Tourist attractions Plovdiv
Built across seven hills, Plovdiv is one of Europe’s oldest continually inhabited cities. An ancient city that might not be on your travel radar, a trip to Plovdiv is sure to surprise you with its incredible architecture and fascinating history.
Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after the capital, Sofia, and sits on the Maritsa River. Voted the European capital of culture in 2019, Plovdiv is home to an intoxicating mix of Roman, Persian and Ottoman-era influences plus a lively, youthful atmosphere.
If you travel to Plovdiv you’ll soon realise that a city this ancient has many secrets to reveal. Whether you’re here for the vibrant cafe culture of the trendy Kapana neighbourhood, or for the enchanting Roman Ruins of the old town, Plovdiv is sure to keep you entertained for days on end. The city also has a flourishing restaurant scene that sees contemporary takes on centuries-old Bulgarian dishes. A foodie heaven thanks to the diverse influences of Balkan cuisine.
Known as Philippopolis in antiquity, the Romans transformed Plovdiv into an important administrative centre. The Ottomans and, later, the Soviet Union, all left their mark on this unique city, and a stroll through Plovdiv will reveal the stories of its complex history. Pass by Roman ruins and wander down centuries-old cobblestone streets, flanked by Ottoman-era mosques and elegant Bulgarian-revival mansions. A melting-pot in every sense of the word!
Plovdiv is easily reached from Sofia, just a 2.5-hour drive away, and although it might be Bulgaria’s second city, it’s hot on the heels of the capital! If you visit Plovdiv, be sure to climb one of the city’s seven hills at sunset for an unforgettable view of the city.
Things to see in Plovdiv
At the heart of Plovdiv is the Ancient Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to the city’s most captivating landmarks. One of the most important things to see in Plovdiv, this area is key to understanding the city’s complex history. This historical reserve stretches across three hills and is home to the iconic Roman Stadium, one of the best-preserved Roman stadiums in the world. Still in use today, this Roman amphitheatre dates back to the 2nd-century and remained undiscovered until a landslide revealed the ruins in 1972. The stadium once held up to 7000 spectators and today, visitors can admire its immense Roman columns and marble seats. Other sights within the historical reserve include the Roman Odean and Forum as well as the 3rd-century Eirene Residence, home to lavish original mosaic floors.
Nearby, you can journey even further back in time at Nebet Tepe, one of the seven hills and the first settlement in Plovdiv, originally inhabited by Thracians up to 4000 years ago! On top of the hill is an archaeological site, one of the most popular things to see in Plovdiv. Remains of ancient Plovdiv, such as city walls and towers, can be viewed here.
Back in the more modern part of the city, be sure to visit the Regional Ethnographic Museum if you travel to Plovdiv. Housed within a beautiful Bulgarian-revival mansion from the 19th-century, this fascinating museum reveals many insights into traditional Bulgarian culture through a series of exhibitions.
Finally, a trip to Plovdiv would be incomplete without spending some time in the neighbourhood of Kapana, the trendiest place in the city. With a creative atmosphere and home to a plethora of independent shops and restaurants, Kapana is a pedestrianised area and the best place to get a feel for the up-and-coming side of Plovdiv. Explore its galleries and people watch from a cafe terrace as you enjoy the decorative street art and colourful buildings in Kapana, the most enchanting neighbourhood to visit in Plovdiv.
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