Plovdiv Guide

Plovdiv lies at the foot of the Rodopi mountains about 150 km southeast of Sofia and with a population of over 380,000 it is Bulgaria's second largest city. It can be easily reached in a couple hours from Sofia by coach or train. Built along the banks of the Maritza river the town extends over seven hills, locally known as "tepeta".

One of Europe's oldest cities, Plovdiv is rich in history. Originally a Thracian settlement it was an important centre in antiquity under the Greeks and Romans. In the middle ages it maintained its regional importance under Ottoman rule and later in the Bulgarian Empire. A testament to Plovdiv's importance in antiquity is the Roman Amphitheatre, one of Bulgaria's most famous Roman monuments, and the remains of a Roman Stadium both of which are open to the public. Many cultural events are still held in the Roman Amphitheatre, notably the Verdi Festival and the international folklore festival.

At the heart of the city is "Old Plovdiv" the original renaissance town which has been carefully preserved as an open air museum with over 150 architectural monuments. Most of the buildings date back to the National Revival Period of the 19th century with beautiful facades looking onto steep, narrow cobbled streets. Old Plovdiv is truly picturesque with many of the more important buildings, predominantly Baroque in style now converted into museums, galleries and traditional taverne.

Plovdiv is a university town, home to the Paisiy Hilendarski University. The large student population adds a youthful air to the towns historical backdrop and insures that there is no lack of somewhere to spend a lively evening out. Bars and open air cafes are widespread but the Kapana district, just northwest of the old town, has a particularly lively cafe scene and is popular with students.

The local artist community is very active and there are several art galleries in Plovdiv catering for all artistic tastes from contemporary to traditional Bulgarian art.

Plovdiv is on the main route for travel to Turkey and Greece consequently there are plenty of places to stay with accommodation ranging from inexpensive guest houses to 5 star hotels.

As the budget airlines still don't fly to the local airport the town is fortunately not yet suffering the affects of mass tourism but it is on the coach and train routes from Sofia to Bourgas and the Black Sea resorts, so if you're traveling overland to the coast then Plovdiv is a very worthwhile stopover.

Plovdiv at a glance
  • Bulgaria's 2nd largest city
  • University town and major cultura centre
  • Gateway to the south and the Rodopi mountains
  • Plovdiv old town, an open air museum
  • Built on seven hills, across the Maritza river
  • More resort guides
Plovdiv hotels

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