymakers like to take advantage of from Varna.


For a unique blend of seaside and city life, book your summer holiday to the northern Black Sea coast now.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Top Five Foods You Must Try In Bulgaria

Here at Balkan Holidays, we believe Bulgarian cuisine is vastly underrated on the global scene. Move over, delicatessens of France and sushi bars of Japan - we think it's high time the eateries and restaurants serving shopska salad and tarator get their turn. Bulgaria has a reputation for having a varied and exciting eating scene that also manages to be very healthy. When it comes to choosing something to drink with your meal, opt for one of Bulgaria's famed wines, which are grown and bottled all over the country and have attained worldwide recognition.

If your taste buds start tingling, locate the nearest establishment selling food and order one of these tasty dishes.

Shopska salad

When it comes to starting your meal, you can't do much better than a well-prepared shopska salad. Bulgaria's legendary policy on using fresh vegetables comes to the forefront here - crisp cucumber slices, juicy tomatoes, crunchy onions and flavoursome peppers are all thrown in with a sprinkling of local cheese. While these are the most common ingredients, they are by no means the only ones you may find, and recipes might also contain parsley, jalapeños, olives and a vinegar-based dressing. Delicious.



As a starter, shopska salad is traditionally consumed with a small cold rakia, which is a popular alcoholic beverage throughout the country. You'll find it is drunk at lunchtime in very small quantities as a workman's pick-me-up. Rakia can be likened to a strong fruit brandy in taste.

Tarator

If you've spent all day in the glorious hot Bulgarian sun working on your tan and feeling a bit dehydrated, there is nothing more refreshing than a serving of tarator. This popular meze (appetizer) is made using yoghurt, cucumber, sunflower or olive oil and walnuts before being seasoned with garlic and dill both of which can be omitted if so desired and is usually served chilled or even with ice. A salad version of tarator is known as Snejanka, also called Dry Tarator is available. Tarator is a popular dish in Bulgaria and can be served as an appetizer or as a side to the main meal.



Kyufte

The smell of kyufte being grilled is enough to get anyone's mouth watering in anticipation. Consisting of a tasty meatball, the Bulgarian variant is typically made from ground beef or pork, or even a mix of the two. During your time in the country, it's worth trying all three meats as you're sure to have an interesting meal that way. Why not ask the waiter for a selection plate of kyufte? Diced onions, various herbs and spices and soaked bread are also used in the mixture, which is then shaped into rough balls before being shallow-fried or grilled. You'll find this is an immensely popular dish that is served in a great many restaurants.

Kyufte might be eaten with a salad or another side dish, or you may find them served in a soup. This is a particularly good way to enjoy them as you get not only the juicy meatball but also a tasty broth.

Mekitsa

The main meal is over; now you're probably wondering what to have for dessert. Don't opt for the usual ice cream or cheesecake while you're in Bulgaria, however. A casual glance down any menu in Bulgaria will probably reveal mekitsa somewhere - it's a much-loved after dinner treat. Consisting of kneaded dough made with yoghurt, it is usually served with jam or cream and sprinkled with icing sugar. White cheese may also feature.

Although it's quite a sweet dish, you might find mekitsa is served for breakfast in some cafés or restaurants. But no matter which meal you choose to have it for, it's well worth a try during your stay in Bulgaria.

Cheverme

Cheverme is less of an actual dish and more of a cooking technique, but we simply couldn't miss it out from this list, it's just such a tradition in Bulgaria. If you go to a restaurant - particularly on days of celebrations or festivals - you may well see a complete animal being roasted on a split within a special dedicated oven. Often, this will be a pig (as dictated by tradition) but it's not uncommon to see a chicken or lamb rotating gently over an open fire.

The cooking process takes between four to seven hours, but this is time usually well-spent as people commonly chat to their friends, family or fellow diners while the meat is cooking. Meat cooked on the cheverme is then sliced up and generally served meshana skara-style, with plates of mixed meat being served to diners with salads and other side dishes. Thanks to traditional cookery methods and the use of various herbs and spices, it always tastes delicious. If you can, seek out a cheverme during your time in Bulgaria as it will give you a very authentic experience of the warm and wonderful dining culture in this incredible country.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Getting to know Croatia's Islands

Croatia's islands are a diverse bunch with fascinating individual nuances and personalities. Like any family, there is contrast aplenty to be found here. From energetic Brac to isolated Lopud, you're in for an absolute treat. You're going to enjoy getting to know this extensive family if you come back more than once, or visit more than just the one island during your stay.

And what a family to behold! There are 1,244 landmasses if you count every little rock and islet, however only around 50 of these are permanently inhabited. Depending on what you want for your holiday, it may well be best to examine what the islands below have to offer before making your choice.

Hvar


If we're continuing the family metaphor, Hvar has always been the unofficial favourite of the holiday crowd. With good reason - it's family orientated and has plenty of activities for the kids, while its major city Hvar Town encompasses a mix of historical fascination and party atmosphere that is rarely found anywhere else. While Stari Grad - the main port - offers a modern setting with plenty of bars and places to chill out after a long day on the beach, the Jelsa and Vrboska neighbourhoods boast a different feel entirely, with their old stone houses and unhurried village atmospheres. Natural beauty is also abound here.


The charismatic coastline is lined with jagged inlets with pebbly coves worn gradually away by the sea, while much of the land is of vibrant colours - emerald, purple, crimson - thanks to the vineyards, lavender plantations and wild flowers that are grown here. Hvar is a treat for everyone and you won't want to leave. Bolshy and outgoing yet simultaneously traditional and historic, it's no wonder she is the unofficial favourite of the Balkan islands.

Brac


If Hvar is the perfect princess of the Croatian Island family, Brac is definitely the wild and excitable little brother. The longest landmass of the bunch, he rarely attracts the glittering crowds that cluster around Hvar. You won't see celebrities sailing into the harbours here. But you will see one notable collection of people: water sports enthusiasts. They come in their droves - the windsurfers, kite surfers, kayakers, scuba divers and snorkelers. Unmistakable in their skimpy Speedos and invariably carrying a board or paddle, these guys and girls relish the reliable winds and excellent sailing conditions provided by Brac's unique island climate. 


Places to check out include Zlatni Rat beach, which is Croatia's most photographed stretch of coastline with its pristine shingly sand edging away into the azure waters, encroached by a triangular mass of emerald trees. It's also a top windsurfing spot.

Mljet


Southern Dalmatia is home to Mljet, an unspoilt paradise that has plenty to offer intrepid travellers. The quiet cousin of the Croatian island family, she often goes completely unnoticed by the press and hordes of tourists. But this is by no means a bad thing. More than 72 per cent of Mljet is made up of wild pine forest, which is why it holds the title of National Park. Where its history is concerned, nothing much has ever happened here, and the main attraction is the island's natural assets. Well worth visiting are the interconnected emerald-green saltwater lakes, which, when coupled with the sharp smell of the encroaching pine forest, delivers the perfect backdrop for any holiday. Mljet’s monastery on the big lake is a must see and provides the perfect day out for those looking to get in touch with nature.


Also, don't forget to check out the beautiful beach of Saplunara - a gentle curve of beach that contrasts well against the green of the forest. Finally, for some jaw-dropping natural architecture, take a 20 minute walk along Babino Polje until you stumble upon Odysseus Cave. Witness what Mother Nature gets up to in her wildest moments, pulling shapes in this egg-shaped shelter that you would not have thought possible. All in all, Mljet may be the quiet cousin of the family, but if you make the effort, she's happy to get to know you.

Lopud


In the Croatian island family metaphor, Lopud is the bookish father shut away in his study all the time. Rarely visited by tourists in comparison to the others, you'll find an altogether more isolated atmosphere here. But it's well worth exploring Lopud's lush environment and charming towns. Not only is there natural beauty in abundance - sweeping forests, spectacular sandy beaches and soaring mountains - but you'll also find a number of historical gems. Archaeological findings date back to ancient times, with many fascinating places to uncover and explore during your time here such as the Franciscan Monastery. 


Since Lopud is a mere stone's throw away from Dubrovnik, it's also worth taking a ferry and exploring the famed walled city of Croatia during your time here. But let's not detract from Lopud's own assets - this is a spectacular island with much to offer and the bay of Sunj is particularly worth taking the time to explore.

Korcula


Finally, we come to Korcula, which is the equivalent of the cheerful elderly grandmother who is more than happy to carry on traditions that everyone else has long abandoned. She's an energetic old soul, though, and the many festivals and age-old religious ceremonies carried out here will likely be the highlight of your trip. Folk music and dances are also very popular - Granny hasn't given into arthritis just yet. Natural harbours and coves pepper the coastline, meaning you can always find a quiet spot, and gastronomically speaking, the many vineyards will please wine lovers. She likes a drop of wine, Granny Korcula does.


All in all, no matter what you're seeking in a holiday, you are sure to find it here. Whether you're looking for an island retreat where you can snuggle down amid spectacular landscape, a good knees-up or a water sports experience, the Croatian Islands provide a wonderful backdrop to any kind of break. They will be as happy to meet you as you are them. Book your holiday to Croatia today with the UK's number one tour operator to Croatia, Balkan Holidays.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Indulge in a couple's trip to Nessebar

The time that we get to spend with our loved ones alone is precious, so it is important to choose the destination for a couple's trip very carefully.

Nessebar on the Black Sea coast is perfect for this as it blends the charm of traditional Bulgaria with some pristine beaches, as well as good places to sample local food and drinks.


So whether you prefer to walk hand in hand along the sand or while exploring the cobbled streets of the old quarter, you are bound to find the holiday destination to suit your romantic needs.

There has been a settlement at Nessebar for 3,000 years, with various civilisations claiming it as their own. Each one has left its mark on the town and uncovering the history is part of its allure. You will find yourself snapping away with your camera at every opportunity.


Just because it has been declared a protected area by UNESCO and is home to more than 40 quaint churches does not mean the town has no nightlife.

Relax with your other half enjoying a delicious meal in one of the many restaurants, where seafood is incredibly fresh and plentiful, before heading off in search of some live music.


Several establishments host such events, so there are opportunities to dance and relax with your other half.

Unlike larger resorts like Sunny Beach, Nessebar is quieter and gives you more space to yourselves. If you really wish to get away from it all then book one of the many Black Sea cruises that are on offer.


There are plenty of different options, from taking a boat to the historic town of Sozopol or ramping up the romance with cocktails at sunset out at sea.

Book your dream summer break to Nessebar today by visiting our Holidays to Nessebar page.
Book your summer holiday to Nessebar today by visiting our Holidays to Nessebar page. - See more at: http://blog.balkanholidays.co.uk/2013/08/nessebar-historic-slice-of-heaven.html#sthash.NJSrSybc.dpuf
Book your summer holiday to Nessebar today by visiting our Holidays to Nessebar page. - See more at: http://blog.balkanholidays.co.uk/2013/08/nessebar-historic-slice-of-heaven.html#sthash.NJSrSybc.dpuf

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Top Activities For Kids At Golden Sands

Every parent knows that keeping the kids entertained is key when it comes to having a happy and relaxed holiday.

Luckily this is not a problem at the resort of Golden Sands in Bulgaria, as there are so many activities for kids of all ages to enjoy, they won't know where to start.

Well, we recommend the beach as their first stop, as building sandcastles and splashing around in the sea are always top family activities and Golden Sands has a safe clean expanse perfect for these sorts of fun and games.



Once they have exhausted what to do on the shore, then they can always head out on the water to enjoy everything from banana boating to water skiing.

Nothing quite brings the family together like having a good laugh as each member tries to stand up on the skis, but ends up getting splashed into the water. You'll be amazed how quickly you all improve, however, and you may even develop new passion.


Other facilities on hand include volleyball and tennis courts, which provide the perfect opportunity for working off a bit of energy, while you chill out with a book.

For a special treat, why not let the kids go on a horse or pony ride? These can be organised as short trips for the younger children or longer ones, complete with a picnic lunch, which allows for exploration of the surrounding area.


Nothing could be more fun on holiday and again, it is a great chance to get the family doing fun things together that they don't at home.

Aquapolis Water Park is always a hit with kids and conveniently located near the centre of the resort. It's a great place to take them, as they will be entertained all day and can be a nice break from the beach when it's time to mix things up a bit.



You can pretend that riding the Wild River or Niagara slides is for the kids, but you can guarantee mum and dad will be loving it too.

To enjoy all of these fun activities with your family, book your summer holiday to Golden Sands today with the number one specialists Balkan Holidays.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Family Holiday to Remember in Sunny Beach


 
Sunny Beach is the perfect destination for a family holiday in Bulgaria, as it has all the things the kids could possibly want, allowing parents to relax and enjoy their stay too.

The hotels and restaurants are so close to the beach, the kids won't be complaining about travelling far at the beginning or end of the day and the resort boasts a Blue Flag, meaning the water quality is good.


Add to this the fact that Sunny Beach has ten hours of sunlight a day during July and August, with average temperatures of 29 degrees C, and you will be dragging the kids back from the beach.

Alternatively, you can treat everyone to a fun-filled day at one of the local water parks, with Action Aquapark and Aqua Paradise in nearby Nessebar, two of the best to choose from. Sand, sea and sunshine are the general requirements for a great trip, but there are other elements too that help to make this Black Sea resort even more desirable.



Families can spend quality time together on the beach playing games and eating ice creams. Great memories are formed from taking part in water sports, with a wide selection on offer, such as windsurfing, jet skiing and riding on a banana boat. Throughout the summer months there are regular activities put on to get everyone involved, with many of these taking place directly on the beach itself. These activities are a great way for kids to make friends with other children their own age.



The Balkan Holidays Mr Bear's Kids Club has been designed to provide endless entertainment the children can enjoy in the safety and care of our friendly entertainment team, giving parents an opportunity to spend some time relaxing or shopping for those secret gifts for the kids! Located at the heart of the fantastic 4* Hotel Fenix, the club is open to all Balkan Holidays kids no matter which hotel you are staying in.


While it is nice to think that children will try some new food while they are on holiday, everyone knows that they can often be fussy. A wide selection of restaurants in Sunny Beach means that as well as getting traditional dishes, families can also find family favourites such as pizzas or even beans on toast if the little ones are in need of a taste of home. One of the perks of staying at the superb 4* Hotel Globus is that not only can you pick up some familiar favourites from the nearby McDonald's but you can also enjoy delicious traditional cuisine at the popular Hotel Globus À la carte restaurant overlooking the hotel's inviting swimming pool.


Families love summer beach holidays and Sunny Beach has a great selection to choose from. Secure your next summer 2014 or summer 2015 holiday to Bulgaria now by visiting our website.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

5 Reasons Why Bulgaria Should Be Your Next Holiday Destination

Bulgaria is the perfect holiday destination, due to its unique mix of culture, heritage, beaches and low prices, but if this isn't enough to convince you, here are the top five reasons to make it your next destination.

Extensive Sunny Coastline 

With no less than 230 miles of coastline on the Black Sea, Bulgaria has plenty of beach-based holiday resorts for visitors to choose from. There are larger ones for those who love the hustle and bustle and smaller options for intimate holidays away from the crowds. The long list of Blue Flag-recognised beaches means everyone can be confident of a high level of water quality when swimming in the sea.

Just a Short Flight Away

You do not have to travel for a long time to get to a location that offers all the delights a holidaymaker could possibly want, as Bulgaria lies under four hours away by plane from the UK. Direct flights leave from up to 19 UK airports transporting passengers right into the heart of the action, to Bourgas, Varna or Sofia.
Unspoilt Scenery

Bulgarians appreciate the natural beauty of their homeland, which is one of the few countries in Europe where extensive old growth forests still thrive. This means there is plenty of opportunities for you to get out into the countryside and enjoy lungfuls of fresh clean and stunning uninterrupted green vistas. Many of these areas are not far from the popular coastal resorts, making them perfect for day trips for families or groups of friends keen on exploring.
The Best of Summer & Winter Activities

You may now be convinced to spend your summer holiday in Bulgaria, but falling in love with the country does not have to be limited to the warmer months of the year. Bulgaria represents a fantastic place to go skiing, with lift passes, accommodation and food being a fraction of the price than other European destinations.
Delicious, Healthy Food 

It is easy to overindulge on holiday, but it is always good to know that the food you are tucking into isn't just tasty, but also healthy and not going to break the bank. Lots of locally grown fruit and vegetables are incorporated into dishes, as well as Bulgaria's distinctive white cheese.


Book your holiday to Bulgaria for the summer of 2014 by finding flights and holiday packages across the website.