Underrated Escapes: 9 Reasons to Visit Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Underrated Escapes: 9 Reasons to Visit Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Stepping into Plovdiv is to step back in time – ancient cobbled streets, boho cafes, and galleries galore – but don’t let the old charm fool you; this city is built upon layers of history and boasts a dynamic night life scene, an active artist community, a rich culture, and plenty of delicious and unique food.  One of the oldest cities in Europe, this small, pedestrian friendly city is great for walking to soak up the Greek and Roman historical sites.  Mild winters and hot summers mean that Plovdiv can be on your itinerary any time of year.  Many travelers often see Plovdiv as merely a convenient stopover point on their European trips or sadly bypass this beautiful city in favor of the larger and more bustling Sofia, but this gem of a city is worth its own visit with plenty to see and do.  Often underrated, here is why you should check out this cultural hotspot:

City Overview

The city of Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria with a population of over 300 thousand people.  Found on the banks of the Maritsa River on the large plain between the Rhodope Mountains and the Balkan Range, on a clear day you can see both mountain ranges from the city center.  Plovdiv’s history goes back over 6000 years – once a Thracian city before becoming Greek then Roman.  In the middle ages, this city went back and forth between the Byzantine and Bulgarian Empires, and then fell under Ottoman rule.  Plovdiv was liberated by Russia in 1878, became part of Eastern Rumelia, but then became part of Bulgaria.  Although Plovdiv never gets very cold, the best time to visit is spring through fall to give you the most time outdoors to wander this ancient city’s streets.  In Bulgaria, you will be using the Bulgarian lev as currency.

Roman Amphitheater

Getting Around

Plovdiv has a prime location that makes it an international transport hub – the upside of which means that there are plenty of options to get into the city.  Plovdiv has an international airport, a train station, and 3 bus stations, so getting into the city is no problem.  Once you are there, taxis and buses will help you get around (there are around 29 main and 10 extra bus lines).  If you are traveling in a small group, taxis are your cheapest option – just keep a careful eye out to spot fake taxis that will trick their customers with accelerated counters.  With such a small downtown area and safe streets, you will most likely be walking to get around.  Make the most of it by giving yourself the time to wander to your daily destinations so that you can savor the strolls down the beautiful cobbled streets.  Stop for coffee, pop into a coffee shop that smells good, or sit down on a bench and watch the locals.

Cobbled Street Plovdiv
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