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Plovdiv Travel Guide

Last Updated: August 30, 2023

View over the rooftops of the historic center of a Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria . It’s also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe , its history stretching back all the way to the 6th century BCE.

Plovdiv’s museums, artsy neighborhoods, cobbled streets, Roman ruins, and brightly painted 19th-century mansions make this city a fun, budget-friendly destination.

I loved my time visiting here and it became one of my favorite places in Bulgaria. I found the city to be a peaceful oasis with wonderful parks and ruins that lacked the tourist crowds of Sofia and the Black Sea coast.

Since the city is in the middle of the country, it’s an easy place to visit as you move from one end of the country to the other.

This travel guide to Plovdiv can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your time in this charming destination.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Plovdiv

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Plovdiv

Ancient Roman amphitheater at night in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

1. Attend the Night of the Galleries

Every year on September 28th, every single art gallery in Plovdiv stays open into the early hours of the morning. The event is also known locally as Plovdiv Night and is organized by the Open Arts Foundation. Inspired by a similar event in Berlin, Plovdiv began the citywide celebration in 2005. Every attraction in the city participates with its own unique offerings, including public and private museums, art galleries, theaters, cultural centers, bookstores, art spaces, and even urban clubs. Admission is free no matter where you go. You can take free chocolate tours, attend poetry readings, and take part in free events at various bars and cafes too. Tens of thousands of people take part!

2. See the Roman Amphitheater

This ancient Roman theater dates to the first century CE. Modern-day Plovdiv sits on what was once the ancient Roman city of Philippopolis, and the massive ruins of the theater are located in the heart of the city center. Its 28 rows of marble seats once seated up to 6,000 people and it was used for athletic displays such as gladiator fights. Incredibly, the expansive ruins were only recently discovered in the 1970s after a landslide revealed part of the ruins. The Bulgarian Conservation School then began excavating the area and removed around 4.5 meters of earth to uncover the entire structure. It’s one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. Today, it’s used as a stage for drama, music, and opera performances. You can tour the site for 5 BGN.

3. Tour the Archaeological Museum

One of Plovdiv’s original cultural hubs, the museum was first established in the late 1800s. The collection grew until it was officially designated as an Archaeological Museum in the 1920s. Experience the ancient history of the prosperous city of Philippopolis, one of the most important ancient Balkan cities, which once occupied the same land where Plovdiv was built. The collections are organized chronologically, and you’ll begin the tour with Neolithic exhibits and then move through rooms full of artifacts that span the ages. This museum hosts over 100,000 items, including Roman pottery and jewelry, and an enormous collection of Thracian gold works from Panagyurishte (a town in southern Bulgaria) that date to the 3rd century BCE. Admission is 5 BGN.

4. Stroll the pedestrian street

Knyaz Aleksandar I is the main street in Plovdiv and is lined with cafés and shops in pastel-colored Baroque buildings. It stretches 1.75 kilometers (1 mile) and is one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe. If you want to walk the whole thing, you can begin at the covered bridge which stretches over the Maritsa River. The bridge itself is filled with shops and offers nice views of the river. The long street is always filled with people. The area is lively and colorful with cool shops and unique street art. It’s the best place for people-watching and to enjoy the local pace of life.

5. Day trip to Asenovgrad

Asenovgrad is an important agricultural and religious area in Bulgaria, dotted with monasteries and churches. On a visit to Asenovgrad, you can explore 5 monasteries, 15 churches, and 58 chapels. The town has been dubbed “The Little Jerusalem” due to its many religious institutions. It was first founded by the Thracians around 300 BCE and called Stenimachos. Like the rest of Bulgaria, the area is rich in history. The town also served as an important military stronghold in various wars over the years. Be sure to check out the Asenova Fortress for sweeping views of the surrounding hills and Asenitsa River. A bus or train from Plovdiv costs around 3 BGN and takes about 30 minutes.

Other Things to See and Do in Plovdiv

1. take a free walking tour.

Whenever I visit a new city, the first thing I do is take a free walking tour. It’s the best way to see the main sights and learn about the culture on a budget. Plus, you’ll get to connect with a local expert guide who can answer all your questions. Free Plovdiv Tour organizes a free daily tour that lasts two hours and covers all the main highlights. Just be sure to tip!

2. Tour Hindlian House

A wealthy Armenian merchant named Stepan Hindlian once owned this house in the Old Town, which was built between 1835-40. It contains an extensive collection of historic furniture from that period and the walls are covered in detailed landscape paintings. There’s also an entire marble bathroom and a high-domed ceiling. It’s a neat look at the lavish lifestyles of the city’s former wealthy residents. It costs 5 BGN to visit.

3. Visit the Philippopolis Art Gallery

Bulgaria’s first private art gallery is housed inside a stunning building designed in the National Revival Style of the early 1800s. You’ll see works from 19th and 20th-century Bulgarian masters, including Vladimir Dimitrov, Anton Mitov, and Dimitar Gyudzhenov. There are also often exhibits from modern contemporary artists on display. Admission is free.

4. Attend the International Folklore Festival

Starting on the first weekend of August, Plovdiv turns into one giant open-air folklore music and dance festival. For five days, the streets are filled with parades, concerts, and dancing. Everyone dresses in traditional colorful regalia as they sing and dance. It’s extraordinary to see! For information about each year’s event, check the Visit Plovdiv website .

5. Go wine tasting

Bulgaria has some surprisingly tasty wines, and there are dozens of wine cellars scattered around Plovdiv that you can visit. You can take a tour of these cellars or venture out into the Thracian wine region to visit some of the area’s best vineyards. The Thracian wine region covers the Thracian Valley, the Rhodope Mountains, and parts of the Balkan Mountains range and the Black Sea Coast. Most tours cost 160 BGN for a full day, and you’ll get to visit several wineries, with lunch included.

6. Check out the Cultural Center Thrakart

This building, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, showcases an extensive collection of Roman floor mosaics, as well as various Roman artifacts, pottery, and sculptures dating to the 3rd century CE. There’s also a section highlighting historic glassmaking techniques that’s super interesting. Admission is 8 BGN.

7. See Sveta Marina Church

This little church from the 16th century does not get the attention it deserves. In addition to its 17-meter (56-foot) wooden pagoda-shaped bell tower and its 170-year-old iconostasis (a wall of religious icons and paintings), the church’s outer walls display Old Testament murals. It won’t take you long to see it all, and it’s free.

8. Wander the Tsar Simeon Central Garden

This immaculate green space is the perfect escape from the hectic shopping area of Plovdiv’s main street. There’s a restored fountain of the Goddess Demeter and a Viennese pavilion at the center of the park. The Singing Fountains on the lake also put on a light show with water effects every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 9:30pm. It’s the perfect place to wander, relax, and people-watch.

9. Make a trip to Bachkovo Monastery

Just outside of Plovdiv, this monastery dates to 1083 (although most of it was built in the 17th century). The main attraction in the monastery is the Church of Sveta Bogoroditsa, with its interior completely covered in colorful frescoes painted by Zahari Zograf in 1850. The refectory is also full of murals displaying the building’s history. Pilgrims often come to the church to pray in front of the Madonna, which is encased in gold and silver. It’s free to visit the monastery, but the on-site museum costs 4 BGN to visit.

10. Visit the Ethnographic Museum

This museum is housed in a 150-year-old building built in the Renaissance style. It’s enveloped by a tranquil garden and takes you through Bulgarian life from the 19th century to the early 20th century using cultural artifacts like furniture, clothing, and tapestries. There are over 40,000 items in its collection so there’s a lot to see! Admission is 6 BGN.

11. Hike Nebet Hill

Nebet Hill makes up one of the seven hills around Plovdiv, and it’s the site of a giant former Roman fortress. There’s not much left from the fort — all you’ll find are some ruined walls and towers — but most people come up here for the views over Plovdiv, especially at sunset.

12. Explore “The Trap”

The Trap is the nickname given to the neighborhood of Kapana, which used to be the center for merchant trade and craftspeople. Nowadays, it’s an artsy neighborhood filled with trendy restaurants, cafes, street art, bars, and galleries. Most of the area is now a pedestrian-only zone too so it’s perfect for wandering and exploring on foot.

  For more information on other cities in Bulgaria, check out these guides:

  • Sofia Travel Guide
  • Varna Travel Guide
  • Veliko Tarnovo Travel Guide

Plovdiv Travel Costs

The charming, narrow streets of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Hostel prices – Most hostel dorms in Plovdiv cost around 20 BGN for a bed in a 5-8-bed dorm. Private hostel rooms generally cost 53-65 BGN per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard and most hostels also include free breakfast.

Budget hotel prices – Budget two-star hotels cost 55-75 BGN per night. Expect basic amenities like free Wi-Fi, TV, and occasionally free breakfast.

Airbnb is an affordable option in Plovdiv, with private rooms costing 35-70 BGN per night. You can find an entire home/apartment for 55-100 BGN per night. Prices double when not booked early, however, so be sure to book in advance to find the best deals.

Food – Bulgarian cuisine is hearty and similar to that of its Balkan neighbors. Meaty stews with lamb, goat, or chicken are common, as are sausages and all kinds of yogurts (dairy products are big here). Popular dishes include kebapche (grilled mincemeat), shopska salad (a salad with tomato, cucumber, and cheese; similar to Greek salad), and moussaka (an eggplant dish with ground meat).

You can find food like banica (cheese pastry) for as little as 1.50 BGN, or you can pick up a hearty shopska salad or kebab for around 5 BGN.

A fast-food meal (think McDonald’s) costs around 11 BGN. A traditional Bulgarian meal at a casual restaurant with a drink shouldn’t cost much more than 15 BGN.

If you want to splash out, a three-course meal at an upscale restaurant costs around 30 BGN.

Beer is around 3-4 BGN while a latte/cappuccino is around 3 BGN. Bottled water is 1.38 BGN.

If you plan on cooking your own meals, expect to pay between 40-60 BGN per week. This gets you basic staples like pasta, rice, seasonal produce, and some meat.

Backpacking Plovdiv Suggested Budgets

If you’re backpacking Plovdiv, expect to spend 60 BGN per day. This assumes you’re staying in a hostel, cooking most of your meals, limiting your drinking, taking public transportation to get around, and sticking to mostly free activities like walking tours and hiking. If you plan on drinking, add 5-10 BGN to your daily budget.

On a mid-range budget of 135 BGN per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb, eat out for most meals at cheap cafes and fast food joints, enjoy a few drinks, take the occasional taxi, and do more paid activities like visiting museums and the Roman amphitheater.

On a “luxury” budget of 230 BGN or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink more, rent a car to get around or take more taxis, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get an idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in BGN.

Plovdiv Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Prices in Plovdiv are pretty consistent compared with other destinations in Bulgaria, making it a very affordable place to visit. There are lots of cheap and free things to do here so it will be hard to break the bank unless you are looking to really try to spend your money. Here are some ways to cut your costs in Plovdiv:

  • Stay with a local – If you plan ahead, you can usually find really nice Couchsurfing host in Plovdiv. This way, you not only have a free place to stay, but you’ll have a local host that can share their insider tips and advice.
  • Get a Plovdiv City Card – The Plovdiv City Card has tons of good deals, including free admission to 12 museums and a free wine tour. It’s 24 BGN for a one-day pass and 36 BGN for a three-day pass.
  • Take a free walking tour – Walking tours are a great way to get familiar with a city and its culture. Free Plovdiv Tour is an excellent company to try. Be sure to tip your guide at the end!
  • Look for free events – Many of Plovdiv’s events and festivals are free to attend, so ask your hostel or host what’s going on during your visit.
  • Limit your drinking – Alcohol here is cheap so it can be all too easy to spend more than you want by going out to the bar. Buy your drinks from the store instead of the bar or cut back on your drinking altogether. Those cheap beers add up!
  • Skip the taxis – Taxis are cheap here, but they also add up. Stick to public transportation if you’re on a budget.
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Plovdiv

Plovdiv has some excellent and affordable hostels. Here are some of my favorite places to stay:

  • Hikers Hostel Plovdiv
  • Hakuna Matata
  • Hostel Old Plovdiv

How to Get Around Plovdiv

A large historic building surrounded by snow-covered trees in the Old Town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Public transportation – Most of Plovdiv’s main attractions are within walking distance to one another, so you’ll rarely have to use public transportation. If you do need to take it, the bus is really the only way to getting around. A one-way ticket costs 1 BGN so it’s super affordable.

Taxi – The normal start rate for a taxi in Plovdiv is 1.50 BGN, and then it’s an additional 1.60 BGN per kilometer. Make sure your taxi is metered as some drivers have been known to try and overcharge tourists.

Uber is not available here.

Bicycle – Renting a bicycle in Plovdiv is an excellent way to get around the city center. You can rent a bicycle for eight hours from Plovdiv Bike Rent for 18 BGN. A 24-hour rental is just 20 BGN.

Car rental – Car rentals can be found for around 27 BGN per day for a multi-day rental. You won’t need a car to get around the city, however, if you want to explore the region it might be helpful. Drivers need to be at least 21 to rent a car. An IDP (International Driving Permit) is required.

When to Go to Plovdiv

Spring and summer in Plovdiv are lovely times to visit, with the average daily temperature hovering around 31°C (88°F) between May and August. The busiest months (July and August) bring in lots of tourists and higher accommodation prices so be sure to book early if you’re visiting in the summer.

Fall (September-November) is also pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 7-18°C (46-66°F). There aren’t as many tourists as in summer so things are a bit cheaper and a bit quieter. It can get chilly and windy, though, so pack warm clothing.

Winter temperatures drop below 3°C (27°F) and the city sees very few tourists during this time. It’s not the best time to visit, but you can still visit a lot of the museums if you come in winter. Generally, however, I’d skip a winter visit if you can.

How to Stay Safe in Plovdiv

Plovdiv is a very small and safe city. Violent crime is rare, as are scams and petty crime. Of course, you’ll always want to keep your valuables secure when you’re out and about just to be safe (especially on crowded public transportation and in busy tourist areas).

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).

Some taxi drivers have been known to overcharge their customers, so make sure your driver has a metered cab before you get in it. You can read about common travel scams to avoid right here.

If you experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.

Plovdiv Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Plovdiv Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Bulgaria and continue planning your trip:

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Panoramic view of the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

A local’s guide to Plovdiv, Bulgaria: 10 top tips

As a 2019 European Capital of Culture, this ancient city will reflect its Roman, Persian and Ottoman influences, and focus on Kapana, its new creative quarter

What’s for breakfast?

Banitsa is a Bulgarian breakfast staple. The flaky pastry parcels are filled with sirene cheese (similar to Greek feta). One of the best places to try one is at Bakeland , on the edge of the Kapana and Old Town districts. It also makes delicious handmade cakes and sweets, with a few gluten-free options.

Night at the opera

Ancient Theatre of Plovdiv

The Ancient Theatre is Plovdiv’s most famous cultural landmark: a Roman amphitheatre in a dramatic position on a hill above the city. Visitors can enjoy performances by the Plovdiv Opera and its international guests while sitting on ancient marble seats looking over the whole city centre, with the Rhodope mountains in the distance – a breathtaking spectacle. bulgariatravel.org

Creative district

Street cafes in the Kapana district.

Kapana is now the creative heart of the city, a pedestrianised area full of shops, restaurants and galleries. In the 1990s it was a parking zone full of ruined 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. The best place to enjoy the city’s art scene is a space called Cu29 . It combines a cafe and gallery and was established by artist Velizar Dimchev to promote emerging talent from Plovdiv. Afterwards grab a drink at Kapana’s coolest cocktail bar, Ginger Tale .

Art and bath

Contemporary art gallery in Chifte Ottoman Baths in Plovdiv

Very often cultural experiences in Plovdiv are an interesting mix of contemporary art and centuries-old architectural and cultural monuments. Established in 1995, the Ancient Bath was run by an independent art association for more than 20 years. The interior of the 16th-century Turkish bath is still intact, so art pieces are set in an authentic atmosphere with original stone walls and a stunning central dome. Currently the space is managed by the City Gallery and is the main venue for contemporary art exhibitions. It’s especially pleasant during the summer months and early September, when it remains cool in the Plovdiv heat. plovdiv2019.eu

Ottoman-era houses

Interior of the House-Museum Hindliyan in the historic center of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Hilly Plovdiv old town is famed for its photogenic winding cobbled streets and beautifully preserved Ottoman-era townhouses. One of the most splendid is the Hindliyan House , whose Armenian merchant owner installed a rose-water fountain in the hayet , or main living space. This has recently been restored to its former, fragrant glory – the smell fills the room. Another favourite is Klianti House , which has beautifully painted ceilings and half-size rooms with tiny doors that were once used for storing the merchant’s wares. It feels like you have entered floor 7½ in Being John Malkovich . Entry to each house 5 Lev (£2.29). A £7 ticket gives entry to five Old Town locations

Drink Thracian wine

Bendida, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The dusty plain on which Plovdiv is built has a perfect climate for growing grapes, particularly red varieties, such as the rich, dark mavrud (apparently, it has been grown here since Thracian times). Bulgaria Wine Tours organises wine-tasting trips from a half-day to a week (from €80 for a half-day, reductions for groups of over three). Local vineyards of note include Dragomir, Villa Yustine and the organic Zagreus. If you don’t have time for a wine-tasting trip, another top producer, Bendida , has a bar and shop in the pedestrianised Kapana district. It’s run by the third generation of the Portev family, who have a vineyard a few miles outside the city in the foothills of the Rhodope mountains. The family tradition is in safe hands: daughter Elizabet is already producing award-winning rosés.

Hot takes on old dishes

Zlatarska street with Pavaj on the right.

Food is another of Plovdiv’s strengths, and a new generation of restaurateurs are using local ingredients to turn out modern takes on traditional Bulgarian food. The hottest place in town is Pavaj (mains from £6). Its young owners, Raycho Markov and Madlen Pakratyan, are obsessive about their trade, from growing rare heritage tomatoes in Markov’s father’s garden in the mountains to travelling the Balkans in search of great rakia (fruit brandy). Ask nicely and they may offer you samples from the restaurant’s impressive collection. The food is simple and seasonal, from salads and meatballs to grilled sheep’s cheese and bread made to Raycho’s grandmother’s recipe. The pillow-soft rolls are cut in half, fried in clarified butter and sprinkled with a salt and spice mix. It may just be the most addictive thing you try in Bulgaria. Be sure to book ahead. Another good option is the recently opened Aylyakriya , (Kozhukarska 3), also in Kapana, that does smart takes on traditional dishes, such as kačamak (polenta), pork ribs and beans and an exceptional strawberry cheesecake (mains from around £6).

Restaurant with a view

Hemingway restaurant

On the edge of the old town and overlooking the Kapana district, the shady terrace of Restaurant Philoppopolis (mains from about £12) has one of the best views in the city (Philoppopolis was the ancient name for Plovdiv). The interior is in 1920s Viennese style and there is a gallery and museum in the same building. It’s the most romantic place to eat in Plovdiv. A classy option in the centre of town is Hemingway Restaurant , which serves sophisticated Bulgarian and European dishes (mains from £7).

Buy local crafts

Piuma D’oro sandals

Magura Street in Kapana is full of shops selling local crafts and souvenirs. There are places to buy handmade belts with ornate buckles and the pagan kukere masks worn by Bulgarians to scare off evil spirits during midwinter celebrations. Piuma D’oro has beautiful sandals, leather bags and jewellery designed and handmade by its owner, Polina Kozarova. She worked as a shoe designer for 23 years before opening her own shop three years ago. For me this sums up the story of Kapana: it provides spaces for people to pursue their craft and sell what they make directly to customers. In the old town, the Street of Crafts , Stramna , is another place to buy local wares and see artisans at work in their studios.

Climb the city hills

People at Nebet Tepe hill in Plovdiv

Plovdiv was built on seven hills. There are actually only six now: one was quarried for materials to construct the city centuries ago. The most popular for tourists is Nebet Tepe , one of the three hills of the Old Town. The earliest archaeological remains date from 4,000BC (Plovdiv claims to be the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe). But Bunardzhik Tepe , also known as Alyosha Hill, with its huge Soviet soldier statue looming at the summit, is particularly special. The view from the top is superb and it’s often a setting for open-air parties.

Getting there Plovdiv is a 2.5-hour bus ride from Sofia.

Stay Hotel Evmolpia (doubles from £44 B&B) is a new boutique hotel in the Old Town. The newly renovated Stay Hotel (doubles from £45 B&B) is in the city centre, just off Central Square.

Hotel Evmolpia

Best time to visit Spring and autumn are particularly lovely in Plovdiv. The city gets hot in July and August (average highs of 30C), but the city stays alive with festivals. This year there is a full programme of cultural events for the European Capital of Culture celebrations. Winters are cold (average highs between -2C and 7C), and snow is not uncommon. It’s fairly dry, with only 127mm of precipitation a year (London has 590mm, Manchester 930mm). In late September the city hosts trade fairs that push rates higher (2019: 23-28 September).

Prices Beer (half litre) £1, cappuccino £1.10, three-course meal for two £18.50.

Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva is artistic director of Plovdiv European Capital of Culture 2019 , and Rumyana Tolova, is a PR professional in the city. Both were born in and are residents of Plovdiv

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Home » Travel Guides » Bulgaria » 15 Best Things to Do in Plovdiv (Bulgaria)

15 Best Things to Do in Plovdiv (Bulgaria)

Plovdiv and its iconic hills have been inhabited for 8,000 years, making it one of the oldest continuously settled cities in the world. The Ancient Thracians were in control for a couple of thousand years before the Romans took over and constructed a majestic ensemble of monuments that are still being dug up today in this Bulgarian city .

The Roman Theatre is one of the most complete you’ll ever see, while the city’s hillside Old Town is a kind of outdoor museum littered with ancient churches and mansions built by wealthy merchants from the city’s past that open their doors to the public. It all makes for an enchanting place where western and eastern cultures have interacted for centuries.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Plovdiv :

1. Ancient theatre

Plovdiv Roman Theatre

One of the world’s most intact Ancient theatres, this building is still in use almost 2000 years after it was constructed.

There’s capacity for up to 7000 here and the structure cuts into the side of Taksim Tepe, one of Plovdiv’s six hills, and as you step down the slope towards the terraces the views of the city and the Rhodope Mountains behind are astounding.

The theatre was only rediscovered in the 1970s after a landslide had taken place on the hill.

If you’re in town in the summer don’t miss the chance to see an opera or theatre performance at this dreamy setting.

2. Plovdiv Roman Stadium

Plovdiv Roman Stadium

At one time this 2nd-century stadium could seat 30,000 spectators, although today you can only see fragments of this structure.

It sits beneath parts of Plovdiv’s Old Town and like the city’s Roman theatre was only excavated in the 20th century.

The best views can be had from Dzhumaya Square where you can look over the railings down to a large section of the stadium’s seating.

Walk down and you can navigate a vaulted passageway that runs underneath the northern curve.

Drop by the visitor centre that will fill you in on the stadium’s history.

3. Plovdiv Old Town

Old Town

The car-free cobblestone streets of old Plovdiv are a joy, where traditional homes blend with Plovdiv’s roman ruins.

Most of the houses in this part of the city, particularly on Ulitsa Saborna, are half-timbered and some of the richer examples are painted in vivid colours.

Take the House of Stepan Hindliyan, dating to the mid-1800s, which is blue with characteristic delicate sgrafitto designs around its window frames.

You can enter this lovely old house, and several others in the Old Town, to see the extravagant interior decorations.

The murals in just one room in Stepan Hindliyan’s House took six months to paint by hand!

4. Bachkovo Monastery

Bachkovo Monastery

Just past Plovidiv’s southeastern reaches, outside the town of Asenovgrad, is this monastery  founded in 1083.

Bachkovo is the second-largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria and brings together Bulgarian, Georgian and byzantine religious traditions.

The oldest part of the original complex to survive is the ossuary, a few hundred metres from the main buildings.

Here there are frescoes from the 1300s, one depicting Tsar Ivan Alexander of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

Inside the Holy Virgin Church there’s an icon of the Virgin Mary that was brought here from Georgia in the early-14th century.

5. Regional Ethnographic Museum

Regional Ethnographic Museum

This Old Town attraction is in another merchant’s house built in the mid-19th Century, this one belonging to Argir Kuyumdzhioglu who was originally from Bulgaria.

As you enter you’ll notice the ornate baroque sgraffito above the entrance and the undulating curves  of the building’s roof.

The attraction has gathered more than 40,000 items relating to Bulgarian folk culture over the centuries.

You’ll see authentic musical instruments, fabrics, clothing, handicrafts and farm tools.

You can also contrast rural village life in the Rhodope room with urban opulence in the Plovdiv guest room.

6. Ancient Philippopolis

Forum and Odeon

Next to Plovdiv’s post office are the remnants of the city’s Roman forum that intersected the two main streets, cardo maximus and decumanus maximus.

This would have been magnificent in its day, when you would have stepped through three grand archways or propylae to enter the square.

What you’ll see now are evocative pieces of Doric columns. Just next door is the odeon where Plovdiv’s council would have met, underlining the city’s importance to this region.

Here you can look down on a semi-circular arena with several rows of seating completely undamaged.

7. Mevlevi Hane

Mevlevi Hane

This building belonged to the Mevlevi Order of Sufis, which makes it kind of a rarity in Bulgaria.

The Mevlevi order was around during Ottoman times but died out in Plovdiv at the end of the 19th century.

All that is left is the hall, or ‘tekke’, where the sufis performed their famous liturgical dances. It dates to the renaissance period but also displays Ottoman modifications.

The Hane is especially worthwhile because it backs onto the old city’s defences, and some of the artefacts that have been pulled out of digs can be seen downstairs in the Puldin restaurant.

8. The Clock Tower

The Clock Tower

Crowning Sahat Tepe, one of Plovdiv’s six hills, is this fortified tower and one of the city’s emblems.

You’ll be able get up here in no more than a few minutes from the Roman Stadium, and the building with its conical lead roof atop a gallery is at least 300 years old.

A few small changes have been made down the years: In 1883 the large clock that you can see today was fitted, having been purposely crafted in Vienna.

9. Asen’s Fortress

Asen's Fortress

A short drive or bus ride southeast of Plovdiv will take you to a medieval castle that teeters on the edge of  ridge over the Asenitsa River.

As you approach by road you’ll see this impressive building, stark against a landscape of limestone rocks and pine brush.

The walls of the fortress zigzag down the precipitous mountainsides, guarding a perch that has been a stronghold for as long as 6,000 years, back to the time of the Thracians.

What you see today is from the 1200s, and the best-preserved section is the Church of the Holy Mother of God with beautiful if partially damaged murals from the 14th century.

10. Church of St. Konstantin and Elena

Church of St. Konstantin and Elena

Part of the Acropolis is one of Plovdiv’s oldest pieces of Christian heritage; a church that dates all the way back to the 4th century.

Records show that it was erected around 30 years after the martyrs Severin and Memnos were decapitated on this spot for their Christian faith when paganism was still prevailing.

The interior is from the Bulgarian National Revival in the 1800s and decorated in a lavish neo-baroque style.

11. Dzhumaya Mosque

Dzhumaya Mosque

After the Ottomans took the city in the 1300s they built this mosque over the top of a cathedral that had stood here before.

After a couple of hundred years this building was updated during the rule of Sultan Murad II, which is what you see today.

On small but arresting addition took place in the 1800s when the north side of the mosque was refurbished with wooden kiosks.

12. Plovdiv Aviation Museum

Plovdiv Aviation Museum

After a day or two touring ancient ruins and historic churches you may need a change of pace.

And this attraction at the city’s airport will catch the interest of anyone intrigued by Bulgaria’s communist past and Cold War history.

There’s a fab outdoor collection of migs and yaks here that you can get right up close to.

But surely the most valuable plane is the Arado 196 A-3, a German seaplane manufactured in 1938. It’s the last surviving model in the world.

13. Walk Plovdiv’s Hills

Hills in Plovdiv

Plovdiv’s six hills rise like big humps from the body of the city.

There used to be seven, but one, Markovo Tepe, was quarried for its syenite stone in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In fact, most of the paving around Plovidv is made from this syenite, so if you walk the city streets you could say you’re walking on Markovo Tepe!

The taller of the remaining six hills are forested, and locals will tell you that you have to climb all of them to see the sunsets from each one.

You might not have time for that, so try Dzhendem Tepe, a natural landmark and the tallest at more than 300 metres.

14. Traditional Bulgarian fare

Megdana

For international cuisine and fast food Plovdiv definitely holds its own, but since you came this far you should pop in at an authentic restaurant.

At a Bulgarian Mehana there will be traditional dance performances from a stage or courtyard while you eat.

This isn’t just for tourists; it’s just the way many people take their meals in this part of the world. Megdana in Plovdiv is one of the best for this.

Dinner hear means big cuts of chargrilled meat, clay pot stews, mushrooms on skewers, halloumi cheese, yoghurt and fresh shopska salad, made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers.

15. Mavrud Wine and Rakia

Rakia

There are two local drinks in Plovdiv, and it has to be said that one is a bit more refined than the other.

First up is the powerful Rakia, which is “enjoyed” across the Balkans, and tends be slightly different depending on where you go.

This stuff has been brewed in Bulgaria since at least the 1000s and is best paired with a typical light shopska salad.

There are also tour operators in Plovdiv offering trips around the Thracian Lowland wine region surrounding the city. You can find a list of available tours right here .

This is where the indigenous Mavrud red grape is grown, which is often blended with other grapes but also makes it s own varietals, and is served at restaurants in Plovdiv.

15 Best Things to Do in Plovdiv (Bulgaria):

  • Ancient theatre
  • Plovdiv Roman Stadium
  • Plovdiv Old Town
  • Bachkovo Monastery
  • Regional Ethnographic Museum
  • Ancient Philippopolis
  • Mevlevi Hane
  • The Clock Tower
  • Asen's Fortress
  • Church of St. Konstantin and Elena
  • Dzhumaya Mosque
  • Plovdiv Aviation Museum
  • Walk Plovdiv's Hills
  • Traditional Bulgarian fare
  • Mavrud Wine and Rakia

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one day in plovdiv

What To Do in Plovdiv (My Top List + Map)

  • December 26, 2023

A complete guide to what to do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria for one day (+ a map with all popular tourist sights and the best places to eat).

Located on the Maritsa River, Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria. The city, like Rome, is built on seven hills. However, it’s much older than Rome! In fact, Plovdiv is the oldest living city in Europe and the 6th in the world.

It’s believed that Plovdiv was founded around 6000 BC. Many different civilizations left their mark on the city – from Thracian and Roman ruins to Ottoman influence and Bulgarian National Revival architecture.

While walking around, you’ll find that the city’s history is layered. One civilization built upon another, resulting in a unique mixture of architecture. Next to Thracian ruins and ancient Roman amphitheatres you’ll see picturesque houses with gorgeous ornamented windows.

What to do in Plovdiv in one day

This travel guide will help you plan the perfect Plovdiv itinerary. It will walk you through all places of interest, including the best restaurants to taste Bulgarian food. It’s ideal for all planning to visit Plovdiv on a long weekend.

Another option is to take an Old Town Self-Guided Audio Tour . You can visit the most interesting sights with an audio guide and a map at your own pace!

At the end of this travel guide for one day in Plovdiv, you’ll find a map (with all attractions and restaurants’ websites).

Already have a hotel booked? Then take a look at my guide where to stay in Plovdiv and make sure you’ve chosen a good location.

What to do in Plovdiv in one day (best things to do)

  • Start the day with waffles at Afreddo

See the Roman Stadium

Visit one of the oldest mosques on the balkans, tour the ancient roman amphitheatre, marvel at the quaint houses in plovdiv old town, art gallery philippopolis, regional ethnographic museum, historical museum – bulgarian national revival, balabanov and hindlian houses, see the church of st. constantine and helena, enjoy the best city’s views from nebet tepe, taste the bulgarian style fish and chips, enjoy a colourful fountain light show, taste the waffles at afreddo.

09:00 AM – 10:00 AM Afreddo is one of my favourite places for breakfast. They serve amazing waffles and pancakes with different toppings! The espresso is also good (it comes from the coffee capital of Italy, Trieste). A perfect way to start your one day in Plovdiv.

Afreddo waffles

10:10 AM – 10:30 AM Do you know that there is a Roman stadium laying under the main street in Plovdiv? That’s right, a whole stadium. Emperor Hadrian commissioned its construction at the beginning of the 2nd century AD. Back in the days, the stadium could seat up to 30,000 spectators!

Unfortunately, today you can see only fragments of the structure because the rest is buried under the main pedestrian street. You can go down the stairs to the information centre and watch a 3D movie about the history of the stadium. The price is 6 BGN (~€3) for the movie.

Roman Stadium

10:30 AM – 10:50 AM Dzhumaya Mosque was built around 1363, after the Ottomans conquered the city. However, its current look dates from the 15th century, when Sultan Murad II fully reconstructed the building.

Dzhumaya Mosque means Friday Mosque. This is where all Muslims gathered for prayer every Friday.

It’s possible to visit the mosque and the entrance is free of charge. Yet, keep in mind that it’s still an active temple, so dress modestly.

Dzhumaya Mosque

11:00 AM – 11:30 AM The Roman Amphitheatre is the most iconic monument of Plovdiv. It is one of the best-preserved amphitheatres in the world. And it is still in use today, various concerts and shows take place every summer!

Emperor Trajan built the magnificent amphitheatre at the end of the 1st century AD. It could host up to 7,000 people and it was used mostly for governing council meetings and gladiator fights.

The entrance fee is 5 BGN (~€2.5). To save money, you can buy a combined ticket , that is valid for 5 attractions in the Old Town of Plovdiv. The ticket is a bargain if you plan to visit more than 3 sights.

Roman Amphitheatre

12:00 PM – 01:30 PM For lunch choose between Happy below the hill or Philippopolis Restaurant . Both restaurants offer delicious local food and have an awesome summer garden.

01:30 PM – 04:00 PM Take a walk through the Old Town of Plovdiv and let yourself be carried back through time to the 19th century. Narrow cobblestone streets, Roman ruins and quaint colourful houses, surrounded by peaceful atmosphere and birds singing. A tranquil place soaked in history!

Most of the houses are built in Bulgarian National Revival style and they are beautifully restored. Your sight will be captured by their red, blue or yellow facades richly decorated with floral motives. Many of the houses are turned into museums, guest houses, art galleries or restaurants.

Some of the most popular houses are:

You won’t have enough time for all of them, so choose according to your interests.

Don’t be fooled by the name, this is much more than an art gallery! Art Gallery Philippopolis is set in one of the most beautiful old houses in the Old Town. Built in 1865 by Hadzhi Aleko, this house is one of the first with solid walls in Plovdiv.

The exhibition features works of famous Bulgarian artists from the 19th century to nowadays. You’ll also find beautiful wooden decorations and furniture in each of the rooms!

Art Gallery Philippopolis

Plovdiv Ethnographic Museum is housed in a former private house. The beautiful 19th-century house once belonged to Argir Kuyumdzhioglu, a rich merchant from Plovdiv.

The exhibit represents over 40,000 artefacts related to Bulgarian folk culture over the centuries. You can see traditional Bulgarian costumes, unique carpets, daily utensils and many more. It’s an excellent stop to get a glimpse of everyday life two centuries ago.

Regional Ethnographic Museum

Historical Museum occupies the former house of a wealthy craftsman. The exhibition covers the history of Plovdiv from the 15th to 19th century, when the country was under Ottoman occupation.

Georgi Kendindenoglu commissioned the construction of the house in 1848. Despite this fact, the house bears the name of his son in law, Dimitar Georgiadi. He was a rich Greek merchant from Plovdiv whose successors lived here till the middle of the 20th century.

Bulgarian National Revival

Balabanov House and Hindlian House share a common yard. Both houses once belonged to rich merchants. With their Baroque furniture and carved wooden ceilings, they are an excellent example of the life of the wealthy class in the 19th century.

Balabanov and Hindlian Houses

04:00 PM – 04:20 PM Dating from 337 AD, the Church of St. Constantine and Helena is one of the oldest in Plovdiv. It was erected on the exact same spot, where the martyrs Severin and Memnos were beheaded for their Christian beliefs.

Over time, the temple has been reconstructed several times. The current building and its beautiful Baroque interior are from 1832.

Church of St. Constantine and Helena

04:30 PM – 05:00 PM Plovdiv, like Rome, is built on seven hills. However today only six of them remain. The seventh, Markovo Tepe, was destroyed and its syenite rocks were used to pave the city’s streets.

Nebet Tepe is the highest hill in the Old Town. There, you can see the remains of the ancient Thracian fortress, Puldin. Yet, Nebet Tepe is most popular for its panoramic views of Plovdiv.

Nebet Tepe

To enjoy a cold beer and some Bulgarian style fish and chips, go to Rahat Tepe and order tzatza and fried potatoes with white cheese. The restaurant is right on Nebet Tepe and besides the delicious Bulgarian food, it offers panoramic views over the city.

tzatza and fried potatoes with white cheese

Dinner at Pavaj

Finish your day in Plovdiv with a dinner at Pavaj or Smokini .

If you have to visit one restaurant in Plovdiv, make it Pavaj and you won’t be disappointed! Located in the heart of the artsy district Kapana, this is my all-time favourite restaurant in Plovdiv. An Excellent atmosphere combined with delicious Bulgarian food and yummy desserts.

Pavaj

For a more modern twist on Bulgarian cuisine, visit Smokini. This lovely restaurant features a cosy atmosphere with an industrial interior design.

Plovdiv Smokini

Tsar Simeon Garden is the most beautiful garden in Plovdiv. It’s a great place for a leisurely stroll, especially on a hot summer day.

Yet, the main attraction here is the Singing Fountains. The light show runs every evening in the summer between 09:00 PM and 11:00 PM.

Plovdiv fountain light show

More ideas for your one day in Plovdiv

See the iconic statues of plovdiv.

While walking around the city, you’ll notice a few statues of smiling people. They are all statues of real people, created by the sculptor Danko Dankov. The most popular are the ones of Miljo and the artist Tsanko Lavrenov.

You can find the statue of Miljo on the main pedestrian street. Miljo lived in the 1960s and he was one of the most colourful figures in the city at that time. He always knew the latest gossip for the townsfolk and shared them with strangers.

The statue of the artist Tsanko Lavrenov is in the Old Town. He was one of the most influential Bulgarian artists of the 20th century.

statue of Miljo

Get trapped in Kapana

Kapana is the art district of Plovdiv. In fact, it has been the city’s arts and crafts district for the last 5 centuries.

Founded during the Ottoman occupation, the district was home to local craftsmen. You can see this even in the streets’ names. If you look at them you’ll find streets like Kozhuharska (Furriers’ street), Zhelezarska (Smiths’ street) or Zlatarska (Goldsmiths’ street).

Nowadays, Kapana is a lively art district full of art shops, craft beer bars and hipster coffee shops. A visit to Cat & Mouse is a must for every craft beer lover, while Monkey House is a great coffee shop.

The name of the district Kapana means “trap” in Bulgarian. And if you try to visit all the craft beer and cocktail bars here, you’ll definitely feel trapped, because you’ll stumble on them at every step!

Kapana

You’ll also find a lot of street art, so take your time and explore the district. Numerous events and festivals take place regularly, so check before your visit to Plovdiv ( find more details here ).

Kapana street art

Enjoy the city’s views from Alyosha Monument

For more panoramic views of Plovdiv, go to Bunardzhik hill. The second-highest hill in Plovdiv is also known as the Liberators Hill. The name is connected to the two monuments that you’ll find here – the Monument of Russian Liberators and the gigantic statue of a Russian soldier on the top.

Alyosha Monument

Attend a concert at the Roman Amphitheatre

During the summer, the Roman Amphitheatre becomes a stage for concerts and operas. You can find all the summer concerts here .

Besides, in August the Amphitheatre hosts the International Folklore Festival and in September – the Sound of Ages Festival. It’s a unique experience and the acoustics are fantastic, so don’t miss it!

Roman Amphitheatre concert

Getting around in Plovdiv

Find here a map with all the attractions and restaurants from this Plovdiv itinerary.

The tourist attractions are within walking distance, so you won’t need to take any public transport. Yet, keep in mind that the Old Town is quite hilly, so bring comfortable shoes.

How to get to Plovdiv

Plovdiv is well connected to Sofia and other major cities in Bulgaria by train and bus. If you’re travelling from Sofia, there are more than 10 buses (and trains) per day. I’d recommend you take the bus. Trains are slower and most of them haven’t been updated for decades.

The journey by bus is about 2h30min. You have to take a bus from Sofia Central Bus station to Plovdiv South Bus station ( see the bus schedule here ). Once there, it’s about a 15-20min walk to the city centre and a bit more to the Old Town.

Plovdiv Airport is situated 12km southwest of the city. It’s a small airport, used by a few low-cost airlines and for charter flights. There is no public transport to the city centre, so the only option is to take a taxi. Be careful and take a taxi only from the official taxi companies . Otherwise, you’ll end up paying 2-3 times more.

Plovdiv Old Town

How many days in Plovdiv

Is one day in plovdiv enough.

For one day in Plovdiv, you can visit the Roman Stadium and Amphitheatre and discover some of the museums in the Old Town.

Yet, I’d not recommend you visiting Plovdiv on a day trip from Sofia (unless it’s an organized excursion or you’re travelling by car). Plovdiv is about a 2h30 journey by bus or train from Sofia. You’ll spend most of the day on the road. So, stay at least 1 night in Plovdiv.

Still, if you’re short on time and Plovdiv is on your list, take a look at this Full-Day Small-Group Excursion from Sofia. The best part is that the excursion also includes a guided tour of the Old Town. So, it will be possible to see all the key sights for just a few hours.

Best time to visit Plovdiv

Most of the tourist attractions are outside, plus you’ll spend a lot of time walking through the Old Town. Having this in mind, the best time to visit Plovdiv are the months of April, May, June, September and October. In these months you have a very good chance for nice weather.

No matter the season, Plovdiv never gets overcrowded. However, if possible avoid July and August, as the temperature usually goes over 30°C (86°F). A hot summer day is not the perfect time to explore the Old Town, as it has a lot of steep streets.

plovdiv itinerary

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About the author

Thanks for that post. It’s very helpful. I’d recommend to my English friends.

Thank you! 🙂

Gosh it looks a lovely place Can’t wait to visit Plovdiv

It is indeed 🙂

Thank you for your comment, Pelumi! 🙂

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The World Was Here First

What To Do in Plovdiv: A 1 or 2 Day Itinerary

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If you’re wondering what to do in Plovdiv, then this one or two-day itinerary is here to help you out. Bulgaria’s second city is one of the highlights of this beautiful southeastern European country.

As one of the oldest cities in all of Europe (some say the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent), Plovdiv is packed full of ancient history, a charming old town, and a thriving arts district with new things popping up all the time.

Though Plovdiv has a lot to offer foreign visitors, it is often overlooked. However, now is the time to visit Plovdiv and to see everything that this enchanting Bulgarian city has to offer. If you’re looking for an incredible stop on your Bulgaria itinerary, then make sure to set aside a couple of days to enjoy the ancient charms of Plovidiv.

Table of Contents

Best Time to Visit Plovdiv

Much of what Plovdiv has to offer by means of tourist attractions happen to be outside, including the ancient stadium and amphitheatre, the Kapana neighbourhood, Nebet Tepe, and the enchanting Old Town. Therefore, it might not be best to visit Plovdiv in the winter unless you have a high tolerance for the cold or a very warm winter coat.

Plovdiv has a continental climate and very much experiences all four seasons with a vengeance, including snowy, cold winters and hot, muggy summers. Average winter temperatures hover around around freezing and can often reach several degrees below. Contrary to that, in the peak of summer, expect the highs to soar to well over 30°C (86°F).

The shoulder seasons between March-May and September-November can be some of the most pleasant to visit Plovdiv with mild temperatures and fewer tourist crowds, though Plovdiv doesn’t get overcrowded whatever the season. Though springtime can be rainy at times, you are also just as likely to be blessed with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-20s C (70s F).

September brings a wine harvest and is one of the best times to go wine tasting in nearby Brestovitsa in the Thracian Valley, with high temperatures still clinging to the summer warmth. Later in the autumn brings a bit of chill, however, it is a fantastic place to visit for beautiful colours.

No matter what season you choose to visit Plovdiv, you are sure to be charmed by the lovely city.

The "Together" monument celebrating Plovdiv's place as 2019's European Capital of Culture

Getting To & Around Plovdiv

As the second-largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv is quite well-connected to other Bulgarian cities and also a few international cities. If you’re visiting Plovdiv from Sofia , there are frequent buses from Sofia’s central station which leave roughly every 30 minutes-1 hour throughout the day and the journey takes about 2.5 hours.

There are a couple of companies that offer service to Plovdiv and you need to purchase them from their respective ticket counters at the bus station.

Because there are so many connections throughout the day, there is really no need to purchase tickets in advance, generally, you can just get a ticket for whichever bus you want about 30 minutes before it is due to depart. This may be slightly more difficult during the more busy summer season, however. You can browse timetables here .

There is a train service between Sofia and Plovdiv, however, unless you have a general curiosity of or affinity for communist-era trains, it is recommended you opt for the bus if you’re relying on public transport.

The trains in Bulgaria haven’t really been updated since the 1960s and they are painfully slow and can be blisteringly hot in the warmer months. It also doesn’t run nearly as frequently as the bus.

The charming Old Town of Plovdiv

Once you’re in Plovdiv, you will find that the majority of the city’s top attractions are within easy walking distance and it is rare that you will need to take any sory of public transit while in the city itself. However, Plovdiv is served by a bus and tram network that is affordable and easy enough to navigate should you need to.

It is also possible that you might need to take a taxi, as the main bus station is located about 3 kilometres outside of the Old Town and city centre. If you want to take a taxi, do keep in mind that scams can be common and to avoid being ripped off, try not to hail just any cab right off the street and do not jump in a car from those lingering in the bus station advertising a taxi.

Instead, look for taxis with the numbers either 6155 or 6665 as they are reputable, however, it is also good practice to ensure that the meter is running. You can also call a taxi on the app for taxi company 6155 (eko taxi) to ensure that you get a safe ride.

The view of Plovdiv from Nebet Tepe is a one of the best things to do in Plovdiv

What to do in Plovdiv in 1 or 2 Days

Plovdiv is arguably one of the most tourist-friendly cities in Bulgaria and has a lot to offer visitors. While there are many tourists who treat Plovdiv as a hectic day trip from Sofia, the city is best experienced over a span of at least two days.

If you’re wondering what to do in Plovdiv in 2 days, take a look at this detailed Plovdiv itinerary. This is the most efficient way to get the best feel for this ancient city in a short period of time and to find the best things to do in Plovdiv.

Day 1 – Ancient Sites & Plovdiv Old Town

If you’re wondering what to do in Plovdiv during your first day in the city, then your best best is going to be exploring the main sites within the Old Town. If you are only able to do a Plovdiv day trip, this is the itinerary that you should follow, as well, as it will take you by the historical highlights of this incredible city.

Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis

If you’re interested in visiting Plovdiv, then it is likely that you are already familiar with its incredibly preserved ancient amphitheatre. The Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis is the most iconic monument in Plovdiv and this Roman theatre is one of the best-preserved amphitheatres of its kind.

Although today this is Plovdiv’s main tourist draw, the amphitheatre wasn’t actually discovered until the early 1980s as there have been buildings stacked on top of it for thousands of years. Though a good portion of it is still in its original form, a lot of the theatre has also been reconstructed by archaeologists to make it look similar to what it would have looked at during ancient times.

Today, the Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis is not only an excellent tourist attraction, but it also hosts cultural theatrical events throughout the summer season, so if you happen to be visiting when there is a performance, try to see one. The acoustics in the ruin are meant to be fantastic.

Entrance to the theatre allows you full access to the structure. If you make this your first stop of the day, it is also likely that you could have it almost all to yourself, which is truly a surreal experience.

The Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis

After visiting the Ancient Theatre, it is time to hike up another of Plovdiv’s famous hills (the city, like so many others, was built upon seven hills): Nebet Tepe.

Nebet Tepe is the highest hill in Plovdiv’s Old Town and was once home to its fortress. Though only ruins of the structure remain today, it provides stunning views of all of Plovdiv below where you can truly see both the confluence of old and new in the city and why it was a strategic place to put a fortress.

Though it is a great stop in the daytime when touring the Old Town, it is also a great place to chill out on a pleasant evening. It is popular among locals in Plovdiv to find a place on one of the fortress walls and enjoy a few snacks and beers while watching the sun sink below the city.

Just please remember to be sure to clean up after yourself and that it isn’t technically legal to drink alcohol in public in Plovdiv, however, this law will rarely be enforced.

The ruined fortress and the view of Plovdiv from Nebet Tepe

Regional Ethnographic Museum Plovdiv

If your are wondering what to do in Plovdiv and are interested in it through the centuries, then a visit to the Regional Ethnographic Museum is an excellent thing to add to your itinerary.

Located in a beautiful historic house that used to belong to a wealthy merchant in Plovdiv, this is the second-largest museum of its kind in Bulgaria. The permanent exhibition includes artefacts from the ancient city of Plovdiv when it was inhabited by the Thracians, to medieval artefacts, to some more modern antiquities.

This is an excellent stop to really get a grasp of what life has been like in Plovdiv throughout its over 6,000 years of history.

Visit a House Museum

If you enjoyed the Ethnographic Museum, it is likely that you will also be interested in one of the many other house museums in Plovdiv’s Old Town. There are numerous houses that you can visit where you can see how wealthy merchants lived in Plovdiv in centuries past.

Some of the museums include the Balabanov House, the Kilanti House, and the Hindliyan House. All of these museums are located within the Old Town in the classic Bulgarian Revival houses that can be found throughout the country.

House Museums are located in traditional Bulgarian buildings like these

Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis

After spending a significant amount of time within the Old Town of Plovdiv, it is time to head down the hill and to visit the more modern business centre of the city. While this area might seem as if it doesn’t have the old charms of the Old Town, you must realise that you are walking on over 6,000 years of human history disguised as modern streets.

One of the best places to see that is in the Ancient Stadium of Philippopilis. Another ancient structure, the stadium was not discovered until 1969 and there are parts of it that you can see along Plovdiv’s main pedestrian street. There is a bit of the end seating area that you can climb down and visit yourself, but the majority of the stadium is covered by the street that sits atop it.

However, you do have the opportunity to see more of the stadium at possibly the most interesting H&M in the world. Because in the basement of the multinational fast fashion shop lies even more relics of the ancient stadium, so you can get a healthy dose of history while browsing for the latest trends.

There is also a 3D film where you can learn about the history of the stadium.

The Ancient Stadium of Plovdiv

Knyaz Alexander I

After you’ve had your fill of ancient historical sites, take the time to browse the shops or people watch along Knyaz Alexander I, Plovdiv’s main pedestrian thoroughfare. Here you can shop in some popular multinational chains or take in the Plovdiv “Together” monument celebrating the city’s bid for 2019 European Capital of Culture.

There are a few restaurants and cafes along the pedestrian street, as well, however, we would recommend going for a bite to eat in the nearby Kapana neighbourhood, which is only about 2 minutes walking from Knyaz Alexander I.

You also could mosy into the lovely Tsar Simeon Park and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and watch the synchronised singing fountains.

Knyaz Alexander I is Plovdiv's main pedestrian street

If you want an easy way to see all of these sites while also getting some great historic context from a local, we recommend taking a free walking tour with Free Plovdiv Tours . The tour itself is free, however, the guides do only work for tips so it is good practice to tip your guide what you believe the tour was worth.

Keep in mind that the tour does not take you into any of these monuments, only outside of them to give you an overview, but it does give you an excellent introduction to the history and culture of Plovdiv.

Day 2 – Kapana & The Thracian Valley

If you’ve got a weekend or just another day to spend in Bulgaria’s second-largest city, here is what to do in Plovdiv on the second day!

After spending your first day in Plovdiv exploring all of the ancient historic sites of the Old Town, its time to spend your second day exploring the trendy streets of Plovdiv’s trendy Kapana neighboourhood.

Located, at most, a 10-minute walk downhill from the Old Town, Kapana can feel like a different world from the ancient sites of the historical centre. This quarter, which translates to “The Trap” in Bulgarian, has been completely refurbished in the past few years and even has seen a significant transformation from when we were there in 2016.

As the traditional arts and crafts quarter of the city, Kapana was once home to over 900 privately-owned shops that were left abandoned after the communist regime shut down private industry in Bulgaria.

In the years after the fall of communism, the shops remained abandonded due to the fledgling capitalistic economy in the country. Only a few years ago, Kapana was barely more than a car park.

This all changed as the government won the bid for European capital of culture (shared with Matera, Italy in 2019) and was able to pour a massive investment into the formerly decrepit quarter. Businesses were encouraged to open and artists were commissioned to make the streets and walls as colourful as possible.

Today, Kapana is home to a maze of streets offering trendy eateries, chilled-out coffee shops, independent retailers, and a number of hip bars making it the top choice for nightlife and dining in the city. There is also a lot of street art to check out in the quarter, as the city commissions artists twice per year to paint murals on the walls of Kapana.

If you want to learn more about the neighbourhood and happen to be visiting Plovdiv on a Saturday or Sunday, then consider taking the Kapana Arts & Crafts District Tour , run by the same people who give the Free Plovdiv Tour.

A confluence of colourful streets in Kapana

Plovdiv Street Art

After exploring the Kapana district and seeing some of the professionally commissioned street art in the city, you can see some more of the art scene in Plovdiv by walking only a short distance from the Trap neighbourhood.

If you climb up the stairs from the “Together” monument just off the pedestrian street, you will find a few walls decorated with some beautiful murals (and a bit of graffiti). Though most of the art is done by beginning street artists, you might notice some pieces done by more recognisable names like Stern, Nasimo, and Bozko.

Though Plovdiv is known to be a traditional and historic city, this does not mean it doesn’t foster incredible free expression from a creative young population.

Plovdiv is home to a lot of beautiful street art

Thracian Valley Wine Tasting

If you’re visiting Plovdiv for more than one day, you would be missing out if you didn’t venture out into the Thracian Valley and sample some of the best wines to come out of Eastern Europe.

Though not traditionally what comes to mind when it comes to viticulture, Bulgaria produces some excellent wines and has one of the oldest wine-making traditions in the world. And the biggest production area of the country happens to be just a few kilometres outside of Plovdiv.

If you’re interested in wine tasting, head to the town of Brestovitsa, which is located about 20 kilometres outside of Plovdiv’s city centre. This small town is home to seven independent wineries that produce some unique and delicious vintages.

We visited the small, family-run Villa Vinifera and were able to sample 4 of their great wines and 2 rakijas while snacking on some cheese and learning about the wine culture of Bulgaria and of the vineyard in particular. Each vineyard offers something different when it comes to tastings, but it is entirely possible to visit the area independently, without going on an organised wine tour.

You can drive yourself or take a taxi to the town of Brestovitsa from central Plovdiv, though you may struggle to find a return journey with the latter option. You can, also book an organised wine tour if you don’t want to be at the mercy of fickle cab drivers.

Wine tasting at Villa Vinifera in Brestovitsa

Where to Eat & Drink in Plovdiv

Plovdiv is developing a thriving restaurant scene with a lot of fantastic places to sit down for a bite. While it is certainly possible to find a traditional Bulgarian meal in Plovdiv, it can be just as worth checking out the more modern and trendy eateries that are popping up in the cool Kapana neighbourhood. Here are some of our favourites:

Pavaj — This is one of the most loved restaurants in the Kapana neighbourhood, and it isn’t hard to see why. This trendy eatery serves traditional Bulgarian fare with a modern twist. They have a number of specialities, great salads and are also incredibly vegetarian-friendly. It does get busy at peak hours so it can be in your best interest to book a table in advance.

Tam’s House — Another fantastic Kapana eatery, Tam’s House is a bit more upmarket but still retains affordable prices. They serve fantastic modern European cuisine, have a great wine list, and also have some unique desserts.

Veggic — Located next to Pavaj, Veggic is an excellent option in Kapana. They have an extensive menu serving only vegan food, however, it has none of the fake meat that plagues the menus of so many vegan restaurants. It also has an unpretentious air and is welcoming to even the most carnivorous of patrons.

A delicious bowl of tarator soup from Pavaj

Skaptobara 2 — There are a few burger joints in Plovdiv, but the one we would recommend is Skaptobara 2. This burger restaurant also has a couple of locations in Sofia and they have a range of burgers available, including a vegetarian quinoa burger. They also have an extensive craft beer menu with many locally brewed beers on it.

Soup Pause — Bulgarians love their soup and most cities are blessed with a number of soup bars where you can get a refreshing bowl of tarator or a steaming bowl of lentil soup. One of the best places for this in Plovdiv is Soup Pause, where they have a number of incredibly affordable soups available daily and some other hot food as well. It is a great option for a quick, hearty, and budget-friendly lunch that is very popular with locals.

Cat & Mouse — Plovdiv, and Bulgaria in general, has a burgeoning craft beer scene and one of the best places to try some of the best craft beers from Bulgaria and beyond is at Cat & Mouse. This trendy bar has a myriad of craft beers available and also an extensive wine list as well. It is the perfect place to kick back at the end of a long day of sightseeing.

Dukiana — If you’re into coffee, then you need to make sure to make a stop at Dukiana. This coffee shop claims to the best in Plovdiv, and they do make a mean cup of coffee. They also roast their own beans that are sourced from all over the world.

Bakeland — If you’re looking for a cake, pastry, or a coffee, then heading to Bakeland is an excellent choice. This bakery is newly opened and they serve a range of freshly baked cakes and pastries along with some great espresso drinks. This is a great place to pop into to indulge a sweet tooth.

Bulgarian craft beers from Cat & Mouse

Where to Stay in Plovdiv

Plovdiv is a growing destination and therefore more and more great places to stay keep appearing. If you’re wondering where you should stay while visiting Bulgaria’s second-largest city, take a look at these suggestions:

Hotel Evmolpia — This hotel located in the Old Town is an excellent base if you’re looking for a mid-range stay when you’re visiting Plovdiv. Conveniently located within easy walking distance of both the Ancient Amphitheatre and the trendy Kapana district, they have a helpful staff and a range of clean and cosy rooms on offer. Click here to check availability

Boutique Guest house 7th Sense – This boutique guesthouse is an excellent option for those looking for a chic, sophisticated and modern stay in Plovdiv. Centrally located close to all of the top attractions in the city, they have a range of rooms to choose from and excellent hospitality. Click here to check availability

Hostel Old Plovdiv — This boutique hostel/guesthouse is an excellent place to rest your head in Plovdiv. Excellently located in the heart of the Old Town, it is within walking distance of everything that Plovdiv has to offer. They have an incredibly friendly and helpful staff and have both dorm and private rooms available. Breakfast is also included in the room rate. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Plovdiv hotels!

The Hostel Old Plovdiv

Plovdiv is often tourists’ favourite city to visit in Bulgaria and it is not hard to figure out why. Packed with a vast and extensive history and filled with interesting things to do, Plovdiv is a destination not to miss on any trip to Bulgaria.

Are you wondering what to do in Plovdiv? Have any questions about visiting? Let us know in the comments!

plovdiv tourist guide

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About Maggie Turansky

Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

Thank you for the suggestions. I appreciate your generosity in sharing these adventures with us. We look forward to our trip in a few weeks.

Thanks for your comment, Dana and I hope you have a great time in Plovdiv!

Thank you for taking the time to write out all these suggestions! We are headed to Plovdiv in 2 weeks and I love having a couple places already picked out to visit!!

Thanks for your comment, Ginny! Glad we could help and hope you have a great time in Plovdiv 🙂

Hi Maggie, I enjoyed your suggestions & I’m visiting soon & love to see all the sights, but, I’m temporarily slightly handicapped. Is the Day 1 itinerary you posted difficult for someone walking with a cane? How would you suggest I see most sights? We will have a car but is the parking an issue? There are 3 of us. Do you think we should hire a private guide with a car? Thanks

Hi Jane, unfortunately, Plovdiv isn’t the most accessible of cities and the old town can be especially difficult to navigate if you have some mobility issues. Areas outside of the old town and well-paved and flat, so it might be easier to walk along there, such as the main pedestrian street and the Kapana area. You might be able to take a taxi to certain areas within the old town, but I am not sure about the driving laws there. I hope this helps and you have a good trip.

Hi, Thanks for the very interesting information. I will be visiting Sofia and Plovdiv in August. I was wondering if you have any idea from where I can purchase or buy some good maps of the two cities while in Sofia? I prefare a physical map as they show more area than on a mobile. Many thanks and regards. Charlie from Malta.

Hi Charlie, I’d recommend stopping into the tourist info office once you’re in Sofia/Plovdiv to pick up a physical map. You can usually get a city map for free 🙂

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Home > A Guide To 29 Epic Things To Do In Plovdiv, Bulgaria

A Guide To 29 Epic Things To Do In Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Diving into Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, is a journey through a beautifully preserved past and a vibrant present. From wandering the cobbled lanes of Plovdiv Old Town to marveling at the Ancient Roman ruins, each step is steeped in history.

The city’s museums offer a deep dive into its rich heritage, making it a top tourist attraction for anyone planning a trip to Bulgaria. Don’t miss the panoramic views from the top of the hill, where the city’s layered stories come alive.

Restaurants in Plovdiv serve up a taste of local cuisine, adding flavor to your exploration. Truly, a visit to Plovdiv is worth the trip, offering the best blend of historical treasures and culinary delights, all within the picturesque setting of this preserved city.

Bulgaria Travel Blog_Things to do in Plovdiv

The 2019 European Capital of Culture and Bulgaria’s second-largest city in Bulgaria , Plovdiv, is one of the country’s top tourist destinations and the eastern Balkans.

There are many things to do in Plovdiv , primarily thanks to its incredibly long history and rich cultural heritage.

Spread across seven hills in a fertile region in south-central Bulgaria , the area that now makes up Plovdiv has been inhabited for no less than 8,000 years.

The first Neolithic settlements discovered here date back to 6,000 BC. Since Plovdiv still exists, it’s often regarded as one of the world’s oldest still-inhabited cities. While there’s some debate among scientists about that, it’s unquestionably one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Over the millennia, the city—known in Antiquity as Philippopolis—has been occupied by Thracians , Greeks, Romans, Huns, Bulgars, Slavs, western Crusaders, and The Ottoman Empire, among other peoples.

As such, it now has an exceptional wealth of historic architecture, is a center of arts and crafts, and has its fair share of excellent museums.

Skip Ahead To My Advice Here!

Best Things To Do In Plovdiv – Attractions In Plovdiv

Things To Do In Plovdiv, Bulgaria - View

If you’re wondering what to see and do in Plovdiv, you’ll find plenty of options below. This list features all “mandatory” things to do in Plovdiv, the very highlights of this ancient city. You may not be able to visit them all in just one weekend , but I recommend trying your hardest!

Don’t miss the Old Town, Roman Stadium and Amphitheater, the Kapana Art District, and the Regional Ethnographic Museum if you only have one day. I’d focus on those places—the top attractions in Plovdiv. Let’s now dive in and take a look at the best Plovdiv activities in more detail.

Best Historical & Cultural Sites To See In Plovdiv

1. plovdiv old town.

Situated on three different hills—Nebet Tepe, Taksim Tepe , and Dzhambaz Tepe—the Old Town of Plovdiv is where you’ll find most historic ruins and architecture well as several superb museums. It’s home to an extraordinary collection of ancient buildings, traditional houses, and cobblestones, combining Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and Bulgarian Revival structures.

This is the beating heart of Plovdiv tourism, one of the most visited places in Bulgaria , and home to many other attractions listed below. Start your visit here. Moreover, if you only have limited time in Plovdiv, this is the same area you should focus on. From restaurants and cafés to various museums and the top Plovdiv attractions, most action occurs in the Old Town.

2. The Medieval Hisar Kapia Gate

Things To Do In Plovdiv, Bulgaria - Hisar Kapia - Ancient gate in Plovdiv old town Bulgaria

The Hisar Kapia Gate is in the Old Town and is one of the top tourist sights in Plovdiv. Built in the 11 th century, this wonderfully preserved medieval city gate was one of three entrances to ancient Plovdiv. This current gate was actually constructed on top of the foundation of a previous Roman gate.

During Ottoman rule, Plovdiv’s wealthy merchants built houses over the fortified walls on both sides of the Hisar Kapia Gate. Nowadays, the ground floors of these houses still have the original medieval walls.

3. Nebet Tepe

One of the first Plovdiv Hills to be inhabited by people, Nebet Tepe is home to settlements dating back to 4,000 BC. First, the home of the Thracians. In the Thracian times the village grew in size under Philip II of Macedon and Ancient Rome .

Eventually, it became the citadel of the Old Town. Now a beautiful hill filled with ruins, it’s one of the best places to visit in Plovdiv for an insight into the history of ancient Philippopolis.

An expansive archaeological complex lies atop Nebet Tepe, including the ruins of fortified walls and towers. It’s a monument of national importance in Bulgaria and one of the most popular sights in Plovdiv.

4. The Eastern Gate Of Philippopolis

One of only three discovered entrances to the ancient city of Philippopolis; the Eastern Gate was on the main road from the city to Byzantium (later Constantinople and modern-day Istanbul) .

The first gate built on this site dates from the 2 nd century and the reign of Hadrian. In the 4 th and 5 th centuries, restoration and reparation of this gated complex took place. It’s thought it was the largest and most important entrance to ancient Philippopolis.

All that remains now is a collection of ruins and the general layout of the gate complex. It’s one of many Ancient Roman attractions in Plovdiv.

5. The Roman Stadium

One of the things to do in Plovdiv is to admire the stadium - Vladimir

One of the largest and best-preserved Ancient Roman structures in the Balkans , the Plovdiv Roman Stadium is one of the top attractions in Plovdiv. Constructed in the early 2nd century by Emperor Hadrian, it could seat no fewer than 30,000 people. Fifty meters wide and 240 meters long, it was the setting of huge sporting events. Art, music, and poetry contests are also used to accompany these events.

Nowadays, you can see the marvelously renovated portion of the northern part of the Roman Stadium. It’s one of the prominent landmarks in Plovdiv that you can’t miss – you can even see a part of it in the H&M store.

Kids will love the 3D cinema of the Roman stadium, for which you can buy tickets from between 3-6 LEV each. Screen times for the 3D movie are 10:00,10:40, 11:20, 12:00, 13:40, 14:20, 15:00, 15:40, 16:20, and 17:00. My boys enjoyed the short video, although I wouldn’t suggest you wait around to long watch it as we did, it was not worth the 30 minutes wait.

Brands We Use And Trust

Best tours to explore plovdiv city, 6. plovdiv walking tour.

Sj and family standing in House-Museum Hindlian, Plovdivhouse, one of the things to do in Plovdiv.

If you enjoy seeing the sites with a local guide, this walking tour in Plovdiv is a great way to experience the highlights of Plovdiv.

You will tour Plovdiv’s central area, with the most significant landmarks, including Park Tsar Simeon, Stadium of Philippopolis, Plovdiv Old Town, Plovdiv Roman Theatre, St. Constantine and Helena Church, Hisar Kapia, Ethnographic Museum, Nebet Tepe, Balabanov House, House-Museum Hindliyan and the Kapana District.

For more information or to book the tour, click here.

7. 3-d virtual tour of the ancient stadium of philippopolis.

Get ready to travel back in time to experience this amazing piece of history!

Have you ever wondered how a historical structure looked in its prime, but had trouble visualizing it? This 3-D virtual tour of the Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis is a super cool way to see the hypothesis of how historians and archaeologists believe the building looked at the time of construction (beginning of the 2nd century AD).

Theaters, Heritage Mosaics & Street Art Around Plovdiv

8. plovdiv roman theatre – ancient theatre of philippopolis .

Things To Do In Plovdiv - Old theatre ruin in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

If you’re a fan of Ancient Roman architecture, you must visit the Ancient Ancient Amphitheater Philippopolis.

It lies in the heart of the Old Town, in the saddle between Taksim Tepe and Dzhambaz Tepe. Dating from Trajan’s reign in the late 1st century and early 2nd century, it’s one of the world’s best-preserved ancient theaters.

Historians presume that this theater used to hold performances, theatre performances, gladiator games, and hunting spectacles circus events. Damaged in the 5 th century by Attila the Hun, it got buried and was eventually forgotten. It wasn’t until the mid-20 th century that it was rediscovered thanks to a landslide. Its restoration is an absolute masterpiece, and the theater is now used once again as a concert and theater venue (in summer). It can seat 5,000 to 7,000 people.

9. Mosaics From The Episcopal (Bishop’s) Basilica Of Philippopolis

Roko holding a white object in Plovdiv.

Also known as the Great Basilica, the Episcopal Basilica of Philippopolis was discovered and excavated by archaeologist Elena Kessiakova in the 1980’s. As the project progressed over the years, it was discovered that the complex’s interior was covered in mosaics, especially the floors. 

A modernized building was constructed to cover and protect the original basilica and the mosaics were stabilized, cleaned and preserved within. Today, guests can visit the building to view areas of excavated mosaic in different styles and learn about the building’s history. 

10. Mosaic “Postal Pigeons” 

The “Postal Pigeons” mosaic can be found in the Central Post Office along most of the foyer’s northern wall.

Designed by artist Georgi Bozhilov – Slona in 1977, this three dimensional scene of stylized pigeons was made using used natural stone tesserae in five colors – black, white (marble and white limestone), ochre, light green, and dark green. The artist was quite skilled in mosaic technique, and designed “Postal Pigeons” in such a way that it was installed in just one day.

11. 3D Mosaic In A Water Facility 

This impressive mosaic can be found in front of the Polyclinic of the Trakiya Neighborhood.

Decorative stone tesserae in four colors: white (marble), black-gray, ochre (limestone) and red (smalt), cover globular sculptures in this unique 3-D mosaic display. Despite the curvature of the sculptures, the stones were laid so carefully that the mosaic creates an even surface to the structure.

12. The Kapana Art District

Things to do in Plovdiv - Kapana Art District

For a break from all that history and archaeology, head to the Kapana Art District, the liveliest neighborhood in Plovdiv. Until quite recently, a neglected and overlooked part of the city, it’s its cultural heart.

The district is more than 500 years old, dating from when it was home to numerous craftsmen, such as cloth makers, tailors, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, and leather workers.

If you understand Bulgarian, you’ll notice many streets bearing the names of those crafts—translated as, for example, Iron Street and Gold Street. The district’s name literally means “The Trap” after its dense network of little streets and alleys.

In the 2010s, the Kapana Art District underwent extensive restorations. Many old buildings were renovated, empty storefronts became art galleries, and the entire area was made car-free. Nowadays, Kapana is home to countless art shops, galleries, wine bars, restaurants, and beer halls. It’s the perfect place to hang out on a sunny afternoon or after a well-filled day of sightseeing in Plovdiv.

Best Shopping, Parks & Leisure In Plovdiv

13. the pedestrian street of knyaz alexander i.

Also known as Main Street, Knyaz Alexander I Street is the longest pedestrian street in Europe at 1750 m in length. It connects the Kapana Art District with Old Town Plovdiv and is the main shopping street in the city. 

Along this bustling and lively street you will find shopping boutiques, international chains, cafes and restaurants, and the historical Dzhumaya Mosque and Roman Stadium.  

14. Park Tsar Simeon

Visiting this ancient garden is a great way to relax in Plovdiv. Cascading trees shade the pathways and delightful garden beds show off all varieties of flowers. 

Swiss landscape architect Lucien Chevalas designed this public park in 1892. It’s a lush and peaceful area within easy walking distance from the central Old Town. If you walk along Main Street, you will find Park Tsar Simeon at the end, before you reach the Kapana Art District.

Highlights include the Goddess Demeter Fountain, a Viennese Pavilion, modern children’s playgrounds, flowerbeds, and the star of the show, the Singing Fountains (more on those below). 

15. Singing Fountains At Night

Things To Do In Plovdiv, Bulgaria - Fountains

One of the most remarkable and fun things to do in Plovdiv is watching the Singing Fountains in Tsar Simeon’s Garden. 

Located in a lake in the park , this collection of fountains is the setting of a light and music show that takes place every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9 p.m.

16. Sunset Views From Dzendem Tepe

Situated in the western part of Plovdiv, Dzendem Tepe is the highest of the city’s seven hills. Having been home to a Bronze Age shrine (or even a small settlement), an important Roman Temple of Apollo, and a 4 th -century basilica, the hill is now a natural landmark.

Towering over much of the rest of Plovdiv, its summit is a phenomenal spot to watch the sunset.

Best Churches & Mosques In Plovdiv

One of the things to do in Plovdiv is visit the mosque.

17. Visit The Church Of St. Constantine And Helena

Another fascinating historic building in the Plovdiv Old Town is the Church of St. Constantine and Helena. Named after Emperor Constantine the Great and his mother, Helena, it’s one of the oldest churches in Plovdiv. It dates from the year 337.

Over the following centuries, it was destroyed and reconstructed multiple times. The present structure dates from 1832 and has gorgeous frescoes, icons, and paintings.

18. See The Church Of The Holy Mother Of God

Things to do in Plovdiv - Church Of The Holy Mother Of God

The Church of the Holy Mother of God is one of the most important churches in Plovdiv. A church has stood on this site since the 9 th century but was destroyed by the Ottomans when they conquered Plovdiv in the late 14th century.

The current building dates from 1844 when it was rebuilt as the main church in the city. This church and one of its bishops played a significant role in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s struggle for autonomy. It has a strikingly beautiful tower as well as icons and frescoes.

19. Admire The Dzhumaya Mosque

Dzhumaya Mosque Plovdiv Bulgaria

The presence of the gorgeous Dzhumaya Mosque is a testimony to the cultural diversity that so characterizes the eastern Balkans . Plovdiv’s main Muslim building, it stands in the city center west of the Old Town. The Ottomans built the original mosque in the 14 th century on the previous St. Petka Tarnovska Cathedral Church site. In the 15th century, however, that first mosque was taken down and replaced by the current building.

Among its many features are nine large domes and a towering minaret — Wall paintings inside date from the late 1700s and early-1800’s.

Best Museums In Plovdiv

As one of Europe’s oldest cities, Plovdiv has a massive amount of history and cultural heritage. After reading about the things to see in Plovdiv above, you’ll now know all about that, too. However, if you’d like to learn even more about the city’s millennia-long history, I recommend visiting the following Plovdiv museums.

20. Regional Ethnographic Museum Plovdiv

SJ & family posing for a picture in front of the Regional Ethnographic Museum Plovdiv - one of the things to do in Plovdiv.

Housed in the former residence of 19 th -century merchant Argir Kuyumdzhioglu in the Old Town, the Regional Ethnographic Museum is one of the best museums in Plovdiv. It has six different exhibits, all located in separate rooms in the house.

Those exhibits house several thousands of artifacts and objects. They range from furniture, clothing, and fabrics to religious items, music instruments, books, and artworks.

21. Balabanov House

Looking for things to do in Plovdiv? Check out this room with a table and chairs at Balabanov House

Much like the Regional Ethnographic Museum, Balabanov’s House also houses various cultural and historical objects. This 19 th -century house near St. Constantine and Helena Square boasts a beautiful exterior. Inside, you’ll find antique furniture, carved-wood ceilings, clothes, and other items showcasing how affluent Plovdiv residents used to live in the 1800s.

Similar preserved homes of influential Plovdiv residents in the city include Hindlyan’s House and Lamartine/Mavridi’s House.

22. Klianti House

You will find Klianti House in the Ancient Plovdiv architectural and historic reserve. Buildings in this neighborhood were built during the National Bulgarian Revival period and possess elements of cultural, artistic and decorative importance.

Klianti House, also called the “people’s monument of culture”, is the oldest Revival house, known for its mural paintings, monochrome ceilings, enclosed wooden recesses, unique architecture and asymmetrical design.

23. House Of Nikola Nedkovich

While in the historic reserve, also stop at the house of Nikola Nedkovich, a prosperous fabric merchant who had the home built in 1863. 

The home is a wonderful example of the classic symmetrical Plovdiv house, and many preserved artifacts from the original owners are on display. 

Ornate murals, carved ceilings, period furniture, an underground tunnel connecting the cellar with the street and a covered passage from the kitchen into the main building are a few of the exuberant features guests can admire when touring this home.

24. Plovdiv National Archaeological Museum

Officially opened in 1882, this is one of the oldest museums in Bulgaria. The National Archaeological Museum in Plovdiv now houses one of the largest and most important cultural heritage collections related to Plovdiv and the surrounding region. It has no fewer than 100,000 items and objects.

This fantastic history museum focuses on the early history of Plovdiv, from prehistoric times through the Middle Ages, including the Thracian, Roman, and early-Christian times. You’ll find numerous fascinating artifacts here, from ancient pottery and sculptures to Christian iconography and medieval art.

25. Plovdiv Regional Historical Museum

While the National Archaeological Museum covers Plovdiv’s ancient history, the Regional Historical Museum focuses on the 15 th century through today. Established in 1951, this cultural and research organization preserves and studies Plovdiv’s more recent history.

The museum has four different exhibits located in various locations in the city:

  • The Unification of Bulgaria of 1885 – dedicated to the role Plovdiv played in the late 19th century events, from the Treaty of Berlin that resulted in the division of Bulgaria into five regions to the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War.
  • Bulgarian National Revival – housed in the former residence of mid-19 th -century Greek merchant Dimitris Georgiadi, this exhibit covers the period of Ottoman rule in Plovdiv, from the 15 th to the 19 th
  • Museum Center of Modern History – hosts seminars, presentations, other public happenings, and art and photography exhibits.
  • Book Publishing in Bulgaria – occupying six rooms in the house of Hristo G. Danov, a famous early-19 th -century publisher, this exhibit traces the evolution of publishing in Plovdiv through the late-1800’s and early-1900’s.

26. Museum of Natural Sciences

Located in the old 1880 Plovdiv Municipality building, the Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the best things to do in Plovdiv for nature lovers. It’s one of the most important museums of its kind in Bulgaria , featuring impressive collections in the scientific realms of paleontology, botany, and mineralogy.

Several rooms are dedicated to wildlife, too. Arguably its main attraction is the enormous freshwater aquarium home to 40 different species. It’s Bulgaria’s largest freshwater aquarium.

Best Bulgarian Places To Eat In Plovdiv (Or Drink!)

There are no shortage of places to eat in Plovdiv – and maybe just as many more choices of places to drink a coffee or sip a glass of Bulgarian wine.

Here are some of the places we loved:

Divino Cafe

We stopped here to get our bearings on where we should eat; we sat and enjoyed a few glasses of Bulgarian wine and people-watched.

Address ul. “Hristo Dyukmedzhiev” 3, 4000 Kapana, Plovdiv

Pavaj Restauarant

Dine on tasty, authentic cuisine right in the heart of Plovdiv as this casual restaurant, with offerings that also include vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. Bring cash as cards aren’t accepted here (at least at the time of writing this).

Address Zlatarska No 7 Kapana District, Plovdiv 4000 

This contemporary gastropub is set in a 100 year old building, providing a cozy atmosphere for your dining experience. Craft beers, cocktails and a delicious house wine are all worth an order and the seasonal rotating menu is carefully selected to bring guests traditional Bulgarian dishes with a twist along with popular dishes from around the world made with local ingredients.

Address Kozhuharska 3, Plovdiv 4000

If you’re in the mood for something different, head to Mayriges (“My Mother”) where you can eat traditional Armenian and Lebanese dishes, home-cooked using childhood recipes passed down by the chef’s mother.

There is a children’s menu available if you are traveling with pickier eaters.

Address  “Konstantin Stoilov” 14, Plovdiv

Turkish Coffee and Pastry Shop “Dzhumaya”

Looking for things to do in Plovdiv? Drink coffee - Vladimir

For something sweet, head to Dzhumaya for traditional Turkish desserts and drinks .

Address ul. “Zhelezarska” 1, 4000 Plovdiv

Cafes Near “The Pelican Fountain”

The Pelican Fountain is found in front of the Plovdiv Municipality, near the Garden of Tsar Simeon. This fountain  is a popular spot for young people to hang out and for children to run around while parents enjoy sipping on coffee or cocktails at any of the nearby cafes. It can be especially fun in the evening when the fountain waters light up.

Address Stefan Stambolov Square,Plovdiv

Central Perk

If you are a fan of the television show “Friends”, this cafe is a must. The place is styled after the popular Friends hang out spot. The atmosphere is young and bubbly, and it’s a great place to stop for a drink while out in Kapana. 

Address ul. “Hristo Dyukmedzhiev” 16, 4000 Kapana, Plovdiv

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Best Places For Day Trips From Plovdiv, Bulgaria

27. visit bachkovo monastery.

Bachkovo Monastery In Bulgaria - Bulgarian Monasteries

A 30-minute drive from Plovdiv brings you to the Bachkovo Monastery , a major Eastern Orthodox monastery on the bank of the Chepelare River. Founded in 1033, it was a large complex with many buildings. Currently, only one part survives from those earliest days. That’s the ossuary with its ancient frescoes and typical architectural style that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.

The monastery does include various other buildings, though, all constructed in subsequent centuries. Note-worthy highlights are the 17 th -century Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary, the “Panorama” Mural, and the medieval Church of the Archangels.

28. Go For A Trip To Asen’s Fortress

Things To Do In Plovdiv - Things To Do In Plovdiv, Bulgaria - Hisar Kapia - Ancient gate in Plovdiv old town Bulgaria

Asen’s fortress lies on the way to the Bachkovo Monastery in Asenovgrad. This imposing medieval stronghold is one of the top castles in Bulgaria to visit. Perched atop a rocky outcrop, it is only accessible from one side. The three other sides have nearly vertical drops in the valley below.

Dating from the Middle Ages, Asen’s Fortress went through several sieges, including the conquest by the armies of the Third Crusade and, later, the Ottomans.

After the 14th-century Ottoman conquest, the castle was left to decay . Now, only one complete building still stands. The 11 th – and 12 th -century Church of the Holy Mother of God is still in use as a Bulgarian Orthodox church. The rest of this once-mighty fortress are ruins, although exceptionally well-preserved ruins.

29. Have Some Water Fun At Aqualand

While all other things to do in Plovdiv described above have something, or everything, to do with culture and history, this last one is just plainly about having fun. Aquapark “Aqualand” is arguably the most well-known modern attraction in the city.

This large water park is a great place to take your kids if they’re tired of walking around and sightseeing in Plovdiv. It features lounge areas, a children’s pool, tubing, and thrill slides.

The only question now is, where will you start in Plovdiv? And, if you have another suggestion for what to see in Plovdiv, leave us a comment below. 

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Hand-Picked City Guide: 27 Awesome Things to Do in Plovdiv

People always ask me what do I recommend for them to visit in Bulgaria . My first suggestion is always the same – Plovdiv.  Plovdiv is incredibly rich in history, cultural heritage, monuments, and beautiful sights. After all, it’s literally one of the oldest cities in the world . It’s also the second largest city in the country, which makes it very easily accessible from Sofia or anywhere else around.

Not only that, but Plovdiv was chosen for the European Capital of Culture for 2019 , making it even more appealing for tourists. But don’t be fooled – the city is quite ‘empty’ when it comes to travellers, just because Bulgaria is still considered off the beaten track. This makes it the perfect time to book your ticket and enjoy it before the place gets crowded like all the other European destinations.

So let’s dive into what you came here for – a complete guide of all the awesome things to do in Plovdiv. We’ll cover everything from sightseeing, activities, food etc.

Make sure to join the Discover Bulgaria Facebook group for even more ideas and helpful information about travelling in Bulgaria!

Things to do In Plovdiv

Table of Contents

Get the Plovdiv City Card

things to do in plovdiv city card

First things first, nothing will make your stay in Plovdiv easier than getting the Plovdiv City Card . The card gives you free access to the major tourist attractions, as well as a lot of discounts in various restaurants, shops and other places around the city. There are different options you could buy, depending on how long you’re staying for and who you’re with. In any case, it can save you some cash, and I will give you more information about what exactly is included further on.

It also comes with a very handy app, which helps you make the most out of your stay. The app gives you up-to-date information about the different locations and helps you find the fastest way and plan your trip more efficiently.

Check out their website!

plovdiv tourist guide

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What to see in Plovdiv

Ancient roman theatre.

Things to do in Plovdiv Ancient Theatre

The most symbolic sight of Plovdiv is undoubtedly the Ancient Roman Theatre. With its history dating back to 1st century AD and still being in use nowadays, this is one of the best-preserved ancient theatres in the world . The theatre is conveniently located in the heart of the Old Town, and it’s easily accessible by foot, just like all the other important sights around.

Many concerts are being held regularly, especially in the warmer months. Amongst the most popular events are the annual International Folklore Festival, The Opera Open Festival, as well as “Sounds of the Ages’ rock festival. What’s better than enjoying some good music while sitting in an ancient ruin in the middle of a beautiful old town!?

Opening hours: April – October: 9:00 – 18:00; November – March: 9:00 – 17:00

Entry fee: 5 leva

With Plovdiv City Card: free

Read also : 25 Gorgeous Places to visit in Bulgaria (apart from Sofia)

Plovdiv Roman Stadium

Things to do in Plovdiv Roman stadium

The Roman Stadium in Plovdiv is one of these sights that can’t be missed just because it’s in such a central location. It is often being overlooked though. Only one of its sides is partially visible today, but in reality the stadium runs all the way under the main shopping street of the city. Its size was so impressive, it was able to hold 30 000 spectators and have 3 shows running at the same time. This is where in ancient times different events were being held, similar to the Pythian games, and it’s considered one of the largest and best preserved buildings from the time of the Ancient Rome on the Balkan peninsula .

Kapana District

things to do in plovdiv kapana

Kapana, also known as the creative district, is another must-see in Plovdiv. Its name is literally translated into “The Trap”. This is where you’ll find beautiful street art, colourful cafes and restaurants with incredibly good food, interesting shops, as well as these pretty streets with hanging little flags.

The atmosphere in Kapana is exceptional, especially in the evenings – people love meeting up and having a few drinks in the streets, and there is nothing but good, artsy and chill vibes everywhere around.

The Old Town

things to do in plovdiv old town

Another thing you should put on your list of things to do in Plovdiv is definitely the Old Town. Included in the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2004, the Old Town is an architectural and historical treasure you need to experience at any cost.

This ‘neighborhood’ combines the spirit and architecture of a few periods in the Bulgarian history – Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Bulgarian revival period . Many of these old wooden houses are still being used today, others have been turned into museums.

Regional Ethnographic Museum

things to do in plovdiv museum

One of the most remarkable houses in the Old Town, the Kuyumdzhieva house, is also home to the Regional Ethnographic Museum. The facade is beautifully decorated in Baroque style, and the interior replicates the living conditions of people from this region in history. Inside you can see old national costumes, traditional crafts, musical instruments and more.

Hisar Kapia

things to do in plovdiv hisar kapia

Right next to the Ethnographic Museum you’ll find Hisar Kapia – a stone archway, which was once the city’s fortress gate. The arch makes for a perfect photo from both sides of the street.

From Hisar Kapia all you need to do is walk up to get to one of Plovdiv’s hills for a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the mountains. Nebet Tepe is easily accessible and it’s definitely worth the short ‘hike’ uphills. It’s also one of the best spots for watching the sunset over the “city of the seven hills”.

Alyosha Monument

Another spectacular viewpoint of Plovdiv can be found at the Alyosha Monument. The monument serves as a memorial for the Soviet casualties during the Soviet occupation of the country during World War II. The statue is quite a controversial topic amongst locals, and Plovdiv authorities have tried to get it removed at least a few times. Regardless, this doesn’t make the monument any less impressive, or the view from there – any less stunning.

It takes about 30 to 40 minutes hike to climb to the top, so put some comfy clothes on and bring some water with you, especially during the hotter days.

Hindliyan House

things to do in plovdiv hindliyan house

The Hindliyan house is yet another must-see in Plovdiv. The house belonged to a wealthy Armenian family of traders. Inside house you’ll find a water fountain, out of which there is rose water constantly pouring out.

The house also impresses with its beautifully decorated facades and all the details covering the walls and the ceilings.

Entry fee : 5 leva

Balabanov House

things to do in plovdiv balabanov house

This house-museum serves as a representation of the life of wealthy traders during the 19th century. Cultural events, such as exhibitions, literature premiers, musical concerts and theatre performances are frequently being hosted here. The main exhibition, however, can be seen all year round.

Cultural Center-Museum Trakart

Trakart stores a variety of beautiful floor mosaics and ancient Roman remains from II – III century AD, and some impressive glass art dating to the III and IV centuries. The museum is rather small, but the staff is incredibly polite, helpful and knowledgeable, and they’ll drown you with information. A definite must-visit in Plovdiv in my opinion.

Entry fee: 2 leva

Sahat Tepe is another one of Plovdiv’s hills, and translates from Turkish into The hill of the clock. The name was given to it because of the clock tower, standing at the top. The earliest version of the tower dates back to 1623. However, the one you can see today was installed in 1883, and it was made in Vienna. The hill is a favourite amongst young people and it’s easily accessible from the city centre – just about 5 minutes from the Roman Stadium Square.

The Small Basilica

The Small Basilica is an early Christian church, dating back to 5th-6th century AD. The ruins were accidentally discovered during construction work in 1988. This is one of Plovdiv’s most distinctive landmarks. You can see remaining ancient mosaics and architecture, as well as learn about the history of the place through a short film in English.

The Main Street

What would be a ‘things to do in Plovdiv list” without some shopping options. However, the main street does not only offer a huge variety of shops and cafes – it is also resting right above the ancient Roman Stadium. So be careful, you might come across some ancient ruins while looking for the perfect pair of jeans.

Just a hint – head to H&M and see what you’ll find there.

The Singing Fountains

Enjoy a quick and relaxing stop at the Tsar Simeon Garden. Apart from the beautiful flowers and trees, which make the park a small paradise, the highlight of the place are the Singing Fountains.  A spectacular music and light show happens every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 21:30 and makes the garden the perfect spot to end a long day of sightseeing.

What to do in Plovdiv

Take a walking tour.

Everyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with walking tours. I have taken one in every possible city I’ve been in, and I will continue doing so. In my opinion this is the best way to get to know the place from a local perspective, getting as much information as possible at once, and learning about the history, the people, the local cuisine and much more.

  • Free Plovdiv Tour

things to do in plovdiv free walking tour

The Free Plovdiv Tour takes place every single day of the year and goes through a lot of the important spots of Plovdiv.  I have personally taken this exact tour 2 times already, and I would do it again. The guides do their best to accommodate everyone’s needs, take regular short breaks for a gulp of water at the many communal water fountains in the city, and a lot of the stops provide a spot to sit at and enjoy the tour. You’ll also learn a crazy amount of history about Plovdiv and Bulgaria as a whole.

Duration : around 2 hours

When? Every day: May – September: 11am and 6pm; October – April: 2pm

Meeting point : Municipality Building of Plovdiv (the Town Hall)

Fee : on a tipping basis

2. Kapana Tour

Kapana (The Trap) is the creative district of Plovdiv, or in other words – it’s a completely different world compared to the rest of the city. Art, creativity and uniqueness are the terms I would use to describe this neighborhood.

Join the Kapana Tour and dive into this new world – learn its stories, get to know its inhabitants and their crafts, witness a few workshops, and even get the chance to create something yourself!

When? Every Saturday and Sunday; May – September: 11am; October – April: 2pm

Fee: 9 EUR (18 leva)

P.S. By joining the Free Plovdiv Tour you get discount for the Kapana Tour!

Try unique Bulgarian liquor at the House of Distillation

things to do in plovdiv house of distillation

One of the highlights of my Plovdiv trip was getting to visit this family owned House of Distillation. For the past few decades this family has been specialising in producing unique and high quality Bulgarian liquor out of various products – roses, melons, mint and what not. The degrees of the different types vary from 15 to 47 and they can’t be found anywhere else on the market, as they are being solely produced by these people.

Each visit in the House of Distillation includes a free presentation in English, Russian or Spanish. After the degustation, you can purchase some of their beverages as a souvenir.

Get 20% off two alcoholic beverages with the Plovdiv City Card!

Go on a souvenir hunt

There are tons of small family-owned shops around the Kapana district, which offer high quality products, often hand-made. Apart from the usual souvenirs you can buy anywhere, the creative district of the city is unique in the fact that you’ll find interesting shops around every corner, and you’ll be able to find some goods you won’t find anywhere else. Just go on a souvenir hunt and you’ll be surprised with what you can discover!

P.S. The Plovdiv City Card gives you discount at some of these shops.

Enjoy some jazz and art at the Arsenal of Art

Arsenal of Art is an arts gallery in the Kapana district. What sets it apart from other galleries are the Jazz performances, which are taking place every Wednesday. If you’re a fan of art and music, you won’t be disappointed.

Where to eat in Plovdiv

Multi culti.

things to do in plovdiv multi culti

Go on a food trip around the world without having to move a finger with the diverse meals in Multi Culti. Deliciously cooked, beautifully served, with attention to even the smallest details. It also offers one of the biggest wine selections in town. Multi Culti is the perfect place for a delicious and light lunch with options from all around the globe.

P.S. Get 20% discount on eggs benedict at Multi Culti with the Plovdiv City Card!

things to do in plovdiv pavaj

One of the culinary phenomenons of Plovdiv – Pavaj offers traditional meals with an interesting twist. This restaurant has won countless food awards, and it’s a favourite amongst locals and tourists. The dishes are prepared with fresh products only, which are being grown in their own gardens not far away from the city. This explains the absolutely amazing taste of everything they serve. Here you will also find a huge list of different sorts of rakia from Bulgaria and all around the Balkans. Pavaj is pretty much always extremely busy, so a reservation is advisory.

Mouthwatering burgers, addictive fries and craft beer – that’s how Skaptobara describe themselves. And it’s true. If you’re feeling like having a not very pretentious meal and want to dive the world of burgers, head to one of the two restaurants of Skaptobara in Plovdiv!

Have a full-on gourmet experience at the one and only Tams House. Excellent service, delicious food and lovely atmosphere. If only you check out the reviews of this place, you’d be sold immediately.

Restaurant Megdana

If you’re eager to experience a real traditional Bulgarian restaurant, then head to Megdana. Enjoy a perfect mixture of traditional folklore music and dancing and delicious Bulgarian food. Apart from the spectacular show, the guests of the restaurant are more than welcome to join on the dancefloor – no better opportunity to learn some folk dancing while you’re here.

Where to stay in Plovdiv

things to do in plovdiv kuker inn

This new guest house is in the most perfect central location – less than 2 minutes from the Kapana district, and less than 5 minutes from the Old Town. Cosy rooms, reasonable prices and lovely hosts – what’s more to ask. There is also a common kitchen area, where you can cook something, as well as a common lounge area, so you can chill and meet other travellers.

There is convenient public transport nearby, which can take you directly to the central railway and bus station, as well as many shops and restaurants to grab something to eat. We personally decided to walk from the central bus station as the distance is only about 2 km, and it took us less than half an hour.

Learn more and book your accommodation through their website .

Tourist Information centres:

  • Roman Stadium Square – 1 Rayko Daskalov Str.
  • The Old Town – 1 D-r Stoyan Chomakov Str.

Working hours: April – October: Daily 9:00 – 18:00

November – March: Daily 9:00 – 17:00

You may also enjoy:

The ABC of why you should visit Bulgaria

7 Top Things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria

25 Best Things to do in Veliko Tarnovo – Tips from a Local

25 Gorgeous Places to visit in Bulgaria (apart from Sofia)

22 Unmissable Things to do in Tryavna, Bulgaria

The Best Things to do in Tsarevo, Bulgaria – A Weekend at the Seaside

12 Things to do in Borovets for non-skiers

28 Delightful Things to do in Bansko for all seasons

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Things to do In Plovdiv

This post was created in partnership with Kuker Inn and Plovdiv City Card.

Lyubomira Doncheva

Lyubomira is the creator and author behind Bulgarian On The Go. With a background in journalism and experience in the field of tourism and marketing, her mission is to show travellers many beautiful places they might have never thought of visiting or even knew existed.

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Plovdiv City Guide - Travel tips, tourism and places to visit in Plovdiv

Plovdiv is Bulgaria’s second-largest city , lying on both sides of the Maritsa River and about two hours from the capital Sofia. The city will take your breath away. It is so lovely and intriguing that you will want to return. This magical city which is built on seven hills, is known as “the city of the hills.”

It has a history of almost 8,000 years, both ancient and timeless.

Plovdiv was already populated in the 11th century B.C. and remains so to this day. It is one of the world’s five oldest cities and the first in Europe. Have we piqued your interest? Many civilizations have occupied Plovdiv, including the Thracians, Romans, and Visconti. 

It was taken by the Roman Empire in the first century and became an important hub. Fortresses, public buildings, an antique amphitheatre, a Roman aqueduct, and other structures have been preserved.

The locals are pleasant and courteous but keep in mind that we are in Eastern Europe, and our manner of being friendly differs from that of central Europe.

Useful information for Plovdiv

  • The city is located on several hills, wear comfortable shoes.
  • Find the spots with the best views and enjoy the sunset.
  • It starts in front of the City Hall every day at 11 PM. 365 Association organises it.

There are 2 tourism office in Plovdiv:

  • Located in the Old Town next to the Ethnographic museum: ul. “Doctor Stoyan Chomakov” 1.
  • Located in the City Center next to the main Mosque: ul. “Rayko Daskalov” 1

What to see in Plovdiv

Another lovely location is Plovdiv’s old town. Some of the best examples of Bulgarian revival architecture can be found here. The homes of commercials, artists, and artisans will transport you back in time. Numerous museums, cathedrals, municipal gardens, and parks will turn your walk into a fantasy tale. The small lanes of Kapana’s artistic area are further confirmation of why Plovdiv is a must-see destination in Bulgaria.

Why should you visit Plovdiv on your next trip? Act confidently rather than hesitantly. You will not be mistaken. A successful marriage of modern architecture and a rich past that you will adore. Let us not forget that the pubs, restaurants, and nightlife in Sofia are no less appealing.

Ethnographic museum

St. constantin and elena church, roman theatre, roman stadium, alyosha monument, plovdiv's mosque, tsa simeon park, best restaurants to visit in plovdiv:, mekitsa & kafe, modern cuisine, tradition cuisine, vegan/vegetarian, cat and mouse, rock bar download, cocktail bar, cockail bar, things to do in plovdiv, free walking tour.

The tour takes you through the main places of interest in the city. Donations are made to the guides at the end of the tours.

Kamenitza Brewery

Learn how one of the most historic and popular beers in Bulgaria is produced. The tour needs a previous booking.

Gaillot Chocolate Factory

Have you ever wondered how cocoa beans turn into chocolate? The workshop opens its doors to chocolate lovers.

Day trips from Plovdiv

Plovdiv is very beautiful and there is much to see both in the city and its surroundings. Even so, one must consider if one wants to know more about the culture and people of the country.

This is where we recommend you visit some of the places that are only a few hours from the city. In some of the places you can reach both by train and by bus.

We still do not offer these services so if you are looking for something organized, get in touch with us and we take care to find you something interesting.

This platform was built to provide tourist information to visitors to this wonderful country. We hope it is useful and that you have a great experience in Bulgaria.

The website is mostly informational and non-commercial. The majority of the photographs on the website are from my personal collection and from outside writers whose work may be used for non-commercial projects and websites.

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Must-see attractions in Plovdiv

The ancient theatre of Philippopolis.

Roman Amphitheatre

Plovdiv’s magnificent 2nd-century AD amphitheatre, built during the reign of Emperor Trajan, was uncovered during a freak landslide in 1972. It once held…

plovdiv tourist guide

Balabanov House

One of Plovdiv's most beautiful Bulgarian National Revival–era mansions, Balabanov House is an enjoyable way to experience old town nostalgia as well as…

Ethnographical Museum

Even if you don't have time to step inside, it would be criminal to leave Plovdiv's old town without glancing into the courtyard of this stunning National…

Atanas Krastev House

Close to Nebet Tepe hill, this late 18th-century house was the residence of local painter and conservationist Atanas Krastev until his death in 2003…

Archaeological Museum

This 100,000-item museum is a tour de force of Thracian and Roman artefacts, as well as icons and ecclesiastical artefacts from recent centuries. Most…

Tsar Simeon Garden

Plovdiv's prettiest place to stroll, Tsar Simeon Garden was sculpted by Swiss architect Lucien Chevalas in 1892; he's now lovingly referred to as the …

Church of Sveti Konstantin & Elena

This is Plovdiv’s oldest church and one of its most beloved. Dedicated to Emperor Constantine the Great and his mother, Helena, it was built on the spot…

Ruins of Eumolpias

Some 203m high in the old town, a hill with spectacular views reveals sparse ruins of Eumolpias, a Thracian settlement in 5000 BC. The fortress and…

Church of Sveta Bogoroditsa

Painted a fetching shade of butter-cream yellow, this three-nave church looks out proudly from a stone staircase at the base of the old town. Built in…

Hindlian House

Once owned by merchant Stepan Hindlian, this opulent house was built between 1835 and 1840. It’s full of exquisite period furniture and walls painted with…

Sveta Marina Church

A little-visited 16th-century gem, Sveta Marina Church has suberb Old Testament murals on its outer walls, depicting scenes from Adam, Eve and a…

Stadium of Philippopolis

While the once-huge 2nd-century Roman stadium is mostly hidden under a pedestrian mall, there are stairways from different sides allowing for exploration…

Regional History Museum

Plovdiv's Historical Museum concentrates on the 1876 April Uprising and the massacre of Bulgarians at Batak, which directly led to the Russian declaration…

City Gallery of Fine Arts

Occupying an 1881 girls gymnasium, this gallery contains more than 7000 artistic works by 19th- and 20th-century masters, including Nikolai Pavlovich,…

Zlatyu Boyadjiev Gallery

Get two famous Bulgarians for the price of one at this tasteful National Revival–era mansion. Seventy-two paintings by Plovdiv native Zlatyu Boyadjiev …

Dzhumaya Mosque

Bulgaria's first working mosque, this unmissable Ottoman building in the middle of Plovdiv's pedestrianised shopping zone was originally built in 1364. It…

Permanent Exhibition of Dimitar Kirov

Housed in a grand old-town mansion where Plovdiv's budding artists worked in the 1960s, this special place celebrates the life and works of Dimitar Kirov,…

Tsanko Lavrenov & Mexican Art Exhibitions

For something completely different, this time-warp 1846 house has displays of 1970s Mexican woodcuts, serigraphs and copies of pre-Columbian art…

Cultural Center Thrakart

Visible through floor-to-ceiling windows in the Tsar Obedinitel underpass, Cultural Center Thrakart contains extensive Roman floor mosaics and various…

Milyo Statue

'Milyo the idiot', as he's affectionately known, was a local prankster and mimic, fondly remembered in Plovdiv's shopping precinct in the form of a statue…

Sveta Nedelya Church

Built in the mid-17th century, Sveta Nedelya Church hovers on the eastern edge of the old town. Most noticeable is its elegant 16m tower. Inside, discover…

Nedkovich House

This butterscotch-coloured 1863 mansion has a leafy courtyard and a marble fountain. Its interior design showcases the European classical and baroque…

Roman Odeon

Constructed at the end of the 1st century AD, the Odeon was once the seat of the city council. It now hosts occasional performances in its small,…

City Art Gallery

This branch of the City Gallery of Fine Arts holds small, temporary exhibitions of abstract art, housed within one of Plovdiv's first Bulgarian…

Icon Gallery

This small museum beside the Church of Sveti Konstantin & Elena has a sublime display of icons from the 15th century onwards.

Center for Contemporary Art

A stocky 16th-century Turkish bathhouse now features irregular, rotating displays of contemporary art. Free entry on Thursdays.

Lamartine House

This beige mansion built in 1830 has a special place in Plovdiv hearts as the location where French poet Alphonse de Lamartine stayed in 1833, along the…

Danov House

Dedicated to renowned writer and publisher Hristo Danov and several other Bulgarian authors, Danov House contains a re-creation of a bookshop and a…

Roman Forum

Just down the steps at the overpass near pl Tsentralen, ruins of the Roman Forum are still being excavated; peer over the fence along the road.

Philippopolis Art Gallery

This small private gallery, attached to Philippopolis restaurant, features exhibitions of 19th- and 20th-century Bulgarian art.

Encho Pironkov City Gallery of Fine Arts

This gallery along a small laneway downhill from ul Sâborna displays 45 pieces of modern Bulgarian art.

This museum of pharmacy is set in an 1872 mansion. Sometimes has erratic opening hours.

What to do in Plovdiv

Bulgaria’s second city — joint 2019 european capital of culture with matera, italy — has plenty for visitors to see and do..

Plovdiv.

Why go History is everywhere you look in Europe’s oldest continually inhabited city, with sites including ancient Thracian ruins, a beautiful cobbled old town, a Roman stadium in the middle of the main shopping thoroughfare and one of the world’s best-preserved Roman amphitheatres. Plovdiv isn’t stuck in the past, though: cool bars, contemporary art and festivals are in abundance here, and there’s a general party atmosphere to the place. Small but absolutely perfectly formed, Plovdiv is a welcoming and tremendously enjoyable place to visit.

What to do The old town is lovely — packed with beautiful churches with richly painted, cool, incense-scented interiors to provide a welcome respite from the summer heat. The undeniable draw here, though, is the Roman amphitheatre. The ruins are spellbindingly atmospheric and incredibly well-preserved — it was abandoned during post-Roman occupations and eventually buried, only to be rediscovered after a landslide in the 1970s and restored to its present glory. Today it’s used for theatrical performances and concerts.

Where to eat Just a few minutes’ walk from the very centre of Plovdiv is a tangle of mostly pedestrianised streets called Kapana — directly translating as ‘the trap’. Packed with little galleries, shops and cafes, this neighbourhood is an appealing place for a wander. In the middle is Tams House , a tiny restaurant owned by Peruvian chef Melissa Manche and her Bulgarian chef husband, Todor Tanchev. Opened in 2018, it’s attracted plenty of attention with its imaginative contemporary fusion menu — touches of traditional Bulgarian cooking merge with light South American touches to create something really special. Beautifully presented dishes include apple-juice marinated pork loin with jasmine rice and their signature ‘egg’ dessert — a white chocolate eggshell filled with delicate fruit cream. 

Don’t miss Walk all the way up through the winding streets of the old Town to Nebet Tepe — right up on the top of this hill are the remains of the earliest settlement in Plovdiv. Traces of civilised life apparently show Plovdiv is 8,000 years old — making it the oldest city in Europe. Around 1200 BC, the ancient Thracian city of Eumolpia (later known as Philippopolis) was founded on this hill, one of seven which surround the city. It’s a peaceful spot, with panoramic views all the way to the mountains beyond, and well worth the mildly strenuous walk.

After hours Kapana is where it’s at when night falls. It’s best just to wander from tiny bar to tiny bar, but there are a few standout locations. For craft beers — it stocks more than 100 different varieties — and a friendly vibe, head to Cat and Mouse . In summer, drinkers spill out of the packed Scandi-cool interior to drink outside. For those who prefer wine, tiny deGUSTOstation offers the chance to try local whites, roses and reds while perched on stools around old oak barrels. Staff are knowledgeable and welcoming and happy to discuss the winemaking process. Nylon is a lively rock bar with an attractive bohemian atmosphere that’s very good fun. Be aware, most bars don’t take cards so be sure to carry enough cash for a night out.

Where to stay There’s a smattering of large, business hotels in Plovdiv, but the most charming accommodation can be found in small guesthouses and B&Bs. Skyler Guest House is right in the centre of town, making it perfect for exploring the old town, Kapana and the Roman Forum, which is about a minute’s walk away. On arrival, the friendly hosts welcome guests into the traditional house with a beer or glass of wine, and throughout the day guests can enjoy a drink in the courtyard. The clean, spacious air-conditioned rooms include a fridge, and bathrooms are stocked with traditional Bulgarian rose products. 

Street and houses in Kapana, a neighbourhood packed with little galleries, shops and cafes

Get in [ edit ]

By plane [ edit ].

There is a bus, that goes from the airport to the central bus station "Yug". There are buses after every flight. On the way back to the airport you can choose from one-way or return tickets.

You can also go there by taxi and it will cost you about 15 лв (about €7.50 ) from the city centre.

By train [ edit ]

The 42.13449 24.74138 2 railway station is just south of the city center, a 10-15 min walk.

There are around 15 daily trains to and from Sofia , taking 2 to 4 hours - the slower trains may require a change.

There is a sleeper train every night between Sofia, Plovdiv and Istanbul which takes about 7 hr.

In June 2019, another train ran daytime between Plovdiv and Edirne in western Turkey. It was meant to be a permanent service, but lasted for just one weekend then they cancelled!

By car [ edit ]

The A1 expressway/motorway connects Plovdiv westward to Sofia, and eastward all the way to Burgas on the Black Sea. Other destinations require two-lane roads, such as the most direct route to Pleven , which is the somewhat adventurous Troyan pass road.

By bus [ edit ]

Plovdiv has 3 bus stations: 42.13556 24.74426 3 Yug , 42.16436 24.7359 4 Sever , and 42.13326 24.74242 5 Rhodope . There are many buses for cities all around Bulgaria and to some that are outside the country. Buses to destinations near Plovdiv run from Rhodope station. Both the Yug and Rhodope stations are within five minutes walking distance from the main train station.

Yug station has an ATM just outside so you can easily get local currency there if you're arriving by bus from abroad. Buses for Sofia leave from this station.

Buses run hourly from Sofia and are slightly faster than the trains (approx. 14 лв).

Metro Turizm is a Turkish bus company that runs daily bus services to and from Istanbul in Turkey. Buses going from Plovdiv to Istanbul depart from Yug Station daily at 11:00, 14:00, 19:00, 22:30, and 01:00. The trip costs 105 TL (as of the summer of 2018) and takes roughly 7 hr, depending upon the vagaries of traffic and the border crossing. Metro buses also depart daily for Bursa, Turkey at 19:00. A second bus line (Alpar) also has a daily bus from Yug Station to Istanbul that departs at 22:30.

Eurolines runs a bus to Thessaloniki via Sofia that leaves at 08:00 from the Yug station, tickets can be bought on board. Metro Turizm runs a similar service at 08:30, tickets can be bought from the office at the station.

Get around [ edit ]

Map

Taxis and buses are prevalent. Downtown has a large pedestrian zone. Taxis are (Summer 2010) as cheap if not cheaper than bus rides when split between 3-4 people in general. A 5-7 km of traveled distance was charged at around 5 лв (charge for km is 0.99 лв daily and 1.09 лв nightly); an average ride within the city costs around 3 лв. The taxi arrives in about 3-5 min. Remember to order the Taxi from the companies that offer the best deals and wait for it. Generally taking the taxi that is already waiting will cost you more (sometimes up to 5 times more) avoid them or ask for a flat price that fits you! Learn who offers best prices from the locals who often use taxis. Most of the taxi cars have 4-digit numbers on them, remember some and use it if you need a car, for example: 6155, 6142, 9199 and so on.

As of summer 2011, if your taxi ride costs more than 5 лв, you are entitled to a 20% discount off the fare.

Public bus tickets cost 1 лв. You can pay cash at the conductor. Easyway website has more information.

See [ edit ]

plovdiv tourist guide

Old Plovdiv is compact and walkable, with the main downtown road blocked to car traffic. There is a good collection of Bulgarian revival buildings in use as museums, hotels, and restaurants etc. and is worth a visit if you have a chance.

Wander the cobblestone streets near the downtown to find, a mosque from the Ottoman Empire , and on the nearby hill the old town center . The old town centre was walled, and has a famous gateway entrance . Nearby Puldin Restaurant has subterranean rooms where the old wall and historic artifacts can be seen. Continuing up the hill several older houses are now museums and the Roman amphitheater with an overlook of the town below is partially restored and still used for concerts and other occasions.

In the new center of the city, right before you go up into the old city, you will see the 42.14771 24.74807 3 Roman Stadium , which dates back to the late 1st/early 2nd century. It had a capacity of 30,000 people, and as the Roman laws dictated that the city stadium should have seating for at least half the population, it summarily shows the town had 60,000 inhabitants during Roman times. In addition, the ancient theatre is capable of seating 6,000 people at once, and yes, as you already guessed, Roman laws were dictating that the theatres should accommodate one-tenth of the population at a time.

When you go to the other end of the pedestrian street, next to the Tourist Information Centre and the post office, you will see the Roman Odeon and Forum. The forum was to Romans what the city centers are to modern human. This one had three sides of 13 shops on each side, and a fourth one for the bank, library, and other institutions of this sort. There's also a nice park with kid playgrounds and colour+music fountains.

  • 42.144168 24.75289 11 Bishop's Basilica of Philippopolis , 2 Knyaginya Maria Luiza Blvd , ☏ +359 876 662 900 . Daily 09:00 – 18:00 . Rich Roman mosaics from late antiquity. ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • 42.146419 24.758205 12 Small Basilica Archeological Site , 31 Knyaginya Maria Luiza Blvd . Roman mosaics from the 5th - 6th centuries. ( updated Jul 2023 )

Do [ edit ]

Plovdiv offers many things to do, and most are easily walkable.

  • The Hills - For starters enjoying the sunset from all the different hills is a must. Walk all the way to the top in the late afternoon, pick something to drink and stay there for the sunset. Go down to enjoy the nightlife once it's dark.
  • Kids train , On one of the hills there is a kids train (don't worry it's not for kids) that goes up into the hill and gets back down. It costs 1 лв and it's on the Mladeshki hill. On the top of the Bunardjik Hill, you can see the monument to the Soviet Army, known by locals simply as Alyosha.
  • Old Town - Another must is the old town of Plovdiv which is full of art, free of cars and very enjoyable. Go take a walk. Try it at day, try it at night - it's amazing. Try some of the bars - there are life performances sometimes there. You might be even lucky enough to catch an opera performance in the old Roman theater.
  • Center - Take a stroll up and down the main walking street of Plovdiv, known as "Glavnata" (The Main). It is full of shops, galleries, and cafes. Enjoy the central park during the day or at night, especially if it's a very hot day. Once the weather settles hit the main street and the bars/discos. On summer evenings, many locals gather to enjoy the marvelous singing fountains, located in a large pond on the western edge of the park (show starts at 22:00 every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).
  • Attend a Folk/Jazz music festival . The International Festival Plovdiv Jazz Nights [formerly dead link] is a low key but high-quality 3-day event featuring some of the nation's best musicians along with some regional talents. Be there to witness a riot of colorful improvisations from great musicians. A variety of genres, styles, instruments are used although the music revolves around the central theme of Jazz and Blues.
  • Visit 41.942222 24.849444 1 Bachkovo Monastery and Asenovgrad Krepost , a perfect day trip. There are many bus connections Asenovgrad by bus from the Rhodope bus station. Bachkovo Monastery is a small monastery up the valley from the nearby town of Bachkovo. Buses leave from platform 1 at the Rhodope bus station (across the tracks from the train station). The monastery is small but has a lovely chapel and some paths for easy walks in the surrounding area. Also many chances to buy jams and honey, though not all sellers are the actual producers.

plovdiv tourist guide

  • Football: Botev play soccer in First League, Bulgaria's top tier. Their home ground is Stadion Hristo Botev (capacity 22,800) east side of city centre.

Buy [ edit ]

You can buy many different souvenirs from Bulgaria that represent the country.

Bulgarian rose products tend to be one of the most popular souvenirs from the country, you can buy all kinds of rose goods — mostly cosmetics from soaps to shampoos, gels, oils, and perfumes.

Cutlery made of wood or clay might also be worthwhile to look for.

Or perhaps you might be looking for a painting or even a musical instrument?

Many great antique shops have objects from the Russo-Turkish War up to World War II.

Eat [ edit ]

Generally speaking, eating in Plovdiv should be cheap for the westerner's pocket. Fast food is available and of high quality (in general).

There are McDonald's, KFC, Kastello, Verde and other popular restaurants.

Budget [ edit ]

The cheapest fast food could cost as little 0.50-1.00 лв to 2-3 лв and can be found along the main street. There are plenty of such places offering pizza, traditional food, and kebabs.

The small bakeries sell pastries for about 1 лв, which make great breakfasts if you're on the move.

There are some low-priced restaurants that will be fairly affordable, pay attention to the menu and think about 10-15 лв for a full meal (salad, main course, dessert, drinks).

All these are in the city centre:

  • 42.150128 24.74672 1 Adisa , ul. Opalchenska 4 . Folk-style snack bar, very nice place. There is a wide selection of vegetarian and local dishes. At noon there is a queue when everyone goes on a break to eat. ( updated May 2022 )
  • 42.141906 24.754347 2 Elegant Chinese Restaurant , ul. Kapitan Raycho Nikolov 44 . Very tasty food, the staff is very smiling and kind. The place maybe is not the most charming but the waitress is nice. ( updated May 2022 )
  • 42.14574 24.749892 3 White Spider Pub , ul. Doctor Georgi Valkovich 6 . Strangely pleasant restaurant. Unique place. Unique atmosphere. Underground for more than a century. ( updated Aug 2022 )
  • 42.153032 24.744692 4 Restaurant Uncles , Boulevard Maritza 90 . A great restaurant at the Maritsa river with very good fish cuisine. Friendly welcome. Restaurant with service and cuisine with Bulgarian spirit... ( updated Aug 2022 )

Splurge [ edit ]

Paying more will probably get you a slightly better food than the options above but most of the cost will definitely go towards the overall experience. The priciest places are in the old town, on top of the hill. Expect to pay a bit more say 20-30 лв and above. There are also a few restaurants outside the center.

42.146976 24.748823 11 Smokini , Otets Paisiy 12 ( on the street parallel to the main pedestrian strip, 200 m south of the Dzhumaya mosque ), ☏ +359 999 000 996 . Previously called "Chuchura". Features a mixture between traditional Bulgarian cuisine and international delicacies. The interior is spacious with industrial and vintage decoration. 20-50 лв . ( updated Aug 2022 )

Drink [ edit ]

  • 42.1332 24.708 1 Zanzibar , ul. Peshtersko shose 88 , ☏ +359 88 424 2200 . Club Zanzibar is the ideal place to drink in Plovdiv. It contains a stylish African interior Cocktail Bar which offers the best drinks in the city and at night time offers the largest nightclub in all of Plovdiv. ( updated Mar 2015 )
  • Kapana District . If you want to immerse yourself in the liveliest area in Plovdiv, head to the Kapana creative district. It used to be a neglected area in the centre of Plovdiv, where the buildings were crumbling and the sidewalks were full of parked cars, but has become the cultural heart of the city. ( updated Jun 2019 )

Sleep [ edit ]

  • 42.142968 24.752467 1 The Crib Hostel , Kiril i Metodiy 2 ( two blocks from Dzhumaya Mosque, Main Street ), [email protected] . Check-in: 12:00 , check-out: 11:00 . 2-min walk from the city centre with a fantastic view of the Old Town from the rooftop and every bedroom. Friendly staff is always available. Clean, modern, cheerful place with free Wi-Fi everywhere, a nice common room, and a great top floor and tiled roof to chill on. Open kitchen for use, free lockers, and free washing service available. €9 with breakfast . ( updated Jun 2015 )
  • 42.149203 24.752175 2 Hiker's Hostel . Very helpful and friendly staff. Centrally located and if there is no room they will provide tents in the garden. Will also organize trips to a number of local attractions if you can find a few people to go with you. 22 лв per person per night with free breakfast . ( updated Feb 2019 )
  • 42.148228 24.750067 3 Saborna 25 Guest House , 25 Saborna St , ☏ +359 88 586 8696 . Twelve rooms in the Old Town. Aa hotel and a place for cultural activities and meetings, a tourist information centre, exhibition hall with a stand for selling pieces of art and souvenirs, art cafe with a gallery. The art cafe (24 seats) is used for breakfast and for exhibitions, seminars, literature readings and other cultural events. The rooms are very clean and shiny. Each has its own colour and spirit.  
  • 42.134899 24.741079 4 A&M Hotel , blv. Hristo Botev 46 , ☏ +359 88 2100370 , [email protected] . Hotel, just beside train station Approx. €30 night . ( updated Nov 2023 )
  • 42.141552 24.751373 5 Ramada by Wyndham Plovdiv Trimontium , ul. "Kapitan Raycho Nikolov" 2, 4000 Tsentar , ☏ +359 32 605 000 . Some rooms with jacuzzi. Around 185 лв per night . ( updated Feb 2019 )

Connect [ edit ]

As of Sept 2021, Plovdiv has 5G from A1 and Vivacom, and 4G from Telenor, with coverage all along the main highway to the north. Wifi is widely available in public places.

Stay safe [ edit ]

Generally speaking, Plovdiv is a very safe place. Avoid the ghetto area and you will be very safe. Old town and the main street are generally very busy and safe. Parks during the day are safe to avoid them at night unless you are with a larger company.

Avoid wearing football shirts or scarves of the Plovdiv or Sofia-based football teams, especially on match days.

Beggars have many forms, including people holding documents and having badges from "charity foundations". If such people try to stop you, just say firmly "No" and don't stop.

Overall the city has improved in terms of safety.

If you are using public transport always keep an eye on your personal belongings. Many pickpockets take advantage of overcrowded buses (like bus line 1 for example).

Cope [ edit ]

Consulates [ edit ], go next [ edit ].

  • Take the narrow-gauge train to Bansko , a gorgeous ride to a great doorway to the Pirin , which offer some of Bulgaria's best hiking and skiing.
  • High speed trains will take you to Burgas or Sofia , making them quickly accessible options. Travel by bus to Burgas takes about 5 hr, by not-so-high-speed train about 5½ hr (may delay i.e. up to 6½ hr; about 15 лв for a person).
  • Farther into the Rhodope Mountains you'll find ski resorts and other natural attractions, such as the impressively narrow gorge and caves leading to Trigrad , not far from the mountainous Greek border.
  • The Sofia-Plovdiv- Istanbul Night Train connects Plovdiv to Turkey daily. Tickets must be bought in person at the international office of the train station and cost about €35 for both reservation and one spot in a two bed sleeper. Cheaper options available.

plovdiv tourist guide

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How to Spend a Magical 2 Days in Plovdiv: Itinerary & Travel Tips!

How to Spend a Magical 2 Days in Plovdiv: Itinerary & Travel Tips!

Plovdiv is one of my favorite places to go as a day trip from Sofia, but I also like going and spending a weekend in Plovdiv to soak up the city’s unique and charming atmosphere. There’s something very special about waking up in Plovdiv and knowing you have the whole day to go out and explore!

Here’s my step-by-step perfect way to spend 2 days in Plovdiv, including how to see the best of the surrounding area. In the first half, you’ll find my Plovdiv itinerary, with maps and tips. Afterward, I’ve listed our most important Plovdiv and Bulgaria travel resources and tips so you can make the most out of your two days!

And yes, two days might not feel like enough time to see everything that Plovdiv has to offer. This 2019 European Capital of Culture is compact but surprisingly full of things to do! That’s why I’ve tried to include the best of the city and region, but if you find yourself wanting to do, even more, check out this list of  40 Fantastic Things to Do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s Cultural Heart .

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2 Days in Plovdiv Itinerary

Where to Stay in Plovdiv

In Plovdiv, we love the Stay Hotel!

For this Plovdiv itinerary, it’s nice if your hotel is in a central or easy location adjacent to the majority of the activities. These are the hotels we like in Plovdiv and recommend. I’ve included one for each budget category.

Both the Stay Hotel Plovdiv and the Residence City Garden are near the beginning of the events for day one, while Pijama Hostel is conveniently located for where the night ends.

Budget : When I stay at a hostel, there are a few things that I look for: privacy curtains, personal reading lights, and outlet space for each bed. Bonus points if the hotel lobby is modern and inviting – and if the kitchen is well-stocked and beautiful to cook in to boot, you might as well move in.  Pijama Hostel  has all of this and then some. Perks include board games, coffee and tea makers, and a central Kapana district location!  Check reviews, prices, and availability here.

Mid-range : This is the hotel I chose for my most recent trip to Plovdiv, and I am obsessed with it! The  Stay Hotel Plovdiv  feels like a luxury hotel but at budget prices, and it’s located at what might be the single best spot in the city. The staff is friendly, the views are great, and the beds are comfortable. I’m seriously in love. My favorite part was that our room had a sleek couch that was a great place to relax after a long day of sightseeing and a long night out.  Check reviews, prices, and availability here.

Luxury : The first five-star hotel in Plovdiv, if you’re seeking a spot of luxury in Europe’s 2019 Capital of Culture, you should check out the  Residence City Garden .  The rooms are refined and stylish – we’re talking spacious rooms and high ceilings (some rooms with chandeliers!), antique-style furnishings, and impeccable attention to detail. The bathrooms are beautiful and extremely modern, with lovely bathtubs that you can soak in to rest your feet after a long day of exploring Plovdiv.  Check reviews, prices, and availability here.

Still looking? Check out my full (and not sponsored) review of the  Stay Hotel Plovdiv.

Visit Stefan Stambolov Square (10:40 am)

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Fountain Stephanie

The fountain in the square is lovely. Since you need to be at the next stop around 10:50, try to get to the fountain by 10:40 so you have time to take pictures (if you plan on photographing or Instagramming your trip to Plovdiv, that is).

Stefan Stambolov Square Address: Stefan Stambolov Square, 4000 Center, Plovdiv

Head to the Municipality Building for the Free Plovdiv Tour (10:50)

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Fountain Stephanie

Once you’ve got your pics of the fountain and square (which are even lovelier in person than in our photos), make your way over to the Municipality Building, which is the green building you can see behind the fountain. This is the starting point for the Free Plovdiv Tour.

Hosted by the 365 Association , the Free Plovdiv Tour is held every day at 11 am and at 6 pm from May through September. For this itinerary, it’s important you go to the 11 am tour so that you can enjoy other Plovdiv nightlife activities.

Note: Since most tourists come to Plovdiv during the high season, we are choosing the 11 am timeslot since 6 pm would be too late. If you’ll be visiting Plovdiv in October through April, the tour starts at 2 pm, in which case you can move the afternoon activities to the morning for this itinerary. The tour is held every day, rain or shine, even on holidays, making it one of our favorite things to do in Plovdiv in winter . 

Another option if you’ll be coming during the fall and winter and you prefer to do your walking tour in the morning is to book this walking tour of Plovdiv that starts at 9:30 and goes over most of the same sites. Alternatively, you could do this Plovdiv audio tour on your own.

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Street Art Stephanie Plovdiv Free Tour

On the Free Plovdiv Tour in 2017

The tour is a great overview of the most important sites in the city. It lasts about two hours (though we think it usually goes longer). So have snacks and drinks if you get hungry or thirsty easily.

Here are a few of our favorite stops on the tour (though not all of them!). 

The Plovdiv2019 Sign

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Together Statue at Night Stephanie Valentine

Everyone wants to stop and take a pic in front of the Plovdiv2019 sign (and we’re no exception). Luckily the tour goes right by it! If you don’t get the perfect pic, don’t worry, it’s part of another tour on this itinerary as well.

The Milyo Statue

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Stephanie and Milyo Statue Plovdiv Free Tour

The story behind this statue is one of our favorite pieces of Plovdiv gossip. You’ll learn all about it on the tour, and you’ll have time to grab some pics.

Some of Plovdiv’s Street Art Scene

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Street Art Stephanie Craig

You won’t get to see all of our favorite Plovdiv street art, but you will get to walk by some great pieces!

The Hisar Kapia Gate

One of the most famous points in the city! The houses behind it have been completely repainted since I took this pic in 2017. Now they’re a beautiful blue and orange – they’re even prettier now!

The Old Town (Stari Plovdiv)

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Bulgarian National Revival Style Houses Ethnographic Museum

Since we first started traveling to Plovdiv in 2017, nearly every historic home and building has been restored so that they can show off their heritage during their year as a European Capital of Culture in 2019. Seeing the Bulgarian National Revival Style Houses in the Old Town, especially this beautiful one that now serves as the Ethnographic Museum is an absolute Plovdiv can’t-miss!

Free Plovdiv Tour Tips

Bulgaria - Plovdiv

First, make sure you’re on time. You don’t want the tour to leave without you! Since you don’t need to purchase a ticket or make a reservation, they won’t know you’re on your way!

Second, wear comfortable shoes and don’t carry too much with you. The tour is two to two and a half hours of walking and much of it is on cobblestone streets and up Plovdiv’s hills.

Third, though the tour doesn’t cost any money, make sure to tip your tour guide. Ten leva (about five Euros) is a good tip. I would not tip less than 5 leva (about 2.5 Euros), and you can always tip more.

Fourth, if you need to take a bathroom break or duck out of the tour early, let the tour guide know.

Finally, make sure your camera and cell phone are charged. You’ll probably want to take eleventy billion pictures (if you’re like me, anyway).

Address for the Start of the Free Plovdiv Tour:  pl. “Stefan Stambolov” 1, 4000 Center, Plovdiv

Grab Lunch in the Old Town (2:30 pm)

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Bulgarian National Revival Style Houses

At this point, you’ll have worked up quite an appetite from walking and climbing all over Plovdiv all morning! You can grab a snack at the cafe right outside of the theater (not too exciting but the views are pretty unequaled!).

If you want to stay close by, feel free to duck into any restaurant you see. Restaurants in this part of town tend to be a bit overpriced but the food is solid. Otherwise, if you want something a little more special, walk the 5-10 minutes to Smokini for a real treat. Their lunch menu is well-priced and a delicious pick-me-up!

Smokini Address: 12 Otets Paisiy Street 

Check Out Plovdiv’s Nightlife (9:00 pm)

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - No Sense Bar

If you want to enjoy your time in Plovdiv to the fullest, then you need to get out and enjoy a bit of Plovdiv’s nightlife. 

My top pick for your evening in Plovdiv is to join the  Plovdiv Cultural Pub Crawl .  If you’ve never gone on an organized pub crawl on your travels, the concept might be unfamiliar. A local guide shows you four or five of the most interesting bars in the city, teach you about local alcohol and drinking customs, and shows you how to have a good time in the city.

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Craft Bar Pub Crawl

During the tour, you meet other travelers, so by the end of the night, you’ve made some new friends, learned a ton, and get to skip that awkward feeling of trying to figure out where to go in a new city at night. I

I have been on quite a few, but it was the first time my fiance went on one. He had a blast (especially playing Foozball). 

You will want to book your tour online ahead of time. Unfortunately, they only run on Wednesday, Fridays, and Saturday nights. 

>>Book the Plovdiv Cultural Pub Crawl  online or check tour reviews.<<

If you will be in Plovdiv on a different night or you aren’t the pub crawl type, you can check out our entire Plovdiv nightlife guide with an additional twelve ideas for how to enjoy your evening in Plovdiv!

Plovdiv Cultural Pub Crawl Meeting Point (though double-check with your reservation!): Next to the statue of Milyo, ul. “Knyaz Alexander I” 30, 4000 Center, Plovdiv

Your Plovdiv Itinerary: Day Two

One of the things we love about Plovdiv is that its compactness means that you can see a great deal fo the city in just one day. This leaves day two open to go on a day trip. There are three-day amazing day trip options to choose from. I list them in order of popularity, but they’re all pretty amazing days.

Option 1: Visit Rila Monastery

Bulgaria - Rila - Nice view of the Rila monastery from east Europe

The spiritual heart of Bulgaria, this is probably the most popular day trip in Bulgaria from either Plovdiv or Sofia. (If you’ll also be spending time in Sofia, here’s how to visit Rila Monastery from Sofia ). I’ve been to Rila Monastery four times myself, and each trip was perfect. There simply isn’t a more spiritual place in Bulgaria.

This monastery is located two to three hours outside of Plovdiv. There are two main ways to see the Rila Monastery from Plovdiv:

Rent a Car and Drive

This is my favorite way to visit. Because we’ve been to Rila Monastery so often, we try to also add something new to our trip itinerary each time we go, though the unofficial junk museum in Kocherinovo and the hidden-gem pyramids of Stob are my favorites.

Bulgaria - Rila - Stob Pyramids

We’re both pretty comfortable with driving in the Balkans, so we don’t mind the… quirks, shall we say… of driving in Bulgaria. Drivers here can be a bit aggressive, turn signaling is rare, and road quality varies. We think that the trip from Sofia to Rila Monastery and back is a relatively good starter course for people driving in Bulgaria: the road quality is good and it’s mostly highway or country roads, so once you’ve made it out of Sofia it’s pretty smooth sailing.

Local Tip: Renting a car? We’ve rented cars dozens of times in Bulgaria through various search engines and have settled on Discover Cars as the best car rental search engine – it searches over 500 trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental!  Compare prices for car rental in Bulgaria here.

Go on a Guided Day Tour

For my first trip to Rila Monastery, I went on a guided day trip. This is a great way to see it because you also get the benefit of learning from your tour guide about the monastery’s history and artwork. Plus, you don’t have to worry about driving back at the end of the day when you’re tired or in inclement weather.

Bulgaria - Rila Monastery - Stephanie

This  Rila Monastery Day Trip  includes hotel pick-up and lunch, so all you have to worry about is getting up on time! Though I would personally bring snacks and drinks because lunch is typically served late on these tours.

>>Book the Rila Monastery Day Trip  online or check tour reviews.<<

Tips for Visiting Rila Monastery

Whether you choose to rent a car or go on a tour, here are some things you need to know before your visit to Rila.

First, bring some cash. There’s no fee to enter the monastery, but there’s a small fee to enter the tower and the museum (if you choose to). You also need cash for any Bulgarian souvenirs you buy at the monastery. If you are renting a car and driving, bring enough cash for lunch and additional stops at the Junk Museum or the Stob Pyramids.

Second, there’s no wifi at Rila. If you don’t plan on getting a data plan or picking up a Bulgarian sim card , prepare to be able to navigate on your own (if you’re driving).

Third, you need to dress modestly. Men should avoid shorts and take off their hats. Women should have their elbows and knees covered.

Option Two: Visit Asen’s Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Asen Fortress, Bulgaria - Autumnal scenery of ruins of medieval fortress with fortified church of Virgin Mary (church of the Holy Mother of God) near Asenovgrad, Bulgaria also known as Petrich - Image

Bachkovo Monastery and Asen’s Fortress are a popular combined day trip from Plovdiv. The fortress dates back to the thirteenth century and is located on a picturesque hilltop in the Rhodope mountains. Bachkovo Monastery is the second largest and most important Bulgarian monastery after Rila. 

The benefit of visiting these two sites is they are located much closer to Plovdiv, so the tour will take less than four hours. This is perfect for someone who doesn’t have a full second day to spend in Plovdiv or if you want to spend a little more time in the city itself while still getting out and seeing the area. 

Just like with Rila Monastery, the best two ways to visit are either to rent a car and drive or go on a guided tour.

>>Book the From Plovdiv: Bachkovo Monastery & Asen’s Fortress Tour  online or check tour reviews.<<

Option Three: Hike the Seven Rila Lakes

Bulgaria - Rila Mountains - Rila Lakes

If you’re the outdoorsy type, you might want to spend your second day exploring some of the beauty of the Rila Mountains instead of being cooped up! If so, check out our guide to  How to Do Bulgaria’s Gorgeous Seven Rila Lakes Hike . While I haven’t done them (I am not a hiking kind of gal), Allison has and loved them. I mean, isn’t this photo she took advertisement enough?!

From Plovdiv, you guessed it, you’ll either need to rent a car to get there or go with a tour guide . 

>>Book  The 7 Rila Lakes: Full-Day Guided Hike from Plovdiv online or check tour reviews.<<

5 Things to Pack for Plovdiv

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Bus Selfie stephanie

Taking the bus back from Plovdiv!

We have a  complete Bulgaria packing list , but here are a few things you don’t want to forget!

–  A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle . We love  Lonely Planet Bulgaria & Romania  for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.

–  A water bottle with a filter . While generally, the tap water in big cities in Bulgaria is drinkable, such as in Sofia and Plovdiv, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! We recommend  the GRAYL water bottle  – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.

–  Motion sickness pills . Bulgarian bus rides can be hot and stuffy in the summer and cause motion sickness! If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some  non-drowsy motion sickness pills .

–  Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs.  Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment (and germs!) and bring a mini-rescue pack of  wet wipes  &  hand sanitizer .

–  Travel safety items . We think Bulgaria is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry  money belts , but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same  PacSafe anti-theft backpack . It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

Read more:  Essential Bulgaria Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Bulgaria

More Bulgaria Travel Resources

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Alyosha Monument Hike View Stephanie

If this will be your first time in Bulgaria, we have some resources to help make your first trip here a breeze. Check out our guide on  how to plan your trip to Bulgaria , which goes over everything from visas to ground transportation to budgeting your trip.

Don’t forget to check out our  Bulgaria packing list  which has details of everything you’ll want for your trip.

Make sure to check out our guide to  things to do in Plovdiv ,  Plovdiv Instagram sites , and our  Plovdiv nightlife guide . If you’ll be coming during the winter, we have a special Plovdiv winter activities guide.

If you will also be spending time in Sofia, check out  things to do in Sofia  and  Sofia itinerary  posts to help guide your way through the city we call home. Make sure to check out our guide to  avoiding taxi scams in Sofia  as well.

Can’t decide between the two? Here’s how to choose between Plovdiv or Sofia.  If you’ll be visiting both, we have transportation guides for how to get from Sofia to Plovdiv and Plovdiv to Sofia.

You will also want to check out our overview of  Balkan currency , which describes Bulgarian leva, as well as our complete  guide to tipping in Bulgaria.

We publish new posts almost every day! Bookmark our  Bulgaria  and  Balkans  pages so you don’t miss any new resources that come out between now and your trip!

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance

Finally, make sure you always travel to Bulgaria with a valid  travel insurance  policy. The country is a very safe place to travel, but accidents or theft can easily ruin your trip if you don’t have the travel insurance coverage to recover the losses. Recently my aunt fell on a train in France and needed surgery, but luckily her travel insurance covered the costs in full. Thank goodness!

For travel insurance, I use  World Nomads .   I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here. <<    

Pin this Plovdiv Itinerary for Your Trip to Bulgaria!

2 Days in Plovdiv Itinerary

Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online , appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times , and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.

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plovdiv tourist guide

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plovdiv tourist guide

Plovdiv travel guide

Plovdiv tourism | plovdiv guide, you're going to love plovdiv.

With a population of 340,494, Plovdiv is the largest city in Plovdiv, Bulgaria by the number of inhabitants. It is one of the most popular cities to visit in the country. We recommend you stay at least 2 days in order to fully appreciate everything Plovdiv has to offer.

plovdiv tourist guide

Activities & attractions in Plovdiv

plovdiv tourist guide

Other activities

plovdiv tourist guide

When to visit Plovdiv

Looking for warm weather? Then head to Plovdiv in July, when the average temperature is 73.4 °F, and the highest can go up to 84.2 °F. The coldest month, on the other hand, is January, when it can get as cold as 28.4 °F, with an average temperature of 33.8 °F. You’re likely to see more rain in May, when precipitation is around 2.4″. In contrast, January is usually the driest month of the year in Plovdiv, with an average rainfall of 1.2″.

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How to Get to Plovdiv

When flying to Plovdiv, you’ll arrive at Plovdiv (PDV), which is located 8 miles from the city center. The shortest flight to Plovdiv from the United States departs from New York and takes around 53h 55m.

Another option to get to Plovdiv is to pick up a car rental from Sofia, which is about 82 miles from Plovdiv. You’ll find branches of MEXRENTACAR and SURPRICE CAR RENTAL , among others, in Sofia.

Several bus lines operate bus routes to Plovdiv, including FlixBus, Arda Tur and Union Ivkoni. From Sofia, the bus ride to Plovdiv takes 120 miles and will cost you around $20. From Ljubljana, the ticket costs about $84 for a journey of 1050 miles. The most popular bus station is Plovdiv Bus and Coach Station Sever, located 1.5 miles from downtown Plovdiv. Plovdiv South is also a commonly used station, and is 0.5 miles from the city center.

Airports near Plovdiv

Airlines serving plovdiv, where to stay in plovdiv.

Average rates range from around $55 per night for a double room in a 3-star hotel to $88 and up for a 5-star experience.

Where to stay in popular areas of Plovdiv

Most booked hotels in plovdiv, renting a car in plovdiv.

Renting a car in Plovdiv costs $33 per day, on average, or $65 if you want to rent if for 2 days.

You’re likely to save money by renting your car at the airport: locations in the city are, on average, 21% more expensive than at Plovdiv.

Expect to pay $5.38 per gallon in Plovdiv (average price from the past 30 days). Depending on the size of your rental car, filling up the tank will cost between $64.50 and $86.00. The most frequently booked car type in Plovdiv is Economy (Kia Rio or similar). If you’re looking to save money, though, keep in mind that Mini rental cars (Volkswagen up! or similar) are, on average, 27% cheaper than other rental car types in the city.

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TravelAwaits

Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

Why This Is My Favorite Lesser-Known European City To Visit

plovdiv tourist guide

  • Activities and Interests
  • Destinations
  • History and Culture

If I told you about a European city that’s clad in cobblestones and filled with history, one that is part cozy and part chic, where art galleries compete for sidewalk space with tiny wine bars, you’d be forgiven for thinking I was talking about Paris or maybe Prague. But the dreamy destination in question is Plovdiv!

This mid-size city of about 350,000 people in southern Bulgaria is my secret sweet spot in Europe. Wildly affordable and easy to get around, with the most charming old town I’ve ever seen and a bustling, vibrant city center, Plovdiv is an absolute delight. In 2019, it was a European Capital of Culture and visitors only benefit from the revitalization of artistic programs and improved infrastructure that comes from such an appointment. 

Getting here is easy. On my first visit, I took the bus up from Istanbul (which was clean, comfortable, and came with free snacks, a combination that never fails to win over my heart). On my second visit (which was part of a press trip), I flew into Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital , and then took local transport to Plovdiv. Sofia is well connected to western and eastern Europe by train and, from there, you can easily get to Plovdiv on a regional train or bus. 

Here are some of the attractions and experiences I recommend for anyone lucky enough to visit Plovdiv.

Roman theatre of Philippopolis in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The Roman Amphitheatre Of Philippopolis

Sometimes I wonder if Plovdiv is trying to give Rome a run for its money. After all, Plovdiv boasts seven hills just like the Italian capital does. And while it may not have as many ancient amphitheaters, it certainly has the best. The Roman Amphitheatre of Philippopolis is an incredible structure that dates to the 1st century (likely between 86 and 91 A.D.). It’s one of the world’s best-preserved Roman theaters (being hidden until 1972 when a landslide revealed it didn’t hurt). But the real bragging rights here? It’s still in use! Concerts and plays are frequently staged here, and the venue is also used for awards presentations and even as a venue to record albums. 

Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis.

The Roman Stadium 

While Plovdiv’s Roman amphitheater is high on atmosphere, with gorgeous views from its hilltop position in the old town, the city’s Roman Stadium has an entirely different vibe going on. It’s fresh and hip and in the center of all the action from its position in the city center. Sunk in the middle of a major pedestrian street, parts of this once mighty structure that could accommodate some 30,000 spectators still remain hidden. I think it’s remarkable that you can be busily going about your shopping and sightseeing and there’s this amazing piece of architecture from Hadrian’s 2nd-century reign just hanging out in the middle of everything. I think this is why Plovdiv is such a relaxed, approachable city. Its past is incorporated into everyday life and nothing is untouchable. 

Europe’s Longest Pedestrian Street

Rayko Daskalov Street and Knyaz Aleksandar I Street comprise the “Glavnata,” stretching 1.1 miles long. Together, they are the longest pedestrian street in Europe. The Roman Stadium (above) is situated in the middle of it. Walking up and down Glavnata was a highlight of my last visit to Plovdiv. There was so much awesome people watching! Plus there are pretty parks and spots to sit, great cafes and gelato shops, and plenty of shopping. (Foodie friends will want to know that my favorite shawarma/donair shop was right off Glavnata, tucked beside a flashy burger bar known as Hesburger at Knyaz Alexander I #37).

Interior of Trakart Cultural Center.

Trakart Cultural Center 

Perhaps no place demonstrates how Plovdiv mixes the old and new better than the Trakart Cultural Center . Located by a modern pedestrian underpass and a Roman road (complete with chariot ruts) and tucked in beside ordinary shops, this cultural center is home to gorgeous Roman floor mosaics along with other artifacts. You can even “walk” over the mosaics thanks to a glass floor that hovers just above the remarkable art. 

Hindlian House

The Romans weren’t the only powerhouses in town. Hindlian House was once owned by merchant Stepan Hindlian, and its opulent interior showcase’s his influence in overseas trade. It’s worth a visit just to take in the lusciously decorated ceilings! There are opulent pieces of furniture, art, and textiles dating to the mid-1800s, as well as a pretty courtyard. 

Regional Ethnographic Museum Plovdiv.

Ethnographic Museum

Considering that Plovdiv has made such a splash for being named a European Capital of Culture, a visit to the Ethnographic Museum to learn a bit more about that culture is a good choice. Here you’ll find folk costumes, musical instruments, and tools related to traditional crafts ranging from winemaking to rose distillation. It’s well worth spending an hour or two here (or even more on a rainy day).

Archaeological Museum

On my most recent visit to Plovdiv, I saw no fewer than five active archeological digs, and I suspect I’d have discovered much more had the time allowed. Plovdiv’s Archaeological Museum is a good place to start to learn more about what’s going on with all these digs and to see some 60,000 artifacts, including pottery, jewelry, and religious iconography. 

Philippopolis Art Center

Plovdiv is a city of art — in galleries and shops, churches and museums. Your visit will be greatly enriched if you make a stop at the Philippopolis Art Center early in your trip to pick up a little knowledge of Bulgarian art (assuming you’re like me, that is — I knew nothing before my visit and I’m glad I went!). This is the first private art gallery in Bulgaria, and it specializes in masterpieces of classical Bulgarian Revival art. The building is a work of art in and of itself, located in a restored mansion dating to 1865. 

Pro Tip: You’ll see the name “Philippopolis” a lot, as this was the city’s name for most of its history. “Plovdiv” didn’t gain widespread use in English until World War I.

Plovdiv old town and St. Constantine and Helena Church in Bulgaria.

Church Of St Constantine And Helena 

Believed to be the oldest church in the city, the first structure on this site to honor St Constantine and his mother dates back to 337 A.D. The building you see today dates to 1832 and is famous for its frescos and icons. If you’re accustomed to the ornate churches of western Europe, you’ll be intrigued by this church’s unique style . It’s both very plain (the outside, in particular, is rather rustic) and opulent at the same time. Inside, you’ll find Baroque art and gold gilding. 

Tsar Simon’s Garden

Filled with gardens, gazebos, fountains, and monuments, this pretty public garden in the heart of Plovdiv is just steps away from such bureaucratic stops as the central post office but feels like its own world. Keep an eye out for two of my favorite pieces of sculpture: a plump bear and a pair of young deer. However, for most people, the highlight is the “singing fountain,” a large pool where jets spout water in sync with music and lights.

Tobacco City

This is the part of Plovdiv I’m most interested in checking out on my next visit. This part of the city is in transition, as the gorgeous, ghostly old tobacco warehouses are finding new life as public spaces. During my 2018 visit, when Plovdiv was preparing to celebrate being a European Capital of Culture, some of the old warehouses were being used as temporary artistic venues. There was a time when several of these stately old buildings were threatened, but locals rallied to save them, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for their future.

Kapana district is an area with cocktail bars and a lively nightlife. Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Kapana 

Kapana translates to “The Trap,”  but if you ask me, it also translates to a good time. Kapana is the name of a district well known for its tight streets and fun bars. You’ll also find cute cafes, cool little shops, and great nooks to enjoy local wine. Ask for recommendations at your hotel. Hangouts here are always changing and falling in and out of favor, so it’s best to get a recommendation while on the ground.

Pro Tip: Consider Staying At These Two Remarkable Properties

I have not one but two strong accommodation recommendations for Plovdiv. The first is Villa Antica , a small, comfortable boutique hotel that’s just a few steps away from all the action at Glavnata but remains quiet at night. The spacious rooms are full of personality, and breakfast is served next door in a cafe. But the best thing of all is Villa Antica’s neighbor! The hotel is across the street from the Roman Odeon , an ancient ruin that is currently undergoing restoration.

The other is Hostel Old Plovdiv . This charming property in the center of Plovdiv’s cobblestone-clad old town is really more like a guesthouse than a hostel. I stayed in a huge private room and shared a small bathroom with one other room across the hall. My room featured antique furniture and came complete with a bouquet of dried lavender on my pillow. Swoon!

Image of Vanessa Chiasson

Vanessa Chiasson is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, and blogger from Canada bringing warmth and depth to travel and human interest narratives. In the industry since 2012, Vanessa coaches writers from all backgrounds, areas of focus, and experience levels on developing business strategies that support their artistic endeavors. She chronicles her cozy travel adventures at TurnipseedTravel .

plovdiv tourist guide

Plovdiv travel guide

Plovdiv tourism | plovdiv guide, you're going to love plovdiv.

Perhaps the oldest city in all of Europe, Plovdiv is home to fantastic architecture and a bustling economy.

plovdiv tourist guide

As Bulgaria's second-largest city, Plovdiv is an important cultural hub. The region has many sites of archaeological interest, too (as well as a fantastic Archaeology Museum), thanks to its ancient history.

From the Plovdiv International Fair to weekly markets, there is always something going on in this city.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Plovdiv

1. rich history.

From Alexander the Great to the Enlightenment, Plovdiv has played a major role in numerous empires and revolutions.

2. Fantastic Architecture

As a result of being part of many empires, right up to the end of the 20th century, Plovdiv has amazing architecture.

3. The Hills

The city is surrounded by hills, which make for great public spaces from which to enjoy sunset.

4. Bulgarian Rose Products

The local craftspeople make all sorts of items out of roses - from cosmetics to perfumes.

5. Affordable Food Options

Food stands can cost as little as ‎лв1, while even mid-range restaurants charge ‎лв10 - ‎лв15 for salad, main courses, dessert, and drinks.

What to do in Plovdiv

1. rock out in roman surroundings.

Few cultural venues are as charming and dramatic as Plovdiv's ancient theater. Located pretty much in the center of the modern city (Philippopolis in ancient times), the 28-row arena was used for plays, hunting exhibitions, and gladiatorial contests. The blood sports may have gone, but these days the theater is very much alive, hosting plays, music and spellbinding opera performances. It's also a hub for the city's Folklore Festival and the Sounds of the Ages rock festival. If you get the chance, it's an amazing place to watch a show.

2. Millennia Of Magic To Discover

Plovdiv's Old Town has UNESCO protected status, and has the official designation of an "Architectural and Historical Reserve." More importantly, three thousand years of continuous habitation have left a fascinating neighborhood for visitors to explore. Built on three hills (so bring sturdy shoes!), the Old Town is home to the Ancient Theater, the Roman Stadium, as well as numerous examples of Bulgarian Revival architecture, with its colorful houses and unique designs.

3. A Magnificent Mansion And Cultural Center

If you want a vivid window into 19th century Bulgarian culture, there's no better place to head than the Balabanov House. With its rich red exterior, the house is instantly recognizable, and has an authentic centuries-old appearance. However, don't be fooled. The house was rebuilt in the 70s as a cultural museum. These days, its Bulgarian art displays, ceiling carvings, and antique exhibitions are a delight, as are its regular schedules of chamber music concerts, which take place in spring and the fall.

4. A Revival Masterpiece And Historical Treasure

Nothing gives visitors a better idea of how diverse Bulgarian Revival era architecture was than by following up a trip to the Balabanov House with a few hours at the Ethnographical Museum. The museum is housed in a remarkable blue 19th century building, whose curves and golden decorations look something like the prow of a galleon. After being wowed by the exterior, the inside is just as astonishing, with period floral tiles and a wealth of traditional fabrics and costumes to see. After that, exhibitions about everyday life in Bulgaria are the frosting on an amazing cake.

5. Light Shows And Lush Greenery In The City Center

Quite possibly Bulgaria's most attractive urban park, the Tsar Simeon Garden was laid out in the 1890s, and is a blissful place to explore on a sunny day. From the restored statue of the Greek goddess Demeter, to the Viennese Pavilion, the park is full of photo opportunities and places to picnic. But it really comes into its own at night. If you're there at 21:30, reserve a spot beside the Lake of the Singing Fountains, which becomes the setting for a spectacular music and light show.

Activities & attractions in Plovdiv

plovdiv tourist guide

Where to Eat in Plovdiv

Cheap street food can be found everywhere. Top-rated Bulgarian establishments in town include Megdana and Hebros. The cost of an inexpensive meal is лв10.

When to visit Plovdiv

Plovdiv has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and snowy winters. Spring and fall are the most pleasant times to visit.

weatherbase

How to Get to Plovdiv

Plovdiv Airport (PDV) services flights to London, Frankfurt, and Moscow. There isn't a public transit option, but the taxi fare should be from ‎лв10 to ‎лв15.

Both national and international trains frequent Plovdiv. The ride to Sofia takes about 2.5 hours with express trains and four hours with standard ones. Average prices are about ‎лв6.

Plovdiv sits just off the E80/A1, which connects to Sofia and the border with Greece and Turkey. Sofia can be reached in about 80 minutes from the city.

Buses regularly link to Plovdiv from all over Bulgaria, and some connect all the way to Istanbul. It takes about seven hours from Istanbul and costs about ‎лв20.

Airports near Plovdiv

Airlines serving plovdiv, where to stay in plovdiv.

Old Town - there are no cars and plenty of art in this 24/7 cultural hub, which has fantastic architecture and many shops and cafes.

Popular Neighborhoods in Plovdiv

Glavnata - Plovdiv's main street has pleasant shops, galleries, and restaurants, and is a great place to walk around.

Karshiaka - a peaceful area with a pleasant riverside boulevard popular with expats and foreigners.

Where to stay in popular areas of Plovdiv

Most booked hotels in plovdiv, how to get around plovdiv, public transportation.

Buses cover most of the city with an efficient service that costs лв1 for a one-way ride.

Taxis can be found easily but many try to scam tourists. The charge per mile is about лв1.5. It is recommended to call a cab and wait for it rather than hail a taxi and try to negotiate a price.

Driving is easy in Plovdiv and car rental companies abound. The cost of an economy car is about лв10 a day.

The Cost of Living in Plovdiv

Shopping streets.

There are many shopping centers in Plovdiv such as Mall Plovdiv and the Grand Trade Center. A summer dress will cost about лв40 in a department store in town.

Groceries and Other

Groceries are easy to find in Plovdiv; a Lidl is not far from downtown. A loaf of bread costs under лв1, while a dozen eggs costs лв2.5.

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The Ancient Plovdiv

"And, by Jupiter! one of the greatest and noblest [cities] in the whole country!  ...  Words of Hermes,  The Runaway Slaves , Lucian, 165-166 AD

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COMMENTS

  1. Plovdiv travel

    Plovdiv. With an easy grace, Plovdiv mingles invigorating nightlife among millennia-old ruins. Like Rome, Plovdiv straddles seven hills; but as Europe's oldest continuously inhabited city, it's far more ancient. It is best loved for its romantic old town, packed with colourful and creaky 19th-century mansions that are now house-museums ...

  2. Plovdiv Travel Guide (Updated 2024)

    Plovdiv Travel Costs. Hostel prices - Most hostel dorms in Plovdiv cost around 20 BGN for a bed in a 5-8-bed dorm. Private hostel rooms generally cost 53-65 BGN per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard and most hostels also include free breakfast. Budget hotel prices - Budget two-star hotels cost 55-75 BGN per night.

  3. A local's guide to Plovdiv, Bulgaria: 10 top tips

    The newly renovated Stay Hotel (doubles from £45 B&B) is in the city centre, just off Central Square. Hotel Evmolpia. Best time to visit Spring and autumn are particularly lovely in Plovdiv. The ...

  4. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Plovdiv

    99. The oldest church in the city. This is the oldest church in the city. It stands on the site of the massacre of 40 Christians of Plovdiv, committed in 304 under the Emperor Diocletian. Of course, now we see a modern church built in 1832. The most remarkable part of it is the bell tower, consisting of five tiers.

  5. 15 Best Things to Do in Plovdiv (Bulgaria)

    Megdana in Plovdiv is one of the best for this. Dinner hear means big cuts of chargrilled meat, clay pot stews, mushrooms on skewers, halloumi cheese, yoghurt and fresh shopska salad, made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers. 15. Mavrud Wine and Rakia. Rakia.

  6. What To Do in Plovdiv (My Top List + Map)

    At the end of this travel guide for one day in Plovdiv, you'll find a map (with all attractions and restaurants' websites). My favourite place to stay in Plovdiv is The Stay Hotel Central Square. Fantastic location, right on the main pedestrian street, a short walk from all tourist attractions. Modern rooms with all necessary equipment.

  7. What To Do in Plovdiv: A 1 or 2 Day Itinerary

    The ultimate guide for what to do in Plovdiv including the best attractions to visit, restaurants to try and where to stay. ... Much of what Plovdiv has to offer by means of tourist attractions happen to be outside, including the ancient stadium and amphitheatre, the Kapana neighbourhood, Nebet Tepe, and the enchanting Old Town. ...

  8. A Guide To 29 Epic Things To Do In Plovdiv, Bulgaria

    From exploring Plovdiv Old Town to visiting Ancient Roman ruins and history museums, these are the best things to do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The 2019 European Capital of Culture and Bulgaria's second-largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv, is one of the country's top tourist destinations and the eastern Balkans.. There are many things to do in Plovdiv, primarily thanks to its incredibly long ...

  9. How to spend a perfect weekend in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

    The ancient town of Plovdiv has a quality food and drink scene, and many sites to explore. Here's how to spend two great days in Bulgaria's second city. ... Until recently Plovdiv was almost unknown outside of Bulgaria, but received a tourism boost following its stint as European Capital of Culture in 2019. It's taken over 6000 years, but ...

  10. 40 Fantastic Things to Do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria's Cultural Heart

    Prefer to see the sights of Plovdiv with an experienced guide? This two-hour walking tour of Plovdiv may be a good choice. Marvel at the last remaining mosque in Plovdiv, Dzhumaya Mosque ... the ancient city of Philippopolis in Thrace that really gets the party started when it comes to historic tourism in Plovdiv. Most tourist will make sure to ...

  11. Hand-Picked City Guide: 27 Awesome Things to Do in Plovdiv

    The ruins were accidentally discovered during construction work in 1988. This is one of Plovdiv's most distinctive landmarks. You can see remaining ancient mosaics and architecture, as well as learn about the history of the place through a short film in English. Entry fee: 2 leva. With Plovdiv City Card: free.

  12. Plovdiv: A Fascinating Journey through Bulgaria's Cultural Gem

    Plovdiv City Guide - Travel tips, tourism and places to visit in Plovdiv. Sights. Food. Experiences. Around. Plovdiv is Bulgaria's second-largest city, lying on both sides of the Maritsa River and about two hours from the capital Sofia. The city will take your breath away. It is so lovely and intriguing that you will want to return.

  13. Must-see attractions Plovdiv, Bulgarian Thrace

    Apteka. Plovdiv. This museum of pharmacy is set in an 1872 mansion. Sometimes has erratic opening hours. Discover the best attractions in Plovdiv including Roman Amphitheatre, Balabanov House, and Ethnographical Museum.

  14. What to do in Plovdiv

    Small but absolutely perfectly formed, Plovdiv is a welcoming and tremendously enjoyable place to visit. The old town is lovely — packed with beautiful churches with richly painted, cool, incense-scented interiors to provide a welcome respite from the summer heat. The undeniable draw here, though, is the Roman amphitheatre.

  15. 11 BEST Things to Do in Plovdiv in 2024

    11 Best Things to Do in Plovdiv. 1. Admire the Beauty of the Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis. One of the most popular tourist attractions you should check out first is the Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis, a well-preserved ancient amphitheater located in the heart of Plovdiv's Old Town, built in the 1st century AD during the Roman Empire's ...

  16. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Plovdiv (Updated 2024)

    11. Philippopolis Art Gallery And Museum. 74. Speciality Museums. The Museum at the Art Center Philippopolis hosts a collection that traces individual authors' styles, trends and achievements of Bulgarian art from end of the 19th century to present day. The Museum art pieces witness the history of the Bulgarian people after the Liberation ...

  17. Plovdiv

    Plovdiv. Plovdiv ( Bulgarian: Пловдив) is the second-largest city in Bulgaria, and one of the two oldest cities in Europe. It sits on the large plain between the Rhodope Mountains on the south and the Balkan Range (Stara Planina - "Old Mountain") that runs through the centre of Bulgaria to the north.

  18. How to Spend a Magical 2 Days in Plovdiv: Itinerary & Travel Tips!

    Here's my step-by-step perfect way to spend 2 days in Plovdiv, including how to see the best of the surrounding area. In the first half, you'll find my Plovdiv itinerary, with maps and tips. Afterward, I've listed our most important Plovdiv and Bulgaria travel resources and tips so you can make the most out of your two days! And yes, two ...

  19. Plovdiv Travel Guide

    Top 5 Reasons to Visit Plovdiv. 1. Rich History. From Alexander the Great to the Enlightenment, Plovdiv has played a major role in numerous empires and revolutions. 2. Fantastic Architecture. As a result of being part of many empires, right up to the end of the 20th century, Plovdiv has amazing architecture. 3.

  20. Welcome to visitplovdiv.com

    News. Plovdiv hosts the 9th Annual Meeting of Tourism Business and Local Government. Plovdiv with the prize of "Fastest growing destination for cultural tourism". Plovdiv already has the best tourist map of a destination in Bulgaria. The Municipality of Plovdiv participates in FITUR 2024 in Madrid.

  21. Why Plovdiv Is My Favorite Lesser-Known European City To Visit

    This is the first private art gallery in Bulgaria, and it specializes in masterpieces of classical Bulgarian Revival art. The building is a work of art in and of itself, located in a restored mansion dating to 1865. Pro Tip: You'll see the name "Philippopolis" a lot, as this was the city's name for most of its history.

  22. Plovdiv Travel Guide

    Top 5 Reasons to Visit Plovdiv. 1. Rich History. From Alexander the Great to the Enlightenment, Plovdiv has played a major role in numerous empires and revolutions. 2. Fantastic Architecture. As a result of being part of many empires, right up to the end of the 20th century, Plovdiv has amazing architecture. 3.

  23. Welcome to visitplovdiv.com

    News. Plovdiv with the prize of "Fastest growing destination for cultural tourism". Plovdiv already has the best tourist map of a destination in Bulgaria. The Municipality of Plovdiv participates in FITUR 2024 in Madrid. Plovdiv hosts the 9th Annual Meeting of Tourism Business and Local Government.