How to stay warm in a Balkan winter

HOW TO STAY WARM IN A BALKAN WINTER

Thinking of going to the Balkans in winter?

Ballsy.

But don’t let the sub-zero temperatures and knee deep snow keep you from hopping on a flight… Winter in the Balkans is magic (as well as fooking freezing).

This is your guide to staying warm in the Balkans…

1. Meaty Stews

Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Nothing warms your internal organs like a giant bowl of meaty goodness.

‘Bosanski lonac’, is the Bosnian specialty of slow cooked mixed meat, veg and spices. Everything’s left to simmer in a terracotta pot for 4-6 hours til the meat slips off the bone and melts like a communion wafer on your tongue.

You’ll find it across the Balkans in restaurants and bars but the best stew is always homemade - it’s well worth making local friends for…

Fly to Zagreb then drive to Bosnia & Herzegovina.

2. Skiing

, Macedonia

The best way to stay warm is good old fashioned exercise - flashbacks to that ill-advised Christmas day swim…

Popova Sapka's slogan is "We Have Snow" - that’s a good start. Head to Macedonia for world class skiing for €60… for a 6 day ski pass 😱

The terrain is powdery and wild - there’s no marked piste so it’s a free-for-all of forest runs and open slopes. Après-ski is about goulash and tavče gravče (bean stew) washed down with local beer and homemade Rakija (tear-inducing fruit brandy).

3. Rakija

Belgrade, Serbia

Forget warming up, a shot of Rakija is like swallowing a ball of fire in a pre-heated oven.

Each Balkan region has its own take on the brandy, sometimes herby, sometimes sweet but always paint-stripper strong. Serbia’s famous for the stuff and you’ll find special Rakija bars in Belgrade.

Rakija Bar does tastings and pairs different flavours of the liquor with plates of meat and cheese.

4. Dance

Sofia, Bulgaria

Get ready to sweat… there’s nothing lukewarm about Sofia’s nightlife.

At Bar Friday underground Bulgarian DJs (think jazz mixes) and table football battle for your attention as you sip £2 cherry beer.

If you haven’t warmed up by 5am… the Art Hostel's Bar does a mean after party.

5. Head South

Athens, Greece

If all else fails, do what the birds do and fly south. Is Greece in the Balkans? Does it matter?

Athens is your saviour if you’re looking for anything above 10ºC. There you’ll get to see all the bucket list ancient Greek shiz without the masses of summer tourists.

Sure you won’t be eating al fresco, but hike up The Acropolis and tuck into giant souvlaki wraps to keep toasty.