“Who has not seen Plovdiv, has not seen Bulgaria”. Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria and one of the oldest in Europe. This is a typical and charming town that we really enjoyed ! Plovdiv is built around six hills, three of which are at the heart of the city. One or two days are enough to walk around the city and its parks.
The old city is very beautiful and worth a visit (but avoid high heels, the old town is only made of steep cobbled streets ). It is entirely pedestrian.
Admire the 19th century houses of colorful Bulgarian style which still have the name of its original owners (house Georgi Niklaidi, house Balabanov, house Dimitar Georgiadi …). The famous French poet Alphonse de Lamartine stayed in one of them during his trip to the Orient. Among the most interesting monuments, don’t miss the house that hosts the Ethnographic Museum (home Kujumdzigioglu) and a beautifully preserved amphitheater dating from the second century (where in summer evenings, you may be lucky, as we were, and attend an open air ballet).
Enjoy being in the old town to buy your gifts in small artisan shops (pottery, weaving straw, painting, sculpture and engraving on wood, and all kinds of souvenirs made of essence of Bulgarian rose as creams or perfumes, …). In addition to not being very expensive, it’s nice to look at.
In the new city, it is pleasant to walk in the pedestrian city center. The city is very green and with a lot of fountains. There are also many shops in the main street where you can get great deals. Start the tour by the huge central square (Plostad Centralen) where small stalls with souvenirs (paintings essentially) stand on its side. You can see the Roman Forum from there. Then continue the tour and go to the garden of Tsar Simeon. The square Stefan Stambolov has a special charm, it is bordered on one side of terraces of cafes and is bustling during the day. You can see the town hall, a green baroque building.
Head now in the main downtown street, the street of Prince Alexander 1st from Battenberg. This pedestrian street is littered with modern sculptures. This is the street of shops, you can bargain!
WHAT CAN’T MISS IN PLOVDIV?
- Have you ever eaten maxi crepes ? The place where they sell these delights is to the right of the tourist center! We advise you to try the black & white chocolate crepe with banana! You will quickly understand that a crepe for two is enough!
- On summer evenings, have a drink while enjoying the view offered by the cafe-brasserie at the top of the old city. From this point of view, you can see the three hills on which the city was founded. In addition, the salads are very good and it is nice to enjoy a beer on their terrace.
- Enjoy pottery. Pottery is a Bulgarian tradition. You will see many potters in the city who sell their crafts. These are usually brown pottery decorated with green, yellow, red and darker brown patterns.
- Eat a Shopka and a Kavarma in the tavern Alafrangite, not far from the ethnographic museum in the old town. It has a large terrace with flowers inside, where we sit down for a good hearty dinner! You can visit the house, which dates from the 18-19th century and still has old furniture and a wooden floor. You can also try other dishes as Bulgarian cuisine is generally delicious!
Ask for a map at the tourist office, square Tzentralen next to the Central Station. It will be helpful to find your way around the city.
A second tourist office is located in the old town on the main street (Saborna St), just before the Ethnographic Museum and the Church of St. Konstantin and Elena.
How to go to Plovdiv?
Plovdiv has three bus stations “Jug”, “Sever” and “Rodopi”. There are buses leaving from and to all major cities in Bulgaria.
There are about one hour by bus to Sofia, we advise you to take the bus, they are much faster than trains.
Where to sleep in Plovdiv?
We chose the Hostel Mostel, which is located in the new city, less than 10 minutes walk from the train station and bus station and 5 minutes from the old town. It is pretty and offers small evening meal and a beer, and a breakfast in the morning. The staff is very friendly and helpful.
There is another hostel in the old town, Hiker Hostel. It has a nice outdoor bar and a lively atmosphere in the evening, but you may have some difficulties to get there because the way to get there is paved with pebbles and far from the bus station (at least 30 minutes if you walk fast). You can anyway access to the bar even if you’re not from the hostel, and we highly recommend it!
Where to go After Plovdiv?
- A trip to the monastery Bachkovo is about an hour away.
- Sofia: the bus to Sofia lasts for around an hour and depart several times a day. Much faster than trains that reach Sofia in two hours and a half for express trains, otherwise 4 hours.