Perched gracefully in Bulgaria, Plovdiv stands as a symbol of antiquity in Europe, tracing its roots back through millennia of human history. As one of Europe’s oldest settlements, Plovdiv’s significance lies in its continuous habitation, offering a captivating window into the past. Its streets whisper tales of Thracian and Roman civilizations, while the imposing Roman amphitheater and charming Old Town are tangible remnants of its storied past.

Yet, Plovdiv is not merely a city frozen in time; it is a vibrant hub where the echoes of history mingle harmoniously with modern delights. Beyond its historical landmarks, Plovdiv invites travelers to explore its culinary landscape, where traditional Bulgarian cuisine takes center stage. From savory kebabs to aromatic spices, the city’s gastronomic offerings tantalize the taste buds, promising an unforgettable sensory experience amidst the timeless charm of Plovdiv.

Top 5 Landmarks to See in Plovdiv

The Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis

The Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Roman civilization in the heart of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Built over 2000 years ago, this majestic amphitheater was meticulously crafted from marble blocks, a feat of engineering achieved with human-powered treadwheel cranes. With its impressive capacity of up to 6000 seats, it served as a prominent public venue in the bustling ancient city of Philippopolis, hosting a myriad of performances and events that enriched the region’s cultural tapestry.

Today, the Ancient Theatre remains one of the most remarkably preserved amphitheaters in the world, offering visitors a rare glimpse into the past. Its grandeur continues to captivate audiences as it plays host to a diverse array of modern performances, including operas, plays, and rock concerts. For those seeking to immerse themselves in the rich history and vibrant cultural scene of Plovdiv, a visit to the Ancient Theatre is a must. 

Whether attending a captivating performance under the stars or simply marveling at its ancient splendor, this iconic landmark promises an unforgettable experience steeped in the timeless allure of the old times.

The Roman Stadium

Did you know that Plovdiv, Bulgaria, hides a colossal surprise underground? Beneath the bustling main shopping street lies a sprawling 30,000-seater stadium! It’s not just any stadium; it’s a Roman marvel, making it one of the most unique finds in the world. Officially dubbed the Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis, it’s a testament to Plovdiv’s deep ties to its Roman past. 

The Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis in Plovdiv is a true marvel of Ancient Rome right here on the Balkan peninsula! Commissioned by Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century, this stadium is amongst the largest and best-preserved structures of its kind in the region. Imagine being transported back in time as you explore its impressive seating, which once accommodated over 30,000 spectators! 

Each seat, made of solid marble blocks adorned with stylized lion paws, tells a story of ancient grandeur. As you wander through the 14 rows of tiered seating, you’ll notice the stepped aisles leading down to the track, offering a glimpse into the excitement of ancient sporting events. The main entrance, adorned with masonry pillars and marble reliefs depicting Hercules’ attributes, invites you to be present and remind yourself that you’re a little part of this awesome story called the passing of time! 

So, if you’re ever in Plovdiv, don’t miss the chance to venture underground and marvel at this fascinating piece of history. Who knows what surprises you might discover beneath your feet!

Hisar Kapia (The Castle Gate)

The Castle Gate, known as Hisar Kapia, is a must-see in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. This medieval gate, dating back to the 11th century AD, was once the Eastern entrance to the ancient city’s acropolis. Located amidst Revival Period houses, it’s a fascinating blend of history and architecture. Originally built on Roman foundations from the 2nd century AD, the gate showcases distinctive construction techniques, highlighting the craftsmanship of Bulgarian builders during the Second Bulgarian Empire. Over the years, the gate’s significance as a fortress waned, and it eventually became part of a Turkish garrison during the Ottoman invasion. 

Later, during the 17th and 18th centuries, wealthy merchants built their homes into the fortress walls, adding charm. Today, visitors can stroll through this historic gateway, marveling at its ancient origins and the stories it holds within its walls.

Dzhumaya Mosque

Dzhumaya Mosque, located in the heart of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, is undoubtedly worth visiting for its historical significance and architectural beauty. Dating back to the 14th century, it stands as one of the oldest mosques in Bulgaria, symbolizing the city’s diverse cultural heritage. The mosque’s striking design combines elements of Ottoman and Bulgarian architecture, making it a unique sight to behold. Its central location, nestled amidst the bustling streets of Plovdiv’s historic Old Town, also adds to its appeal.

Beyond its architectural marvel, Dzhumaya Mosque is known for its role as a spiritual and cultural hub for the local Muslim community. Visitors can immerse themselves in the mosque’s serene atmosphere, admiring its elegant minaret and intricate interior decorations. Whether interested in history and architecture or simply seeking tranquility, Dzhumaya Mosque offers a rewarding experience that captures the essence of Plovdiv’s rich culture.

The Old Town

This attraction is a 40-minute walk from the Central Railway Station or a 10-minute drive. To reach it on foot, take Hristo Botev Street from the Central Railway Station Square towards the Central Square, passing by the Post Office. Then, turn left onto the bustling pedestrian and shopping street, Knyaz Alexander I. Continue for approximately 500 meters until you reach the remains of the ancient Roman Stadium. The Old Town awaits on your right; simply explore any charming narrow streets, climbing up the hills to begin your adventure.

Exploring the Old Town of Plovdiv is a journey back in time, where cobblestone streets wind past beautifully preserved Bulgarian National Revival houses and ancient Roman ruins. As a tourist, there’s plenty to do in this charming district. You can wander through the narrow streets, marveling at the colorful facades adorned with traditional Bulgarian motifs. Visit the Ethnographic Museum to learn about the region’s rich cultural heritage, or step inside the historic Balabanov House to experience life as it was centuries ago. 

The Old Town is also home to numerous art galleries, boutiques, and cafes, where you can indulge in local cuisine and pick up unique souvenirs.

Bulgarian Cuisine to Eat in Plovdiv

Kurban Chorba

Kurban Chorba, a hearty Bulgarian soup, features tender lamb meat cooked with onions, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes, seasoned with paprika and savory herbs. The rich broth and succulent lamb create a comforting and flavorful dish that locals and visitors love. Pair it with crusty bread for a satisfying meal that warms the soul.

Tarator

Tarator is a refreshing Bulgarian cold soup made from yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, dill, and walnuts. Its creamy texture, combined with the crispness of cucumbers, offers a delightful contrast, while the garlic and dill add layers of flavor. Loved for its cooling properties, Tarator is perfect for hot summer days. Pair it with grilled meats or enjoy it as a light appetizer before a meal.

Banitsa

Banitsa is a traditional Bulgarian pastry made with layers of thin filo dough, eggs, and Bulgarian white cheese called “sirene.” This savory treat is often enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack throughout the day. The flaky layers of dough and the creamy cheese filling create a delightful texture, while the golden crust adds a satisfying crunch. Pair Banitsa with a cup of Bulgarian yogurt for a classic combination.

Want to try some of these on your trip? Check out local restaurants like Smokini, Hemingway, or Gastro Bar Aylyakria. 

Typical Costs for a Plovdiv visit

Plovdiv, located in Bulgaria, offers a refreshing break from the typically high travel expenses associated with Western Europe. As one of the top affordable cities in Bulgaria, it presents a budget-friendly haven for travelers seeking to explore without breaking the bank. The relatively low costs extend across various aspects of travel, including accommodation, dining, and transportation, making it an enticing option for budget-conscious adventurers.

In delightful Plovdiv, finding a cozy place to rest your head won’t break the bank! From charming boutique hotels to comfy 3 to 4-star accommodations, you can expect to pay around $89 per night for a double room. That’s roughly Ư80 to Ư145 in local currency. If you’re all about stretching your travel budget, fear not! Remember to catch great deals by booking ahead, especially during busy seasons!

In Plovdiv, dining out is an adventure in itself. With an average daily food budget of around $21 per person (about Ư36 to Ư65), you’ll find a culinary scene that caters to every taste and budget. Fancy a sit-down feast? Expect to shell out around $8.56 (Ư16) per person for a tasty meal. But hey, if you’re on the hunt for a quick and wallet-friendly bite, street food and fast food joints have your back! When it’s time to explore, hop on a public bus for a budget-friendly ride around town, with fares ranging from $0.50 to $1 per trip. 

Taxis are also available, but remember they can overcharge you quite often, so we recommend checking some apps for a fast and fair ride! 

Where to Stay

A variety of accommodations await, ranging from cozy apartments to upscale hotels. The people are mostly very nice and welcoming but remember that most don’t speak English well. 

Here are some of our recommendations: 

Hotel Odeon – Where each room or apartment exudes a homely atmosphere, distinct from the typical sterile hotel environment, thanks to its diverse interior design solutions.

Plovdiv City Center Hotel –  The overall feel of this hotel is old European charm mixed with modern facilities. It’s located in the center, close to the Plovdiv theater, and could be a great option. 

Hotel Hillhouse – In Plovdiv’s Old Town, HillHouse hotel harmonizes centuries-old Renaissance history with modern comfort. Its underground winery adds a unique touch, perfect for celebrating events.

When to go

Keep in mind that you should check the Plovdiv weather before booking your journey! When to go to Bulgaria is very important, depending on the type of activities you’re looking for. 

The best time to visit is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) months when the Plovdiv weather is mild and pleasant. Summers (July to August) can be hot, while winters (December to February) are cold with occasional snowfall. Spring and autumn offer comfortable temperatures for exploring the city’s attractions and enjoying outdoor activities.

If you don’t want to do the complete research, no worries, we already made it for you! We wrote an entire article on how to decide what’s the most suitable time to visit Bulgaria. Click here to read it.

How safe is Plovdiv?

Plovdiv is generally considered a safe city for travelers. Like any urban area, it’s essential to exercise caution, especially in crowded tourist areas and at night. Petty theft and pickpocketing can occur, so it’s wise to keep your belongings secure and be aware of your surroundings. Overall, with reasonable precautions, visitors can enjoy a safe and pleasant experience in Plovdiv. 

General Precautions

  • Stay aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas and tourist spots.
  • Keep your belongings secure, including wallets, passports, and electronic devices, to prevent theft or pickpocketing.
  • Use reputable transportation options and avoid walking alone in poorly lit or unfamiliar areas at night.
  • Be cautious when using ATMs and avoid displaying large sums of cash in public.
  • Respect local customs and traditions to minimize cultural misunderstandings (for example, in churches)

Health and Medical Considerations

  • Ensure you have adequate travel insurance that covers medical emergencies.
  • Carry any necessary medications and a basic first aid kit with you.
  • Drink bottled or purified water to avoid gastrointestinal issues, especially if your stomach is sensitive to changes in water quality.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, particularly during the summer months when UV rays are strong.
  • If you have allergies or medical conditions, carry relevant medical information and identification, and consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace.

By following these safety tips and staying vigilant, travelers can enjoy a smooth and secure experience while exploring the charming city of Plovdiv.

Book your trip to Bulgaria!

Plovdiv welcomes travelers with its captivating blend of cultural richness and culinary delights. As one of Europe’s oldest cities, its ancient charm is palpable in every cobblestone street and historic monument. But it’s not just the past that captivates; Plovdiv’s culinary landscape offers a tantalizing journey through Bulgarian flavors. From savory Banitsa to aromatic kebapche, every bite tells a story of tradition and innovation.

If we made you daydream about your trip to Plovdiv, let’s book your tour right now!

Contact Balkan Trails and let us handle all the details so you can enjoy a stress-free vacation to the Balkans! What else? You can even personalize your tour with our add-ons and be as flexible as you want with the schedules. 
Ready to meet your trusty tour operator? Check our website!