It’s already that time of year when you start looking for a cosy, yet affordable, place to spend a few days this winter. Whether it’s for a whole month or just a few days, there are plenty of locations to explore. But I think that there is no place more suitable for winter holiday than Bulgaria.
This small but charming country in Eastern Europe is the perfect combination of hospitality, quality, comfort and cosiness but is also cheap and affordable. Furthermore, Bulgaria is not the most popular destination so it’s generally not overcrowded with tourists. Let me prove to you why you should visit Bulgaria in winter with the following 5 reasons:
5. Cheap and affordable destination
Bulgaria is the perfect substitute for the usual rich and famous winter destinations. It’s one of the cheapest countries in the EU, but that does not reflect in the quality of the services you receive here. In the centre of Sofia you can find a perfect double room in a nice hotel for just 20-25 euros a night. Dinner for two can also be found for the same price, depending on where you want to eat. Bulgaria is a very accessible destination and many companies, such as First Choice, offer great holiday activities for reasonable prices to make your stay here even more pleasant.
4. Beautiful scenery
One of the highlights of Bulgaria are the picturesque towns surrounded by high mountains. When the snow falls they offer stunning scenery views straight from your favourite Christmas movie. One of my personal favourites is Tryavna.
3. World class Ski and Spa resorts
Bulgaria is rich in winter holiday activites. There are a lot of world class ski resorts like Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets, not to mention the amazing Spa experiences you can have here. Bulgaria boasts well over 200 mineral springs with temperatures from 37 to 50 degrees Celsius, which makes them perfect to spend a cold winter’s day in.
2. Experience winter holiday customs
If you are planning to spend the winter holidays in Bulgaria, you will witness two of the most beloved customs – “koleduvane” and “survakane”. The former happens on Christmas Eve when a group of young boys, called “koledari”, go door to door and sing songs for wealth, health and happiness in exchange for coins, specially baked pretzels and other treats.
“Survakane” plays an important role in welcoming in the New Year. This custom starts in the early morning on the 1st of January, when groups of young children go to their friends’ and relatives’ houses and use the richly decorated wooden stick “survachka” to lightly hit them on the back, whilst saying or singing a special poem with wishes for health and wealth. In exchange the owner of the house gives them some money and treats.
1. Spend Christmas Eve in Bulgaria
Spending Christmas in Bulgaria would definitely be a worthwhile experience. It’s that time of the year when families gather together, ancient customs come into play and the holiday spirit is felt everywhere.
For dinner on Christmas Eve tradition requires an odd number of meals – usually 7 or 9, including the ritual pita bread with a coin in it which brings good fortune to the person who finds it. Other meatless dishes include boiled wheat, stuffed peppers with rice, walnuts, honey, bean soup, onions, garlic, “oshav” – dried-fruit compote and “sarmi” – cooked grape or cabbage leaves stuffed with rice. Tradition requires that after dinner the table stays untouched until the morning.
A ceremonial log called “badnik” is put in the fireplace at the beginning of the feast and is left to burn until the morning. Christmas Eve is also the time when you can expect a visit from the “koledari” singing songs for wealth, health and happiness.
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What are your favourite winter destinations? And which one of the above reasons would make you visit Bulgaria?