Plovdiv Bulgaria is a charming city that should definitely be on your must-visit list in Bulgaria.
In fact, it’s our favorite city in Bulgaria for exploring the fascinating history of Bulgaria’s various eras!
Why Visit Plovdiv Bulgaria
Plovdiv is the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe. Or so they say! And who are we to argue?!
Nestled between two vast mountain ranges, Plovdiv was in the middle of a trading route that linked Constantinople (and later, Istanbul) to Europe.
Bulgarian cities like Burgas, Varna and even Sofia were held by various empires over the centuries including Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. Plovdiv was no exception. In fact, its location on a trading route made it both more important and more contested than other Bulgarian cities.
Ruins from this colorful history has been lovingly restored in Plovdiv and the main reason for a tourist to visit the city is to explore that rich heritage.
Getting To Plovdiv Bulgaria
Plovdiv Bulgaria is easy to reach.
You can easily reach Plovdiv by bus or train from Sofia.
For a quick and efficient trip between Sofia and Plovdiv you can consider a private transfer between Sofia and Plovdiv.
Where to Stay in Plovdiv Bulgaria
We wanted to stay in the city center so we could maximize our time exploring Plovdiv by foot.
There are plenty of options in this area.
We chose the Kapana Luxury City Center Apartments and were very happy with the affordable luxury it provided.
Our apartment was a short walk from all of the sights we wanted to see. It is a luxury flat and the price is right!
We especially loved the enormous patio included with our rental.
What to Do in Plovdiv Bulgaria
Plovdiv has proudly displayed its fascinating history for all to explore. And it’s all very walkable.
Plovdiv Pedestrian Area
The heart of Plovdiv is its main pedestrian street/area. With a total length of 1.8 km, it is the longest pedestrian street in Europe! It features shopping, restaurants, cafes, bars and plenty of strolling.
Plovdiv Roman Stadium
And it’s impossible to miss the enormous unearthed ruins of a Roman stadium at one end of the pedestrian area in Plovdiv. A scale model at the end of the excavation shows what the stadium looked like when Plovdiv was part of the Roman Empire.
Plovdiv Ottoman Mosque
And just a few yards from that scale model is the 600-year-old Dzhumaya Mosque. This beautiful mosque still serves the muslim community in Plovdiv.
Old Town Plovdiv
Old Town Plovdiv on one of the city’s seven hills has ancient cobblestone streets and elegant revival-era townhouses. The Eastern Gate of Plovdiv – originally constructed in the second century – is also in Old Town.
Further up the hill are the ruins of the fortress of Nebet Tepe.
Thracians, Macedonians and then Romans occupied these heights. It was always a fortress. But no occupying force ever bothered to put a castle or battlements on the site.
Eventually the Ottomans pushed their empire beyond Plovdiv. They destroyed the fortress so it couldn’t be used against them by the locals.
Plovdiv is also home to a couple of interesting museums.
The Ethnographic Museum is a 150-year building in the heart of the Old Town. It is a typical Plovdiv Renaissance-period house in bright blue. Exhibits explore aspects of Bulgarian life during the 18th and 19th century.
The Archaeological Museum is history nerd Nirvana. With over 100,000 exhibits including coins, documents and all aspects of ancient life, it presents a detailed history of Plovdiv.
Plovdiv Roman Theater
The Plovdiv Roman theater is another don’t-miss highlight.
The restoration of the ancient theatre, originally built in the first century and recovered in the 1960s, is one of the greatest achievements of conservation in Bulgaria. It’s one of the world’s best-preserved ancient theatres in the world.
And Plovdiv has restored it to a functional status! Today it holds about 3,500 people for concerts and other events.
Back near the pedestrian area in Plovdiv is the Kaparna Creative Area.
Under and after communist rule this neighborhood of Plovdiv had fallen into disrepair. But now it is gentrifying. Today is home to trendy bohemian bars, cafes and clubs. The cityscape in this neighborhood is dominated by a public art project. Artists use the neighborhood buildings as canvases.
Plovdiv Walking Tour
Our strongest recommendation is to take a guided walking tour of Plovdiv Bulgaria.
You will get to see and learn about all of these highlights and more!
We took The Plovdiv Free Walking Tour and loved it! It starts at 11am and 6pm in the summer and at 2pm from October-April.
But if you can’t make those times – or you prefer a more intimate experience – you can always book a private walking tour of Plovdiv which isn’t free but is very affordable.
Bottom Line – Plovdiv Bulgaria
Plovdiv is a city full of ancient wonders. And Plovdiv has painstakingly restored and preserved those wonders for all to enjoy.
Meanwhile, prices for lodging, food and transportation are very reasonable in Plovdiv, making for a fascinating and fun affordable luxury experience.