30 Jan 2019

10 Reasons to Ski Bulgaria on the 9th February 2019

January 30, 2019

Skiing & boarding in Bulgaria offers great value for money with cheap après-ski and excellent skiing. It is a wonderful opportunity for beginners to learn to ski or board with friendly and patient English speaking instructors, and also offers challenging runs for the more experienced. There’s still time to grab a ski bargain departing on 9th February 2019.

Here are 10 great reasons to book February 9th...

1. Incredible snow! Bulgaria has had a great season with some serious snow falling. According to Balkan Holidays’ head rep in Bansko, Milen, conditions are superb, with heavy snow recently and all lifts open.

2. It’s NOT the UK half term. Avoid the crowds certainly due the following week when the kids are out of school!

3. It IS half term in France 9-16th February – so avoid France and choose Bulgaria instead!

4. It’s Valentine’s Day that week! A Valentine’s Day proposal is so romantic. Balkan Holidays’ local staff love to help arrange a surprise. You can even take a £1 ‘place holder’ engagement ring, new from Poundland, in case you’re concerned about losing a real diamond in the powder!

5. There are plenty of leisure facilities in our hotels and resorts – you don’t have to ski all week if you are not a hard-core skier or not quite fit. See the indoor pool, sauna and steam room at the Apartments Belmont.

6. Need to get back to work on Monday? No problem, fly home on Saturday and have Sunday to recover.

7. Fly home late with Balkan Holidays – e.g. to Manchester. Flights depart 21.35 arriving into Manchester at 23.25, so you can get a seventh day on the slopes (buy a lift pass locally)

8. It’s miserable in the UK – get away from Brexit and the wet weather. It’ll be almost Spring by the time you return.

9. It’s a great deal. Save over 45% when you choose the Apartments Belmont, only £582 per couple, was £1118 (T&C's apply)

10. It’s not too late to pre-book extras – our expert team will assist with everything you need to feel ready to travel, at a price you like.

You can check out our great value February 9th departures from your local airport here:

London Gatwick from £304pp
Bristol from £340pp
East Midlands from £304pp
Manchester from £292pp

14 Jan 2019

Post Office puts Sunny Beach back in top spot as cheapest holiday destination

January 14, 2019
Bulgaria's popular Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach has returned to the number one spot as the cheapest summer holiday destination according to new research carried out by Post Office Travel Money.

Famous for its clean sea water and golden Blue Flag awarded 8km stretch of beach, Sunny Beach has been attracting holidaymakers from the UK for over half a century as they seek a great value beach resort offering all the necessities for a memorable summer break.

In the latest Holiday Costs Barometer, which is released annually, the value for money resort of Sunny Beach beat 41 other locations that were surveyed when it came to essential holiday items such as a cup of coffee, bottle of lager, can of cola, glass of wine, 1.5-litre bottle of water from the supermarket, sunscreen, insect repellent, English newspaper, two-course fixed price lunch and a three-course evening meal for two with a bottle of wine. The total for all of these holiday essentials in Sunny Beach came to £36.03 - with the coffee costing just 74p compared to 96p in second placed Marmaris.

Another destination popular with Balkan Holidays clients, the stunning resort of Porec in Croatia, also featured in the top 20 cheapest resorts, with its total coming to £80.38. Croatia has enjoyed a surge in popularity during recent years and this was proven once again with Porec placing higher than destinations such as Budabest, Nice and Corfu.

With prices in Sunny Beach falling over £9 since last year, overseas holiday bookings already showing a marked increase for 2019, Post Office Travel Money’s annual Holiday Money Report suggests that the strength of sterling and prices in resorts are set to play a pivotal role among Britons yet to choose their destination. Despite the challenge of a volatile pound, the report reveals buoyant demand for its bestselling currencies, led by the euro, as well as big price falls in top holiday hotspots.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: "It is good news that prices are down in many destinations this year, but it is still very important to be aware of the huge variation in costs we found across the 42 countries surveyed. For example, barometer costs in the six cheapest resorts and cities are less than half those in the 15 priciest destinations. 

“That’s why we advise holidaymakers to draw up a destination shortlist and do their homework by comparing the prices for meals, drinks and other tourist items before booking. Forearmed is forewarned!

You can book your value for money Bulgaria or Croatia summer holiday today by exploring our website or visiting your local travel agent.

Click here to see the full Post Office Holiday Costs Report.

3 Dec 2018

Brexit & Your Holiday - Important Information

December 03, 2018
Many people are already booking their travel plans for 2019, and have questions about what might happen after 29 March 2019 when the UK leaves the European Union (EU). While the political situation remains uncertain, ABTA has identified actions travellers may wish to take in advance to help avoid unnecessary future disruption.

The information only covers areas where people can take reasonable action or put plans into place now. Areas where the situation is still unclear are not included, but the information will be updated once clarified.

Check the date your passport expires. When travelling to the EU after 29 March 2019, the UK government recommends that you have six months left on your passport on the date of your arrival to an EU country.

You should also check when your passport was renewed. If you renewed a 10 year adult passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your passport’s expiry date. These extra months over 10 years will not count towards the 6 months that must be remaining. The UK Government has published a website tool to check the validity of your passport under these rules.

You can renew your passport online or by going to a Post Office with a Check and Send service. You may wish to renew your passport sooner rather than later, in order to make sure you have it in time for your holiday or travel plans. Full details on renewing your passport can be found here.

European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK registered EHICs will no longer be valid.

ABTA has always advised holidaymakers and business travellers to make sure they have appropriate travel insurance, whether they have an EHIC card or not, as there are limitations to EHIC.

When travelling in the EU and beyond, it is important you take out travel insurance and check that it covers your current circumstances, including any medical conditions. If you have an annual policy, make sure you check the Terms and Conditions and contact your insurance provider if you’re not sure. Advice on travel insurance can be found here.

Driving licences
As long as you have a full UK driving licence, you don’t currently need an additional licence to drive in the EU. This is likely to change in a no-deal scenario. UK travellers looking to drive in the EU on or after 29 March 2019 may need to apply for the relevant International Driving Permit.

These cost £5.50 and are available directly from the AA, the RAC or the Post Office. The Government is working to extend the network of Post Offices where you can apply for an International Driving Permit, and has plans to roll these out in more branches across the UK from 1 February 2019.

Check carefully which permit is required for each country you intend to drive within, as you may need more than one permit to comply with the law. More information is available here.

Green cards for car insurance
If the UK leaves without a deal, UK citizens driving their vehicle within the EU would be required to obtain and carry a physical Green Card in order for your UK car insurance to be applicable in the EU. These cards would be issued by insurers and you may be charged a small fee to cover administration costs. Speak with your insurer for more information on obtaining a Green Card for any trip on or after 29 March 2019.

Taking pets abroad
In the event of a no-deal, pets would continue to be able to travel from the UK to the EU, but the requirements for documents and health checks would change. If you wish to take your pet to the EU on or after 29 March 2019 pet owners would need to discuss preparations for their pet’s travel with an Official Veterinarian at least four months in advance of the date they wish to travel. Pet owners should keep an eye out for any further instructions issued by the UK Government. More information is available here.

Data roaming
Under EU rules, the cost of making calls, sending messages or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same in the UK. If the UK leaves without a deal these rules will no longer apply – however, some UK companies have said they may continue to offer this benefit to their customers. Before you travel, check with your mobile phone provider about the costs of using your phone in the EU.

Frequently asked questions

Will flights still operate?
If a deal is agreed then we will be in a transition period, meaning everything will stay the same until the end of December 2020. Even if we are in a no-deal scenario, the European Commission has said that UK airlines will still be able to operate flights between the UK and the EU.

Will I need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit?
The European Commission announced in November that, even in a no-deal scenario, UK travellers can still visit the EU without a visa, providing the same is offered to European citizens visiting the UK.

What happens if I book to travel after 29 March 2019 and my holiday cannot go ahead due to Brexit?
In a no-deal scenario, the European Commission has said flights to and from the UK will still be able to operate. In any event, customers who book a package holiday with a UK travel company will be protected under the Package Travel Regulations, meaning they have a right to a full refund if the holiday can no longer be provided.

21 Nov 2018

Borovets Welcomes New Six-Seater Chairlift

November 21, 2018
With Borovets resort in Bulgaria putting the final touches on what is expected to be a busy opening next month, the resort is delighted to announce the completion of its new six-seater high speed lift the "Martinovi Baraki Express".

The new lift replaces the old 4-seater on the existing line with new technology, significant increase in capacity and speed. The new lift will be taking up to 3,000 people per hour, over three times what was previously possible with riding time now only taking 3.5 minutes, that's more than two times faster than previously.

Along with better speed and capacity, one of the major advantages of the new Martinovi Baraki Express is the innovative Direct Drive technology. The system offers increased reliability, lowered noise and vibration levels, environmental sustainability and lowered maintenance costs. Unbeatable comfort is another benefit of the new lift. The seats have individual support for the feet, that will increase child safety. The new seats are also very wide with high, comfortable, stylish backrests.

The Martinovi Baraki Express lift is one of the key lifts in Borovets and during the winter season will carry thousands of people every day. The lift connects the learning center in front of the Hotel Rila with the blue ski run “Martinovi baraki 1”, the red runs “Martinovi baraki 2 & 3” and the black runs “Martinovi baraka 4” and “Cherveno zname” as well as the Borosport Snow Park. The lift will also operate for the ever popular night skiing in Borovets.

This investment has cost 12m Bulgarian Levs and is part of the long-term plan of “Borosport” JSC to improve the ski area in Borovets and demonstrates the resort's ambition to develop Bulgarian winter sports to a world class standard. The project is part of the resort’s 5 year strategy that includes the upcoming reconstruction of the gondola lift “Yastrebets” and the technical snow area enlargement to 85% of the ski runs.

Enjoy riding the new lift this winter by securing your Borovets ski holiday today with a £70pp deposit and save!

31 Oct 2018

Top 3 Spooky Attractions In Bulgaria

October 31, 2018
Being so rich in history, it is hardly surprising that Bulgaria is also a hub for hauntings and scary activities. We have put together our top 3 of the spookiest locations in Bulgaria to visit if you're brave enough... Happy Halloween!

Devil's Bridge, Ardino

Devil's Bridge towering shape makes the dark a little unsettling...
Constructed between 1515 and 1518, the Devil’s Bridge is the most stunning of the humpbacked bridges that cross the Arda River in Bulgaria. It was built over a demolished Roman bridge and cuts from the steep slopes of the Rhodope Mountains along an ancient road linking the Aegean Sea and the Northern Thracian Valley.

The reason some locals hesitate to cross over at night is rooted in darkness. One story is that the wife of the head builder died while under construction, so her shadow was encased in the structure. Another tale is that the footprint of the devil can be found somewhere on the rocks. While this is all the folklore myth, its towering shape makes the dark a little unsettling.

Devil's Throat Cave, Yagodina

Nothing carried by the river into the Devil's Mouth Cave ever surfaces on the other side...
Said to have inspired the tale of Orpheus descending to Hades to find his lover Eurydice, this exquisite geological wonder is undeniably myth-worthy.

The Devil's Throat Cave is a popular tourist attraction in the western Rhodopes of Bulgaria. Enormous and slightly malevolent, the cave descends straight into the depths of the hell, with the river waters plunging 137 ft. into “The Hall of Thunder”. The country's second largest cavern, The Hall of Thunder houses a funnel through which the water flows 500 more feet before it joins the underground river. This underground river presents the most interesting feature of the cave - nothing carried by the river into the Devil's Mouth Cave ever surfaces on the other side.

The walls are carved by men and demons and lead you up and out of the natural entrance into the impressive flora surrounding the diabolic mouth of the cave.

Buzludzha Monument, Buzludzha

At the Buzludzha Monument, it’s hard to shake the sensation that you’re being watched...
The peak itself was a battle site between Bulgarians and Turks in 1868. In 1891, a group of socialists led by Dimitar Blagoev met to plan the socialist future of Bulgaria. To celebrate these events, during the height of the Soviet influence, the government decided to erect a monument to commemorate the socialist communism. 

The site was abandoned after the fall of power in 1989 and left open to vandalism. The main entrance was sealed and thus closed to the public. However, there's still a little way to get into the building on the right side. In the Buzludzha Monument, the majority of the artwork was removed or destroyed, but the concrete structure still stands today against the elements.