Plovdiv is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in Europe, with a history traced back to 6000 BC. The city has changed hands and names many times over the millennia and was once called Philippoupolis after Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. The occupiers of Plovdiv over years have all left their mark. There are several Roman ruins that can be seen in or near the city centre area. During the long occupation by the Ottoman Empire, a large mosque, still present, was built in the centre of the city. During Communist times, a statue of the unnamed Russian soldier was erected on one of the three main hills which overlooks the city. The location of Plovdiv is ideally located on the inland route from the Balkans towards Istanbul and is well worth stopping at if you traversing this route.
One of the most beautiful hostels in all of the Balkans. Set inside a beautiful old house built in 1868, staying in Hostel Old Plovdiv will feel like you have gone back in time. The furniture and beds are authentic furniture from that period that have been renovated for use in the hostel. They even have an old roman fortress wall running through their dining room. The common spaces inside are extremely cosy and they also have a lovely garden outside that makes a great spot to eat, drink and chat.
Sights and Highlights
A well preserved Roman amphitheatre from the reign of Emperor Trajan (98–117 AD). It was re-discovered in the 1970’s after being partly uncovered during a landslide and then painstakingly excavated and restored. It seats about 6,000 people and is used as a venue for live performances today. It also contains a bunch of stone inscriptions in Byzantine-Greek from the times the Byzantine Empire in Plovdiv.
Sunset on a Hill
During Roman times Plovdiv was referred to as Trimontium or Town of Three Hills. The hills around Plovdiv make great sunset viewpoints. Walk all the way to the top in the late afternoon, pick something to drink and stay there for the sunset. Go back down to the town to enjoy the nightlife once it’s dark. On one of the hills there is a train that goes up into the hill and back. It is on the Mladeshki hill.
The old town of is a lovely place to explore and the best way to start this is with a walking tour. The free walking tour departs at 11am and 6pm in peak season and at 2pm in the off season. The tour leaves from front of the Municipality building on Plovdiv’s main street.
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.
Plovdiv is a small city and everything is easily navigable on foot. The main downtown area is blocked to traffic and is pedestrian only.
Getting In and Out
Plovdiv is connected to surrounding cities by both bus and train. There are over a dozen trains each day connecting Plovdiv and Sofia. A good resource for planning a train journey to or from Sofia or anywhere else in Bulgaria is bdz.bg/en.
At the moment there is no train that goes all the way to Istanbul, so a bus makes sense if you are heading towards Turkey. The biggest bus company in Bulgaria is Matpu. Their website is entirely in Bulgarian but with a decent translate plugin in your web browser it is more than usable. It can be found at www.matpu.com.