While it might be a not as popular choice as its neighbors Italy or Austria when it comes to winter sports activity, this small country easily wins the hearts of travelers who decide to visit the land. Set somewhere in between the Balkan Peninsula and the Alps, the former Yugoslav republic becomes a favorite of more and more people every year. Slovenia skiing season is one of the main reason for the growing popularity of this territory as a tourist destination, but it’s definitely not the only reason.
It wouldn’t take long to convince you if it already happened in your life before. Hardly would anyone forget easily the time of taking on holidays to Bulgaria. It might not be as fancy as going on vacation to St. Tropez or represent such a distinct destination as the pyramids of Egypt. But visiting the country located in the heart of the Balkans is something worth trying… And repeating.
In the last two decades or so, this resort has grown significantly in terms of the demand, the tourist flow and thus – the infrastructurw and the quality of the service. It is beyond any doubt that in Bulgaria Sunny Beach is the leading seaside destination and the place pools more and more people every year. What would ask those who have never been on the Black Sea – let us guess about it.
Let us guess about it. The British tourists will prefer to pack up for a place where the weather is nice to avoid the rainy days in the UK that never end even in the middle of the year. The beauties of nature will definitely add to the list of reason to pick one place or another. The Brits will certainly look for the opportunities that turn out to be more affordable so the all-inclusive holidays will probably fit the most such a concept. And everyone regardless of origin or domicile would like to have a good time during the summer vacation. Well, some consider the “good time” as the possibility to rest undisturbed for a week or two while for others relaxing all the time sounds boring. It depends who you ask but one thing is for sure – every traveler likes to feel safe heading for a distant trip.
Despite being not present in the list of the countries that have winners in the Eurovision, Bulgarian performers enjoy substantial success in the recent years. Last year a young singer from the country – Kristian Kostov, reached to the runner-up position and ranked really close to the top of the most prominent continental song contest. The 4th place of Poly Genova, one of the most recognized faces in Bulgarian pop music have to be added to the list of the achievements. Well, Eurovision 2018 wasn’t a big deal and the group representing the country didn’t make it to the top 10. But this year speaking of Bulgaria Sunny Beach is the name to make it more famous around the world. The leading seaside resort on the Black Sea definitely has a bigger chance to become a common name for Western Europe compared to the singing band called Equinox.
Combining beach enjoyment and historic object visit represents the main agenda of thousands of travelers for the summer holidays. While far from the popularity of Italian or Greek resorts and not as famous as Cascais in Portugal or Dubrovnik in Croatia, in Bulgaria Nessebar is the top choice of such category. The hype of modernity meets the romantic scent of ancient to form a unique mix for a great vacation on the Black Sea coast.
When two sides make up for one wonderful experience
The town is divided literally in two. That part of Nessebar, Bulgaria that was built and developed more recently is bigger in size and population and actually this is where you can find both beach zones and the vast majority of hotels – the best deals are to be found through Balkan Holidays . A narrow strip of land connects the modern borough with the old town which was habited for more than 3 millennia and has been deservedly chosen to make the list of UNESCO World Heritage. And some hotels in Nessebar, Bulgaria are situated in the ancient quarter – 3-star Victoria, for example, constructed to fit within the whole architectural landscape of that part of the town.
Once you will put your feet on the beach, you will realize that the name speaks for itself indeed. In the name of the Golden Sands Bulgaria has more than half-century-long tradition more likely than the history to pull the people on the shore is… the shore.
1. The sands made of gold
One of the most beautiful beaches on the whole Black Sea coastline is to be found less than a half-hour away from Varna, the biggest Bulgarian maritime city. The dazzling view serves only as a starter once you reach the area. Have we mentioned that Golden Sands really have sands looking and feeling like being made of gold? Oh, we did it, several times actually. Smooth and nice, 3,5 km long and about 100 m wide at its widest, in Bulgaria Golden Sands is considered a top quality resort. But the fame of Zlatni Pyasatsi (the native alias of the place) isn’t only locally bound – for a long time it was preferred destination for tourists from Russia and other Eastern European countries, and the turn of the centuries made it increasingly attractive to tens of thousands of guests from the West, especially British tourists.
In Bulgaria, Bansko has been a place to generate a lot of buzz in the past decade. Well, recently the name of the Pirin mountain based resort was put in the middle of a controversy concerning the ongoing feud about the construction of a second gondola lift in the ski zone. While the conflict is hot in the country, the winter sports site is hot too because of the unfading demand for Bansko holidays. Sometimes it’s busy indeed on the base station and no one likes to wait for hours to get on the cabin.
But besides the controversy, it is quite clear in last few years that regarding Bansko Bulgaria ski resort hasn’t been so popular than ever before. A big share of the Pirin winter center prominence is owed to the fact that it claimed the top of the rankings of the cheapest ski destinations in Europe. The ski holidays Bansko offer to the tourists still represent some of the most affordable even now when the first place in the table belongs to another resort.
Slovenia offers a piece of heaven to the world, called Lake Bled
Did you hear that buzz about one really beautiful and peaceful place just right in the centre of Europe? Lots of people these days claim what a great country Slovenia is and how the journey to that small former Yugoslavian republic is a must-go-and-see site for every traveller. One obvious reason to listen and go after that advice is called Lake Bled. Situated in the vicinity of Julian Alps it really makes you think of it as a piece of heaven brought down to Earth to show the people the vision of divine beauty and perfection. And it’s no overstatement to say the place serves as a main source of pride for the natives – Lake Bled, Slovenia plays the role of a trademark for the whole country.
The temptation to visit and stay there increases because of the ease of access. The lake is located just 35 km from Ljubljana and a little further (55 km) from the capital’s airport. After the landing of the plane, you need less than one hour to get to the place you thought existed only in your dreams. Though looking and feeling like being isolated from the outer world the site lies near the main road and is easy to reach driving a car even from another country. Austria happens to be particularly close and it’s not too far if you are coming from Croatia or Italy.
Well, Slovenia is a small state, Lake Bled isn’t big too – just above 2 km long, less than 1.5 km wide. Not the size is what makes this place unique – it’s the surrounding and what inside of it. The only island found on the map of Slovenia that is not in the sea or in a river stands in the middle of the pond – a tiny chunk of land is one of the main attractions around. Traditional local boats made of wood dubbed “pletna” will lead you to the island. No, you won’t row yourself – there are people trained for this and they impress while doing it in standing position. Though small in size this place is full of legends and one particular says that if you ring a bell of the Assumption of Mary Church your wishes are about to come true. Before getting to the steeple a traveler has to overpass 99 steps from the shore.
Several hills enclose the lake and one of the heights presents another landmark of this place. As for Lake Bled Slovenia attracts tourist with the magnificence and myths of Castle Bled. By many accounts considered the oldest in the country, the fortress has written records about it over a millennium ago. Back in 1011 it was known as Castellum Veldes in Carniola province ruled then by the German emperor. Rising 130 meters above the lake the castle is accessible for hikers and so are all other famous hills surrounding the emerald water – Velika Osojnica is the highest (756), Mala Osojnica stands little shorter, Ojstrica, Straza, and Kuhovica are there too and all of them are reachable within less than an hour.
Hiking and rowing are thrilling options, but what about relaxing and enjoy the great food of the regions. The food and drinks at the restaurant look shockingly cheap for the western visitor – 15 or 20 GBP is more than enough for a delicious meal garnered with a salad and adding a glass of wine or two. Oh, wait! Please, don’t forget the dessert – Blejska kremšnita represents another source of pride and fame for the place and does so for a reason. A cream cake represents the main speciality and every local person will insist on trying it.
Well, if Lake Bled happens to be so popular are there enough options to stay and book a room for a holiday or a whole week? Actually, roughly 200 places offer a bed for the night in the town Bled and surrounding area though not all are appropriate to be called hotels. The guest houses are more affordable and there are several luxury hotels providing comfort and adding more to the great feeling about the site – you can check the options here – https://goo.gl/aBKyzH. Early bookings for the next summer are already going on and the price per person for a week holiday in a 4 star hotel ranges around 500 and 600 GBP. But the beauty is priceless.
Since it’s so popular isn’t it noisy or crowded? Well, some buzz and fun go around the place because this is one of the favourite wedding sites in the region – talking of Lake Bled Slovenia have one of the most beloved and trendy spots for this kind of celebrations. Sure, finding a place happens to be a hard task when the summer approaches that’s why the planning of a holiday in that magnificent place is essential. Booking a holiday at Lake Bled earlier might save you a significant amount of money and it’s plenty to spend around for. Well, don’t get addicted to those cream cakes though it’s hard to stop after being tempted to try. And if visited Lake Bled once it’s impossible to not think of coming back again.
For many, Bulgaria seems like an odd spot to have a winter sports holiday. Yes, this is not your typical go-to place like Austria or Switzerland. And it shouldn’t be. The country has a lot to offer to those who prefer a little something off the beaten the path. We’re not talking about the cheap booze. Beyond the cliché and the attractive low rates, Bulgaria’s winter resorts enchant the visitor with an eclectic folk culture and astonishing nature. This is exactly what makes Bansko, one of the country’s top resorts, so unique and different from the mainstream winter holiday destinations.
Bansko gives an initial impression of a typical Eastern European ski resort: lots of bars and local pubs, a handful of restaurants and hotels with a decent level of service and a set of standard ski runs. Once explored, the place reveals its colourful, warm and versatile vibe that will inevitably settle in your heart. Bansko is a fascinating mix of traditional and modern, where folklore and contemporary exist in a perfect balance. Luxury hotels and upbeat restaurants are walking distance from the lovely cobbled lanes and ethnographic wooden houses of the old town.
When speaking of winter resorts, it all comes to one thing – the quality of the ski pistes. In the last years, Bansko attracted some investments from local and foreign entities and experienced a complete make-over. There is no trace of the communist-like image that usually comes to the mind when thinking of Eastern Europe. A modern state-of-art lift system connects the base and slopes. Snowmaking is available in almost all of the runs. A new hub with up-market hotels and apartments is developed in a prime position on the edge of the pistes. There is a wide diversity of ski runs in terms of difficulty, from nursery slopes to black pistes. Resting in the scenic Pirin Mountain, Bansko will leave anyone in awe with its majestic pine-lined slopes and vast niveous meadows.
The breathtaking nature is not the only advantage of the place. Bansko is a bargain compared to other popular winter ski resorts. But in this case, the lower price does not require a compromise on the quality of the ski runs or the food and accommodation. Frugal travellers will appreciate the appealing level of services and the unmatched rates.
For some, the chief reason to visit Bansko ski resort is the lively nightlife. The town is known for being a party place for winter sports enthusiasts. However, those looking for a peaceful retreat should not scratch Bansko off the list. Plenty of private villas, guest houses, Airbnb rentals and hotels are situated in a more secluded and picturesque area, away from the city centre and the busy streets.
Travelers looking for a sense of where locals hang out should head to the traditional taverns called “mehana”. You will be greeted by a warm blaze from an open fireplace and the traditional Bulgarian hospitality. The wooden tables covered with red and black checked tablecloths and the striped rugs and upholstery give a traditional Bulgarian tinge to the place, which is further enhanced by the live folk music in the background. There is a good choice of typical Bulgarian dishes and delectable wines. If feeling particularly adventurous, try the famous Bulgarian drink “rakia”.
Bansko may not be your standard winter ski resort and that is why it is so intriguing to visit. With its rich culture, amazing selection of hotels and restaurants and promising après ski, Bansko should definitely be on your list of your next winter holiday destination.