I need to be honest with you, I only visited Plovdiv because a good friend of mine was arriving to Burgas for a few days. I was on my way to buy tickets to Burgas too, when I looked at the map and saw Plovdiv. When I started reading about the city and its cultural heritage, I knew that I need to make this stop! I guess those are the advantages of having a few days to spare here and there 😉
So Plovdiv, why so interesting? First of all, it might be the oldest city still inhabited in the world! The Bulgarians say that it has been inhabited non-stop for the last 6000 years! Well that’s impressive! It was called Philippopolis, the city of Phillip. The city was originally a Thracian settlement and subsequently was invaded by Persians, Greeks, Celts, Romans, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Slavs, Russians, Crusaders, and Turks. Woah! That’s quite something! And the remains of those times are still present in the city.
If that’s not enough, the city was elected to be the European Cultural Capital in 2019. The city was greatly renovated and the cultural agenda still is incredibly rich with live performances almost every night (at least during the summer).
So here we go, if you have a day to visit Plovdiv, here’s what you can do:
Visit the Ancient Theater
This place was only uncovered 40 years ago! Before that, no one even knew that it was lying below the town of Plovdiv. The Teather dates from Greek times, is very well preserved, and hosts regular Opera concerts and Festivals. Check Visit Plovdiv (visitplovdiv.com) for schedules.
Walk the Old Town
The Old Town, traditionally on the hill is known for its Bulgarian Renaissance architectural style. Small cobblestone streets, charming souvenir shops and stunning views on the city are definitely worth the walk. By the way, the city was built on seven hills, so wear comfortable shoes.
Walk to Nebet Tepe. It’s one of the hills of Plovdiv where the ancient town was founded. The earliest settlements on Nebet Tepe are dated back to 4000 BC.
In the Old Town, you will find this stunning old building hosting nowadays the Ethnographic Museum. As you know, those are my favorite Museums, because I can learn a lot about the people and their customs. As it was my first time exploring Bulgarian Culture I was pleased to learn that Bulgaria is a place where the Middle East meets Eastern Europe. And not only Geographically. The traditional Bulgarian instruments often come from the Ottoman Empire, the sweets are also very similar. Traditional clothing is a mix between colorful, flowery dresses typical to Eastern Europe, and Turkish jewelry.
In the middle of the City Center you will find an antique Stadium. It hosts concerts in the evenings, but during the day you can take a 3D tour of what is left of it and let yoursel travel in time to Ancient Greece.
Admire the street art
Get lost in the cool Kapana district and hunt for the street art. It’s really everywhere and I found it very interesting! In the evenings, this district is also filled with people having a few drinks, listening to music.
Catch a concert
Either in the City Center or in the Old Town, check the Visit Plovdiv website for times. I caught a great Jazz concert in the Kapana when I was there, but every day there is something new happening!
Where to stay
Temple House was a great place! It as very clean, located in the heart of the city. The common areas were very spacious and nicely decorated. I really enjoyed staying there!
Where to eat
When in Old Town, head to Rahat Tepe for City Views and traditionnal food.
Some Gyros places looked nice, but I only tried Gyroland. It was quick, tasty and only 2 euros.
Also, Billa supermarket in the center has a real, fresh, prepared on the day section with mezzes, salads, cheeses and meat. That’s a great mix for a picnic in one of the parks.