Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Top 5 Activities for Kids in Sunny Beach

These are just a taster of what you can do in Sunny Beach with kids. If you’re looking for a great value holiday destination with cuisine that caters to the British taste, Western European conveniences at cheaper Eastern European pricing, plenty of sunshine and beaches, then Sunny Beach is the resort for you. Over 1 million holidaymakers visit each year, so there must be something to it...

1. Sunny Beach Aquapark

The Action Aquapark boasts an impressive number of flumes, slides and crazy rivers sure to make your day at the park one to remember. Tickets to the park are pre-bookable locally with the Balkan Holidays representatives which saves you having to queue upon arrival at the park. There is also a free shuttle bus which takes you from resort directly to the park helping you get your visit to the Aquapark off to a hassle free start. As the only Aquapark in Bulgaria to feature its very own farm with horses, rabbits and sheep, the park is a popular choice with holidaymakers to Sunny Beach.

Location - Action Aqua Park is situated in the western part of Sunny Beach just 5 minutes away from the resort's centre.


2. Khan’s Tent

The dinner and cabaret style show at Khan's Tent is a unique night, set at the top of a hill several kilometres north of Sunny Beach. The secluded wooded setting with beautiful views of the coast was supposedly where Khan Krum had a military encampment in the 9th century. The stunning interior is the venue for superb traditional food, served by costume-clad waiters, with music and a brilliant live show. The kids will love it!

Location – On northern hill overlooking Sunny Beach (all taxi drivers know where it is)


3. Resort Pools & One HUGE Beach

Most, if not all, resorts and hotels in Sunny Beach have a pool. Not a day will go where your kids will not want to go for a swim. On top of that, the beach is not far either. Many Balkan Holidays properties in Sunny Beach have a great location just a few minutes’ walk from the beach itself. There are many lounges and umbrellas available at a local charge or if you prefer, you can sit in one of the many restaurants or bars on the beach while the kids build sandcastles.

Location – Wherever you choose!


4. Offroad Adventure

Treat the kids to a unique holiday experience with a rugged Jeep ride up and down the hills of the Balkan Mountains which includes a visit to a small animal farm with magnificent views unfolding from the mountain tops as you roll along. The offroad adventure is definitely a fun way to explore the countryside and experience Bulgarian hospitality.

Location - TBC



5. Sun 'N Fun Pirate Cruise

This cruise is perfect fun for the kids with the whole day revolving around them, from the programme of games and fun to face painting and the meatball/salad lunches. Adults may struggle a little for something to do, so bring a book for the lazy cruise and don’t forget your swimsuit for the swim stop!

Location - A bus can collect you from your hotel and delivers you to Nessebar port, where the boat departs. You are then shuttled back afterwards.



All excursions are sold by Balkan Holidays Services, who are acting as an agent for the relevant suppliers. These trips should be booked through your Balkan Holidays Representative only. Although every care has been taken when producing this article and the descriptions are believed to be correct at the time of writing, Balkan Holidays cannot take responsibility for any changes/withdraws in some resorts. In different resorts excursion programme may vary so ask your Balkan Holidays representative for specific details, prices, child reductions and free places availability as per your resort.

Friday, 30 December 2016

120 Years of Borovets - The History of Bulgaria's First Mountain Resort


The birth of Borovets dates back to 1896, when the Bulgarian King Ferdinand commenced the construction of a hunting lodge in the Rila Mountains called "Royal Bistrica". After its completion it quickly became a favourite spot for summer recreation of the royal family.


The royal family's example was soon followed by many entrepreneurs, bankers and wealthy families from the capital city of Sofia, who also built villas in the surrounding area. Little by little, this part of Rila became a regular summer getaway destination for many and in 1928, the number of villas has grown to a staggering 74. The destination became so popular that in 1903, a regular bus line from Sofia to Borovets via Samokov was established.

The owners of the villas gradually began to return in the winter months too, but it was only in the 1930's, with the advent of skiing, that the resort really began to develop as a place for winter recreation and sport. It all started in the hunting grounds of "Royal Bistrica", were a number of foreigners worked, hired by the royal family as engineers, meteorologists and botanists. They brought with them skis that were used when they carried out their tasks on the grounds during the winter months.

The family of one of the workers, Michael Krashnyak, settled in the nearby town of Samokov after 1919 and Michael's son, Michael Krashnyak Junior was one of the first people to demonstrate downhill skiing to his classmates. A number of students from the American University also owned skis and encouraged the younger generation of Samokov to try out this new sport. Getting inspired was one thing, but obtaining skiis back in those days was something completely different - it almost impossible!

The only solution for the locals was to produce the skiis themselves. A number of local carpenters tried producing their own version and this resulted in a a few quirky models coming to life. Some even tried to use the arcs of wine barrels to ski on. (This gradually developed with time and the city began producing its own ski brand "Slaveevki.")


In 1924 the Director of the Samokov School Ivan Velchev, iniciated volunteers to build a tourist hut or "Musala". One of the participants in the construction - Dimitar Vajarov wrote in his memoirs: "With director Velchev, several other teachers and the Student's Travel Club we identified the perfect place for the hut during a recent winter hike in the deep snow.

T
he king not only allowed us to build the hut on royal property, but also ordered the governor to release a platoon of his soldier guards to help us with clearing the area of pine trees. We, the students, were camping nearby every Saturday and Sunday to help carry out the cutting down of vegetation, before locals would take them away with horses..."

On 16 February 1930 Juniors Tourist Union Branch "Rila", organized the first ski race in Bulgaria. The competitors would hike up the hill and then race down through the woods from Sitnyakovo to Borovets. Michael Krashnyak Junior was the first descendant to outline the path for the others.

 
(An interesting fact is that, in January 1936, a new law came out that required ski owners to declare their skis and pay excise duty in the sum of up to 50 levs. The aim is to raise funds to allow the Bulgarian skiers to participate in the more and more frequent international competitions. These plans however never came to be and membership began to decline. Throughout the season not a single skier from Samokov paid their excise duty and the failed law was cancelled.)

The glory of the resort came in 1970's and 1980's, thanks to the success of the Bulgarian ski legend Pepi Popangelov from Samokov and the efforts of his father - Peter Popangelov senior. From that point on the resort has been continuously developing as an international ski centre. Since the time it first appeared on the map in 1974 until today, Borovets has hosted 2 international and 12 European Cups, numerous FIS alpine ski and international snowboard competitions. Today, one of the runs is named after the legendary skier Popangelov.

These days, Borovets welcomes tourists from all over the world by providing world class recreation and sport facilities and opportunities. The palace "Royal Bistrica" is open for visitors and attracts many tourists every season.



This season, work on a massive investment project worth 40 million euro will continue to develop the resort. Thanks to this project a modern state of the art system of 175 snow cannons was build, with an artificial lake and pump station which will allow great skiing even if the winter season fails to bring much snow.

In addition to the resort's three interconnected ski zones, this season there will also be a dedicated kids sled zone, night skiing on 8 freshly groomed interconnected runs and two fun parks which once again will bring together freestyle skiers and snowboarders to practice their tricks.


No matter what level of ability you are, you can be assured that a fantastic ski holiday and incredible value for money await you in Borovets this winter. And if the success of this season is likely to come down to weather, than things are looking good for the Eastern European resorts with a significant amount of snow having already fallen across all resorts offered by Balkan Holidays.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Christmas in Bulgaria

Just like us here in the UK, Bulgarians celebrate Christmas on December 25, however this is somewhat unexpected because Bulgaria is an Orthodox country. The traditional Eastern Orthodox celebration of Christmas actually occurs on January 7th. Bulgaria's Orthodox Church follows the Gregorian calendar, which means its religious observances are in keeping with those of the West. If you're in Bulgaria during the winter season, you can see cities like Sofia covered in Christmas lights with the Sofia Christmas Market an ideal place for travellers to go during the month of December to experience Bulgarian Christmas cheer. A typical Bulgarian Christmas is full of customs and traditions that make this time of year special for those who maintain them.

The Sofia Christmas Market is regarded as one of the best in Europe to visit

The Bulgarian Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve in Bulgaria is celebrated in a traditional fashion with an odd number of guests who dine on a vegetarian meal consisting of an odd number of dishes, which follows the 40 day Advent fast. This rich meal, which encourages abundance in the coming year, includes grains and vegetables such as stuffed peppers, fruits and nuts.

One thing that is sure to be found on the Bulgarian Christmas Eve table are Walnuts. These nuts are cracked in order to predict success or failure for the coming year. Another special aspect of the the Bulgarian Christmas Eve meal is the rounded loaf of bread, into which a coin is baked. The person who finds the coin will be rewarded with good fortune. Pieces of this bread are shared around the table and may be placed near the house's icon, much like the wafer that is shared at Christmas in countries such as Poland.

A typical Bulgarian Christmas table with Walnuts, Peppers and Fruits

Interestingly, the Christmas Eve dinner table is not allowed to be cleared until the following morning in order to provide nourishment for the ghosts of ancestors who may come back to visit before Christmas morning.

One belief that is key to Bulgarian culture is the legend that the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve, but only announced his birth the day after, on Christmas Day. Legend also says that Mary was in labor from December 20th until the birth of Christ. December 20th is the Day of St. Ignat, or Ignazhden.

The person who finds the coin is said to be rewarded with good fortune

The Bulgarian Christmas Day

Once the vegetarian fast has ended, everyone enjoys an enormous dinner on Christmas Day, with a main dish of some type of meat which is often pork. Koledari, or Christmas carolers, go from house to house through villages. These groups of carolers are typically made up of young men dressed in traditional costumes which vary from region to region. Some preparation goes into the koledari's performances, which begin at midnight on Christmas Eve. This tradition is said to protect against evil spirits. The koledari are rewarded with food in return for their services.

Bulgarian men dress in traditional costumes to perform at various houses

And of course there is always the Christmas presents, which as is mostly done in the UK, are opened on Christmas Day itself, for those who cannot wait until the morning or later in the day, it is also acceptable for the presents to be opened at midnight on Christmas Day.

So now that you know a little more about a typical Bulgarian Christmas, we hope you have an memorable and jolly Christmas yourself.

If you fancy treating yourself this Christmas, you can enjoy a great value winter holiday or summer holiday to Bulgaria with Balkan Holidays.

Vesela Koleda!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Our Top Reasons Why You'll Love Learning to Ski In Bulgaria

You've thought about learning to ski, but you find yourself asking the question "is it for me?". Well, the answer simply has to be YES! Why? Because not only is skiing an incredibly fun hobby that will take you to some of the most breathtaking places, but provided you are in good hands, skiing is also easier to learn and more affordable than most people think.

Not much can compare to the cocktail of positive emotions racing through your body when you find yourself at the bottom of the slope having just completed your very first run. Almost instantly you find yourself craving for more and it won't be long before you realize that your perception of winter has changed completely - you are no longer counting down the days till next summer, but find yourself wishing winter lasted all year round! OK, so where is a good place to start? At Balkan Holidays we believe that Bulgaria, with it's fantastic ski terrain, cheap apres-ski and established ski traditions, is a great place to begin your skiing adventure. We offer incredible value for money package holidays which include flights, transfers, accommodation, ski hire and lessons especially tailored for beginners with friendly and patient English speaking instructors in all of Bulgaria's leading resorts - Pamporovo, Borovets and Bansko.

Bulgaria Ski Slopes
Bulgaria is a great place to begin your skiing adventure
The resort of Pamporovo offers beginners a wide choice of gentle nursery slopes and is host to the highly recommended ski school which makes it easy for beginners to learn quickly and correctly. With the shortest transfer time from Sofia airport, the resort of Borovets provides an excellent mix of skiing for beginners and for the intermediate skiers making it an ideal choice if you are travelling with someone who has skied before. Probably our most popular destination - Bansko, offers a unique experience with the perfect blend of an old Bulgarian town and a modern ski resort providing some excellent skiing to intermediate, advanced and beginner skiers.

Ski School Pamporovo
Pamporovo is well known for its impressive Ski School
Balkan Holidays offer a range of Learn to Ski packages as pre-bookable extras for all our ski holidays and it is highly recommended to book these extras when booking your holiday as these prices are often better than what you could expect in resort. Our Learn to Ski pack prices start from £115 for an adult and £84 for a child and includes your lift pass, ski & boot hire and ski school for 6 days. 

Skiers in Bansko
Skiers enjoy the modern facilities of Bansko.
These ski service prices are known to be the cheapest in Europe and offer clients excellent value for money as recently shown by the annual Post Office Travel Money Survey which saw Bansko voted as the number one value for money destination in Europe.

To find out more or to book your ski holiday visit click here.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Golden Sands - A Truly Beautiful Beach & Exceptional Hotels

Situated only 18km from Bulgaria's third largest city, Varna, Golden Sands offers visitors a unique holiday experience with a number of first class hotels and one of the very best beaches around. The resort name of Golden Sands was born from an old legend where Pirates dug for vast quantities of gold along the seaside, north of Varna infuriating mother nature. The land then took revenge on the bandits by transforming their gold into wonderful soft sand.



Golden Sands, Bulgaria has developed over the years into a famous international resort and the largest on the northern Black Sea coast. It's lush green wooded hills, white golden beach and clear blue sea are very much the main attractions. There are also many ancient natural mineral springs which were said to have been frequently used by the Thracians and the Roman Caesars. The beach itself is approximately 3.5km long and up to 100m wide at certain points and has been awarded the prestigious EU Blue Flag on multiple occasions. The average temperature in Golden Sands during the summer months ranges between 27-30 degrees Celsius with the water temperature between 25-28 degrees, making the resort a perfect holiday destination for those looking to top up their tan in the hot sunshine or bathe in clean, warm sea water.



For those seeking more than a beach and some warm weather, Golden Sands offers a comprehensive range of sightseeing opportunities and places of interest as well as excursions that are sure to complete your holiday experience. Choose from a visit to the nearby city of Varna, the Dolphinarium, Aquapark or the many various resort activities including water sports and spa treatments. A must see during your stay in Golden Sands is a trip to the Aladzha Monastery, an exquisite rock monastery built during the Middle Ages. The monastery is located within a beautiful forest area, just 17km away from Varna and has been established as a museum since 1906. It is one of Bulgaria’s most sacred places.



As the true specialists to Bulgaria, Balkan Holidays provide a variety of holiday options to Golden Sands with unbeatable discounts and value for money deals. Choose from a range of Hotels & Apartments from 2* to 5* and a board basis to suit every budget from Self Catering to All Inclusive. To book or find out more about our exciting holidays to Golden Sands please visit our website.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Best of Sunny Beach's Nightlife

When you arrive in Sunny Beach stoked up and ready to dance the night away, you can be sure of not being disappointed with the quality of nightlife here. There is party atmosphere aplenty and an insatiable appetite for going until the early hours of the morning. Check out our guide to the hottest spots in town.

Mexo Bar

Not for just any reason has Mexo been voted the best beach bar in Bulgaria by various internet polls. Situated in the very heart of Sunny Beach resort itself, this hotspot keeps the party going long after all of the other clubs have given up and gone home. There are regular fire shows, the cocktails are potent and the staff know what they're doing.


Guaba Beach Bar

Arrive by day and grab one of the hammocks by the sea. Then return as the sun goes down for a night of pure indulgence. You have the opportunity to chill in a teepee on the sand, or get soaked at Sunny Beach's biggest and most popular foam party. Fire breathers also regularly perform to heat things up.


Revolution

Serious dance fanatics can party it out in this 800-capacity venue that regularly attracts international DJs playing house and club anthems. The decor is stylish, the cocktails strong and the atmosphere electric. Quite frankly, you will not want to leave after spending the night here. Revolution is one venue that will challenge the die-hard clubber.


Iceberg

Think of everything you know about clubbing and then toss it out of the window. Iceberg challenges the conventional club by offering a complete melting pot of sounds and cultures, meaning it attracts a very international crowd. One moment, you could be dancing to a chart hit from a Slovakian artist, the next you might be chilling out in the chic waterfront bar with a mojito.


With over 130 restaurants, live music bars, pubs, nightclubs, discos and cafés, you are most certainly guaranteed to find somewhere to let your hair down in the resort of Sunny Beach this summer. To find out more or to book your Sunny Beach holiday please visit our holidays to Sunny Beach page.

With over 130 restaurants and numerous live music bars, pubs, nightclubs, discos and cafés, you are most certainly guaranteed to find something to love about the resort of Sunny Beach this summer. To find out more or to book your Sunny Beach Holiday visit our website.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Bulgaria's Best Beaches

If you've ever looked at a holiday to Bulgaria and wondered just how on earth you were going to choose a resort that's perfect for you, worry no more as we present you with our list of what we think are the best beaches in Bulgaria. From the north to the south, Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast is a treasure chest of gorgeous beaches; some are considered hidden gems just waiting to be discovered while others are thriving modern resorts packed with holidaymakers from all over the world every summer. Take a look through our list of the best beaches in Bulgaria and discover your next summer holiday resort today...


Golden Sands - Best for Beauty

Escape to a summer holiday by the sea with glorious scenery, wooded hillsides sweeping down to meet one of the world's most beautiful coastlines. The stunning beach resort of Golden Sands offers you the perfect mix of entertainment and relaxation in picturesque settings.


Sozopol - Best for Romantics

Situated on a small rocky peninsula, on the southern Black Sea coast, Sozopol is renowned for its relaxing summer atmosphere, the traditional architectural heritage of its Old Town, clean sandy beaches and the fantastic Apollonian art and film festival, taking place each September. This seaside town also has a busy modern quarter, home to small hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars which stay open late into the night, perfect for a romantic night out with that someone special.

Nessebar - Best for History Lovers

With a history dating back some 3000 years, Nessebar has been linked with many ancient civilisations. The magnificent old quarter is under a preservation order as a living museum town, housing the remains of 40 churches from different periods of history. There are plenty of restaurants and bars in the old part as well as the new part of the town with Bulgaria's most popular beach resort, Sunny Beach, stretching along the opposite side of the peninsula offering additional choice.



Sunny Beach - Best for Fun in the Sun

The biggest Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach caters for every holiday need imaginable. It has it all - a spectacular, 8km long Blue Flag beach, a buzzing seaside promenade with shops, stalls, restaurants and bars where you can enjoy plenty of food and drinks at low prices, family attractions such as playgrounds, mini-golf, two exciting aqua parks, a variety of water sports on the beach including paragliding, volleyball and jet skiing. The nightlife is equally amazing too with a large number of nightclubs, bars, floorshows and folk nights to choose from. If you feel like a day out, the nearby UNESCO protected town of Nessebar offers quaint cobbled streets, traditional architecture and fine fish restaurants.



Duni - Best for Great Value Luxury
 
Definitely the class act of Bulgaria's purpose built resorts; Duni was originally established as a stylish Austrian-designed holiday village. Today, the resort consists of five mini-complexes offering 3, 4 and 5 star hotels. The complexes incorporate restaurants and shops which are spaced around the pine forested hillside. Duni's 3km long, wide, sandy beach is as impressive as the accommodations that surround it.


Obzor - Best for Relaxing

Obzor is one of the most, if not the most relaxing and friendly laid back resorts, even at the height of the season. The resorts superb long beach, set against the backdrop of the Stara Planina Mountains is without doubt the main attraction. The most popular pastime for visitors to the resort, is stretching out on a sunbed for some serious sun time, followed by a swim or dip in the sea. As for the evening entertainment, there are plenty of fine restaurants serving both Bulgarian and International cuisine along with several music bars where you can dance off your dinner. Remains of the ancient Heliopolis (City of the Sun) are on display in the small park in the centre of Obzor. The new modern hotels and friendly hospitality make Obzor a wonderful place for a relaxing holiday.

Albena - Best for Something Different


Nestled into a scenic wooded bay, surrounded by lush forests, Albena's centrepiece is undoubtedly the magnificent, 5km long sandy Blue Flag beach, which slopes gently into the calm waters of the Black Sea. Elsewhere, neat flower beds and lawns fringe the sands while the well-kept streets are largely traffic free, adding to its child friendly appeal. Around the rest of the resort, miniature trains will take you around the resort where you will find two bazaar-style shopping malls together with restaurants, pavement cafes and bars. When you fancy a change, there are also regular buses to take you to the nearby Golden Sands.

Secure your Summer 2016 or 2017 holiday to one of best beaches in Bulgaria today with flights departing from over 17 UK airports, only with Balkan Holidays, the number one tour operator to Bulgaria with over 50 years’ experience.