Colorful, Instagrammable buildings, Roman historical sites, hipster cafès and an overnight trip to a wine estate: check out the best things to do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Did you know that Plovdiv is the 2019 European Capital of Culture? It’s easy to understand why when you visit this historical city, which is without a doubt the cultural capital of Bulgaria.
This means that in 2019 Plovdiv will host daily musical, theatrical and artistic events, and it’s one more reason to visit asap.
But even if you can’t make it in 2019, there are tons of things to do in Plovdiv in 2 days or a long weekend. Together with Enjoy Plovdiv, I’ve created the perfect itinerary for your first time in the city visiting the best Plovdiv attractions. Check out this list of the best 7 places to visit in Plovdiv.
1| EXPLORE THE CITY CENTRE AND STROLL DOWN PLOVDIV’S MAIN STREET
Plovdiv’s main street is called Knyaz Alexander Battenberg I. This street has a great history dating back to centuries ago and it’s where locals meet and go for a walk.
If you are a foodie, then this street offers many options for you. There are have restaurants, ice-cream houses and many more fast food stalls here. You can have Italian cuisine or fine Belgium chocolate, all here on this street. There are also bars and clubs here if you’re planning to enjoy the nightlife, as well as all major fashion brands shops and a number of independent boutique shops.
2| VISIT PLOVDIV’S HISTORICAL SITES
Plovdiv, Bulgaria and its well-known hills are more than 8,000 years old. Thracians ruled here for some thousand years but after them, Romans took over and changed the complete architecture and look of Plovdiv. There are many locations that tell the history of Plovdiv, and you shouldn’t miss them:
This was built during the reign of Emperor Trajan, and was later uncovered during a freak landslide in 1972. When you visit this place, you can feel relive the scene a matador fighting a bull in the arena to show his abilities to the king and his fellow citizens.
It’s a place with great historical presence which hosts numerous events in the summer and fall. Try and grab a ticket for one of them!
This is another example of how fond Romans were of hosting and playing games that demanded bloodshed.
It is estimated that the Roman Stadium was 240 m long and 50 m wide, and it could accommodate 30000 spectators at once. The stadium is partially restored, and visitors can walk around it. There’s also a scale model of the stadium outside, that makes you understand how huge this place was!
Church of the Holy Mother of God
This orthodox church is one of the most important ones in the city of Plovdiv. Built in the 9th century, the church features beautiful, colorful interiors and it’s definitely worth a quick visit even if you are not religious.
3| EXPLORE THE HIPSTER CAFES IN THE KAPANA NEIGHBORHOOD
Kapana is my favorite neighborhood in Plovdiv, and I can see it becoming yours too. It has lively young vibes, quirky restaurants, and hipster cafes.
My favorite one is Central Perk (ul. “Hristo Dyukmedzhiev” 16), a cafe inspired by the cafe by the same name featured on Friends, the TV show. The inside is a mix of vintage furniture, and the coffee is really good.
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4| VISIT THE HISTORIC OLD TOWN AND BALABANOV HOUSE
One of the best things to do in Plovdiv is getting lost in the cobblestone streets of its historical old town. This is where you’ll find delightfully restored traditional houses. These houses feature a very particular architecture and come in a whole range of pastel colors. If you’re an Instagrammer, this is where you want to head to.
But the best part is, for very little cost you can visit the interiors of these houses that have been transformed into museums. Definitely try and visit the Balabanov House (ul. Konstantin Stoilov 57).
5| GO ON A FOOD TOUR IN PLOVDIV
If you are a foodie, then we have good news for you. Bulgarian cuisine is very rich in flavor, and Plovdiv boasts a great selection of both traditional and modern restaurants. You can either go on a DIY food tour of the city, or you can join a food tour.
Some of the best restaurants in Plovdiv city center are Hemingway [a trendy restaurant that mixes traditional cuisine with modern touches], Djumia Turkish Coffee [I love Turkish delicacies] and Megdana [a traditional Bulgarian restaurant].
Some of the Bulgarian traditional dishes you can find in Plovdiv (and need to try) are:
Patatnik- If you look at it, it will look like a pancake made of potatoes, cheese and butter, but it is one of the most famous traditional dishes and it’s oh so good!
Kapama- This dish is a mixture of two different types of meats and fermented cabbage. These are baked in a clay pot together in order to get this delicious dish.
Tarator– Bulgaria is famous for its dish that it’s somehow a ‘yoghurt soup’- This dish is prepared by mixing yoghurt with water and very thin slices of cucumbers and spices.
6| ENJOY THE VIEWS AT NEBET TEPE HILL
For the best panoramic views of Plovdiv, from the historic old town walk up to the Nebet Tepe Hill – don’t worry, it’s not that hard of a walk. It’s the best place to understand the history of the whole city while having a look at your surroundings.
7| GO ON AN OVERNIGHT TRIP TO MIDALIDARE ESTATE
We were based in the Bulgarian town of Bansko – a mountain town famous for being a popular ski resort in the winter – for a month, and decided to visit Plovdiv for a long weekend in occasion of my 29th birthday.
So when for part of the weekend we were sent on a luxury overnight trip to Midalidare Estate by Enjoy Plovdiv, I couldn’t be happier. I mean, who doesn’t like vineyards and SPAs?
Midalidare Estate is located 80 kms from Plovdiv, in Mogilovo. Renting a car gives you more freedom, but transportation to and from the estate is included in the package if you book with the agency.
I must say, I loved everything about this getaway. The hotel facilities (the rooms feel very new and boutique-y), the attentive service, the outdoor areas.
Right after check in, we headed to the SPA for a relaxing afternoon. The spa features a big indoor pool with great views of the hills,a jacuzzi, and water massage chairs. The sauna area has 5 different types pf saunas and steam baths to choose from, but why choosing? Try them all one after the other!
Dinner at the hotel restaurant is a must. Prices are not cheap by Bulgarian standards, but they are justified by the quality of the plates. Mmmm – everything we tried, from starters to dessert, was delicious, as well as the bottle of Midalidare Cabernet Sauvignon & Petit Verdot we paired the dinner with.
The next morning, we joined a very interesting tour of the winery. Our tour guide showed us all the process of making the wine step by step, from selecting the grapes to the fermentation process. The tour was followed by a tasting of 8 (!!) kinds of white, rosè, and red wines from the Midalidare selection.
Overall, I couldn’t recommend more this little getaway to Midalidare Hotel & Spa to anybody heading to Plovdiv. It’s not something I was expecting to find in Bulgaria, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I hope this little guide to the best things to do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria will help you make the most of your trip here. Between wandering around the city center, having coffee in some hipster cafè, tasting some delicious traditional dishes, you’ll have an amazing time in Plovdiv.
Disclaimer: I was hosted on this trip by Enjoy Plovdiv. No matter who footed the bill, all opinions are exclusively my own.