Plovdiv Guide - Authentic Experiences
Discover The Best Things To Do, See & Explore in Plovdiv
What is the best way to explore Plovdiv?
Indisputably, the best way to explore Plovdiv is by foot. Our recommendation is that you dedicate at least 3 hours for explorations of the main pedestrian street, Kapana Creative District and the Old Town, and that you avoid the early afternoon hours (14:00-16:00) in the summer as the sun gets pretty strong then.
Plan your trip to be a mix of sightseeing and local food and drinks tastings to get the full Plovdiv experience.
We like to begin our Plovdiv Tours at the Tsar Simeon’s Garden, which not only is an important historical park, but also is the starting point of the pedestrian street (the longest one in Europe 1.8 km (1.2 miles).
From Tsar Simeon's Garden a leisurely stroll takes you past the Roman Forum, the Town Hall square and the fountain with pelicans.
Along the pedestrian street beautiful promenade don’t forget to look up to fully appreciate the unique architectural style of the early 20s buildings and see some interesting statues located on top. Many of the buildings are historical and cultural monuments.
Some of the top sightseeing attractions on the pedestrian street are:
Tsar Simeon’s Garden
The Roman Forum
The historical buildings along the pedestrian street (look for the statue of the “man who carries the world on his shoulders”)
The Roman stadium (locate its south end close to Milio’s statue, have a pick inside the basement of Excelsior and see if you can spot the Roman stadium spectator seats in it, explore the excavated northern part of the stadium, and try to guess what happened to the Roman aqueduct and what could be its relation to the nearby Dzhumaya mosque).
From Dzhumaya square you have few options: continue to the Old Town, explore the “lower end” of the pedestrian street, stop for some street food in front of Hali shopping centre, or go to Kapana (the Trap).
At this point on our Guided Walking Tour of Plovdiv we include a stop for refreshments and small bites and on our Food and Culture Tour of Plovdiv we have a really tasty Bulgarian lunch and local drinks stops as part of the tour itinerary, making sure you are getting the best possible experience of Plovdiv.
Dedicate at least one and half hour to the Old Town of Plovdiv, an architectural and historical reserve spread over three of Plovdiv hills . Visit the Roman Theatre, light a candle in the oldest Christian temple in Plovdiv St. St. Constantine and Helena, pass under the arch of Hisar Kapia, taste rose liqueur at the House of Distillation, explore the street of crafts, the Eastern Gate, the Ethnographic Museum and the birthplace of Plovdiv- Nebet Tepe (tepe is a Turkish word for hill). And if it happens that you are at Nebet Tepe during the early evening hours, join the locals who come to the hill to enjoy the stunning sunset views from there.
Kapana (the Trap) makes a wonderful conclusion to a tour of Plovdiv center and Old Town. With its many art and craft stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars, the Trap is a place you enjoy getting lost in.
Plovdiv outside the city centre
There is so much more to do and see in Plovdiv beyond the city centre, Kapana and the Old Town.
Chetvartak Pazar (Thursday's Market) located only 5 minutes by foot from the "small pedestrian" street is the oldest farmers market in Plovdiv and certainly a place that will feast your eyes and quench your thirst for fresh seasonal produce.
Here you can buy directly from the producers not only the freshest fruits and vegetables, in any quantities you like, but also honey, bee pollens and variety of bee products, nuts, herbs, and from a nearby shops hand made spelt breads, cheeses, authentic Bulgarian yogurt and traditional cured meats.
Local markets are undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience foreign culture and we highly recommend including Thursday's Market as part of your tour of Plovdiv. We know however that language might be a barrier to communication, as many farmers don't speak English, so we've created a special summer months only tour of the Market that will unlock a whole new world of abundance for you.
Next, visit the hills!
Plovdiv is historically build on 7 hills (like Rome and Lisbon) and your visit could not be considered complete without exploring at least one of the hills. Our favorite is Bunardzhik Tepe also known as Liberators Hill which we often visit during sunset hours to enjoy a very local tradition: sunset drinks on top of a hill.
Join us for a Hills Walk or go on your own; Plovdiv hills are safe to explore just remember to bring Kameitsa (the original Plovdiv lager) to keep the tradition alive :)
Then there is the Rowing Canal...
If you, like us, love walking then add the Rowing Canal to your list of things to do in Plovdiv! The nearly 5 km (almost 3 miles) long rowing canal is the largest of this kind facility in the Balkans and a regular hosting venue to international rowing events.
But more than anything the Rowing Canal or Grebnata, as Plovdivians call it, is a favourite place for a walk, tsatsa (small fried fish) and beer. Located in Smirnenski district, the Rowing Canal is part of a large sports complex and lies alongside the banks of Maritsa river.
Go an hour before sunset for yet another amazing sunset experience in Plovdiv. Just one important note: make sure you have mosquito repellent handy as the mosquitoes here tend to be extra hungry...