Things to see and do on a trip to Plovdiv

Things to see and do in Plovdiv
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Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria, after its capital Sofia. It offers fantastic sights to visit and plans to do in the oldest inhabited city in Europe. Did you know that its streets have been walked for 6,000 years?

Several cultures have settled on that land, making Plovdiv a very culturally rich city. The seven hills that decorate it have given it the name “the city of the seven hills”. During 2019 it was the European Capital of Culture and here is what you have to do and see in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

What are the best places to visit on the island of Plovdiv

1. Regional Ethnographic Museum Plovdiv

The first tourist spot you should visit is the Plovdiv museum, not only for its exhibits, but also for its facade. The impressive facade of the Kuyumdzhiouglu house is part of the museum. Built in remote 1847 by master builder Hadji Georgi, it creates a unique atmosphere.

Today, the Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic Museum has a collection of more than 40,000 exhibits distributed among agriculture, handicrafts, fabrics and clothing, furniture and interiors, musical instruments, religious items and works of art. In addition, the museum has an academic archive, a library and a photo archive.

Admission is free every first Thursday of the month for students and senior citizens. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 9:00 until 18:00, and admission costs 3 euros.

things to do in Plovdiv
Antiques store in Plovdiv, Bulgaria @Unsplash

2. Ancient theater

On the southern slope of the Three Hills, between Taksim and Dzhambaz tepe, you can find the ancient theater of Philippopolis, one of the best-preserved ancient theaters in the world.

The Ancient Theater of Philipoppol is among the most significant finds of the Roman period. Apart from theatrical performances, the site was used for gladiatorial games and hunting, as well as the seat of the General Assembly of the Roman province of Thrace.

Today they use it as a stage for opera, music and theater. Some of the best annual events are the International Folklore Festival, the Opera Festival “Opera Abierta” and the Rock Festival “Sounds of Age.”

Between November and March, the opening hours from Monday to Sunday are from 9 am to 5:30 pm. Between April and October, it is open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. Admission per adult is BGN 5. Students only pay BGN 2.

3. Basilica of the Bishop of Philippopolis

The basilica was discovered during archaeological excavations in 1982, when they discovered that the building functioned from the mid-4th century to the end of the 6th century.

It was during the Middle Ages that a Christian necropolis was built on its ruins. It is the largest basilica from the 4th-6th centuries in Bulgaria and one of the largest in the Balkans. On the 20th of January 2018, they included the Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis on the UNESCO Tentative List of Cultural and Natural Heritage.

It is located next to the 19th century Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Louis and Kyaginya Maria Luiza Boulevard.

4. Czar Simeon’s Garden and the Fountains

The citizens of Plovdiv often refer to this area as the “lung of the city”. Tsar Simeon’s Park was designed and executed in 1892 by landscape designer Lyusien Shevalas, and is located on the very spot where Plovdiv first hosted its famous Bulgarian Exhibition.

The park embodies the artistic spirit of its host country. Shaded by centuries-old trees and surrounded by recreational opportunities, it is home to numerous sculptures and illustrious fountains. One of the most notable is the historic Singing Fountain. It has recently been reintroduced to the public after a renovation.

Within the park is the lake with the Singing Fountains, which in the summer attracts thousands of residents and visitors to Plovdiv.

What to do around Plovdiv

1. Shiroka Laka

The village of Shiroka laka is located in the Rhodopes, 23 km northeast of Smolyan and 16 km from Pamporovo. The village has preserved its Bulgarian Renaissance Period architecture, musical culture, beautiful scenery and rich history.

Every first Sunday in March, the village hosts an annual puppeteers’ festival called Pesponedelnik. On this day, all the guests of the village witness a strange scene: huge puppeteer monsters armed with red-painted wooden swords dance through the streets to drive away all evil from people’s houses and souls. The puppeteers “adorn” themselves with garlic, broad beans and peppers. 

2. The Valley of the Roses

The Valley of the Roses is located about 60 km north of Plovdiv, between Sredna Gora (Middle Forest Mountain) and Stara Planina (Balkan Mountains), from Kazanlak to Klisura. The valley is famous for the cultivation of roses for industrial use. The famous rose oil, the main ingredient in the world of fragrances and the cosmetics industry, is produced from these flowers.

For centuries, the damascened rose has been cultivated here, from which rose oil, widely used in pharmacy and perfumery, is obtained by distillation and other processes. In the historical-ethnographic museum of Kulata /city of Kazanluk/ tourists can see the primitive rose boiling and taste the products of oil rose: jam and liqueur. There are more than 10 000 types of roses, but only 200 of them are oil-containing.

3. Asen Fortress

It is located on the Mogilata ridge on a solitary rock and overhangs the Asenovgrad-Smolyan road, passing along the valley of the Asenitsa River. According to archaeological data, the Bulgarian fortress dates back to the second half of the 9th century. There have been found coins from the time of Emperor Theophilus (829-842).

4. Rayskoto Praskalo Waterfall

In the surroundings of Plovdiv you can also find fantastic scenery that you have to see. The highest Bulgarian waterfall is one of them. Located in the Dzhendema (Hell) Reserve, the largest in the Central Balkan National Park, the water falls for 124.5 m and gushes almost from the Botev Peak itself.

Although it has flow all year round, it is advisable to visit it in spring or autumn when the flow is greater and is more spectacular. From the area Panitsite it will take us about 4-5 hours to reach its position.

What to do in 1 day in Plovdiv?

If you only have one day to visit you can take a tour through the streets of this historic city. Wear comfortable shoes and get ready to enjoy the amazing Plovdiv.

Your first stop will be the Roman theater of Plovdiv, an ancient site for theatrical performances that was built by Ancient Rome. Continue through the irregular streets and visit Dzhumaya Park, an Islamic temple located in the center. It houses a minaret on the northeast corner of the main façade and paintings inside dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Step inside the Roman Stadium of Trimontium, an ancient Roman stadium, built in the 2nd century during the reign of Emperor Hadrian of the Roman Empire.

If you continue walking around the city, you can visit the historical architectural complex of Ancient Town Of Plovdiv. One street away you will find the Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic Museum. You should end your day’s visit to Plovdiv at the Singing Fountains show.

things to do in Bulgaria
Plovdiv, southern Bulgaria @Unsplash

Where to stay in Plovdiv

  • Landmark Creek Hotel and Spa: newest four-star hotel complex in Plovdiv. Located in the greenest and most picturesque area of the city that is the Rowing Canal Park, the hotel offers an exquisite combination of the tranquility of nature and a dynamic urban environment. Only 7 minutes drive from the city center. Nightly rates are around 60 euros.
  • Boutique Hostel Old Plovdiv: cozy hostel is close to the ancient Roman-era theater, Bulgarian Renaissance buildings and lively bars. Furnished with authentic antique beds and closets, purchased from local antique stores and renovated by professional restorers in the local Renaissance style, the 9 spacious and cozy rooms can be purchased from 10 EUR/bed for basic rooms and up to 15 EUR/bed for deluxe rooms.
  • The Emporium Plovdiv MGallery: this five-star hotel opened in May 2022. The Emporium Plovdiv, in the heart of Plovdiv, is close to the city’s attractions on foot: 700 m from the Bishop’s Basilica, the Roman Forum and the shopping street “Knyaz Alexander I”, 1 km from the Old Town and 2.3 km from the International Fair. Its interior resembles an ancient forum.
  • Old Plovdiv House in Kapana Area: This three-star hotel is on a cobblestone street in the popular Kapana neighborhood, a 3-minute walk from the 15th-century Dzhumaya Mosque and 10 from the ancient Philippopolis theater and 16 km from Plovdiv Airport. Nightly rates are around 65 and 70 euros.
  • Residence Art Guest House: €35 per night hostel located a cobblestone street, a 5-minute walk from the old Philadelphia Stadium and 9 minutes from the old Philadelphia Theater.
  • Hotel Pulpudeva: Family-run hotel 200 meters from Plovdiv’s Roman theater, and offers accommodation with restaurant, free private parking, bar and garden. It offers family rooms and a terrace. Rooms have air conditioning, garden views, closet and free WiFi.

Where and what to eat in Plovdiv

  • Hemingway Restaurant: With live music and thoughtful aesthetics, diners highlight the house wine. They offer a wide variety of meals and excellent service. Open from 12:00 to 1:00 every day
  • Rahat Tepe: delicious and complete dishes of Bulgarian food. You can try the “patatnik” surrounded by cuddly cats that roam around the establishment.
  • Tams House: fusion food, attention to detail, with an extraordinary presentation of the dishes.
  • Smokini: perfect restaurant with two floors, the top floor being a terrace. Quiet and accurate background music to be able to be conversing. Recommended the Grill beef steak.

How to get to Plovdiv

You can reach “the city of the seven hills” by car, as it is only about 150 kilometers from Sofia. You can also travel by train, which takes about two hours, or by plane. Plovdiv has a small airport that receives international flights.

What you should know before traveling to Plovdiv

  • Plovdiv, Bulgaria, a city steeped in history and culture that precedes even Athens, is the oldest living city in Europe and the sixth oldest in the world.
  • The terrain is steep and uneven, so if you intend to do long walking tours, comfortable shoes will be necessary.
  • The currency of Bulgaria is the Bulgarian leva, and the unit of currency is BGN.
things to do in Plovdiv
Travel to Plovdiv, Bulgaria @Unsplash

How to prepare what to see on your trip to Plovdiv

Register or download the Passporter App and discover all its possibilities.

  • Get inspired by other travelers’ experiences.
  • Create your own itinerary and add the app’s suggestions into it.
  • Add the stops you are most interested in, as well as the restaurants and bars where you want to eat (you can use the points of interest we indicate in this post as a reference).
  • Organize your itinerary by route days according to their location on the map (you can get inspiration from the routes we present in the post).
  • There are restaurants where they only accept credit cards.
  • Check out the travel budget that the app calculates for you based on your travel stops, restaurants, and leisure activities.
  • Make any modifications you need and you’ll be all set for your trip.
  • Share your experience. Upload photos of places you visited on your trip to the app and recommend to other travelers what to see in Plovdiv Island, Bulgaria.

If you have doubts about how to do it, you can check our post: How to create your travel itinerary with Passporter.

Frequently asked questions about a trip to Plovdiv Bulgaria

What are the typical dishes in Plovdiv Bulgaria?

Some of the most famous dishes are kavarma (meat stew), sach (meat with potatoes, kyufte (meatballs) or kebapche (sausages). The best sweets are called the banitsa, a puff pastry with cheese.

What is the best time to travel to Plovdiv Bulgaria?

The best time to travel to Bulgaria is from May to September, as winters are very cold.

Do you need a visa to travel to Plovdiv Bulgaria?

If traveling from Spain, the ID card or passport is enough to enter the country.

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