13 Aug 2019

Where to go in Bulgaria?

August 13, 2019
Between its Black Sea beaches, family-friendly ski resorts and wild countryside begging to be explored, Bulgaria has something for all seasons. If you’re in search of ideas of where to go in Bulgaria for a holiday, some of these might inspire you.

Where to go in Bulgaria in summer

Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast beckons with its 378km of coastline. Sunny Beach and Golden Sands give a clue to what to expect from Bulgaria’s coast – plenty of sunshine and soft sandy beaches. If you want to discover Bulgaria’s lively city life along the Black Sea, head to Varna and stroll along the beautifully landscaped Sea Garden that runs alongside the beach. Explore the port city of Bourgas further south, which combines an attractive pedestrianised town centre with a long seafront garden promenade and some of Europe’s richest birdlife in its nearby lakes.

Bourgas, Black Sea Coast, Bulgaria

For a real sense of history, wander the ancient cobbled streets of Unesco-listed Nessebar. If you’re looking for mountain adventures, head to Pirin National Park and hike along glacial lakes and through cooling pine forests. Golfers are easily tempted to try the scenic waterside course at Cape Kaliakra, which was designed by Welsh golfer Ian Woosnam.

Where to go in Bulgaria for a beach holiday
There’s a dizzying choice of beaches along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. Sporty types head north to Albena for 5km of Blue Flag sands and dozens of outdoor activities. At Duni, thick forests shelter dunes and a wide sandy beach, while the 10km stretch of soft sands at Ozbor invites lazy days of sunbathing and swimming. The nature reserves surrounding the beach resort of Primorsko give nature-lovers the chance to discover the wildlife of the Black Sea coast. If you like your beaches big and beautiful, flop on Golden Sands, the second-largest resort on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.
Albena Beach Resort, Bulgaria

Where to go in Bulgaria that is family friendly
Sunny Beach’s family-friendly Blue Flag coastline goes on for 8km, giving everyone plenty of space to enjoy water sports, beach volleyball, kids’ clubs and mini golf. Have a family game of tennis or go horse-riding on the sands before checking out Sunny Beach’s two aqua parks. There’s family fun in store too at Golden Sands, with children’s clubs, bowling and the Aquapolis Waterpark. Next door is the smaller resort of St Konstantin, where you can have a go at water-skiing or just take it easy on a pedalo. For a break from the beach, Bansko in the Pirin Mountains offers an adventure playground on a huge scale. Go cycling and hiking in the hills before chilling out in your hotel spa and swimming in view of some of Bulgaria’s most breath-taking landscapes.
Bansko Mountain Resort, Bulgaria

Where to go in Bulgaria in winter

Winter brings its own magic to the mountain ranges of Bulgaria. The main cities of Sofia and Plovdiv show off a full calendar of cultural events, including opera, concerts and theatre. But Bulgaria’s ski resorts will inevitably draw you into the country’s snow-covered mountains. Surrounded by the dramatic Rila Mountains, Borovets is Bulgaria’s oldest and largest ski resort and offers thrilling runs through the pine-covered hills. Further south is Bansko, which has Bulgaria’s longest ski season and a cosy town centre where you can sample Bulgarian cuisine in a traditional “mehana” restaurant.
Sofia, Bulgaria

Where to go skiing in Bulgaria
Even if you’ve never skied before, Bulgaria’s ski resorts offer a fabulous and affordable introduction to the sport and the alluring mountain lifestyle. Head south to Pamporovo in the Rhodopi Mountains, where you’ve got 38km of sunny pistes to try up to a height of 1,937m. There are plenty of gentle slopes for beginners, while intermediates and advanced skiers can tackle the Giant Slalom run. Bansko’s state-of-the-art ski lifts cover 75km of pistes and take you to the snowpark where you can practise your tricks. From the highest lift at 2,560m, you can soak up the glorious scenery of the Pirin Mountains. You can reach similar heights at Borovets, where skiers have been whooshing down the slopes since 1896 and lifts go up to 2,560m. There’s night skiing, too, if you can’t get enough of the slopes during the day. If you like your thrills a little more sedate, step into cross-country skis and glide your way through 35km of trails.
Pamporovo Ski Resort, Bulgaria

Contribution by award-winning travel writer, Mary Novakovich

7 Aug 2019

Seagulls - How the Wurst Was Won

August 07, 2019
There's nothing worse than standing in line for ages selecting your perfect combination of All Inclusive grub or spending your hard earned cash on that delicious looking Ice-Cream you spotted out of the corner of your eye while walking down the promenade only to have it whisked away in an instant by a rather hench looking seagull.

Well, it turns out that following new research conducted by the University of Exeter, a solution may finally be in sight! And who knew we all had it in us all along... According to the study, the feathered thieves take on average 21 seconds longer to approach your mouth watering snacks when a human is keeping a firm eye on them, yes really, staring down the seagull is more likely to intimidate them and put them off approaching your food.

The research was carried out in Cornwall by putting down a bag of chips and testing how long it took herring gulls to make their move while they were being watched, compared to when the human was looking away. Of the 74 gulls they tried to tempt, many few away or would not approach at all however 27 of the crafty birds made their way towards the chips with 19 of them completing both the tests.

Lead author Madeleine Goumas, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the university, said: "Gulls are often seen as aggressive and willing to take food from humans, so it was interesting to find that most wouldn't even come near during our tests.
"Of those that did approach, most took longer when they were being watched. Some wouldn't even touch the food at all, although others didn't seem to notice that a human was staring at them."

She also added that differences in how bold and cunning the gulls may be could be down to their personality or a previous positive experience of being fed by a human in the past.

Dr Neeltje Boogert, senior author of the study, which was published in Biology Letters, explained that gulls learn "really quickly" and may be eager to steal more food after their first successful bid to grab some.

"Our study took place in coastal towns in Cornwall, and especially now, during the summer holidays and beach barbecues, we are seeing more gulls looking for an easy meal," she said.

"We therefore advise people to look around themselves and watch out for gulls approaching, as they often appear to take food from behind, catching people by surprise. It seems that just watching the gulls will reduce the chance of them snatching your food."

So it's time avoid pinning the blame on the kids or swearing that the food never existed in the first place and start perfecting your stare down ready for the ultimate battle of "who blinks first" with a seagull near you.

Check out the video here:

2 Aug 2019

Great value All Inclusive Hotels with water parks

August 02, 2019
Stays with a Splash! It’s easy to keep cool along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast – especially if you’re on the hunt for a Sunny Beach hotel with a water park. While the resort has two dedicated water parks – including the largest in Bulgaria – you can have even more fun on your own doorstep by choosing one of the hotels in Sunny Beach with its own water park.

At the aquapark of the all inclusive 4* Hotel Laguna Park, kids can go on adventures in their own pirate ship in the huge children’s swimming pool. Race each other on the multi-slide, where four of you can go at the same time. Have a go on the black hole rafting slide and enjoy the sensation of flitting between sunshine and darkness. There’s more entertainment to be had on the Space Boat, which sends two of you hurtling down the slide while you cling to your inflatable boat.
The stunning Hotel Laguna Park is a firm family favourite
While you’re only a few steps from the beach at the all inclusive 4* Kuban Hotel, the hotel's water park design has been inspired by ancient Mexican civilisations. Whoosh down the Kamikaze slide and around the Curving Dragon before enjoying a meal at the Mexican restaurant.
The Hotel Kuban offers guests a central location and superb facilities
There are more thrills in store at the all inclusive 5* Sol Nessebar Palace Hotel’s water park. Whizz through the slides as you take in lovely views of the sea. There’s a kids’ club too, where young children can splash about in their own pool, play games in a water castle and enjoy gentler water slides. If you’re staying at the neighbouring Sol Nessebar Resort, you’ll have access to the water park too.

The hugely popular Sol Nessebar Palace has everything you could want from a holiday
Head north along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast to find more hotels with water parks. Just a short distance from Sunny Beach, enjoy the soft sands of Obzor from the beachfront all inclusive 4* Sol Luna Bay Hotel. Take your pick from the four exhilarating water slides and three swimming pools – including a children’s pool with two extra water slides.

Slide down at high speeds on the beachfront at the Hotel Luna Bay
Carry on towards Golden Sands to reach the 24 hour all inclusive 4* Grifid Hotel Bolero, which has its own water park among its three outdoor pools. Swirl down the water slides that snake their way into the pools, and let the kids have their own fun in the mini aqua park.

The stunning Hotel Bolero is a great choice for summer family fun
Book your last minute holiday to Bulgaria or 2020 Bulgaria beach holiday with Balkan Holidays now and let the summer family fun begin!

Contribution by award-winning travel writer, Mary Novakovich

26 Jul 2019

Where's best to go in Croatia?

July 26, 2019
For a relatively small country, Croatia offers a dizzying range of holiday ideas. With its heavily indented Adriatic coastline, 1,244 islands and breathtaking national parks, it can be tough to narrow down where to go on holiday in Croatia.

Where to go in Croatia for island-hopping?

Even though only 48 of Croatia’s islands are inhabited, there’s still a huge choice of places for a holiday. Many are grouped together so you can cover several islands in a day. The Elaphiti islands near Dubrovnik – Šipan, Koločep and Lopud – can be visited in a day, or discovered singly at a more leisurely pace. In the Kvarner Gulf, you can flit between Krk, Cres and Rab before making your way to laid-back Losinj.

Island hopping is one of the best ways to explore the stunning coastline
If you’re in Split, the islands of Hvar, Brač and Korčula are short ferry rides away, and fans of Mamma Mia! can travel down to Vis where the sequel was filmed. And Game of Thrones fans in Dubrovnik – itself one of the filming locations – can take the boat to the island of Lokrum and pretend they’re in Qarth.

Where to go in Croatia for beaches?

Croatia’s poster boy for beaches has to be Zlatni Rat, the white V-shaped beach that dangles from Brač’s southern coast. Most of Croatia’s beaches are pebbly, but if you prefer sand, head to the island of Mljet and flop on Saplunara and its near neighbour Limuni. They’re reachable on day trips from Dubrovnik, as is the sandy Šunj beach on Lopud. Korčula, too, has a cluster of sandy beaches near the fishing village of Lumbarda. Though small, Rab island in the Kvarner Gulf has nearly two dozen sandy beaches to choose from.

Zlatni Rat also known as the "Golden Horn" is one of Europe's most spectacular beaches
Where to go in Croatia for nightlife?

The island of Hvar has a deserved reputation for lively nightlife in its clubs and bars in Hvar Town. And on the otherwise sleepy island of Pag, music festivals and parties fill Zrce beach every summer. As you would expect in Croatia’s second-largest city, Split offers a varied nightlife along with a packed schedule of summertime festivals.

The lively town of Hvar is renown for it's bars and restaurants
Where to go in Croatia for couples?

Dubrovnik’s city walls are a must-see on a holiday to Croatia, offering heavenly views of the Adriatic as well as the old town’s terracotta rooftops. Just north of Split, you can enjoy the relaxed pace and centuries of history in Šibenik, including its Unesco-listed Cathedral of St James and wonderful views from the top of St Michael’s Fortress. It’s also a handy launch pad for visits to islands of Kornati National Park – especially if you enjoy sailing.

Zagreb, the capital, often gets overlooked in the rush to get to the coast. A superb café culture and excellent art galleries make it an appealing choice if you want to combine a city break with the beach during a holiday in Croatia.

Rovinj offers beautiful green scenery and breathtaking views
Food and wine lovers have the Istrian peninsula to explore, home of some of Croatia’s best olive oil and truffles. Follow the wine routes that take you to hilltop villages in Istria’s green heart before chilling out in the attractive resorts of Rovinj and Poreč.

Where to go in Croatia for active holidays?

Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s natural wonders – a jaw-dropping collection of turquoise lakes and waterfalls. Follow the wooden walkways that connect the lakes, or strike out on some of the hiking trails in the northern part of the park. More waterfall marvels are in store at Krka National Park, which is easy to reach if you’re staying in Šibenik. Take the boat from Skradin as it meanders along the Krka River past Skradinski Buk waterfall and the monastery island of Visovac.

The beautiful resort of Sibenik
Where to go in Croatia for families?

Just south of Split is the Makarska Riviera, a string of family-friendly coastal resorts in the shadow of Biokovo Mountains. This sunny strip goes on for 60km, with long pebbly beaches backed by pine woods. Start in the north in Brela, where pine trees offer welcome shade along the shingle beaches tucked into coves.

Tucepi offers plenty to keep the little ones entertained
Next is the Blue Flag beach of Baška Voda before you reach Makarska itself, with a colourful marina and Riva seafront promenade to stroll along. Hop on the ferry here for a quick visit to Sumartin in Brač. All of these resorts, including Tučepi to the south, are packed with family facilities – everything from sports and kids’ clubs to pools and spas.

Contribution by award-winning travel writer, Mary Novakovich

17 Jul 2019

The Two Best Water Parks Around Sunny Beach

July 17, 2019
You’re in for endless spills and thrills at Sunny Beach’s water parks. Days fly when you’re whooshing down water slides and swimming in wave pools. Between the two water parks in and near Sunny Beach, you’ve got hours of wet and wild fun in store.

Action Aquapark
Spreading across nearly nine acres of lush tropical gardens, Action Aquapark features more than 30 water attractions. Here at Bulgaria’s first water park, the slides will have you screaming as you whizz and twist your way down. Try the 60ft vertical drop on the Free Fall Slide, or climb the 99 steps to the top of the Uphill Water Coaster where you’re sent flying upwards as well as down.

Get a gang of four together to race each other down the Multislide, and feel the blood rush to your head as you plunge down Kamikaze on its 80-degree slope. Afterwards, chill out in the lazy river and bag yourself a sunbed. Young children have their own pool area to play in, and if the Mini Zoo doesn’t keep the kids enthralled, the Ice Cream House certainly will.

Aqua Paradise
Head to nearby Nessebar for thrilling aquatic adventures at Bulgaria’s largest water park. Aqua Paradise doesn’t do anything by halves – it’s got the longest rafting slide in Bulgaria and the only surf pool in the country. You’ve got 25 water slides to check out – including the heart-in-mouth Space Jam, which will send you flying down a 90-degree slide.

Enjoy the fun of being flung about the Rafting River and sliding through the Black Hole before landing in the huge swimming pool. If you’re feeling brave, jump from the sky-high diving platforms, or have a go on the pool’s trampolines. Kids have their own water castle and 16 water slides, as well as daily entertainment and pirate shows.

Once you’ve got your breath back on the Lazy River, treat yourself to a water massage and a dip in the hot tub before relaxing with a cocktail in the Mediterranean Bar. Spoil yourself by renting a gazebo in Paradise Island, where you get waiter service all day.
Contribution by award-winning travel writer, Mary Novakovich