Travel Plovdiv

Known as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe, Plovdiv boasts a rich tapestry of heritage spanning over 8,000 years. I found the city with its cobbled streets, well-preserved Roman ruins and vibrant artsy neighbourhoods interesting, charming and fun, with lovely parks and less touristy than say, Sofia or the Black Sea coast.

In addition to its inherent charm, the city has much to explore. Here are a few suggestions:


Attend the Night of the Galleries

Every September 28th, Plovdiv transforms into a nocturnal art show as all its art galleries extend their hours into the early morning, marking the celebrated “Plovdiv Night.” Organised by the Open Arts Foundation, this event draws inspiration from Berlin’s similar festivities. You’ll have access to collections from public and private museums, galleries, theatres, cultural centres, and even city clubs, all accessible free of charge. There’s more… there are chocolate tours, poetry readings and plenty of free events and a very festive vibe.


Visit the Roman Amphitheatre

Dating back to the 1st century CE, Plovdiv’s ancient Roman theatre, nestled in the city centre, bears witness to its historical grandeur as Philippopolis. Excavated in the 1970s following a landslide, this monumental structure, with its 28 rows of marble seats
accommodating up to 6,000 spectators, ranks among the world’s best-preserved Roman amphitheatres. Today, it serves as a venue for various performances from operas to heavy metal shows.


Explore the Archaeological Museum

Serving as a bastion of Plovdiv’s cultural heritage, this museum, established in the late 1800s, showcases the city’s illustrious past as Philippopolis. With over 100,000 artefacts spanning the Neolithic era to Roman times, including an extensive collection of Thracian gold works, the museum provides a journey through the annals of history.


Wander Knyaz Aleksandar I

Plovdiv’s bustling thoroughfare, with its pastel-hued Baroque buildings housing an array of cafés and shops. Stretching over 1.75 kilometres, it stands as one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets, offering a vibrant scene with unique street art and ample opportunities for people-watching.


Soak up the creativity

The Kapana neighbourhood is now the creative heart of the city, a pedestrianised area full of unique shops, restaurants and galleries. It used to be a derelict parking zone with damaged old houses. The transformation began in 2014, when 10 creative enterprises moved into the area, funded by the European Capital of Culture Foundation, and things have taken off from there.


Drink Thracian Wine

The plain on which Plovdiv stands has an ideal climate for cultivating grapes, particularly red varieties, such as the rich, dark mavrud which has been grown there since ancient times. Bulgarian Wine Tours organises wine-tasting trips (from €65 for a half-day). Local vineyards of note include Dragomir, Villa Yustine and the organic Zagreus. For those pressed for time, Bendida, a well-known producer, has a bar and shop in the pedestrianised Kapana district. It’s run by the third generation of the Portev family, which has a vineyard a few miles outside the city in the foothills of the Rhodope mountains.

Take a day trip to Asenovgrad. A mere bus or train ride away from Plovdiv lies Asenovgrad, a historic town steeped in religious significance and agricultural heritage. Dubbed “The Little Jerusalem” for its profusion of monasteries and churches, Asenovgrad invites exploration of its rich historical tapestry, including the formidable Asenova Fortress, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.


And more…

Hindliyan House

Step into yesteryear at the meticulously preserved Ottoman-era mansions in the Old Town of which Hindliyan House is the most splendid.


International Folklore Festival:

Experience the vibrant tapestry of Bulgarian folklore during this annual celebration, usually taking place during the last week of July.


Cultural Center Trakart

Delve into the region’s Roman legacy at this museum with its extensive floor mosaics.


Church of St Constantine and Helena

This tiny, gold-adorned chapel is spectacular and shouldn’t be missed.


Tsar Simeon Central Garden

Unwind amidst verdant tranquility in this urban oasis. In essence, Plovdiv has a timeless charm, steeped in history, with friendly people and plenty to experience. It is easy to reach, with direct flights, and easy on the wallet too – well worth a visit.

Getting there:

Direct return flights from Luton from £52 in April

Best time to visit: April through September

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